Pictures and Reports from Recent Walks

Here are some comments and images from some of our recent walks. 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.)

The most recent walk is immediately below this - scroll down the page to see older walks. Also, you can click on the small "thumbnail" images to see larger images.

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.

Pictures are welcome from any club member who has a digital camera. There is no need for huge, hi-res images from an expensive SLR camera. In practice, large images take too long to download and will be compressed to a few hundred kilobytes !

This page contains reports and pictures for 2016 walks only. Older walks can be found here.

Saturday 10th September2016 - Beinn a'Ghlo

On Saturday, we entered into one of the largest wild areas in Scotland. It is bounded in the west and north-west by the A9 from Blair Atholl to Aviemore, in the north by the A939 from Grantown on Spey to Ballater, in the east by the A93 from Ballater through Braemar, and in the south the A924, over 700 square miles. It contains numerous Corbetts and Munros, and the Cairngorm mountains, but has virtually no roads. But there are many routes through it, many of them historic, and all of them interesting.

There were eight of us, three from Fort William-Suzanne, Robert and Willie, Mary from Kinlochleven, three from Oban-Nic, Graham and me, and Kevin all the way from Amble in Northumberland. We set off in fine weather on a good track, with the view of our first objective, Carn Liath, and its eroded path. There were many other walkers also heading in the same direction. On reaching the summit, we could see a clear path leading the three kilometres (and 200 metres of drop) to our second hill, Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain. We had all decided to do the three hills, except Suzanne. In the event, she went up the the col between Carn na Gabhar and Airg od Bheinn, thereby missing out what turned out to be a tricky approach to the summit of the Munro. Again there was a distance of three km and a drop of 270m. But the final half km, from close to the large cairn (which is not the summit), past the trig point (which is also not the summit) to the second cairn, which is the summit, is over an awkward boulder field. From there, we could see over the expanse of this wild area, up Glen Tilt and Carn a'Chlamain, a Munro with a track leading almost to the top, over Glen Loch, the Tarf Water and the Munros behind towards Glen Feshie, and much more. There are also many paths and tracks criss-crossing the glens and hills. A mountain hare was also seen.

Joining Suzanne, we decided to descend by the nose of Airg od Bheinn, which had appeared to be the best way down. Best or not, it was tricky, steep and bouldery, but once down we were on a path and heading home. At first the path was boggy and peaty, but shortly became well-made. Unfortunately, the way home was another seven km (a looong way after a big day) and although we would be travelling back in the dark, it was decided that we would have coffee and cakes in Blair Atholl.


Saturday 3 rd , Sunday 4th September 2016 - Skye Weekend

Sat 3 September

Gavin, Liz and Ken had booked a guide (Richard “Paddy” McGuire, Blaven Guiding) fo Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and the Inaccessible Pinnacle. The forecast was not great and the summits were covered in mist but we set off and hoped for the best. Paddy advised that we do Mhic Choinnich first as a large group were ahead of us heading for the Pinnacle. We headed up to Coire Lagan and on up to the ridge via the An Stac screes. After a short break we scrambled along the ridge to the summit of Mhic Coinnich. With a guide the route finding and scrambling were straight forward – almost too straight forward – and we made rapid progress. However the weather deteriorated with heavy rain now accompanying the thick mist. In these conditions, Paddy advised against the Inn Pinn so we headed down and were back at Carbost by mid-afternoon. Liz and Ken relaxed whilst Gavin set off to do another peak!!

Sunday 4th September 2016

Andrew, Gerry, Robert, Nicola, Mary, Ken and Liz were keen to get up onto the Cuillin Ridge and the scramble of Sgurr Dubh Mor by skirting round to the left of Caisteal a Garbh Choire and then up via Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn. As the Carbost Inn don't serve early breakfasts, by the time we got sorted, and set off up the hill, from Glenbrittle campsite, it was 10am.

An easy ascent, along a well made path, lead us round the southern edge of Sron na Ciche and on up towards the slabs forming the head wall at the entrance to Coir' a' Grunnda. The geology here is amazing, when you can see it, and we proceeded up through the mist, enjoying the scramble up to Loch Coir a' Grunnda.

The mist parted at the loch allowing us to see the bealach we were heading towards. Unfortunately, by the time we got round the loch to the other side, the mist had descended again, making for some "interesting" navigation up, and through, the extensive boulder field.

We topped out on the ridge, at the base of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn, by crawling through a "keyhole" in the rocks. During a short break here, surrounded by mist, it started to rain and making our ascent look less inviting. We were a little short of time, having long drives ahead of us at the end of the day, and all were in agreement to call it a day and head back down to Glenbrittle.

It was an interesting day for all amongst the magnificent Cuillin landscape, what we could see of it anyway. Once back on the easy path, and below the mist, we were rewarded by beautiful views out to the islands and lovely afternoon sunshine. Slightly frustrating but that's life in the mountains, I guess!


