Published 15th August 2021, 12:39

    EVERYTHING has a saturation point, but ours seemed to arrive in double quick time. 

    Less than half an hour after setting off up the hill, we had already accepted we couldn't possibly get any wetter.

    It was one of those early autumn monsoon days, relentless rain for 24 hours, water coursing down roads, paths turned into fast-flowing streams, fast-flowing streams into wild rivers. Even the frogs looked miserable.

    Normally, I wouldn't have bothered venturing out. Those days are long behind me. But sometimes there is a greater need to climb a couple of mountains. In this case, it was a friend closing in on her final Munros with a finishing party date already set in stone. 

    The day before we had enjoyed blue skies and calm and dry conditions on Am Faochagach, another tick off the list. We knew the weather forecast was less favourable for the following day, but remained optimistic it wouldn't be that bad. It was.

    Any thoughts of a long day in the Cairngorms were hastily put aside. We had to find something else from a diminishing list, something that would be short, something that wouldn't involve major river crossings. In other words, the least worst option.

    Luckily, she still had the outlying Lawers pair of Meall Corranaich and Meall a' Choire Leith to sweep up. If a sacrifice had to made, then these two less than stellar hills would be the ideal ones offered up. Even on a good day, the walk out from Meall a' Choire Leith is one giant squelch. A few more raindrops couldn't make that much difference. We knew we would get wet, but we would be prepared and at least we would get wet for a much shorter period.

    The drive over the series of minor roads from the A9 was hard work although we seemed to be going with the flow, the water cascading down the surface, going in the same direction we were. It was also stunningly beautiful, the incessant rain and variegated layers of cloud seemed to be ushering in a fresher beauty, the autumn shades morphing immaculately with the lush, dripping greenery.

    The car park was unsurprisingly quiet, everyone else no doubt staying at home and building an ark, the handful who were there probably out looking for spare wood to build an ark. We tossed a coin to see who was getting out of the car to pay the parking charge, the unlucky loser getting a head start in the wetsuit stakes.

    It wasn't cold but we went for layers anyway: we would soon feel a chill seeping through when we gained height and stepped into the wind. I went with two tech tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, a waterproof, then a lighter waterproof on top. I also had waterproof trousers over windproof ones, sealskin socks and sealskin gloves with under-layers and my heavier boots. 

    The word 'waterproof' may have been paramount, although in reality nothing really is: the water will eventually find its way in, the prime task is to keep it at bay for as long as possible. (Sealskin too: they must think we're stupid – when have you ever seen seals wearing gloves or socks?)

    With so many layers, we knew it would feel like being in a sauna at times, but I always prefer being warm and wet to cold and wet. It also meant we were walking like astronauts at first, but the constant driving deluge managed to quickly flatten us out. We were soaked in minutes.

    Many tackle these hills from the road at the top of the dammed Lochan na Lairige, but over the years I have changed to approaching them up Coire Odhair: the scenery is better and you are protected from the worst of the elements for longer.

    It was never as wet as we had expected over the high tops, the effects of the wind seeming to spread the load, although it is possible that since we had long resigned ourselves to a state of permanent saturation our opinions were no longer dependable.

    Our belief that we couldn't get wetter was shattered on the last section of the walk out, but on the plus side we had survived the monsoon and summited two Munros. And we are still friends.

    Still, the next time a mate wants me to venture out in these conditions, I think I shall take a leaf out of the book of the organisers of that £15,000-a-pop ultra-marathon and send my butler out instead.