Munro post – 07/07/2017 – Glas Tulaichean & Carn an Righ (31)

Friends, collies, commuting dogs

Our misfortune in getting held up in traffic on our journey to the Munros a couple of weekends ago, and the slow progress along minor roads before we got anywhere near to donning our walking boots, got B thinking . The radical fallout from this cognitive  endeavour was the decision to drive up the night before our first walk. It confused me no end. B went off to work as usual and I had my lovely gentle stroll in the forest  with David and the old girl. Once home I was biding my time on the soft furnishings till B got home, praying with all my paws that it was going to stay fine so we could play some ball in my garden. Therefore, excitement was upper most when B arrived early. Her arrival was followed by a lot of activity and within 15 minutes I was in my van heading north accompanied by a lot of butterflies, who might well have been playing ball in my tummy.

Luckily, this time, we had a better route to Edinburgh, via Biggar, on a much smoother road. I don’t think I could have coped with my van bouncing over pot holes as well as the butterflies chasing ball. Unfortunately I was given cause, once again, to question B’s ability to plan our travel. Now I’m only a dog, albeit a border collie, but it doesn’t take a genius to predict the time all those people – who drive into Edinburgh for work across the Fourth Bridge – will be driving out again. You guessed it, we arrived at the Edinburgh by pass at that precise time. So, there we were, once again, in a long line of stationary traffic, going nowhere fast. By the time we passed the crook of Devon I could well believe that we were in the west country. Eventually, we arrived and were drawn to the lay by on the A93 we had become so familiar with last time. It was early to bed that night as B was v. v. v  tired, what with the working and the driving, and I wasn’t sorry. Given my nervous disposition I was exhausted too. This Munro project was certainly playing havoc with my equilibrium.

In my lay by

The next morning reared it’s ugly head long before my body clock had time to adjust. If one of my eyes accidently opens at 5.30am I like to greet the world with a big stretch and then roll over and go back to sleep for a good few hours. Not so for B; her motivation for being up and doing was both admirable, in an objective sense, and lamentable for me as her buddy. By 6.30am we were legging it up yet another track into more hills, with summits  stubbornly veiled in what was becoming their traditional headgear.

The notices around the baronic pile that is now Dalmunzie hotel – where we had parked – told us what to do, what not to do and when to do it, like similar notices on so many estates. That got B going off on one. This diatribe featured the genuinely complex relationship between rights and conservation, in comparison with chauvinistic types who think that shooting at wildlife is something to be proud of, pay loads of dosh to keep the estates just viable, and then hold up their ‘sports’ as acts of conservation. Meantime, I’m not allowed to go anywhere near nesting birds that are only going to see the end of a two barrel, as the end of their lot in mortal coil.

Our track did a few demi wheelies, crossing the river each time and we so pleased that it had been dry most of the summer (up to early July) otherwise we would have been in big trouble. Up and up we went, as the cloud vaporised about us and the temperature dropped dramatically. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t be expected in a cool April but, in July, it really didn’t cut the mustard. Jacket, waterproof trousers, gloves and hat all got an airing before we had reached the first summit of this weekend. B seemed to be reasonably water tight but not me. I was exposed the vagaries of the elements and I began to pout a bit, not the least inclined to put on ‘a face’ for the camera. I wanted to be seen cutting a dash in this year’s collection of doggy outdoor gear. We did the usual Munro selfie but, in all honesty, I can’t say that B came out of it cutting any dashes at all, so I’ve cut it out (hee, hee).

 Glas Tulaichean

We didn’t hang about around at the top of Glas Tulaichean and we avoided the temptation to follow the ridge between two corries, heading south (thank you guide book). Instead we followed a northern trajectory with what the Munors often throw up as navigational aids; those rusty old fence posts. Though they had seen better days they were nevertheless, hanging about for the long haul and did us proud. Our next move involved cutting down to river and then up onto the – currently invisible – stalkers path on the other side. Cutting down and river aren’t words that immediately conjure up feelings of rapture, accompanied as they usually are by vast hinterlands of pathless, boogy trudging and today was not exception. I particularly don’t like this when mist is hanging about as it stirs up my anxiety juices, with the words lost and forever, reverberating in my ears. Luckily as we descended the mist lifted a little and the path we wanted became clear. Though this didn’t stop me getting in an awful mess I was at least, no longer in fear of my life. As we left the path, making for the top of Carn an Righ, the weather closed in again but not before we had seen a parcel of deer against the rocky outcrop. We got to the top but with the rain and the cold, and generally being in a bit of a state, I was even less inclined to be the stooge in the photo, proof of another one in the bag.

