dscn4818-panoramaWEST COAST TOUGH NUTS

Downwards, we made our weary way in the bright afternoon. Already, the low November sun had cast Loch Creran into a black fjord-like shade, where its waters pointed seawards to Lismore, Ardgour, Mull, and the West. The conversation was mainly about how two relatively lowly west coast hills of 987 and 937 metres could consume so much effort. !!


Paul's fault, I suppose, for leaving Gulvain and Beinn Sguliard until numbers 279 and 280...... and then ours for doing them back-to-back !

We started on Saturday with a 6.5 km hike up Gleann Fionnlighe before finally sighting (the first bit of) Gulvain.


As promised by the book, its slope of over 700 metres from the edge of the forestry to the first fore-summit is “unrelentingly steep” . Various other descriptions were offered by members of the team as we puffed our way up......... some of these, appeared to question the existence of the hill / our existence / the future of mountaineering and similar topics.



dscn4787Eventually things eased up a tad, and we got to a 961-metre summit, with stunning views of all the West Highlands under the dominating bulk of the Big Ben.

dscn4815Sadly, this was not the “Munro” summit of 987 metres which lurks over a kilometre away on the next OS sheet, after a drop and re-ascent of 130 metres. Further imprecations were now heaped upon Sir Hugh. A knife-edge section of ridge, partially snowed up, helped things along.



And at what was finally the real summit, Brian came to the assistance of the party with his mate Kilbeggan. Hurrah !


Now came the return across the ridge, so that by the time we were back at the fore-summit, we'd done a total ascent of over 1200 metres from our sea-level start. Which only left the “unrelentingly steep” way down, made slithery as the snow cover melted in the sunshine.


Ahead to the south, the sun slipped behind the peaks of Ardgour in a last plasma spectacular, leaving us to the dark wooded way home.


On Sunday morning, Steve started by puffing a joint whilst Brian searched his head for nits and Paul started to strip off. Dolly doubled up with laughter....... but at which one ?


Beiin Sguliard is another hill notorious (in my 3 ascents of it) for the almost 1200 metres of work needed to reach its 937-metre summit and come back. A rather unhelpful amount of mist hung onto the upper parts of the 3-kilometre long ridge, which actually does have 3 distinct high points to scramble up and down, down and up, out and back. (And once again, certain views were expressed.).



And so it was, that after a chilly team photo in the freezing fog at the summit, weary legs sought the darkening glen and the solace of fish and chips and some sleep in the car (except when driving). But we had some good round numbers to add to some spectacular autumn views. And our 2400 metres (or does 8000 feet make it sound better, Dolly ?) across the two days. ..... 280 for Paul and now Steve joins Muriel Gray on “The First Fifty”



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