There were seven of us who initially set off for a truncated Easter trip. We picked up the eighth (Matt Hilton) en route to Scotland in Weatherby.
Our directions to get to the hut custodian’s house was hazy at best (OK, non-existent) and we needed to get there to pick up the keys to the hut.
Jim had to call the custodian when we stopped for fuel (still in the petrol station - isn’t there some law against that?). Poor Jim ended up having to talk to the guy for 20 minutes before he could escape, and after all that was left with a list of incomprehensible directions which later proved to be as useless as he had feared.
All we knew was that we had to head to Stirling, then Dundee, then some obscure place in the middle of nowhere (and this is Scotland we are talking about mind) called Kirriemuir where if we turned left after Mrs Miggins Pie shop, down past some border hedge, turn left at the fountain in memory of some witch who was burnt in 1009…..
We must have circled the ‘town’ centre about three times before we found a (closed) police station. They must have have been watching us circling however as no sooner had we pulled over than they appeared beside us in a large van wondering if we needed any help.
We did – and soon we were off again with a police escort to the hut custodians house at 1am.
When we had finally found the guys house, Jim and one of our new-found police friends started taking apart the custodians front garden as we had been told that the keys would be ‘under a plant pot’. Despite the police getting a radio message of a 999 call, they persisted in staying and helping us try and find the keys (“Och, don’t ye worry, we’ll get therrre eventually”). It was Fabian, who had got out to stretch his legs, who noticed a tiny plant pot upturned on the garden wall which upon inspection, yielded the keys.
The bumpy route then on to Glen Clova was made more bumpy by the fact that there were (and really no exaggeration) millions of frogs on the road - for miles! Despite Jim’s best rally driving efforts in a minibus trying to avoid them, they made an impressive ‘spalt’ or 'crunch' when they were run over and we must have taken out several thousand at least!
At last we arrived at the hut and we set about ignoring the strict MPS rule about faffing: we were all actually organised enough to pack all of our things for the next two days in advance as we were all going to be camping out the following night.
In the morning, we all awoke early and Franco made a large pot of porridge for everyone, naively hoping this might encourage an early start. The weather had started off beautifully, but had quickly come over murky – though there was no sign of any rain and it was muggily warm. It was not long before the four walkers (Claire, Fabian, Franco and Steve) were setting off on the long route to bag Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor after Al H had been given regimental instructions from Franco about where to hide the hut keys when they left after packing their climbing gear (it was not decided whether the climbers - Al H, Jim, Matt H and Paul – would stay out for two nights or not, but the walkers were definately only staying out the one night).
We were all going to take the same path through the glen and up onto the plateaux to bag the first three Munros, then the climbers were going to head off north east to take in Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach and Lochnagar before setting up camp and the walkers were going to head back into the Glen to camp as their remaining three Munros were the other side of the river (we ended up doing four on that side - see below). However, despite the fact that they were all carrying climbing racks as well as camping gear (for a possible two nights), the climbers were soon spotted advancing towards the walkers and we arrived at the footbridge over the river at about the same time. From now on, we walked as a group – though there was an obvious ‘climbers’ and ‘walkers’ division – the former excitedly discussing amongst themselves how tricky their climb was going to be.
Before our first Munro, we scouted Sandy Hillocks Bothy – and were very pleased that we all had tents as it was in effect a cattle shed – complete with straw bails and lots of farmyard shit. At least it gave us time to dump our heavy rucksacks for a bit! Franco's info gleaned beforehand from the sparse pickings on the web had proved useful - camping was a good call.
At the top of our first and wholly unremarkable Munro (Broad Cairn), we stopped for a bit of lunch before heading on to our second – which was to be Franco’s 100th!
We arrived at the cairn, but none were too sure (in the cloud) whether this one actually was the Munro (Cairn Bannoch), or just a Munro top en route. It later transpired that it was the Munro, (but we may have missed the previous top) but as the climbers had just headed off into the gloom, the walkers decided to tell them that they had missed it. Franco celebrated his 100th in muted style.
