My feature on the 20th anniversary of the launch of the community buyout on Eigg has been well received – Future Island … more community buyout stuff to come, I hope, and I’m talking to people in that sphere over the next few weeks.
Not sure whose ground we were on at the weekend, and whether the community wants to buy it, but Gary Wroe has been dragging me up more Munros, this time three north of Glen Carron, including Maoile Lunndaidh, a remote monster. We used bikes to get in the first three or four miles and they were a godsend coming out. It was one of those rare Highland days when you worried more about heat, sun and windburn than the cold and wet, but we were all good after a decent meal and beer at the Loch Carron Hotel. Thanks to Gerry’s hostel at Craig for top accommodation, and the Tore Diner near Inverness for breakfast, where men are men and can read endless publications which have no other content than adverts for trucks and diggers, and the sausage sandwiches are so good they hurt.
It’s been a busy few days with some fun over the goats of Inversnaid – the RSPB has put them on “the pill” – well, darted them with contraceptives to stop them eating the valuable woods in the charity’s Inversnaid reserve, but that doesn’t fit a headline … Radio Scotland, the Herald, the Daily Mail and The National all used my reports, getting a prime slot at 0820 on the radio,
and a very good spread in the Herald, here, although Colin McNeill’s byline went on it in the Herald in print, a by-product of the clunky Knowledge system.
Visiting the Inversnaid reserve was interesting: the RSPB has put a lot of time and effort into it, and their new buildings at the Garrison show they’re investing. As well as visiting the Pollochro Woods where the goats are doing the damage, Dave Beaumont and Fraser Lamont where kind enough to take me up to see the new growth trees on the moorland area of the reserve that has been fenced off from herbivores. There’ll be more to write or broadcast about in the future on this, I’m sure.
I also learned the limoitations of my camera skills: with a prime opportunity to snap a couple of the goats, I discovered that black goats, a dark cave, a gloomy day and aquarter-second exposure were never going to work. The goats came out fuzzy no matter how I processed them!
I’m not a Munro bagger, and last weekend reminds me why that is. On the Friday I head up to the Alltbeithe SYHA hostel in Glen Affric with my pal Gary Wroe for a big Munro-ticking walk – three remote peaks sit above the hostel, including the mighty Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan 1151m (think Caravan, Kerevan, and you’ll get it), a hill I have long wanted to climb. On Saturday the weather is changeable – with breaks in the rain and wind – and we go up over the big east-west ridge of the massif, then across the fine coire behind Ceathreamhnan, to get onto the ridge running north-north-east. This is interesting walking, as is the ridge up to the first Munro, Mullach nan Dheiragain.
Coming back along the ridge we climb steeply up the fine arete to Ceathreamhnan, then down the ridge east and back to the point where we came onto it. The most natural thing in the world at that point would have been to head for the hostel, warmth and warden Hanna’s fresh scones, but no, the Munroist is compelled to trudge over a bog and back for an hour more to take in An Socach, a smaller hill to the east. If you come back and do it on its own it takes seven hours from the road, instead of being part of this eight-hour round, so if it has to be done this makes sense, but of course my slight problem as a non-ticker, non-bagger is … it doesn’t have to be done. It’s not a natural part of the walk, and it’s dull. There is a sense of achievement, granted, and I was happy to go with Gary, who’s very close to completing his Munros, but I don’t think I could be motivated enough by a tick-list to be bothered with that extra slog.
So I won’t be joining A E Robertson et al, unless enough of my Munroist friends take me along enough times to accidentally do them. My current count stands probably at more than 120 but there are some lost in the mist of time and some I have been near the top of but never saw a cairn: will I repeat them? I doubt it … Maybe eventually when someone asks if I have done the all the Munros, I’ll be able to honestly say: “I don’t know…”