Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Slugain Mishap

With the forecast of a nice high pressure settled in for a few days I thought the opportunity to escape into the hills for a couple of nights was too good an opportunity to miss so the X-mas revelries were left behind in favour of a reasonably early start from Keiloch, -3C and light snow, just the ticket.


I headed up the familiar track to Gleann an t-Slugain, the first footprints through the light snow covering musing over where to head for a high camp.  I do like the  Beinn a’Bhuird/ Ben Avon area in winter, it probably one of the lesser frequented parts due to its relative remoteness.

I’d travelled about 8km from the carpark (just above the ruined shooting bothy) & the day was looking good, the snow had stopped, the cloud was breaking a bit & there was only a light breeze.  The next second I was on the deck feeling a little dazed from the ground leaping up to smack me in the forehead.  It was only on trying to crawl off the patch of ice that I realised I’d also twisted my knee.  A couple of minutes later after some muttering, bending & stretching I set off uphill again…..“it’ll walk off”.

½ hr later & over the bealach I pulled up for a snack, the cloud still seemed to be breaking but the Beinn a’Bhuird plateau was still cloaked.


Inside the 10 mins of immobility the knee really stiffening up…..perhaps time to rethink the plan.  With the snow cover there was plenty of camping spots around & there was also the ‘Secret Howff’ not far away, either option would salvage something of the trip. I headed for the howff but after a few minutes decided this was a bad idea, the knee was definitely swelling up & stiffening; I reckoned staying in the hills would risk being completely immobile in the morning.

It took nearly 4 hrs of slow hobbling to get back to the car park, the drive home didn’t prove that much of an issue but trying to get out at the other end with the knee now fully locked in the half bent position was really……..painful.

Well after a couple of days continually strapping on ice packs to the knee, & a few pills, the swellings 90% gone but it definitely feels like I’ll be out of action for at least couple of weeks.

Not a good ending to the 2014 backpacking adventures; it was supposed to be trip 13#


9 comments on “Slugain Mishap

  1. Paul Byrne
    December 30, 2014

    Bad news Paul, lets hope you have a speedy recovery, but retreating was definitely the right choice

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 30, 2014

      Thanks Paul, still pissed off about my lack of attentiveness letting it happen.

  2. Kirsten Paterson
    December 30, 2014

    Hard luck, Paul, you have my sympathy. It just shows how easily it can happen even to the fit and competent. I appreciate your openness in just telling us about both the incident and your natural responses to it. Hope your knee is soon recovered.

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 30, 2014

      Feeling pretty incompetent at the moment. Can highly recommend 3M Nexcare bags, -19C, applied regularly. Hope we run into each other again in May.

  3. AlanR
    December 31, 2014

    Same here. 4 weeks later and i am just about on my feet although still not going high up. Its so frustrating to have to rest it but rest is what reduces the swelling. Hope its nothing worst than a short term injury. All the best for 2015.

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 31, 2014

      Sorry to hear you’re in the same boat Alan. Finding the cold packs very soothing, just have to avoid frost bite.

  4. Matt Gemmell
    January 4, 2015

    Matt Gemmell aka Papa Smurf here. Sorry to hear about your mishap. I’ve been following your blog since we met in april, really enjoying it and a lot of your ideas and values tie in with mine. The important thing here is that anyone can have an accident or other incident but its what you do after that counts. Some good decisions made and that’s down to experience, ability, self confidence and belief in yourself. Always good to get yourself off the hill. I’ve been pondering what it would be like to be lying somewhere remote with a broken leg, so my Christmas pressie from the wife is a PLB. Press one button and they should find me. Hopefully like you I’ll always get myself out but for the sake of £200 there is some reassurance. Hope you are out and about soon. Matt

    • Paul Atkinson
      January 4, 2015

      Hi Matt, like most long in the tooth outdoors types I’ve accrued a lot of experience (e.g. made a lot of mistakes) & had a few mishaps but always managed to get off the hill without the flashing lights; ‘Broken leg’, mere flesh wound!
      Getting pretty bored after a week of sitting around with the leg propped up, can still manage to hobble to the ‘cocktail cabinet’ though; purely medicinal.

      • Matt Gemmell
        January 4, 2015

        That’s good also gives you time for some planning. All the best Matt

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2014 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .

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