It was my husbands birthday on January 8th so we planned a couple of days hiking in Scotland with my sister Dawn and her husband Coco. I lived in Scotland from 1997-2006 and our youngest son was born in Aberdeen, Scotland owns a piece of our hearts and we love going back. We stayed at Crieff Hydro a beautiful spa hotel in Perthshire, where our self catering accommodation was second to none, it was spacious, warm and fully equipped.
Bagging Munros was on our agenda! For those of you who are not familiar with Munros, they are mountains in Scotland over 3,000ft (914m), relatively not too big but conditions can be challenging due to weather and terrain. The Ben Lawers group are seven Munros linked by a 12 km (7.5mile) ridge which at only one place drops below 800m (2624ft). The plan was to 'bag' them in one day which, according to the guide book, "most hillwalkers may find a bit too strenuous".
The start of our hike was an hours drive from the hotel, we arrived ready to go at 9am after dropping one car off at the end of the hike. At higher elevations the wind chill was -20 degrees so clothing was key to an enjoyable day in the Scottish mountains. I donned merino wool leggings under hiking pants/trousers, two merino wool long sleeve tee shirts, a fleece, a puffy jacket, hat gloves and buff!
The first ascent was to the top of Meall a' Choire Leith (926m 3038ft),which took us 90 minutes, it was a fairly steep climb to the summit of the rounded peak but not too challenging as the day had only begun....
Between An Stuc (1118m 3668ft) and Meall Garbh (1118m 3668ft) there’s a ‘problem area’. We avoided the path due to it being frozen and very slippery, so walked on the grassy areas. The gradient was very steep on this particular part and involved some scrambling to descend any lower, it was also frozen in places. Fortunately Andrew had packed two ice axes which proved essential to our manoeuvring this section and therefore continuing. We each scrambled down individually and passed the axes back up to the next person. It was rather challenging but we survived! “Do something that scares you everyday”, that was ticked off for the day!!
Meall Greigh (1001m 3284ft), the seventh and final Munro! We approached the summit a little weary all four of us in a row and touched the cairn on the top at the same time! We were elated! Out came Cocos hip flask, we sang Happy Birthday to Andrew and celebrated with a wee dram of Scottish whiskey!
The final descent took longer than we anticipated at 4.5 km (almost 3 miles) which took over 2 hours. After over 30km (18.5 miles) and 9 hours of hiking we eventually arrived back at the car in the dark wearing head torches! Knees were aching & energy levels were low but spirits were high!
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