The first day of my last month, and I've had a strange day. I intended to wake up very early, and head off up the six Munros by Loch Broom. A front was forecast to arrive around lunchtime, so if I could get these hills done cleanly and early, then I'd have taken an enormous chunk out of the remaining Munros.
It didn't quite happen like that. I got up around 5am, naturally, having slept in three hours beyond my alarm time. I got up, got breakfast, then looked out the window. It was pishing down with rain: not the bright, breezy morning I'd expected. After a bleary-eyed cup of tea, my body definitely said get back to bed. So I did.
I got up again at a more conventional time. The rain from the early morning had stopped, and I made sure I was well ready to go.
Then as I was about to leave, there seemed to be rain moving in from the south, heavy and persistent. I decided to go anyway, and dad dropped me at Inverlael car park mid-morning.
I set off for Seana Bhraigh, and headed through the forestry tracks and up onto the stalkers track. I barely stopped. I was so focused I didn't pause for anything but the essentials. The wind was blowing mist across the moors, and I began to feel as if there was something wrong. Something wasn't quite right.
After two hours on the go, I was disappointed to see I was only half way to Seana Bhraigh - sure a remote Munro if there ever was one. I'd phoned dad earlier, who'd said a band of heavy rain was advancing north through Glen Shiel. I knew that I could physically do these hills, even if the legs were burning a little; the tendons tender.
But I just wasn't feeling right, and instead of having a solid plan in my head of what was to come, I was staring onto a blank canvas. I didn't know what was coming up. I'd never been here before and Seana Bhraigh seems a tough one for navigation.
I sat on the moor for a while for a think. It soon turned to 10 minutes, then 15, unsure what to do. I was trying to listen to my gut, since it always knows best. I was sitting on the fence, and felt no compulsion to keep going higher. Like shooting for a target I couldn't see. Moreover, it would take a couple hours yet to get to Seana Bhraigh and by the sounds of it, this rain was the real deal. I've always had problems keeping warm in bad weather and I didn't like to think I'd be stuck out on Seana Bhraigh when the shit hit the fan. The winds were as persistent as they had been for a while, I just didn't have a good feeling about this.
Maybe if it had been any other hills, I would have gone on, but these hills were unknowns. I didn't know what to expect and today just wasn't the day to find out. Even with Seana Braigh completed, there would be so far to go. Not to mention a river crossing right at the end of the 35km day, right beside the road, at the very moment it will have been raining all day.
It was too much. It didn't feel right, even though I felt okay now and was only pre-empting something that may happen. I phoned dad to say I was coming down, and headed back the way I came.
A content decision turned to a burning annoyance. Soon it turned to a brief flash of anger. Then Liam phoned, which was refreshing. It sure brightened my mood.
Back at the Inverlael car park, I took time to talk it over with mum and dad, then felt much better. I hadn't quite worked out what I'd do yet.
I took time to relax in Ullapool, went for a meal. A plan formed. I'd go the Ullapool hills tomorrow, so they didn't come a lasting mental block, then I'd go for Slioch (my final Munro of my 1st Munro round!) and subsequently Monar and the Far North. All crammed into six days. It'll be mental but I'm giving it my best shot.
Anyway, got to get to bed - it's just passed midnight. Oops. Anyway the Ullapool 6 tomorrow. Fingers crossed!