West Highland Way Challenge- Race Report 2021

Wearily descending Craigie Fort, Balmaha (122km)

They say getting to the start line is half the battle. In these pandemic times especially so as nothing could be taken for granted. Added to that about 10 days before I experienced back pain. I could walk but not run so it really played on me whether I could take part. Now think it was more of a sprain from over enthusiastic core exercises. It eventually healed a few days beforehand.

Night before had a fitful sleep and rose at 5am. Elisabeth was going to be my support driving me to Fort William and then seeing me at various points throughout the many hours that followed. Her effort was heroic in the circumstances and involved just as much endurance. Over the time she ended up running 31km and drove hundreds of kms to support me in this effort. As the official support due to restrictions was very limited it is a fact I could not have done it without her.

Had my usual breakfast and we left house at 7am for a pleasant trip north in good weather. Upon arrival in Fort William got registered at Claggan football ground, about 600m from the start. Dropped off my 7 ‘drop bags’ and a ‘safety rucksack’ (mentioned later). These would be taken to the checkpoints en route. So far so good. What was new was signing a disclaimer form.

There were 120 starting. In addition there were a handful of ‘crazy’ folks doing extreme things (more on that later). The rest of us were a mixture of ‘seasoned’, those completely new and those in between. Everyone probably a bit unbalanced.

Made our way to the rather inauspicious start sign for the West Highland Way (WHW) at the edge of a busy little roundabout. More commonly the finish as we were going in opposite direction. 11am was approaching but we were told that the 3 buses from Milngavie had arrived late so would start at 1110.

What was ahead was more of an odyssey than a journey. Such a kaleidoscope of feelings and thoughts experienced that no one thing could define it. It was (according to my watch) about 207,000 steps. Some of them easy and light and many hard. Live in the moment, don’t think of how far or how long you must endure. My thinking is if I can take the next step, time always passes with no effort required from me. According to the laws of physics time + steps = distance!

We are off!

The adventure began as promised at 1110. The first few km followed the road beside the River Nevis. Just before we turned off into the trail and forest of Glen Nevis 13 of our number took a left. They were first going up Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, before later rejoining the West Highland Way.

Going up the edge of the Glen is a long climb. Not so steep but long enough that it’s a waste of precious energy trying to move too fast. It was only the start. My GPS watch on record would only do a max. of 10-12 hours so would only use for certain segments, if at all. Main concern was keeping my heart rate as low as possible. Preferably around 127bpm. It was nice at this time to exchange pleasantries with fellow participants. Some might say competitors but unless you are at an elite level everyone else is there to get to the finish and help each other as and when. I did of course have my usual personal challenge with spreadsheet of where I hoped to be and when.

Original Plan!

Once over the initial climb out of the glen it was on to much more runnable undulations. Having run this route in opposite direction over the past 10 years it is amazing to see how the landscape has changed especially in this section to Lundavra (12.1km). There seems to have been a huge amount of ancient trees removed and can only assume it’s well managed. Anyhow after Lundavra the trail leads to the more open ‘big sky’ perspectives of the Lairig More. A long valley overseen by mountains which eventually leads to a long descent down to sea level again at Kinlochleven. I was feeling good. Noticed that the heat was proving more tiring than it had been on my recce run on this section 3 weeks ago. Then I had hailstones!

At one point I passed a man and woman and could see from their race no. that they were in the other category of extreme. Derek and Jo had set off from Aviemore on Friday afternoon on the East Highland Way and had now linked up with us on the WHW. It would be a whopping 288km. They were incredibly calm and collected, almost fresh, as if 150km was a warm up. These are unusual folks and for Derek this was ‘training’ for a 360km race in the Swiss Alps. Enjoyed a bit of chat and then moved ahead as they were moving at a highly disciplined but understandably slower rate. Heard later they made it to Milngavie in just under 55 hours.

Coming in to the Kinlochleven checkpoint (23.85km) it was great to see Elisabeth. I was on time, more or less to the minute, which was good. Others were not fairing so well. One poor man had broken his nose from an early fall and was bleeding a lot. He decided that he would carry on.

Due to pandemic situation all the checkpoints were in the open air. I think we were very fortunate that the hottest weather of the year had arrived.

Off now up a long, arduous climb. Most of us were still quite chatty but each was also adjusting to our own style of managing climbs and descents. This meant you kept seeing the same people many times as you passed them or were overtaken.