Sunday 21st August 2016 - Ben Cruachan, Taynuilt

The morning was dry with little wind, but the clouds were low on the hills when eight of us set out up the “tourist” route. Liz had gone ahead and we had two guests, Sophie and Phil along with Ken, Andrew, Florian, Charlotte and me. It had been decided that the walk would take in the main summit, then head along the east ridge, bypassing the Munro top of Drochaid Ghlas before reaching the second Munro of Stob Diamh where we would turn south over Stob Garbh, a Munro top. This was a new hill to half of the group, Ken, Liz, Andrew and I had done it before. Being August, the bracken was high going up the steep path towards the dam, and once there, most climbed the ladder on to the dam, where we caught up with Liz. On the track around the west side of the loch, I pointed out the inlets feeding water from neighbouring glens to help top up the level in the loch. We were not alone as there were other parties also climbing.

After leaving the col at the head of Coire Dearg, we entered the cloud and it became pretty wet. The main summit was fairly busy with several other groups going the same way. After clambering down from the summit, we were on the main ridge, but still in the cloud, so navigation was by map, compass and GPS. Making sure that we all kept in sight of each other in the cloud, the ridge was bouldery and awkward. Before we realised, we found ourselves almost at the summit of Drochaid Ghlas, having missed the turn. On regaining the path, the going became a little easier and soon Stob Diamh and Stob Garbh were passed and it was downhill from there. The rain had now stopped and things got even better when we came out of the cloud to see the loch below. After a slow descent back to the cars, we found that we had been on the hill for nine hours (it was 7.00 pm) and decided that as it was late, we would give coffee a miss and just go our separate ways home.


Saturday 13th August 2016 - Buachaille Etive Mor

10 people turned out for what they thought was to be a wet walk on the munros of Buchalie Etive Mor.

The weather started off wet, we were then dazzled by a blast of sunshine and had a grand finale of a rainbow. It was then back to the rain for a while, which made the ascent up Stob Na Broige a bit tricky as there was a big rocky section to contend with in the middle.

No summit view but a good sense of achievement. As we descended from the summit we were astounded at how the mist cleared, the rain ceased and the view opened up.

7 people went on to do Stob Dearg whilst 3 people negotiated the rough bounds of Corrie Nan Tullichean. The other 7 still had the same descent to do later on.

It was a joy to see wild flowers such as eyebright, scabious and alpine ladies mantle.

Refreshments were enjoyed by all at the Clachaig Inn.


Saturday 16th July 2016 - A'Chailleach/Carn Sgulain, Newtonmore

On a day of forecasted strong winds and heavy showers, seven optimistic members met at the car park above Newtonmore. This is a lovely area of wide open spaces, lots of natural woodland and of course, big hills.

We headed up the good track to the east of the Allt a'Chaorainn, but it quickly deteriorated into a wet and boggy path. So it was with some relief that we crossed the burn to climb through heathery ground to the stalkers' bothy, where we had a break. Here we were joined by three walkers from Lancashire who were aiming to do the three Munros in the area. They set off and we followed on up the “Munro baggers' path” leading to the summit of A'Chailleach. On the way, Chris pointed out a small, white alpine flower, and Charlotte spotted a lizard. Nearing the summit, we overtook two walkers with a small dog.

All twelve of us met at the summit, so it was a little crowded with everyone trying to shelter behind the cairn out of the increasingly strong wind. The visibility was surprisingly good with a high cloud level. The other five left for the second Munro, and we then decided who was going to do what. Ralph, Chris and Charlotte followed the others to Carn Sgulain while Andrew, Gerry, Mary and I decided to descend, not by the boggy path but over the humps and bumps leading to a fort marked on the map.

The wind was very strong as we went SW to Geal Charn (889m), and on the way, we disturbed several mountain hares, some with small white patches (a leftover from their winter coats?). While standing at the cairn (Carn-cairn; Geal-white), a gust of wind almost blew us all over. Next stop was Creag na h-Iolare (crag of the eagle), through a shower of rain, and although we didn't see any eagles, we did see some ptarmigan (although when we met later, the other three reported seeing a golden plover and, not only ptarmigan, but ptarmigan chicks). Then it was down towards, but not over Creag nan Abhag. There, on the far side of a steep gully, there was a herd of around 15-20 deer, who seemed reluctant to move.

Rounding Creag nan Abhag, we came in sight of the fort. From that distance, it looked quite impressive, being very symmetrical with a ring going round below the top, which I assumed had been a rampart or ditch, or both. However, after climbing the steep sides, we found that any structures had long since gone, and even the ring was difficult to find. It gave us a good vantage point, and we could see our other three members coming down the track for us to meet at the cars.

Coffee and cakes were enjoyed in a cafe in Newtonmore.

John Burton

Saturday 2nd July 2016 - Cairngorms

A great day in the Cairngorm despite the forecast.

As expected there was rain in the air and the tops and corries were full of cloud when we arrived. There was also a significant wind so we decided to leave the Fiacaill ridge for another day. Gavin and Chris were determined to do the programmed walk and headed off for the plateau and Beinn Mheadhoin. Andrew, Mary, new member Charlotte and myself opted for coffee by the lochans in Coire an Sneachda.

The cloud lifted and we followed the steep path up the head wall to the plateau to be met with sunshine and extensive views. That wasn't in the forecast. Once on Cairn Lochan our plans for an easy stroll around the coiries quickly changed. The summit cairn of Ben Macdui was clearly visible and beckoning.

