• Graham

The particular worm on offer is the Marilyn that, because of its relative isolation, doesn’t easily combine with others of that ilk to make a reasonable day’s outing. These outliers can be particularly exasperating for the bagger-in-a-hurry, as it usually means a special journey that involves time and money for relatively little reward. One solution is to squeeze the isolate into what is often the dead time of a holiday – the journey there and back. A good example of such a hill is the Corbett, Leum Uilleim. After a week in Ardgour, I was due to return home from Fort William on Friday morning. Rather than sleep in my hotel at Carpach, I caught the last train on Thursday night and alighted at the isolated station of Corrour. A convenient track leads up the hillside, and near the point where it crosses the stream, I found a suitable spot for a bivouac and pole position for the morrow. The outcome - an early start, up and around the conveniently shaped horseshoe ridge and catch the first train going south. A win/win situation as I not only picked up an elusive tick but also saved myself the cost of a night’s bed and breakfast.

But that was not the real benefit that accrued from my decision. The evening passed pleasantly enough until fortified with such culinary delights available in Fort Bill, and an appropriate amount of the uisgu beatha, I climbed into my Peapod and a good night’s sleep. The weather had been settled all week and I had no reason to suppose that my final day would be any different. Daylight proved me right. The mass of hills surrounding Ben Alder initially blocked the full force of the breaking dawn. But as I and the sun steadily ascended more and more light, first trickled then, as a dam bursting, flooded over the intervening hillside. It was the moment when night’s chill and morning’s warmth met and it wasn’t long before I was in shirt-sleeves and back on the platform of Corrour Station ready to make the journey home.

But it is not only the early bird that can take advantage of this approach. The later riser has an equal opportunity. His or her particular lubricus terrestris is what might be termed the half-day-hill. Using the same line, I caught the first train out of Glasgow to alight at Rannoch station. My objective was the missed-out Meall Buidhe which had been originally included in what turned out to be an over-ambitious circuit of the watershed of the River Lyon. The moment of defeat occurred on the summit of Stuchd an Lochain, my third Munro of the day. At this point, the previous night’s decision, inspired by the aforementioned uisgu beatha, seemed somewhat vainglorious and the thought of a further 2000 feet of climbing and a five mile ‘there and back’ started to lose its allure. At the second attempt all went easily enough and I comfortably caught the train to Mallaig and a week in the Skye Cuillin.


© 2017 Jane Wilson

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