Just then clouds – that had been fiends – began to scuttle across the sky, chased by a more benign force that promised a brighter afternoon. A battle then played out above us with light and dark in frequent bids for ascendancy, like a troop of old geezers playing tug of war to see who could topple who. Our walk under Mam nan Carn through more boggy territory began to seriously dampen my spirits until, oh lordy me, 8OO metres above sea level, there was a wonderful expanse of water nestling in the mountains, casting a magic to compensate for all my woes. I could sense B weighing it all up: how cold, how deep, how much time etc. but, I was having none of it and put considerable strength into my own tug of war until B could hold me no more. Boy oh boy, you should have seen me go. Pathless route, no problem. Peaty hags, made for leaping. Squelchy bogs, a mere trifle. I was down by the waters edge, looking for my ball, before you could say, “mind your feet”.

Loch nan Eun

After an invigorating dip, and much retrieving of my ball, we set off on the last leg of the day, the long stroll down the length of Glen Taitneach. Finally, when down in the Glen, the brighter forces won the battle of the skies as evidenced by the slimline figure B became, when relieved of multiple layers of protective clothing. Of course, I had nothing to take off but it was lovely to feel the sun on my back and sense the steam rising from my inner being.

Gleann Taitneach

My spirits had been restored up at Loch nan Eun and now, with the late afternoon sun beaming down on me, I could reflect on the glory of 2 more peaks to my name. B was made up because we were staying in the car park at the ski centre and she was assured of hot and cold running water in the loos up there. So endeth another happy day of Munroing.

And so to bed,

Love Ben xx


DBTG – We’re at it again

Friends, collies, traveller’s dogs,

So sorry to put my tails of the first weekend on hold but we are off again. Then I’ll have even more to tell you. I think I’ll be playing that thing called catch up all summer.

The time we hope to do:

  • Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ, which we missed last time because of high winds.
  • The Glenshee 6 (lots and lots of exclamation marks)
  • Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin
  • An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin

Bye-the-bye Sue, We always have badger with us. He – for it is a he – has a very special place in my van – permanently on the handbrake. He was going to be our mascot but he is just a little too heavy, with every thing else we have to lug up the hills (mainly my treats, hee, hee). So, he is on the handbrake because, if B’s mum was still around she wouldn’t have a moments rest till B phoned in to say she was home and OK. Therefore, having badger on the brake reminds us that we mustn’t take unnecessary risks, if we are getting carried away.

You should see my van Sue, there’s all sorts in there: St Christopher, Buddha, some strange looking thing with stiches all over it, my mascot and the search and rescue collie on the dashboard. My latest thing is collecting fridge magnets. I’ve only got one at the moment but B likes it. Is says Guinness.

Anyway, better get some shut eye before we’re off.


Love Ben xx

AA HeartPawPrint


Munro post – 22/06/2017 part two – No. 23, Mount Keen – The most Easterly

Friends, collies, anxious dogs,

We started out for Mount Keen on a good track, which helped to settle my tummy down a bit, and soon we got to the Queen’s Well monument. This was built during ‘the year of sorrow’, following the death of Prince Albert, to commemorate a visit Queen Victoria had made to this spot with Albert, during a trip out from Balmoral on her pony. Me and B kept looking around in case Judy Dench and Billy Connolly appeared out of the mist, as Mr Brown coxed Victoria back to happiness, riding with her over the moors.

After this we had to start climbing up a path with the hillside falling away steeply to our right, down to a meandering river. I was beginning to feel more at my ease now and even let some two legged things, that seemed like apparitions coming out of the mist, give me a cuddle. If I’m honest, we’d been walking for a couple of hours without a soul in sight and therefore, evidence that B hadn’t taken me to some desolate no man’s land was very welcome, to say the least. It’s true that the ample of supply of Primular – that I have become confident of, following good behaviour – might have had a little to do with my acquiescence too.

From there on it just got mistier and mistier. Even one of those v. v. v fast mountain hares paused to make sense of its environment, haunted by the closed in, eerie silence. A smaller, though still clear, path took us nearly to the top, with just the last few metres being a romp over a tumble of boulders to reach the summit. So, here we were again: another Munro; another trig point; another viewless photo.


There wasn’t much point in hanging around so we descended, with the track snaking lithely ahead cutting a furrow through the banks of vegetation. Not far from the summit we saw that someone had erected a boulder stone just for me and B, which we thought was very nice of them. Every now and again the mist lifted a little, in a reversal of Newton’s laws, revealing a rock face of layered terraces, on the banks of burgeoning heather. A tinge of colour hinted at the covering of purple that would come later in the summer. A carpet only to be interrupted by the battle field of boulders, left by the little louts of yesteryear after some eruption of the earths crust.

Once back on the valley track our return hike was constantly interrupted by scurrying rabbits that ran about directionless, with no sense of purpose. My own sense of purpose was thrown into free fall by the sheer weight of numbers so that, not knowing which one to go for first, I ended up back at my van in a state of dizzy frustration. Such an overwhelming day which could have only one conclusion…

And so to bed!

