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 2017 walks only. Older walks can be found here.
Saturday 16th December 2017 — Sgorr Craobh a’ Chaorainn
8 of us out today; Liz, Ken, Andrew, Gerry, Chris, Poyao, John & Toril. A wonderful winter walk in low temperatures and not a drop of rain. Setting off from the parked cars we encountered very slippy conditions on the track. We made quite a racket in the stillness of the morning as 8 pairs of boots crunched through the ice and snow.
We had the best of the sunshine in the morning with glorious views all around. Going up Meall na Cuartaige and Sgorr Croabh a’ Chaorainn we encountered lots of deep snow which was hard work, particularly for the person leading the way. Not much ice to speak of but, to be prepared, crampons were donned for the final, steep push up Sgorr Craobh a’ Chaorainn. From the summit we descended, due north, to the col en-route to Meall Doire na Mnath. Liz and Gerry “peeled off” at the col and descended west through pockets of steep snow and rough ground while the others continued on to complete the programmed route. A great day to be out on the hills.
Sunday 10th December 2017 — Streap
The forecast was excellent — the best day of the winter so far. So why did only three members turn out? Surely seasoned hillwalkers were not discouraged by the freezing fog grimly blanketing the industrial lowlands of Fort William and its suburbs? They would know that 100 metres above their heads the sun was blazing from a clear blue sky, that a few minutes work scraping the ice from the car would be worth several hours of fun-filled action in the pristine, sparkling, snow-clad other-world on the hill.
Gerry, Wesley and Andrew met at the Woollen Mill along with guest Kate from Ramblers. We picked up guest Rick, also a Rambler, at the foot of Gleann Dubh Lighe where he had left his car, and continued to the start at Glenfinnan. Heading up the track under the viaduct, we decided to omit Beinn an Tuim because of the limited hours of daylight. We would do the usual route by the Bealach a’ Chait1:25K instead. However, on the approach we were seduced by the possibility of a direct ascent to the sun-lit summit of Meall an Uillt Chaoil1:25K. This was a steep, rocky and ice-encrusted buttress on the N side of the burn tumbling down its W aspect. It was harder work than expected, unconsolidated snow at first, then steepening frozen ground higher up. To make up for some lost time, once we had surmounted all the interesting bits, we made straight for the main ridge to the N of the summit. The prospect of the next three summits to come was magnificent.
The air was crystal clear. Everywhere, the glistening white of the hills extended all the way down to the sun-drenched top of the fog layer that persisted all day in the main glens and over the lochs. We traversed all three peaks and descended the S ridge of Streap Comhlaidh, thus avoiding the slopes into Coire Chuin, which were accumulating wind-blown snow. It was almost dark as we forded the river to reach the track heading S out of the glen. A memorable day.
Saturday 18th November 2017 — Beinn Dubhcraig
Two members (Kevin and Anne) enjoyed this early winter hillwalk in Perthshire. The day started sunny, bright and cold, all the higher mountain tops elegantly snowcapped. After a quick canter along the approach road, we wasted no time in tackling the icy waters of the river, to get the river crossing over and done with! Kevin had even brought with him some nifty parrot food plastic bags with which he protected his boots! Once over the river, we enjoyed a beautiful (and yes, we can confirm – boggy – as stated in all the guidebooks!) ascent through the native Caledonian pinewood, never far from the Allt Gleann Auchreoch with its pretty cascades, pools and rock sculptures.
The open hillside brought easier ground, with frozen turf punctuated by a few patches of verglas and hard ice over frozen waterslides on the upper reaches of the hill. We crested the broad ridge in bright sunshine and wind gusting to 30-40 mph, reaching the summit at midday (2 hours 50 minutes after leaving the car). The silver light down the entire length of Loch Lomond was absolutely stunning. At that point, we estimated that we had another 1½ hours of walking to summit Ben Oss; adding time for the return journey would necessitate a final descent and river crossing by headtorch at the end of the day. As neither of us relished that prospect, we decided to leave Ben Oss for another day, thus giving ourselves a generous margin of daylight for the entire walk. Then, to our dismay, once well into our descent we encountered some of Anne’s ex-work colleagues (still ascending!) who mentioned ‘the new footbridge’ in conversation!! This we found at the end of the walk — so no second river crossing required! We did, however agree that given the ‘Walk Highlands’ estimated route time of 7–8 hours for both Munros, leaving at 9am was never going to allow sufficient time for completion in daylight and an earlier start would have allowed us to comfortably meet our original objective. Overall, though — a superb walk in early winter conditions which we both enjoyed thoroughly.
Sunday 26th November 2017 — Beinn na Caillich and Mam na Gualainn
The programmed walk was Stob Ban, south of the Grey Corries. Toril was coordinating and I was the only one who had booked in for it by lunchtime on Saturday. The snow line was down to about to about 100m so there was some doubt about the access to the Lairig and the long plod up the track to the start of the hill at the Leacach Bothy. We agreed we would do Beinn na Caillich and Mam na Gualainn instead, circulated the change of plan and suddenly, we were 5. Rick (guest), Toril and I set off from Kinlochleven up the West Highland Way. Gerry and Fiona went back to Callert intending to do the Corbett only.
The views were splendid, enhanced by the snow in every direction, with patches of sunlight skidding across the landscape in the bracing NW breeze. We missed the path forking left down to the Allt Nathrach bridge, not obvious due to the snow. Across the bridge, we zig-zagged up the path and the snow got deeper. We lost it at times on the less steep sections. Even above the freezing level, no load-bearing crust had yet formed and progress got slower. Deep drifts were accumulating on the SE aspects and were hard work to negotiate.
From the summit of Beinn na Caillich our pace improved as we headed west on the windswept ridge. Meanwhile Gerry and Fiona had set off up Mam na Gualainn, following the fresh trail broken by a couple of Irish guys. We saw their tracks too but no other sign of them. With this advantage, Gerry and Fiona made it to the summit in good time, expecting to see us not too far away. However, neither party saw the other and we exchanged texts, arranging to meet at the Ice Factor. From the summit of Mam na Gulainn we followed the now well worn track down to Callert. None too soon as the weather turned, wet snow to rain. A great day snatched from the jaws of two weather fronts.
Sunday 12th November 2017 — Stob Ghabhar and Stob a' Choire Odhair
In that magical hour, pre-dawn, the silence was palpable, the promised winds absent. Hillwalkers all over the West Highlands or the Southwest Highlands (according to which forecast they read) were frantically packing their rucksacks and setting off for some fabulous hills in glorious sunshine. All except most Nevis Hillwalkers: Only four turned up at Victoria Bridge for the splendid Black Mount clad in White. John B., Toril, Gerry and Andrew set off briskly as more walkers arrived. At the Allt Toaig crossing, Gerry continued on the main path making for Coirein Lochain. We three crossed the burn and headed up the steep path beside the impressive waterfalls tumbling down Creag an Steallaire. Reaching the hanging valley of Coire na Muic, we veered northwards and picked out a line on the flank of Aonach Eagach that would avoid the crags on its nose. However, ascending briskly and blethering, we missed a turn and found ourselves scrambling up the nose anyway. We were well above the snow line by now but soon found an easy route up the crags to the tip of the spur, a magnificent viewpoint. The climb westwards up the broad ridge of Aonach Eagach gives way to a delightful arête beyond the head of Couloir Buttress. The views in to Coirein Lochain beneath our feet and the panorama of snow-clad peaks afar were equally stunning. Curving northwards, we were soon at the summit of Stob Ghabhar. Returning along the arête, we descend to the col by the north-facing Couloir Buttress, steep, and tricky in places — the first aspect to develop some serious ice on this hill. We had decided not to bother with Stob a' Choire Odhair, all the party having done it before and it was unusually busy. After meandering southwards down the slopes for a while, we came across the path and followed it down through Coire Toaig, arriving back at Victoria Bridge 30 minutes behind Gerry.
Sunday 5th November 2017 — Creag Meagaidh
The date was changed to Sunday 5th November in the hope of an improved weather forecast for this walk and it turned out to be a good choice. Cold, clear start to the day with fresh snow on the hills and some sunshine, albeit the mist did not clear from the summit until late in the day and a couple of light snow flurries before lunch time made navigation on the wide plateau more interesting for a while. 6 of us — John, Angela, Robert, Charlotte, Andrew and Toril — started the walk at the pull-in where Allt Coire Choile-rais meets the A86. There is a faint path that follows the burn on the W side so no need to cross the burn before heading up the SE ridge of Meall Coire Choille–rais. A steep ascent made a bit more challenging by the very wet ground and snow on the upper slope but we were rewarded by amazing views as we ascended. The snow at the top was fresh and powdery so easy to walk on albeit mist and light snow flurries made the walk onwards from Meall Coire Choile-rais to the summit of Creag Meagaidh fairly featureless. Conditions did not invite for anything but a brief visit of the summit and heading quickly E we arrived at rim of Corie Ardair in time for lunch and the most spectacular views of the Corrie and the Lochan underneath. After the well earned stop the path took us to Puist Corrie Ardair and Sron a' Choire and the descend of the rugged S ridge Coire Chomhasain to rejoin Allt Coire Choille-rais which was crossed this time well above the waterfall and back to starting point. Apart from the lovely views, glorious sunshine to end the day and a great walk, Charlotte shared her birthday cake with us — many thanks and happy birthday. The walk was slightly longer than the programme suggested, 14km and approx 6 hours.
Sunday 29th October 2017 — Creise & Beinn Mhic Chasgaig
On a Sunday of good weather, we were surprised that there were only four of us out — Andrew, Gerry, Toril and me. We set off NW below Creag Dhubh over wet and boggy ground, but Gerry soon left us to climb Creag Dhubh and then go on to Meall a'Bhuiridh. The remaining three crossed the Allt Cam Ghlinne and then started the long and easy (well, mostly!) scramble up Sron na Creise. There was a keen breeze but it was not a problem. Near to the summit of Stob a'Ghlais Choire, we were overtaken by a young couple and then two groups of five, the latter being students from the University of St Andrews. The walk to the summit of Creise was straightforward, and after a break, we carried on southwards and then west down a ridge to tackle Beinn Mhic Chasgaig, a Corbett. On the high grassy plateau, we came across many vole runs, and did see some voles too. Heading down to the col, we were on our own. The wind had dropped and it was utterly peaceful. At the col, we could see a small group of hinds, including a calf. After summiting, we turned north to go down the ridge that Andrew had been interested in trying. It was a good way off the hill, but the drawback was that it took us into Glen Etive with the road close by, but on the other side of the river. Andrew and I tried boulder-hopping, but failed! But we only ended up with wet boots, socks and gaiters. Toril had tried to find a way across upstream, but decided to dispense with boots, socks and gaiters and wade across, where Gerry was waiting with a towel. She had descended from Meall a'Bhuiridh by the chair lift and then driven round to pick us up. After drying ourselves, we drove to The Kingshouse for coffee, but were disappointed to find that it was partly demolished. The developers have big plans for it.
A great walk on a lovely day, but disappointingly few members out.
Saturday 21st October 2017 — Geal Charn & Sgurr Choinnich
The programmed walk up Beinn a’Chreachain & Beinn Achaladair got put off for another day due to a not very good weather forecast. So, Gavin, Suzanne, Robert and Chris did a ‘Plan B’ walk up Geal Charn & Sgurr Choinnich by Loch Arkaig.
The weather was dry, the cloud high and a promise of sunshine a bit further on. We parked at Achnasaul and went up a good hydro track which then deteriorated into your ‘bog standard path’. It was fairly easy ground up to the top of Geal Charn, we had views but then some rain to accompany our morning coffee. Gavin ran off to do Glas Bheinn. The rest of us carried on to Sgurr Choinnich. Chris went via a slippy, boggy Carr Dubh and had a spectacular slide on her ‘behind’. Robert and Suzanne's descent was quite boggy, but the descent beautifully decorated with red sphagnum moss.
We ascended to the summit of Sgurr Choinnich in quite a wind tunnel, quite a steep section for the final summit rise. The top was clear, we met up with Gavin and saw a mountaion hare running past. The views were good and surprisingly the other hills looked quite rain drenched. We were in our own oasis of good weather. We then descended south westwards down the ridge back to Loch Arkaig and as we got onto the road down came the heavy rain. Good timing we all thought!
Saturday 23rd September 2017 — Stuchd an Lochain
Charlotte, Chris, Robert, Suzanne, Andrew, Gerry and Toril set off from the car park near the dam at the eastern end of Loch an Daimh. We soon came to our ascent path which was fairly steep, stony and quite boggy in places. It would be a real ‘mudbath’ in very wet conditions. The weather at this point was dry but cloudy. It was quite windy when we got to the ridge along to Creag an Fheadain. We then walked upward into the cloud and from then on everything was shrouded in mystery.
Because it was so misty there were no views along the broad ridge walk to Stron Chona, we were not able to see the attractive northern corrie holding Lochan nan Cat and of course there were no summit views from the top of Stuchd an Lochain. We did enjoy plenty of good conversation during our lunch break at the top.
We returned by the same route and also encountered some rain. Lower down, the views opened up for a while and we could see Loch an Daimh, We had welcome refreshments at a cafe just 10 minutes down the road from the start of the walk.
Sunday 17th September 2017 — Druim na Sgriodain
I first joined the Club in late 2006 following an introduction from the Walk Lochaber Walking Festival, at which time I had climbed less than 100 Munros. I’ve had some excellent outings with members over the last 11 years and learned a lot through them as I worked my way through the various Scottish Mountaineering Club lists. It seemed appropriate that my final Graham (and indeed my last hill to complete the “Full House” — all 6 SMC lists) should take place on a club walk.
I was very pleased to be joined by Chris, Andrew, Ron, Gavin, Suzanne, Kevin, Robert, and guest Alan on this walk. (Gerry, and Ron’s wife Kathryn would join us later). There was also a contingent of about a dozen Relative Hills Society members forming a separate group, together with other friends.
We all set off on the Corran ferry then walked along the road to Cille Mhaodain where we took to the hill, avoiding a noisy herd of cattle. The ridge was followed west to the col, where we turned South to the summit of Sgurr na h-Eanchainne, a grand viewpoint, especially on a day of clear visibility as it was today. Andrew had taken a shorter and more sporting route to here and was enjoying refreshments as the main group finally arrived.
From here it’s a delightful traverse to the main summit Druim na Sgriodain where my celebration was to take place. The walkers formed an arch with their walking poles for me to ascend to the top. Cake and whisky were dispensed, together with other non-alcoholic alternatives, and in RHSoc tradition there was a chant. It was also my pleasure to propose a toast to the Nevis HWC, members of which have been present at four of my mountain list completions. Finally we were given a demonstration of cairn re-building by Alan Dawson who had arrived with his mountain measuring equipment. (Alan is the joint creator of the Grahams list of hills, as well as having dreamed up the term “Marilyns” – now a well-known list of 1556 British hills with 150 metres of prominence).
From here the group descended the ridge and crossed the burn above the waterfall known as Maclean’s Towel. From the mast there was a choice of routes back to the Inn at Ardgour, and after drinks and a well presented buffet walkers caught their choice of ferry back to Nether Lochaber. For me it was a rather special day, and I believe that everyone enjoyed a great day on the hill with much camaraderie.
Saturday 9th September 2017 — Beinn nan Aighenan and Glas Bheinn Mhor
Four turned out, Gerry, Andrew, John and Ivan. The MWIS forecast was not at all friendly, cloud on the hills and cold and windy, with chill factor of minus 60C on the summits. John turned up in his winter gear, but I hedged my bets with winter trousers and a summer jacket. As we drove up Glen Coe the clouds lifted and the sun came out. Glen Etive was foggy and the road busy, “wild” campers packing up, and hill walkers trying to find spaces to park. We had an extra few hundred metres to walk from our space.
