Friday, 29 November 2013

Murder in Torridon?

Murder in Torridon?
A True Tale of the Mountains.
Written by the late Douglas Williamson of Lumsden Aberdeenshire.
With permission to publish kindly granted by his widow  Mrs. Alison Williamson of Lumsden Aberdeenshire, a keen reader of my blog.



It was April  1961 when Iain,Harrold,Douglas and Bill set out for Torridon

in Iain's car. Bill worked in the drawing office of an engineering firm; the

others were Ph.D. students at Glasgow University. We arrived at the

SYHA Hostel at Inveralligin on the north shore of Loch Torridon.

planning to climb Beinn Eighe the next day, which blew a gale with

horizontal rain. After a few hours of struggling just to stand on the

quarzite scree but making little progress even on hands and knees, we gave

up and retreated to the joys of the 'Modem Mistress', as the stove in the

hostel was named  in cast iron letters. The only other occupants, a party of

four, had gone home but there was now a stocky, tough chap in ex-army

gear. He said he was lan Simpson, was camping by the shore and wanted

a bit of warmth and company. A doctor at  the State Mental Hospital at

Carstairs, he just wanted away from it all for a bit.

    That evening, he spoke very  knowledgeably about mental hospitals,

but turned out to be argumentative, proposing that morals had no

defensible basis and challenging us to disagree, which we strongly did - to

our probable  salvation  did we but know. I, Douglas, took a few flash

photographs in the hostel common room though Simpson was extremely

reluctant to be included. However, he obviously knew the area extremely

well and offered advice on approaching the local peaks, warning that the

'Horns of Alligin' should be treated with care as they had been the cause

of fatalities in the past. The next day, Iain and Harold had to return to

Glasgow in the car and, when Simpson heard this being discussed, he

asked  for a lift to lnverness as he needed a haircut and various provisions.

This was readily  agreed and the three left after breakfast, with Bill and I

setting out for Beinn  Alligin.

        We got back triumphant but  tired after a great day, made some

supper and soon went to bed, the only occupants both of the hostel and its

male dormitory, which was a wooden hut in the grounds. A bit after

midnight. I was wakened by a person entering the dormitory and using a

unusual torch with the beam  at  right angles to the barrel. I was annoyed  at

being thus wakened and pretended to be fast asleep, and Bill took a similar

view. The person soon went out. ln the morning, we went up to the main

hostel to get breakfast , whereupon Bill discovered that his food had been

ransacked. We quickly checked our belongings. spread out on adjacent

beds in the dormitory, and realised that my camera was definitely missing.

We both had a suspicion that the intruder might have been Simpson as he

had had the same unusual pattern of torch. In the wet ground outside

there were fresh boot-nail marks and, unusually even then he had worn

nailed boots. But surely he was in Inverness with our friends, so it

couldn't be him. We reported the incident/loss to the warden. Kenny

McDonaid (also shop owner, grave digger, shepherd, garage man and

ferryman, etc.), who phoned Kinlochewe police and had the local bus

stopped but there was nobody on it.

Meanwhile, we phoned Iain and Harold in Glasgow, who told us the

significant news that on the previous day, when they had reached

Achnasheen. Only 20 miles on the way to Inverness, Simpson had asked to

be left there, since he claimed to have belongings, including a motor

scooter stashed  away in a nearby ruined croft. He would make his own

way to Inverness later. By now we were deeply suspicious and checked

information at Glasgow and Carstairs, discovering that there was no

'Doctor ' Simpson, and the police were  told all this.

