• Graham

As mentioned in previous Bagmags, the problem with collecting Marilyns is the undisputed fact that you do not get many to the pound. The collection of Munros, on the other hand, is a very different kettle of fish. Take for example the South Glen Sheil ridge which, once reached, offers, 7 tickable summits with not much in the way of re-ascent between the various peaks. To eliminate such a number in a single journey from Mr Dawson’s list would take considerably more effort both in miles covered and feet climbed. Matters would be made even worse if you limited your objectives to say the Corbetts or Grahams. Thereareareas where the latter two categories of hills are clustered together. An obvious example is that part of Ardgour, bounded by Lochs Shiel, Eil, Linnhe and Sunart, which contains 9 Corbetts and 7 Grahams. The main bulk of these lies in a chain running north to south and for a well-orientated crow measures little more than 10 miles. Unfortunately for the pedestrian bagger, he or she will, on more than one occasion, have to descend to near enough sea level before tackling the next objective.

One answer is to kill two birds (perhaps the gloating crow) with one stone and combine the pleasures of a satisfactorily long through route (always more purposeful than walking round in circles) with a bit of bagging on the side. The more remote the through route the better. If there is little else to distract you and you have the hours of daylight to fill in you may as well go the extra mile to collect what might otherwise be an elusive top.

As good an example as any is a trans-Scotia expedition, starting at Ardgay and finishing at Ullapool which has the advantage of both its beginning and end being well served by public transport. The trip is across the narrowest neck of Scotland and offers an interesting stravaig through a relatively unvisited area. Normally a route as remote from the flesh-pots as this would offer no alternative to successive nights of wild camping. This particular route, however, passes, at convenient intervals, two mountain bothies which in poor weather can offer suitable relief. An examination of OS Sheet 16 reveals the low-level spine of route would first follow Strathcarron to Alladale Lodge, then fork left along Glens Mor, Beag and Douchary, before finally exiting via Glen Achalt - an overall distance of 30 odd crow miles. That is the easiest way but having come so far north, it would be wise to make full use of the opportunity and cast the net far and wide as you go along.

From Ardgay you can traverse Carn Salachaidh (2116ft) before descending to Spoachail to put yourself in position for Meall Dheirgidh (1663ft) and a descent into Strath Cuileannach to end a satisfactory first day. This could be followed by ticking off the particularly isolated Graham, Carn a’ Choin Deirg (2301), and Corbett, Carn Ban(2772ft) neither of which would you want to leave for another long trip. Once Carn Ban has been reached it is an easy descent to the bothy at Genbeg. Here you could set up camp for a couple of days and on your rest day plan and complete a circuit which could not only include the Munros, Eidich nan Clach Geala (3045ft), Cona Meall (3215ft), Beinn Dearg (3556ft) and Am Foachagach (3130ft), returning by way of the Graham Meal a’Chaorainn (2073) but also, given good weather, exceptional views in every direction The next day you could make an easy crossing of the watershed to the bothy at Knockdamph, reeling in, on the way, the most northerly Munro of the Highland plateau, Seana Bhraigh (3040ft). After a good night’s rest all that remains is to exit alongside Loch an Daimh and its outflow, the Rhidorroch River, with excursions to summit Cnoc Damh (1939ft) and Meall Liath Choire (1798ft) en route.

This is an extensive and ambitious campaign but with the long hours of daylight in the relatively midge-free months, it is more than feasible for a determined party. In any event, it would be far preferable to darting hither and thither along the Welsh border trying to find the location (let alone the top) of such towering giants as View Edge and Callow Hill in an expedition that is, when all said and done, more motor-cross than mountaineering.


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