Here are some comments and images from some of our walks in 2008. Not surprisingly, those outings favoured by sunshine and spectacular scenery are better represented here. (Of course, the sun always shines on Club outings - it is just that some people don't notice it.)
Gaelic place-name spellings here are generally as they are printed on OS maps. This is for the convenience of hillwalkers. I know many of these spellings are wrong and, indeed, not even consistent with one another.
Only four turned out but 50% wanted to do the main walk, so I had a companion on the Hill. This walk goes right up the middle of the West Face of Aonach Dubh. From the usual viewpoint near Glencoe village, this seems to be a wall of near vertical buttresses. When seen from below, near Achnambeithach, one of these buttresses is not vertical at all. The path up at first follows the crest of a delightful moraine ridge to the foot of a rock band. It zig-zags up the rock, linking together a series of ledges, tops out onto a steep grassy slope, and continues upwards to the foot of a second rock band. Here the path trends right into a gulley which leads upwards into a splendid little corrie just below the skyline.
This classic route breaks out abruptly onto the summit ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan, and has been used by generations of climbers seeking quick and easy access to the superb climbs in Coire nan Lochan. There are spectacular views from start to finish, in contrast to the manicured path to Coire nan Lochan, which now seems to be the preferred option by both hillwalkers and climbers. They are missing one of the gems of Scottish hillwalking.
With such a flying start to the day, and in glorious sunshine, we ambled on to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, cramponed up the north ridge to Bidean's summit, turned right, over Stob Coire nam Beith, and descended by its corrie to Achnambeithach, just as the last rays of sunshine faded from the crest of Aonach Eagach opposite.
Following is from Andrew - nothing else to add really !
Lovely day - at least the forecast wasn't bad. Can't understand why there was such a poor turnout but might have been because of the driving rain, wind, rivers in spate and starting in the dark. I reluctantly joined my three companions for an alternative walk, around Coire an Lightuinn. However, whilst following an animal track, somewhat higher up the corrie than the others, I felt it prudent to avoid its traverse of the precipitous rocky headwall by clambering up higher still. I topped out a few yards short of the summit of Stob a'Ghrianain, just as the sun broke through the cloud for all of two minutes. Nonetheless this was sufficient motivation to complete the programmed walk, in spite of the 30 knot headwind and some heavy showers. I texted the others, craving a lift from Fassfern, Ron was kind enough to leave the pub and meet me there.
A dry but cloudy Saturday morning saw nine of us (Andrew and Gerry, Gavin, Jean, John, Kevin, Ron, Sarah and Wesley) at the little lay-by outside Druimavuic House on Loch Creran. Apologies are due to those who, quite reasonably, went to the car park at Elleric, as was suggested in the programme. Clearly some people ought to have read the programmme more closely!
We set off up the rough track behind the house and then up the steep ridge to the South Top of Beinn Sguliard. This is a long, hard slog and had some of us struggling. By the time we reached the Top, we were well over the snow line and we were in ankle-deep powder snow. After disillusioning some people who thought this was the summit, we set off along the mile-long, rough ridge. This is pretty rough in places - lots of granite scree and boulder fields - and with the deep snow was quite tricky. Occasionally, the cloud lifted and we had glorious views across Loch Etive and to the west, down the Firth of Lorne. Curiously, for a ridge walk (There is really only one way to go.), there were several long discussions about navigation at this point.
Eventually, we reached the summit and, after something to eat and more discussions, it was decided that, rather than return by the same route, we would complete the traverse of Beinn Sguliard and descend into Glen Ure by the NE ridge. This turns out to be pretty steep and covered in even more granite boulders. I suspect there will be a path which finds a way among the crags but with the snow-covered ground that was gone and we just came straight down over several quite spectacular crags.
We reached the track in Glen Ure around 4.00pm, just as the light was going. So the head torches came out for the walk back to Elleric. Fortuneately, Jean had agreed to meet us there with a car and ferried the drivers back to Druimavuic. We then adjourned to the Cregan Inn for "refreshments".
The worst of the forecast had never happened. In particular, the high winds.
It had been a good day, traversing across a huge mountain in full winter conditions.
Winter has come early to Lochaber this year - lots of crisp fresh snow, clear blue skies so you can see for miles (and a burst pipe awaiting me when I got home :-( ). Some spectacular images of Nevis Hillwalkers playing/ sitting in the snow and views down Loch Sunart as well as all the way to the Skye Cuillin.
Seven members (Gavin, Jean, Ron, Roy, Sarah, Stuart and Lydia) gathered at the Corran Ferry. We met Dave and Jenny at Strontian and decided it was such a fine day we ought to do the traverse of Beinn Resipol (even though it is dark by around 4.00pm just now) so we drove round to the Resipol Art Gallery.
From there a track of sorts goes up by the Allt Mhic Chiarain. This soon degenates into a muddy path and eventually disappears altogether. However, by around 400m it was all covered by around 10cms of lovely dry powder snow (Why was it never like this when I went skiing ?). We climbed up to the shoulder to the N of Beinn Resipol and then struggled up to the rocky summit. The final 50m or so was up a steep snow-filled gully which had most of us blowing pretty hard. Then a bite to eat and on along the E ridge - lots of ups and downs and even a few narrow, rocky sections. Then it was back down to the mud and very welcome coffee and cakes in the Ariundle Centre. We reached Ariundle just as it was getting seriously dark.
An excellent day - hopefully there will be many more like it in the next few months.
A disappointing turnout for the first walk after the Annual Dinner. The Chairman's stirring speech failed to motivate all but seven members. None of these was sufficiently motivated to actually climb Streap with the forecast of 40 to 80 mph winds and snow showers merging to give prolonged blizzards. Most, if not all, had done this hill on good days.
The entire company readily agreed to do the half-day walk, a circuit of Glen Finnan's forest paths. Here it was just cold rain, with manageable wind. After a longish pause in the bothy, with the sound of the driving rain magnified by its corrugated roof, we continued further up the Glen, only to be stopped at the ford over the Allt a' Choire Charnaig by the swollen waters and the partially collapsed footbridge. We beat a retreat to the Moorings.
A big turnout for the 10th Anniversary Walk. 20 members assembled at the Lower Falls car park for a re-enactment of the first walk undertaken by the newly constituted Nevis Hillwalking Club, an ascent of Stob An. Five (Andrew, Sarah, John, Kevin, Roy) elected to do the North Ridge, in spite of the obvious strong winds blowing in frequent cold showers from the West. Two others, Mary and Alan, caught us up near the summit. Gerry, Brian, Ian, Marion, Jean, John, Rita, Helen, Bill, Dave, Tom, went up by Coire Mhusgain and the two groups passed each other between the Col and Summit.
The weather didn't improve at all. Alan and Mary decided to do more but the rest of us descended
again by the Coire. Stuart met us on the way down, and Ian piped us back at the finish.
