Petestack Blog

27 July 2012

Meall Chuaich and the umpteenth Geal Charn

Filed under: Running — admin @ 10:38 am

While I’d quite fancied a trip to the western Cairngorms for the Glen Feshie Munros yesterday, I was late to bed, late to rise and the forecast wasn’t that encouraging, so headed out after lunch to mop up a couple of annoying ‘singletons’ instead. The first being Meall Chuaich above Dalwhinnie, which Irvine Butterfield described as:

A boring hill with an equally drab outlook. Its main merit is that it can be climbed quickly.

To which I can only add that his assessment’s probably about right although, with ‘boring’ (as so often) translating to ‘good for running’ and ‘quickly’ in this case proving to be 10:58 miling from van to van, there simply wasn’t time to get bored!

Now, there are Geal Charns (White Hills) everywhere, they’re typically pretty undistinguished too and the one at the west end of the Monadh Liath is typical, though I might qualify that by noting that it’s both harder work (rougher terrain) than Meall Chuaich and not at all obviously white. Choosing to attack it via Bruach nam Riodag rather than the direct ascent of Beinn Sgiath (which looked all ‘wrong’) suggested by Butterfield, my hopes of getting round at sub-15:00 mile pace were finally dashed by a tortuous clifflet-dodging descent not far south of his line taking me a good couple of minutes-per-mile over that when a little further south again would retrospectively have been far better, but I was still able to hit the remaining track down Glen Markie at a good clip to recover to 15:48 pace for the round.

All in all a good day out with clearer, drier (if also warmer) conditions than expected, and you can see in the final map why I’m glad to get those two done with the triangles, circles and squares being Munros, Tops and Deletions respectively (still stacks of uncoloured stars for Corbetts here, though). Should be my last ‘big’ day before the Devil, but think I’m in reasonable shape for that now if I can just stay sensible over the final week!

23 July 2012

Eastern approaches

Filed under: Climbing,Music,Running — admin @ 3:02 pm

Nice trip east (within Scotland!) this past weekend with music, climbing, running and catching up with old friends all combining to produce a hugely enjoyable whole…

Started with a visit to Ian Kinnear in Edzell on Friday afternoon to get a new chanter reed and general check-over for a set of smallpipes he made, then on to Kirriemuir to see Campbell, Jillian, Brendan and Lauren. Climbed three modest bolt routes (Becalmed F4+, Sombre Reptiles F5+ and On the Up F5+) at Kirrie Hill with Campbell on Friday evening, then up Glen Clova to the Red Craigs (see bottom right corner of map) for a couple of routes on Saturday. So we did the super-classic VS Proud Corner (surely one of Scotland’s finest outcrop pitches at the grade), which I’d done once before three years ago with Simon Davidson, then the Hard Severe Monster’s Crack, which starts well before degenerating into a scrambly garden and improving again through a steep variation finish with surprisingly awkward top-out. Then, having said my goodbyes yesterday morning, I set off for a meaty hill run from the Glen Doll car park, achieving most of my ‘Plan A’ by taking in all tops of Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Tolmount and Tom Buidhe but canning a possible northern extension to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor with cloudy and viciously windy conditions combining to slow me down and reduce its allure. And there’s the essential paradox of hill running in such conditions, with the freedom of keeping your head up and moving quickly (both warmer and more fun) at conflict with the necessity of stopping for conscientious navigation work (colder and frustratingly ‘stop-start’) and leading to mistakes like my bizarre overshoot of Crow Craigies (don’t know what I was thinking there except that what I could see of it didn’t look significant enough to be classed as anything!). But, once free of the clouds and fiddly navigation, I made good time down Jock’s Road to complete the loop, coincidentally (and strangely satisfyingly) logging 20.93 miles to go with Tuesday’s 20.92! Also no doubt that (despite the cloud and wind) I had the best of the day when it started raining on my way home, got wetter and wetter on the drive west and is still absolutely bucketing today!

19 July 2012

A joyful resurrection?

Filed under: Running — admin @ 7:24 pm

Having spent the past two days wondering what kind of resurrection Alexander Mackonochie was hoping for, I just had to go back and check sometime. So, with the run up to his monument and back being rougher but no further than the round trip to Altnafeadh (which had been tempting me this afternoon), there seemed no time like the present to head up with pencil and paper. And no wonder I couldn’t get that line (‘AJOYFVL’) from my photos when you see how it’s actually written…

On a decidedly more flippant note, perhaps my running’s currently experiencing something of a joyful resurrection when, after a spring and early summer of mysterious lethargy, I’m suddenly starting to find myself going better again. Whether it’s too little too late for a quick Devil o’ the Highlands, I can’t yet tell, but at least it feels like tangible progress!

17 July 2012

Piles of Stones

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:26 pm

So what’s the difference between a cairn and a pile of stones and how long does it take to find out? I’ve blogged about these before but, despite having passed below Meall a’ Bhainne with school DofE groups (when I’ve not been free to head off my own way) since, it’s taken me over a year to slot in the lengthy run necessary to go back and check…

To keep you in suspense for a little longer, however, I’d like to talk about the monument to Alexander Heriot Mackonochie, which you pass heading NE from the Blackwater Reservoir to Loch Chiarain. Turns out he’s quite a well-known figure with his own Wikipedia entry and a McGonagall poem on his demise (found dead at that very spot, guarded by his dogs, miles from anywhere long before the building of the Blackwater Dam) and, having read the inscriptions on the monument before, I’d thought a couple of photos should be sufficient to note them down when I got home. But that’s reckoning without the lichenous state of the stone and, even after enlarging and enhancing the photos in every way I could think of, I was struggling to get some of it before (post edited here 19 July) going back to check.

Side facing the Allt an Inbhir:

THEREV (There’s a dash above the V)
ALEXAN (And another above the N)



Opposite side:


And so to those piles of stones, having been lured into running 20.9 miles today by a combination of my own curiosity and Murdo’s questions:

Those Piles of Stones are not shown on the 1:50,000 map. Does this mean that they are fairly small Piles of Stones, so do not feature on the smaller scale map? I think a full explanation is called for (not on Facebook, preferably ;-)) once you have checked them out, Pete.

The simple truth is that they’re pretty tiny and basically all cairns (two flatly embryonic and two of more elegant build). Who put them there and why they’re all lined up, I’ve no idea and, as for why they’re marked like that on the 1:25,000 map, my best guess is someone at the OS having a laugh… but perhaps we can all sleep easier now we know! ;-)

Note that the photos take you along the line from SE to NW and you can see the one true ‘cairn’ (photos 4, 5 and 6) uphill/right of the equally cairn-like NW ‘pile of stones’ (photos 7 and 8) in the final shot.


Blog powered by WordPress. Feedback to