It’s been a while since I journeyed around a grid square, checking if my map and compass knowledge are still in a vague working order. So with a day to amble I had a think about where I wanted to go. And with fuel prices (and all other prices) going northwards of £1.80 for a litre of diesel, I decided not to go too far from home, but far enough and remote enough that I would have the hills to myself.
This blog posts explains what it’s all about: https://challengekev.blog/2020/05/30/grid-square-journeys-no-1-no-1114/
Pheiginn Bothy is a howff I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Clearly marked on maps. Sitting just over the ridge from Schiehallion, I’ve often looked at a map and come to this area and wondered, “should I go there today?” I’m not sure what has stopped me really. When the wish to complete another grid square journey was clear, I had another look, came back to this area again and realised the bothy was on a grid line. I also realised the big beast of Schiehallion would be part of the views. And I also realised the grid square would take me on a tour of Coire Pheiginn. The plan was decided subconsciously before I could verbalise the word “yes”.
I’d walk up the track from Keltneyburn, near Aberfeldy, and when I reached the ford a few hundred metres from the bothy, that would be my starting point. See the square below.
After a quick pit stop for essential maintenance (bacon roll, brown sauce and tea) I arrived at Keltneyburn. Parking wasn’t great, but I knew that it would be and eventually I found a spot, collected my bag and started walking.
The first section is forested and filled with pine, birch and hazel. And lots to eat. Wood sorrel, ramsons and pig nut.
I’ve never tried pig nut before, it tasted a bit like carrot. Once you scrape off the outer layer, it looks just like a nut.
After stopping every few metres I was making slower progress than I thought I would. Eventually the trees cleared, there was no more foraging to be had and I headed up onto the moors.
Who fancies a walk on this bridge?
Maybe not…. but eventually I reached the edge of Coire Pheiginn, the ford in the map, just behind me below.
The same double steps per 100m were used as in my last attempt. The ground was quite heathery and so I settled on medium ground, rather than easy. It looked like there might be a bit of up and down too. First step though was was to head to the bothy as it was along the first grid line. I worked out my steps, direction, timings etc and set off. I was pretty sure the NE corner of the square was somewhere on that steep bump you can see below on the top right of the picture.
Quickly the bothy came into view. And the bump behind looked steeper still.
You can see on my final tracked route I had to detour ever so slightly to get to the bothy. I paused my timer and marked where I had stopped with a big rock.
The bothy itself was open, always nice, and you can see below how it looked. Wood panelled, 3 big benches for seating and a table. The bothy books were fab, personalised with the bothy name.
After a tuna wrap, I headed back to my rock and restarted my timer. The ground quickly steepened. Trying to keep a count of steps, watching my footing and admiring the bulk of Schiehallion was utterly distracting and it took all my balance to prevent my collapsing in the heather and rolling back down the incline. I could see loads of little people walking along the ridge of Schiehallion.
The second leg of the grid going over to the NW corner was next up. Back down the steep slope I tottered.
And then back uphill again through the heather. Not really deep, but definitely full of holes for unsuspecting feet.
Schiehallion looked so close, but the walkers along the top were still miniscule. I started the third leg towards the SW corner. Firstly flat but then downhill towards the floor of Coire Pheiginn.
The next leg to the SE corner was simple enough, mostly flat then starting to slope gently downwards.
The final leg was short, a hop, skip and a jump over the Allt Coire Pheiginn to get back to the ford where I started off, or at least as close to it as my measurements would get me, bearing in mind the idea is I rely on my navigation skills, not the fact I can see it.
And back to the ford.
Pleased to have completed a grid square for the first time in a while, I headed back down towards Keltneyburn. I passed these signs and to give a little back to the area that has provided me with such a glorious setting today I used the cuboid shovels to clear a couple of road gutters.
So how did I get on? Well, on the first leg I didn’t quite get all the way to the top of the grid square line, the steep ground must have shortened my steps so I was a good 50m off the NE corner. When I turned west I then stuck on that line which was good, and somehow drifted north towards the NW corner a little. The third leg to the SW corner was pretty ace in terms of distance and line (proud grin). The fourth leg was my downfall (deep frown). I let myself drift, like a floating boat, downhill which meant I was a good 100m off where I need to be on the corner. The consequence of that was that on the last, short leg to the ford (shorter is easier to navigate), I would have walked about 100m past the ford (the extra line added in green), although I stopped at the ford as I was pooped. On final analysis it certainly looks pretty square to me though.
My measurements (and real times in brackets).
Where next for number 5? And will it be another two years before next grid square journey? I hope not.