Published 31st October 2013, 01:20

    The warnings were there. If you are planning going on the hills in this heat, cover up, use plenty of sunscreen and take lots of fluids. And try to avoid walking between 12 and 2pm.

    The sensible thing then was to walk during the night.

    I had originally planned to head to the far north on the Friday night, grab 40 winks in the car and then tackle the two Assynt Munros - Ben More Assynt and Conival - at 4am when it was relatively cool.

    However, the thought of a four-hour drive began to prey on my mind and I eventually chickened out, instead plumping for a good night’s sleep in my own bed and then a shorter journey to Glen Etive.

    The glen was packed with cars and campers, tents littering the banks of the river and people milling around organising breakfast, but when I arrived at the starting point for my walk near the house at Invercharnan there was no one else around. Maybe that should have been a clue. 

    Still no sign of life as I took the newly ploughed forestry track south then west. Normally this is a pleasant easing-in process, but there had been a major tree clearing operation and whole swathes of land lay devastated, more reminiscent of some kind of scorched earth policy.

    It was a relief to finally emerge on to open hillside, although the plague of horse flies buzzing round looking for a tasty landing spot made sure I kept on the move. 

    My first target, Sgor na h-Ulaidh, the peak of the treasure, lay to the north and a faint and muddy path led me up to the foot of the ridge.

    On previous occasions I have tackled this mountain from the Glen Coe side. It’s a steep and relentless pull which takes you over a subsidiary peak before the final rise to the summit.

    It wasn’t any easier this way, following an intermittent line of old, rusted fence posts to the top. At one point they went almost vertically up a massive rock slab. I would have loved to see how they managed to do that.

    It was a real punishing climb. The heat was oppressive, there was hardly a breath of wind and my water supply was being used up rapidly. I was running way behind time.

    When I finally reached the summit I was greeted by an eerie stillness. Not another soul in sight, either on the other approach ridges or following behind me.

    On any normal Saturday, the place would have been alive with walkers. It seems most folk were taking the sensible option and spending their day down at the river.

    I looked across the glen at my next objective. Beinn Fhionnlaidh loomed massive, filling the horizon, a 1,500-foot reclimb. It seemed to be taunting me to come and have a go.

    It may just have been the effects of foreshortening, the appearance that something is much further away than it looks, but it did look a long way off.

    With three-quarters of my water gone and little likelihood of replenishing it soon, Fhionnlaidh just seemed too many steps too far with the mercury touching the high 20s.

    So I just contented myself with one Munro and made my way back down. Sometimes you just have to accept enough is enough.

    (First published Daily Record, July 25, 2013)