End of May 2023
My friend Ali wanted to celebrate her birthday in some style. The splendid afternoon garden party in a fine London square wasn’t going to quite cut the mustard, so she rented a farmhouse and a lodge in the most beautiful glen in Scotland.
I confess that I haven’t been to every glen in Scotland but this one surely can’t be beaten? Unlike many glens which inevitably become fast thoroughfares for trains and traffic, in Glen Lyon there is just a small lazy road winding through the valley with hardly any traffic. The kind of road you can happily walk along without being terrified of getting mown down. You can also reach the Glen via a wild mountain pass but don’t try that one with a trailer. The fertile valley base has a winding river where you can fish for trout. You may not catch anything, but it provides a wonderful diversion for those who prefer not to climb the hills.
Ah yes, those hills! The place abounds with long and short hill walks. In fact, if you asked a child to draw a perfect valley scene then they would come up with something pretty close to Glen Lyon.
I arrived on the Saturday evening and after breakfast on Sunday, I joined Richard, Wood and Cheryl (Plus Ret and Tilman – the dogs) to climb Stuc an Lochain (960 m). Richard and Wood were brought up on a Welsh sheep farm, so hills were nothing to them. Cheryl, who narrowly missed a place running in the Olympics, was just a dot on the horizon.
At the summit we met a chap who knew every peak on the horizon and pointed out Ben Nevis and Rannoch Moor. We returned to base for a fabulous evening meal.
On Monday we took the opportunity to clamber up Carn Gorm (1,026 m). From the summit there is the opportunity to bag three more Munros but we declined the kind offer and opted to descend via a ridge to link up with Lairig Ghallabhaich – a path which runs to Loch Rannoch.
The route was tussocky but very dry. I suspect we were lucky, as it looked like it could be very boggy after rainfall. We did eventually find the path but were confronted with a fork that the Ordnance survey map failed to mark on the Landranger Series (although it is on the Explorer Maps). Inevitably, we choose the wrong path and the substantial track came to an abrupt halt after a few miles. A faint path continued, so instead of turning back we pushed onwards only to find ourselves in an unpassable ravine. We decided to climb the ridge of Meall a Mhuic to find another path. After scaling a 6 foot deer fence we eventually found a way off the hills. By now my right leg was playing up, the steep downhill gradient with Tilman pulling on his lead was too much for it. We arrived back in the valley at about 19:45.
Each evening was a gastronomic extravaganza with sides of beef and whole salmon and meals with tales about their origins. I tried to be a foot soldier and look after the dishes, a simple and manageable task, but even this task was stolen from me with so many offers of help.
The remainder of the week was occupied with less strenuous but still fabulous walking.
One day Ali showed us the way to a waterfall with a deep enough pool for a little “swim”.
Another day we ate scones and cream in the little village shop. The whole week was perfect and a nice contrast to set against the rest of the summer which I will spend at sea.
A massive thanks to Ali for organising everything to run like clockwork!
When I return home at the end of July I will post the routes we walked and some pictures from my camera. I have limited access to IT stuff while I am on the boat.