Love Ben xx



Munro post, 22/06/1017 part one, getting there…

Friends, collies and dogs with nice hats,

Golly gosh, my last Munro post seems another age away. It was all busyness and excitement at home last Wednesday, with B putting the last bits in our van while David was making B’s salad and sandwiches and chopping up my cheese. I tried to do my bit but it wasn’t appreciated and, to be honest, my tummy was in bits.

We set off at 6.30am on Thursday with the intention of bagging a Munro that day. I had forgotten how unnerved I get, going away with just B, and my anxiety began to get the better of me. Was my cushion in the back, would there be enough food, did B remember my toothbrush, WHERE WERE MY BALLS. The decision to get to Edinburgh via Moffat didn’t help much either. We drove up and over the Devil’s Beef Tub, which sounded really scary, so I tried to keep my eyes tightly closed. This was v. v. v hard on a horribly pot holed road that made my van bounce up and down. Discomfort added to uncertainly made for a very unhappy Ben. If only I’d known what was coming up I could have saved up my bad humour for later. We negotiated the city by-pass OK and put the weight of traffic down to the time of day, with commuters getting to work. Then, leading up to the roundabout for the A90, everything ground to a halt. What on earth made B think it would be a good idea the travel past the show ground, on the first day of the Royal Highland Show – which the odd 200,000 people like to visit – I’ve no idea. Suffice to say, over the next hour and a half we covered the magnificence distance of 9 miles. All in all, – with the worry about how my van would cope, the roaring of huge, terrifying planes from the airport just above me, my ongoing discomfort and uncertainty – my head space was a mess. Finally, we crawled around the Forth bridge roundabout but B was in the wrong lane and had to cut across the traffic, which didn’t go down very well at all and there was lots of honking and hooting. I put my paws over my ears and prayed hard that no one would bump into us.

After all this the journey got a bit easier with just the odd wiggle needed in road works. I found wiggling to be a better way of passing the time than twiddling my paws. Then, after another couple of hours I thought we must be getting close to a Munro because it started raining. By this time it was all doom and gloom in my van and me & B had dark black hats on.

B said we had to do something called putting it all in perspective. Just thinking about the horrendously sad things that had happened in Manchester and London should help us think how lucky we were. Then we got to thinking about the results of the General Election and that made me go hee, hee, hee.

B told me about someone, who I think she said was called a Mr de Bonio, who could help us out a bit. I think I could get to like this Bonio chap. Anyway, apparently we had to pretend we had different coloured hats on to help us see our current situation from lots of different angles. With our green hats we had to be creative. I liked this bit because we thought we could fly up the Munros, or parachute down to them, or go up them on chair lifts. Then we swapped over for yellow hats to see everything through a happy prism. That outlook told us we had lots to be thankful for. My van had done brilliantly, despite its recent troubles. We had somewhere nice and snug to sleep (very snug actually). The forecast had even told us it would brighten up later. Finally, we had to put our red hat on and trust our gut reaction.

My gut only ever tells me one thing and I was hoping B’s would tell her the same, right now. Actually, it took a lot, lot longer to drive down a very narrow road going nowhere, before we stopped and I got something for my gut. After that we just put our rain hats on and set off, walking into the mist. I had a very funny feeling but B told me it was fine. It was just deja vue, whatever that is.


Love Ben xx



img2[1]I’m so pleased that you’ve seen my blog. Welcome to my v. v. v big tail!

The following blog will tell the story of how a young, orphan puppy – from West Cumbria, in the United Kingdom – gains fame and fortune as he walks  1,000 miles and climbs the 282 Scottish Mountains over 3.000 feet,  that make up the Munros. He, an agile young collie called Ben, and his mistress – a creaking, aging human named B – are to spend many hours in some of the most wonderful and  remote parts of the UK: walking, camping, eating, drinking, writing… and growing ever closer and closer.

This is our story, from a canine perspective for a change.

The human side of things is very slow, but you can try to access it here and join the group:  Facebook Group

As we go, B & me aim to raise £32,000 for charity. I’m not allowed any of this, not even a tiny morsel of a treat; how hard is that? The money will be spilt between a charity for search and rescue dogs, and Canine Partners, which trains assistance dogs to  support disabled people. This is Bumble and Sandra’s story. I am in love with Bumble.

SANDRA BELL AND BUMBLE – Partnership study

There are film clips of the clever canines at work below.  If, after watching them, you think what amazing creatures we dogs really are, you could always drop me a penny or two just here :

Just giving page

Please join in the chat and be part of… the adventure

By the by, everything I write is here on my home page but I have other more specific pages. You just need to click a mouse (ouch!), on the tabs under my lovely photo, at the top, to access them:

  • Ben Speak – Understand the references  in my blog.
  • Constitution – Keeping it right.
  • Donate/Contact – Donate to charities, or contact me.
  • Munro Posts. All my Munro posts in one place, arranged in chronological order from the start to finish.

thQWD0JURELove Ben xx