twinned with trumpton


Not the best sleep; bloody freezing for one, and also a steady stream of deer milling about in the half light, grazing away... but

Just before 7 I got up, snaffled a banana or two and readied myself for the day ahead. Lurg Mhor and Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich ('Cheesecake' to give it's full ceremonial title amongst the current crop of Munro baggers). Lurg Mhor is generally considered the most remote of the 282 Munros; It's a tall order to do on a day trip, hence my attempt to get in the previous evening to try and make the day of ascent as easy as possible. I also had a train booking to catch; and with Scotrail on strike on Sunday, I didn't fancy missing my ride home. Nothing like a bit of pressure, eh..?

So I took the bike another mile or so further up the road and then abandoned it and the unnecessary kit and continued on to the shores of Loch Calavie (the blip). A gorgeous wilderness; no sound beyond the dull roar of the 25mph wind; no sign of life, beyond the landrover track I was on, no visible sign of man. 

On reaching the loch, it was time for the work to begin. Mentally a tough climb; lack of sleep led to monsterous negative thoughts; doubts about having the fitness to do it, the stupidity of doing this alone if anything went wrong, questioning my route finding ability if the cloud didn't lift (the summits were shrouded in clouds)... but on I plodded. No obvious path for a lot of it so gradually I got distracted by the having to plot a course of least resitance up to the bealach. Once there, it's a sharp right and picking a way through the rocky outcrops and avoiding the steepest sections and slowly gaining high... It was one of those days where I walked myself into decent form. Eventually the doubts lifted as I marched across the final summit plateau to the peak - just in time for the cloud to sweep in and rob me of the view....! 
On a roll by now, I touched and turned to go back the way I'd come and once at the bealach again, I set about the Cheesacke. 4 hours after setting out that moring, I claimed the 2nd summit of the day. This time I did better with the views; to the north the lower slopes of October 2019's conquests Connioch / Chaorachain were still happed in mist; but the Coire Lair / Coulin Forest Munros were in dappled light; looking majestic. And still nothing in the way of evidence of mankind's existence.

THe descent of Cheescake is fabulous a high level stroll to the SW; gently descending with amazing views out in front of you...until you get to the point where you're reminded of the road out and the hideous climb back out....

By 1130 I was nearly back at the bike and saw my first human since disembarking from the train (I reckon they were the ones from the tent half a mile from the bothy, over next to the river)

Still feeling fresh, I drank a hefty slug of water (to lighten the load as much as anything...!) and got back on the bike to start the journey out. 2 more bikes and about half a mile from the top of the climb, the sun started to shine, so I just got off the bike and lay by the road side, and slept for about 10 minutes until the sun went in and I got cold....

Over the last serious climb and a nerve shredding test of my bike handling abilities followed; I'd love to have a proper go without the pack and not wearing climbing boots, but still a great rush to be had speeding down the hills to the station.

I'd booked the 1754 to Inverness but also knew there was a 1422. Plenty time for a picnic on Attadale station, then, time enough to gaze over at MrSmith's holiday destination of earlier in the week.

I'd never done a request stop at a train station before. New for '21! And by 5 (after much snoozing) I rolled up to the capital of the Heilands. I tried (unsuccessfully) to get on earlier southbound trains so availed myself of the food emporia and finished my book (finally - 3 years later!) before the 2015 rolled out at 2032. 
Conscious of a tight connection in Perth, I had a backup plan to crash with someone I'd never met before but thankfully common sense prevailed and I was treated to the drunk youth of East Fife availing themselves of the railway network to get home after far too much bevvy.... thank heavens for headphones and a suitable selection of white noise.

In at 20 past midnight; a zippy 5.5km down the hill and the briefest of showers before I -finally - collapsed into bed. 220 / 282. A life affirming experience. And. The best bits? It cost me £17. And the strong breeze meant I got away with only 2 midge bites!  Yaaas!

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