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The Dalmally Horseshoe
2 November 2003

"The Water Boys' Outing"

Beinn a' Chochuill & Beinn Eunaich

Whilst the rest of the usual suspects were sunning themselves on that tropical Gulf Stream Isle of Arran, four and a half members! (Stevie, Hamish, Tom, Gary and Frank) decided to brave the wind swept, rain ravaged north of Loch Awe and the Dalmally Horseshoe.

Although the weather reports for Sunday were poor we were working on the principal that if we to waited for good weather we would never get any walking done. So after trawling over every weather forecast on the Internet, Sky Active and Teletex it was deemed that the worst of the weather would arrive over the Saturday night to be followed by blustery showers. However Tom was not going to be convinced and bailed out the night before.

6:00 AM and the alarm goes off, 6:15 AM and the watch goes off, 6:30 AM and the alarm on the mobile goes off, Shit! It won't be long now before we need to start getting up at five! Not to worry, kettle on, flask made and rucksack sorted. Final trip to loo, what this, too late, ye canny get any peace they've arrived already!

On climbing the six feet into the back of Hamish's Mountain Mobel I was greeted to accolades of "what's all this flaffing around!" Here wiz it no the big wouce himself, Tom. He had risen early as he had promised to make Hamish's sandwiches up and supply the rest of the team with plenty of sweeties just in case Gary's full day ration pack of Starbursts wouldn't be enough.

On the road now, the scenic route via Stirling to pick up the Starburst Kid himself. Late! And excuses of his girl friends car would start fell on deaf ears as none of the rest of the guys had ever set eyes on her before. Must be figment of an over active imagination.

At long last we arrived. I started to get kitted out heckled along by Tom asking what all the flaffing around was, "are ye no ready yit!" Tom, who slept the night before fully kitted out in his salopets, gortex jacket, rucksack and boots, must have been trying to make a point!

The weather was still fine but overcast as we started up the track, Gary storming on ahead fuelled only by his one packet of Starbursts. As we continued up the SE ridge of Beinn a' Chochuill the wind arose and the skies darkened over the nearby Cruachan. Spits of rain started to accompany us along the ridge and by the time we had reached the top the full force of the weather was beginning to hit. Stopping only for the mandatory photo opportunity we turned around and retraced our steps back along the ridge and down to the leeward side of a bealach for lunch. Out of the wind and with the rain now off at this point, we had superb views of the glens to the north fully kitted out in their golden autumnal colours with the angry dark skies resting on the shoulders of the Glen Etive hills beyond.

Off we set again, up the west ridge of Beinn Eunaich and it wasn't too long before the weather set in and for real this time. Gusting winds, constant rain with the very frequent hail thrown in for good measure. There was nothing else for it we just had to put our heads down and slog it straight up to the summit. This is where it gets interesting; Tom arrives at the top fully lathered up like a rampant stallion. His rucksack appeared to be pre-impregnated with soap! So the harder it rained and the harder Tom worked the more froth started to appear. After we cleaned up on the various jokes that followed we quickly set off down the south ridge perused by Soapy Joe and the constant rain. The last section of the ridge was quit steep and with all the water that had fallen the muddy path soon became treacherous underfoot. With every other step someone else landing on their arse, and not for the first time too. Just as well we left Tom at the back, as the path was slippy enough without all his soap dripping all over it!

On reaching the bottom Tom denied being all washed up and complained that when he tried to use his whistle only bubbles were coming oot. At least Tom could save the odd bob or two on cleaning his gear, as he wouldn't need to add any soap powder to clean his kit.

Drenched and bedraggled we tried futilely to get changed in to dry clothes as the rain persisted. Off we set, spurred on by the promise of drink, courtesy of Gary. Stopping at Calendar we not only found a boozer (not hard for a marauding gang of ex-rugby players) but also a Curry House to satisfy the starving hoards with Starburst withdrawal symptoms. The journey then continued home with the usual oops! "Well you'll have had your tea then vicar!"


All photos courtesy of Gary Watson

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