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Busy 18 plus hrs 3 plus hrs drive – Loch Arkaig /

Loch Arkaig means a lot to me as my Dad trained in 1935/36 as a student minister. He loved the area and took me there in the mid 60’s with my Mum just after passing his driving test in a Morris Minor. It some road and as a young lad I was very sick in the back of the car with the twists and turns. It has not changed.

My Dad was looked after by the head keeper and never forgot him and his kindness to him as a young man.

I wrote a piece on this on my blog a few years ago and got a lot of information.

The road had changed little in all these years. I know it well and have had some incredible days in these hills. It was also my first few days out over 45 years ago with Tom MacDonald munro bagging.

My Dad would be so pleased he introduced me to this place.

Today the loch was looking wild with a wind and rain. I stopped and had a few thoughts. It’s amazing watching the weather come and go the waves on the Loch and the rain hitting your face.

The rest of the drive up to the wee car park at Strathan was bleak but what an amazing road.

So many adventures start here on arriving I really did not look forward to my cycle in.

I sorted out my bike loaded it up and headed of. There were a few cars there it was late afternoon and most would be having a wild day on the hill.

I met a guy coming off wet and sullen and with no chat at all.

I headed off into the track through the forestry where there is loads of tree clearing going on.

It was now raining and I was glad I taken my full waterproofs and I took the heavy set. A bit different from last week. Again the rain hit me but you feel alive struggling up the track heart going on the hills and trying to stay on the bike on the washed out track in places.

The cycle went well but the last bit of the “track” was hard to the bothy the river crossing was a wet episode and I dropped my spare battery for phone. I slipped when crossing the river. That was a hard push and I should have left the bike at the end of the track. I went through bogs and there was no way I could cycle.

Now my phone was needing a recharge and it was also my camera sadly there was no power left . The unplanned dip in the water had knackered it. It had done me well as my back up for many years.

That was to prove a problem later on and I never got any photos. Usually I carry my camera but was trying to keep my weight down. It was great though and I was happy the bothy was empty. I had a brew sorted out some wood there is lots of fallen wood nearby and easy accessible. Then I sat and

watched the weather.

Photo – A river crossing and pushing the bike !

Glen Pean Bothy was in a great state. Surrounded by incredible peaks it’s a gem.

We all use the Bothies if even for a break on a long hill day how many donate or join this amazing organisation?

Fully kitted bike sleeping bag dry gear and cooking kit all adds up.

I was supposed to meet two of the Mountaineering Club members there Babs and Ella but they were in another bothy A’Chuil in the other Glen. We got our Bothies cross wired.

I would be on my own tonight but this was the one I needed for my Corbett another new hill. It was all last minute decisions for me and when I heard that the girls would be on the same hill I hoped I would have some company. Sorry girls.

I decided to get out that evening and get my hill done as the weather looked like it was changing.

I met a lone German walker coming down the Glen he had a break and headed of for Loch Arkaig.

It was now just after 7 pm I thought that Carn Mor would take 4- 5 hours . I could get the hill done today I would be off in the dark but I am okay with that.

I sorted my kit and headed up the steep hill just outside the door of the both . There is no warm up on this hill. The deer were watching from the shelter of the woods.

It was hard work, pretty steep straight from the door and I was soon in the mist and the wind got up. My phone was dead so it was back to basic map and compass.

The weather came in with more rain and it got very cold. I had to get this hill done. The weather made it a Compass day it was out all the tome check,checked,check. I could not afford to go wrong today.

I was glad I wore my boots instead of my trainers especially on the initial steep ground and the what I found complex summit top. The guide said it was interesting and it was going through the crags.

As you can see from the map in poor weather it’s interesting navigation and was getting dark when I got to the top.

It was cold as well and I did not hang about. A bit of food and head off. Heading back the same way trying to locate the same way off by torch on steep ground was a lot tricker than I thought. I was a bit rusty but it all came back.

It meant concentrating on getting back to the bothy . It was just after midnight I got back it was pitch black. The final descent being careful of the steep ground just before you drop down to the bothy through more crags.

I met a small herd of deer nearby and gave me a fright. It was get into the bothy change some Lentil soup get the fire on and into bed.

I think there are bats in the roof as when I got up for the loo there were things flying around my torchlight.

“I missed my phone on the hill for checking my position but the map and compass is still a great and necessary skill of you get a problem with technolgy”

I was awakened by daylight and the mizzle made it look dreich. I needed to get back as I have an eye Appointment in Inverness I cannot miss.

It was great walking cycling without glasses for the first time in 60 years. Yet I still need reading glasses for the map.

“I blow my map up on the tricky bits before I go” This was great last night. Top tip?

Taken on the way in plenty of stops!

Wee video on arriving then found the phone battery not working weather fine now.

This video doesn’t exist

The cycle out was fine I pushed the bike up to the forestry road and headed of. It was wet but the hills were still covered in mist I left just after 0600 and was back at the van just after 0700. I just had brew and a jam butty and headed off.

Photo / Weather comes in I decide to get my hill done then my phone failed!

It was a good cycle down all the way to the car park. I had a quick change and it was wet and miserable. I changed my clothes and headed down Loch Arkaig. I was soon at the main road and the “Dark mile” which has had many of the trees cleared.

I had now managed to charge my phone was on the car charger and told my contacts I was on my way home.

The Wonderful Commando Memorial overlooking these great hills.

I had a few minutes at the Commando Memorial it was very quite. The tourists had not arrived yet. It’s a wonderful place to be early in the morning.

I stopped in Spean Bridge for breakfast superb I was ready for it now and headed home.

A busy day but worth it sorry I got the Bothies mixed up as I carried in a bottle of wine for the girls who were staying there.

I loved the busy day the memories of this area. I have to get the odd day out when I can and loved it. Now to get a new back up battery for the phone but it was good to be out at night and still be able to cope.

I am so lucky to be getting my fitness slowly back I have lots of friends family members ill just now so every day is important.

I saw an Eagle on the way out that made my day and driving down Loch Arkaig always makes me think of my Dad and Mum and all they did for me.

Thanks Mum and Dad did showing me these places and how privileged am I.

Health is wealth never take it for granted.

Now lets get the gear washed and sorted for the next adventure.

Footnote – I do vote by a Postal vote so I value my privilege to vote despite those who are supposed to be leading us!

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Gear, Health, History, Mountaineering, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A busy 18 plus hours- Loch Arkaig Memories – cycle into Pean Bothy / new Corbett Carn Mor No photos on hill – night navigation a few hours sleep / cycle out and back home.

  1. John Cartwright says:

    Great adventure Heavy . Not unfamiliar with similar adventures in my lifetime I had a sense of being with you, feeling the rain, the wetness, the adrenaline on difficult ground, the awareness of being remote and alone, the special rewards; the silence save the rustle of the breeze, the trickle of the stream and the rumbling roar of the waterfall. ; the coming darkness, dry clothes and the warmth of smell of the pinewood fire. Life’s experiences you cannot buy – you have to have lived them. You can guess that your blog touched a sensitive nerve here. Hope your eyes continue to heal well. Ever onwards young man!

    Sent from my iPad



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