Of course the fine spell didn't last. Half a mile from the summit we had rain, sleet, a bitingly cold Westerly wind and no views at the top. However, it did brighten up again and once down in Coire an Lochan we were out of the wind.

Needless to say Gavin and Chris, mission accomplished were back a good hour before us but we'd all had a great day.


Sunday 26th June 2016 - An Stac, Lochailort

A come down from last weekend with only 2 people out and a forecast of rain and wind later. Despite that, Mary and I had an enjoyable if leisurely day.

Starting from Inverailort we headed for the new hydro track to avoid the boggy old path round Tom Odhar. The ascent of Seann Chruach was still pretty dry underfoot. Rois Bheinn and even the summit of An Stac were by now covered in cloud and the rain then arrived but we headed up that craggy little peak — a most enjoyable route. We were met by a cold S wind on top so called it a day and headed down into Coire na Cnamha which was surprisingly wet and boggy compared to the ascent.

We headed North, picked up the old path, now terribly overgrown and once on the road paused to look at Lochailort House. This also looked sad and partly derelict but does boast an interesting history. Not a bad day!


Wednesday 15th June 2016 - Evening Walk up Banavie Hill

Despite the wet/cloudy evening nine people showed up for an evening walk up Meall Bhanbhaidh (Banavie Hill) - Florian, Rob, Robert, Colin, Suzanne, Gavin, Andrew, Gerry and Chris.

Parked up on the Muirshearlich Road by a house called Darachbeg and walked along the road to the start of the walk. It was really rough going at first lots of gorse and bracken to contend with. After this adventure, we all started up the hill - a lot of rough ground to negotiate and no luxury path. Suzanne encountered two holes.

We reached the top in about an hour and got good views. Breezy at the top so did not stay long. A quick descent of 40 minutes and back to the cars. Refreshments were well earned at the Moorings Hotel.


Saturday 18th June 2016 - South Glen Shiel Ridge

nother fine day on the hills – blue skies, light northerly wind to keep midges away and excellent visibility. Also a challenging walk on the programme – all or part of the South Glen Shiel ridge so it's no wonder we had a great turnout of 15 people from far and wide.

We assembled at the well-known Cluanie Inn, only slightly delayed by the one car which missed it and continued some way down the glen! The majority (Chris, Gavin, Toril, Isobel, Alex, and guests Graham and Willie) were up for the Challenge to do 7 Munros and headed off along the track to Creag Mhaim. Mary and her daughter (guest) had an early start and were already well on their way. Liz, Ken and Diane (guest) went off to ascend by Druim Thollaidh and then head west along the ridge. Andrew, Gerry and Fiona headed for A' Chioch and the scramble up the NE ridge of Aonach air Chrith, a route we had never done before. The crispy dry bog was followed by an incredibly steep ascent over rock and grass to A' Chioch. Elevenses here with a good view of the main ridge where there were people everywhere. A lovely grassy col led to another steep ascent, more scrambly rocks and a delightful airy ridge leading directly to the summit.

A short descent to the east and we met with 7 of our challengers – now approaching their 3rd Munro. The views were superb and we were in no rush. We paused at Druim Shionnach. The most easterly munro Creag Mhaim was not far but then it meant a long walk out on a hard track. We decided to descend the north ridge of Druim Shionnach to Loch a Mhaoil Dhisnich, where we sat for some time watching a diver on the loch.

We finally headed down the path to the Cluanie inn and a welcome long drink before collecting the Challengers at the end of another great day.


Saturday 4th June 2016 - Ben Nevis by the Ledge Route

On yet another glorious day with blue skies and little wind (it's not often that we can say that!), ten of us met in Fort William for the short drive to Torlundy. We set off up the good north face path, but as usual, became spread out before meeting again at the CIC hut. Here, Andrew pointed out the route to those of us who had never done it before. What little cloud there had been, had by now dissipated and the north face was really impressive with a few snow patches, and the route looked slightly daunting (to me at least).We started the climb in single file, each trying to find the best way as we scrambled up the steep rock and boulders. We paused at an amphitheatre to take in the view and some oxygen into the lungs. Here, we looked down on three other scramblers who were attempting an even harder route. Then it was round a small, steep-sided corrie, past a large rock that looked ready to fall and on to the ridge above the Carn Dearg buttress. More scrambling with a little exposure before it levelled out, and then on to the final climb with more scrambling, to the main target for the day, Carn Dearg (1221m, Munro top).

Here we split into two groups, Andrew, Gerry, Colin, Rob, Mary and I decided to just head back down. The other four, Gavin, Chris, Robert and Florian set off for the summit of the Ben, and then possibly Carn Mor Dearg (I have discovered since that they did climb the Carn Mor Dearg arete to its summit). We crossed over to the main (tourist) path, that was crowded with a continuous procession of walkers, mainly going up. The path is not easy, being made up largely of rocks and gravel, but at the junction at the halfway lochan we turned off. At the outflow of the lochan, we left the path and headed cross-country to the Allt a'Mhuilinn and our route of ascent.