Finally arrived at the top of the disconcertingly named Devil’s Staircase where a fellow runner kindly offered to take a pic. of me with the imposing Glencoe valley in the background. Not sure if it was a smile or a grimace! In a strange coincidence in my recce here 3 weeks previously I had eaten a ‘Rocky Road’ biscuit in nearly same spot. Unbeknown to Elisabeth she had given me the exact same biscuit to take at Kinlochleven so I had the same thing again. Whimsically I began to wonder if ‘Rocky Road’ had a hidden layer of meaning as to what was in front of me.

There then followed a nice, runnable section downhill to Altnafeadh. Passed one guy who was suffering from cramp so gave him some salted liquorice. Then along the valley to the Glencoe Ski lodge (40km) and next checkpoint. Great to see Elisabeth who had been patiently waiting. Here race rules were to pick up a ‘safety rucksack’ consisting of a sleeping bag and survival bag. My already heavy rucksack now was 1 kg or so heavier and much bigger. However the reasoning for this was sound. As race was autonomous between checkpoints if you broke a leg or something during the night the drill was to use these to keep warm till you got rescued.

The other thing I took was running poles. I am sometimes ambivalent about them but find when you are very fatigued they are a help esp. on climbs. Not being a Scottish Athletics race their use is OK.

Managed a pot noodle. Fluid intake and carbohydrates are essential but I was eating very gingerly. I feared my old problem, nausea, was starting to appear.

Leaving Glencoe a bit refreshed I said goodbye to Elisabeth. She was going to head home for some much needed rest. Plan was she would meet me Loch Lomond side in the morning. It was not easy for her as she had to drive, try and cheer me up for a few moments at checkpoints and then wonder how I was doing through the night. Had agreed that I would text when I left certain places. There were a number of people who wanted to know how I would be doing so she had set up a temporary WhatsApp group to keep them in the loop. It simplified things for her just using one point of communication.

It was now on to the old, cobbled military road and Rannoch Moor. A place of stark beauty in the early evening.

The day had been hot, in fact the hottest so far this year, so was not used to it. The field was well stretched out now but there were several people that I passed or was passed by and had chats with. Otherwise was getting very quiet as walkers or campers on the WHW had arrived where they were going to be for the night. My legs and feet were fine but was starting to get that familiar feeling of nausea and dizziness building up. I could only trust that it would not get worse.

Arrived in Inveroran (54km), a peaceful hamlet, and on to a tarmac road for a while. Confess to being a bit jealous of all the happy campers relaxing in the evening sunshine. I was starting to struggle. Left the road and then on over the hill and down to Bridge of Orchy (58.35km), the next checkpoint. As mentioned previously I had drop bags for each checkpoint, filled with foods I thought I might like. Unfortunately even the thought of eating was making me sick. That combined with the midges coming out in their millions. A small insect famous in West of Scotland for their bite and their abundance. All credit to those valiant volunteers sitting outside for many hours waiting for bedraggled runners to come in. I did manage before I left to wash my face in the toilets. If I couldn’t have any joy from food or drink at least cold water could be refreshing. It would be fair to say I was glad to leave at 2120. Only 5 mins later than my predicted time so despite how I was feeling progress had thus far been according to plan.

As I turned into the railway station underpass what should confront me but a swathe of luxury train carriages above. The well heeled occupants of “The Royal Scotsman and the Flying Scotsman” seemed to be settling down for the night in Bridge of Orchy station with accordion music. A surreal contrast to my circumstances as I set off.

It was now into the gathering shadows and time for using my torch. From previous experience the bobbing of the head torch would not help my dizziness or sickness. However little choice. My next milestone would be Tyndrum and got there about 2325. Few people around as I negotiated the route through the village, only a few late night revellers. I did meet another race participant who had got lost so was good to help. It was about 5km to the next checkpoint at Auchtertyre farm. Shortly out of Tyndrum and my turn to get lost, twice. At same time I had a bout of retching. Needed to keep sipping water as it was the only thing I could keep down. Clothing-wise I had now layered up. Despite the general mugginess of the night I knew in my condition that I could not keep my body temp. up with exercise alone. The volunteers on arrival at Auchtertyre (72.85km) were very attentive so had a very welcome sit down and tried sipping some hot tea and soup proferred. The next checkpoint was 21km away, at least 4 hours at my speed so main thing was to carry water. I was now 28mins behind my scheduled time. Not much in scheme of things.

