|Kyle and Heather were pretty wiped out after the six Munros completed already on their “vacation” so it came as no surprise when they sheepishly requested a day off of elevation! Luckily, Andy and I had these three hills remaining, which lent themselves nicely to the four of us starting together before Heather and Kyle continued along the easy-to-follow (and not muddy!) track to do a big horseshoe (and flat) hike while we ditched our bags to nip up and down Beinn Liath Mhor.
The views today were incredible, as was the temperature given that this was in Scotland at the end of September! Sunglasses even required! At the top of our first Munro we were greeted by four other walkers and a pup, all of whom were enthusiastic about our Challenge and wished us well as we continued on to Sgor Ruadh; no rest for the wicked, as the rest of them stayed to enjoy the sunshine. The time between the first and second Munro seemed to fly, especially as we didn’t have our bags on the descent. “Hello” to a few other walkers out basking in the unseasonably warm sunshine before venturing to the third summit, which we could see in the distance.
This descent will no doubt go down on Jamie’s Top 5 list of horrible ways to get down a mountain in 2013, while Andy seemed to downright enjoy it (guess what . . . scree!). There was some huffing and puffing and moaning out of Jamie, not helped by the fact that the ridiculously steep scree slope with its awkward-sized stones gave way to a marshland. Jamie paused for a little self-pity party, trying to convince herself that the cross-legged objection to going any further was due to wanting to soak in the sun while it lasted!
Spirits were revived when we bumped into Kyle and Heather, who were nearing the end of their loop walk. We stopped for a quick chat before we continued up the easy-to-follow path, before venturing to the north to pick up a slightly fainter yet still distinct path to the summit of Maol Chean-dearg. We took a break on the top to stare out to sea; take in the views of the Torridon peaks in the distance; and for Jamie to take a mini-nap in the sun atop the massive cairn with the flat top – perfect for laying down once the stones were positioned in a non-poke fashion!
We parted ways on the descent, with Jamie retracing steps from the ascent route while Andy cut off a corner back to the main trail via some more scree.
We met back at the backpacks, which we had ditched at the main trailhead not far from the bothy. Upon nearing the finish, where Andy had stashed his bike for the ride back to the car, we were fortunate to see another hillwalker who had descended Maol Chean-dearg just ahead of us and was conveniently getting ready to hit the road in his car.
Heather and Kyle had clearly been taking lessons the day before, when Jamie handed our car keys to random strangers to remove the need for a bike ride; before we were even at the finish Heather came jogging toward us confirming that she had taken the initiative and asked the other walker if he wouldn’t mind giving one of us a lift back to our car (if he was going in our direction, of courseJ) Gold star!
In retrospect, now safely down the scree descent of Sgor Ruadh, the rose-tinted glasses confirm that linking these three hills together is do-able and recommended (for those who don’t get palpitations at the thought of steep dirty scree).