Another great day on one of the finest hills.

John Burton

The continuing spell of good weather was just what was needed for the 9 club members who set out to tackle the North Face of Ben Nevis by the Ledge route. Low cloud obscured the view of the Ben as we approached via the Allt a'Mhuilinn but by the time we had reached the CIC hut it had burnt off and we could pick out the route as a faint line amid the glorious gullies and crags of the North Face. Refreshed we headed into the Coire na Ciste where the last of the winter's snow was still hanging in the gullies and forming a small lochan at the foot of the scree and a red deer stag continued to graze unconcerned at our presence. Working our way around the Ledge below the Moonlight Gully Buttress there was still time to enjoy the flush of Starry Saxifrages, rock roses and bright green carpets of moss. Crossing Number 5 Gully the scrambling started up the straightforward but at times a bit exposed long ridge, on the crest of the Carn Dearg Buttress; a great way to reach to summit plateau of Ben Nevis and in perfect conditions.

At this point Andrew, Jerry, Colin, Rob and Mary decided to return via the Half Way Lochan while Gavin, Robert, Florian and Chris opted for a longer route home and joined the crowds and party atmosphere at the summit of Ben Nevis, people of all shapes and sizes, ages and nationalities celebrating their conquest of Britain's highest mountain. A snow bunting was also enjoying the party.

Our route back took us over the arête to Carn Mor Dearg. The first part of the descent was rough with boulders over which it was difficult to keep any rhythm. The arête was not as steep as the Ledge route but narrower and more exposed. There were great views of the Ring of Steall on one side and the Great Glen on the other when you could take your eyes off your feet. The summit of Carn Mor Dearg lived up to its name as the Big Red Hill and gave us good views back to the North Face and the route we had taken in the morning. A female ptarmigan in her spring plumage blended so well into the rocks of our descent that she was lucky not to have been trodden on. The descent was long, and briefly interrupted by 5 minutes rain followed by an hour of midges. Not enough, however, to detract from an excellent day in the hills, 2 Munros and a couple of challenging routes achieved.

Chris Tracey

Sunday 29th May 2016 - Blabheinn , Isle of Skye

Just one of those wonderful days which remind us why we climb these hills.

We knew it was going to be something special when six of us, including two visitors, met in Fort William under a cloudless blue sky with a forecast promising light winds, dry and only the remote possibility of an afternoon shower. Not much traffic on the way to Skye and we were walking by 1030, having left a car at Kirkton.

Cloud was shrouding the summits but lifting all the time disclosing more and more rocky precipices. This was a new hill for Mary and our visitors but paths well-trodden for John, Andrew and Gerry. Some previous club excursions had met horrendous conditions, but this was a different day. The rock was dry, the views superb and the company most enjoyable. We took the recommended route to the main summit which follows the line of the SE ridge looking down precipices and over to Clach Glas — at least 2 climbing parties on this little gem. Lots of people were on the summit enjoying the day, lazing around and chatting to all — an atmosphere of great camaraderie.

We negotiated the small step over to the S summit, had lunch and headed off down the SW ridge. Then something weird happened. The cloud had been coming and going for a while above the mountain top and although it was completely windless we all felt strange prickly sensations. My hair was wafting about my ears and then we noticed some people's hair was standing on end. Needless to say we hurried off the crest of the ridge as fast as we could! I've never felt anything like that before!

The rest of the day was uneventful. We reached the car at 1830, ate in Broadford and back in Fort William for 2230. What a great day.


Friday 13th to Sunday 15th May 2016 - Glen Affric Weekend

Another great few days in Glen Affric, based at Strawberry Cottage. Gavin and Suzanne camped, Dave and Jenny had their camper van and Robert, Liz, Ken, Toril and Diane (guest) stayed in the hut. Wesley cycled in and stayed 1 night before cycling out again after a long day on the hill.

Friday 13th May 2016

After a great week of sunshine and high temperatures the wind changed direction, coming from the North and, bringing with it, a sharp drop in temperatures. Friday morning started cloudy with light rain but the forecast gave us confidence that the day would improve.

Liz and Ken set off south from the cottage to climb Mullach Fraoch Choire and A Chralaig. Approaching the summit of Mullach Fraoch Choire from the north east took us along a short section of narrow ridge, dropping steeply away on both sides. Though there was no snow on the ridge itself, there was still a significant amount of snow cover on the steep slopes below.

Once on the summit, the mist started to lift a little, giving glimpses down into the corrie below. Though still very cold, the ridge and tops ahead became increasingly clear. From the top of A'Chrailaig (most usually ascended from Glen Sheil) we had views down to Loch Cluanie and far over to Ben Nevis. We continued west to Bealach Choire a Chait and descended down into Gleann na Ciche, out of the wind, and with warm sunshine at our backs.

We picked up a good track, down through the new plantations of native birch trees of the Glen Affric Nature Reserve. It was a long walk back but we'd had a great day.