It took an age to get to Glen Bogle above Crianlarich and by that time was experiencing micro sleeps as I moved. Was craving rest. In normal circumstances I would not do this on my own outside in middle of the night but thankfully ambient temp was warm. My strategy was to lie down in a prominent place so any fellow participants would see me, layer up with all the clothing I had and take max 10mins. The picnic bench at top of Bogle Glen came into sight, bliss. I lay down, strangely mesmerised by the tree branches overhead. Maybe it was my stress hormones but at 0200 the night was utterly quiet. Words can’t describe but I could ‘hear’ the silence and it was deafening. Strangely a guy then passed by and all he said was one word ‘hello’, nothing else. He looked like he was going through his own struggles.

Time to move on, still dog tired, but a little less dizzy. Keep sipping that water. The next checkpoint was Beinglas farm, north of Loch Lomond. By about 3am signs of a new day were appearing. Usually it is a harbinger of new energy and hope, the sun giving light and heat. However I still was feeling miserable and just focussed on staying awake and taking the next step. What I did sense was the overwhelming beauty at God’s creation of a new day. Practicalities were also pressing in. My mobile phone battery was low. Time to use my mobile battery charger.

Moon over Beinglas, first light at my back

A new day awakes.

In Beinglas (88.85km) I told the marshall my need to lie down for a bit. As we were outside he obligingly offered the passenger seat of his car where I had 10 mins. Managed to ingest a cup of diluted orange juice and it was off again. Some time after I caught up with Paddy whom I’d talked to earlier in the race. He was of similar age and experience of ultras as myself so we had been comparing notes.

He was also suffering from sickness but could only retch. Bizarrely we had this conversation about the merits of being sick as opposed to retching. For me being sick gave me a boost of energy and dizziness subsided. However after a time the fatigue always crept back with a vengeance. Enough of this for you the reader.

The bluebells in the hillsides both north and south of Inversnaid were glorious in the early light.

There is a very technical section of about 4km before you reach Inversnaid. Rocks and boulders taking up reserves of concentration and at times needing to use both hands and legs to traverse.

Arriving Inversnaid (98.85km) just before 0800 I lay down on the benches outside the hotel. Paddy was still with me but left early while I contended with, yet again, another bout of sickness. Eventually caught up with him and passed. Started to get messages from Elisabeth who said she was leaving home and going to head to Milarrochy, about 2km north of Balmaha and would run to meet me. However this was still some hours away and there was the checkpoint at Rowardennan to pass first. Before arrival Rowardennan caught up with another guy Kristopher whom I’d met earlier. Younger and suffering from foot blisters he was upbeat. My time in Rowardennan (109.85km) was short. I had given up on food and had not eaten anything that I could hold down for last 12 hours. I managed to nibble tiny amounts of crisps which gave some salt intake. Keep regularly sipping, not gulping, water. Planned target times were now slipping. It was no longer speed that was the challenge but plan B, just keep moving.

Being a Bank Holiday weekend as the day progressed it was getting busier with day trippers. What a contrast to the earlier sanctuary at the head of the loch!

Elisabeth accompanied me to Balmaha where she left and I started to climb Conic Hill. A strenuous 300m climb at any time. After 122km in 26 degrees heat and with no wind it became absolutely brutal. Was concerned that dehydration would mean I just did not have it in me to climb. Most of time I was leaning on my sticks to stop from falling and then move feet for a bit and then stop. Repeat. Slowly, ever so slowly, got to the top. Other competitors were equally shattered by the experience. All the while day trippers striding past us wondering what kind of race we were in.

Then a welcome decline coming off the hill. Had a nice cool down with stream water at the end of it. At this point I met another type of participant. A husband-wife team who were walking. They had started at 9am on the Saturday and were trying to maintain a constant pace. I was really impressed – to do that you virtually cannot stop at all. Don’t know if they made it but they were not aiming for a time, just to complete in their own time. I lay down on the trail for 5mins of instant sleep and felt refreshed.

After several km of the Garabhan forest the next checkpoint was at Drymen (133.85km). Only now could I entertain the thought of finishing. The race director, Jim, was there and asked me how was doing. Giving him my woes he said short term memory loss would occur Monday morning. Leaving at 1710 there was 20km to go and about 4 hours if I kept the pace. 2210 was cut off time.