A couple  of months later, I received I call from the police who said

they had now identified Ian Simpson. "a bad lad" as they said. He had a

string of convictions for petty theft, but was  self-styled pastor of his

own church in Mothewell, a corrugated iron shack, which had a

congregation of around 100 trusting, innocent souls. His last prosecution,

indeed had been for theft of communion vessels from the local church

of Scotland to furnish his own. Subsequently, he had been committed to

Carstairs State Mental institution from which he had escaped and was on

the run when we met him. Sure, he had Carstair's connection but as a

patient not staff! lf he could stay out for 28 days, the law then required

that the process of certification be re-enacted. "No wonder," said the

Police, "he objected to you taking the photograph, and he undoubtedly

came back with the particular purpose of obtaining the camera which he

would then throw in the loch. We have a warrant for his arrest and

we'll find him." (It is another of the coincidences of this tale that

Simpson, it emerged at the trial, had undertaken courses at a Bible

Training College of which my father was principal administrator.)

      Around Easter the following year, the action moves to Craig Youth

Hostel, on the coast north of Diabaig, in a very remote spot about I0 miles

from lnveralligin, only reached by an indistinct footpath over moorland.

Shan, a Canadian researcher student colleague, and her friend Bridget, a

languages lecturer, went there to survey the property with regard to

summer opening. Bridget being the warden. When they arrived, they

found a mathematics student from a London College, who pleaded to be

allowed to stay, although the hostel was not formally open. He also said

that the man who had given him a lift was on his way, having stopped to

buy provisions. The girls agreed and the man duly turned up, introducing

himself plausibly as "lan Fraser", a biologist  at the Ben Eighe Nature

Reserve. When Shan revealed that she worked in the Chemistry

Department of Glasgow University, Fraser pleasantly recalled that he had

met  several people she might  know the previous year at Achmelvich: Iain,

Douglas and Harold! (A curious, self-defeating lie about location.) For

Shan. The  penny immediately dropped and she realised the real identity of

'Fraser' as she had heard our story from the previous year. The two girls

went up to their room, and after closing the door, Shan got an amazed

Bridget to help her move the wardrobe in front of it, while recounting the

whole tale. In the morning, the girls hastened the several miles to the

nearest phone at  Diabaig and called the police, who said they needed to

acquire some paperwork to arrest Fraser/Simpson but meanwhile to "keep

him under observation" and "he's not violent". They explained their

predicament with some irritation and apprehension, but nothing else could

be done. They returned to discover that Fraser/Simpson had disappeared

and the mathematics student knew nothing. On their return to Glasgow,

we heard the whole story and told the police the details, most of which

they already knew. (It is now known that Fraser actually went on to

Achmelvich Youth hostel, where he spent a couple of days then left,

coolly stealing an antique chest whose considerable value he had


            About a month later, I was working in my laboratory when my

supervisor came in stroking his neat moustache, a sure sign of perturbation

and trouble. "Douglas, there is a Detective Sergeant Brown in my office;

he wishes to see you." "Thanks John, I can imagine what that's about." "I

dare say you can," he said, continuing to stroke his moustache with

increased frequency. DS Brown said, "Have you seen the evening paper?"

"No I haven't been out."  He held up the front page which, under banner

headlines exclaiming 'A9 Killer Arrest' , displayed a recognisable picture

of Simpson/Fraser. For a couple of weeks, a double murder had gripped

the press, following the discovery of a body in a shallow grave near

Newtonmore and a couple of weeks later another, similarly, in a wood

near Dumfries. Both had been shot at close range. The number of a car

which seemed to be connected with the crimes (it had belonged to one of

the victims) had been noticed and traced. The trail eventually led to

Simpson's rooms in Manchester, where a huge amount of loot had been

found; he worked as an antique dealer and may have stolen to order.

   In August 1962, he was tried and convicted, but sentenced to be

detained at Her Majesty's pleasure since he was found to be certifiably

insane. It transpired that he believed he was God's vice-regent on Earth,

with a commission to rid the world of evil men. He worked by pretending

to reject morals: if you argued against him you were safe, but if you

agreed you were marked down for death. Fortunately, I and my friends

plus the mathematics student were saintly or just argumentative.

