Richard Davies Bob Graham Round

13th June
leg 5 10.5 miles 2,500 feet

One week after Will and I did the Ramsay Round we went to support one of Wills – and now one of my – friends on a Bob Graham round. I was a bit tired so decided to do leg 5 with him, thinking it would be a comfortable paced trot out, I was wrong. Will decided better of it and gave more logistical support and encouragement – not that he needed much of either. He was making the most of the perfect weather and was so well up on schedule at Honister pass that a lot of his support hadn’t even got there in time. I ran with him over Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson taking photos, which felt fine until the 6 mile road section, were at times it felt like we were doing a 10k race. He finished in a mighty impressive 18 hours 48.

Alan, Will and Bill's Charlie Ramsay's Round

6th June 2009
56 miles 28,500 feet

It is 10:15 am on Saturday morning and we are at the start point of the round, the Glen Nevis youth Hostel. Will and I meet up with Bill and the rest of our Support team. Not long after we start to chat and sort things out, a large rain cloud hovers over the Ben and it starts to rain. This was not forecasted, but over the recce sessions we have learned that this part of Scotland has its own weather, especially around Ben Nevis. No matter, the team is gathered and we are all committed. I am used to the feeling before these daunting rounds, and I use my experience of that staring into the abyss feeling, to calm my nerves before the off.

A quick sorting out of the food bags for our static hill support and we are off, or at least we would have been was it not tourist coach that passed in front of us at precisely 11 am. First obstacle cleared and we were off up the Ben. Bill set the pace but went too quick whilst overtaking the walkers on the tourist track; I felt the need to remind Bill that we have a long way to go yet. We slow a bit and as we begin to approach the top of the Ben and the drizzly rain turns to snow. The snow of our recce 2 weeks earlier still covers the last 400 feet of ascent, but this time it is easier going and we make the summit in 1 hr 27, 6 minutes up. Here we meet John Fleetwood who has gone up ahead of us and will now join us on the rest of the leg to Loch Treig dam. We take a breather and a quick bite to eat then head for the descent to Carn mor Dearg arĂȘte. This part of the round is tricky on large boulders, and when slippery it makes it tough to move at speed. We make and effort along the arĂȘte and the snow stops to reveal some blue sky, maybe the forecast was right.

On the ascent of Aonoch Mor we fill our bottles in the stream - For this round we had to carry our own bum bag and be semi self sufficient – we ascend together then John heads for Aonoch Beag as we do the out and back to a snowy Aonoch Mor top. We quickly ascend then descend Aonoch Beag together then head down the steep gully to our first static support point at the col before Sgurr Choinnich Mor. Keith is wrapped in his bivvy bag, the snow and rain has gone and the sun is out but there was a cold wind. It was good to see Keith and a quick bite to eat and a quick chat, then we were off heading for Sgurr Choinnich Mor.

We made good time and were pretty much on schedule, which for this leg was quite tight, until our ascent of Stob Coire an Laoigh. On the ascent of the scree Bill felt a twinge of cramp and started to slow down Will and me waited a couple of minutes on the summit for John and Bill to summit. This was the same on the next top. We all descended Stob Coire an Laoigh towards Stob Ban and felt privileged to find a snow gully which made 200 meters of the descent a real pleasure. By the summit of Stob Ban Bill was another 3 minutes back and was starting to suffer a bit. We descended to the stream together and collect more water for the long haul up Stob Coire Eassain. Will and I start the ascent ahead of Bill, following the stream as a hand rail to the summit, and soon we are well ahead again. We make the decision to carry on over Stob Coire Eassain and then Stob a Choire Mheadhoin and down to the rest stop at the dam for a longer break. As we are half way up Stob a Choire Mheadhoin I look back and see 2 ants on top of Stob Coire Eassain. I calculate that they are 12 minutes behind. Will and I make the descent to the dam right on schedule and take our overly long break.

