Naked Munros
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Sgiath Chuil

(Written by Stuart)

We chose Sgiath Chuil, the neighbour of Meall Ghlas that we climbed in 2005, as our mountain for this day, and from the start we had concerns about the weather. Although the forecast was optimistic we sat in the car in Glen Lochay for about half an hour before hand watching the cloud develop and thicken over Ben Challum at the end of the glen before deciding that we may as well have a go at it as we had nothing else to do that day.

We headed up the bulldozed track on the side of the hill before crossing a stream by a concrete bridge beside what appeared to be some kind of hydro-electric set up that we would photograph on the way back down. Behind it lay a beautiful spot for skinny dipping, one which we will probably return to later on.

Pushing on up the hill, we wound our way through a very hummocky hillside, sometimes going downhill as much as we were uphill. The weather wasn't getting any better either, with clouds descending over the mountains to the north. At this point Karla got a bit disheartened and quite frankly I felt the same, but I encouraged her on. Little did I know there was a very good reason we were struggling, but I'll come back to that at the end.

Eventually though we found a faint hint of a path and started making better time, but pretty quickly the cloud came down and we were down to a few metres of visibility. There were no navigational difficulties at this point though as the only way to go was straight uphill and the path was clearly going that way.

As we gained more height, the mist only got thicker, and the wind only got stronger. When we suddenly came across a field of scree and boulders we knew we were above the ice line of the glaciers during the last ice age and I had a pretty good idea that we were nearing the summit. When we came across a cairn I knew I was on the southern end of the short summit ridge and a little map and compass work took us to the summit itself within a few minutes. At least I thought it was the summit. Its sometimes difficult to be sure in these conditions, especially as there was no large summit cairn, but I was confident in my navigation, and a quick look online has confirmed we did reach the summit.

It was pretty horrible up there though. Visibility was down to a few metres, dampness was everywhere and the winds were howling across the summit. Although it can be fun to climb in these conditions, naturism is the last thing you want to try, but we had to get the summit photo! We found a sheltered spot to strip off in and just ran for the summit, only shooting off a few photos each before running back to our clothes, shivering.

We were surprised to find a stream coming down the mountain that had quite large rock pools in it, some almost large enough for swimming in. We were quite taken with them and have decided to return at some point in the future to the lower slopes to do some skinny dipping here. On a sunny day we think this could be a lovely mountain.

I took a few shots of Karla on the bridge we had crossed on the way up before we made the final trip down the track to the car.

After a bout of diarrhoea that I would describe as "traumatic", I filled myself with painkillers and went to bed. I spent the next six hours in a sweat drenched fever, half asleep and half awake, and my surroundings merged with my dreams in the most surreal way, as the shadows on the curtains came down off the wall to have conversations with me …


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