Piecing things together, we realized that, when he gave the lift to the

student and arrived at Craig, he had just  killed the man at Newtonmore,

and when he left, after a couple of weeks, he went South back to

Manchester and en route killed the second man at Dumfries. So the girls

(and the mathematics student who clearly argued) spent a night at a lonely

Craig under the same roof as the murdering psychopath (complete with

gun), said to be non-violent. At the trial, for which I was cited as a witness

but not required, a one time climbing friend related how on Liathach,

roped to Simpson, he was brought up to the ledge on which Simpson was

secured. Simpson untied the rope, smiled and pushed his partner off. He

fell about a hundred feet over rough scree and boulders, sustaining severe

cuts and bruises. He walked away, resolving never to see Simpson again.

Aware of this story, I recall Simpsons warning to us about the 'Horns of Alligin'. He had added "a girl fell to her death there" and then with a

smile I can never quite forget, a mixture of pride and triumph, he went on

"I was the only one that found the body." I sometimes wonder about that.

    There is a solemn and dramatically violent ending, which also had a

moral dimension. Simpson was first confined at Carstairs, and then

for a long period at Craig Dunain, Inverness where he took a

distinguished Open University degree and learned to construct excellent

violins. He was then transferred back again to Carstairs which contained

some extremely violent inmates.  Two psychopaths managed to obtain

axes and broke out, but were confronted by the local policeman whom

they attacked. Fraser/Simpson, hearing the cries, rushed to the assistance

of the constable, but with him was also hideously done to death, his heroic

and courageous defence of morality to no avail. This incident, with its

characteristics of a classical Greek tragedy, took place some twenty years

after the trial.

      Climbing in Torridon has never seemed the same since, even after

forty years. But on my first return, only five years after these events, I was

back in the same hostel having resolved to do the round of Ben Eighe and

visit the great Corrie Mhic Fhearchair wih its triple buttresses. I had

returned and was alone in the hostel when a walker arrived out of the dark.

He was about my own age and not very communicative.  I was extremely

disturbed and must have seemed very strange, I later realised. On being

interrogated, I can put it no less, he claimed to be an RAF officer who had

been doing a long walking trip and was heading for Kyle where he would

meet friends.  He planned to walk over the Coulin pass and, at

Achnashellach, get the train to Kyle. All this was innocuous as it could

be; I had done a similar trip myself, but I was deeply suspicious. I had

a bad and vigilant night but in the morning , which eventually came

without incident, we both caught the local bus, to my astonishment,

the chap got off the bus at the Coulin Pass road end.

   Funny the people you meet in the hills.  I still speculate about the girl

who fell from the 'Horns'.


By Douglas Williamson.
Graham and I had recently climbed  The Horns of Alligin, a few months before I learned of this story.
So here are a few pictures  from Torridon.

Na Rathean( The Horns Of Alligin), Beinn Dearg Liath and Beinn EigheThe horns of Alligin

Ben Alligin Panorama 2
Beinn Alligin

Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair
Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair Beinn Eighe.

Sail Mhor and the Triple Buttress
Sail Mhor and the Triple Buttress Graham's photo.
Liathach ridge path
Liathach ridge path -  it is as bad as it looks.
The scariest path I have ever walked on.
This one made me nervous.
Liathach in cotton wool cloud.
Liathach in cotton wool cloud.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Five Sisters Of Kintail

Up at 4am- I must be nuts, but the weather report was for sun, sun and more sun - looks like it could be a hard day.
So heading off to climb the 5 sisters went to pick Graham up as planned at 5 a.m.. A few texts from Graham the night before about the early departure and ok if I must was the sum of it, when the 5am bit was announced. collected Graham and headed to Inverness up the A96 about 1hour 40min ish at this time of the day. Into Tesco as usual for the conveniences but it was before 7am on a Sunday and the café was still shut. They were milling about behind the counter in prep for it opening but not sure what time that would be. Nothing for it but to get diesel and head down Loch Ness and turn right at Invermorison.  Heading out west the fog came down on the road so had to take it easy. I had hatched a cunning plan the night before about breakfast and we had taken the camp stoves.  We pulled in at Clunnie Dam in the big lay-by still with the fog down, a few bikers and some others had been wild camping at the far end of the lay-by. There were a few midge about but not too bad. The bikers had their midge nets on, must have been tastier than us. A coating of Smidge and that stopped them.
  Into the boot and got the stoves out the essential supplies were stored in the cool box - bacon and buns. Graham got his stove going and popped the kettle on to it.  I got the frying pan out and got the bacon going on my stove. It may be small but it chucks out a load of heat. So I'm frying up the bacon with the stove on a wee bit of a slope on a tarred lay-by and yep the damn frying pan took off, the bacon landed on the tar half cooked and I tried to grab it only to burn my finger on the metal of the stove. "Ouch" Anyway rescued the frying pan and scrapped the bits of road off the bacon and back in to the pan and I held onto it this time. Graham took over as I sorted out the rolls. When the bacon was done took the pan off the stove which was still burning and sat it down. Now just about this time the kettle started boiling and Graham went to turn it off, unfortunately he put the back of his hand over my little stove to do this not realising it was still on. Who needs waxing made a good job of removing the hair from the back of his arm. So with matching burns we tucked into Tesco's finest bacon in a roll with a cup of tea for me and supper strong coffee for Graham - just the way he likes it.
Damn fine. We did not think we would have got bacon of this quality at the Tesco café and certainly not with bits of tar on it! Emptied the water out from the flask into the kettle to re-boil, I had boiled the water before we left to save time. Refilled the old flask with boiling water from the kettle as at this point as we were not that far from the start of the walk.
   A stop at The Cluanie Inn for the loos and the sun was shining. Then a first for me the zip off legs were removed from my trousers. Got the boots and suntan lotion on and of course the smidge anti midge repellent. Graham came back and we headed off west. Now the start of the walk is where Brian and I came down from the Brothers, so I knew it was on a corner. But that was 2 years before and with the trees cut down made it fun to find. a bit of to-ing and frowing and we pulled into the little car park at 00923 135522. Graham switched on the GPS and the start was 20m away. Looked different from last time and damn steep.
5 sisters east start, Glen Sheil

Graham at the start of the walk. The path up or down is just past a big rock about the third cheveron to the left of Graham.  It was now around 9am and getting hotter by the minute.
  Graham led the way following the GPS for a start till we got onto the path, the start of the walk is around 127m above sea level.The only way is up and a damn steep up it is too, good thing you gain height quickly.
The path cut over to the east behind what's left of the trees before climbing up steeply again, there are a few cairns dotted about.  Graham or Mr Fit led the way with Captain Slow coming along behind.
By 9.50 we were at 164m just up from the trees in picture below and it was getting hotter by the minute.

Graham's photo - Glen Sheil gaining height.
Gaining Height Rapidly

Graham climbing up to the ridge.The Five Sisters Of Kintail

Graham on the way up step path to the bealach.

 The South Glen Sheil ridge and 7 Munros
South Glen Sheil Ridge 7 Munros.

As the heat intensified it was a good idea to stay hydrated. Big problem is how much water to take 1 litre = 1 KG. I had plumped for 3ltr and a flask of tea. Prompted Graham to drink on the way up
to the bealach.
Graham reached Bealach an Lapain first about 5min before I got there. Then it was time for a bite to eat and a cupper.
 Me just reaching the bealach. Graham's photo
Bealach an Lapain I

Bealach an Lapain II
The cairn where the path is Belach an Lapin.  Graham's photo.

  Well it was hot now, prob over 30deg in the sun. Had a surprise from Graham, when we started I put a 2ltr of frozen water in my pack so it had started to melt by now, a nice ice cold drink of water to cool us down. We both kept our hats on to help prevent sun stroke. From Belach an Lapain  we could see some of the hills we would have to go up off to the west, but our first challenge was the Spaniard or Sgurr nan Spainteach. Well Graham had been eating a banana or rocket fuel as I found out, he took off up the  hill like a Whippet, with me just plodding on. The Spaniard has a surprise for you as you get to the top of the first climb you see the real top in the distance.