About 22 minutes after we arrive Bill arrives and has a break. Will and I have been fed and watered by Wynn, Ian and Andy, and by now Will has all his winter clothes on to keep warm. After a 37 minute break for Will and I and a 12 minute break for Bill we head across the dam with our new hill supporter Ian, and onto the railway. I feel the need to let everyone know, as if they didn’t already, that we were 25 minutes down on the schedule. I suppose I wanted to inspire some urgency we could not afford to let this continue. Half way up Stob Sgrioddain Bill drops back again. This time he tells us to carry on without him. He also bravely tells us to take our only support Ian with us, reluctantly we do this. This decision gave Will and I a fighting chance to get the round back on track. We started to gain time Back and as the day turned to night we descended Beinn Na Lap only 9 minutes down.

After a short break under the railway bridge Ian Will and I set off on the long relatively flat section to Loch Elide Mor ruins. During the clear night we make our way around the south side of Loch Treig and follow the river around to our crossing point. The night is beautiful and I think we enjoy it too much and walk parts we should have run. We cross the river a touch early and end up slipping on rocks I slip and grab Will’s shoulders saving myself a dunking, Ian has no one to grab and he takes an early morning plunge. We find the track and run to the distant head torches at our 2nd and last stop point at the ruins.

Will and I arrive 12 minutes down. We inform the support that Bill is an estimated 30 minutes behind, and ask Yiannis to help us on the Mamores. He agrees and sets off ahead of us. We have a scheduled 12 minute break and head off up what was to prove to be the toughest climb on the round; come to think of it; the toughest climb on any of the big 3. Will and I puffed and panted and wheezed our way up, at times on all fours. We barely spoke a word as we ascended the steep tussocky boulders that make up Sgurr Elide Mor. It ended suddenly but it had taken its toll and Will and I suffered. I recovered quicker though and Will struggled on the next 3 Munros. Yiannis took my bum bag and his sack and I did not keep a track of the times as my schedule was in the bum bag.

On the way to Na Gruagaichean I realised that we weren’t moving fast enough. I urged Will on and as we descended towards Keith for a quick break I retrieved my schedule off Yiannis to keep a track on how we were doing. I tell Will that we need to descend faster and keep pushing on the ascents, so as not to make the end a rush. He responded and we clawed more time back. I didn’t tell him that, as we started the imposing ascent of Am Bodach, that at that point we should have been on the summit, we didn’t need to panic yet. Fourteen minutes later we were on top and 14 minutes down.

As we approach Sgurr an Lubhair we are surprised to meet John again, continuing his video diary. He joined us and we made good progress and used the descent under the crags off Sgurr a Mhaim to save time. Stob Ban and Mullach Nan Coirean are relatively easy peaks and now we are moving better. On our 24th and last peak Mullach Nan Coirean we were bob on schedule. John, Will and I descend together as Yiannis decided to check out a different line. I trip and do a full roll, luckily on the tussocky lower slopes and get a soft landing. As we join the 3mile long forest track Will decides to walk some of it. I decided to run it and hand John my jacket. I ran most of the way and just as I am pondering the right place to cut through the woods to the road Rob Woodall appears and guides me down. I then run down the ½ mile of road on my own to the finish. It felt great to complete a beautiful but tough round in glorious sunshine. It also felt great that I had now completed the big 3 rounds which are the Bob Graham in England, the Paddy Buckley in Wales and the Charlie Ramsay in Scotland. I finished in 23 hours and 27 mins. Eight minutes later Will runs for the bridge forgetting that the Youth Hostel is the end, we joke that he fancies another lap.

We talk to Bill at the finish and discover that unfortunately he had to retire at Loch Elide Mor ruins, it was not to be his day. Will and I will be on hand for his next attempt in 2010.

Thanks to

Road \ walk in support
Wynn, Ian Roberts, Andy Farmer, Telitha
Running Hill Support and photos
John Fleetwood, Ian cookson, Yiannis, Bob Wightman,
Static Hill Support
You were all great and we could not have done it without your fantastic support.