Saturday 14th May 2016

Today everyone planned to do the same hills, with different approaches. Toril & Dianne set off first followed by Jenny, Dave, Gavin, Suzanne & Robert. Ken, Liz & Wesley chose to approach Mam Sodhail via the Alt Coire Ghaidheil, passing Corrie Ghaidheil on the left. A good track led us up to the bealach before carrying on up and skirting round, below the Munro top (1108), to reach Mam Sodhail. There were a few people out on the hills. We met Dianne and Toril as they were heading back down from the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Still cold, we took a few minutes to celebrate Suzanne's 200th Munro and capture the views down Loch Mullardoch before retracing our steps back the way we'd come. In anticipation of the long walk back, we avoided the summit of Carn Eige by contouring round to join the ridge below Mam Sodhail.

However, there was no way of avoiding going back up to the summit of Mam Sodhail and, with our last ascent of the day undertaken, we headed off south west before dropping down into Coire Leachavie. We followed the track down beside the beautiful river; the Alt Coire Leachavie. In places, the river was still straddled by deep banks of snow. These had been eroded by the water underneath creating almost glacial like features, more commonly seen in the Alps.

The remainder of the path down was, surprisingly, rough, rocky and steep in places and we still had some distance to cover before returning back to the hut; another long day out.


Thursday 12th May saw Ken, Liz, Toril, Dave, Jenny, Robert, Suzanne, Gavin and Diane (guest walker) all setting off for Glen Affric - destination Strawberry Cottage. Most of us walked in and enjoyed the warm and very pleasant summers day. Others drove in carrying the group's luggage and food. Gavin was the only person to get up a hill that day - Mullach Fraoch Choire.

Friday 12th May heralded in drizzly and cloudy weather but had the promise of clearing up later. Diane,Toril, Gavin, Suzanne and Robert set off to do An Sornach and Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan or chrysanthemum. Thankfully, the weather had cleared by the time we got to the top of chrysanthemum we got good views. After a short wait, Gavin appeared having just done an ex-Munro top called Coire Lochan. Toril and Gavin then went on to do Mullach Dheiragain. The rest of us headed down to the youth hostel and enjoyed afternoon tea of home made lentil soup with homemade rolls.

Saturday 12th May (200th Munro celebration) After we all conquered Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe. It was on to do Beinn Fhionnlaidh were Suzanne celebrated her 200th munro.


Saturday 30th April 2016 - Meal Odhar and Beinn ChuirnHill

Not a Nevis walk day but the forecast for Sunday was pretty bad and few takers, so we (Gavin, Suzanne, Andrew, Gerry and Robert) took the opportunity to do a decent walk in decent weather. It didn't quite turn out as planned. The morning sunshine gave way to dark threatening clouds and the snow duly arrived. However it was only a shower, followed by several others, but we did have sunshine and great views in between.

The route ascended by the lead mines at Tyndrum then over to Meall Odhar. Lots of fresh snow but all very soft and the bogs were still boggy. The climb up to Beinn Chuirn by the north ridge of Coire na Saobhaidhe was very steep but the Coire is very impressive, the gullies still banked up with snow and quite big cornices. The views from the summit made it worthwhile. This Corbett is surrounded by Munros, all looking majestic in the clear air with their mantle of new snow.

Three other walkers arrived at the same time, having ascended form Glen Lochy. Even the Corbetts are getting crowded! We descended the easy slopes around the southern rim of the Coire, avoiding the Eas Anie waterfall and gorge, down to Cononish farm and back to a noisy Tyndrum on Bank Holiday weekend.


Saturday 23rd April 2016 - Sgurr Choinnich Beag

Andrew, Chris, Gavin, Ken, Liz, Suzanne, Toryl and Robert

8 of us out today and set off up through the Nevis Gorge, passing banks of yellow primroses, to exit into the open meadows of Glen Nevis. What a difference a dry spell makes; hardly a bog in sight. We carried on up, past the Steall ruins, sheltered from the northerly winds that were forecast today.

Following a stiff pull up towards the col, below Sgurr Choinnich Beag, we were greeted with an icy blast and a brief spell of light hail and snow flurries. Much to the chagrin of those who had carried ice axes and crampons, we didn't encounter any snow until the descent from Sgurr Choinnich Beag and this was manageable without them. Gavin decided to set off ahead, to complete a round of the Grey Corries and catch the train back from Roy Bridge.

In terms of wildlife, Chris saw a Ptarmigan. A quite stunning day, at times, with temperatures ranging from bitterly cold during the ascent to feeling warmer on the top of Sgurr Choinnich Mor. A straightforward descent from here had us heading back down into the glen where we encountered groups of tourists of various ages and nationalities. They were quite clearly not dissuaded by the "Danger of Death" sign at the entrance to the Nevis Gorge.


Sunday 17th April 2016 - Beinn an Dothaidh & Beinn Dorain, Bridge of Orchy

Six of us set out from Achallader with reasonable weather, although the tops were in cloud. The rough path across open, undulating ground led us to the NE ridge of Beinn an Dothaidh, But unfortunately, after about an hour into the walk, two members had to turn back as one had health problems (they ended up doing a low-level walk around Loch Tulla). The remaining four climbed the steep at times slopes until we encountered patches of snow and ice. We had taken ice axes, but no crampons, but did not need either.

