While it was possible to return to the Scottish hills for paid work a few days earlier, the 3rd of July saw the lifting of the five-mile travel restriction in Scotland. Although this gave me a lot of scope in and around Edinburgh, the mountain groups I need to visit to train to redo my Mountain Leader (Summer) assessment were out of bounds.
I waited for the 5th of July to let things settle for a couple of days and then made for one of the closest feasible areas early in the morning. I’d not driven any great distance for three months and driving to and from the hills can be a risky business too. I arrived to an empty high car park at Loch Moraig, to my relief. Another pair of determined walkers arrived a few minutes later but it was not the scramble I had feared I might come across. After a quick blether, I pushed off for the much-discussed new path up Carn Liath. The path well-made and allowed me to make smooth progress up to the summit. A big part of the trip was just checking my own hill-fitness. Yes, I had been out running and orienteering and done a bit of hillwalking in the Pentlands but that is very different to planning a 5–6 hour trip at height with poor weather. I did really strip down my load to take only what I expected to need, even in the event of an emergency, which was a useful exercise in itself. I did leave the satnav unit, favouring phone plus power pack and OS Locate if I did need an emergency position fix.
Path was very well-built, although there is still a short section at the base that holds a lot of water that has a load of chopper bags of material waiting to finish this connecting section. By the time I was approaching the
summit, the winds had picked up significantly and horizontal rain was coming in and full waterproofs had been put on. The broad ridge with the col leading up to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain as a target gave me a chance to do some work on bearings but this was not ‘make-or-break’ navigation.
I’d also taken the time to read up route advice in Ronald Turnbull’s “Walking Highland Perthshire” from Cicerone. Amongst the information for Beinn a’ Ghlo, in the side bar on p. 272, was the answer to a puzzle that had intrigued me for several years while poring over maps, “Why there is a Loch Loch?” (so good they named it twice). Not the usual multi-lingual tautology that I am familiar with when Gaelic, Scots, English and Brythonic collide in the Southern Uplands (see here). Indeed, it is the very singularity of the feature that gave it the name. Loch Loch is the only loch in the Forest of Atholl, so it needed no descriptive adjectives.
After a pull uphill, and mercifully few false summits, I arrived at the summit of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, hid behind the summit cairn and took some quick refreshment and then decided to go back to the col to investigate the side path that passes a spring and then leads out towards Beinn Bheag and back to the main track network in the glen.