TGOC 2013 Day 4 – Meanach to Tulloch

Mon 13th May 2013

In which we wander through BOGLAND, and end up off track in a MIRE.

Riders On The Storm – Apt for today’s weather

There’s a PUN in that but you’ll have to read on and see if you can spot it.

I woke reasonably early.
At the time, the weather was quite good.

I was back on track now, and needed to go and use the bothy spade.
All was good with the world.

Phil had probably used it already
He has no baffles in his pipes you know.

It is a straight through pipe, wide bore. He should probably pack a spade with his kit.
I have no idea if anyone make a UL latrine, but Phil IS the man to test it for you.

So we are now back in the early morning at Meanach.

The bothy rat has buggered off somewhere else, having kept us awake most of the night with it’s foraging.

It would soon be time to head off.

There was no sign of the tent in the ruins opposite, so we hoped it had been an early start, rather than destruction in the storm from last night, because trust me, it had blown a hooley (sp?) out there.

Approx Distance 19.37 km   Ascent 506m

Now there was really nothing weird or odd about today.
So if you are after a story line, you may be disappointed.
This is just what happened on the day.
Well, apart from the last bit.

We started the day from the bothy and headed over the short tract of boggy ground to pick up the track that runs up the allt nan fang

The going was ok, but up.
I like up.
It is down that my knees object to, so I was soon trudging over the hill.
The path was wet underfoot, but not that bad going.
The weather at this stage was ok, but cold and quite blustery
The higher we got, the greater the strength of the wind.
Amidst the squalls of sleet and snow that blew in, there were also sunlit patches with some stunning views back to the Mamores, and as we got higher and further towards the top, some great views of the Grey Corries.
Huge and magnificent with their fresh iced toppings.

Al and Phil on the early ascent.

It is a bit straight up from Meanach to head towards Tulloch.

Last night had added a lot of snow to the tops, and more was to come.

We were lucky at the start, the weather was being kind, although a little blustery.

Looking back to the Grey Corries you could see how much had come down.
Walking high would have been interesting

The track was snow covered even low down.
It was also very boggy and even here
was evidence of trials bike destruction

In the patches of sunlit weather were great views,
although in places the path was tough going with all the trials bike challenge

The snow here was fresh from one of the sleet and snow squalls we had walked through

But even with all that, the views were fantastic

We made our way over the top and began to drop down to the Laraig Leacach, and the bothy for a lunch stop.
As we did, the skies closed in, visibility dropped and the snow began to fall, sticking to our rucksack covers and hoods.

Me in a brief lull of snow showers before descending down to the bothy

Al and I at the same point
You can still see snow clinging to Al’s pack

Looking towards the Laraig Leacach

We descended much of the time in poor visibility until we were about 2/3 of the way down.

At the bottom, there was a little bridge that we crossed.
I would in future just avoid it, and carry on down to the stream, and ford it to get to the bothy.
The ground from the other side of the rickety bridge was sodden, and boggy
The descent to the bridge was short but steep and slippey.

When we got to the bothy, there was no one else there, and we dropped our packs and got out stoves etc for a brew.
There were also a large number of army ration energy drink there, so we helped ourselves to a couple.

There were also a few spare meals, but we were already carrying too many.
Either these were someones excess ones, or no one likes Mountain House Meals anymore.
Al never did eat his.
And I never took mine, much preferring the excellent value Adventure Meals and also Bla Bland (my personal favourites) both available from Chriss Frizzel at Outdoors Grub

Shortly after we arrived others began to appear, having walked up from Spean Bridge, which had been the route that Al and I did with Sandy last year, having already broken poor old Dave (again).

Me taking pictures of our intended route

I believe we also found more of Norman’s maps here.
In fact we found them everywhere, including the pub in Balaculish.

We stayed for a while to chat, but the weather was getting even worse, and we had another bloody great hill to climb

THIS ONE
Although in honesty, we were just going over the shoulder to the left

Al and Phil headed off, I was just behind them when someone said.
Does anyone own those gaiters.

As it happens, someone did

ME

So, I was bloody grateful for that, and put them on.

By the time I got outside, Al and Phil had vanished.

I just headed in a general direction to find them pondering on how to cross the small, but deep and now fast moving stream.

Al had just got across, which is OK when you have bleeding great Twizzle like spiders legs, but for Phil and I it was a bit of a step.

In the end, I stuck two poles in mid stream, and leaped across, plunging one foot in, but so quickly, it hardly got wet.
As it transpires, this was pointless, because we spent an enormous amount of time heading up and then later down, and down, and down, and down, into water sodden ground.

