Joined: Jan 08, 2010 Posts: 235 Location: Lancashire and Lochalsh
Logged: Munros: 86 (2nd round) Corbetts: 15 (2nd round) Grahams: 76 Donalds: 89 New Donalds: 118 Sub 2000s: 63
Posted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:25 pm Post subject: What's that coming over the hill, Is it a Monster?
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What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?
Carn Mhic an Toisich from Glen Moriston
I had some maps but no plan, I just wanted to go hill walking. And get out of the rain. So I drove on eastwards until the rain stopped somewhere near Bunloyne. I vaguely remembered there was an accessible Graham somewhere to the north of this road, and I pulled in about half a mile after Torgyle Bridge. Fortuitously there was a footpath sign across the road: Tomich and Glen Affric.
What a lovely path I set out on, through a deer kissing gate (not recommended), past a large ancient cairn, staying low, then up and up.
Soon I joined a not unattractive Land Rover track, which had settled into the landscape, and which I would be happy to follow half way to Gen Affric.
I caught glimpses of what looked like a new forestry road below. It writhed and twisted but seemed determined to get up to my lovely track. It was an ugly, wide, horrible thing. I hoped it would just cross and disappear on its own way, but soon it hit me and obliterated my track completely. I saw it ravenously devouring the track ahead, hundreds of metres at a time. I wanted to turn back and find somewhere else to walk, but something made me keep going.
A strange creature this; so enormous, and every few hundred metres it threw out an arm to left or right, about a hundred metres long, and at the end of each arm, in an upturned palm, was a huge spike, with several barbs. Fearsome as the spikes were, this was not their most frightening feature, as a thread of some sort could be seen linking the spike and barbs with other spikes and barbs on different arms, and the threads hummed and buzzed and sang with invisible energy. I could feel the radiation messing with my brain: I didn't want to be there, but I couldn't help going on. My thigh muscles were burning and the monster's back provided an all too easy walking surface, so there was no difficult terrain to impede my fast progress uphill. I wanted away, I wanted a rest, but the devastation caused by the beast was so ugly I couldn't.
Where one of the arms was quite short I got a close up view of the base of one of the spikes. Some runes had been carved on plaques, but I could only decipher a few names: Beauly, Denny, Balfour, and Beatty. That diminutive rapper, Elphin Save-T, had been there too, trying to warn people off with a pictogram, a danger symbol and a black hand. But there was no going back. I had to get up to the highest part I could see ahead; surely there would be the monster's head and I would get to know what it was.
But when I got to the high high part there was no head, just more body and arms and spikes. And there it was, coming over the next hill too. For mile after mile. I just couldn't follow it that far, my legs wouldn't stand it. I had to get off to the side, to get higher than the monster, and get a proper perspective. I went under the whistling wires onto bare heather hillside. This was more like it, rough, heathery and boggy, with no path at all. The monster caused a great wind to buffet me for attempting to get way, and I struggled round to the lee of a hillock so I could stop. It even send the wind round there, but I managed get at my soup and sandwiches, cake and tea, before setting off for the higher ground to the east. The monster seemed to be bidding me good riddance and sent a more ferocious wind, pushing me along. Higher lumps kept appearing ahead and I resolved to try to stop on the highest.
There was a cairn,
but strangely no relief form the monstrous wind in its lee. I reasoned that it would be easier to keep going east with the wind behind me and get down to tracks and the road that way and avoid the monster, but the radiation must have addled my brain and I felt compelled to go back towards the monster. But I could barely open my eyes when I turned that way, and couldn't even stand still against the buffetting. I had to lie down and curl up to get enough shelter to put my goggles on. Never had to that before. Obviously the monster didn't play by normal rules. Then everything suddenly went pink. Was the beast making my eyes bleed? Then I remembered it was the tint of the goggles. I got to my feet and forced myself headfirst into the wind.
I couldn't see my feet when I was wearing the goggles, so felt as though my head was hovering above the ground. The magic goggles seemed to choose my route through the unreal, pink terrain, but I was happy because I was making progress back towards the monster. I even thought that if I could just make it back as far as the spikes I'd be safe. The goggles led me along just down the north side of the ridge. When I reached the end of the ridge I scanned the scene below, looking for the welcome sight of the spikes. But they were nowhere to be seen. Had the monster gone? Was it hiding?
Still too windy to risk my paper map; I took out my copy of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It opened at a map of the hill I was on, and pinpointed my position. And it showed which way I was facing as I turned around to survey the landscape. And showed me which way I needed to go. I plunged down the hillside, soon seeing the mesmerising line of spikes again. In no time at all I was back in the sanctuary of the beast. It even contrived a rock seat for me, complete with footwell and backrest. Time for more tea and cake.
The beast seemed to promise safe passage back to to road so I took it. My thighs were really sore despite it being mostly downhill, but the beast didn't allow for any slacking. When I tried to rejoin The Lovely Land Rover Track I was not allowed, forced to stay on the beast's back as it made its own way towards the River Moriston. It went on for ages, making no attempt to get down to the road. It crawled under a big gate in a high fence, fortunately unlocked as I couldn't have crawled under too.. Eventually it would itself down to the road where it went under a lower gate where I was able to use a small side gate. In the failing light I went to look at the river at Torgyle Bridge, and looking at his watery, benign monster I realised I was free of the ugly monster's thrall. I walked back along the road, under the monstrous threads with impunity, and looked up at the ugly scars the behemoth had rent up the hillside on both sides of the glen.
Oh dear. Beauly - Denny has cost this country so much beauty. They are supposed to put it right. Lets see.
It certainly doesn't look pretty up there now, although I have to admit that I didn't find these hills appealing even when I did them a few years ago! I recall that a budget of £6,600 is available to re-landscape the area round each pylon but what about the "motorway tracks"? _________________ Being on the hills gives you a sense of where you are, where you've been, where you're going and why!
Logged: Munros: 23 (3rd round) Corbetts: 2 (2nd round) Grahams: 205 Donalds: 20 New Donalds: 20 Sub 2000s: 1
Posted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:07 pm Post subject:
This was one of my least enjoyable Graham bags. I approached the "lair of the monster" from the northern end. Quite apart from the disgusting weather (a freezing day in May) and the tramp from the track through deep wet snow in thick fog to locate the "summit", the day was hardly improved by meeting about a dozen massive trucks who were busy in constructing the said monster. The only pleasant bit was the old track climbing up from Hilton Lodge through the woodland at the start of the walk.
I didn't really enjoy the other two Grahams in this area either, but at least the ascents of these were a lot more peaceful.
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