Arriving on the summit plateau, we entered the cloud and then required the use of map and compass. It was not only cloudy, it was also very windy, so we did not hang around for long. After summitting, we came out of the cloud and could see the path leading to the col between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain. We took a break in a sheltered spot just short of the col and then followed the path.

When we reached the col, the wind was funnelling through and I thought that one of our lighter members was about to take off and end up in Coire a'Ghabhalaich to the east. Here we met up with some walkers who were ascending and could hardly detach themselves from the rocks, such was the force of the wind.

It was decided that it was just too windy to risk an ascent of Beinn Dorain, and so we headed down into Coire an Dothaidh and a surprisingly dry path that took us almost to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel where we met up with the other two members for refreshments.

John Burton

Saturday 9th April 2016 - Beinn Maol Chaluim

Great day on the hill with unexpected sunshine most of the day. The day was really enjoyed by Andrew, Gerry, Suzanne, Gavin and Chris.

There was quite a steep ascent from the start point in Glen Etive and some slippery snow was encountered not too far from the summit. But at the summit we were rewarded with some really good soft snow, blue skies and radiant sunshine.

To ease transport arrangements Gerry consented to return to the start point. The rest of the party headed north then south west and then west going down by Fionn Ghleann and then ended up in Glencoe.

A short car journey took us to the Clachaig Inn where we met up with Gerry and sat outside to enjoy some well earned refreshments.


Sunday 3rd April 2016 - Carn Liath

Just 5 of us out on a drizzly day. The objective was Creag Meagaidh and the forecast was for an improvement so we were hopeful. It was pretty miserable in the car park, with low cloud and everything very wet. We agreed that a realistic day would be up to Carn Liath, along the ridge and return by the Window if conditions allowed. A group of walkers from the Perth Club were starting on their “challenge” so we all set off together. Ron opted for a walk up to the lochan an a look at the Window while Toril, Mary, Andrew and myself headed up Na Cnapanan.

Boggy is an understatement. The path becomes stonier higher up and was a little drier with several patches of old snow – they were very wet too. The cloud came and went, never clearing the higher slopes and the rain was persistent. We found the summit cairn in the mist but by now the wind had also increased. We turned round to continue along the ridge. Two figures appeared. No, they hadn't come via the Window but had seen it through the mist – lots of snow and signs of avalanches.

Enthusiasm waned.

After a short discussion we headed back down the way we had come up. More figures appeared in the mist. Members of An Teallach walking club, up for the weekend and intending to bag some Munros. We chatted about Strawberry Cottage of course! Stopping for a snack on the summit of An Cnapanan we met another gentleman from East Kilbride walking club.

Considering the awful weather there were a lot of people out! Exercise done for the day, we were back at Roy Bridge early enough to get coffee at Darwin's Rest.


Not Saturday 26 March 2016 (but Friday 25 March 2016)- South Kingairloch Horseshoe

Travelling on the winding single-track road to Kingairloch, Ivan pointed out some deer on the hill, then I noticed a curlew and some oyster catchers on the shore, and then we all saw two feral goats on the hillside. But that was nothing compared to the wildlife that we saw on the hill later (something that I have never seen in all the years that I have been walking in and on the hills).

After leaving the private road past Kingairloch House, we were led by Andrew on a tortuous route across the flat and boggy plain of the Abhainn na Fearna, past South Corry and on to an obvious, but little-used stalkers path that took us up the Meall an Doire Dhuibh. The weather was good, but with low cloud. The decision had already been taken not to carry ice axe or crampons. There were 16 on the walk (yes, sixteen!), so the usual thing happened-we became strung out and nearer the top of the ridge, split into two groups-the first of ten and the second of six. From here, I am writing as one of the first group of ten. Coming down the knoll above Coire Riabhach, we came in sight and sound of the Glensanda Quarry. And quite impressive it is. Then we reached the lochan (Lag a'Mhaim?), and there we saw what I at first thought was a sheep, but its legs were too short and its head was all wrong – it was a badger! In the middle of the day and at a height of over 500m! Needless to say, it did not hang around and ran up the hill. Turning NW, we headed along a surprisingly obvious path along Beul Choire nan Each, stopping to look at the extensive views (did I say that the cloud had now lifted?) and trying to identify the hills and lochs spread before us (from Beinn Sgulaird, past Ben Starav to the Glen Coe hills and down Loch Linnhe). Shortly after that we came across a direction-finding plaque, erected by the owners of the quarry, that verified our sightings (although we could not see as far as Venezuela!). Meantime, Gavin had disappeared to claim one or more of the hills that he is now aiming for. The wind, as forecast, became a little unruly, and some of us had a job to stay on our feet, but the trig point and cairn at the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin were duly reached after crossing a couple of patches of soft snow. After a break it was decided to continue on the scheduled walk round the northern part of the horseshoe. After a few ups and downs, and diversions for Norman, we descended the steep nose of Sgurr Shalachain on to a forestry track and back to the cars.

The group of six left the summit and went directly down what looked like a steep NE ridge of Beinn Mheadhoin. Unfortunately, as we had become so spread out, and some members had a long journey home, only some of us reunited for refreshments at the ferry inn.

