That’s as imaginative as a title as I can get right now as I am exhausted after another walk! We woke up to another sunny day so we decided we had to make the most of it and we certainly did (after a leisurely breakfast of course!).
We drove towards Glen Coe and did the Two Passes walk of Lairig Eilde and Lairig Gartain. I’ve looked at about 4 different versions of this route, including the OS map itself, and the height gained ranges from about 1400ft to 2200 ft so go figure! The first ascent wasn’t too bad really as it was a long, gentle climb along a decent path. The views ahead and through the valley were great and it didn’t take too long to reach the top of the first ascent so I was well chuffed. Unfortunately my mood didn’t last as I realised what a small proportion of the route we’d done and that we were about to descend below our original starting height and that meant the second ascent was going to be worse!!
That said, we made good time down the hill even though the path was narrow and a bit boggy in places. It was a gaiter day for me today but thankfully mine are black so I don’t look quite so much like one of Santa’s helpers as Mr.J!! It was as we stopped for lunch at the bottom that I realised my text message to Trixy to tell someone where we were and to raise an alarm if they didn’t hear from us by 6pm hadn’t actually sent but thankfully I had a signal so I sent it again. This is the first time I’ve done this probably ever as there’s either never been any point before or there have been plenty of people about.
We’d had a bit of difficulty with the route at the bottom of the hill as a new fence had been built since our OS map so we decided to just go down to the bottom and then up, rather than across. I wasn’t enthralled at the prospect of going up at all as this pass was a lot steeper and my legs already felt as though they’d done enough but there was no other way back so we set off!!
It didn’t take long before we were having a few problems. Firstly, we had to cross a medium sized stream and small waterfall. It was temptingly shallow at the top of the waterfall, and looked like you could just dip a toe in at the top of the waterfall and get across but we opted to go further up and then scramble up the boggy side back to the path. That wasn’t too bad but it quickly became apparent that there was going to be a lot more scrambling and a lot more bog to come! Needless to say I wasn’t impressed but Mr.J made me man up and get on with it.
Mr.J is pretty good at these points in time as he just gets on with things and that makes me get on with things too. Obviously I still moan a bit, but a lot less than if he wasn’t there I think. It was a bit hairy at times as there was a decent stream coming down the ‘path’ and there were some really slippy bits but Mr.J calmly led the way and gave the occasional look back and warning to me to be careful – even shouting ‘below!’ when he’d knocked a loose rock and sent it down to the stream even though I was pretty much behind him . It was whilst I was hanging on to a bit of heather and working out where to put my foot next to climb up and he gave me a pointer that I started to think how I needed to write a nice paragraph about him. There’s not too much to say really other than that I think he balances me out with his calmness, but pushes me to do stuff (like scramble up steep hills and do walks I think would be too long!). He shows just the right level of caring-ness, eg: if he’d kept waiting for me or was behind me all the time then I would have got annoyed that he didn’t think I could do it, but if he’d just zoomed off and left me then I wouldn’t think he cared if I fell off and into the big stream. Overall, I think we make a pretty good team but he definitely had a good day today.
After yet more scrambling when we came to an enormous stile. It was about 8 foot high, which in itself isn’t a big deal, but it was completely wonky, toward the very steep valley and waterfall nearby. I don’t know why this made it harder, but it did, and I definitely didn’t want to go over it. After a failed attempt from me, Mr.J went first and then gave me some helpful instructions and let me get on with it (another gold star for Mr.J today). Then it was back to more scrambling and trying to follow the ‘path’. The only good thing about the scrambling was that it forced us to be slower and so you didn’t notice gaining the height at least and weren’t as breathless. The downsides were that I had muddy hands, sleeves and knees (I’m not as tall as Mr.J so some times I had to use my legs more!) and I got sore hands from grabbing sharp bits of grass, heather and rocks.
I don’t know how long it took but we eventually got back to a more normal path, and perhaps as a reward, the sun really came out. The views back down the valley were beautiful and the main river/stream we were walking along had lots of little waterfalls. I hardly took any photographs though because it was just too much effort to get my bag off and on so you’ll have to wait for Mr.J to put his on flicker I’m afraid. The combination of the climb and the sun did mean that I took my coat off though! We met a lovely Scottish couple on the way up who gave us some tips for some other walks and made me laugh as the man described himself as “like a cow on roller skates” doing the scrambling bits so it wasn’t just me at least.
We finally made it to the top, but there was still quite a bit of distance left to go (see the route profile at the bottom of this,;we were at point number 3). We must have been a bit hysterical at the top though as, when we were discussing what I could use for a hairbrush (I forgot to pack one), Mr.J suggested I sellotaped a few forks together and we found this disproportionately hilarious. The views weren’t as good in this valley as the first (in my opinion), but we were compensated by the sight of three deer bouncing by and then a little later the herd over to the other side.
The last bit of the walk was along a bog parallel to the main road. This was a bit rubbish really but there’s always a naff bit in a circular walk and at least this was the last bit back to the car. I got fed up of the sound of squelching though and I was so tired that the extra effort of walking through a bog didn’t make me any happier! We realised that this was probably the longest walk we’ve done in years really, as a lot of the circular walks we’ve done haven’t been that long or when we’ve done something ‘bigger’ it has been shorter and steeper.
We made it back to the car though and let Trixy know we’d made it back safely. We took the much longer, but very scenic drive back to the cottage going away from Tyndrum and along the coast to Connel and then back the way we came from Loch Awe yesterday. Trixy made us laugh when we got a message to say she “wasn’t sure at first who to call for help but had decided on the mountain rescue (after mentally ruling out the coastguard)”. Still, the fact that she had a reminder set on her phone to check if I was alive is what counts!
The weather forecast for tomorrow is not good but that’s news to my ears as there’s no way I’m walking anywhere far or hilly tomorrow as I’m properly pooped. I’m pretty sure that despite more roast beef monster munch that I could end up with cramp tonight. My shoulders certainly aren’t tense any more, they’re too tired to keep it up!