Blood on the Track

A “Tail” of Gore, Riots…and High Speed Tickers

There had been regular spots of dried-in blood dotting the larger stones of the path most of the way from the woodland up into the corrie.  The rust coloured drops had become increasingly frequent as we tracked our quarry ever upward.  Now all three of us were staring at a large splurge of crusting gore that covering the full width of the narrow track.  The Fatdog’s big black nose nose edged closer. 

“Thur’s bin a murdur!”

We assumed the injured beast, whatever it was, had stopped to rest before continuing.  Where was it going? Other than the notorious scree up to “The Window” there was no apparent easy route out.  What I mean to say is that there was no apparent easy route out for hobbling humans.  I certainly didn’t fancy a day out clambering these steep slopes but I’m sure the creatures inhabiting this narrow glen wouldn’t have had the same restrictive thoughts.  There was however an irksome puzzle that required to be solved.  Why was one of them, albeit clearly losing blood, following the man made path rather than breaking off to either side to lie low in the heather? 

Because it was already dead…obviously.

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The Journey from Aberarder to Lochan a Choire 

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Picking up the “Tail”…

We eventually found a short, 200mm long tyre track on a soft spot on the path.  It was the only one we’d discovered on the whole 6km of it’s length, so hard was the surface.  A new picture began to develop.  It looks like our injured animal was more than likely one that had been shot, the blood spots dripping from the carcass as it was driven down the path off the hill.  This would explain the infrequent traces on the lower section of the path, increasing in frequency the further into the corrie we travelled.  Mystery solved we completed the easy walk in from the car park at Aberarder to the steep, scree covered, trudge up into The Window.

Just before Lochan a Choire we were overtaken by a young couple off to “tick” Creag Meagaidh.  Wish they hadn’t used the word “tick” – Cap’n Jack finds this expression offensive in the extreme.  As far as he’s concerned it does a disservice to the amazing scenery the hills have to offer and smacks of obsession.  He began to mutter…darkly.  They stopped for a bite to eat at the lochan…and then passed me again on my way up to The Window.  You will note the word “my” in that last sentence.

I had been left behind.  Cap’n Jack and The Fatdog marched effortlessly up the steep meandering track through the scree as I plodded…step by very  s-l-o-w step.  By the time they reached “opening” of The Window I was at least 5 minutes behind.  It seemed ironic that todays targets had been based on what we thought FD might be able to do given her recent stiffness.   The Fatdog was far less stiff than I.

Hmm...suddenly my legs have felt better

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...and so I'm to be left behind...by some way as it turned out.

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...and on they march

Eventually  I reached The Window to find that Cap’n Jack had already scouted the area for a lunch spot.   All I wanted to do was sit and eat.  To make my misery complete…it began to rain.  A chilly breeze funneled through The Window and I hoped the Cap’n had found a sheltered nook for our snack.  As it happened…he had.  Gratefully I began to tuck into lunch but off to my left I could hear Cap’n Jack muttering his views on the subject of culling speeding tickers, as he watched the young couple fly up a short cut towards Creag Meagaidh.

The muttering begins

As usual my legs felt much better after something to eat and as I slung my pack onto my back I glanced upwards to find that Cap’n Jack had chosen the picnic spot – most likely to be hit by rockfall!  And the notice at the visitor centre was concerned about meteorite strikes!

That which lurked above our lunch spot!

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They obviously hadn't heard about Cap'n Jack's ability to suss out good picnic areas

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Looking back through The Window

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Note the fencepost...why? And yes, there's one on the crag opposite.

The Creag Meagaidh round is generally a 3 Munro walk but the additional 3.5km required to complete all three put the walk close to 20km and out of The Fatdog’s current range.  We opted for the shorter circular route taking in Stob Poite Coire Ardair and Carn Liath leaving Creag Maigaidh for another day.  FD seemed to be moving well but I reckoned she’d be pretty tired by the time we hit the descent.

The ascent onto our first Munro of the day, Stob Poite Coire Ardair, was a tame affair with a gentle path running up from the bealach and we quickly reached the flat topped summit.  It was chilly for August and layer after layer was being pulled on.  The discussion now centered on the fact that we’d worn less in winter.  But weather wise we seemed to be in luck.  Low cloud was bypassing our ridge and drifting across Loch Laggan to the south.

Looking west to Creag Meagaidh

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The last patch of winter snow

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Looking down into Lochan a Choire

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On Stob Poire Coire Ardair

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FD with Loch Laggan in the background

This week the news was dominated by rioting city dwellers south of the border, something we don’t experience much of in our slow moving part of the world.  Given that it appeared to be fashionable we felt we should make some effort to comply with the latest trends.  So, we picked up a few rocks and hurled them at whatever we could find, which happened to be…a few rocks.  This was a wholly unsatisfying experience making us wonder what all the fuss was about.  We decided to try our hand at looting instead.  So, we looted…yes, a few rocks, but soon got fed up carrying around the extra weight.  This left us the option of arson, but given all we had to work with were rocks, we concluded that rioting just wasn’t for us…being fashionable was just too much hard work.

