Wullie & Webby had decided they were going to camp in Glencoe on the Monday night, I couldn't manage that, so had agreed that I would meet them very early on Tuesday morning so we could get round and I could get home in time to sort out the kids in time for their various evening activities. I crawled out of bed and into my 'pre-loaded' car, leaving Perth at the ridiculous time of 04:15. The huge advantage of travelling at that time is how quiet and clear the roads are, well, less the odd suicidal 'Bambi' ! It had been in the news this week that some petrol-head was claiming he had travelled non-stop between Lands End and John 'o' Groats in just over 9 hours !! I very much doubt he travelled between Perth and Glencoe on that particular journey, however, had he done so I reckon I would have been right on his bumper, arriving at the guy's camping spot at the ski centre 90 mins after setting off. If only it was always like that !
I had intimated I would be through probably nearer 06:30 so the guys were still just packing up camp and sorting themselves out with breakfast. I mucked in and the camp was soon packed away and we were good to go. That was until Webby realised that actually he was now fully awake but yet could still not see properly. He wasn't wearing his specs, nor could he find them anywhere ! After frantically searching the campsite it dawned on him that he had left them in a pocket in the tent, that'll be the tent I had rolled up tightly and 'shoe-horned' back into its stuffsack ! Tent unpacked again, and sure enough he found his glasses in the said pocket. They were intact, if a bit...err....skew-whiff, but ultimately so is his coupon so in actual fact the fitted his face better than they had ever done !
Now we were good to go. As circumstances had dictated that we had 2 cars between us, we decided to leave one car in South Ballachullish before parking the other, and starting the walk from the usual starting point in front of the local tourist information building. This should allow us to save a reasonable chunk of time by avoiding a reasonably long walk along the A82 back to the car on completion of the hills.
At around the 250m mark you come to a fence with no obvious gate or style that we could see so eventually, after walking backwards and forwards along the length of it for a while, we stopped wasting time looking and just jumped it, which after reading the Walkhighlands walk description on my return is exactly what you are supposed to do(h). A few more metres up through increasingly thicker clumps of heather and ferns sees you eventually reach a path, never have I been so happy to do so. Although I didn't drop to my knees to kiss the ground the thought most definitely did cross my mind and given the level of relief, seemed entirely appropriate ! As we reached the start of the Beinn Bhan ridge, we were still shy of 600m up and there was no doubt it had been bloody hard work getting there. However, like most things, the greatest rewards come after the greatest endeavours. In this case it was the views behind you over the village and Loch Leven to the unmistakeable conical profile of the Pap of glencoe. With each metre of ascent the view just got better and better and to be perefectly honest I could happily have perched myself on the rocky outcrop we crossed and just enjoyed the vista for hour after hour.
After the best part of 3 hours of walking in the most extreme heat I've ever experienced on a mountain, we eventually topped out on the summit. I must admit there were times on the ascent where I thought that no views would be worth this amount of suffering. Wow was I wrong, given the exertion to get here, literally breathtaking seems the only attributable adjective for the vistas before us.
It was much sooner than we'd have liked that we had to admit defeat and get the hell away from the marauding hordes. After taking in the stunning views for the last time we reluctantly hauled ourselves away and began our descent from the mountain.
The exertions had obviously taken their toll on the oldest member of the party. Webby is a fairly spritely 62 year old but he had not done much walking in the previous weeks and was starting to get pains in his legs, he thought he had strained something but I was pretty sure it was the early signs of cramp. Suddenly there was an almighty howl behind me, Webby had gone down clutching the back of his leg and was rolling around on the ground like a certain Brazilian footballer. One second he was trudging along behind us at a reasonable pace, the next he had disappeared amongst the ferns. I couldn't get the Proclaimers classic out my head...Lochaber no more, Sutherland no more, Lewis no more, Webby Neymar !! We immediately responded exactly how you'd expect from such good friends, yep, we bent double, creasing ourselves with laughter before carrying on walking !
"stretch it" I shouted back, "it'll be fine".
" I can't get up" came the reply.
Wullie then delivered the best motivational words never to be published in any self-help manual, "get up ye auld $*#!, we are no waiting on ye and it's about £300 for a taxi back to Dundee". And with that Webby was back on his feet quicker than that same Brazilian. Muttering under his breath, he soon reappeared back in view, hobbling down the track with an expression similar to those on the coupons of those pesky beasts on the summit. Do not feel sorry for him, I guarantee he would've responded in exactly the same way if it had happened to either of us !
We continued down the waymarked forrest trails until we reached the Glenachulish forest car park where we'd left the 'second' car earlier this morning. What a great feeling it was to reach the car knowing that we had avoided the significant walk back along the A82. Such a walk would be unpleasant enough after a hard day in the hills in any weather, but today even the prospect of it was horrifying. Munros 92 & 93 in the bag, a pair of belters that will live long in the memory. All that remained now was to drop the 2 wallopers back at their car in Ballachulish and head back East up the road.