We retired to the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintee for drinks and a blether. Sallie made it to the pub, bringing some old photos and original programmes and newsletters from the early days. Very interesting. We are still doing the same sort of walks even though the founders are ten years older.
Two people phoned me about the walk: Margaret called from the Woollen Mill carpark to say she was the only one there, and she was going back to work. Preferable to going on the hill in this weather. Then Sarah phoned to cancel her lift.
Gerry and I went to Glencoe carpark....deserted! That left the two of us to uphold the proud tradition of the Club....to do something on the hill no matter what the conditions.
The forecast was awful and the reality worse (it was snowing below 300m, not above 450m) We saw no point in driving to Crianlarich, so did a half day walk into Coire Gabhail, then up and down the Glen a bit and home for lunch. Snow was wonderful. Late autumn colours against the stark black and white background of snow plastered rocky ledges of the Glencoe hills. It's too good to miss out there you wimps, whatever the weather!
Six of us gathered at Spean Bridge (Dave & Jenny, Jean, Alan, Andrew B and Roy) and decided that we didn't fancy the long single track drive along the Quoich in icy conditions, but alternatives were limited by the map availability.
We drove to Fersit, spotting a red squirrel on the way, and set off up the track to Stob Coire Sgriodain - a perfect morning with autumn colours and snow on the tops. This was a good choice as the weather to the west looked worse than where we were. The day was dry and chilly with a light wind and cloud above the tops. The light covering of snow added a magnificence to the day. A steep climb up the north nose of Stob Coire Sgriodain led to a lovely ridge walk to its highest point with good views all around. Panoramic views of Grey Corries, Mamores, Glencoe, across Rannoch to the Orchy and Tayside hills, Schiehallion, Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh etc. etc..
A long descent took us down to the bealach and while Alan detoured to Meall Garbh for some additional exercise, the rest of us took the direct line to Chno Dearg. A long descent via Meall Chaorach eventually took us below the snow at 600m and a couple of miles back along a good track took us back to Fersit just before dusk. Afterwards we went to the warm and friendly Stronlossit Inn before heading home.
A great autumn/winters day.
Alan and Dave
Very windy at times, with some light showers, but long dry spells and some blue sky. Only 6 walkers, of whom Ron, Kevin and John Burton bagged all three Munroes, whilst Gerry, Andrew G and Andrew B just did the first two. We returned to the Col between the first and second and took the prominent path into the SE facing corrie for a rather long walk out. Many deer here, rutting furiously. Quite a spectacle.
Killed time waiting for the serious baggers by walking around the Blair Castle grounds, which seemed to be free to enter after 17h30, when the ticket office closed.
A good day out but rather far to drive for mid-October.
Here are two images from the summit of Carn nan Gabhar - hopefully they give some idea of the conditions.
On Sunday, Jean, Margaret, Roy and I met to do the Creag Meagaidh horseshoe. Deciding it was a long day, early dark and forecast for rain later we decided to do Carn Liath and Stob Poite Coire and come down through the window without going on to Creag Meagaidh. It was a wonderful walk, with much better weather than forecast. The ridge gave us super views. We saw ptargmigan at Carn Liath and somewhere along the ridge we heard the stags roaring. We looked down and were lucky enough to see them running in the valley below. The window and crags are well worth seeing, so we were happy to leave Creag Meagaidh for another day.
As is usual on club weekends, there were individuals and groups walking all over the area. Here are some reports from a selection of them - I know there were more outings but noone has sent me details and this is probably long enough already !
Friday 3rd October
Ron set off early with the intention of doing the four western Fannaich Munros but ran into
a full-on blizzard ( in the first week in October !) so only did one - An Coilleachan. Here are two views of
1) the summit of An Coilleachan and 2) Sgurr Mor.
Andrew, Jean, Gerry and Sarah did Meall Doire Faid and Meall nan Doireachan, from Braemore Junction. A good day with sun and light showers. Great views of this fine hillwalking area. Here is a view of Loch Braoin, the western Fannaichs, with Torridon and Slioch in the background.
Saturday 4th October
Sarah, Jean, Andrew, Ron, Cris, Gerry set off to do Cul More and Cul Beag, but torrential driving rain dampened enthusiasm at the start. We did the Knockan Geological Trail instead and got just as wet as we would have doing the hill. However, during an early lunch back at the cars, the passing cold front announced itself with a temporary clearing of the summits, a change of wind direction, and a rapid drop in temperature. Sarah, Andrew and Gerry decided to go for Cul Mor. We pressed on through rising wind, poor visibility and icy cold showers of rain and sleet, not once doubting our own weather forecast. At the summit we were rewarded with the cloud lifting, the sun coming out and glorious views all round.
Suilven appears and the sun comes out
Plunging ridges and corries below Cul Mor
Cul Beag from Creag nan Calman
Fine end to a great day
Chris, Jean and Ron decided they wanted no more hills after Knockan Crag and set off to have a look at
the Bone Caves near Inchnadamph and, later, the Elphin Tea Room !
Sunday 5th October
Wesley, Andrew, Liz, Ken, Gerry, Cris, Sarah and Ron decided to do the two westernmost Fannaichs from Braemore Junction. We ascended the ridge of Leitir Fhearna, traversed rightwards to the col below A' Chailleach, and climbed to its summit. Returning to the col we went over the shoulder of Toman Coinnich and climbed Sgurr Breac. In the appalling weather the previous morning, three of our number were unable to cross the river on their way to Sgurr nan Clach Geala. Unwilling to risk descending by this route, we went back over Toman Coinnich and Leitir Fhearna. However, another party reported a new bridge, now clearly visible in the good weather, but located some way downsteam of the original crossing point indicated on the map. A great day with the northerly wind falling light and patches of sunshine, with just the odd light shower and great views of some famous hills.
Hills of the Fisherfield Forest
Early lunch on A' Chailleach
An Teallach from Tom an Coinniich
Rain shower approaching Sgurr nan Clach Geala
Steep descent from Leitir Fhearna
Loch Braoin at the end of the day
Strange that only six turned out for tolerably good weather with sunshine, good views and occasional showers. (At least three others we know did a half day walk, but due to our extended day, we never met). This was long day for just two Corbetts. We did the Horseshoe clockwise to get the hardest bits over with first. The route from the valley floor ascends steeply, in-your-face-steep. It leads direct to the first summit at 652m, plunges 200 metres to a col then rises 300m to the second summit at 766m. This is then repeated to arrive at the third summit at 853m.
Our exertions are rewarded with grand views of seascape and hills, with sunshine and short passing showers, roaring stags echoing round the corries, and Autumn gold punctuating the fleeing summer green. We pause at Creach Bheinn, by the supposedly Napoleonic lookout post, near the Camp. It gives a simultaneous view of Lochs Linnhe and Sunart. Ideal if one is expecting the French Navy to arrive sometime. We can't imagine that hillwalkers or O.S. surveyors would bother to shift these large stones.