Bealach an Lapain III

As I came over the first top I could see Graham on the second top already. Nothing for it but to plod on. Reaching the second top 10min later and stopped for a bit. Graham had had the same reaction as I did as he rounded the first to only to see the top in the distance.
Graham tackles a rocky out crop on the way along the ridge.
Graham droping down from Sgurr nan Spainteach.

Caught up with Graham on top of Sgurr nan Spainteach. Took me a bit longer to get there than Graham with his banana power. After a short break at the summit we set off towards our first Munro - Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. there was a wee bit of a scramble down from the summit. Graham leading the way with me following. Just around where Graham is in the photo below he decided to throw his walking poles down to the ridge ahead, I thing there was a arggggggggggg as the poles took off down the side heading for a huge drop and then a sigh relief when they came to a stop on the rocks. I took a slightly  different route down to the left of the photo.
Follow this link to Graham,s photo of me on the ridge.

Graham down climbing the rocks.The Five Sisters Of Kintail
Looking back at the scramble we just came down.

Me climbing down from the Spaniard.
Descending Sgurr nan Spainteach Graham's photo
 Graham and I set off along the ridge heading for Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe our first Munro of the day. You drop down to 927m on the ridge and then 100m back up to the summit of  Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe about 750m from the summit of the Spaniard.
Sgurr na Carnach Summit

Graham's photo looking back along the ridge to the east.

  Graham on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe  The Five sisters Of Kintail
The little black dot on the top is Graham.
The three Munros Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe ,Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran a long way off.
 Not too bad a climb up to Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe  but it was very hot now 30 deg + and no shade.
Graham got to the top first - that's unusual - not! with me arriving a wee while later.

Graham on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe Munro No1

Graham on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe - king of the cairn.

Me on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe Munro No1

 On top of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe - a rare sight of me in shorts .1027m

Boy was it hot now. So I hatched a cunning plan to get some shade while we had a cupper. Stuck my walking poles through the sleeves of my jacket and propped it up behind me, go me out of the sun for a while.
After a wee break and the usual photos Graham and I set off west and right a bit for Sgurr nan Carnach our second Munro of the day. I spied a short cut to cut out a bit on the north face just off the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and we got in a bit of shade behind the rocks for a short while.

Rocky path the five sisters ridge Kintail
Rocky path ahead.
Graham taking 5 before climbing Sgurr na Carnach

Graham taking 5 before the climb up to Sgurr nan Carnach  ahead.

Looking back to Sgurr na Cistie duibhe

Looking back at the descent and the short cut to the left of the first hill.

Graham climbing Sgurr na Carnach

The only way is up, Graham takes the lead up Sgurr nan Carnach but it didn't not take too long to get to the top even with a good bit of stop/start on the way up for me.

Me on Sgurr na Carnach Munro 2

Made it - on top of Munro 2 Sgurr na Carnach

Graham on Sgurr na Carnach with Munro 3 in the back ground - Sgurr Fhuaran.
Pity about the big drop in the middle.

Graham on Sgurr na Carnach Munro 2

So we're a bit puggled by this time with the heat and the climb, I had hit a wall so to speak so we had a good break here.
While we were on a break this guy comes along the ridge looking super fit and we start chatting as you do. He had left his car at the west end of Glen Lichd and ran the glen and bounded up the north face to Blaclach an Lapin and more or less ran the ridge. Wearing what looked like rough ground trainers. After our chat he took off down the mounting like a goat on steroids and hit the bealach before we could blink. Don't you hate people that fit??? LOL
Rocky descent of  Sgurr na Carnach

A fun descent off of Sgurr na Carnach. This is the bit just down from the top.
Graham leading on the ridge path. By the time we got here the fit bloke was on top of Sgurr na Fhuaran and that's the last time we saw him. Graham and I plodded on for Munro 3
Well I plodded Graham had slowed a bit by this time but not that much though.

Graham on the ridge between Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran

Graham on the path to Sgurr na Fhuaran.

It took me a while to get up here with the old quick, quick, slow and stop a minute.