Most of the way, there were NOT streams running down the hillside to the river.
The whole bloody hillside was an enormous porous stream like bog

If you were wearing shoes, you were going to get WET feet.

AND I WAS WEARING SHOES

AND I DID

It was a bit of a slog up.
There is no track to follow, nor is there one on the other side.
You just navigate

By the time we were going up the wind and snow and sleet was coming in huge gusts.
Just over the top, I found a small shelter behind some rocks and waited for Al.

Al had a brief sit down, and Phil had a Boot and gaiter Faff, and then we were off.

It was still all sunshine and then heavy squally showers.

And VERY VERY WINDY.

Me, somewhere near the top I think

Looking down Coire Laire
Al and Phil survey the trackless bog route down
Looking back towards the higher hills as we descended.

Luckily, although the weather was not great, the worst of it seemed to be confined to the Glens behind us, and we were spared the worst of it, as you can see from the picture above.

All I can say is, that it was a bloody long way down, and that it was in fact a bloody long day.

It was however, not to be our longest day.
Oh NO.
NOR our wettest under foot.

Al and I with the big hills behind us (picture courtesy Phil)
As are some of the others with me in
Much much further down the valley

The state of the ground, made it pretty hard going all the way down.
At times I hung back and took the odd photo.

At other times I charged on a bit.

I say it was tough going under foot.
That was because I had not yet done the next days walk……………………

Rushing water along the river on the Coire Laire

Eventually we came to the start of a track, that would take us down to the dam.
It would come and go this track, so it was not always this big.

Al and Phil, and the picture is looking back to where we had come from.
By now there was briefly the semblance of a track at last.

This track would now take us down to the damn and the rather pretty river and falls.
But id had not prepared us for the tramway.

View looking back up

As we finally got to the bottom, and had to leave the small semblance of track behind to pick up the old tramway path on the right of the river, we got hit by yet another downpor of heavy rain.

The showers were short, BUT very heavy when then they hit.

And then it was gone again, and the skies were clear again.

Looking to the dam at the start of the Tramway track

At this point Al had gone off to be nosey at a shed, and also I think to have a pee.

We then headed along the tramway that would eventually take us to Fersit

The start of the track

It looks delightful doesn’t it.
Well do not be fooled.
There are NO culverts on this track, and although it starts on a lovely grassy tract, it leads you on, and on, and on, and on, into a slushy messy at time narrow boggy hell.

All in all, it is a necessary evil, but it is a fucking horrible mess.

Maybe in summer (if they actually have such a thing in Scotland’s, which I doubt) it would be ok.

We slithered and side stepped along it for what seemed like forever.

Eventually you come to a very very rickety bridge over the river.
I say bridge, it is girders.
Luckily, you don’t have to cross it, you can skirt left and climb a small fence, and then drop down a little track that takes you out onto the Fersit Road

I should have taken more pictures of this bit, but I didn’t.

Maybe Al did.

So we come to Fersit.

There are three main ways to get to Tulloch from here.

1. Follow the road (which is a LONG WAY)
2. Go along the railway line (assumes you know the timetable)
3. Go via the scenic? walk through the woods….:-(

We (it’s all Phil’s Faults) chose 3

This starts with a short walk down past some houses, where we stopped and had a chat with a Lady who was walking her dog.
She lived there, but evidently, new nothing of the track.
And more importantly and yet somehow worryingly, had no idea really where the station was, thinking it was Corrour.

So anyway we carried on past some very interesting old mobile homes and what looked like an obsolete refugee camp.
We plodded through some interesting undergrowth, and then came to a large 12′ high locked hate.

This we climbed over and then plunged into knee deep bog and shite.

No fear, there is a path here.

SOMEWHERE

We carried on in bog and muck and undergrowth, and then bizarrely, came to what appeared to be a very scenic walk though woods.

It appeared to be running parallel to the railway, which was good.
So off we set

Beautiful

You can just see the railway

lovely scenic woodland walk

“Excellent stuff after all Phil.”
“Nice”

And it was, except at some point we took the wrong path, and then there was no path.

No fear, we had been here before, it was OK.

BUT IT WASN’T

We had wandered off course.

We took our first GPS reading.

WE WAS WRONG.

The only way was down.

Through bog and heather and tufty stuff.
Then down into the woods.

The sort of thick woods that you get lost in, and then find a house made of sweets, with an old lady in.
But she isn’t an old lady
And they aren’t sweets

And the wood is getting dark

And the fairies have red eyes

And fangs

And it is cold and dark

And you can hear their dark enticing whispers

“Come to us, we want to eat your eyes”

And they dribble nasty fluids, and slather, 
and gorge on the remains of Challengers that have come this way in the past 
and been lost forever.

