Friends, collies, and Rosie,
What a novelty this weekend was turning into. Here was a second day when we could see everything around us. B has wisely let the mist clear the tops before we started out. Sadly, we missed the very clear path at the beginning, noted in the fast walking man’s book, so out came the compass. Well, B might be kidding herself, but I knew very well she hadn’t got a clue what she was doing with it, navigation course or not. Blooming heck she did drag me through the mire that day; I’m definitely going to be adding gaiters to my Christmas wish list this year. I am absolutely at my most grumpy when I’m up to my belly in thick, soggy, peaty mud so, it won’t take much imagination to gather that I wasn’t at my best that morning. I even gave a couple of enticing sticks the cold shoulder. I mean who would want to frolic around in that muck. I guess that – somehow – we must have been going the right way because, after a lot of wading in unsavoury soil, we bumped into a proper path. I put this luck down to the selection of Buddha, saints and soft toy mascots that adorn our van, rather than B’s compass reading skills, though that could be construed as a bit harsh. On the path the line of fence posts, promised by the sprinter, materialised and came with us all the way to the top of Meall Corranaich. At the top we had time for another of those wide sweeps and it’s very strange but all the mountains we had seen from Carn Gorm yesterday looked totally different from this angle today. The famous Ben Lawers range had appeared fairly benign yesterday but now their slopes were more defined and some of them looked v. v. v steep.
As I was ruminating on B’s chances of conquering these particular giants a couple of young men arrived at my cairn. Now, I know what you are going to think, but I’m not all bad. In fact one of them smelt very nicely of dog, so I let him have a long cuddle. It seems he has a little German Shephard called Rosie, but she’s too young to do the Munro’s yet. He can’t wait until he can take her up on the hills. That’s because we make such good companions, as I hope B would testify. Better than the friend he had brought on the mountains today anyway. Apparently, he had been up most of the night doing that drinking thing and – truth be told – he looked like it too. Luckily, he didn’t come over to stroke me or I might have had to spoil a good moment. Anyway, I told the dog man to make sure Rosie was properly kitted out for this Munro business and to make sure he found proper paths for her, steering clear of those retched bogs. In return, he saved us having to go through the whole long stick thing again, by a simple click on our camera.
I really, really liked it up on this ridge. It was a brilliant place for wide sweeping with layers upon layers of mountains in every direction
and – something of a first – walking along high up AND on the flat. Well, at least for a while anyway. B had heeded the advice of our guide, not being tempted to walk directly North, to our next Munro. Unfortunately, she hadn’t quite followed all the instructions which were tosa walk North East instead. We struck off for somewhere in the middle. See, I told you she couldn’t read a compass. In the end we had to double back on ourselves and range across the wide ridge to pick up the proper path. It didn’t matter though because it was just pure magic up there. Me and B together, without a care in the world (give or take the odd £32,000 we are meant to be raising), relishing the visual feast of the mountain landscape. Feast, rather put me in mind of something else but it’s ‘self-actualisation’ was delayed, by the inevitable down to the next col on, our Munro itinerary, and then – naturally – lots of up before bagging our second Munro of the day. Another delight, adding further spice to my day, was the absence of any humans. We were able to take our time over the ritual around the cairn; my best photo yet, being so well lit (if you will forgive the vanity of a young dog) and then, at last, the proper feast.
If only I could say that the rest of the day was just as sublime. I thought it was looking good when we went the right way off the summit and picked up a very clear path. However, it wasn’t long before we were down to a river and back to hell, in a pathless quagmire, with me up to my armpits in muck. All that washing I had done over lunch was obliterated in a the flash of a sinking bog, which quickly squashed my euphoric spirits. To make it worse B got into a bad mood, just because she sunk down too and filled her boots up. Well now you know what it feels like, I thought, which probably wasn’t very charitable. If we were both humans we probably would have fallen out at this stage. I understand that David and B’s brother Mike did a lot of that when they were walking together, but perhaps this was due to a lack of treats, like the ones that come my way most of the day. Back at my van I had a good rub down and jumped in to lick myself clean, then I felt dog again. After B had changed the footwear we set off to find a good parking spot, that would be our springboard for the climb of Schiehallion, on the morrow; or so we thought…!
Lots of love