South side climb of Sgurr Fhuarn.

Not far to the Munro No 3, just up there.

Woo Hoo Munro No3 and it's all down hill from here - well almost.
Me on Sgurr Fhuaran Munro 3

Me on the summit of Sgurr na Fhuaran.

Graham on the Summit of Sgurr na Fhuaran.

Graham on Sgurr Fhuaran Munro 3

We came off the summit and tried to find a bit of shade down a bit. By this time I was finding it hard to eat but to get energy you have to eat. So I nibbled away at a biscuit or two.
The frozen water had thawed out by this time, pity that would have been nice.
Graham sitting thinking about a pint in the photo below.

Graham taking 5, Sgurr Fhuaran.

Well do you see the hill on the far right that's the fifth sister and no way were we going to get up it
but it's not a Munro anyway, though some climbers bag it on the way past.Had the last of my tea here but it wasn't that warm now.
You will see the blue loch in the distance and that's where the car would be, only about 8km down to there. Hmmmm. Well at least it was down.

Sgurr nan Saighead Panorama

The way down.
For a change I was in the lead for a while down here as Graham was heading for the proverbial wall soon, with the heat and the climb taking it's toll. We went down between the two far off hills you see into Coire na Criche and soft wet ground for a change, a bit of a relief on the now burst blisters.

Sgurr an t-Searrich and Allt a' Chruinn

Look grass and water.  Not much of a path down here.
That loch still looking far away. As we got further down a burn ran under the ground with big holes every now and again, Graham hit that wall and fell in a few of the holes.
We made our way down to the Allt a Chruinn  (burn)  coming down Beinn Bhudie.
The last bit down to the river was quite slippy on the grass. Reaching the burn I took off my boots and stuck my feet into the water expecting it to be cold. Graham drenched himself sitting on a rock in the middle of the burn.
 After a good break I got the boots on again and headed after Graham who had got into go home mode and was off again. A proper man made path greeted us as we climbed a short distance up from the burn on the north side.

Graham got his second wind and took off down the track.

Allt a' Chruinn and the path down or up.

There is a steeper bit to go down just along a bit from where Graham is in the photo.
But it's all down from here and I started getting texts around here - the usual none for ages and then heaps come at once.
The last bit down to the road with still a good bit to go, no sign of Graham in the distance.

The path to the end at Sheil Bridge

Well tired now it was put one foot in front of the other on automatic plod.
 When I got down a bit I saw the car pulling in off the main road but it would take me another 20 min or so to get there. Stiff, sore and knackered I arrived at the houses on to a lockblock road, that was hard on the tired feet. Down through the village and I could smell cooking coming from the pub, I was hungry but would not have been able to eat at this point. My mouth was very dry and I found it difficult to drink also on the last bit down the path. A trick I do is it take a mouth full of water in and keep it in my mouth for as long a possible, some will go down slowly and it helps get rid of the dryness in my mouth.
Graham had been at the car a good while but was looking just as knackered as I was. I had a surprise for him tucked in the cool box in the boot were two cold cans of coke.
That cheered him up when I produced them, I had to sip mine as I was finding it hard to drink at that time.  Boots off and a change of clothes then we headed for the Clunie Inn, Glen Sheil for a meal.
According to Graham's track log we finished the walk at 19.40 so it was a long walk.
Into the pub - Guinness here we come. A wee bit of a struggle to drink a pint but I forced it down !
Food ordered a couple of their burgers which were damn fine.
Then only a 3-4 hour drive home - lol.
I asked Graham if he would like to drive to Inverness and he jumped at the chance, good I could sleep a bit on the way, nodded off a few times on the way to Inverness. Stopped at Tesco again for the loos and some drinks,  I drove the rest of the way running out of brain power somewhere between Huntly and Alford with the fog on the top of the Suie making it even worse. 
 Got to Alford and turned onto Graham's road only to keep going right into a dead end. I think past it would be a good definition about now. Sorted it out and took Graham home think he was glad to get out of the car by this time as he's not the best at being a passenger.
Home 10 minutes later done in completely, don't think I will walk the sisters again but you never know. Can't remember what time we got home 1 pm maybe?  It was a long hot day in Kintail.
Track log from Graham's GPS 14.5km and 9.45hours