Concerned for my condition Elisabeth had determined to try and meet me as much as possible this last stretch. She drove and ran to various points at Gartness, Beech Tree Inn and Carbeth to meet up with me for a few mins.

AT 8:56pm, 33 hours 46 mins. after leaving Fort William I arrived outside Milngavie town hall (approx. 153.85km) on a quiet Sunday evening. For once I was a ‘first’ as the oldest finisher! 64th out of 76 finishers (120 started).

Presented with a crystal goblet by marshall my main thought was at last I could sit down without thinking about moving. About an hour later my appetite started to recover and on my way to regaining the 2.5kg lost.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It is now 11 years since first taking up ultra running. As far as ultra races go I may or may not continue. Some reading this might wonder why put yourself through what seems painful and unnecessary suffering. I like my creature comforts as much as anyone and can assure you I try everything to make it easier. However after 20 such races my experience is that in every one the ‘wheels come off’ in different ways. You are left with one thing, endure. Through all these races Elisabeth has been, in one way or another, involved in supporting. She has encouraged me when assailed by self doubt. Thanks for being with me on both the inner and outer journeys.

Psalm 139 verse 14 declares we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made. Fearful in that our lives are fragile, a gift and can be over in a moment. Wonderful in that we have been uniquely given physical, mental and spiritual resources beyond our understanding. The memory of pain or struggle fades away. It’s the finishing that enhances life, real life. Like the odyssey of our own lives we are each on a journey, but often caught up with present struggles. For me I live in hope of the ‘well done’ at the finish from Jesus, the Master endurer.

STARFISH ASIA
For a number of years I have chosen to do such challenges in aid of Starfish Asia. This run is no different. Specifically it is for the raising of scholarship funds for children of poor and marginalised Christian families in Pakistan who have completed school (16). Scholarships give the opportunity to gain vocational and educational qualifications. This gives the potential of better jobs so they and their family can escape the cycle of poverty. I have been greatly encouraged by the support and if you wish to donate please go to my fund-raising page here. It will remain open till end of June 2021. Thereafter you can go direct to Starfish Asia and find out more of their wonderful work. 

West Highland Way Challenge Race 2021

Luss hills, west of Loch Lomond, during a recent training run.

Excited at the prospect that at 11am on Saturday 29th May I can hopefully once again run the West Highland Way. Organised by another group than I normally run with there are a number of differences to what I have been used to. This is partly due to Covid restrictions and will make it a different challenge. For starters, going in the opposite direction from usual, north to south, makes it almost like a different trail! Everything looks different. However distance is the same 153 km from Fort William, at the foot of UK’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, to Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow. About 4,800m ascent and descent. A little bit more climbing from north to south as Fort William is at sea level (a mere 40m more!). The day time start means just one night out on the trail instead of two. 

West Highland Way Route (north to south).

A significant difference is that no support crew are allowed meaning you carry more gear for safety. You rely on a network of drop bags with food and gear which you pick up at checkpoints. From Glencoe to Rowardennan you also have to carry a sleeping bag and survival bag for any eventuality during the night. During the later parts of the race it currently looks like there may be some provision for a single support runner to accompany. My tentative hope is to do the trail in around 30 hours meaning an arrival at Milngavie town hall late on Sunday 30th afternoon. Max allowed time is 35 hours (10pm). As with all other ultras I have done grateful as ever for Elisabeth being on call.

I have now completed my last big training run and plan is mainly to taper for next 3 weeks. Tapering is runners speak for basically taking it easy before a big race. Am under no illusions that it will be challenging but trusting that mind, body and spirit are in the right place on the day. It has been 21 months since I have done a similar 26 hour race in the Alps. I have got a bit older but no wiser. If you wish to know more about what’s involved see my previous post.

As I have done in the past I want to sponsor Starfish Asia who do such a great work in helping educate desperately poor children from the Christian community in Pakistan. Specifically I am raising funds to enable young people to study beyond Matriculation (aged 16). Scholarships range from £45-300 / year. This is a big challenge so to help them get further in education really opens up the job market and hence a chance to break the cycle of poverty that so many are stuck in. If you wish to sponsor online you can do so here.

Looking south down Loch Lomond.