The sun came out as we set off, and the jackets soon came off too. Across the River Etive, the Path was barred as usual by the chained and padlocked gates. G and I climbed the gates – easily enough. The other two ploughed through the mud around the enclosure even though there was nobody in residence with privacy to respect. Once across the footbridge we could see a large party up ahead fording the river (Allt nam Meirleach). They had started off following the boggy diversion and then went directly to the river, thus missing the bridge altogether. John and Ivan appeared on the opposite bank but went back down river to use the bridge. Nobody was pleased about the situation and some had wet feet. I gave the leader of the other party (and a few other walkers throughout the day) the phone number of the Highland Council Access Officer in the hope that some of them would have the gumption to complain. If we don’t insist on our Access Rights we will continue to lose them, a salami slice at a time!
Hot and windless, the sun beat down and the midges beat us up. Some relief in the shadow higher up the corrie, then a lovely breeze on the col at 766m. Descending to the next col between Glas Bheinn Mhor and Beinn nan Aighenan felt like entering a different world. A pair of Munro baggers passed us at speed followed by another, a lone young woman with whom we managed a few words before she too sped onwards, bouncing up the rocky terraces towards the summit of Beinn nan Aighenan. There are five Munros in the vicinity and it became clear that one is expected to do all of them.
Arriving at the summit after savouring a little scrambling here and there, it was strangely windless and quiet. The views were extensive, through the glen eastwards to Loch Tulla, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a’ Chreachan. To the west, Loch Etive, the Firth of Lorn, The Isle of Mull and Ben More. We lingered, taking it all in. After a while, two more young women arrived and took some selfies – this was the 200th Munro for one of them. They asked what we were doing and we admitted we were loafing about.
We set off together, the experienced old ones out in front going down but we were soon overtaken on the way back up to the 766m col. Gerry had intended to go only this far and would have been halfway back by now. The two young women could be seen leaping up the shoulder of Glas Bheinn Mhor, 201, on their way to 202 and 203. We headed down; John and I had done them all several times and Ivan had recently done Glas Bheinn Mhor.
We, the Munro Baggers, the old and the young, each satisfied in her or his own way with a great day on the hill. Let’s keep it this way. The Highland Council Access Officer is Stewart Eastaugh who may be contacted on 01463 255287.
1st to 4th September 2017 — Elphin Caving Hut (near Lochinver, Sutherland)
Friday 1st September
Isobel, Suzanne, Graham and Robert set out to do Stac Pollaidh which is quite an iconic hill in the area and a wonderful view point. The day was warm and dry with high cloud and no wind. There is a very good path up to the col which almost feels paved in places. We had great views from the easily attained false summit. The true summit requires quite a complicated scramble. Isobel, Graham and Robert attempted the true summit but it proved too tricky for them to complete.
The caving hut turned out to be very comfortable and we had the joy of the place to ourselves,
Saturday 2nd September
This was an amazing weather day - full of good warm summer sunshine. A day for sunhats and sunglasses. Isobel and Suzanne set off early to do Suilven which met a long walk in from the walkers car park near Lochinver. Then up a fairly steep path to the summit ridge. The walk to the west top proved quite straightforward with a couple of easy scrambles thrown in. On our return along the track to the car we were met by a baby linnet which quite happily sat and watched us for a while. At some point during the day, a lovely plant called Grass of Parnassus was spotted.
Graham, Robert and Steve conqured Ben more Assynt and Connival.
Cris ventured off to do Glas Bheinn. She had good views at the top but found it quite chilly. From the top Cris looked down on the ‘Lochan of the Green Corries.
Sunday 3rd September
The day began quite dry and then became a bit windy. There was also a forecast for rain which did not come at all. So, Cris, Graham, Isobel, Robert and Suzanne set off to do Cul Mhor. We parked the car near the path for Knockan Crag. The path is very good for about halfway up and then becomes quite boggy. For some of our ascent we had a musical accompliment. Some of us were experiencing a low buzzing noise on one continuous note. This affect was a result of the wind blowing through the grass.
We had good views from the top although Suzanne elected to remain at the start of the boulder field which had to be conqured just below the summit. Cris rejoined Suzanne and the rest of the party went on to do the adjacent top.
Later on, Isobel explored Knockan Crag.
Monday 4th September
The rain has arrived! Cris and Robert left to drive south. Steve left at some point on Sunday morning. So, Graham, Isobel and Suzanne went and explored the bone caves at Inchnadamph. A great short walk and a dry place at the end of the walk to enjoy your sandwich in the cave.
Saturday 26th August 2017 — Grey Corries
As last week, another four km walk-in on a good track took Charlotte, Jeannie, Angela and me to the Lairig Leacach, where we left the track to climb steeply SW up grassy slopes to the SE ridge of our first objective, Stob Coire na Ceannain, a Munro top. For the second week-end in a row, the weather was kind to us, dry with some cloud but also some sun. This meant that we had uninterrupted views all around. From the summit, a narrow and rocky ridge took us over a small summit at 1121m, and then up to the Munro Stob Choire Claurigh. On leaving the summit, we made the mistake of going south instead of SE. This led us into a steep boulder field, before coming to the ridge which took us down to the lochan below Stob Ban. After some discussion, we decided to do Stob Ban as well as none of the others had done it before. The short climb is steep and on a path of loose stones, but the views from the summit made it all worthwhile. Here we met some other walkers and one of the topics of conversation was the midges which were quite bad. We descended by its east ridge where we met a single walker with large back-pack who told us he had already completed the Munros of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain. On reaching the bothy, we found it occupied by a couple who very kindly offered us a cup of tea, which was gratefully accepted. On the return north on the track, we were passed by two groups of four going the other way, and wondered if the small bothy was going to be crowded that night. Further on, two mountain cyclists stopped for a chat (it was on a steep bit of track!) and told us they were going to a bothy, not Lairig Leacach, but Meannanach further to the south.
Coffee was taken at the Spean Bridge Hotel, where we hoped that we did not smell too much of midge repellent, sun block and sweat!
Sunday 20th August 2017 — Beinn Fhada, Kintail
Eight of us (Andrew, Mary, Charlotte, Jeannie, Robert, Toril, Poyao [guest] and I) set off on the four km walk-in up Gleann Choinneachain on a day of benign weather. There was cloud on the hills, but we hoped that it would clear. After crossing the Allt Coire an Sgairne, the ascent began up large zig-zags, from where we saw a small herd of deer in one of the corries. On reaching the summit, the cloud which had cleared, came back in again to the NE. However, that did not impede us as we gained the Munro top of Meall an Fhurain Mhor. After taking in the views down Gleann Lichd and over to the Five Sisters, we followed the narrow ridge that took us down to the Bealach an t-Sealgaire. Facing us was Sgurr a'Choire Ghairbh, which to reach, we had to negotiate the “short scramble” in the route description. This looked rather daunting, and some of us found it tricky, as there were few hand-holds. On reaching the top, we came to the ridge which was a lot easier than the scramble but was very craggy with what seemed like interminable gullies between the crags. But before getting to Beinn Bhuidhe, probably having become fed up with the crags, most headed down the steep-sided and awkward gully to the south of Beinn Bhuidhe. Beinn Bhuidhe was much easier. We all met up at Morvich and set of for the Cluainie Inn for refreshments.
Saturday 29th July 2017 — Black Mount
After a few good days the forecast for last weekend was sadly pretty dire and not surprisingly no-one wanted to tackle Stob Ghabhar or anything else in fact. It was a day for pulling up the drawbridge and waiting for summer to return. Back on the programme for a sunny day please.
Sunday 23rd July 2017 — Sgurr Thionail and Sgurr a Mhaoraich, Loch Quoich
The long and winding road to Kinloch Hourn took us to the start of this walk. Six of us out Toril, Angela, Gerry and Andrew, Liz and Ken. The weather was fine with just some cloud over the summits. We took the somewhat boggy path along Allt Coire Sgoireadail and just before the bealach took the steep climb up to Sgurr Thionail. Good views over the South Glen Shiel ridge from the summit. Then South along the ridge and another steep climb up into the mist and the summit of Sgurr a Mhaoraich. Quite a few wild goats – and one family group with a small “kid” – darted around the hills in front of us. We backtracked to Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag and then followed the steep West ridge back down to the cars.
Saturday 8th July 2017 — Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean
It was definitely worth changing the date of this walk to get the glorious weather we experienced. Six of us out altogether Gavin and Suzanne, Clare, Toril, Ken and Liz. After crossing the railway line we headed up the steep and boggy slope to Grey Height then along the lovely ridge to Cruach Ardrain. Great views all round. A further fairly straightforward ridge walk took us to the summit of Beinn Tulaichean. For the return we decided not to retrace the route but head out to Stob Glas and return from there. Toril regained the ridge and came down via Grey Height and the rest of us continued down to the path beside River Falloch which joined the access track to the new hydro scheme further down. Refreshments in Tyndrum rounded off the excellent day.
Saturday 30th June 2017 — Beinn Sheasgarnich/Creag Mhor, Glen Lochay
Gavin, Jeannie, Angela, Toril, Isobel, Suzanne, Ken & Liz were all out in the area walking in the hills. Ken and Liz set off quite early and so became the forwarding party. The rear guard of Gavin, Jeannie, Angela, Toril, Isobel and Suzanne set off from the meet point at 10.20am. The first part of the walk along a rough road and onto a higher track was blessed with sunshine. After going through a gate near the Allt Badour river the sunshine continued but the ground was like walking up a very soft carpet. It was not at all boggy but each step encountered very soft deep grass.
We continued north west to the ridge between Stob an Fhir-Bhogha and Beinn Sheasgarnich. Here the ground was easier going underfoot was unrelentingly steep all the way to the summit. On the summit ridge, the wind was quite fierce and the rain was quite in earnest. At the summit, Toril and Suzanne decided to descend to the start point. Jeannie, Gavin, Angela and Isobel carried on to do Creag Mhor.
Toril and Suzanne enjoyed welcome refreshments at the Green Wellie Stop in Tyndrum.
After a rather boggy walk up to Beinn Sheasgarnaich Gavin, Jeannie, Angela and Isobel parted company with Toril and Suzanne who were heading back down to the cars, and sped off to climb Creag Mhor the Big Crag. Looking across to Creag Mhor it looked quite a trek but we made up good time as we slipped and slidded down from a steep Sron Tairbh and out of the mist. Just as we reached the start of the climb up to Creag Mhor we met Ken and Liz who were doing the walk in reverse. After a quick chat Ken and Liz headed off into the mist and we had a group discussion about how we were going to tackle The Big Crag! Do we head right and avoid the crags or do we face them head on and go straight up. Straight up it was. We zig zagged up through the rocky ground which was pretty steep in places and we seemed to reach the top quite quickly, only to nearly blown off my feet. We had a quick bite to eat in a sheltered spot then we were off down to Sron nan Eun. On the way down we came to a very interesting rocky wet scramble which took some careful footwork to descend. Safely down we now had the very long walk back along the track to the cars. As we were late down we just said our goodbyes and headed in our different directions. A brilliant but very long day with great company.
Sunday 25th June 2017 — Beinn Bhuidhe, Glen Fyne
The weather forecast was somewhat mixed with showers, mist above 700m and gusty winds on the exposed tops. However, the sun did come out for a while as we headed up the road and path to Inverchorachan, a 7 km trek from the car park at the head of Loch Fyne. The walk was pleasant following the river and fairly gentle but the midges fierce, so no stopping! Passing the boarded up cottage we chose to take the faint path on the NE side of Allt na Faing due to the very wet ground and also less bracken at this time of the year following a WNW direction up the hillside. The steep climb allowed us to gain height quickly and we enjoyed great views of the waterfalls in the corrie which were spectacular. At around 600m the terrain evened out a bit and we headed for the ridge taking us up to the NE top at 901m. Unfortunately, from 700m and up the mist did not lift and we missed the views and were also surprised by hailstones as we approached the NE top, not in the weather forecast. The gusts were strong so we did not linger but continued along in a W direction and soon found a well trodden path that took us to the summit about 1.2km along the ridge. Having achieved our goal we traced our steps back for approx 1km were we joined a very steep path, more like a stream given the conditions, that took us off the top in a S direction until we met the new Hydro path just above the corrie. Deciding that following this path would be much drier under foot, we continued on the path all the way back to the bridge just a couple of km up from the car park and then back to the start. This part of the walk gave us some good views of the hills around, down the glen and of Loch Fyne and also shortened a rather long walk of a few km.
Total of 22 km, 1365m of ascent, 7 hours.
Jennie, Angela and Toril.
Wednesday evening, 21st June 2017 — Pap of Glencoe
Andrew, Gerry, Gavin, Suzanne, Clare, Robert, Toril and Tania set off in the most amazing evening sunshine for the Pap of Glencoe, following the south easterly route as stated on the Club walk’s programme. The weather stayed warm for the entire walk; infact almost a bit hot at times. The surrounding hills were crystal clear and you could see a very long way. A brief summit stop was enjoyed. Most of us returned by the same route except Gavin who took a southwesterly direction from the summit down the ridge but joined up with us later on. We were all amazed at the beautiful bright red sunset on the way down. There was not enough time for a refreshment stop at some local pub as we were down quite late but we all went home with wonderful memories of a great walk.
Saturday 17th June 2017 — Glen Lyon
On the 17th June, Isobel and I decided to do our own alternative to no alternative for the Loch Mullardoch. We started at Invervar by River Lyon and headed up the marked track going up N, through the felled forest and onto the track - not the forest road - to the bride over the Invervar Burn and then up in W direction the ridge and track to Carn Gorm. We then followed the track N to a coll at 851m, however, before then there is a track going in a NE direction to a top at 934m which we did and continued on the track to Meall Garbh. The track takes a E direction over fairly easy ground on to Mairg. On approach of this top the mist became extensive and we needed to do some navigation - map and compass - to get to the right top, there are a number of little tops here. The track off the Carn Mairg is steep and rock, initially going E off the rock then SE and S but if you manage to find and stay on the right track in the mist you are fine. Following this track it takes you to Crag Mhor, the last of the tops which is another craggy heap of rocks but gives good shelt about 400m SW of Creag Mhor, we then continued in a SW direction but realised quickly we were not heading off the hill in the direction we wanted so we started traversing in a N direction and met the track following the ridge off the hill, this track goes W and the SW meeting forest road just below the Allt Coire A Chearcaill which takes you back to the start.
The weather on the day was warm and humid, the tops were covered in mist and we had a couple of hours of rain in the afternoon. We also experienced some gusty conditions on the tops. I believe we did around 20km in approx 6½ hours.
Sunday 11th June 2017 — Kingussie
The forecast for the west was for typical June weather – rain, wind and chilly. The east was supposed to be better so we gave Skye a miss and headed for Kingussie to do one of the “alternative” walks listed on the programme. Just Charlotte, Gerry and Andrew. It was still grey in the east with frequent showers but a light wind – enough to keep the midges at bay. Our hills of the day were clear. Several changes since we were last there. The track up to Pitmain Lodge is now tarmac all the way (not good for the knees) and lots of building work going on at the lodge. Walkers are asked to use a new bridge over the Allt Mor which goes behind the house (the tradesman entrance). After an early lunch in the shelter of some trees we ascended the east side of Creag Dhubh. We gave Carn Coire na h-Inghinn a miss. A useful argo track led us up the hill. Lots of butts for grouse shooting and we disturbed a nest of young at one point. Typical behaviour – the male flew off, the mother did the flapping wing to lead us away and the young balls of fluff scattered in all directions. We left them in peace. Creag Dubh gave us views in all directions except the Cairngorms which stayed in cloud all day. A short descent and over to Creag Mhor with its several craggy tops, then down the east ridge to the end of Loch Gynack. We took a new track round the end of the loch which led us to part of a hydro scheme. We found the path and bridge marked on the map and made our way back to the car. Wet but content.
