Thursday, 5 May 2011

The South Glen Shiel Ridge (the day of 7 Munros)

After a couple of days rest and recuperation (whisky tasting on Skye, a gentle coastal walk in Applecross and seafood dinner in Plockton), the big day had arrived! Neil and I had discussed wanting to do this walk for some time, so we were excited about the day that lay ahead. We’d managed to coincide it with the day of the Royal Wedding (not on purpose), but both of us were pretty happy to just catch the highlights that evening. We watched the build up on BBC as we tucked into our breakfast, and then packed the car (complete with bikes) ready to head off.

We parked the car just up the road from the battle of Glen Shiel, donned our walking gear and jumped on the bikes. We had a 6 mile cycle (mostly uphill) up the road to reach the Cluanie Inn, the start of our walk. My legs were feeling fairly fresh as I started cycling up the road. I very much enjoyed cycling along; occasionally looking up to my right to see the spectacular sight of the Glen Shiel Ridge, and realising that very soon we’d be hiking back across it. I spotted a sign ahead, Cluanie Inn 400m ahead – we’d almost made it, the bike ride felt much easier than I’d been expecting. After a quick photo and locking up the bikes, we headed off on the walk.

The first 4 miles is a gradual ascent along a very good stalkers path. The ascent then rises more steeply and the first Munro is reached with relative ease. It was great to reach the top. Another couple of people were at the top, it appeared they had come from another direction and were probably only doing a small section of the ridge that day. They were the last people we saw on the ridge all day! Maybe we were the only ones missing the wedding after all?! The views were slightly hazier than previous days, but either way, we couldn’t complain, we could still see as far as the eye could see! Quite a daunting prospect when we could see the ridge which lay ahead of us. The hike to the next one was fairly straightforward and took us no time at all, however getting between two and three was quite tough, with a bit of a hill in between which added to the challenge. The sun continued to shine throughout, though it was pretty windy at times, almost sweeping you off your feet on occasions! It was great to get to number six and see where we’d come from. We had a quick check of the map to see which our last hill was. At this point we were pleased to see it was the closer of the two we could see before us. We had a last push to the top of Munro number seven for the day! And felt a great sense of achievement on getting to it! The sun was starting to go down, and once again the light off the surrounding landscape was spectacular. After revelling in the joy of having completed the South Glen Shiel Ridge, our thoughts turned towards the next part, getting down! The start of the descent felt pretty good – my legs must have become stronger after the Saddle a few days before I thought. But then about half way down the fatigue started to work its way in! A few mini-eggs later and I had a return of energy, but there comes a point when no amount of mini-eggs will restore the energy levels! Again, we could spot the red dot of our car on the road. The last little bit was through some boggy woodland which made for some hard walking, but we made it. Back on solid tarmac, we headed back to car. It was 8:45pm. We drove back to the Cluanie Inn to pick up our bikes and then headed back to the cottage. It was time for some pasta and to catch the Royal Wedding highlights on TV. Another fantastic day!

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