With a period of good stable weather over Scotland Alex suggested a day trip to do one of his remaining 7 Corbetts. Hills falling between 2,500 feet and 2,999 feet. Above is Ben Lui, 1130 metres, a shapely Munro near Bridge of Orchy and a hill labeled the "Queen of the Southern Highlands" due to its magnificent central corrie crowned by a sparkling white tiara of upper cliffs, that often lasts into early summer before melting completely
Having recently obtained 1000 of these little cards for £30 quid I was determined to shift them over the summer and at least try to get my investment back.
Whether they wanted one or not :o)
Between photography, blatant book promotion, and trying to catch up with a driven committed corbett bagger on the hunt to capture his prize I was already knackered by the time we reached Corryhully and was left far behind. It's hard work being an unappreciated author! Bet JK doesn't get blank expressions, sullen looks, or complete apathy when she brings out her latest opus. Or nervous strangers backing away hurriedly when you bounce enthusiastically towards them with all the charm of a friendly Rottweiler. Some of the fitter cyclists were determined not to be caught, despite my best efforts to force a card on them. Rejection can be cruel.
I've said it before but you cant beat the OS paper Landranger maps for cheapness, reliability, and also to give you a large scale overview of the area you are walking/ cycling in. Recently, we have bumped into a few young folk using only smart phones and a three inch screen as navigational aids outdoors but I can't see the attraction myself. To my eyes it's like a horse with blinkers on that can only view the road in front of its feet instead of a constant panorama of other surrounding mountains but many folk under 50 are so conditioned to using smart phones now for everything that it is completely changing the planet. Paper may well die out and become almost obsolete, same with actual cash transactions, and the current migrant situation has been largely facilitated with the growing use of smart phones where anyone anywhere in the world who has one can access information very easily on any country in great detail with unforeseen consequences.
I for one will proudly stand with a twenty pound note held high and declare with my dying breath ..."from this dead hand will you take my cash money and not a single minute before !"
Mind you, I don't have much to take anyway but I do like to have real money in my pocket and would feel strange leaving the house with just a smart phone/ smart watch and online access. Point is... if this becomes the norm everywhere then that choice is taken away, along with many others already being phased out and shown the back exit.
It had taken us ages to climb up the steep slopes in punishing heat and a lack of breeze in the sheltered glen had us sweating profusely. A kilometer back from the 471 pass high point we decided to tackle Streap from this angle, navigating through a band of vertical cliffs as Alex cheerily informed me 13 people had lost their lives on this mountain. I could see why as it is relentlessly "Streap" from every angle yet a peak on most hill walkers radar, unlike a lot of remote Corbetts that only other dedicated Corbett baggers have ever heard of as it towers above several surrounding glens and has a prominent summit with a knife edged ridge. Certainly from this direction there was no path and good navigation was required up and down to weave a safe route through the vertical rock bands running across this hillside with only a few grass gullies permitting entry upwards. The Corbetts today are very similar to the Munros from 40 years ago with distinct paths on only a few out of the 221 total number.
We did meet a young twenty something? girl down in the glen after chaining the bikes up in a small wood near the bothy who was walking the Cape Wrath Long Distance Trail, reputedly one of the toughest in the UK. Link and map here.
I must admit these new long distance walking routes seem to pop up almost every year now across Scotland but this one is really special, travelling through remote glens and spectacular scenery but it's not a route for everyone with few villages or refueling points available throughout its length. She seemed very fit though, being a competitive fell runner, and was travelling light and fast between isolated bothies but not fast enough to avoid a few cards.. Every new stranger a potential victim :o)
Fitter than us certainly as the equally steep descent off Streap was torture on my poor long suffering knees and I had to take painkillers just to reach the bottom and the bikes.
One thing about rock climbers is that they get to know rock types and rock architecture intimately. You might think you know rocks pretty well as hill-walkers going up hills but it's the difference between partners as non intimate friends and associates compared to long term lovers, aware of every detail of flesh, contour, birthmark, and bone. When your life depends on what you are hanging off at any given moment it pays to know the properties of the various materials you are dealing with. Some rocks are fine when dry but treacherous when any moisture hits them. Others are full of good holds and cracks for protection all the way up while some are conspicuous by their absence.
Spartan Slab, VS, lies on the Etive Slabs and has 600 plus feet of climbing up smooth granite. It is one of the easier grades of rock climb on this ancient landslip leaving a large section of bare rock exposed at a critical angle and a good introduction to "friction climbing".... i.e. trusting the granite surface to keep you on it by toe pressure alone between holds. As the rock grades get harder on this steep exposed cliff so too the increasing gap between holds widens alarmingly and more technical padding up bare surfaces between runners occurs, requiring considerable faith and nerve.
A cracking route and video that brought back memories. Not having the necessary bottle for harder stuff this climb was my limit for friction moves although Alex managed The Pause HVS and Hammer HVS. Gets much better 1:30 mins in when that awful piano bar music changes and the slabs appear onscreen. Well worth the wait.