A tale of ice and fire. And bogs. Part#1

If you live in Scotland and a bit of good weather comes your way you’d better make the most of it, because you never know how long it’ll last. With that in mind, we packed up the caravan and towed it up the Bunree campsite, just outside of Onich. This seemed like a good base for day trips to old favorite Glencoe, but also to new locations such as Ardnamurchan and Appin.

On arrival I opened up the rear of the car so that our furry crate-dwellers sample the air. I didn’t let them out yet though; I didn’t want them to get in the way while Susan and I wrestled with the awning. And “wrestled” is definitely the right word to use, because a fairly spirited wind was blowing and the hard-standing area was not doing a very good job of holding onto the awning pegs. Inevitably we started swearing at the awning, at the pegs, at the wind, and each other, and Biggles joined us by swearing at anyone and anything he could see moving on the campsite. When we’d finally won “The Battle of The Awning” I freed Beanie & Biggles from their car crates for a quick toilet walk. They were so desperate to escape you’d think they’d been locked away in there for days, not three hours, but somehow I held onto them long enough to attach their leads, and we went to make our first deposits in the Bunree poo bank and sniff and pee on everything that needed sniffing and peeing on. Which was quite a lot of things, as it turned out.

Once back at the caravan we saw the first hint of the kind of Beagle misbehavior that would run through the entire holiday. The moment Susan set up our George Foreman-type grill on the work top, Beanie was right up there with it. On previous holidays she’s been up there during unguarded moments to lick plates and drink from discarded cups – you know, typical Beagle stuff. Now however she was boldly going where no Beagle should even when our full attention was on her, and worst of all, she was at risk of burning herself or worse. We tried shouting at her (instinct more than thought drove that response) but of course it had no effect because Beanie is 100% shout-proof. We tried the “leave it!” plus pointy finger technique which worked, but only for as long as the finger was in position. I guess the smells coming from that grill were just too good, so in desperation we tried a more powerful control method: exclusion. I picked Beanie up off the worktop once more, dragged her over to the washroom area of the caravan and closed the door, sealing her in there for a good few minutes.  When I released her she seemed duly chastened for nearly a whole second, then leaped straight back up on the worktop. Little bugger! Three repetitions later and the washroom had acquired a new name: “the naughty room”, but Beanie genuinely seemed to have learned her lesson.  Content that we’d finally got an obedience technique that worked, I headed off on a solo photography trip up a Glencoe mountain called Garbh Bheinn, leaving Susan to give the pups a longer walk round the campsite then chill out with them in the caravan for a few hours.

My guide for the walk came from the excellent WalkHighlands site. It mentioned that the start of the walk would be quite boggy, giving it a “bog factor” rating of three out of five. Half an hour into the walk and barely able to keep the ground from sucking the shoes off my feet, I felt that an urgent re-assessment of the bog factor rating was required. Six out of five? Yep that sounded about right to me. I don’t mind wet feet on a run, but I hate it on a walk and right now my feet were soaking. Still, the guide promised drier conditions and great views higher up, so I just kept plugging away. The initially sunny conditions gave way to heavy grey cloud, then to rain, then to a hail storm, and then to sun, and back round again. My waterproof jacket was on and off more times than a blanket on a waggy Beagle girl’s bum.

Loch Leven From Garbh Bheinn [IMG_6519]


The view back towards Loch Leven and The Pap of Glencoe, caught in a transition between hail, rain and sun

Just as the weather kept changing its mind, the walk itself kept offering me what looked like a summit, only to reveal yet another one as I got higher. Eventually I reached a point just below the true summit (as confirmed by the gps app on my phone) that had great photographic potential, and I decided to camp out there and wait for sunset rather than pressing on to the top. I didn’t fancy the final scrambly bit over a ton of loose scree, and what’s more I’d seen plenty of good shots from part of the way up, but none from the summit itself. A couple of hail and horizontal rain phases came and went before I finally got these shots, maybe half an hour before sunset..

Sunset from Garbh Bheinn [IMG_6663]


Although it’s not so pleasant to be out in, this dramatic, changeable weather and rugged scenery is what the highlands are all about..

The walk had certainly delivered on it’s promised views, but now my still soaking feet were turning to blocks of ice from being stationary in high wind for too long. I packed up and headed back down as quickly as I could, but by the time I reached the really boggy section I needed my head torch. That final trudge back through the bog seemed to take forever in the dark, and if it was possible, my feet actually got even wetter.

Back at the campsite I showered and put on dry footwear, then returned to the caravan hoping to hear a tale of peace and relaxation. Unfortunately I was greeted by a somewhat tired and stressed Susan, who revealed that a certain little Miss had made numerous visits both to the worktop and The Naughty Room. Hmm.. maybe the exclusion technique wasn’t proving so effective against The Beanster after all..


I don’t mean to be naughty, Dad. It just sort of happens..

Part 2: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/24/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part2/
Part 3: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/25/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part3/
Part 4: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part4/
Part 5: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part5/