John Burton

Sunday 20th March 2016 - not Sgurr an Doire Leathain or Sgurr an Lochain, Glen Shiel

After some discussion, the five of us, Andrew, Gerry, Robert, Jesse and I, decided not to do the programmed walk, but to start and finish at the same point (the scheduled start point). We followed the path up Druim Thollaidh with good weather-little wind, no rain and the cloud above the hill tops. Ice axe and crampons were carried as there were large patches of snow higher up. When we reached them, we were able to kick steps in the snow and so did not need crampons. This is a nice approach to the ridge, and we successfully made it to the summit of Sgurr Coire na Feinne where we had excellent views, having spotted a herd of deer on the way up on a neighbouring ridge.

Another discussion followed. This was to decide whether to climb Sguur an Doire Leathain and descend by its NE ridge, Maoile an t-Searraich, or to climb Maol Chinn-dearg and descend Druim Coire nan Eirecheanach (so many choices! So many Munros!). There was a keen westerly wind, so we decided to go to Maol Chinn-dearg with the wind behind us. After lunch in a sheltered spot at the summit, we descended the ridge. It was a steady climb down with some large patches of snow to negotiate. This involved using our ice axes together with the occasional glissade (bum slide) to help us on our way.

Coming towards the end of the ridge, we still had about 300 m of descent, but no obvious way down. However, the path led us to an old, but well-made stalkers' path that zig-zagged down in easy stages back to the cars. The Cluanie Inn provided the after-walk refreshments.

John Burton

Sunday 6th March 2016 - sron a'choire ghairbh

Saturday 27th February 2016 - Meall nan Tarmachan

Sunday 6th March 2016 - Sron a'Choire Ghairbh, Laggan Locks

The four km walk along the road and track to the start of the Cam Bhealach warmed us all up, and then the climb up the path warmed us up some more. At about the 500m mark, we came into the snow, and at the high point decided to deploy ice axe and crampons before starting the steep ascent on the scarcely visible zig-zags.

The weather was good with no wind or rain, and the views opened up as we climbed. We, Robert, Isobel, Lucy, Mike (guest) and me, topped out at about 880m in mist and calculated that we needed to go NE for about half a kilometre to reach the summit. There was a cool breeze at the top, so we dropped down to the col to have a break. We could see the ridge that would be our route of descent, and it looked interesting. The snow varied between soft and icy, but was OK. The beginning of the ridge is quite narrow with big drops to right and left, and we were walking in old foot-prints in deep snow that made it quite difficult.

In the coire to the north, there is the Loch a'Choire Ghlais, which will become much larger when it is part of a huge pumped storage hydro-electric scheme. So this scene will not stay like that for too much longer. I found the walk over Sean Mheall and Meall nan Dearcag through the snow tiring (I am not hill-fit), but it was very pleasant with a few bum-slides to enliven things.

Unfortunately, the floating pub was closed, so we had coffee in Spean Bridge.

John Burton

Tuesday 23rd Fenruary 2016 - Winter Skills Day

A great day out for Christina, Mary, Ken and Liz with Mike Pescod of Abacus Mountain Guides ( on a winter skills training course. We had a fine bright day with the superb backdrop of the North Face fully “plastered” in ice and snow .On the walk into Coire Leis, Mike explained how to use and interpret the SAIS avalanche forecast in relation to the various snow patterns and slope aspects. We then practiced correct walking techniques using crampons, safety on steep slopes and ice axe self arrest – great fun but definitely more practice is required. However, at least we know the correct technique now! We then put all we had learned into practice with a short walk around the Coire na Ciste area including ascent of a small Grade 1 snow gully. This really was a very informative day and many thanks to Mike for making it very enjoyable.

Saturday 13th February 2016 - Beinn Mhic Cedidh

A beautiful winter's day saw Toril, Robert and Chris heading west along the Road to the Isles to tackle Beinn Mhic Cedidh (783m), a corbet above Loch Eill.

We headed up from the road over the railway towards the narrow col on the flank of Beinn Odhar Mhor. Beyond the col we held a high line to contour towards the bealach between Beinn Mhic Cedidh and Beinn Odhar Bheag now enjoying walking in snow and shelter from the cold wind that had been funnelled by the road pass behind us. Our destination came into view its snow covered peak and crags looking particularly inviting against the blue sky and white cloud of the day. A few deer were trying to find food at the head of Allt a'Choinn Bhuidhe below Beinne Odhar Mhor.

The climb from the bealach to the summit was accompanied by sun on our backs and some spindrift sparkling in the light. The snow, a mix of powder and icy crust, gave us an opportunity to use the ice axes to create a few steps to aid progress. The view from the top was the west coast at its best, snow covered mountains and russet brown glens all around us, the snow making the view even more dramatic. To the west, the sea and both the Skye and the Rum Cullins capped in snow with the blue outline of the hills of South Uist beyond. Below us we caught a glimpse of Loch Shiel and to the east Ben Nevis and the Mamores were almost lost in the mass of snow capped peaks.

