Sunday 22 September 2019

Hill of Hills

Five years ago, I climbed Bidean nam Bian with a friend as we sought perspective on recent events.

This weekend, we were back.

Moon above the Buachaille:

It was a glorious day, generous in its beauty, rowan trees laden with bunches of red berries and autumnal rust discolouring the bracken:

We entered the jaws of the Lost Valley,
lost in the land that is lost,
for our legends were lies

How did the MacDonalds of Glencoe get their stolen cattle up here? They must have been nimble beasts.

A steady procession of walkers climbed the corrie headwall - the busiest I have ever seen it up here - and once on the breezy ridgeline almost everybody went for Stob Coire Sgreamhach, a top that used to be neglected and would still be today, if it had not been added as an official summit at the last revision of Munros Tables. Snobbishly I didn't want to visit it but my companion did. I was grateful for his insistence. I had forgotten what a great place it its.

Druim Alban from Stob Coire Sgreamhach:

Up here a line of little red flags marked the route of the Glencoe Skyline race, a mad concept that starts in Kinlochleven, takes the West Highland Way up Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mor, crosses the saddle on the Buachaille Beag, comes up here over Bidean, and then back down to the floor of Glencoe. But that's not it, no! Runners then head up punishingly steep slopes to tackle, whilst suffering fatigue, the narrow and technical Aonach Eagach, before finally rolling back down the West Highland Way to Kinlochleven.

Bidean from Sgreamhach:

It's not a route for ordinary mortals, but an excitable young foreign couple were up here discussing it, the man telling a stranger of the opportunities to competitors of equipment sponsorship. I can think of easier ways of acquiring a pair of fell-running shoes!

A tumult of peaks from Bidean:

Our own route was much more modest yet still a good big hill day over three peaks of Sgreamhach, Bidean, and Stob Coire an Lochain.

I placed my stone on top of the cairn and looked over the edge. All we had to do now was get back down. My knees weren't very happy. Because what I didn't mention, was that we had done another one of the Salomon Skyline races the previous day.

To be continued...