Saturday 3rd June 2017 — Beinn Sgulaird
John, Jeannie, Charlotte, Chris and Tom, a guest for the day, took to the hills above Glen Creran on a warm, still morning. With two cars available we arranged to leave one at either end of the route before setting out. An easy start to the walk along the track passed Glenure, where some interesting alterations to the older house were taking place. We decided to take a direct route from the Glen Ure track up to the top of Beinn Sgulaird, via Stob Gaibhre and started up through the open birch woodland by the burn. Here the steepness of the ground slowed progress sufficiently from the midges to catch up with us and much arm waving and rising levels of distraction followed among those of us who had either not had the foresight, or could not find, to bring their midge hoods. By lunch time insufficient progress had been made and the group decided to split with Tom and Chris returning to the track by the east ridge while the others continued onto the summit. The sky was darkening and a few rumbles of thunder suggested it was not a good idea to hang around on the top. The summit party returned by the same route, met up with Tom and Chris on the track and we all enjoyed refreshment in the Creran Inn before going our separate ways.
Pictures from Charlotte
Sunday 28th May 2017 — Devil's Point, Glen Feshie
Four intrepid (foolhardy?) members set off from the car park in Glen Feshie for the 30km trek into largely remote and trackless country. Gavin set off south to do his own thing, while Ken, Jeannie and I headed east. The weather was dry with NW to N winds (behind us), but the cloud was down on the tops. It was supposed to clear later. The climb on to the plateau is on a good made-up path, but towards the top, we entered the cloud. Navigation from there was easy on the paths and track, but once we crossed the Allt Sgairnich, we entered a bog-filled, peat-hag-ridden, bouldery land with only a few metres visibility. So out came the maps, compass and GPS. We passed by Loch nan Cnapan to the south, but did not see it and, crossing several burns and negotiating several boulder fields, made for Loch nan Stuirteag, and nearly walked into it. Skirting it to the north, we crossed another burn and then climbed over more boulders towards Buidheanach of Cairntoul, on the way seeing a ptarmigan with white wings. Then the cloud began to lift and the sun made an appearance. Cresting a rise, we came in sight of the Devil's Point but it was still in mist. As we climbed the last 100m, over more boulders, the mist lifted and by the time we reached the summit, we had extensive views. There was Glen Geusachan and the River Dee to the south, Carn a'Mhaim to the east, Cairn Toul to the north and the paths from the White Bridge, Glen Luibeg and the Lairig Ghru all seemingly converging on the little (from where we were) Corrour Bothy below us.
After a break, we set off on the return with much better weather than the approach. Navigation was now so much easier. We decided to stay high, making the burns crossings easier, and with no mist, could see and avoid many of the boulder fields and bogs (they do not show on maps!). We also saw a dotterel, a rather striking bird which did not fly away. At one point, we seemed to be really close to Cairn Toul, but managed to resist the temptation to climb it as well! Heading to the north of Loch nan Cnapan, we decided to cross the open ground to avoid the ascent of the 957m top. However, this proved a mixed blessing, as it involved numerous lumps and bumps and bogs and peat hags. The 90m climb to the high point below Carn Ban Mor was hard, but we knew there was not far to go. Then on the way down the good path, we came across Gavin, who was waiting for us, having also had a successful day.
Refreshments and chat were enjoyed in the Duke of Gordon Hotel in Kingussie.
Saturday 22nd May 2017 — Glen Laudale Horseshoe
A miserable forecast and a long drive lead to a last minute rethink on Saturday's walk. Instead of the planned Glen Lyon horseshoe, Andrew, Gerry, Charlotte, Gavin and Chris headed west where the weather was supposed to be better, for the Glen Laudale horseshoe. Maybe the weather was better but we still did not escape low cloud, rain or midges. Despite this it was good to be out and to explore hills that some of us had never been to before with tantalising glimpses of view that mean we will need to return some fine day.
The walk began along the shore of Loch Sunart, skirting Laudale house with its boat house and amphibious vehicle bearing both a vehicle number plate and a boat name of “Crispy Duck2”. A gentle climb initially on the old right of way leading to Loch Teacuis, through the old oak and birch woods and into some conifers where we left the track and headed up the rough slopes onto the first of the Highland 500 hills, Meall an Damhain. The views back over Loch Sunart were worth the climb and although the cloud base dropped later glimpses of Lochaline and Mull, Ardnamurchan and Loch Arienas kept the “where is that?” question coming all day.
The route then followed the ridge south over terrain peppered with rock outcrops and confusing knolls to test the navigation once the cloud dropped did drop although GPS does make it a lot easier. The group split up for a while into three alternative expeditions – the glen and eastern hills, the inner horse shoe returning down the ridge from Beinn Bhan and the out horseshoe picking up Beinn nam Beathrach with extension to 2 un-named tops beyond Meall Lochan nan Larg. Deer were plentiful with the stags in velvet down in the field by the shore of Loch Sunart and the hinds high up on the ridge top. The plaintive call of the golden plover was heard in the cloud with one brief sighting. It was good to see the grass finally beginning to green, the bogs soaking up the rain again and the early purple orchids, although most of them were white, of the year. All the groups returned via the steep descent from Creag Dhubh We did not quite make it in time to share a coffee together as our “shorter” local walk turned out to be over 22km with around 1100m of ascent. It was, however, an enjoyable if characteristically damp day in the hills of Morvern.
Sunday 14th May 2017 — Aonach Eagach Ridge
Six of us out for this classic route – John B, Angela, Jeannie (two new club members), Wesley, Liz and Ken. The day started with a stiff climb on a good path up to Am Bodach. Some showers here, even some hail, but the weather improved, as forecast, and we had glorious sunshine and good visibility in the afternoon. Wet rock made the descent from Am Bodach a challenge, but we all managed fine and continued to the first Munro (Meall Dearg). The rock dried out in the sun and we all enjoyed scrambing over the Pinnacles. The difficulty eased as we traversed to the second Munro – Sgorr nam Fiannaidh and we were able to admire splendid views all around the Lochaber hills. The descent via the Pap of Glencoe path was long and steep but we had great views over Loch Leven and the Ballachulish bridge. The day was rounded off with drinks in the Clachaig Inn.
Saturday 6th May 2017 — Bidean nam Bian (Glencoe)
Traverse of Stob Coire nam Beith, Bidean nam Bian & Stob Coire Sgreamhach, (Glencoe)
Another perfect sunny, clear day during an unbroken spell of settled weather which the west of Scotland has enjoyed over the first week in May. The weather made for ideal hillwalking conditions – crystalline blue skies and a bracingly chilly breeze (on paper, a South-Easterly, but in effect it seemed to funnel from all directions up the complex deep glaciated valleys of the Bidean nam Bian massif). We were a small group of five; Chris, John, Anne and two guests, Jeanie and Angela. We left one car at the Lost Valley trailhead and everyone piled into Anne's car for the brief journey back down the glen to Achnambeithach Cottage, where our walk began. Progress up the Coire nam Beithach was speedy, thanks to beautifully crafted stone paths. The upper reaches of the corrie felt really alpine – bright green slopes, towering rock buttresses, shimmering snow patches at the head of the big gullies and eyrie-like views down to the thin ribbon of the busy A82 (now thankfully silenced by birdsong and running water) on the valley floor. We soon reached the Bealach an t-Sron, where a magnificent panorama unfolded across every horizon – Skye, Mull, the Sgurr of Eigg, the Rum Cuillin, Ben Nevis and the Mamores – a feast for the eyes. Chris quickly nipped out to stand atop the An t-Sron promontory. From the bealach, the rocky ridge walk to Stob Coire nam Beith meandered along a broad crest; one or two sections above occasional steep snow patches required care but presented no real difficulty. We had the hill completely to ourselves until we reached the main summit of Bidean nam Bian (at 1150 metres, the highest mountain in Argyll). The clear sunny weather had brought the world (and many accompanying dogs of all shapes and sizes …) out on the hill, so we certainly weren't short of company for the remainder of the walk. A short descent to the Bealach Dearg followed, from which we made another enjoyable ascent on excellent rock to the second Munro of the day, Stob Coire Sgreamhach. The sun was, by now, quite hot, so we were rather pleased to descend into the shade of the ‘Lost Valley’ via an initially steep eroded path at the head of Coire Gabhail. The final section of the walk down the Lost Valley was stunningly beautiful in its early bright green spring foliage, sparkling waterfalls and deep, clear pools of water. We shuttled back to Ballachulish for coffee and excellent ice cream floats which we devoured on the deck of the recently opened ‘Quarriers Café’.
