On Day Four of my Serious Bagging trip, I decided to do one more walk and then return home. It would be a relatively gentle walk.
To recap, I'm on a mission to climb all of Scotland's "Munros", or hills with an altitude of at least 3,000 feet (914.4m) or more. There are 282 of them.
For now, my goal is to reach 100 Munros, and I'd like my 100th Munro to be Ben Nevis.
I'd printed off lots of maps before I left for the trip, and I wanted to do something fairly easy, but that would allow me to bag two more Munros. I chose the awkwardly named Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg near Loch Treig.
Chno Dearg is Gaelic for "Red Nut", and may be a misprint for "Cnoc dearg" or "Red Hill". Stob Coire Sgriodain means "Peak of the Scree Corrie".
I wasn't planning to walk fast. After all the exertions of the previous few days, I just wanted a gentle leg-stretcher.
Choosing a pair of mountains because they are easy to do doesn't usually lead to the most exciting day, but this walk turned out to be much lovelier and more interesting than I'd expected. Little did I know that I would end up munching my way around these peaks!
My original plan had been to do the "Ring of Steall" on Day Five, a strenuous round of the Mamore group that takes in four Munros. But I was fed up with the rainy conditions, the weather forecast was looking pretty bad for the next day, and I had felt quite cold in the night. I didn't want to make myself ill!
There were no thunderstorms the night after I climbed Bidean nam Bian, but the rain had pounded on my tent for most of the night, and the wind kept gusting up suddenly, rustling my tent about, so that it sounded as if someone was trying to get in. This kept waking me up!
I was glad that I'd decided to have a rest day after that, doing chores and then just crawling into my tent to read and rest while the rain lashed down on my tent.
The following day, I was ready for a more gentle, solo hillwalk. I enjoy walking with groups, but I also like the solitude of hillwalking alone, although I know that this involves certain risks, especially if you fall and there's no one around to help. So I tend to be extra careful if I'm walking alone. And this was a much easier route than Bidean nam Bian!
The walk starts near the tiny village of Fersit, just beyond a small loch called An Dubh Lochan (The Small Black Loch).
After the pretty village and small loch, the walk is wild, boggy and mostly pathless. Rain was forecast on and off for most of the day, and the sky was full of bulbous clouds.
The path up to Stob Coire Sgriodain became increasingly rocky as I gained elevation.
These rocks made a great lunch site. As I sat enjoying a cup of tea from my flask, and looking at the view below…
… an ominous deep grey cloud emerged from behind the mountain. Luckily, it completely passed me by and drifted over Fersit, where it began to shed its load.
The northern end of Loch Treig was just becoming visible, showing the low level of the water following weeks of dry weather, despite the heavy rainfall of the past couple of days.
At the other side of Loch Treig lie the Easain hills, with the Grey Corries in the distance.
I started to walk up the rocky summit bump of Stob Coire Sgriodain.
As I climbed higher, an astonishing view opened up, over Loch Treig, with the hills of Glencoe in the distance.
The higher I climbed, the more beautiful the view became. I was so lucky that the bad weather had held off!
At last, the summit cairn came into view, perched on a little mound.
I took a selfie at the summit. This was Munro number 81 for me!
I was feeling quite exhilarated, but my eyes look quite red, despite the rest day the day before. The cold, rainy weather had made sleep difficult in my little tent.
Loch Treig looked beautiful, despite its relatively low level.
Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, known as the Easain hills, looked splendid at the other side of Loch Treig. I haven't climbed these yet, and I hope to come back and climb them soon!
It took some effort to divert my eyes away from the gorgeous views and continue my walk towards the second Munro of the day, Chno Dearg.
As I walked down from Stob Coire Sgriodain, the terrain changed sharply. Thousands of boulders lay in my path!
There was a strange quartz cairn in the distance.
As I approached the quartzite cairn, the northeastern sky darkened threateningly.
Chno Dearg looked closer all the time, and was bathed in sunshine. But it wasn't to last.
As I approached the foot of Chno Dearg, dark clouds started to drift in from the south. I was surrounded! The rain had kept away from me all day, but as I got within about 10 minutes of the summit of Chno Dearg, the heavens opened and I was caught in a heavy rainstorm. I had to stop and put on my waterproof trousers.
I was so glad to see the summit cairn! That was Munro number 82 for me, the ultimate Munro in this Serious Bagging trip!
The sky to the north east over Loch Laggan was clearing now.
But to the south east there were angry grey clouds.
Luckily my route back down lay in the opposite direction, to the north west. I was soon walking in dry, sunny weather once more.
I felt peckish, and I soon found that I was surrounded by fruit!
Blaeberries (also known as bilberries)...
...and below, berries that look like blaeberries but are actually crowberries. Luckily they are not poisonous, as I accidentally stuffed some in my mouth – but they have a pretty bland taste.
There were beautiful red berries that I avoided eating, as they might have been poisonous. I've still no idea what they were, but they looked very pretty!
Best of all, there were lots of cloudberries. Cloudberries are absolutely delicious (in my opinion – not everyone likes them!). They taste like lemony pineapple, not too sweet, but sharp and refreshing. Apparently they were once seen as the fruit of kings, and were known as the King Berry.
Cloudberries are more common in northern latitudes, like Scandinavia. They are found on damp, acidic terrain, among heather. Usually you only see two or three of them, but there were lots on this mountain. I didn't feel too guilty eating lots of them, because they were all over the hillside, and I was only walking along one pathless part of it.
I took my time enjoying my surroundings on the long, gentle walk back down the hill. There was a lot of bog, but also some lovely wildflowers…
… clear pools full of pretty rocks…
and tumbling waterfalls, cascading thunderously after the heavy rainfall of the past couple of days.
I took one last look back up towards Stob Coire Sgriodain, a mountain that had turned out to be much more impressive than I'd expected.
And then I walked back to my car to enjoy some tea and chocolate cake that I'd been saving, essential refreshment before embarking on the long journey back to Glasgow.
So that was the end of my Serious Bagging trip: seven Munros in four days. I would have been happy to do more, if it hadn't been for that endless rain!
I've climbed three Munros since, bringing my current tally to 85, and I'm doing another one this weekend, so that will be 86, if all goes well! Just 12 more and I'll be ready for Ben Nevis via the CMD Arete.
If the weather improves soon, there might be another intensive Bagging round, to climb those 12 Munros. Let's hope so!