We had long planned to explore the islands in our inflatable kayak, so despite our tiredness we began to get ready with a sense of anticipation: inflating the boat, assembling paddles and so on. We were only part-way through our preparations when a convoy of vehicles roared into the carpark in a cloud of dust, the tail-ender towing a trailer. The sound of “I was born under a wand’ring star” blared from a car window, and this seemed strangely appropriate for this western filmic entrance. The cars disgorged their passengers; five middle-aged guys with Geordie accents, who proceeded to produce an inflatable kayak each and a mountain of camping gear. This was no lightweight expedition: each had a large frame tent, complete with folding chair and camp-bed, plus a bewildering and heavyweight array of accessories. They bustled busily and noisily around the car park. We admired each other’s boats and compared plans. Our boat was the trusty Sea Eagle Fast Track; theirs were three Pak a Yaks, a Sevylor, and, interestingly, an American import AlpackaRaft on its maiden voyage. Their plan was to establish camp at a suitable spot on an island; ours simply to have an afternoon’s exploring.
We all slept well that night.
The next day we were again late getting on the move, partly due to laziness and party due to counselling our new canoeing friends about possible destinations for their next paddle. They had resolved to drive all the way down to Loch Voil in the Trossachs to camp there and break the journey back to Newcastle. We let them have a look at our maps, and told them about the new anti-camping bye laws in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. I made the suggestion of a trip across Rannoch Moor by way of Loch Laidon as an alternative. Our plan for the day was to visit our friends Ade and Jo on their recently acquired croft at Inveralligin, and perhaps go climbing.
When we reached their place a couple of their friends, Claire and Lynn, were working on the strip of land that runs up the hillside behind their house. Unfortunately, while digging a ditch one of the girls had punctured a water pipe and a miniature geyser was spouting into the air. We affected the best repairs we could and dug like demons to clear a ditch to drain the excess water away. Jo and Adrian contacted both their neighbours and Scottish Water to try to resolve the problem.
After lunch, Jo opted to stay home to meet the Water Board repair people, while Adrian, Mhairi and I headed five minutes uphill in the car to the Beginners’ Slabs on the road to Diabaig.
Although the climbing is easy, protection is tricky to arrange, so these gave Mhairi excellent practice in getting back into leading mode.
We’d decided that our plan for the Sunday, our last day in the northwest, would be to climb Fuar Tholl, which would be the fifth Corbett of the week.
So that’s what we did; and here are some pictures. It’s a brilliant hill.