We move on, more downs and ups, and gaze into the deep northern corries, seemingly bottomless in the swirling mists that fill them. At the fourth summit, Maol Odhar, we pause by the cairn, which someone has thoughtfully augmented with bits of aircraft. The route continues, and we have turned through 180 deg., with the NW wind on our right now. The undulations continue, but with reduced amplitude, and the general trend in downwards. After 1500 metres up and down,15 kilometres around, and eight hours of hard work, we arrive back at the cars, well satisfied.
The walkers were Ron, Andrew, Gerry, Sarah, Alan Moore, Alan McGaw, Bill, John Burton, Lydia, Stuart, Margaret, Jean, Roy, Gavin, Therese, Jim. I think Sarah and Alan took some photos: Once again a particularly wet day on the hill, but this time the rest of the country was bathed in sunshine. Even in Lochaber, the sun was trying hard as we left the Fort for Kintail at 08h00. Maybe that's why 16 members were fooled into turning out. Passing through the infamous Cluanie Curtain, we ran into the rain, which became persistent as we drove down Glen Shiel. The rivers were in spate and we balked at the first crossing of the Allt Mhalagain a couple of hundred yards in, but found the bridge some way upstream, the existence of which several members then confessed they should have remembered. Well up into the corrie, another river crossing proved seriously difficult, but all 12 managed across eventually. (Four others had gone off to do something more sensible at a lower level, and later in the Cluanie Inn, reported a totally dry day). The good stalkers' path led us to a col on the South Cluanie Ridge where we turned east and soon arrived at the summit of the Munro Creag nam Damh, enshrouded in thick mist.
Four stalwarts continued eastwards to bag a few more. The remaining eight, I thought, had decided to return by Sgurr a' Chuilin and down its steep northwest ridge. We set off, but since I was the only one timorous enough to consult map and compass, I found myself well behind and unable to communicate to the others that I was of the opinion we were going the wrong way. We were heading down a ridge into Am Fraoch Coire and I realised nobody was particularly bothered anyway. I noticed a deer track traversing westwards along the headwall giving access to the col to the south of Sgurr a' Chuilin, so decided to take it, followed by Roy. This would avoid a long walk back along the main road. The others carried on down. Roy and I were first back, but Gerry and Sarah had seen us peel off, and had followed us. The others arrived shortly after, describing a magnificent coire full of bursting rivers and waterfalls.
As we drove up the Glen to the Cluanie Inn, the four greyhounds were spotted coming off the hill. The four alternative (dry) walkers arrived soon after. Then of course, the rain stopped and the sun (almost) came out.
It was a poor day with low cloud, rain and wet conditions underfoot. Though it was an excellent turn-out from the club members I did not enjoy the day. Because of the rain most people had their heads down all day and so the normal chat was limited. I got wet as my waterproofs were not up to the job and basically I felt pretty miserable.
However, the following day I was again on the hills (Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin with Mary) and this was a lovely day, reminding me why I like hill-walking.
A disappointing turnout - just six members for a fine autumn day! We started from the car park at Dalrigh, crossed the river (quickly) by a rather decrepit bridge. Then through the forest (bit muddy) and up the NE ridge of Beinn Dubhcraig. By the time we reached the summit the wind was getting up so we had only a quick lunch before descending to the bealach and up Ben Oss where there really was a gale blowing !
The views were glorious and included Ben Cruachan, the Paps of Jura, Loch Lomond and the Campsies. It looked like it was raining in Glasgow !
We then dropped down the Coire Buidhe, paddled across the River Colonish and arrived at Colonish Farm. There was then a long trek along the track to the car park at Dalrigh.
First windy day for a while. Cold northerly air made for some clear views. Lots of people on the hill - still tourist season, and not so far from Glasgow here.
Not a good turnout - just six of the usual suspects: Sarah, Andrew, Gerry, Wesley, Alan, Ron. A great dry day with good views and a cooling breeze. Autumn seems to have arrived. Those in their summer garb were heard muttering about the temperature. Nice approach through the old Caledonian pine forest remnants. Quick and efficient descent by the northern corrie route not recommended by the SMC.
10 folk showed up at Glencoe car park. The forecast was foul and the reality worse. Low cloud and drizzle alternating with serious rain. After leaving cars at the foot of the Pap and at Allt na Feadh, we set off up Am Bodach. The midges were ferocious.
Margaret, Stuart and Lydia elected to turn east from the summit, and headed across the tops to Allt na Feadh.
Andrew, Wesley, Roy, Sarah, Gerry, John H. and Alan turned west to do the Aonach Eagach. Conditions were treacherous and required unwavering concentration. The rock was running with water, so we were deprived of the many friction footholds that allow one to skip along and make fast progress in dry weather. It was the first traverse of this iconic route for Sarah, John and Wesley. Everyone was patient and very careful, and we finished the route in about 4 hours 30 mins.
A great day really, and nobody moaned about the lousy weather.
Experience increases; weather deteriorates - What a day !! Eaten alive by midges at the start, all gone by Am Bodach but by then I was soaked to the skin (and stayed that way all day). Nothing concentrates the mind like wet slippery rock and big drops!
A note to those among us who would not dream of setting foot on a hill if they were to be denied a view. We had what turned out to be, a most agreeable, challenging and fantastic day, one of the best I can remember and there are six other people who I know will agree with me. Oh yes, and we didn't have a view all day
This was something of a new direction for the club - no Munros or Corbetts. Just a loch-side walk ! That said the walk into Knoydart, along Loch Nevis, is generally considered one of the finest in Scotland.
Around 12 people turned up at Kinloch Hourn and we set off along the ancient path, via Skiary, Runival and the other abandoned settlements, to Barrisdale. The views were certainly glorious and there was a significant amount of "up and down" so it was not entirely a sea-side stroll as some expected !
After lunch at Barrisdale, we returned by the track up Glen Barrisdale. This turns out to be a well-constructed track with stone bridges and embankments which must have cost a great deal of labour when it was built. I suspect this was the nearest there ever was to road-access into Knoydart. However, that was before the Loch Quoich dam was built and the eastern end of the track flooded. Now the track is little-used and overgrown.
When the glen swings south, we climbed up to the bealach between Meall nan Eun and Sgurr Sguath Airig. This was a hard climb (350m with no rests !) at the end of the day. We then took a "short cut" rather than following the burn down to Skiary. As is often the case with short-cuts, this turned into a minor epic. However, all got safely down to the loch-side path without any serious incidents and back to the cars in Kinloch Hourn before the rain which had threatened for much of the day but never came.
