Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Scotland Wild Camp 8/8/17

Scotland had been on my radar for ages, I'd spent many hours pouring over maps and sussing out routes. Due to work constraints and lack of decent weather windows I had been waiting for a while
as there's no point in driving 6+ hours to see diddly squat. The plan was to tick off four Munro's west of Tyndrum.
I'd have to drive up after a short night shift with no sleep but this was the only way of getting two nights camping.
Finally everything aligned and I parked up in Dalrigh.
The day was overcast yet bright, pleasant and warm. Shorts and sunglasses were on as I plodded off into the unknown.

I crossed the bridge over the River and made my way up the track as a train passed up ahead. I was filled with smugness as the train was no doubt filled with people making their commute to work.

At a small cairn I left the track and descended to the river, there was an obvious point of crossing but the first stage looked very tricky.
I stepped down cautiously and leant over to the first rock while a torrent of water thundered below me. A quick test of the rock revealed it was far too slippery and I was now in a precarious position. Some very careful foot movements had me back to the safety of the riverbank.

Further upstream a downed tree gave me something to crawl across to reach the first rocks.
Once across, I lost the path and since it was not shown on the map I made my own way through thick soaked grass and boggy ground.
I couldn't see any livestock but kept checking my legs for ticks just in case. Butterflies were everywhere as I struggled through the undergrowth, I'd never seen so many in one place before.

Identified as a Scotch Argus (thanks to @Garymysnail).

Hidden ruts also hampered already slow progress and strained my ankles to breaking point.

A small stream provided some hydration and a fig bar made a nice quick snack. Midges soon appeared and I hastily continued on my way.

Quick hydration and snack stop.

The terrain gradually eased and views behind started to open up. I was extremely relieved to see a path the other side of the stream.

The path followed the course of Allt Coire Dubhchraig and its many pleasing waterfalls, many of them would have made amazing spa pools but I had to keep on trudging.

Breaks in the cloud revealed blue sky and the first bit of sunshine of the trip.

I stopped for lunch beside the stream and tucked into some wraps whilst taking in the impressive scenery. I could have sat here for ages watching the world go by but progress was needed. After a quick swig of water I was back on the path.

Lunch stop beside a stream.
Further up, path work was being undertaken and I left a couple of snacks for the workers.

Storm approaching!
A glance behind revealed a storm heading my way, it looked heavy despite the light rain forecast. As the first raindrops hit I broke out the bothy bag and sat down on a dry part of the stream bed. Heavy rain pelted my shelter as I looked out through the steamed up window.

As the rain petered out I carried on upwards and the terrain steepened as I closed in on my first Munro.
The stream bed held some amazing rocks, silver and gold coloured specimens glistened in the sunshine like nothing I'd seen before.

Looking back towards Dalrigh.

As I finally topped out at the small Lochans I turned to see another deluge approaching and decided my summit visit could wait till after it had passed. A walker passed below heading the way I'd come up and we exchanged waves.
The bothy bag proved its worth once again, and to think I nearly didn't bring it.

A saunter around the Lochan revealed only one camping spot nearby, the rest were either rocky, waterlogged or uneven.
I left my pack where I wanted to pitch and headed for the summit.

Ben Oss and Ben Lui.
The walk up was further than anticipated due to a false summit but this did nothing to dampen my spirits and I strode on.

Finally the summit came into view and it felt great, not only my first Munro but also after a hell of a lot of effort to get here.

Looking south from Beinn Dubhchraig.
The sky looked moody as I pootled around the summit and fired off a few shots. A few midges appeared but I didn't care.

At the summit of Beinn Dubhchraig (my first Munro).

Once back at the Lochan I sourced some water from a fast outflow and went back to pitch the tent. Underlying rock meant I couldn't get the porch pegged out properly so I admitted defeat and moved the tent backwards a little.

MSR Hubba HP with Beinn Dubhchraig in the background.

My lack of sleep finally caught up with me and I dozed off whilst relaxing. I woke to increasing winds and mist rolling in which ruined my plan to photograph sunset from the summit.
I consoled myself with some hot grub and wolfed it down hungrily.

With no chance of photographs I turned in for the night. Strong gusts woke me throughout the night and I'm not quite sure how I got back to sleep each time.
I awoke to clag and more powerful gusts, the Hubba was straining under the force and I was surprised the pegs hadn't ripped out. As my intention was to ascend even higher to Ben Oss and then Ben Lui (where the gusts would likely be far worse) a decision was made to descend back the way I'd came. Taking the tent down was a real battle, pegs had to be removed in a certain order to avoid placing the fabric and poles under too much stress or actually losing the tent itself! There was no chance of rolling it up in any kind of neatness and it was simply stuffed into its bag.

The walk back down was miserable and the day seemed to be brightening up which didn't help matters. I slipped and slid about on the path beside the river, tree roots and bog contributing to a few falls along the way.
As I set off on the 6 hour drive back to Derby it didn't seem fair that after all the effort I'd put in I only had one the night to show for it, my Munro campaign had started but was nothing like I'd envisaged.

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