What do you do planning a walk on high terrain? We will assume that we are properly kitted out.
We have all read walk reports with nice sunny pictures and happy smiley people sitting having lunch is that the reality? or does it give a false impression to the uninitiated of the difficulty they are undertaking.
They are many sites out there dedicated to the hill and mountain walker with varied reports from people with varied experience. My personal opinion on the authors of such reports are that they have a responsibility to inform you of the complexity of the terrain and the need to be proficient in the use of a map and compass and on any difficulties you may encounter.
How many reports have you read where these points are either forgotten or assumed the reader has the same knowledge or experience as the author.
Bearing in mind that a detailed walk report will differ from an authors narrative on a one day or multi day hike that evokes the beauty of their surroundings and reminiscences of that particular experience.
My own particular preferences are where possible to go off the main routes therefore I wouldn’t advise someone with less knowledge to undertake my route plans.
I don’t profess to be as experienced as some however I am to long in the tooth to accept general descriptions of a walk into the mountains therefore planning and revising my route are key for instance if I am heading for a new Munro on a Saturday outing my planning usually starts on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Firstly checking weather reports from more than one source and keeping them updated the technical aspect of the ascent escape routes along the way giving myself plenty of time to enjoy my surroundings and any historical features it may provide.
It was an encounter I had three years ago on the Tarmachan Ridge that prompted me to write this piece.The ridge is near to the village of Killin and lies west of Ben Lawers it consists of Mall nan Tarmachan, Meall Garbh , Beinn nan Eachan and Creagna Caillach the latter three are tops. The path in the summer months is quite distinctive and reasonably easy to follow although for the uninitiated can be a little strenuous but on the ridge the views are no more than stunning.
Two of the most popular features are the small pointy summit of Meall Garbh and the Step which is reached on the descent from the summit of Meall Garbh this is where I came across two young female hillwalkers the step can look intimidating to the inexperienced walkers and that precisely was the problem here for one of the girls she was visibly upset at the prospect of scramble down or turn back. It also didn’t help seeing someone trying the descent with his son in trainers and jeans and carrying a rope.
However I approached them to try and reassure and if they wished could follow me down or take the indistinct path to the right on a steep grassy slope. It was with great relief that when I pointed out there was an alternative route they could carry on with their adventure.
I decided to stop for lunch at the belach below the step and the two young girls joined me it was here that hey showed me their preparation for this trip it consisted of a walk report from a friend of theirs it had failed to mention the small pointy summit of Meall Garbh he did however reflect on the step and how easy it was to descend it did read a little macho and in reality I wonder how he really coped he had failed to mention the alternative route which would lead me to wonder about his actual experience in the mountains.
Most of us that enjoy our little jaunts find that you get great pleasure in the planning process and is a big part in our lead ups to the walk. My advice on walk reports would be to research more than one get the map and compass out and do your own detailed planning dependant on experience that way you may enjoy your surrounding more rather than worrying about whats around the next corner.