Here we have your typical mountain rioter

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...and here we have a totally unimpressed Fatdog

No sooner had we started on our way to Carn Liath than the young couple (mentioned earlier) screamed past us on their way to ticking off their 3rd Munro of the day.  Cap’n Jack was near apoplectic as they disappeared into the distance with thoughts of rioting making a speedy return.  They were moving so quickly (and us ahem – so slowly) that we eventually lost sight of them, even though you can see for miles along the wide rolling ridgeline between the two Munros.  Still we were having a very enjoyable amble, there being little by way of ascent and descent between the two hills.   But the weather was slowly closing in.

The next section of our walk: Stob Poite Coire Ardair to Carn Liath (far right)

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On the ridge...spot the tickers

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Cloud over Creag Meagaidh

The cairn at Carn Liath provided shelter from the drizzle that was becoming a little more persistent.  Cloud was now spilling across Creag Meagaidh to our west and heading our direction.  Time for us to head back to The Tank.

The inevitable problem when one stops for a snack

On reflection I reckon we should have headed a few hundred metres back towards Stob Poite Coire Ardair before dropping on to Carn Liath’s south spur.  It would have saved crossing a number of scree streams as we cut diagonally across the south face of the hill.  Something for others to bear in mind.

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Route Note:

Once at the obvious spur the path is fairly clear…then seems to almost vanish.  It does exist but it pays to keep a close eye on it as it appears, at times, to be no more than an animal trail.  If you happen to be taking this way down remember to head around the east side of the first knoll then cut back west between this first knoll and the second, lower, knoll.  This brings you onto the west side of the spur where the trail is a bit more obvious. 

Now past the knolls on the south spur we head down towards the woodland

Then you have the joys of descending through the young native woodland.  There is a path…of sorts.  I’ve forgotten the description Cap’n Jack used for it…but it wasn’t flattering.  It was narrow, barely visible because of the vegetation, boggy, rocky and just generally feckin’ awkward.  On top of that  we were unlucky.  It was raining and had being doing so for at least an hour.  Best advice I can give is…bring a wetsuit.  The constant brushing through the dense young woodland ensured we were soaked through by the time we picked up the main path again, taking us back to Aberarder.

A part of the "generally feckin' awkward" path where it was possible to take a photo

By this time my legs were fine…Cap’n Jack was struggling a bit…and when I picked up the pace down the path the poor Fatdog was left a few metres behind.  It had been too big a day for her.  I slowed until she caught up.  Just as well we hadn’t attempted all three Munros.

Cap’n Jack’s day got worse when, having failed to perpetrate miscellaneous acts of evil on the bothersome “tickers”,  he discovered the gates of Dalwhinnie Distillery to be well and truly shut as we drove past.  Having been deprived of an anticipated quick visit, his disgruntled muttering lasted for some time.  It’s a long way from Loch Laggan to Larbert.

Well and truly shut

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My thanks to Cap’n Jack for the additional photos…those would be the ones with the most interesting subject material 😀 .

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12 thoughts on “Blood on the Track”

  1. Enjoyed that Ken. We were up there not that long ago, and I was hugely impressed with the whole cliffs/lochan/scree set up. Wild country right enough.

    That “last snow patch” photie is a cracker, I think.

    1. It’s spectacular territory Scott. Credit goes to Cap’n Jack for the photo…he’s really good at cropping to get some well balanced shots. Quality subject matter always helps though. 😉

  2. Love the pic of the ‘unimpressed FD’ rolling her eyes. 🙂 And awesome scenic pics as usual – whether it was you or the captain that took them. 😀

    And the pics all look fine on my old laptop with even older IE. Ancient is better sometimes :’)

    Annie

    1. Thanks Annie 😀 I’ve installed the photos on wordpress and linked to them instead so all appears to be well now. Have you given up on your blog these days?

  3. Loved the ‘unimpressed Fatdog’ pic. All 3 was a long day and I was also unimpressed with the descent path from Carn Liath. 😦

    1. Hi Tessa 😀 – that path coming down has to be one of my least favourite of all time. Mind you there have been a few where we’ve said on the way up and thinking about the return journey ; “Sod that for a game of soldiers -we’ll find another way down!”

  4. Enjoyed the post Ken – some great pics and humour. I have been known to “tick” in my youth – hope the Captain can forgive me. I just try and “walk” now – hope he approves

    1. With a bit of luck he won’t read your comment Andy…he’s a bit tetchy at the very mention of ticking. I believe he’s even banned clocks from his house. 😀

  5. A great post – I climbed these hills with yon Surfnslide and he was indeed a ticker. I’ll tell you something else – he still is. He has spreadsheets and everything. There he’s ‘outed’.
    I think one of them was my 100th Munro – or possibly his, my memory is appalling. I’m not making much progress these days, but I just substituted Birketts instead (like methadone treatment). I try to make sure that I don’t look at the scenery or notice any grandeur when I’m ticking – it’s not ethical, misery is mandatory as I understand it. Anyway, I’m moving on to gentle walks to classy restuarants with air-conditioned limos on hand for afterwards when I’m too stuffed for any of this walking malarkey…
    On no – hang on, I’ve had that – it’s back to peak-bagging in the rain for me.
    Cheers.

    1. Aarrghh…spreadsheets! Actually I have…eh…um …the odd spreadsheet as well. 😳

      Like the limo and restaurant idea Mark 😀 – I could cope with that myself.

      Just logged all my Marilyns on The Scottish Marilyns Site. The Fatdog is on 99. Given that she is doubtful for 100 Munros (she’s on 70 just now) I think our next Marilyn will be a celebratory one. 😀 A bit like yourself on the substitution front methinks.

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