Black Magic

The Black Mount was new to both of us. Between Loch Tulla and Loch Etive there's no roads, few tracks and a whole bunch of hill country to be discovered.

We made the slow plod up to Stob a' Choire Odhair for early lunch and hazy views over the Moor and great wall of Rannoch, the dividing line between the old kingdoms of Pict in the west and Scot in the east. Once pointed away from the road, enchantment grew, flush with the ease of access from Glasgow and into what felt like an endless horizon of wild country, this was having our cake and eating. The sun came out to play on the climb to the peak of the goat - Stob Ghabhar, which will make an even finer objective in the winter, once that north face hardens up. On the top, we chose to go north, over the warty troll's finger of Aonach Mor until the bealach. Sore legs, whisky and camp. The rain came in slowly, we retreated by ten. In the morning we debated options on and off until the rain stopped. If we'd known that Clach Leathad was a subsidiary top, we may not have pushed on, but we didn't... so we did. Pick a line, then. Into the wind and cloud for the slow grind to the summit cairn. With oatcakes, without ceremony. I'd lost my taste for bad weather and braked, off trail descents on the coast to coast in May, but Mick showed good faith and played backup, patient soul that he is. It was fine, there was scree, water and sweat. In the end, we reached the littered nook of smashed rocks and luxuriant green where the runoff met a sentinel top, as wild as Scotland gets. Not many that are foolish enough to come in here on foot, or by any means. We handrailed the river, soaked through, and found an old track in wide plains of bright eyed Bog Asphodel. The glen yawned in the dreich. Back then, onto the West Highland Way, with smiles from all continents heading north.