The End :-)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Ben Dearag By Blair Atholl

Ben Dearg By Blair Atholl
5/6/2011 Off out for a huge walk with a bike too.
    Ben Dearg is a fair old hike in from the road. I think you are looking at 29km + there and back.
Yet you only get one Munro for your trouble.
   Graham and I decided to tackle it in 2011 and as Mike, Grahams brother had not climbed it he would meet us at Blair Atholl and come along.
  Bikes would be a good idea on this wee walk as a lot of it is on Landrover track. Graham had not long got a new car which needed special roof brackets to take a rack for bikes - at a stupid price of course. So we would take my car and my trusty bike rack I bought in a sale from Toys Are Us of all places I think.
Graham and I set off from Alford with the bikes on the back of the car over the Devil's Elbow and down to Blair Atholl where we would meet Mike, as he lives down south.
  After a few phone calls between Graham and Mike we met in Blair Atholl and headed to the carpark just past the old bridge of Tilt.
   There were a few cars there already but we got parked no problem. Just as we were starting to kit up for the walk a couple went past us heading for Ben Dearg on foot. I'll refer to them as Mr & Mrs Walker from now on as we were to interact with them a few times during the day. Said hello and they went off ahead. Got the bikes ready and we set off up the tarred road heading for old Blair.

Marshall & Mike
Mike sorting out my kit before we set off for Ben Dearg - Graham's Photo.
I had swung my pole bag over my shoulder but that proved to be a right pain as it kept slipping down as we went along.
 The two fit *****s shot off ahead of me as I puffed and panted my way up the tarred road behind them.
Silly time now.

The two of them biked up through the forest most of the way and I pushed my bike most of the way,
with the damn pole bag slipping down most of the time.

I stopped and chatted with Mr & Mrs Walker and then walked along with them pushing the bike up the long hills, till I reached a flatter bit and then off on the bike trying to catch up with Graham and Mike. It's a long pull up the track.

Graham's photo. 
Long Way In

Mike in the distance coming up the track. You would need the Hubble telescope to see me in the distance! The track twists and turns over a few bridges and is rough in some places but it's mostly up hill with a few steep bits to. After 8.71km there's a real treat - a big downhill into Alt Sheicheachan and the Sheicheachan bothie is at the bottom of the hill. We would stop here for a bit to eat, I think it was about lunch time by the time we got there. There was a rough tough old hillwalker camped out inside, I think he had spent the night there. He didn't seem to like a lot of people around so it was not long before he skedaddled and left the place to us.

 Alt Sheicheachan bothy Graham's Photo.
Allt Scheicheanchan Bothy II

We would leave the bikes here and walk the rest of the way. P.S. its like a normal walk from here.

 Inside the bothy Graham's photo.
Bothy Interior I

It's well equipped there's even a spade.
 After lunch I padlocked the bikes together and we set off walking along Alt Sheicheachan heading north east. There's a wee burn just behind the bothy to cross but it's easy enough to get over.
Allt Sheicheachan

Graham and Mike in  Allt Sheicheachan. Nice flat walk through here about 2km to the end from the bothy. We walked along to the end of the glen where the wide path heads off to the south. But the path we would take is off to the north east, a single footpath that winds back and forth to take off the steepness. Once you get to about 750m it levels out a good bit and it's just a long haul to the top.

Mike and me coming up Meal Dubh a' Dial-ghairt on the path to Ben Dearg.
Graham's Photo.
Meall Dubh a' Dail-ghairt I

After you get off the steeper bit it's about 2km to the top. There's not much to navigate by in the mist here.

Meall Dubh a' Dail-ghairt II

I was getting tired by this time and we stopped for a short break before the final push to the summit.