Our return journey took us down the north ridge of Beinn Mhic Cedidh more craggy than the approach but here the snow was mostly soft making the descent easier. We dropped to an icy quad bike track which made route finding straight forward but was also the cause of most of the slips and slides of the day! Two of us, deciding that we did not want to walk back on the road, opted for the cross country route so also added a bog, a birch woodland and a burn crossing to the varied terrains of the day.

Chris Tracey

Sunday 24th January 2016 - Glen Nevis

This walk was supposed to be Sgurr Choinnich Beag and Sgurr Choinnich Mor, in Glen Nevis, but because of the distance and ascent (17 km and 1150m), and the time of year (daylight ending about 4.45 pm), it was decided to attempt something more realistic. However, the day dawned with strong winds, forecast to get even stronger, and rain. Nevertheless, five (John F, Martin, Mal [guest], Wendell [guest] and I) thought we should try for Sgurr a'Bhuic.

The temperature was surprisingly high, and it was obvious that the snow was melting fast. Walking through the Nevis gorge the noise from the water pounding through the narrow spaces between the rocks was almost deafening ( and we also saw some stags) and the Steall waterfall was very impressive. We would be accompanied by that sound all day. The waterfalls on the Allt Coire Giubhsachan were in full flow as we ascended the path on the SW ridge.

The wind was strong, and as it was supposed to become stronger, we decided not to attempt the summit, but to climb to about the 800m mark. Mal is a member of the Glen Coe Mountain Rescue team and knows these hills intimately. He told us that we could go round a small knoll, go SE and drop down steep but grassy slopes. There was hardly any snow, just odd patches of very wet stuff. The descent was as Mal had said, and was even fairly well sheltered from the wind. The rain had now stopped, but we had to walk into a strong head wind back through the gorge to the cars.

John Burton

Saturday 16th January 2016 - Meall a' Bhuiridh

The scheduled walk was Beinn Maol Chaluim from Glen Etive. But when we reached the turn off for Glen Etive, the road looked treacherously icy. So, after some discussion, it was decided to attempt Meall a' Bhuiridh from the Glencoe Mountain Ski Centre.

After leaving the car park, we headed west over the only partially frozen and boggy ground below Creag Dhubh, climbing south on to its ridge. Here a mountain hare was spotted scampering up the slope. Shortly after gaining the ridge, the snow started, and the visibility went along with the views. It was here that Andrew and Gerry decided to turn back as they had another walk the following day.

So we were down to eight - Gavin, Mike, Toril, Chris, Alan, Mary, Robert and me. Climbing the ridge and then the north ridge of Meall a'Bhuiridh was in fairly deep snow, and some of us deployed ice axe and crampons. Because of the lack of visibility, navigation was by map, compass and GPS. The stop at the summit was brief, as the wind was bitterly cold. We then went east for about 700m, then turned north to avoid the skiers and snow boarders.

Descending was tricky as the snow was deep and between soft and hard, so that it would support our weight for a second, then give way, leaving most of us sprawling in the snow time and again. As the snow was soft, ice axe and crampons were put away, but as we were approaching the Ski Centre, we discovered that there were patches of ice beneath the snow, which again left many of us sprawling again.

We rejoined Andrew and Gerry at the Ski Centre cafe for refreshments. So, another successful day, but climbing a Munro instead of a Corbett.

John Burton

Sunday 10th January 2016 - Mam na Gualainn, Kinlochleven

Eight people out today – 5 over the hills and 3 (Liz, Gerry and Andrew) choosing a low level walk along the West Highland Way to Lairigmor and along the path to Callert.

John F, John B, Martin, Glynn (Guest) and Ken followed the route up to Beinn na Caillich, along the ridge to Mam na Gualainn and down to join the same path to Callert. It was steep and slippy on the way up, but the snow was dry and firm on top. There were splendid views over the Mamores and Loch Leven, with some glimpses of sunshine. Martin identified a lovely soaring eagle and at lunch we were closely inspected by an unkindness(!) of ravens.

We all met up again in Kinlochleven - a grand day out.


Sunday 2nd January 2016 - Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Glen Creran

With a forecast of strong winds, the four, Andrew, Gerry, Toril and me, who met at the car park at Elleric, were undecided what to do. We decided to start the walk as scheduled and see what would happen. To start with, there was very little wind, but that was not to continue. The climb up the broad ridge was uneventful, except for a fairly short rain shower. But as we got higher, the wind became stronger, but not enough to worry us. Higher up we reached patches of snow and ice, but did not need crampons (just as well, as we had not taken them!). Unfortunately, we also reached the cloud, so were denied the views. From this direction, the final approach to the summit is flat and rocky, and with the snow and ice was tricky in places. However, we did make it to the summit, where we had a break. At that point, the wind increased and became a little uncomfortable. Going down, we managed to avoid the icy patches (maybe it had melted-it was certainly warm enough). And coming out of the cloud, we could see the sun(!) making spectacular images through the clouds. We did get some views over towards Beinn Sgulaird and down Loch Creran.

Unusually, at no time did we see any deer, not even at the farm, where in the past I have seen 20 or more stags at this time of year.

John Burton