According to the SMC Munros book, Stob na Broige "is an impressive rocky peak, surrounded on three sides by crags and giving no easy ascent routes from the glen direct to its summit." However, this is Nevis Hillwalkers and nobody had read that, so Sunday morning found twelve of us striding up and down the Glen Etive road near Dalness, staring up at the intimidating buttress which forms the SW end of the Buachaille. Various mutterings like "I am not going up that." and "Why dont we go up the easy way for once?" could be heard. However, it was decided that a gully on the Glen Etive side would probably "go", so we set off hacking our way through long grass, heather and bracken - great fun ! The gully turns out to be steep and loose and probably untrodden by any humans before us though there are a few animal tracks in places.
At around 400m, we emerged onto the ridge and the summit of Stob na Broige was only a gentle climb
up a long grassy slope away.
When we got there, all congratulated Norman on his achievement and he produced two bottles of champagne and some plastic glasses complete with detachable (very detachable !) bases. A toast was drunk by all and lunch was quickly scoffed. A bit later, the other nine members who had indeed found an easier route by a corrie not so far down Glen Etive, appeared so the second bottle was opened and more congratulations and toasting.
Around this time the cloud started to lift, so we got a marvelous view of the sun shining down Loch Etive. Cheered by this, we decided to set off along the ridge over the tops of Stob Coire Altruim and Stob na Doire and , with the weather getting better all the time, up to Stob Dearg itself - a magnificent place to finish the day - the ground falling away beneath us to Rannoch Moor far, far below. We then descended by Coire na Tulaich and, after some tricky shuffling of cars, ended up in Glencoe Village Hall which Norman had booked for a celebration drink and sandwiches with his family, friends and fellow hillwalkers. There was a cake suitably decorated with the magic no of 284 and a Gaelic song. An excellent event enjoyed by all. Thanks are due to Norman, his family and Marion for organising it all.
Twelve people - Andrew B, Bill, Dave, Jenny, Jim (new member), John H, Lydia, Paul (visiting anthropologist), Ron, Sarah, Stuart, Wesley - met at the Glen Brittle Hut in Skye for one of the clubs more adventurous outings.
We set off up the well-worn path past the spectacular Eas Mor waterfall in ideal conditions - warm but not too warm. There are glorious views across to the "small isles" of Rum, Eigg and Canna. The going was initially very easy but soon became increasingly rough and steep as we climbed the shoulder of Sgurr Dearg. Then a bit of easy going along the ridge and then we were into the rock. The path picked its way among the shattered pinnacles, the situation becoming more and more spectacular.
After a final short scramble we, quite suddenly, arrived on the summit of Sgurr Dearg. It was very noticeable that all the usual chatter ceased. Everyone was overawed by the situation - Corrie Lagan far below our feet and, of course the infamous Innacessible Pinnacle immediately in front of us.
A group from the Dundonnel MRT were spread all over the pinnacle so we had lunch first. Then, "those who dared" set off down the steep slope to the start of the climb:
Probably best to let the pictures speak for themselves but here are some words from Sarah which are (I think)intended to encourage those who did not dare :-
I was reading Suzanne's article of novice climbing in the newsletter and I know exactly how she felt when she says the sense of achievement came about an hour later. At the top of the In Pin I said never again. Having returned safely I can now say I really enjoyed it. In fact, I'd rather like to do it again without the butterflies in my stomach. I have a bruise on my left shin which is now a lovely green colour and about 10cm long. A cracker that I'm strangely proud of. What a brilliant weekend ! Thanks to the club for making it possible, and especially Wesley and Jimmy (our newest member) for help on the climb. For any novice climbers thinking of doing it in the future, I can report that it is perfectly possible without any climbing experience. The worrying thing is the psychological side. You're balancing on a peak that itself is perched on a mountain top at 978m. The clouds around are threatening rain and the wind is picking up. As Jimmy says "speed is safety !" It is not a place to hang around! However, if a replica was made of plastic and put in an activity centre it would be easy. (Not a bad business idea ?)
If anyone wants copies of any of the pictures, they should email me - the ones on the web site are at a somewhat reduced resolution to reduce the downloading time.
Eight people - Jean, Norman, John B (X2), Gavin and Suzanne, Ron and Adam (former member who now lives in Aberdeen) gathered at Spean Bridge for what is clearly one of the big walks in the club program. We squeezed into two cars for the drive along Loch Arkaig to Strathan. It is only 18 miles but it takes over an hour and most people are feeling a little bit queasy by the end of it. Anyway, we arrived around 9.30 and set off up Glen Dessary at a good pace. At the Allt Coire nan Uth, we split into two groups - Jean and John B continued up Glen Dessary with the intention of doing Sgurr na Ciche first and possibly coming back via the Garbh Choichs. The rest of us turned right and headed up to Sgurr nan Coireachan. (Actually, Gavin had gone up earlier (near Glendessary Lodge) and we were to meet him on the summit !) This is a hard grind though there is clear path now. When we got to the top, it was snowing and sunshine simultaneously - could only happen in Scotland but, I suppose, the weather forecast (sunshine and showers) was spot on !
We then continued along the ridge (beside the old wall) over Garbh Chioch Bheag to Garbh Chioch Mhor and down to the col below Sgurr na Ciche. Hard going and rough ground all the way. The col is called the Feadan na Ciche or the whistle but the whistle was not blowing today. Then a short climb up to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche.
This has to be one of the best viewpoints in the West Coast. Spectacular vistas of Knoydart and Loch Nevis, in particular.
We met up with Jean and John here - they had had some adventures after taking a "short cut" up Sgurr na Ciche and seemed glad to see us ! Then it was down the steep gully and the long, long walk back to Strathan.
According to the GPS, we had covered 25km and climbed almost 2000m. Definitely, a long day.
Ten people turned up at Glen Coe for the planned hike up Bidean nam Bian. On the way up Stob Coire nam Beith we split into a group of four which would do Bidean and a group of six which would also do Ben Fhada. The day started overcast with low cloud but the cloud lifted as we went higher and then the sun broke through to end as an excellent summers day. The hills were surprisingly empty, with no-one being met until beyond Bidean. There was an interesting scramble down from Stob Coire Sgreamhach, which everybody coped with in style and a steep descent from Ben Fhada to the Hidden Valley. Being spring, there were lots of flowers about.
Four souls set off to do The Saddle via the Forcan Ridge. These folk included Jean, Roy, Alan and myself.
We commenced our walk from the side of the A87 road to the Bealach between Biod an Fhithich (664 m) and Meallan Odhar (610 m). Here we stoped for something to eat and of course get attacked by midges. Before us the Forcan Ridge appeared in view and cloud insertions were seen further out towards Skye. We headed on further up the track to the base of the ridge. Doing the ridge was the best part of the day. There was much scrambling and exposure in places, but we all had fun. We had great views over to the Islands of Eigg and Rum. We had lunch on the summit and here there was hardly a breeze. These conditions brought out the midges!!