The Trail Runner’s Psalm – 121

Buachaille Etive Mòr* (from trail between Kingshouse and Altnafeidh)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

   where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

    he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

    he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

    both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121, NIV

One of my favourite trail races is the West Highland Way Race. Normally it takes place on the nearest weekend to midsummer in June. The trail is approx. 95 miles (152 km) long with about 14,700 feet (4,480m) ascent and descent. It begins in Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow and ends in Fort William at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain. If interested you can read detailed accounts of previous years I have run this race here. I had a place for 2021. Sadly it has been cancelled for the 2nd year in a row due to pandemic (I am hoping however to do another version). A race tradition is competitors can choose their race number. For several years I have requested and received no. 121. Psalm 121 is a poem I reckon captures the inner resources needed to run a long distance trail. One of a group of psalms known as ‘songs of ascents’. It’s said ancient Israelites sung these ascending the hills on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. What you would sing when exerting yourself climbing. As such it captures my endurance running imagination. It’s the hills and the trails that I love to run on and these big races are like a pilgrimage to me.

The psalm opens with a reminder of the mountains. 20 or so hours into the race I reach Glencoe 114 km into race. I’m fatigued, chilled, probably nauseated and generally not feeling so well. Buachaille Etive Mòr* is a majestic, imposing mountain that broods over this famous valley. However in my physical and mental state and with the shadows lengthening such a mountain does not inspire or comfort. Rather it threatens and underlines my physical vulnerability.

At such times recognising the Creator’s help is my prayer. Leaving Glencoe I climb up over the ominously named Devil’s Staircase. At this stage I have often started to hallucinate. Deprived of sleep, suffering exhaustion and about to enter a second all night run I am starting to fall apart. I have been so grateful at such times to have competent and alert support runners with me.

Faithful support runners Don (L) and Andy (R) at Lundavra during 2nd night of 2014 race.

It has been known for me to beg to stop and sleep in the rain and want to lie down in a stream. Losing my grip on reality I tell myself that these fanciful coloured rocks are illusions and that the pebbles moving at my feet are not mice. At these times I am barely aware of the fact that HE does not sleep and that my foot would not slip. Talking about feet during my first race in 2011 my support runner and friend Don washed my feet. There must be a message there! One thing I do know, there is such a thing as happy feet. My feet have never been happier before or since. Thanks Don.

Don washing my feet in Glencoe ski lodge (2011)

That neither the heat of the day or the moon by night will harm. Holding on to the fact that God watches over me is an assertion. In extreme situations such a truth might not bring much joy, gladness or comfort. However as the night passes into daylight in the last stage of the race another truth from another psalm enters my consciousness “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning(Psalm 30 vs 5). Light dispels the fears and hallucinations of the night, forgotten in the glory of a new day. Replaced with the renewed joy and wonder of being alive.

Of course the sensible reader will be asking why put myself through such a tortuous experience when you don’t have to. Nobody is forcing me. And why do such things over and over again, not just once! To avoid misunderstanding it is not these painful experiences themselves that I long for. Indeed I try everything possible to mitigate them but with limited success!

Looking back these are experiences incidental to something else going on. Something deeper. Not easily explained but life affirming. Like experiencing love, rapturous music, a glorious sunset, poetry or beautiful art some things are better ‘felt than telt’**. 

The poet of psalm 121 finishes reflecting on the Lord watching over our ‘comings and goings’ now and forever. An older translation uses ‘going out and coming in’ which appeals to the race imagery I have used here. I ‘go out’ at the start in Milgavie and ‘come in’ at Fort William at the end. As in the race so throughout all of life’s perplexing journey it is the Lord who is my help.

*    The mountain’s name is Scots Gaelic, meaning “the Great Herdsman of Etive”

**   Better ‘felt than telt’ is a Scots saying ‘telt=told’, and means you gain more insight from experiencing something than being told about it. 

Grand Tour of The Kilpatricks

8 hr 46 min.  41.43km. Height gain 1,642m. 

A friend Martin Reid mentioned several weeks ago if I was interested in an idea of his. It was to ‘summit’ every hill in the Kilparticks over 300m in one go. Must admit it was not something I had been dreaming about. In fact if honest it had never even occurred to me in my wildest dreams. However as mentioned in ‘Lockdown Escapism‘ you have to be inventive and creative in the current restrictions so I signed up for it. Now Martin is a man who loves bagging hills. He has done all the Munros* and is on his way to doing them for a second time. I therefore left him to plan the route and locate all the hills, itself quite an obsessive past time.