29th April to 6th May 2017 — Isle of Jura – Land of the Sun
Robert, Graham, Andrew, Gerry, Ken, Liz, Chris, Cris, Gavin, Suzanne, Toril, Clare and Diane all had an amazing time on the Isle of Jura. People either stayed the whole week or just part of the week. The farmhouse cottage was very good with very comfortable rooms some of which were ensuite. The standard of catering was very high for the communal meals. Two meals were also enjoyed one at the Antlers tearoom and the other at the Jura Hotel.
The paps were conquered in glorious sunshine with amazing views. It took quite a bit of effort from people as the going is tough and rough. Congratulations were made to Cris who when doing the paps completed her Corbetts.
Different places of interest were also visited like the graveyard where one grave in particular was adorned with 3 Jura miniuture whisky bottles. A walk besides Loch Tarbert was much enjoyed by Clare, Dianne and Suzanne. It was then onto the road end at Inverlussa where 'Tea on the Beach' was the order of the day. We had phoned ahead to the tea lady to book in. We were greeted with a wagon which contained the most delicious cakes and scones. Flasks of hot water had also been left with which you made either tea/coffeee. So, we made up a tray of cakes/coffee, put our money in the trust box and enjoyed our 'cuisine' on the beach. It was an amazing hot afternoon and we had to cool off with a paddle in the sea.
Gavin took himself an on an overnight camping trip to the north end of the island. To keep lightweight, he only took a groundsheet and sleeping bag - no tent!!
Adders and otters were spotted. Also, during one night a grasshopper warbler was heard which is an ongoing vibrating noise. A visit to a graveyard close to Ardlussa revealed a sheltering new two day old lamb and a very protective mother.
Saturday 22nd April 2017 — Beinn Each & Stuc a'Chroin
8 members turned out : John F, Kevin, Anne, Gerry, Toril, Andrew, Fiona and Chris T. We agreed at the outset to simplify the logistics and return to the start after descending from Stuc a'Chroin. There is a well worn path up to the track in Glen Ample. At the watershed, there is not only a path up the hill, but a prominent sign-post, so it is difficult to miss. This takes an impressive route along the edge of steep ground and the ascent seemed effortless. Anyone expecting an easy continuation to Stuc a'Chroin would have been somewhat discouraged by the drop to be negotiated next. This was made a little easier by contouring around several small summits, rather than over them. Not being on top form, I decided to throw in the towel at the Bealach Glas and was content to walk back over a couple of them and met up with Gerry who'd intended to do just the Corbett anyway. The 6 stalwarts stormed the Munro as well. The steep ascent to the summit of Stuc a'Chroin was rewarded by a panoramic view of the south of Scotland stretching from the mountains of Arran to the Firth of Forth and even as far as south as Skidaw in the Lake District. There was also a grand view of Ben Vorlich but that was for another day and we returned via the Bealach Glas and down over rough heather slopes to reach the track of Glen Ample. The party managed to all met in the Broch Cafe at about the same time. A great day with bursts of sunshine, and none of the snow or hail showers promised by the forecast.
Andrew & Chris
Saturday 8th April 2017 — A'Ghlas-bheinn & Carnan Cruithneachd, Morvich
Eight of us met in Fort William for the drive to Morvich, near Shiel Bridge, where we would meet another member. Once there, it transpired that most thought that it was too big a day to do both hills, with only one happy to do the two (that was Gavin!). Suzanne, Norman and Andrew decided to climb Carnan Cruithneachd, while Fiona, Robert, Ann (guest) and I did the Munro. Gavin joined us with the intention of leaving us at or near the summit to carry on to the Graham, and Gerry did a low-level walk. For the third week-end in a row, the weather was kind to us, with little wind, no rain and high cloud, so we looked forward to a good day. We all started off together, but separated at the bridge over the Abhainn Chonaig.
Our five headed up the good path along Gleann Choinneachain to the Bealach an Sgairne, where the ascent really started. A'Ghlas-bheinn is what I would call a “bumpy” hill that teases. We climbed up craggy bumps only to find another one in front and with some easy scrambling as well. There were extensive views over Loch a'Bhealaich to Sgurr Gaorsaic (a Corbett) and Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan (a big Munro)and down Gleann Gniomhaidh to Glen Affric. Also to Beinn Fhada and back to Morvich, as well as Carnan Cruithneachd, which looked like a great little hill (for another day!). At the summit, we took a break before starting the descent. Gavin left us and headed over to climb Carnan Cruithneachd. We could see him going down the NE ridge which was the way we were also headed. The descent started steeply but levelled out going past the lochans on the west and then steeply again to the Bealach na Sroine, where we joined the well-made path from the Falls of Glomach. At the forest, we joined a track through the forest to Dorusduain. But here we missed the path to the foot-bridge, but decided to carry on along the tarmac private road, arriving back at Morvich by a slightly extended route. The view back to our hill showed a hill with character with great gulleys gouged into its flank. A great day, especially for Robert who completed his 99th Munro.
We joined the others who were already back, including Gavin, at Norman's caravan in the caravan park where we enjoyed refreshments courtesy of Norman.
Andrew, Norman and I decided to just do the Graham - Carnan Cruithnead, A'Ghlas-bheinn munro being the other option for the day. The day dawned unexpectedly bright and sunny, the promise of good things to come. We set off with the other members from the campsite at Morvich. We were greeted by a bank of primroses close to the river Abhaim Chonaig. After walking with the other munro bagging members for about an hour, we went northwards using various forest tracks, some of which were quite steep.
After four hours of walking we made it to the top which was accompanied by the most spectacular views which quite took your breath away. We were able to enjoy our sandwiches in glorious sunshine. We then walked over to the Bealach an Sgaire and joined a luxury path which took us all the way back down to the bottom. We then joined the minor road back to the caravan park. Norman very kindly offered his caravan as a refreshment stop. The munro baggers joined us an hour later.
Sunday 2nd April 2017 — Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg & Saileag, Cluanie
The weather forecast was good, with light winds, no rain and the possibility of sun. But when we arrived at the Cluanie Inn, we could see rain in the glen and there was fresh snow and cloud on the hills. And one of us had forgotten their waterproof trousers, so was hoping that the forecast was correct. There were eight of us, Toril, Fiona, Robert, Angela (guest and prospective new member), Isobel, Ken, Charlotte and me, and after leaving a car at the end point, we set off. Initially the going was very wet underfoot, but we soon started to climb and things improved. It was steep and we could see patches of snow ahead. Some took ice axes, but it turned out that they were never needed. On the approach to Sgurr an Fhuarail, we looked back and saw below us a herd of deer about twenty strong. Inevitably, with such a number of walkers, we became strung out, but after passing the Munro Top of Sgurr an Fhuarail, we all reached the first Munro, Aonach Meadhoin. Fortunately, the rain had disappeared and so had the cloud, leaving us with uninterupted views all around. We were trying to identify our objectives for the day, and could easily see the next Munro, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg but could not figure out where the final Munro of the day, Saileag, was. What we could see was a steep, pointy hill with two summits, a long way away that did not look like Saileag. However, when we summitted Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, it all became clear. Saileag, being the lowest of the three Munros (it is even lower than the Munro Top of Sgurr an Fhuarail), looking from Aonach Meadhoin, it was completely hidden behind Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, and the pointy hills that we could see were Sgurr nan Spainteach and Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. That was something of a relief as they were high and about three km away. The ridge that we were walking on was quite narrow in places with some easy scrambling, but the approach to the summit of Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg was impressive. It is a short but bouldery ridge with a large and well-constructed cairn at the top. The cairn has a flat top that some of our members climbed on to to have their photos taken. It was then comparatively plain-sailing on to Saileag and down the other side to the Bealach an Lapain. The final part of the walk entailed a steep 550m descent down a grassy slope to the car park, followed by a car shuttle-service to the Cluanie Inn for coffee.
