UKH

McCall Completes Epic Corbett Round

Four and a half months after setting out, Lorraine McCall last week finished her continuous round of all Scotland's Corbetts. It's likely she's the first woman ever to do it.

Final summit celebration, 191 kb
Final summit celebration
© Lorraine McCall

Starting on 8 April, she worked her way around all 221 of the 2500-2999 foot summits on the list, walking on the hills, cycling between hill groups and sailing to reach the island peaks.

With Corbetts scattered all across the country from Galloway to the Western Isles, her round covered a lot of ground. By the time she finished on 21 August Lorraine reckons she had clocked up something like 3000 miles, with at least 1600 of those on foot - though she stresses this is just a guesstimate.

'The journey was tougher than I expected' she told us. 

'There is a lot more time walking low than there is high compared to a Munro round. Lots of days are spent going back down to sea level. I found this frustrating and difficult initially when I was still getting fit but by the end it was a bigger sense of achievement and when I did get onto a long ridge it was all the more special for not being a constant.'

Some stages of the round were particularly gruelling.

'Assynt and Sutherland were pretty hard in June as I did all the hills in the mist' she said.

'This was one of my favourite areas but this time I could not see anything and it just seemed to be a week of big boulder fields in the mist.' 

'The time when I was most tired was on Ardnamuchan and Moidart. It was the closest I got to feeling like giving up, losing my map in torrential rain, breaking my bike chain twice in a row, navigating in really bad weather without a compass. It was, however, also some of the most fantastic ridge walking. Coming through this felt great and I had a new surge of energy coming east.'

'I also loved walking from Glen Shiel down through to Knoydart. The weather suddenly took a turn for the better here and the views from such hills as Sgurr-an-Airsid, Sgurr and Beinn Buidhe were stunning. I love a combination of mountains and sea.'

A lot of time spent in tents..., 99 kb
A lot of time spent in tents...
© Lorraine McCall
Plenty of navigation, 121 kb
Plenty of navigation
© Lorraine McCall

But the weather didn't always treat her kindly:

'In the final few weeks I got the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, with extremely strong winds and driving rain. I escaped from the hills above Loch Rannoch and walked the length of Loch Rannoch looking for somewhere to dry out. Meanwhile my partner Rob [who acted as support throughout the trip] had a 300 mile detour trying to pick up and bring me a bike which I had left at the Spittal of Glenshee the week before with roads closing around him, animals stranded on islands in rivers and a hut floating down the Spey. This was a turning point in the weather for the last couple of weeks. It turned much colder then and I was a little caught out by having really lightweight gear because the summer had been so good. This turn in the weather made it easier for me to get my head around finishing.'

Her round finally wound up on Ben Vrackie.

A good turnout on Ben Vrackie, 106 kb
A good turnout on Ben Vrackie
© Lorraine McCall

'We got a torrential downpour en route up then were blessed with blue skies and cloud inversions on the summit. There were 18 of us on the top, plus a mad dog! A few bottles of champagne on the summit and a few beers in the Moulin Inn afterwards. Great day.'

No stranger to big journeys, Lorraine walked (and kayaked) her way around the Munros back in 2005, a trip on which she clocked up 1600 miles and over 500,000 feet of ascent (see UKH article here). But the Corbetts turned out to be tougher still.

Having been through cancer treatment last year, Lorraine has been raising money through the trip for Macmillan Cancer Support. 

For more on the planning and preparation that went into her journey, see this earlier UKH news piece.

 

 

Lorraine McCall was sponsored by: Lowe Alpine

 



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