The day that broke the Munro Round's back.
The Monar bunch were the last big day I'd still had to do, and somehow through circumstance I'd missed them out all the way to the end. They seem to have this effect: I know several people who all didn't do these until the very end of their Munro round because Monar had just slipped unnoticed under the radar.
Well, they are really awkward of access. I don't think any other mountains are quite as awkward as this bunch and mention should be made of the two at the very back, Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor, which are nothing short of bloody hard work. Get out to those ones and back in a day, and you're doing well.
I woke up at Glenuaig Lodge, and looked out a bright sunny morning. I opened the door and soon retreated inside; the midges were absolutely horrendous, and they'd all piled around the door no doubt following my escaping carbon dioxide.
I knew I had a big day; 32km it turned out to be, but when I woke up, I knew it would be a slow one today. The legs were sore, the feet were sore, everything was all over the place, and now I had six mountains to do. Well, this was the last push, so go for it. Don't look back. It wouldn't be ideal, but at least I knew I could mess myself up if needed be, because there would be two easy hills in two days to the end. Just get these done!
So I headed up Maoile Lunndaidh, a big flat hill in the back end of nowhere, a secretive hill, seldom-seen form any road. I really like it. I like the area it occupies and the stark loneliness of the area. It was a long haul and I felt pretty rotten, so I kept munching on the bananas; the cairn arrived in good time, even though it had felt like a hard push.
I was knackered, but when I guess I was also pretty bloody fit.
Sgurr a' Chaorachain was next, and the drop toward it felt enormous - down for miles and back up the long grassy slopes to the top. Nonetheless, it's another mountain I'm really fond of; the centrepiece is the fang of Bidean an Eoin Dheirg; a shapely rocky prominence in summer, and absolutely spectacular in winter.
My first trip into this area was with Struan last November. It was most often wet, cold, dark or snowing. The place had this immense vibe of complete desolation. It was powerful, but harsh. It was nice to see the hills again, but in less threatening clothing.
Over Sgurr Choinnich (#3), then I dropped my sleeping kit at the triple bealach. Here I met Fi for a quick chat. The last two Munros of the day were Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor, those two really inaccessible ones all the way out in the middle of nowhereness. It would be a push to do them, but there was no doubt about it now. My body seemed to have pulled itself into action and now I'd do these hills whatever the cost.
The only thing is, you have to go over an essentially non-optional Corbett (mountain 2500-3000 feet) called Beinn Tharsuinn. But I took this as a nice tick, before getting onto the meat; Bidein. It was good to push hard, get these hills done, over to Lurg Mhor at a pace. I was on top of that one just before 4pm. Just two Munros left and I'll have completed the lot.
The walk out was hard work. To get out from Lurg Mhor, you first have to descend the north slopes of the mountain, down to about 1300 feet. Then you've got to climb back up a trackless glen to the triple bealach at over 2000 feet. I met a guy called Paul up in Monar on a Munros/camping trip. We talked Munros for a bit then I got on my way. Wasted would describe my physical state - I'd never let myself get that bad this summer, but what the heck: this was worth it, and there was only two Munros left. I picked up my camping gear and headed down for the two hour walk-out to the road.
Some hills. Hard work. Despite Slioch being my last Munro of my normal Munros outwith the summer Round, I always felt the gentle pressure of Monar bearing down. Now I'd effectively cleared out Monar, I could relax for the first time in ages. For around 100 days, or more, there's been the upcoming effort to concern myself with. With Monar done, it's all behind me. Ben Klibreck and Ben Hope will be absolutely fine; they're not hard hills. And here for the first time, I'm without pressure. The end is in sight.
I headed back to Lochinver where my parents were staying. The drive was nice, I was cruising it, and arrived just in time to get a curry in before bed. A big day done, it's all cruising form here to the end.