It’s been too long (ten years ashore, five since we got the boat under cover and four since serious restoration work started and stalled again), but I’m back at work on Fly at last! No doubt I’d have got going on all those old screw holes round the window apertures sooner had I known that Blakes Finefill (still my filler of choice) was not discontinued per se but now sold as Hempel Epoxy Filler, but better late than never. So last week I took advantage of the continuing (now discontinued!) fine weather to get this double set of redundant holes cleaned out with the drill and filled, and now we’re ready for Twig to come up with the new windows (a little bigger all round so we can drill new holes in solid material) and be able to discard that hated mixed blessing of a tarp for good…
So here you see too many poorly-placed holes (an inherited problem not of our making!) now cleaned through with a 5mm drill and gently countersunk both sides, with any obviously loose surrounding gelcoat also chipped off:
And here a good (200g?) helping of Hempel Epoxy Filler after my first big plateful only did about 1.5 windows and I had to mix up some more:
And here the surfaces now ready for the new windows, with the internal shots also showing the remaining liner stripped from the main cabin if not yet ready for new linings, which will still require the removal of further old glue and paint:
Might just add (copying this paragraph verbatim from a Facebook post) that I’m so ashamed and sorry for the way I’ve neglected this boat over the past ten years! No doubt I’ve done much to improve my life in other ways including achieving some respectable ‘athletic’ and mountaineering goals, rediscovering my love of whistle and flute playing, taking up (cauld wind) piping, sorting the garden, learning to live with depressive episodes etc. But all that time poor old Fly’s been sitting there with building problems till we’re renovating a virtual wreck, and I can never be proud of that!
However things are looking better now even if we’ve got yet more to rip out of her before we can start fixing stuff back, and what I’ve just got done has at least reduced the obvious stumbling block to a (hopefully) straightforward refitting job. :-)
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Today’s ascent of Beinn a’ Chrulaiste was my third of this splendidly-situated Corbett opposite the Buachaille Etive Mor, but I’d never done its eastern Graham Tops before and it all seemed like a good idea when I set out on a rainy afternoon with real wind forecast for tomorrow…
Now it was already wet enough by the time I got to Kingshouse to think starting in waterproofs a good idea, but my hastily-grabbed jacket and overtrousers turned out to be two jackets and nae troosers so I just donned the better jacket and took off in my shorts! Hadn’t checked Scrambles in Lochaber for the Pink Rib (obvious way to start a clockwise circuit from the Kingshouse) since I’d just assumed I could find it having both been up and down it once before and seen it hundreds of times, but still nearly ran right past it in the clag! (Note that the obvious, sure-fire way to locate it if you can’t see it is to leave the West Highland Way/Old Military Road near its high point where the Coupall takes an obvious turn south away from the A82 and head straight uphill from there.) A good choice, however, for a less-than-stellar day as probably the easiest graded scramble I can think of (straightforward enough to have descended without hands in July 2007!), and I probably got the best of the afternoon on it as the rain briefly abated to give tantalising glimpses of the big Buachaille across the glen.
So I got to the top of Beinn a’ Chrulaiste without further ado, but it was (metaphorically) all downhill after that as I bashed round those spread-out Graham Tops (rough ground with boggy bealachs and hags, but never particularly awkward) in increasingly wet, windy and chilly conditions to arrive back at the van, and finally home, with all nine fingers tingling, turning white and providing about as much tactile sensation as lumps of wood. But that’s unfortunately pretty normal for me mixing even slight cold (and I was wearing gloves!) with Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s-like symptoms, and they do eventually thaw out again!