We then decided to do the second Munro of the day; Sgurr na Sgine. We head down some steep ground behind and to the south of the Forcan Ridge to the Lochan at Bealach Coire Mhalagain. Here we left our packs and headed on up to the summit. On the way back down to the valley we all had a dip in a pool to cool down. How refreshing this was!! After this we headed down to the car. This turned out to be the longest and hardest way down the mountains. We had to walk through undulating woodland with steep banks alongside the burn.
Must suggest we do it in winter conditions. Any takers?
Fifteen people started off from the start point at Alltchaoruinn in Glen Etive on what promised to be a day of superb weather - which it proved to be. In addition, Alan and Mary started from White Corries, planning to meet up somewhere on the Stob Ghabhar massif. The Allt a'Chaorainn was beautiful - lovely deep pools and sparkling cascades, and it was with great reluctance that thirteen of us left its banks and went up the tussocky steep slope to the 575metre point at the northern end of the Aonach Mor ridge.
Norman and Ron left the party at the foot of this slope, to continue up by the Allt Coire Ghiubhasan to Bealach Fuar-chathaidh (Does this really mean "pass of the cold cat ?" See note below for answer !), then onwards and upwards to Clach Leathad , Creise and Meall a Bhuiridh. If you think that this variation from the planned walk had to do with Munro ticks then you would not be far off the mark. But all is forgiven, for Norman is counting down to his last few Munro, and Ron said the walk was fantastic - what he actually said was 'if this is Munro bagging, then I'm a Munro bagger'. But this comment may have been provoked by finding a party sipping champagne from crystal glasses on Meall a Bhuiridh to celebrate someone's last Munro. It may also have had something to do the with the lovely old path beside the Allt Coire Ghiubhasan or the spectacular views of enormous hanging corries and high ridges.
The main party split into two groups based on speed, and we all progressed along the very long and undulating Aonach Mor ridge. This is a fine ridge for views - of mountains and of the lovely valleys on either side. Near the 976 top, the slower party met Alan and Mary resting in the sunshine, having just crossed from the Creise group onto Stob Ghabhar. The fifteen Stob Ghabhar walkers met on the summit at about 1.30 - a 4 hour walk for the slower party, and not much less than that for the quicker party.
After a lazy lunch the group split into three - Ian, John H, Sarah, Tom, and Kevin headed for the west ridge, crossing over Stob a Bhruaich Leith en-route to Meall Odhar, and thence back to the unlocked gate in Glen Etive (with a pause by one member to explore the depths of a peat bog). Wesley joined up with Alan and Mary to continue eastwards, over Stob a Coire Edhair and Beinn Toag, and hence back to the White Corries via the West Highland way.
The remainder (Lydia, Stuart, Dave, Jenny, Susan, Steve and Jean) made a leisurely return via the Sron a Ghearrain ridge, descending from it to the north. The streams were once again a source of much pleasure and exploration, with the deep pools, flowing cascades and emerald green mosses. These streams would be well worth exploring after heavy rain.
And so we all gathered, in bit and pieces, at the Kingshouse for liquid refreshment and a late return home.
NOTE John H tells me that "chathaidh" means snowdrift and has nothing to do with felines, so we have the "cold snow-drifted pass". Still, I like the image of a shivering moggy.
A group of nine assembled at the Ben Nevis Woollen Mill, ready for a classic walk on the hills. Present were Brian, Bill, Jean, Wesley, Lydia, Stuart, Gavin, Steve and John (a visitor). The skies were overcast, and a cold east wind blew the mist around - it was not a promising start after the sunny days of the previous week, but the forecast promised an improvement by midday. Today's route was the best route up the Ben - from Steall car park through the gorge to Steall ruin, then up by the waterfall into Coire Guishsachan, following the coire to the bealach between the Aonachs and Carn Mor Dearg. Then up the nice ridge onto Carn Mor Dearg and along the famous arÍte to Ben Nevis, with a final descent down the waterslide.
The path up from Steall ruin was a delight - dry underfoot, with the stream splashing down in a satisfying way. Once into the coire, Brian headed off for a short day on Meall Cumhann whilst the rest of us plodded on upward. High up near the big granite slabs in the stream bed we found a collapsed tent and a pair of crampons - possibly a sign of a panic winter retreat. We watched Gavin running and leaping up the bed of the stream, whilst we followed a more stately route, trying to maintain the reputation of the club. By the time we reached the bealach the clouds and mist had lifted a bit, and we had a good view back to the Ring of Steall, and northward we could see the Arkaig and Quoich peaks lit up by the sun. But the summits of the hills of our route were still covered by the cloud.
A speedy climb up the lovely ridge brought us to the top of Carn Mor Dearg, and here we sent the fast group on ahead whilst Jean celebrated her birthday by reading 30 or 40 text messages on her phone, which had been ringing on and off for the last 400 feet. Then we crossed the arÍte, puzzling over two walkers who were traversing below the south side of the arÍte - they soon realised the error of their ways and returned to the ridge. Part way across the mists cleared and we got a superb view of the north face of Nevis. Jean, who had been taking an atmospheric picture of the ridge in the mist, turned round and nearly fell off the ridge in shock at the sudden vista which had appeared from nowhere whilst her back was turned. A fine birthday present.
Then we all met up at the foot of the final climb up to the Ben summit, but three of us who had assorted injuries (Bill, Lydia and Stuart) decided to descend from there straight down to the Waterslide, whilst the others traversed the Ben summit, and then descended to little Carn Dearg, and down the hanging valley to the top of the Waterslide. By now the skies were clear, and we all had superb views of the near and distant hills. After a knee testing descent, the early three met Margaret and Archie, who had been on Meall Cumhann (and had met Brian en route), and adjourned to the Ben Nevis hotel. It was still without a licence (the climbing group had encountered this problem last Tuesday) so we all had to make do with tea / soft drinks - plus a free sample of fudge (which for some reason was called 'tablet'!).
A good day in good company.
A total of 13 club members set off for Inverie in Knoydart on Friday. Well, actually John set off on Thursday morning since he was walking from Glenfinnan.
Some of us ( Dave, Jenny, Chris, Ron and Roy)decided to take
advantage of the unexpected good weather in the afternoon and climb the Corbett (Sgurr Coire Choinnichean) which rises straight up
above the village. The views, as might be expected for such a hill right on the coast, were glorious and we could
pick out all the islands - Skye, Eigg, Rum and so on. There is also a spectacular gorge - the Slochd a'Mhogha -
which has to be mentioned.
Saturday dawned a fine day, despite the terrible forecast, so four of us (Ken, Liz, Ron and Roy) decided to do the two Munros (Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bhein).We begain with a steep climb, up from Gleann Meadail, through fields of primroses. However, the ground soon turned rocky as we gained height and the ridge between the two Munros turns out to be a little bit "interesting", as they say. The view of Ben Aden and Sgurr na Ciche was wonderful. The long walk back to Inverie from the Mam Barisdale, was a tough way to finish the day, however.