We set a date and a few days before he sent me the list of hills and in what order. Up to that point in the back of my mind I thought there might be 9 or 10 such. When his forensic list came to 19 it suddenly felt this was going to be a challenge and not just a quirky thing to do. All these hills had names, many of them quite colourfully and we were aiming to set foot on some that were probably little loved and unknown but nevertheless had a name! Berry Bank and Brown Hill seemed realistic descriptions but Thief’s hill, Jesus Thimble and Doughnot hill leave much more to the imagination. Some were completely forested over making the actual summit hard to find. Others were flat, unmarked and featureless also making it debatable where the top is. We would also be guessing what would be best routes between hills as a good deal of the time there was no trail just wet bog or marsh. So overall distance and difficulty was also guesswork. I rather carelessly thought 6 hours would do it with no justification other than it sounded about right. 

So last Thursday we set off from Cochno car park at 0930 with me quite happy to trust Martin’s navigation skills. Many of the hills had trig points**, some had cairns and others had no indicators whatsoever. Although technically we were aiming to run, in actual fact much of the time when we were in boggy or wooded areas it was simply plodding through long grass. In order to get to the first and most eastern ‘peak’ we started out on a paved road before making a gradual climb to Jesus Thimble. Halfway to Birny hill (no. 2) we made a small detour to a cairn. It was below 300m but was there for a purpose. Great views sometimes trump ‘great’ height. After no. 3 we made our way round Burncrooks reservoir to head for the intriguingly named Thief’s hill (4) and a struggle to find where it was. I imagined with a name like that it would appear like a hideaway or defensive looking. Instead a featureless, flat plain with no ‘X’ marks the spot. 

We were starting to find a common problem in ascertaining which hill was which. Had it not been for Martin’s skills I would have got lost. Was also starting to wonder – it had taken 3 hours to do the first 4 hills. Although these had been far apart we still had 15 more to go. My time estimate was starting to look wildly optimistic. Sunset was 5:40pm. I began to think bringing my head torch as an afterthought had been a wise move. However the 3 Duncolm hills were quickly done so that was an encouragement. The forecast had been good but temperature most of day was not much above freezing and also wet and windy. Even had hailstones on a few occasions. The sun appeared a bit in the afternoon.

From Fynloch hill (no. 8) Meikle Saughen brae (9) looked a long way away over the bog. Amazing how distance in the hills often looks exaggerated. If not careful this perspective can lend itself to the impression that everything is harder than it actually is. What is on the horizon might in fact be only 20 mins. away. 10 and 11 were at the extremities from our start point so when that was done it felt we were turning a corner. Doughnot hill (12) is one of the more visited Kilpatrick hills. Reaching there also heralded sections with less bog and marsh. 13 and 14 I can’t recall much. Craigrestie (15) was difficult to find as it was in the woods and not at all apparent where it was. We had all but decided to give up when Martin reckoned on a way in. Upon reaching a particular tree he stopped and declared it Craigrestie. Who was I to argue. 

On to Berry Bank (16) where we got a great view of the 3 Duncolm hills lined up in the rare sunshine and which we had done earlier in day.

Then on to the popular Slacks and Cochno Hill (17 & 18). Midway between them at Greenside reservoir stopped to chat briefly with 2 young guys who were just setting out. They had walked from Glasgow and seemed not to be bothered that there was only about an hour of daylight left. Interesting how the hills can make people do things they may not be totally prepared and planned for (speaking to myself). Our last hill was ‘out of the way’ Craighurst (no. 19). It deserves a mention, mainly because it was the last, and not for any aesthetic or majestic impression made upon me. Was grateful to Martin for sharing some welcome biscuits as I had no food or drink left and was starting to feel a bit weary. 

Energised we descended to Jaw Reservoir where dusk was quite atmospheric. A clear sky with the moon over the water a good end to the day as we made the final descent down the muddy slopes to the car park. Thanks Martin for planning and navigating what was a memorable day.

*   A Munro is a Scottish hill or mountain over 3,000 feet (about 914 metres). There are 282.

** Trig points are concrete pillars placed at particular places usually the tops of hills or mountains.