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This is not a new story, but a two-year-old tale I meant to tell back then and just couldn’t. Which is why there’s a great, big, Daddy-sized hole in my blog posts from September 2013 (when my father died on 16 September) to May 2014 (when I appear to have started writing again)…
It’s two years ago today that I took a portion of my father’s ashes across the Aonach Eagach and halfway back again before scattering them up there and descending alone. We had three cardboard tubes of ashes; a big one for my parents’ garden and two smaller ones for the sea and the mountains. We’d scattered the ‘sea’ portion from the pier at Baltasound (where his beloved Fivla was built and my mother, Angus, Lauren and I had just had lunch with Duncan Sandison, who built her) six days previously. Then, having volunteered for the task, I took the first opportunity to deliver the ‘mountain’ portion to the Aonach Eagach, which we’d chosen as somewhere both local and known to me, but above all something Daddy had always wanted and meant to do but never quite got round to while he still could. So it had to be a double traverse, carrying the tube all the way from Am Bodach to Sgor nam Fiannaidh so he’d done the whole thing (complete with my running commentary on where we were, what the moves were like and what we could see!) before ‘leaving’ him somewhere in the middle. Which, influenced by wanting to get back over the Crazy Pinnacles before the threat of rain came to fruition in already slightly greasy conditions, fortuitously turned out to be the major pinnacle (or Corbett Top) of ‘Aonach Eagach East’ as close as you can reasonably say to midway along the Aonach Eagach ‘proper’ between Stob Coire Leith and Meall Dearg. And here I emptied the tube in the swirling breeze, slightly to the south of the crest since I was wary of creating deposits where folk might need their hands on the rock, and prefaced by some deeply-metaphorical little speech about having to ‘leave you here and finish this journey alone.’ And then I phoned my mother and cried…
While I’d had the ridge to myself so far and fortunately not had to start explaining what I was doing, I did meet a couple of parties (who I didn’t tell) coming towards me as I continued my journey alone back to Am Bodach and the descent. But then perhaps I’m never alone because the ashes of the cardboard tube (which I subsequently burned to produce the ‘ashes of the ashes’) got buried in the cairn I built in my garden, and there’s a convenient place on the West Highland Way just above Kinlochleven from where I can see ‘Daddy’s pinnacle’ and talk to him. And I still do.
[Edit, 31 December 2015: six valued comments on this post from my friends have inexplicably disappeared. My comment below was actually the seventh.]
So you’re back on your most-trodden ground of the Mamores for a Corbett Top (Meall a’ Chaorainn) you’ve surely done but can’t quite remember doing? This is what it’s like to be me!
Clockwise today, and my two-month streak of meeting no-one on the hills finally came to an end on Stob Ban.
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So I managed to go over a Glen Coe Munro and still meet no-one… on a Saturday! Then repeat the experience (if spotting a few walkers at distances beyond practical communication is still admissible?) on Beinn a’ Bheithir on the Sunday, bringing my run of ‘lonely’ days to ten. So perhaps it’s all in the timing? Or the routes? Who knows, but you’d have thought the combination of Munros, Glen Coe and the weekend meant sure-fire ‘company’ when it’s all been Corbetts and Grahams since my last on-hill encounters on the Mamores on 11 August…
So where do you go to avoid folk in or near Glen Coe? Apparently up Sron na Lairig, Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Beinn Fhada, or over Sgorr a’ Chaolais, Sgorr Dhonuill (which is where I came closest to human contact) and Creag Ghorm. And why? Because there are still (believe it or not!) local Corbett and Graham Tops to do as well as classic scrambles (like Sron na Lairig) I’d somehow not got round to for all these years, even if Saturday’s visit to that northern top of Beinn Fhada seems to be telling me I had at least done that particular top before!
While Sron na Lairig is better known as a fine winter route and turned out to be more straightforward than expected in summer, I thought it still a pleasant outing at about Grade 2 and doubt that anyone comfortable with the Aonach Eagach would be at all phased by it as a rock scramble. And, while I’ve always got time for the Lairig Eilde (pass of the hinds) as one of my favourite runs, it was given particular ‘character’ on this occasion by the constant roaring of the stags from an atmospherically misty Beinn Fhada and Buachaille Etive Beag!
Now Creag Ghorm had been annoying me since this Graham Top essentially forming the west ‘wing’ of Beinn a’ Bheithir was just about the last thing you can see from the road round here I’d never been up and you can’t just pretend it’s not there as the obvious backdrop to every unavoidable lochside drive west. So I chose to traverse that west wing yesterday knowing I’d be looking at it yet again through different eyes on the way to work this morning, and naturally had to start via the kenspeckle spur of Sgorr a’ Chaolais (please, please, please not ‘The Dragon’s Tooth’!) as a nifty wee scramble I’d not repeated for a good 20 years. And my first impression of an entertaining ‘junior Aonach Eagach’ still seems apt, with just the one properly awkward downclimb (currently adorned by an abseil sling surely left for a winter traverse?) to negotiate the southern face of its prominent, rounded central pinnacle. Then over Sgorr Dhonuill and lovely running down to the Corbett Top with diversion to look into the top of Eas nam Meirleach, but Creag Ghorm really makes you work from there with convoluted twists, turns, ups and downs. Not to mention a descent that’s more awkward than it looks, with what I took for a clear break through the forest turning into a burn steeper and more slippy than I was prepared to descend and sending me stooping/crawling through 100 metres of scratchily dense growth to escape to a better line when locating the obvious northward ‘V’ of track retrospectively looks the best option there. But, hey, you can take off your top on the track to shake out all the itchy wee bits and it was still a good day!
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