The tension has dissipated, some extent, and I feel much more relaxed. After all the ups and downs, I had a great day on these mountains.
Yesterday I turned back from them because the weather wasn't looking too good. I was disappointed that I'd effectively wasted a day, but I knew nothing could be done about it. I really should have kept Fionn Bheinn for a day like yesterday. But nevermind, I shot myself in the foot on that one, and now I'm paying the price.
Dad took me up to Loch Glascarnoch, and took some great film of me doing the river crossing. The skies were grey and the wind whipped through the grasses. Almost as soon as I'd started, a chink of blue appeared from behind the colourless cloud. Carried on a brisk wind, the blue patch opened up, until the entire area was bathed among sunshine and warmth.
Walking conditions were almost perfect. The sun was out, the wind blew strong enough to keep cool. Am Faochagach was a great hill, just romping up moorland to it's bulky rounded summit. It doesn't get great press, but the bogs were almost totally dried up. My coming hills were in view, the first time I'd ever really seen this range.
Over the top of Am Faochagach, I headed onward to Cona Mheall, a rocky peak that looks immensely impressive from the road, a winding rocky spine leads to the top of it's summit. But first the outflow of Loch Prille had to be crossed, which wasn't a problem in itself. But the outflow immediately plunged over a waterfall, and the wild winds of the day were sending all that water straight back over the top in great plumes of spray, 10 metres in height, rainbows dancing and shimmering.
By the time I'd crossed, I was completely soaked.
I sat and had my first break here, watching the spray firing into the sky. Cona Mheall was a long rocky plod, and I followed slanting rock shelves up to the summit. It got worryingly steep just below the summit, but all was fine.
The central hub of these mountains are amazing: lots of exposed rock, big cliffs, weird landforms. I met Matt & co. on the summit of Cona Mheall and enjoyed having a chat.
Beinn Dearg, Meall nan Ceapraichean and Eidih nan Clach Geala (3 Munros) were all in this wee central area, and I climbed them all really fast, usually little more than half an hour between each. All day, the views were amazing, the hills that had once been in the far north were now in the far south, and I was looking north to the mountains of the end, an area once so far away I might as well have not given it any thought at all.
It was all here in front now, Ben More Assynt, Ben Klibreck and up in a tangle of hils in the very north; Ben Hope. The end! Sure I have to go back to Monar and get five there, but the end is very much here now.
Seana Bhraigh was the last Munro of my day, and it's a long, long way out. Today it was so much easier to process what was going on with the terrain: it makes such a difference to see where you're going instead of following compass bearings all day. I was glad I hadn't bothered with these mountains in the bad weather yesterday. This was amazing.
I spent about 40-50 minutes walking to the base of Seana Bhraigh. It's really in the middle of nowhere, but you're just surrounded by mountains. I had a strange sensation here; a buzz of being out in the middle of nowhere, with just the colour of the land and sky and the whistle of the wind to accompany me. I vividly remember feeling this on the Campsies six years ago; the colour and light.
Seana Bhraigh opened out as I climbed to it's summit, then the huge Luchd Choire (and Coire Mor) came into view. The coire drops off straight after the summit in crazy steepness. I sat in the cairn, glad to have made it this far. I wouldn't have to come back, though I was very grateful to be here.
I spent a while at the summit, then headed the long way back to the road. It really is a long way back, but even after all these kilometres (the whole day came to 36km), I didn't feel tired. Sore; yes. But fitness is amazing and I found myself able to cope with an intense 10 hours of hard work and still feel absolutely fine. As with many hills in recent days, mum and dad joined me for the last bit to the car. For the first time all way, cloud came over and rain fell. But it didn't matter; that elusive Munro Seana Bhraigh had ben knocked off and I was very glad to see it in all it's immensity in the sun.
What a day. A genuinely fantastic day and one of the highlights of the summer.
Later on, Dougie and Craig arrived at Leckmelm to stay with us. They were up for my last Munro, Slioch, (of the normal Round, not continuous) which would come the following day.