Beinn Fhionnlaidh

8th November 1986

Alasdair, Bruce, Jack, Bill, John Mykura, Graham, Irene, Stuart, Drew, David & Shamus (dog), Roni and Susan(guest)

The Disc Jockey awakened us at 6.00 a.m., issuing dire warnings of gale force winds, rain, sleet etc. He also advised his listeners to stay at home by the fire with a good book. Susan looked at me rather doubtfully and enquired "Do you think this is a good idea?" "Well, they would phone to cancel if conditions promised to be adverse - wouldn't they?” was my reply. (We would soon learn)

No phone call by 6.50 a.m., so we had no choice but to brave the weather and go. Drew picked us up - chirpy as ever. He made Susan feel really welcome as he commented on her paint be-spattered hill walking attire, "your sister's a right scruff - isn't she?" The tone set for the day, we set off for Balloch roundabout. Drew auditioned us for his backing group as we sped along the road, but our 'Ooh - banana - nana' wasn't up to standard, so our chauffeur decided to dispense with our services and resorted to assaulting our ears with corny jokes.

After parking at Invercreran in Glen Creran we dragged ourselves from the cosy, warm cars and started putting on our wet weather gear (the forecast was accurate). Seamus was larking around and I commented to Jack on how frisky the dog was.

Seamus - 'rock hound'
I then asked how John Hastie was keeping after his recent illness. Jack replied, "He's sitting up in bed now - he's only got one eye you know - his mother bit the other one out when he was a pup." Once laughter and confusion had subsided we set off for Finlay's Hill.

Our route took us through a farmyard and the resident collie was most inhospitable, especially towards Seamus. Safely on the other side of the gate we shouted abuse at the dog then continued our journey in the company of some chickens. We knew they were chickens, because we got a positive I.D. from the club ornithologist. They followed in the wake of Bill - knowing he wouldn't tell them to get stuffed, and then abandoned us when the gradient became too steep for them.

Emerging from the trees, we began the ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The usual superfit members of the party donned their seven league boots and forged ahead. The visibility was rather poor and in order to relieve the monotony Drew, Susan and myself decided to ambush the others. The snow was quite dry and powdery but still of reasonable 'snowball quality'. In the lee of a large boulder we prepared our ammunition, but ignored Drew's advice about putting "nice big stones in the middle of them, girls". In our battle dress of yellow oilskin jackets we awaited the arrival of blue team (Gortex, of course), which consisted of Bruce, Bill, Graham and Jack. The yellow team were the outstanding victors, as the opposition's feeble attempts at retaliation were to no avail.

As we continued our journey, it became apparent that Susan was beginning to tire a little. When we enquired after her well-being, she replied in a sort of morse code. The method was simple - her face had taken on the appearance of a bright red beacon and by blinking her eyes or flashing the occasional bright white smile in a series of dots and dashes, we were able to discern that she was still coping despite her odd colour and the weird rasping sounds which she kept emitting!

Eventually we joined the others at the summit. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated and we were not able to enjoy what might have been a magnificent view. Instead we had to content ourselves watching Bill torment Shamus by trying to bury him in giant snowballs, then as he tired of that, he turned his unwelcome attention on Bruce who was perched quietly on a boulder munching his fruit loaf (a whole one - unsliced), and not bothering anyone. Bill attempted to deposit most of the snow which had accumulated at the summit on top of Bruce, but, all credit to Mr. Reynolds, he didn't rise to the bait, even under extreme provocation.

Lunch over, and with the weather closing in, we began our descent. The icy driving rain felt like needles piercing our skin. Happily these unfavourable conditions petered out and we were able to stroll down in comfort back to the farm. Regretting our nastiness to the dog on the way in, we braced ourselves for the onslaught, but were pleasantly surprised when he didn't put in an appearance - he must have taken the huff, just because we called him a few names.

We stopped at the Inverarnan for soup and drinks. This was a first visit for Susan and myself and we were duly impressed.
(Bruce informed us that Rob Roy McGregor's mother was born there). Nourished in body and mind we headed for home, ready to face another week at the grind.

Roni Allison

No comments: