Second Visit this Summer
We travel to Sligachan overnight and leave the bags at the Sligachan Hotel as soon as we arrive. We then book a room for the night after next and get a taxi to the campsite at Glen Brittle from where we walk up to Coir’ a Ghrunnda.. Obviously all this activity has been carefully planned for many months preceding; each of us having packed three bags, (nestling one inside the other). There is the big total luggage sack, the camping sack, and finally the very much pared down sack for the 1 day attempt on the ridge. This bag and the camping bag are the product of weeks of carefully weighing every item contained within it and buying the lightest, smallest version of all articles. So, as a result, the day bags, including climbing gear, food and water weigh 6 kilos each. We have also been practising walking, scrambling and – particularly difficult – climbing with these bags on. The sun is shining and we find that the path has been improved up to Coir’ a Ghrunnda.
The path now leads us higher up the sides of the Corrie, thus avoiding many of the bogs that we habitually plunged through in past walk-ins. We debate the ethics of tourist paths in wild places but we are glad of it today as, miraculously our feet remain dry throughout one of the historically boggiest walks in Scotland. This is important to us as we are wearing our shoes for the traverse of the ridge and it would be good for them to be dry.
At Loch Coir’ a Ghrunnda we spend a while scouting for the best site for our tent and agree on a pitch enclosed by a convenient wall of stones which includes a handy cooking platform and level stones for mugs and plates. Jim puts up the new tent – a Terra Nova Voyager, with gossamer-thin walls and we make a brew, using water from a charmingly fashioned spigot in a small spring’s stream, only about 10 metres away. The location is stunning, the lonely bowl of my favourite corrie, with only deep blue sky and acres of rock above us.
Noodles for tea, which we cook through mosquito nets. Two different types of noodle, to keep the excitement levels high, then Chorley cakes. All food is severely rationed, so there is no point wanting more than is allowed for each meal. Having said that, one usually finds that once you understand there is a limit, you are quite happy with what you have got and don’t bother even thinking about what you don’t have. However a mysterious red Sigg bottle has appeared on the cooking stone and this later proves to contain Glenlivet.
We spend some time in finding a path up through the giant monster shaped boulders that lead to the Bealach and leave a big arrow in the sand at the bottom of the way so that we won’t get lost in the dark tomorrow morning.
We are alone, in the wilderness of rock and water, the ridge towering above us, and the weather is good, the sky gradually darkening to night and stars appearing to our eyes one by one.
The night sky is possibly the most stunning display I have ever seen, the Milky Way clear, the whole heaven full to bursting with points of light, the more I look, the more I see; shooting stars, Pleiades, Andromeda. We sleep well, and my groovy telephone alarm wakes us at 3 am, ready for the 4am start.