Saturday 25th March 2017 — A'Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim, Dalwhinnie
The weather forecast was good and there was no avalanche threat, so five of us, Chris, Robert, Kevin, Jessie and I, set off with high hopes for a good day. With clear skies, we could see that there was snow on the hills, but our hills looked OK. The track taking us on to the hill is well-made and easy to follow, although higher up there were significant patches of snow to negotiate. Arriving on the plateau at the 902m point, we turned right to follow another track and fence posts going south to A'Bhuidheanach, then A'Bhuidheanach Mhor and A'Bhuidheanach Bheag. The views were impressive enabling us to see hills all 360 degrees around, and at several points on the walk, there was debate as to which hills we were looking at. Although it was so clear, the plateau is virtually featureless, so we had to navigate carefully. The track and fence posts were useful but did not always coincide, so we actually missed A'Bhuidheanach Mhor on the way to A'Bhuidheanach Bheag. However, we took it in on the way back as it is a Munro Top. We retraced our steps to the 902m point and then headed NNE following the fence posts again to Carn na Caim. On the whole walk, we were moving between snow about ankle-deep to patches of grass and heather, but approaching Carn na Caim, there was more snow. Trying to identify the hills that we could see, we thought that we could see Braeriach beyond the Gaick Pass and Glen Feshie. While in the other direction, we could see Ben Alder and nearer was Meall Chuaich, the other Munro to the east of the A9. To descend, we decided to take the direct line going west and to the north of Coire Uilleim. It was a good decision as it was not only shorter, but the ridge we were on had significantly less snow than the one to the south. The whole area is managed grouse moor and we put up a good number especially coming down. But a feature of this walk that is different from others is the number of mountain hares. We saw a good number in their white coats, although the two ptarmigan that we saw had lost their winter plumage.
When we stopped for coffee in Dalwhinnie, it was obvious that it had been a sunny day as several of us were sun-burnt. A good day on two Munros that although not spectacular, are definitely different, and this on a day when the weather was fantastic.
Saturday 11th March 2017 — Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm, Glenfinnan
“The Coire Thollaidh Horseshoe”
It was 11°C in North Ballachulish at 0600 and raining. This did not bode well for a full-on winter circuit. Indeed, the forecast was predicting a temperature at 900m of +3°C. However, its main feature was the promise of a DRY DAY, if a bit cloudy. It was still drizzling at Fort William where we all (Robert, Alex, Andrew, Gavin, Chris and Matthew) gathered at 0800. We pressed on enthusiastically to Glenfinnan, our trust rewarded as the weather dried up on arrival.
The little car park was busy with several parties preparing to set off. We took the new forest road on the East side of the river up Glen Finnan, rejoining the old route just before the stalkers' path up the flank of Sgurr a' Choire Riabhaich. A guided party of 6 or so was just ahead of us. Both groups were moving at a similar pace so we interacted frequently throughout the day.
We were in cloud at about 400m, but it was lifting and moving about as we climbed. Patches of snow were soft as expected, and the ground was saturated with melt-water. At the summit of Sgurr nan Coireachan, Gavin set off alone at speed to bag Meall an Fhir-eoin. The rest of us plodded along the ridge towards Sgurr Thuilm, 5Km away. Tantalising views came and went. After a last long ascent to the second Munro summit, a long knee-cracking descent to the River Finnan and a long walk out, to finish at sunset.
It was a good day on this iconic mountain circuit, with great potential for splendid views, which unfortunately eluded us. The effort required should not be underestimated. This would be less on a clear dry summer day, or better still on an honest winter day, sparkling bright and frozen, rather than in the soggy season in between. My GPS logged 24Km and 1500m up and down.
Sunday 5th March 2017 — An Caisteal/Beinn a'Chroin, Crianlarich
Only three of us on this walk, Andrew, Toril and me. The low numbers are partly because of a shortage of people in Fort William with cars, and on this day, not the weather.
The day was dry with little wind, but the cloud was down on the tops. We set off up the new mini-hydro scheme road and left it after about two km to climb on to Sron Gharbh. Here we encountered the snow which was soft. Going up Twistin Hill was easy as there had been other walkers ahead of us to flatten the snow. Higher up, we entered the cloud and the snow became harder with ice underneath. On reaching the summit of An Caisteal, the visibility was poor and we could not see the snow conditions over to Beinn a'Chroin, and with an avalanche forecast of ‘considerable’, we decided to leave Beinn a'Chroin for another day. For the first part of the descent, we used our ice axes and crampons (the first time for me this winter), but were soon able to remove them. Part of the way down, we came across a pair of ptarmigan in winter plumage. To vary the route down, we decided to leave the ridge early and drop into Coire Eich and make for the end of the mini-hydro scheme road at its dam in Coire Earb. Then it was back along the road to the car and the Tyndrum Inn for coffee.
Sunday 19th February 2017 — Sgurr Eilde Mor, Kinlochleven
With the weather forecast being not very good—low cloud and winds up to 40 mph, there were only two of us out—Toril and me. In Kinlochleven, the temperature was about 8 degrees, very warm for February, and there was a light rain in the air. So we used our rain covers for the ruc-sacks and set off up the steep but clear path. As the weather was so warm, we left our ice axes and crampons in the car. Although we could not see the tops of the hills for the cloud, we had seen the hills on the way had very little and patchy snow. There had been rain over the previous days and the snow was obviously melting, making the burns run high. We therefore decided not to follow the planned route, but take the track along Loch Eilde Mor for about one and a half km, and then go up the path going north. This avoided the crossing of the burn coming out of the corrie to the west of Sgurr Eilde Beag. The path climbed steadily and was very wet, but took us to the spectacular waterfall below Sgurr Eilde Mor. This is the outflow from Coire an Lochain, and we realised that crossing that burn might prove difficult. It was! But Toril was determined not to be beaten, and so gathered some stones to put in the burn to provide us with a stepping stone. And it worked! The ascent from there was steep with several boulder fields, but the summit was gained. The wind was cold but not very strong, so after a break, we started the descent, but down the west ridge. There was a path of sorts, but the upper part was made up of very wet and loose scree with patches of soft snow. This took us to the path leading back to the col where we turned east to regain our upward route. The weather dried up and we got some views down Loch Leven, but the rain arrived just as we got back to the car.
We had coffee in a very busy Ice Factor.
Saturday 11th February 2017 — Ben Oss & Beinn Dubhcraig, Tyndrum
This was a good day for weather—clear skies and light winds. There was even snow on the hills! The track from Dalrigh took us, Chris, Toril, Matthew, Alex and me, to the Allt Gleann Auchreoch, where the old bridge is no longer usable. So we spent a bit of time trying to find a way across, while keeping our feet dry. This accomplished, we followed the path through the lovely old caledonian pine forest until it opened out on to the hill, where we encountered the snow. We could see several other groups ahead on the hill, so we set off in the fairly deep snow with Toril breaking trail. We aimed for the col between the two Munros, and though it is not steep, it was hard work in the snow. On reaching the col, there was some debate about which hill to do first. It was decided to climb Beinn Dubhcraig and then come back to the col and work out what to do next (correct decision?). On the way to the summit, we were passed on their way down by two walkers heading for Ben Oss. The wind at the summit was very cold and strong, so we did not hang around. On returning to the col, we could see the other two walkers on their approach to Ben Oss, and judged that if they had only reached that point, we would not have the time to climb Ben Oss and return in daylight. So yet again, Ben Oss had defeated us!
To avoid having to cross the burn again, we headed for the upper reaches of Allt Gleann Auchreaoch where crossing was easier, and joined a track going north to meet up with our outward route. And yet again, no ice axe or crampons were needed (although they were carried).