The weather remained misty and rather dull until we caught up with the climbers near the summit of the third Munro (Carn an t-Sagairt Mor – though when I say summit on this meet report, this whole area really was more like the inaptly-named ‘Peak District’ in that it was relatively flat and boring – just at Munro height). Here the sun started to break through and we sat and basked in the warm sunshine. We had been told by some passing walkers, that the area that we were plodding through was up to 2 meters deep in snow just a week ago. All that remained since several days of torrential rain midweek and a warm snap was the odd snow-field.
At the top of Munro three, the walkers told the climbers that they had missed the second Munro and Fabian and Franco were horrified to note that the climbers did not even seem to care! Paul started a tirade against the bagging phenomenon announcing that he was going to one day ‘anti-bag’ all the Munros (see the bagger page).
Fabian had remained quiet and in deep thought throughout this, and quietly mentioned with a slightly evil glint in his eye to Franco that “if we do the extra two Munros that the climbers are doing, and an extra one tomorrow, I could get 11 Munros for the weekend and overtake Damo in the completely non-competitive Munro Tally”. Franco, although always keen to bag munros, was concerned about what this change of plan might do to his reputation as an evil bagger. Franco had planned the original route to be a nice feasible 6 munros in 2 days that shouldn't be too arduous (but you didn't put up much of an arguement did you Franco?).
Steve had no objections to the longer route, and any unenthusiasm felt by Claire was not voiced quite loudly enough to veto the change of plan. Franco was happy to divert blame for the longer route onto Fabian as the upstart bagger, had not yet learnt as Franco had, to temper his enthusuaism for bagging with the concerns of the group (I was quite aware of the feelings of the group - I just chose to ignore them!).
The extra two munros also included a Munro top along the way (“as it would have been rude not to have bagged that too!”). When Fabian interrupted Paul's tirade against bagging and told him that he could equal or possibly Beat Damo's tally, the sudden change in opinion from him and indeed all of the climbers was incredible: "Oh, you must do it then!"
Thus we all walked for the rest of the afternoon together in the warm sunshine to Lochnagar where the climbers went off to have a look down at what they would be climbing up the next day and the walkers went off the summit to have a look at Sandy Loch (their new campsite). We all met up at the top for a photo shoot and then waving goodbye we split into our two groups and went our separate ways.
Please guys - at least say something about your camping and day's climbing? A complete meet report may even be a record for an MPS trip this year!//
Hilton feels orgasmic (???)
Mad man who stood on cornice.
The very boring track and its comparison to hot dogs.
A beautiful spot at Sandy Loch (about 800 meters high) was to be our camp site and we got an amazing view of the sunset as we had dinner and shared cold beer and wine (which we chilled in the snow). Tents went up quickly and soon after dinner we were all snug in our sleeping bags chatting until we dropped off to sleep at about 9pm.
In the morning, we awoke to frost on the tents and a cloudless sky - or nearly! The view to the north showed that we were actually camping above the clouds!
After a quick breakfast, Fabian and Franco checked the route for their now longer trek to get back down to the river and back up to get their first Munro of the day. With tents and everything packed we set off - with only the odd river hindering progress. The sun was beating on the tops of our heads and necks now and we snaked our way round the sides of some of yesterdays Munros and slowly down to the river in the glen. The actual crossing had caused some concern when viewed from above, but turned out to be fairly easy and I don't think that anyone got wet feet.
The route up the other side (after a spot of lunch) was a bosh straight up. (Later, back in Notts, Damo asked Franco why they had chosen a route across the valley with more ascent than an obvious travese round. The only excuse Franco could give was that as he had been re-planning the route on a 1:100,000 inkjet printout he hadn't spotted the high pass- I had suggested the alternative route Franco as I had a 1:25,000 but you vetoed me - but we could always tell people that we are just well 'ard!)
After several "we must be there? no?" on a long gradual ascent, we got to our first Munro of the day (and 6th of the trek thus far - Carn an Tuirc) sometime after 1pm. The weather was still glorious (Steve and Fabs were starting to suffer red sunburnt faces and necks), though we could see that we were going to spend the rest of the day in the clouds as some mist had rolled in and was cascading beautifully down into the valley beyond.
