Monday, 24 November 2014

Maps don't tell the whole story


Blonde Two's last post talks of gorse problems; I have had my own.

It seemed like a good idea at the time (2002).

Lurgh Mhor and Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich (Lurgh Mhor is often mentioned as one of the most remote Munros)

SMC guide to the Munros, "...there is very much the feeling of a real expedition to climb them, some may prefer to take two days..."

By my route the distance was about 18 miles there and back of very strenuous hill walking.

The conventional route started by crossing the railway near Gerry's Hostel (where I later stayed on my LEJOG walk).

I had looked at the map and also viewed the river from the road just to the east of Achnashellach station and it looked shallow. I took trainers to wade across the river thereby saving myself about six kilometres there and back on the track starting near Gerry's hostel.

From memory, the climb over the fence or whatever to cross the railway was not easy. Next I found myself in total swamp often up to my knees, but boots were being carried so remained dry. The river was waded fairly easily, but the far bank was guarded by solid gorse over six feet high and twenty or thirty feet deep. I hid my trainers and had no alternative but to force my way through that gorse which was very close to impossible. Sweating and shredded I was faced with climbing a deer fence (they are about ten feet in height), into a wood. The wood was strewn with felled trees and thick undergrowth, the trees having being felled at right angles to my direction of travel necessitating climbing over and negotiating the mass of twisted branches, brambles, hidden holes and other evil ankle twisting horrors. Another deer fence was conquered to land me on the track of the conventional route. That was a distance of about half a kilometre from the car, but the worst half kilometre I can ever remember.

The rest of that day was brilliant, but on the way back descending steeply a few hundred yards from the point where I had gained the track from the second deer fence my knee suddenly suffered the most excruciating pain. I was staying with the caravan at Kinlochewe and the previous day I had by some strange prescience bought a single walking pole at a small outdoor shop there which has since closed. Why I bought that pole I have no idea - I had scorned them in the past and seemed to have no reason for the purchase, but it it turned out to be a lifesaver.

I think that was the start of my knee problems which resulted in several arthroscopies and replacement knee surgery in May 2012.

Of course I had to re-negotiate the obstacle course providing a final challenge for a very long day.

CLICK TO ENLARGE
The thick brown dash/dot line is part of my LEJOG route from 2008 - the tent symbol indicates a night stop at Gerry's hostel


7 comments:

AlanR said...

Funnily enough on this years Challenge from Torridon we came down a marked path (on the map) which should have brought us down to Achnashellach railway. It ended up in thick bush, forestry, wet, boggy and overgrown. We ended up in somebodies back garden who kindly lets us through. He said it used to be “The” old route but hadn’t been in use for years.
I felt like a Chindit.

bowlandclimber said...

Your post brought back memories.
Stayed at Gerry's a few times many years ago. I walked miles over Munros in the area, drank beer in the pub with ex Lancastrian Gerry, listened to music into the early hours, met Irvine Butterfield [another down to earth individual] who had just published High Mountains of Gt. Britain, have the inscription to prove it.
A bygone era.

The gorse reference also reminds me of a time whilst developing a local bouldering crag and falling down the slope, my spotter had missed me,straight into the middle of a gorse bush - ouch ouch and much laughter. Provided a name for the eventually successful problem - Just Begorse.
I know it's corny.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R. - That is one of the problems in Scotland where Public Rights of Way are not marked on the map because they have free access, so the only marked paths tend to be stalkers paths which often end up in the middle of nowhere having brought the shooters to their general location.
---------------

bowlandclimber - I stayed at Gerry's. I waited ages for him to return from a "golfing" trip to open up, and he seemed to have spent more time in the 19th rather than playing golf, but he was a good a host and quite a character.

Blonde Two said...

That description sounds like some kind of army challenge. I would have be stumped by the deer fence I think!

High Horse said...

That's often the problem with shortcuts - they turn out be longcuts!

Sir Hugh said...

Blonde Two - In Scotland climbing deer fences should not really be necessary but route choices and planning tend to be less specific with Scotland's pooicy of open access and lack of footpaths shown on maps, so every now and then you find yourself perched, up on high, straddling these structures. They are not as difficult as you may imagine.

Sir Hugh said...

High Horse - don't I know it!