We enjoyed after-walk refreshments in the Tyndrum Inn.
The top of Beinn Dubhcraig came into view as we entered Tyndrum, a welcome sight after the cloud that was lingering around Bridge of Orchy. Five of us, Alex, Chris, John, Matthew and Toril, set off up the track over the river and railway. The lower section of the walk took us through Coille Coire Chuilc, a beautiful remnant of Old Caledonian Pine Forest. We reached the snow line at around the top of the woods and made our way across the snow that had accumulated in the broad bowl of the Coire Dubhcraig. Once on the western shoulder of the corrie the conditions changed a mix of snow powder in the hollows and the shelter of stones and ice where the wind had removed the snow or sculptured it into patterns. The avalanche risk had lowered overnight to moderate but the accumulations of blown snow on the west to north slopes was still very evident. Beyond the peak Ben Lui looked all the more majestic with its covering of snow and ice.
We reached to top of Beinn Dubhcraig in the face of a cold north east wind. The corrie had provided good shelter from this wind on the way up and after taking in the view down Loch Lomond we retreated back to the shelter of the beallach for something to eat. The original intention had been to do Ben Oss as well but after discussion we realised that we were at risk of returning in the dark if we attempted it so, with some reluctance, we decided to leave it to another day. Our decision then confirmed after by a walker who had turned back and reported heavy going on the route back up to the beallach. The quote to remember "Ben Oss will be there tomorrow.......make sure you are too".
A beautiful winter walk with panoramic views......we'll be back for Ben Oss one day.
Sunday 5th February 2017 — Stob Coire a'Chearcaill, Ardgour
Another walk in the snow! But still no need for ice axe or crampons.
As we, Charlotte, Andrew, Toril and I, made the approach to the hill along a fine estate road up Cona Glen, we could see the tops had a fair amount of snow. But even before we left the track, the cloud came down to obscure the tops. Going along the track, two stags very kindly posed for us in the woods, where there are some old and impressive trees. The ascent of Sgurr an Iubhair was steep but OK. At about 500m we encountered the first of the snow, but it also started to come down on us as well. Higher, visibility decreased and the views disappeared. It was to be another day testing our navigation skills. After reaching the small cairn at the summit of Sgurr an Iubhair, maps, compass and GPS were called into play to head over the fairly broad ridge to Stob Coire a'Chearcaill. The snow was fairly deep but also quite soft, so slowed us down a bit. On reaching the substantial cairn at the summit, navigation skills were called into use again. We had only taken one car over the ferry, as there were only the four of us, so had decided to do the shortened walk along the edge of Coire a'Chearcaill. What we could see of the coire was quite impressive, with sheer cliffs, some of bare rock and others covered in ice with cornices. On the way down, in the snow was a pair of ptarmigan which we would not have seen if they had not decided to walk away from us. As we descended, we came out of the cloud and the views opened up across Loch Linnhe. The descent was wet and slippery but uneventful. Charlotte had come down to the Corran Ferry by bus from Fort William and had to catch one back, so we hurried to the ferry and then made our own ways home.
Sunday 22nd January 2017 — Sgorr nam Fiannaidh
On exiting the cars, we looked up at the hill and it appeared to be really steep, although we could not see the summit which was hidden in cloud. However, the six of us, John F, Matthew, Toril, Mary, Kevin and I set off and soon found the "faint footpath" mentioned in the route description. It was steep and became steeper, but it led us up into the cloud where there was also a light covering of snow. Higher, we encountered a boulder field which meant that we then lost the path. Walking on the steep, snow covered rocks was tricky and required a lot of concentration, and also slowed us down. A short snow flurry added a little to the snow on the ground. We continued up and found bits of path that took us on to the ridge just to the west of the summit cairn and collapsed trig point. There was very little visibility and so it was decided not to extend the walk to Stob Coire Leith but just to descend. Navigation was difficult in the cloud but with the use of map, compass and GPS we found the path that led us to the Pap of Glencoe path. That took us out of the cloud and down to the road where we split up. John F, Mary and Kevin walked back to where we had left a car, while Toril, Matthew and I walked along the path that parallels the road to the Clachaig Inn, where we all met up for refreshments. A short but enjoyable day in conditions that were not ideal but could have been a lot worse.
Saturday 14th January 2017 — Beinn Iaruinn and Leana Mhor, Glen Gloy
Six of us (John, Charlotte, Robert, Matthew, Chris and myself) turned out for the walk from Glen Gloy. The walk was supposed to start from the end of the road but because of fresh snow and frost it was not sensible to drive up the glen. So instead we started from the foot of the glen. To start we followed the forestry track before heading up past crags near Creag Mholach. We then headed up more directly to the summit of Coire Ceirsle Hill. We arrived at the top at around 10:30. The views from the summit were stunning as we could see a long way in all directions. And we all enjoyed being in sunshine.
From this summit we walked along the ridge to Leana Mhor. The snow cover was fairly thin except where it had drifted with the strong winds we had last week. The walking started off easily enough but got much rougher at the low point of the ridge. But it was worth the effort: the views were again fantastic. We found somewhere a little more out of the wind on the east face of the hill, and from here we had a great view of Glen Roy's parallel roads. The snow and low sun made the parallel roads very visible. This was one of the best views I've seen of them.
We then dropped down to the col before Beinn Iaruinn. From here John and Charlotte dropped down into the glen while the rest of us headed up steeply onto Beinn Iaruinn. By now there was rather more cloud coming in from the west. Now we dropped down to head out along Beinn Og and over the 595m summit. Two of us managed to get wet feet at the col. Matthew found a deep hole in the snow with water at the bottom. But at the summit we had the last of the sun before it set into a bank of cloud low on the horizon. We descended quickly into the glen. On the way I had a quick look for the cave marked on the map, but couldn't see it. From memory, I think it is actually higher than shown, just below the upper crags of the landslip area.
We descended the track to the road end. By now it was getting dark and we still had to walk at least two and a half miles down the road back to the cars. We didn't get there until 5:30. It was a long hard day when we did more than the programmed walk, but it was a very good day nevertheless.
Sunday 8th January 2017 — Sgurr na h'Eanchainne, Ardgour
The route description for this walk states that this hill is one of the best viewpoints in Lochaber. Unfortunately, we were not to see any of those views. Waiting for the ferry at the Corran narrows, the mist was very low on the hills, including the one we were aiming for. This also meant that today was to be one that would test our navigation skills.
After alighting from the ferry, we, Liz, Ken, Matthew, Toril, Fiona and me, walked down the A861 (a single-track road!) to the graveyard at Cille Mhaodain, where a sign told us that it was the burial ground for the MacLeans of Ardgour. We had a cursory look at some of the old and not-so-old gravestones before heading up the hill on a path that followed the SW side of a burn. After about a km, we could see (well, almost!) that the burn appeared to go into a gorge, so decided to head west leaving the burn to make for the col. Maps, compass and GPS were all utilised to enable us to reach a point just to the south of the col, where we turned south on to the north ridge of Sgurr na h'Eanchainne. Almost immediately we came across a line of fence posts and path that took us in the right direction, and shortly reached the trig point and cairn at the summit. We then had to negotiate the indistinct ridge to the high point of the walk on Meall Dearg Choire nam Muc.There was no let-up in the weather, with the mist now turning to light rain and a westerly wind in our faces. En route, we encountered several lochans and lumps and bumps before reaching a lochan that we thought might be the one near to the summit. However, on checking the GPS, we concluded that it was not and so carried on for a short distance to the correct lochan and the summit.
Our route down then took us SE and south down grassy slopes that became steeper. We came out of the mist and could see the forest ahead. Unfortunately, some of the forest had been harvested and so we had to negotiate our way through the brash left behind. That brought us out at some houses and a track that took us the last two (long!) km back to the ferry. Unfortunately, Liz had received some bad news on the way down and needed to get home, so after the ferry crossing, we all made our separate ways home. (As the Inn in Ardgour was closed until 4.00pm, there was nowhere to get coffee, anyway)