Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Backpacking Around Glen Lednock

LTD is waiting for his tea on the first night/last sunny evening

The countryside just a bit North of Comrie is occupied by a couple of reservoirs, a Munro and a fine selection of heathery/grassy/empty hills. It seems, from my wanderings, which , it has to be admitted, were midweek, that nobody much goes there. Me and LTD parked the knipemobile quite prettily in a car park in Comrie which has a time limit of just 72 hours. This was just about enough
Lord Melville's Monument

We began by following the made path to Deil's Cauldron and them foolishly up through stupidly steep woodland to visit Lord Melville's Monument which has a fine view of Comrie if you can see it for the sweat stinging your eyes. Carrying a big backpacking pack up here in the first hours of a trip counted as a mistake. We took to the road. Glen Lednock's road ends at a car park and is quite a nice, level, and easy passage. From the car park, there's a good track....
One of Glen Lednock's tracks

Quite nice, really.....

Like wot I said... quite nice
We passed several attractive-looking camping spots but considered that we hadn't walked far enough until, finally running out of steam, we pitched up at a flat spot beside a stream. As I was putting up the tent, a family passed heading back down the glen. These would be the last huming beans I would see until it was almost time to move the car from the car park. 
Note that all references to "we" and "us" above and below, refer mainly to me. Consulting LTD on plans has never been all that productive. I'm just being diplomatic in case he reads this.

End of Day 1 There's a dog in there somewhere
In the morning (which would have been a Wednesday) (I'm not entirely sure why I mention this, as it happens) we set off about 9:00 a.m and followed the track higher and higher, passing some really nice camping spots, but noting the grouse shooters' infrastructure ... traps and stuff.... and on to Creag Ruadh (crag of the rude man), having a long talk with JJ on the phone on it's East top. Creag Ruadh is 712 metres and is easily achieved. Other tops are available. Passing over to Meall Daimh 690 mtrs (Pudding of the devil) involved some bog-trotting  and some random outcrops, but no difficulties. It has some very nice ponds or tarns too...  The sun was still shining.
Camping spots higher up (than we were before)

LTD amuses himself as I chat to JJ on the phone

A Meall Diamh pond or tarn or lochan
After Meall Diamh we had to retrace a bit to avoid losing height on our way to Ruadh Meall 682 metres (Hill of the rude meal - so called because it looks a bit like a lady's breast) - at which point it became lunchtime and also at which point me legs mentioned that some of the uphill bits were getting quite hard work. We made hard work of  Ruadh Meall which was hard work. The legs did a magnificent job and we're all really proud of them and they'll probably get a medal or something for their sacrifice

LTD lines up to have a wee on a cairn.

LTD wonders if that hill over there is Ben Vorlich

Some red deer running away
Having encouraged the legs with some flattery (they're doing a fine job) - staggered over to it's East top (621 metres) where we informed that the legs would regrettably not be available for the forthcoming ascent of Creag Uchdag (Crag of the vomiting dog), due to a previous diary engagement involving not climbing 1000 feet up a big hill. I must admit, that from the East Top, it did look very big. It was here,, that during these negotiations, I found some orange peel and a bit print . These were the first indications of anybody else having been on these hills before. Shouldn't be leaving orange peel about anyway.  It's litter. On the map, a stream at the bealach below looked like a camping spot, but the water turned out to be very irony - that is to say, full of iron salts, not smug and a bit amusing....  Another nice spot was found by the Allt na Criche (stream of the day nursery), just a bit South. We  settled in and so did the midgies. After tea we visited a nearby top Tom a Mhoraire - about 550 metres. The legs mentioned that there would be no more of this sort of thing or else. During the night, the hill fog and even more midgies rolled in and we battened down and lit smoky coils and drank cheap whisky and listened to rock and roll and did some snoring.

Camp by Allt na Criche

Tent seen from Tom a Mhoraire

LTD in his woofbag Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In the morning (probably a Thursday by now, I should think) , the clag had clagged even more so we waited a bit to see if it would clear. This meant drinking lots of coffee and  a wearing midge hood and lots of deet whilst taking LTD out for a wee.
Eventually, we had to leave and get stuck in to the big climb up Creag Uchdag 879 metres (Crag of - oh yeah, we've done that one...) - a 370 metre climb , the top of which could have been almost anywhere for the view of absolutely nothing. 

LTD and the pack ready to set off


Fence posts
The map shows a fence which can be followed. This does not actually exist but some of the fence posts can be spotted in the fog. Some are recumbent. Many are bent and old (we know the feeling....|) and some are missing entirely, so following the fenceposts is what should be done but isn't necessarily all that easy all the time. We followed them easily to Meall Dubh Mor 809 metres (Pudding of the Big Do) (Note that this is evidence of Lancastrian naming systems which clearly pre-date the Gaelic -  a "Big Do" being a significant social occasion such as a Royal banquet,  a diplomatic dinner involving several heads of state or, indeed,  a pub crawl around Skipton. And we managed to find the top of the next hill - Creag nan Eun 850 metres (Crag of Ian's Grandmother) but after that things went a bit astray.  The GPS track of the next 800 metres shows some frantic wanderings, mainly in several different directions the main properties of which were that they were all wrong directions. After a while, sanity returned, somehow and we ended up in the correct place - at Ghlas Choirean. The transfer over rufty-tufty moorland to Carn Buidhe and the bealach just below Ben Chonzie convinced the legs that enougn was enough and that anyway, we have to be fairly near to Comrie in the morning to retrieve the car before the 72 hours was up. So we took to the Invergeldie glen which leads back to Glen Lednock and which produced a nice, quiet camping spot in the midst of some shielings.
Invergeldie Glen camping in the shielings

Brew with a view

This is the bit LTD enjoys the most
So we spent the night quietly amongst the shielings. It was a dark night and a  slow, cold and grey dawn, and as me and LTD dozed snug in our pits, hoping for the dawn to take a bit longer, and amongst the sound of the loud Invergeldie Burn a child was singing. Just a few notes before being whisht by her Mammy. Then there was no more, just the sound of the burn. No birdsong. No sheep. Nothing at all. There's a memory, though of a sweet little song that made no sense.  I probably imagined the whole thing in a half-dream. But here in the shielings, the women brought their children and their cattle and spent a few short summer months and, maybe on a cold and grey morning just like this, the hope for a delay to the start of the day must have been the same as mine and LTD's. 
Remains of a shieling hut
And so we dragged ourselves out of bed and wandered down the track to Glen Lednock, meeting several groups of walkers heading up Ben Chonzie. The fog was still on the hill and they wouldn't have much of a view. Everybody said "hello". A few chatted and mentioned LTD's panniers and one family, completely unequipped asked for route advice and were impressed by the map I showed them (!) I may have advised them badly on the route (I only realised afterwards)  - but as they didn't make the news, I expect they managed. We returned to Comrie and had egg butties and coffee (LTD had a wee). I noted the pie shop and the pubs and went back home to Crook....




This wasn't a major expedition by any means and the mileage was low. If there's a lesson to be learned it is this: That neither me nor LTD are getting any younger or fitter or more able, but we can enjoy a slack-pack and that any pretentions about backpacking lots of hills next summer is probably a bit daft.  I can still do a TGO challenge, though. And empty places are the best places.
Just 70 hours by the way.....


Beryl the Peril said...

Looked an excellent trip Mike 🙂

Mike Knipe said...

It weren't so bad, Margaret...... (quite good fun, actually and LTD is still lively even with full panniers)

Gayle said...

Tom a Mhoraire - male cat with big lungs?

John J said...

Nice tent.