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Monday, 12 April 2010

Sun and fab views on three Glenfinnan Munros

The G-Force had been "saving" the Munros at Glenfinnan for a spring or summer's day. He wanted to be able to savour the gorgeous surrounding scenery in nicer weather. As luck would have it he chose this weekend – and sure enough we were able to feast our eyes on some of Scotland's finest views over two days of remarkable sunny and warm weather.

On Saturday we headed from Glenfinnan village, in sight of the railway viaduct made famous recently thanks to the filming of the second and third Harry Potter movies, to summit Sgurr Thuilm (963m) and Sgurr nan Coireachan (956m). To reduce the length of the day of walking we decided to mountain bike the first few miles along a track to the base of the first Munro. This was a smart move, especially when it came to the end of the long and challenging walk.

Pretty much from the outset, the views were every bit as entrancing as we'd hoped for. (In fact from the moment we left Glasgow in the morning and headed via Glencoe to Fort William and then Glenfinnan the sun cast a magical light on Scotland's scenery.) And while the walk took in a challenging amount of ascent and descent with numerous "non-Munro" summits to negotiate along a long ridge before ticking off Thuilm and Coireachan, the landscape that spread for many miles in all directions was wonderfully distracting. The fact that the whole scene basked in warm sunshine and beneath a deep blue sky only added to the stunning sense of "Scotland surreal".

Summit of Thuilm

The G-Force on the summit of Coireachan

This weekend, too, we met more people than we have during all our months of winter hiking. It was fantastic to find that the sun had warmed many more people towards the idea of a decent hike and so we met several groups of people and a fair few solo walkers. It seemed that spring had raised everyone's spirits and during passing conversations we found that every walker was as thrilled as us to be walking through such amazing countryside in such equally amazing weather.

Even the long, hard descent from the final Munro did little to dampen out spirits. I admit, though, that the terrain and taken a toll on my leg muscles and feet so it was with undisguised glee that I jumped back on the bike to whizz the final few miles back to the car. Sorry to any walkers who we passed at speed. I can only imagine how tough it was to walk those final few miles on a road perfectly fit for a car – and then to see two cyclists delightedly riding past.

Due to a lack of organisation (yes, Mr G-Force, you know who was to blame!) at 6pm we still did not have any overnight accommodation. Thanks to the wonders of the iPhone and Google, however, we quickly located a spare room in a B&B a half hour's drive away. When booking this way you can not be sure of the quality of accommodation but there was little choice – and luck was clearly on our side because the B&B turned out to be good. In fact, if you want a room and breakfast for £30 per person then I'd thoroughly recommend Coire Glas.

Amazingly, Sunday turned out to be even warmer and sunnier. Wearing less clothes and even more sun lotion we headed off again on mountain bikes from Glenfinnan to reach the base of a beast of a steep climb to the summit of Gulivan or Gaol Bheinn (9787m). Cameron McNeish describes the ascent as "relentless" and I wouldn't disagree. Thankfully, though, the views were again spellbinding. Because of jaded legs I needed to make frequent rest stops but at every stop I found myself in utter awe of the landscape. Lucky, lucky us!

The G-Force atop Gulivan. And, no, this is not
some fancy camera magic but a
clearly knackered gadget. Time for a new one..

The "relentless" up also included a false "south" summit, some frustrating descent and then further ascent. But the opportunity to bask in sunshine at the summit while eating lunch made the hard work more than worthwhile. "You could never ever tire of such amazing views," commented the G-Force. So true.

And then came the "relentless" descent. After two long days of walking my legs and feet were aching and so the descent felt every bit as tough as the ascent. Again it was a huge bonus to be able to hop on to our bikes to cycle the final four miles back to the car. And, again, I can only imagine how hard it was for walkers to see us whizzing by as they tramped back along the trail to the car park. Really, the bikes were a stroke of genius for both of these Munro bagging expeditions.

It comes as no surprise to find that this beautiful area, and including the historic viaduct, has been the location of several films and is also known as Monarch of the Glen country. No doubt the TV and movie producers were as transfixed as any walker.

Let's hope the weather is as good as we set off for a family campervanning adventure in a Big Tree Campervan this weekend...

1 comment:

  1. Loved this blog Fi because I was THERE the next captured the sky it was amazing the day we did it too!