NEW YEAR 1991:


“Any fool can monkey about on these rock over-hangs, but it needs courage and breeding to beat the Brenva”        -        George Mallory

 “Always trust your compass”           -        Andrew Bimble-Grip Hall

 “Get on down, I’m a sex machine”     -        James Brown

The day after Boxing day saw 9 of the Red Rose farm animals making the long drive north to sunny Scotland in order to escape visiting relatives and bag some Munro’s.
For the un-initiated amongst you, a “Munro” is a
peak in Scotland over 3000 feet high. This is all very exiting but considering that the cloud base is usually at 300 feet it means that you don’t get to see a lot when you are “Munro bashing”!
The base camp for the expedition
was the Sail Mhor bunkhouse near Dundonnell, which made Bull Pot farm look like the cesspit it really is. However, within 10 minutes of our arrival we had managed to drag it down to our standards. Home from home!
Expedition members:

Andy (Bimble-Grip) Hall. Leader and navigator of great accuracy

Charlie (Who can I wind up next) Spurr

Jo (I’m going to stop ******swearing) Spurr

Fran (Sex Machine) Dyke

Charlie (Fran leave me alone) Frankland

Richard (Big Dick) Jones

Paul (Sex guide to Europe) Saville

Pete (Shag it) Hall

Liz (I want to look at the flowers) Daniels.

Day 1:   
Sgurr Breac /  A’Chailleach

The clean sterile conditions of the bunkhouse proved to be too much for Jo who woke up with a dose of flu. We decided that this was not a strong enough reason for us to stay in bed all day so after a monster feast of dead animal and in-humanly killed vegetables we drove to the walk starting point. A quick look at the map revealed that a direct ascent of the mountain was called for and off we went.
One hour and 1000 feet of vertical grass later left us stomping along a wide grassy ridge towards our first Munro, Sgurr Breac (3281 feet). Jo at this point was doing a good job of making the rest of us look very fit as she wheezed and coughed her way up the hill. Some cunning navigation work helped us to find a suitable traverse line that allowed us to avoid having to climb over Toman Coinich (3040 feet) in order to reach Sgurr Breac. “Wimps” you may say, but although Toman Coinich is over 3000 feet it is not a Munro, only a “top” and therefore not worth bothering about. A blustery walk up snow on the final ridge deposited us on the summit. The view was outstanding. To the north grey clouds, to the east greyish clouds, to the south darker grey clouds and to the west more clouds. A rapid retreat was made down the snow slopes to the col where lunch was hastily eaten and bladders emptied.
The route
to our next Munro A’Chailleach (3276 feet) was again blocked by Toman Coinich which as you will now remember is only a “top” and therefore not worth bothering about so another devious navigation exercise found another suitable traverse line to avoid walking unnecessarily over the top. The bulk of A’Chailleach soon loomed above us in the mist and the Munro was quickly bagged. The descent from the summit was guarded by steep cliffs so our intrepid leader
“Bimble-Grip” took a compass bearing to lead us safely past the steep stuff. 10 minutes later we were peering precariously down 1500 feet of vertical nothingness. “Good” retorted Bimble-Grip. Now we know where the cliffs are”. A quick change in direction lead us all safely down off the ridge.

The pace quickened on the long walk back to the cars in order to avoid having to make what could have been a tricky river crossing in the dark. Fortunately the river level was fairly low and unfortunately no-one fell in. The cars were soon regained and it was agreed upon reflection to be a fine day out. After dinner the beer and bullshit flowed in copious amounts, which proved to be the pattern for the remainder of the week.

Day 2:    Beinn Dearg

After much stumbling about in the kitchen making breakfast and nursing the hangoveer caused by too much 80 shillings the night before, we managed to get a early start. All except Jo who had decided that a big day in the hills with flu may get the better of her, s’ she stayed in bed. An unnecessary 2 mile slog up a perfectly drivable forest track deposited on the open moor where the main objective of the day could be viewed. It was miles away and there was a lot of “up” between us and it.

The direct “shag it “approach to our first Munro of the day, Eididh nan Clach Geala (3039 feet), was decided on and after much sweating out of excess alcohol we arrived on the wind swept ridge leading to the top. The last few hundred feet were heavily verglassed (iced) which made for much hilarity as everyone slithered and slipped around on the boulders. It was much too cold to hang around on the summit so a rapid decent to find some shelter was made.

Fran at this point looked totally cream-crackered, she had picked up the dreaded flu from Jo. This combined with the prospect of what could turn out to be an epic day out on the hill lead to Fran making a very sensible decision. She retreated to the bunk house. Volunteers were sought to go back with her, and before any of us had plucked up the courage to admit that we wanted the easy way out Chas volunteered to take her back. We waved farewell to our colleagues and got on with the next Munro, Meall nan Ceapraichean (3205 feet), which stood between us and Beinn Dearg. The ascent proved to be relatively straight forward- just keep walking up the hill until your legs say no-more, then you make an excuse to stop and look at the view. Lots of looking at the view later left us standing on the summit contemplating the final Munro of the day, Beinn Dearg (3547 feet). The only problem was that we had to drop down 1200 feet before climbing back up 1500 feet to the summit.

