Coulin Forest:
Maol Chean-dearg, Beinn Liath Mhor & Sgorr Ruadh

Monday 22nd July 2013

Weather/Conditions: And another really hot day. Too hot to be enjoyed, to be honest.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 23.9km / 1900m / 8h 20m
Accompanying: Alone

My original plan had been to finish off Monar and thus finish all my Munros south of Loch Carron. Yesterday, I was up Moruisg and I decided quite definitely that with the heat and weather coming in, I would delay Monar and do something that could be done in a day.

I spent last night in Gerry's Hostel in Achnashellach. I always remember thinking how far I would have come to have made it here. And I've made it! (Though to be fair I still have Monar to do.) I meant to rise early to beat the sun, but when it came to it, I just slept in until I woke naturally. Probably no bad thing. I spent an easy morning chatting to a woman about mountains (didn't get your name, sorry) then headed down Glen Carron to Coulags.

The three Munros of Coulin Forest are arranged in a slightly unhelpful way in that it's not obvious how to do a (reasonable) round trip that takes them all in. But when I met up with Lorraine McCall for dinner a few nights ago, she showed me her maps, which helpfully had a round-trip of Coulin marked on them. Despite countless times looking at the map of Coulin, I'd never thought to do her route: do Maol Chean-dearg from Coulags, go around the back of Sgorr Ruadh to Beinn Liath Mhor on a stalker's track, then cut back to Coulags over Sgorr Ruadh. Very simple and strangely not obvious. Perfect.

The morning had started out cool as I walked up the glen to the bothy below Maol Chean-dearg. Beyond that, the heat built up and I was sweating buckets all the way to the summit. The clegs were out and I think I killed a record amount of them - about 20 or 30 over the course of the day.

With the burden of tiredness, I slogged around the back of Sgorr Ruadh to Beinn Liath Mhor and cut a route up it's west buttress. The route finding here is quite deceptive, and sometimes I just had to stop, sit and take down some water. From this summit; more great views of Torridon and beyond. But I was so damn tired.

Sgorr Ruadh was now one of the few Munros I'd never done. I paced myself to its summit and sat in the shaded corners of the cairn, getting out the sun as best as I could. With this one done, I'm down to 14 Munros that I've never climbed. (in my normal round of the Munros, outside the continuous one).

The theme of the day was tiredness. Enjoyment factor was low, and although I wasn't in any doubt I'd get the summits, I never actually found it much fun, which is a shame. I'll come back to them another time, perhaps feeling fresher. They are amazing mountains.

I came off the south flank of Sgorr Ruadh to arrive back at the approach path near the bothy, then back down to the road at Coulags. I drove round to Shieldaig, where I met mum, dad and Uncle Jim for dinner. It was a day that could have been a whole lot better than it was; but hell, you can't win them all.

23 July: Rest, Badachro

Despite feeling strongly to the contrary, I decided to take a rest today. It seems to be that I go through a cycle of about 12 days of getting progressively fried, until I sense it's best just to relent for a day and make the time back up later. Actually, I'd go as far to say I enjoy this process of getting behind and pulling the time back.

I'm just over two weeks from the finish line. Last week, I was three days behind schedule. In the past couple of days I've got back on schedule, but today's rest drops me a day once more. The last week has been mental: I crammed eight planned days into five to make up time through Glen Shiel and Affric. It worked, and put me back on par. The price was huge days in Affric getting tired and fried by the sun which has beaten down over all the country. The heat made me lethargic and weary, and this morning I decided a break was in order.

The prospect of the final two weeks is feeling a little stressful. The sole reason is the weather forecast. For the foreseeable future, there's going to be afternoon thunderstorms arriving on the back of heavy showers and sun. Lightning seems a cruel turn of events so close to the end of my Round. I've got a couple of overnight trips coming up (Monar and Fisherfield), and it's easy to trade that exposure to the weather for single-day walks. That would leave me with overnights very close to the end. I feel as though I might be getting backed into a corner.

The good news is my parents are up until the end, and it gives me a base to work from without worrying about where to sleep and what I've got to eat. But I can't lie - a big part of me is at a point where I'll be quite happy to have it all done. In my head, new challenges and projects await. The intensity of the Shiel-Affric bagging marathon has dropped me north of Glen Carron with a sense in my head that it's over. Of course, it most certainly isn't. Persistence pays more than ever and I'll have to maintain the pace right to the end. The lyrics to Marathon come to mind. (Another Rush song, sorry.) My rest day today probably deepened the momentum slump, but I expect this. I'll get up some mountains tomorrow and it'll certainly disappear.

The good news is, as of yesterday, I've got 40 to go. I should do the Fannaichs in a oner - that would mean there's 31 to go which is a really nice prospect! But no, I'll save them for next week.

My plan for the next few days is to get up early and get my hills done. It seems the thunder will be triggered by afternoon heat, so it would be nice to get my plans done by midday. Right now, I'm at the Badachro Inn with my folks and Uncle Jim. Today has been spent eating, resting up, and not much else, gladly.

360° Panoramas

Maol Chean-dearg

Beinn Liath Mhor

Sgorr Ruadh
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 10.40am Coulags
(0.40) 11.20am Coire Fionnaraich bothy
(2.35) 1.15pm Maol Chean-dearg
(5.25) 4.05pm Beinn Liath Mhor
(6.40) 5.20pm Sgorr Ruadh
(8.20) c. 7.00pm Coulags (no record of time!)
Uploaded: 2019-02-14