Sat 11th June 2011.
A group of eleven of us turned up on a Friday night a few weeks ago at Blackrock Cottage,looking over Rannoch Moor not far from the entrance down into Glencoe. We were there to celebrate our friend Alistairs last Munro.It was fairly exciting driving up.Some folk arriving there we still see on a regular basis,others we hadn`t seen for many years.Would they have lost all their marbles,teeth and energy and be driving caravans pulled by 4 by 4 square black tanks.Or would they all arrive in green wellies with numerous toy dogs in tow.
No.Thankfully it was like a school reunion only with people you still have a lot in common with.What we all started with in fact......a love of the great outdoors.It was good to catch up and hear how everyone was getting on in their lives.
This beautiful scene belies the fact that after a fine night supping the usual beer, whisky and wine it was not so peaceful inside.Around midnight most of the assembled bodies went to bed.At ten past twelve some of them discovered an entire Siberian forest that needed to be felled urgently and set about it with gusto.It was just like the alpine huts I have such fond memories of.I was keen to be one of them.
Being an innocent happy bachelor I refuse to believe that the two girls in the hut would be a party to this tonsil mayhem going on.Its a well known fact among we confirmed bachelors that the only things rising from females during the night are exotic butterflies,rose petals ,golden fireflies, tiny winged teddy bears and Chanel No 5.
Of course,tired by these productions every evening they awake with troubled dreams of new kitchen units, must buy furniture,clothes, carpets and accessories.Women love accessories.I try to keep away from both and I`m normally successful.
That first night I just wasn't tired enough though..I was only drinking coke which certainly didn't help.Around four `o`clock I`d had enough of the billy buzz saw choir performing around me as I lay awake and set off over the old drove road,now part of the West Highland Way to Victoria Bridge and Loch Tulla.At this time of year although the sun sets it never really gets dark.It was a lucky moment.An hour later at the top of the track I came across a herd of red deer.Mist hung over every loch on Rannoch Moor and the deer just stood and watched unconcerned as I got closer to them.Much closer than I normally would have got at this time of year.
I got to within fifty feet of them before they leisurely made their way downhill,not running even then, just slowly ambling off.Must have been the early hour.We were all in that half asleep,dream like mode.
I made it back down just in time for breakfast then the group set off up the last Munro,all except Alex who didn't think he was up for anything major yet with his foot and settled for views from Beinn Sgluich instead.
This is us setting off.As everyone no doubt knows Stob na Broige is a separate Munro at the other end of the long ridge on the Buachille Etive Mor.Its a good interesting walk in itself with a dry path leading to a small waterfall then easy sloping slabs to reach the top.
Here's another one from a side angle this time.
The bottle of sparking stuff was duly produced along with glasses and a round of applause.A good Munro to end on and fairly easy to reach.Thank god it wasn`t a really remote bugger.Some of us would need to be wheel barrowed in these days.
This is the assembled cast. Dougie,Alison,Jules,Scott,Graeme,Alan,Dawn,Alistair and John.I`m taking the photo.Out of eleven of us there that weekend we had seven who had completed all the Munros.Not bad for a small club like ours.If the rest get a move on before the old ones snuff it we might become the only club to have everyone complete them.Fame at last!
On the way back down we had a split.Most of the others went happily back via the same route they had taken going up.Myself ,Scott and Jules carried on up the ridge,keen to see the summit of the big Buachaille again.I had fond memories of dancing down the scree slopes of the central corrie.Views were excellent all along the ridge.
I think this is Stob Ban in the Mamores.A couple of brief heavy showers didn`t dampen spirits as the sun quickly came out again. The central corrie did though.Of all that lovely scree there was no sign.Instead we were presented with an awkward steep bare head wall then a 2000 foot man made staircase of no give giant boulders most of the way to the bottom.As my younger companions sprinted off ahead I took it easy, zig zagging down the ledges as I wanted to be able to still walk at the end.Very sore on the knees and I`m glad I`m not starting out on the Munros now although I played my part in joyfully and unthinkingly dancing those same screes into the history books.
My bad, my bad :)
It was an unforgiving descent and I for one was glad to reach the Kingshouse and a seat in that splendid pub.Three golden pints flowed over three dry tongues one after the other before life seemed fair again.
And now I feel a fable coming on.....
Like a rare white stag that every few generations or so is born deep in the mountain hollows so...once in a clear full moon.... there appears among us a white guitar.This one was pupped in a birthing den at three am in an empty alleyway damp and dark,the gutters running with old blues,folk and soul.It was treasured by the lucky finder who took it home and fed it on milk,badgers blood,beer and honey.
We have in our ranks at the cottage two fine musicians who can produce tunes from this magical instrument.Tunes so sublime they could have been torn from the lips of a wooden unicorn.
In the brown envelope is the usual vulgar folding stuff for the artist to trouser at the end of his performance when his fickle muse has departed for the day..The tinkling notes of Carrickfergus linger on the breeze...or it may have been Ace of Spades by Motorhead they are very similar tunes.Almost twins in fact.
Soon our other musical maestro and rightful owner of the guitar makes a belated appearance,lured by the vibe and immediately composes a powerful lament for the lost screes of the Munro's.Aw.
Blackrock on Sunday morning....