OHHH SORRY I went off on one there.

So anyway, we went through thick undergrowth.

(again a bit like Al and I the year before near Bearnock
 But I must NOT mention Bearnock again, lest the mad anonymous woman comments again, and again, and   
 again,  because I have NOT memorised the entire fucking history of Scotland)

Anyway, back to the undergrowth full of creepy crawlies, and cobwebs, and spiky things that all fall off in your hood, and get down your back, and then stick to you, or worse still work their way into places that nasty creepy crawly sticky scratchy things should NOT be able or allowed to go.

It WAS NOT NICE

But it was to get worse, because by the time I made it out of the evil woods, I had lost Al and Phil.

I made my way towards the railway, but I was at this point by the river.
Eventually I saw a chap walking along.

“Where you heading?”

“Tulloch”

“There’s a stile up there”
“Then you can get onto the railway”, “It’s ok, there are NO trains for ages”

“Cheers”

And he headed off along the track away from Tulloch

So I made my way up through nasty tufty stuff, and knee deep boggy pools down to the stile.

It was a brilliant stile over the fence.

Brilliant in many ways except ONE

It had no sodding rungs on it anymore

NOPE, not one.

It was a Non-Stile.

“FUCK!”

I climbed over the fence.

Still no sign of Phil or Al

I made my way across another BOG, and then to the railway line

I was bloody soaked, and covered in smelly bog water

I could just see Phil and Al coming

“There’s a stile up there”, I said “I shouldn’t bother. It’s Fucked”

They made their way to me, and finally we were on the track.

We made our way along to Tulloch station and the bunkhouse

Listening for the rumble of train, but there was none.

Finally we arrived at the bunkhouse

We were tired and wet

AND IT WAS ALL PHIL’S FUCKING FAULT!

We settled ourselves into our room.
Peeled off wet kit and boots
Did washing and hung stuff to dry in the drying room, that at first we thought wasn’t going to work, but turned out to be bloody brilliant.

By the way, did I mention that it had been BOGGY?

So, we collected parcels and stuff, and went for an excellent meal with the other guests, that AL will tell you all about because he is really good with names and stuff, and I am shite at it.

It did include the NICE OLD LADY and her husband though.

After dinner we sat in the lovely warm room with the fire.
We needed to ring Alistair Pooler (brilliant bloke as you know), to tell him that due to the heavy snowfall, and expected high winds on top, we were going to relocate the first cheese and wine party to Luib-Chonnal bothy rather than at Lochan Uaine near Creag Meagaidh

I gave him a call and managed eventually to get through.

This is a very cut down version of the conversation ……………………

“Hi Alistair, we have changed the venue to Luib-chonnal bothy now”

“That’s ok, I can get there, it is just a walk up the track”

“Now, there is a small issue however”

“Yes?”

“We have NO CHEESE, and NO WINE”
“Other than that everything is dandy”

We had expected cheese, but the wonderful Humph ( we will return to this at a later date ), had sent us cheese to the Monarch Hotel, for the 2nd party, and being silly sods, we hadn’t bought any in Kinnlochleven.
Having said that, we’d have just scoffed it all at Meanach anyway.

Well as you will find out, Alistair surpassed all expectation
because he agreed to bag some tops in the following morning.
Come back down.
Buy cheese and wine and stuff
Bung it in his BIG pack
Then walk up to meet us

FUCKING STAR!  *****

And we all went to bed happy

Tomorrow would be a clean underwear day, and the forecast was not too bad either.

IF YOU DON’T PARTY IT’S A CHORE

And we never make it a chore!

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14 thoughts on “TGOC 2013 Day 4 – Meanach to Tulloch

  1. Nope!
    No bells were rung in the reading of this epistle. The photographs show I was there… the lights were on but no-one was home.
    I don't think you went on about the bogs anywhere near enough though.
    I also noticed that there is a photograph where Phil & I are clearly smiling. Did you photoshop those smiles in?

  2. You are on a roll now, Andrew.

    Pulitizer prise stuff …………………. is being written somewhere, but, you can turn a word or two with consumate ease.

    Do you also do fiction?

  3. “Tomorrow would be a clean underwear day” Ooooh yes, Lord E loves clean undies. Normally the house fairy provides these luxuries, so I assume his batman turned up?

  4. Have just caught up, Andrew. All very entertaining. Thanks for making the effort to relive all these dire experiences. It must be very painful for you. Are your hands better yet – they looked as if gangrene was about to set in when I saw them in Montrose, but someone must have found the ability to type…?

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