The Glen Lyon Horseshoe

Day two in Scotland and again the weather forecast had slightly changed by morning. The low cloud would hang a bit longer, so I delayed my start by two hours and after driving for an hour and a half all the way to Glen Lyon I headed “To the Hill” at 10:45am. An unusual late start for someone who gets up around 6am every morning, haha.

Through a plantation the path led, then quickly onto the ascent to the first of four munros today. Cloud hang as low as 600m over the surrounding hills, but it was surely of the non-threatening kind. Not threatening with rain that is.

Looking back down into Glen Lyon

Head down I ploughed ever upwards. Having chosen my stiffer boots today, I soon felt like I was getting a blister at my right heel. So boots, off, socks of and sports tape on to prevent rubbing.

Not long after I still felt rubbing and could quite understand why. Tape normally does it for me. So again I sat down, tape off, blister plaster from my first aid pack on. Not even half an hour later I had to stop again. The right heel still didn’t feel right, and the left felt sore now as well. Argh! What the heck? I had worn those boots on the 30k descent from Aconcagua base camp with no problems. The blister plaster had just slid off, so taped my heel again as good as I could and put my other blister plaster on the left heel. That was it. No more plasters left. That had to do.

Needless to say, it didn’t. I simply couldn’t win today. So I ploughed on with sore heels, trying to not lift the heels too much on the decent which partially worked.

With all that faff it had taken me over an hour to reach the top of Meall na Aighean. Still no view and so far I hadn’t really felt it today. Struggling with blisters and a base layer that was nice and warm when worn without exercising, but which simply didn’t wick any moisture away. So I felt hot and clammy and very cold and clammy when I stopped. Never buy 20 quid merino base layers again. There seems to be a reason why you have to fork out three times as much for the likes of Icebreaker etc.

The second I reached that first top, my mood changed instantly. Still no view whatsoever, but I felt a sense of achievement after what had felt like an endless slog up the hill. This time I had also brought my summit flask with some cider brandy. Took my victory sip and one for yesterday when I had forgotten my flask.

Meall na Aighean, not quite happy yet, but brandy and improving visibility helped

Over to munro number two, Carn Mairg. In between thicker cloud I could make out the path well ahead every now and then and I started to even see some of the next mountain’s shape. Yay!

The decent was short and although still not a glimpse of any of the surrounding probably quite stunning vista, I started to see more and more of my immediate surroundings.

Meall Gharb ahead, munro number 3

As promised the cloud finally lifted above the highest tops and lo and behold! Schiehallion was there. Quite close even. Loch Rannoch with countless very faint and hazy tops in the distance behind it. And the group around Ben Lawers to the South. What a reward for my troubles earlier.

Late lunch at 2:30pm perched behind a rock to block some of the persistent icy wind and a view that was getting better and better. Enjoyed once more one of the Lancaster market pies, some tea and nuts. Pork pie was becoming a fast favourite hiking snack for me!

Lunch with a view. Schiehallion!

Over to munros three and four, Meall Garbh and Carn Gorm. The last one with the best view yet. It was already 5pm by now and hardly any cloud in the sky. I could’ve lingered so much longer, but thinking of my long drive home, I started my way down which took so much longer than I thought. I was over another hour before I finally reached the car park after 7.5 hrs altogether. What a long day! I didn’t feel as knackered as yesterday, funny enough, although the walk today had been more than twice as long: 17.5k and 1300m elevation gain. Maybe it was because I had taken my time with this, knowing that the longer it took me, the better the views would (hopefully) get, and once more I had been right.

On Meall Gharb. Carn Gorm looming on the right.
Guess how many munros I ticked off today?
Glen Lyon from Carn Gorm

Enjoyed the fine afternoon light on the drive home, cruising rather than trying to get it over with. Back at the guesthouse just before 8pm, I didn’t stop by the pub and rather went upstairs for a shower and the last of my pies.

The fallout from my heel blister issue was alright. One heel had a thumbnail sized one, the other heel a few smaller ones. Nothing that will prevent me from walking tomorrow, but I’ll surely through away all the remaining blister plasters from my first aid kit and only use Compeed in the future.

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