The rest of the group decided on a "low level walk" to explore a WW2 mica mine. However, the unanimous conclusion, in the evening, was that it was anything but an easy day - Knoydart does not do "easy days".
Sunday proved to be more like the sort of weather which the Met Office had been promising us all week but John (recovered from his walk-in), Chris and Roy went for the big one - Ladhar Bheinn - in company with the Fochaber walking group who were also having a Knoydart weekend. This proved a very big day - high winds, cloud and a scary descent down some wet, slippy ledges. There was also the long walk back from the Mam Barisdale again !
The rest of us did various coastal and "waterfall" walks,
Monday proved to be, by far the best day of the weekend and we had a glorious crossing to Mallaig.
All in all, a memorable weekend, both for the Munro-baggers and those who just wanted a pleasant walk.The accomodation and the evening meals were excellent - thanks are due to Bill for organising the weekend.
Eight people turned up at Elleric, at the top of Loch Creran, for the planned full-day hike up Beinn Fhionnlaidh. One of the Johns decided to go straight up and down whilst the others went over An Grianan first. The ascent up An Grianan was straight up the west nose. The weather was brilliant sunshine but a chill wind was met on the top. Three people decided to have a go at the grade 2 scramble on the south face of Beinn Fhionnlaidh whilst the others went over the undulating ground to the east ridge. They all met again at the summit trig point. They then went down the west ridge to Glenure and the cars. It was a beautiful day and down in the valley it was lovely and warm.
Three (Bill, Ron and Roy) decided that North was the way to go and headed for Glen Shiel. We did Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg which finished the Glen Shiel Munros for Roy ! The summit turns out to be a neat little ridge, only about 50m long, with a beautifully-constructed cairn right at the far end of it. Huge drops all round !
The plan was to walk along the main ridge and do Saileag as well, but, after an argument about which side of the ridge the cornice was on and which side was solid rock, we decided it was a bit dodgy.
The road was busy and there were lots of tourists out doing the sorts of things that tourists do (taking pictures, drinking coffee) in the usual tourist places but the hills were deserted despite it being a Saturday and beautiful conditions (Well, maybe a bit cold in the wind on the tops !) There were no signs of any tracks in the snow, on the ridge, and we never met anybody all day.
Twelve people gathered at Spean Bridge and set out up the minor road to Corriechoille. We left the cars in the little car park where the Puggy Line crosses the road and walked on by the Lairig Leacach track as far as the end of the forest (well, where the forest used to be since it has all been felled !). Then, it was the hard slog straight up to Stob Coire Gaibhre without even a rest for the less fit among us. By then we were well above the snow line and it was bitterly cold, so without a great deal of hanging about, we set off round the edge of the corrie to the unnamed point 1121. The mist was impenetrable here (could only see about 10 yards) so we had the usual unending club discussion about navigation and bearings. However, eventually we did set out for the first Munro of the day - Stob Choire Claurigh. We had lunch shortly after this in a sheltered (!) spot just off the ridge.
It was then just a matter of continuing along the suprisingly narrow ridge and ticking off the tops as we
went. Quite soon, however, the cloud lifted and the sun came out (as did the cameras !) giving us quite stupendous views of Glen
Nevis on one side and Loch Lochy on the other with the snow-covered ridge in front and behind us. The snow
was about a foot deep throughout and light powdery stuff - ideal for skiing and indeed we saw ski tracks
all along the ridge.
At Stob Coire Easain, we finally met up with some skiers who had climbed up the Beinn na Socach ridge.
As we watched they set off down into the corrie on our right and were clearly going to get home long
before us mere plodders.
We, however, had to walk down the ridge to the little dam and back to the cars via the very muddy Puggy Line - definitely not to be recomended but unavoidable.
We have had some glorious days in the snow in the last few months but today was probably the best - perfect snow conditions, a great ridge and good weather.
As usual on these weekends, routes were done by different combinations of people on different days -
Friday, one group explored the NW coast from Calgary Bay north to Caliach Point - a good coastal walk with many abandoned settlements, lots of wildlife (including seals and a dolphin) and fine views to Coll, Treshnish & Ardnamurchan.
Another group headed along Loch Ba and, finding their way blocked by a swollen burn
which was impossible to cross, returned by the Creag Dubh and then down
to Benmore Lodge.
Saturday saw a group tackle Ben More - the main target of the weekend for the Munro-baggers so it was
always going to be a priority regardless of the awful conditions -
and another group went to Ulva (except
they reported the ferry does not run on Saturdays so I dont know where they got to !).
Yet another group went up Glen Forsa - all streams high and John demonstrated some novel gear for getting across deep water at the ford before we got to the memorial for the aircraft that crashed nearby during the war. Welcome shelter in the bothy then up Beinn Talaidh via Beinn Bheag - steep scree and snow on the east face, 45 mph blizzard on top, turning to heavy rain as they descended the north ridge. The ford had risen by 20-30 cm, but feet were so wet it didn't matter. Fairly fast return down the glen and we got John & Kevin (Over for the day only !) to the Oban ferry with 10 mins to spare.
Sunday was fine weather and saw a group climb the only Corbett on the island (Dun na Ghaoithe) with
an excellent ridge walk.
A second group went for an easier option - the Carsaig Arches walk on the south
coast though they did not actually get as far as the Arches. They saw lots of wildlife including two
sea-eagles and feral goats.
Everyone met up at Fishnish to get the ferry back across the Sound of Mull to Morvern.
The Ben More ascent on Saturday turned out to be something of an "epic". According to the hill-walking author Ralph Storer, an epic is "unplanned", "long" and "involves an above-average degree of difficulty for those involved". Our Ben More outing definitely qualified ! Not many photos, I fear. Conditions were too bad. But lots of "comments" !
Here are some words from Andrew :
I had always thought of Ben More as a rather bland and uninteresting hill. How wrong can you be? I have seen it often from afar and many times closer up from a boat. Our approach route over the A'Chioch ridge is concealed from most angles, and on Saturday it was concealed by cloud too. We ascended to the col between Beinn Fhada and A'Chioch and started along the ridge. The brisk wind felt in the coire developed its full force across the ridge and made walking very difficult in the gusts. It was unquestionably a winter's day up here. Wet snow plastered the route, became firmer higher up but did not really freeze to that crisp neve that would have made progress so much easier. Nonetheless, most folk found it safer, if not easier wearing their crampons. The steep drops on either side became spectacular, reminiscent of the Aonach Eagach, and assuming alpine proportions with the effects of the swirling cloud. Then a few flakes of snow, which soon developed into a horizontal eye-stinging blast, thankfully moving slightly behind us as the ridge curved rightwards. Just when the route seemed to be getting easier, we came to the long final steep scramble to the Ben More summit. It was whiteout here. Liz shouted above the noise of the wind that she couldn't get a sensible compass bearing for the way off. The rocks here are magnetic and we couldn't get reliable bearings until some way from the summit cairn. We headed northwest down steep slopes covered with scree under the snow. This was hard going enough but lower down, as we emerged below the cloud base the snow cover turned to slush over bog. Very wet, and difficult to move quickly without slipping. We eventually crossed the Abhainn Dhiseig and turned north towards our starting point over the flank of the hill. A tough day out in challenging conditions, especially for those with less experience of such classic Scottish winter hillwalking. Well done everybody.