Yep, Munro number seven was in the cloud (Cairn of Claise) and from here, Fabian and Franco set compass bearings directly to the eighth Munro (Tolmount), about 3 km away as visibility was lousy. From here then on to our last and ninth Munro of the trek (Tom Buidhe). We were all feeling rather knackered but proud of ourselves and we had an easy descent down a snow-field back to the River of Glen Doll.
Here Franco was keen to find Davys Bouragh, another bothy which was - when we found it after much discussion along the lines of "well, it must be around here somewhere" - built into the hill under the path. It would have been pretty hard to find in the dark!
We had received a message from Jim earlier during a fleeting nanosecond of phone reception, that Al had forgotten to leave the keys at the hut (despite Franco's detailed instructions five minutes before they left the hut - muppet!) and that they would be coming back that evening to join us. They were (thankfully) back at the hut by the time we made it back so we didn't have to wait about in the cold or worse - break in! At least we had the whole group back for our 'big meal'.
Fabian cooked an awesome curry for the annual dinner - a Chicken Kerala in a coconut sauce - with help from Claire, which was thourghly enjoyed by all. The formal attire didn't quite materialse as Jim and Fabian were the only ones to bring a shirt (though they didn't bother put them on as nobody else had made an effort). As neither the old or new social secs were present, we got away with it. Attempts were made at high brow conversation, but mostly failed and Steve had his glass topped up many times.
Steve gets water poured on him, caught on tape - can we see it here (please???)
 Δ - Gaff - the file size limit in config.php might be preventing this?
The Last Day
Amidst a number of hangovers and a heated argument about how to murder Fabian after an alleged spectacular snoring feat, Al and Matt got up first as they were going on a 4 Munro run: Driesh, Mayar, Tom Buidhe and Tolmount, mainly as Matt needed to bag these four so that "I never have to come back here again".
Spoken like a true bagger!
By about 10am, the rest were up and were going to bag Driesh and Mayar. Claire had suffered with bad blisters from the previous two days of Fabian's bagging enthusiasm (not just me Franco!!) and was going to stay at the hut, despite Franco's attempts to persuade her to become the first girl in living memory to win the Pineapple. So we (Jim, Steve, Franco and Fabs) set off along the path and Paul headed off in another direction as he was going to run the two. We boshed straight up Driesh, an arduous and dull plod, and were almost at the top when some insane character came leaping out at us from the mist - it was Paul who had already bagged Mayar and had just bagged Driesh. We had a spot of lunch at a wind break at the top, then Paul headed off down to the hut and we proceeded to Mayar. A dull plod back and were again sat in the hut - Fabian grinning inanely as he had now overtaken Damo on the Munro Tally. Claire had made some awesome beefburgers for us out of the mince that had not been used and we all sat about eating and were joined by Al and Matt after their hardcore run (at compass point for most of it due to the clouds). All of us were amused to see Milton completely knackered out by the bionic Hampshire.
Matt, like Franco had now passed the 100 Munro mark - congratulations to both of them!
We packed and cleaned up the hut with rapid efficiency and headed off to return the keys to the custodian. This time we found the house OK but the guy was not in. Jim was forced (reluctantly) to call him and again ended up having another 20 minute conversation about what we all did, what the weather had been like etc... Jim's relationship with the hut custodian continued to grow!
When the minibus stopped at Lockerbie, Fabian announced the much discussed Pineapple Prizes - his first official duty as vice president in the absence of president Nick. Although it had been a truncated meet, it was felt that the Rock, Pineapple and bog roll should still be awarded, especially as the bog roll went for 7 munros - more than the pineapple on some week meets! It had truly been a spectacular trip:
Steve went from 0 to 11 munros in a weekend.
Claire went from 2 to 11 Munros in a weekend and jumped up to become the top ranked girl in the tally.
Franco, Milton and Fabian all passed Damo in the tally.
5 more digits were required to count the group's Munros.
After dropping Milton off in Weatherby, we made it back to Stores in good time (around midnight).
Cheers to all for a great meet!!