Saturday, 11 July 2020

The First Hills After Lockdown

What were, or will be, your first hills after lockdown? Your first taste of freedom? Previously I mentioned Suilven, but I just couldn't wait...

Breadalbane hills:

At the last minute my companion couldn't come, so I decided to go somewhere that appealed to me alone. I would start early, slaister through pathless bogs over two unfashionable Corbetts at the head of Glen Lyon, and see nobody all day. 

The day couldn't make up its mind - would it rain, or would it be sunny? In the end, it was both.

Glen Lyon morning:

I decided to head straight up the hill from Pubil, so once I'd worked out where to discretely park, I was off! My first new Corbetts all year! A wet-footed squelch up Sron a'Choire Chnapanich revealed Loch an Daimh with a deep tide mark. With so much rain this month, I wondered why the dams are so low?

Glencoe and the Blackmount from Meall Buidhe:

From the top, the Blackmount appeared draped in raincloud across Rannoch Moor, and I headed down through peat hags for a steep reascent of Meall Buidhe. I didn't mind the terrain though. This was a secret place, full of deer and frogs, a kestrel of some kind hunting along the burn. I scared a grouse and saw dozens of wheatears.

Looking back towards Loch Daimh from Meall Buidhe:

After Meall Buidhe, the usual thing is to head back to Pubil. But I had a rendezvous with a special place that I had read about decades ago, and have wanted to visit ever since. This is a unique set of stones who live in a small turf-roofed house and are brought in and out with the turn of season. It is miles from anywhere, west of Meall Buidhe. The terrain became even more isolated, wheatears giving way to plovers circling and crying at my intrusive presence, sheep staring at me and deer making themselves scarce. I descended by a series of cascades and took a look at my prehistoric curiosity in Gleann Cailliche. To my surprise I met a couple, eating sandwiches. I hadn't expected to see anyone. They told me they lived in Glen Lyon and came here regularly. Apparently I was the first person they'd ever seen here.

Loch Lyon:

All that remained was to jog back out along the track along Loch Lyon, legs tired from the first decent-sized hillwalk all year. The traffic heading back south via Callendar was horrendous. But here's to more trips around Scotland in the second half of 2020!

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