Lunch was taken at the base of the ridge leading to the top of Beinn Dearg. We were all feeling a little jaded so Pete produced some cans of Heiniken from his cavernous rucksack to refresh the parts other beers could not reach. This was followed by a mixture of complex carbon and hydrogen molecules from Charlie’s hip-flask and a very refreshed team of farm 2nimk got on with the ascent.
This proved to be excellent, steep rocks and snow fields leading to a very cold and windy summit. The team needed refreshing once again so the remains of the hip-flask and more Heiniken were consumed. At this moment it started to snow so Andy took another of his “Get em of the hill safely” compass bearings which we all ignored and wandered off in totally the wrong direction. After much discussion and lots of Andy telling us we were a bunch of knob heads we finally agreed to let him lead us safely back to the correct bearing (things bad been going too well up to now so we wanted an epic). A descent along the edge of some very big cliffs dropped us out of the clouds revealing a long descent down a fine ridge. After a very one sided snowball fight and a quick calculation that it was going to be dark in about 1 hour, the business of getting down the hill in the remaining daylight was started. Despite Liz wanting to stop to pick flowers, which some anonymous persons stamped all over, we managed the final descent and river crossing in the gathering darkness to be greeted by the “spunky love bus” parked at the top of the forestry track. Big cheers and promises of pints for Chaz and Fran all round. We picked up some other walkers on the track back to the road, who I think on reflection wished that they had walked after been savaged by the animals in the back of the van which Liz insisted on trying to roll over on every bend.

Day 3:    The rest day - Stac Polly

The exertions of the previous 2 days and the excesses of alcohol during the evenings were taking an effect on the team, so an easy Bimble about day was agreed on Stac Polly was the objective, and although not a Munro was good value. The hill is a massive ridge of rock standing up alone out of the surrounding bogs. The ascent starts as soon as you get out of the car and is a lung bursting couple of thousand feet of straight up. Chaz sprinted off like a top class fell runner but most of us were content with a more sedate pace, giving ourselves lots of time to take in the scenery. We all eventually arrived on the ridge, Andy looking a very peculiar colour and most people requesting a total body transplant. Andy and Fran decided that they were going to tick off the end summit which was 2 minutes away while the rest of us fired off along the summit ridge to enjoy the exposed scrambling. This involved lots of climbing on greasy holds above big drops, some of which had to be jumped over. When we were nearly at the end of the ridge we decided to wait for Andy and Fran and admire the superb view. When they finally arrived the usual tales of Andy having a wobble unfolded and we all felt slightly guilty (but not that guilty) due to the fact we had the rope with us. A quick descent down a horrible loose gully where we managed to do lots of unnecessary erosion, lead us back onto the steep moorland where Andy once again amused us all by falling flat on his back in a large bog!
The day was still young so we invaded a tea shop in Ullapool where we had to be more obnoxious than usual in order to get some people to leave so we could sit down. After tea and cakes we tried to sell Fran to some Russian sailors, but the absence of hard currency left the deal un-finished.

Day 4:    Bimble along the coast.

Today was going to be a big day out in the hills to work up a massive thirst for the New Year Eve celebrations. The weather, which had been kind to us all week decided to give us a taste of true Scotland. The rain came horizontal straight from the Arctic and the mountains were clagged over so a walk along the coast was agreed upon, but not before somebody got a little wound up at the amount of bimbling going on. Nevertheless, eventually off we went.

The walk turned out better than expected with lots of sea-caves to explore, cliffs to climb and plenty of opportunities for people to fall in the sea. Unfortunately we didn’t find any crabs to poke with a stick but we did see a sea-otter and lots of nice birds. The weather took a turn for the worst so we retired to the “Ocean View Inn” where we drunk lots of Guinness, Bitter at £1 per pint and ate Jo’s enormous (but cheap) pizza. Back at the bunk-house we prepared ourselves for the Hogmanny celebrations. We put on our best Disco gear, filled our pockets with beer vouchers and went to the Dundonnell Hotel to get totally horizontal. What happened next is a little sketchy but here are a few highlights, the rest you can fill in with your imagination!
We all drunk lots of beer and whiskey.... We wound up lots of people in the pub.... The electricity went off at 11 o’clock.... It was pitch black in the bogs.... We all went to the bogs for a piss.... Lots of people had wet patches down their backs.... We didn’t win the raffle.... We got thrown out at half past eleven.... We kidnapped a local who thought we were going to give him a lift home (he was wrong).... We got back to the bunk house and drank lots more beer and whiskey.... It started to blow a gale outside.... We decided to go and rescue our kidnapped local who was freezing to death behind the van.... Andy got blown over by a massive gust of wind. We picked him up and his glasses got blown off by another gust of wind.... We all stomped about in the dark trying to stand on Andys glasses.... Someone found them.... We went back inside to wind up the other occupants the bunkhouse.... Still no electricity.... Pete and Liz locked themselves in the broom cupboard for some unknown reason.... We all listened at the door.... We know what they were doing!... Someone shouted it was 12 o’clock.... We all sung songs and kissed each other.... Jo made a New Years resolution to stop swearing.... Andy made one, it was to make Jo break hers!... We drunk lots more whiskey and beer.... We wound a lady solicitor up.... We wound everybody up.... Chaz went to bed before he fell over.... Somebody was last seen wearing a Russian fur hat and nothing else!... We all woke up with massive hangovers.... The bunkhouse looked like Bull Pot farm after one of the parties.... We all went home.

P.S.  Jo’s New Year resolution lasted 1 hour and 25 minutes. There’s always next year.

Charlie Spurr


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