I believe, not that I’m an expert in this field, that you should always have three points of contact when climbing. This is a useful guide for any form of awkward ascending. At present I have four. Sadly none of them are greater than 1cm diameter and two are much, much, less. It is those two that are, at the minute, holding me upright. Dave MacLeod would be impressed.
From my perch 10m into what has turned out to be a brick-hard snowfield I am beginning to contemplate the wisdom of attempting this route. Still, 10m isn’t too far to slide should things go awry. Given the lack of visible snow on the tops I didn’t pack my microspikes or my axe. As a result it’s only the tips of my poles that are preventing an embarrassingly irregular return to the trail below…should I actually stop in time. No, I’ll rephrase that…I will stop in time – courtesy of the 2 cubic metres of very solid looking boulder directly below me. While this will prevent any further slide down the mountain it will probably cause injuries of “Affric” proportions…as Mr.P would say. Hmm, as I’m not going anywhere in a hurry maybe I should tell the story from the start…
The March 2012 re-hab programme has been working out rather well. I can feel my legs strengthening on every walk thanks to the exercises thrust upon me by my physio. Not only that, The Fatdog has been showing a remarkable return to form after the onset of arthritis last autumn. FD and I have now completed 1 Munro, 1 Corbett and 2 Grahams since the beginning of the month and here, at the start of the 3rd week, we’re about to increase the durability required of us by another small notch.
This little jaunt was designed to take in the two easterly Munros of what I have heard referred to as the Invervar Round or The Glen Lyon Horseshoe; Meall na Aighean and Carn Mearg. This would be our biggest ascent so far, round about 950m although the distance would be a miserly 13km. Unlike the Glas Tulaichean walk we would have to pack in 770m of the ascent (to Meall na Aighean) in about half the distance. This stiffer gradient was the next challenge for the legs. I took mapping to cover the other 2 Munros in the round, Meall Garbh and Carn Gorm, but this was somewhat optimistic both from my point of view – and from The Fatdog’s. Completing the 4 would mean an ascent equivalent to that of Ben Nevis.
The Mighty Gate of Invervar! Once a solid symbol of the local Estate vs The Hillwalker – now a reminder of the benefits of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which calls for the removal of such restrictions to access to the hills of Scotland. Mind you in 2007 things were still not easy. Here’s a quote from an acquaintance on scottishhills.com which shows how the Estate’s access arrangements were viewed.
“I’ll tell you, they still make it bloody difficult for you. There is a wire, about a metre long and the same in height, that is locked to the gate so you basically have to crawl under the attached wire to get through the gate.
You then have two steep stiles to encounter, one with no holding post, which isn’t the easiest thing to overcome with a four legged mate – which I’m sure Kenny and the Fatdog will testify too !!
Still, I’m pretty sure most walkers would walk across a bed of Invervar barn door nails to claim their access rights !!” (Note the mention of your most humble author :wink: )
I did a bit more digging and found a couple of other references regarding the welcome…
“Did these four last year. I remember the signs in the farm at the start, something about “The dogs can reach the gate in 3 seconds, can you?” Got talking to a guy on the summit of Cairn Mairg and he said the owner had set the dogs on his daughter.”
“I was never there at the time, but apparently before the new land access laws were passed, the signs used to say stuff like “private property”, “keep out”, “stalking season 1 March to 28 February”, “walkers will be shot on sight”. It’s positively welcoming now by comparison! “
“Has anyone ever felt welcome on these hills? We actually had abuse shouted at us from the farmhouse. (We did have a loose dog with us but she was under control) And we were then escorted off the property! “
“North Chesthill Estate is legendary. Squire Riddell is a local Justice of the Peace and a member of the local access committee ( ) and pre-access legislation a fairly “difficult” owner – on par with Glen Dessary and Alladale.”
I suspect you may have grasped the picture by now. So, it was with no small sense of trepidation that we arrived at the small car park in Glen Lyon and crossed over the road to get our first peek at The Mighty Gate of Invervar.
(to be continued…)