Mike and Graham head off with the summit in sight off to the right.
Mike and Graham heading up

Just one more big up after this to the top.

 Graham's Photo
Beinn Dearg Summit Cone

It's not that big an up but after the hike to get here it seemed pretty big to me.
Not long after we reached the top a guy with his dogs came bounding up. He had been up a few hills that day to get here with the dogs and did not look any worse the wear for it. Don't you just hate really fit folk ! He stayed for a while and then set off at a good pace to the south over a few more hills to get back to his car.

Beinn A'Ghlo and Carn a' Chlamain

This is where he came up from, not the first or second glen you see but the third.

 He took the mandatory photos of the 3 of us at the top.
Mike me and Graham summit Beinn Dearg

Mike, Graham and I on the summit of Ben Dearg.
Mike had taken nursery bear with him so he had to get his photo taken too.

Graham's photo
Return of Nursery Bear
Nursery bear has bagged a few Munros too.
 While we were sitting having a coffee at the top Mr and Mrs Walker arrived. Not bad as they had walked all the way from the car park, the two of them were seasoned Munro baggers and if they had not bagged all 284?, 283? or now 282 Munros they were pretty close to it. Now that it's the Fisherfield 5 and a Corbet. It was still a Munro when I climbed it so I'm sticking to the 283 number.
I have climbed the 284th but it was reduced to a Corbet by then. With Brian and Willy Windows but that's another story for another day.

  Photos taken, Mike and Graham set off in front of me down the hill.
Graham and Mike on the path down from Beinn Dearg

Graham and Mike heading down which involves going up a bit.

  It's a long walk out and as we were heading down Meal dubh nan Dearcrag which has a bit of a switch back path. I got fed up and had one of those what the ???? am I doing here moments.
 No idea why, decided on route one down the hill to shorten the journey while Mike and Graham followed the path ahead of me.
 Still not that happy I followed Mike and Graham down the switch back path into Allt Sheicheachan.

Mike on the switch back path, Graham's photo.
Allt Scheicheanchan

We stopped for a while when we reached the landrover track and it was now only about 2km back to the bothy where the bikes were.
   Graham and Mike walked ahead chatting and I decided to film the walk for the last 11 minutes leading to the bothy.
   Back at the bothy and  time for a coffee. Sorted out the kit for biking and then realised there was a ??????? big hill on the way out of Allt Sheicheachan. This is where we all wished we had left the bikes at the top of the hill.
 A lot of puffing and panting later we reached the top and guess what it's near enough all down hill from here. It was agreed that Mike and Graham would wait for old slow coach at a cairn not far from the wood. Mike set off like a bat out of hell on the rough Landrover track followed by Graham and of course last but not least the old Dinosaur. The two of them were soon out of sight on the Landrover track and I was making a good pace behind them.
  Now Mr and Mrs Walker were  futher down the track and not expecting Mike to pass them at about 30mph.

Graham flew past not long after, by the time I reached them they had recovered. I shouted to warn them I was coming at a good rate too. I stopped with them for a minute and they regaled the tale of a maniac on a bike scaring the s--- out of them.  Not really sure what to say about it I departed their company and headed for the rendezvous at the cairn. Yahoo downhill all the way, now making a good pace now. I arrived at the cairn to find Mike and Graham waiting for me.

Graham at the cairn.
Graham's Photo
Regroup Point II

Mike at the cairn, Graham's Photo.
Regroup Point I

Even better news it's 99% down hill to the car park with only a small up through the woods.
In no time at all we were all back at the car park, me being the last there of course.
We loaded up the bikes and set off on an important mission with Mike heading south and Graham and I heading North. The mission - find the chip shop. I think Graham and I waited till we got to Aboyne chip shop as it's pretty good before we stopped but that could have been another trip.
Took Graham home and headed home to unpack the car etc.

PS Mike now wanted for speeding in the hills LOL.
A we bit I added after Mike left a coment.

Hope you enjoyed my wee tale of a long walk.
The cartoons take a long time to make but a wee bit of fun to do.