Tuesday, 7 July 2009

(Glen Ey, part one) The hills are alive with the sound of...

...rustling spinnaker and loads o’ wee beasties.

Having worked nightshift all last week to cover for someone my reward was a slightly longer weekend, and I intended to take advantage of it. I breakfasted myself, fed granny’s cat then took my time driving first to Pitlochry. I wanted to have a poke around the gear shops and pick up some dehydrated food for dinner. It was the first time I’d really had a look in the gear shops there and frankly I wasn’t impressed. They all sell shite even Blacks would be ashamed to flog except for a wee gem of a place lurking on the outskirts. These guy’s have a decent selection of kit and clearly know their stuff. I would’ve stuck a Budgie Green Haglofs OZ on my overdraft if were not for the fact I’d be kidding myself on that I can fit my freak arms into a medium. I grabbed some Stoats Porridge Oat bars and a couple of packs of the new Pomegranate Passion Honeystinger Chews and resigned myself to a packet of Couscous from the co op.

I arrived at Inverey in the hot muggy heat with all the car windows down and the sunroof open. I didn’t linger long. I pulled my now favourite Salomons on, shouldered my noticeably smaller and lighter pack and headed off up the long track into Glen Ey.

I could get used to using the Jirishanca as my overnight sack; I’m finding it carries better than my Villain. Probably because I’m forced to be more ruthless with my packing and the lower profile improves my centre of gravity. Funnily enough though, it’s a pack I've often overlooked as the Villain is my standard overnight/backpacking sack and my ‘most of the year round’ kit for a day hike fits comfortably in my Adventure light. The Jirishanca generally only gets to see the light of winter days, this shall be rectified. I am going to have a wee play with the fit on the Villain though, removing the lumbar pad etc.

After walking up the track for a minute it was like someone had flipped the civilisation button to off. I was immediately immersed in a colourful noisescape of birdsong and buzzing bees set to a mountainous backdrop. I wonder how much of that is due to the “pipers wood” regeneration project? Any way’s it really is a beautiful glen to wander up, I’ll be back even if it's only to visit the colonels bed.

After filling up with water at the second bridge back over the Ey Burn I left the track to head up the shoulder of Creag an Fhuathais. It was steep and hard going bashing through the heather. It was hot, humid and there was no cooling breeze. The various horse flys and other winged pests were out in their droves but fortunately not many midges to be seen. It was a relief to reach the gentle breeze only to had on the tops. As I reached the stones that litter the summits here I disturbed a pair of ptarmigan which flew off croaking loudly at me. I wasn’t fast enough to catch them on camera but a moment later their young ptarmigan came running out. I grabbed a single shot as he ran off and made my way on to the summit so as not to distress him any further. I lingered on the summit here soaking up the views and enjoying the cooling effect as the wind dried my damp baselayer.

The walk along the wide plateaux like line of tops to the 944m summit of An Socach was a pleasure and the solitude made it even more special. I settled into that rhythmic plod only a mountaineer knows as I ambled along taking in the view in all directions. On the top of the first Munro summit of the weekend I surveyed the land spying out the best lines to the other two tops I intended to reach tomorrow. My belly started to speak to me, it was time to go set up camp and get dinner on.

I made my way back to a spot (NO 098,809) I made mental note of as I passed earlier. Here would be crackin' spot indeed, much better than last weeks low level disaster. It was level and sheltered with fine views. I lay down on the near pefect heather bed I’d chosen for the night. It was long enough to be springy and comfortable but still short enough to not lose pegs in. I pegged out the bivy bag and pitched the tarp into a kind of half flying V, half lean to formation. I really should read up on this and learn how to do it properly. Mind you it hasn’t blown away yet. I crawled into my sleeping bag as the temperature started to dip and got the stove lit for a cuppa and dinner. I was eating my Couscous and thinking “now I know why Ainsley Harriot has that incessant stupid grin on his face, its because the cheaper own brand Co op stuff tastes much nicer while he laughs all the way to the bank” when I noticed a large Mountain Hare eyeing me from the skyline. He stayed put for ages before scarpering off.

After many more cuppa’s while reading the book on my iphone the sun started to go down so I put the book away and watched that instead. It wasn’t the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen but it was especially nice to have it all to myself, well almost. I’m not sure if it was a natural reaction to watching the sky darken or if it was just the fatigue of the drive and the effort of ascending in the heat catching me up but I found myself nodding off. I could still hear the birds calling to one another even at this hour (probably discussing this strange rustling, snoring red thing that’s appeared). It was a very pleasant end to very nice day to drift off listening to nature and I’m pretty sure I even heard a haggis snuffling about at one point.

View this map on Multimap.com
Get directions on Multimap.com


  1. Great little trip there and some nice pictures. From what I can see, the tarp was pitched very well with a nice taut profile so I wouldnt be too harsh on yourself. I love tarps but get frazzled when I cant remember which knot to use where and tend to fall back on the "Gordian Knot" approach.... :)
    I have been doing some tinkering with overnighter/weekender rucksacks and have come to the conclusion that for summer I cant find a better sack that the OMM 35L and for winter either the Golite Jam or the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
    All I have to do now is save up for a Neo Air mat and my lightweight kit bundle will be complete

  2. Thanks, I've been on your page a few times recently. the new background is looking good btw.

    Aye a few line-loks do me fine too, there's no shame in it. I might get a copy of that DVD Bob C sells to see how other configurations work.

    A Neo-air is on my list but the reports of leaking ones are making me wait till mark two is released.

  3. Nice one! Well done for not sliding down the hill in the sleeping bag this time :o)

  4. Oh I made sure not to make that mistake two weeks in a row, my pitch was almost spirit level flat this time ;o)

  5. I've had to change the background back again, the font size was too small for some people and since I am using a preformed template its very difficult to change it on wordpress......


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