Some words from others include :
a lot more frightening than the Aonach Eagach
screaming ab dabs
I was always within my comfort zone
no fun having ice crystals blasted at your eye-balls
I am not going to tell my mother about this.
Finally, I must mention the dinner on Friday evening in Tobermory SYHA. This was a great success so thanks are due to everyone who was involved in organising it and/or bringing the food which was both plentiful and excellent. Also, this included a belated 80 th birthday celebration for our oldest member, John B.
Happy Birthday, John
Great day out.
Some sunshine and less wind and snow showers than forecast. The awful boggy approach to this hill was still partly frozen when we set off. Twelve folk turned out for the main walk, and four more set out later for the half day walk and met up with us on the hill.
Good snow cover from 500 metres, well frozen by 600 metres where we put on crampons. The steep ascent of the upper section was interesting with some scrambling and hard ice in places. The high northeast facing coire looked inviting, plastered with snow, and five of us decided to go down the north ridge from the summit with the intention of descending into it and traversing back to the long ridge we went up by.
The remainder retraced their steps and met the half day walkers on the way down. The coire looked decidedly dodgy from its rim. There had been a small avalanche and patches of windslab looked ready to slide from the steepest parts of the headwall. Even where not corniced, the snow was soft and very deep at the rim. We continued down the north ridge and made for the shore of Loch Quoich which we followed back to the boggy path where we caught up with the others.
The Tomdoun Hotel had a wedding on, so we sat outside and staff brought our drinks out. Had a blether with the wedding guests when they came out for photos. They were hillwalking types too.
The "standard" route up Stob Ban starts from the Lower Falls Car Park in Glen Nevis and proceeds up Coire Mhusgain and nobody is going to deny that it is a fine route. However, it was not for us today. Instead, we set off up the steep snout of Sron Dearg which towers over the car park - definitely not an easy way to start the day.
When we had all had a drink and got our breath back, we continued along the broad and high north ridge towards Stob Ban itself. After a kilometre or so, it was becoming quite icy and much narrower so the crampons and ice-axes came out - for once, we had the ice gear out before it was needed.
The ridge then turns into a little scramble up a rocky peak, followed by a narrow arrete, with big drops on both
sides, for a further kilometre or so and another scramble up over the north top of Stob Ban before finally
emerging onto the wide snow field about 200m below the actual peak of Stob
Ban which appears as a huge quartzite scree from here. We had lunch at the summit - no cairn so presumably it
was buried by the snow. There was also a huge cornice on the east side so everyone kept well away from that.
The views were tremendous - partly due to the north wind bringing clean arctic air to Scotland. We could
see there was snow on Ben More, on Mull, and the Paps of Jura were clearly visible.
After lunch, we continued round Coire Dearg to Mullach nan Coirean and down the north-east ridge to the car park at Achriabhach. The less said about some members' route-finding in the forest, here, the better !
As can be seen from the pictures, we had glorious sunshine and blue sky all day though it was bitterly cold in the wind.
Definitely a red letter day !
Another group set out at noon for the "afternoon walk" up Coire Mhusgain. Here is a short report from Sallie :
Six of us met at the Lower Falls car park at mid-day in glorious sunshine, then followed the track at first by Allt Coire a' Mhusgain then up to the zig-zags and up into the snow. Both the corrie and the ridge ahead of us were spectacular. We turned at 2.30 pm after stopping for lunch, still in the sun, on the way. Down at the car park at about 3.40 we met some of the earlier group coming back to their cars then we all proceeded to the Nevis Bank for a drink and a chat about the day.
The forecast was awful and the reality worse at 08h00 in the Woollen Mill car park. Andrew, Gerry, Jenny, Dave, Kevin, John Burton, Stuart and Bill turned out. We thought we would just do the half day walk in the morning, so drove to the Upper Falls car park and set off through the Gorge. The rivers and waterfalls were swollen with rain and meltwater. Spectacular sights and sounds. By the time we got to Steall Ruins, we were getting used to the frequent heavy rain showers and decided to keep going in upper Glen Nevis until we came to a stream we couldn't cross. Instead, when we got to it, we just followed it up the hill to the col between Stob Coire Bhealaich and Sgurr Choinnich Beag. Here at 770 metres it was difficult to walk against the wind and driving snow. Had lunch in a sheltered spot above Cul Coire, magnificent in winter condition, then beat a retreat to the Nevis Bank Hotel.
Thanks to Andrew for the text. Even the pictures, which follow, have a wet look about them. Note the state of the burns and especially the Steall waterfall.
We started out from Caolasnacon, on Loch Leven, with the intention of walking through to Altnafeadh in Glencoe. This is the opposite direction to that advertised in the programme - the idea being to have the wind behind us. The weather was brilliant sunshine with blue skies (!) though, ominously, the clouds were tearing accross the sky at high speed. Clearly, there was a gale blowing up high, even if it was still on Loch Leven.The path up to the bealach west of Garbh Bheinn was wet and muddy from the previous weeks rain.
Nonetheless we made good time and had a snack in the lea of some crags where we could see the corrie headwall, for the first time, and the climb up to the Sron Garbh ridge. This looked steep, rocky and covered in white stuff. It started easily enough but, higher up, turned into a mixture of loose scree and sheets of ice. The higher we got, the more icey it became. On the ridge (just a few hundred metres east of the Am Bodach top), we felt the force of the wind for the first time. The ridge was covered in ice and snow but is broad and safe so we set off along it. The weather now turned a bit nasty and all admitted the Met Office had got it right after all (snow, 60 mph gusts and blizzards).
We did get a few clear spells and the views across Glencoe to Buchaille Etive Beag and the Bidean range, with the sun shining on the snow, were wonderful.
The ridge continues through a high point of 902m (A'Chailleach) to Stob Mhic Mhartuin, from where we descended to the Devil's Staircase and finished off via the West Highland Way. The weather now turned back to its blue sky mode. Truly, we had a dose of everything from blizzard conditions to sunshine - typical Scottish weather in fact. Thanks to Jean and John for picking us up at Altnafeadh and ferrying us down Glencoe.
Andrew, Gerry, Ken, Liz and Ron completed the through route.
Jean, John, Archie, Margaret, Sallie and Wesley
did various shorter walks around Caolasnacon.
Fifteen people (including 3 visitors) gathered in front of Druimavuic House at the head of Loch Creran. We then set off up the muddy track beside the house and crossed the Allt Buidhe which was relatively low since it had not rained all week. We then climbed up the steep slope to Meall nan Caorach and Meall Garbh. It was unanimously agreed this was tough climb - no further comment - just look at the picture ! We then crossed the rocky ridge to the summit of Creach Bheinn which, unusually, still has an intact OS trig pillar. Here we had lunch. Next we descended into the big east corrie, which has a perfect textbook glacial form, and came back over the bealach to the Corrie Buidhe and back to the cars. Notably, there is a large herd of deer, possibly as many as 200, on the east of Creach Bheinn
We stopped at the refurbished Creagan Inn on the way home - it has been very well done. While we were having a coffee, we enjoyed this glorious sunset, over Loch Creran, through the windows of the bar.
Eight members were attending Winter Skills and Winter Navigation courses (organised by the club and provided by Mike Pescod of Abacus Mountaineering. Reports of these can be found on the Outdoor Capital blog (Thanks to Anna !) and the Abacus Mountaineering web site. Despite this, numbers were still pretty good for the regular club outings :
11 turned out for a full day above Loch Teacuis. Alan, Stuart, Gavin, Andrew, Casper (visitor) did the walk on the programme. Gerry, Jenny, Dave, Lydia, Anne, Vic (visitors) did some slightly lower peaks.
The first group measured a 77 mph wind speeds while the best the lower team could find was only 53 mph !
Stuart is holding an anemometer in the picture !!
However, it was dry all day.
There were four on the half day walk: Sallie, Margaret, Helen and Suzanne. They caught the 11.45 Corran Ferry and started walking at Strontian at about 12.20. They climbed up through the Community Woodland to Tom an t-Sidhein above Strontian at a height of 214 metres. Despite the wind they had a good walk with added interests of the trees which were named in the Woodland, and the lichens on the rocks at the highest point. Afterwards they met up with the early starters but as the Strontian cafe was closing they were all invited back to Clodaigh's at Anaheilt.
A surprisingly good turnout (Andrew, Gerry, Stuart, Lydia, Jean, Roy and Ron as well as new members Andrew and Alison) for a decidedly miserable morning. We had a rather wet discussion at Spean Bridge about which route to do in view of the forecast for high winds on the tops. It did not take us long to agree on a short outing up to the Cam Bealach from Laggan Locks and back again.
There was a fair bit of wet snow near the bealach and, while we managed fine without ice axes or crampons, it was decidedly icey near the end and, if we had gone any higher, we would certainly have needed them.
There was a large herd of deer low down on the west side of the path up to the bealach.
The promised high wind got going just as we arrived back in the car park - bit later than in the forecast but it was just as well were not struggling to get down off Meall nan Dearcag as in the "main walk".
Definitely not a "red letter" day, this one ! Pretty miserable in truth. Andrew, Gerry, Stuart, Lydia, John B (former member) and Ron turned out. The weather in the Glencoe car park was somewhere between rain and sleet and the tops were clearly not on (snow and high winds). It was unanimously agreed that we would settle for the "Half-day" alternative walk.
Starting from a layby on the A82, we climbed a nameless lump marked on the map with a "monument". This turned out to be a cairn in memory of an unfortuneate hill-walker from years past. The views were not great but we got glimpses of Beinn Achaladair and the Blackmount hills. After crossing the "monument" hill, we continued over Meall Beag and then on to the West Highland Way. The most notable event was a large herd of deer which we seemed to chase in front of us over both hills.
We then followed the WHW all the way to the Kingshouse Hotel, which we reached around 1.00pm. So an early finish.
Here are some pictures from Ba Bridge. Coireach a Ba looks huge and magnificent and would be worth exploring some day when the weather is better.
Andrew and Alison B, Andrew G, Stuart, Lydia, Gerry, Jean and Roy turned out. Nice day, odd snow shower
or two, but some snow lying on top, in good condition. Enough to plouter about on with ice axe and crampons.
A new experience for some folk, who had the opportunity to practice ice-axe arrest and front-pointing up some
Nobody did the alternative route, but Davina, Helen and Sallie turned out for the half-day walk. They started walking at 12 .30 up from the Ice Factor to the 'wee dam' and on to the Penstock and a little sheltered quarry just above it for a second part of our lunch. They then went down to Ice Factor about 3.30 pm and met up with the others for a coffee. They hope to do more of these half day walks, particularly in the winter, starting after an early lunch.
The new style programme has met with some enthusiasm.
"Magic !" "Fantastic !" "Have not seen conditions like this in Scotland for 10 years!"
Surprisingly, only seven members (Andrew, Gerry, Jean, Ron, Gavin, Allan and Mary) from Lochaber but two from Oban (Kevin, John) and one from Milngavie (Leslie) for a day of fabulous conditions - blue skies, deep soft snow everywhere. Views half way across Scotland. Definitely one of the days you remember for years.
We left the cars by the A82 in Glen Falloch and set off up Coire Earb. After a mile or so , we left the track and climbed the slope up to the ridge with the curious name of "Twistin Hill". This took us into the deep snow so the crampons and ice axes came out - a new experience for several and a strong smell of new gear at this point !! Allan, Mary, Kevin and Gavin left the rest of us at this point and shot off ahead while the rest of us were still fiddling with crampons. In fact, they climbed both hills and came back down the glen. The rest of us climbed to the summit of An Caisteal, where we had lunch, and then returned by the same route.
As can be seen in several of the photos below, there must have been getting on for 100 people on the hill. However, it was not a problem - everyone was smiling in the sunshine and there were no queues, not even at the tricky bits near the "Castle".
Not surprisingly, lots of people were snapping away and I received no less than 35 pictures for the web site. I have somewhat arbritrarily selected 18. Apologies if your favourite pic did not make the cut !!
Alan, Mary, Andrew, Gerry, Lydia, John Burton, Tom and Bill turned out.
We headed up Gleann Cia-aig
from the waterfalls, steep with tall, mature woodland until we arrived at the bridge above the
confluence with the Allt Tarsuinn. The latest forecasts, unlike those earlier this week
that promised a sunny Sunday, were pretty accurate and the weather not very nice with
frequent heavy showers. This dampened everyone's enthusiasm for Corbett bashing, so we
crossed the bridge and walked up Gleann Tarsuinn.
At the col, a brief sunny interval tempted Alan and Mary to ascend Gael Carn, and do the peaks eastwards with the wind behind them. They report finding good snow conditions.
We could see the snow-clad southwest ridge of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh for a few minutes but could also see the next heavy shower marching down Loch Arkaig from the west. The rest of us went south down Glen Dubh to the lochside and back along the road to the falls. The "dry" intervals got a little longer and we got fine views of the snow-covered peaks of Gulvain for a while, and some nice shots of Loch Arkaig and the falls.