Munro with the Kids…
A weekend in with the kids was planned as the better half was out for a couple of days. My daughter has been up perhaps 10 Munros but it’s been a few years since she has been out, my son on the other hand has no interest in the outdoors, much more happy with the comforts of home. Previous trips with the weeman included a short walk to the summit of Cairngorm mountain from Ptarmigan on glorious April day in 2015 but he did well to summit Ben Ledi also the same year…. But that’s it, I often offer to take him away but not wanting to force him and perhaps drive him away from the hills for life (I remember what I thought of being forced to do thing when younger!!) I usually leave it at that….
So imagine my surprise (and delight) when at breakfast on Sunday morning, he announces he wants to head up a mountain! Within 10 minutes I had the car packed and ready to go before minds could change ;) I quickly decided on Meall nan Tarmachan, not too difficult or far away and pretty decent views from the top… The forecast was ok – a little windy and cold but only a few showers forecast…. The main car park was busy as we arrived around 12 o’clock.
Like a grey hound out of the trap, the wee man was off!!! “Pace yourself!!” was answered by –“ it’s easy - I am pacing myself”. Of course about 45 minutes later the pace had slowed and sweeties were required for an extra energy boost. He was doing well though and the final steep pull was not a problem. Even when a rogue hail storm battered us just before the summit he pushed on. It cleared and we were rewarded at the summit with great views….
Of course there were a few moans headed up the hill, so I tried to keep interest going by offering rewards and also getting him involved in map reading and route choice (well there is a path – but one can go up a hill in various ways ;)!!).
So a fine day was had in the Perthshire hills. Not sure if I’ll get another family day out in the hills soon but we will see if I get any more breakfast surprises as the summer continues ……. It’s a great feeling sharing TGO with loved ones and being a proud dad at the end of a mountain day J
Beinn a’Bha’ ach Ard
With the longer days and the recent decent weather, I set about my recent mood for bagging some more Corbetts. As I described in a recent Vlog when headed up Creag Rainich, I go through spells of bagging when most of the time I am not too bothered about lists and Munro and Corbett bagging.
However at the moment I have the bug to bag! The only problem is that the hills I need to bag are getting further and further away!! As time was short I did some research and realised there was Corbett at the proximal end of Glen Strathfarrar that (with the aid of a bike) I could bag in a shorter time slot. As I parked up just shy of locked gate, memories came flooding back of my last visit….
On a three day walking trip with my brother Ross a few years back, our last day were the four Munros in Strathfarrar. All was well with the world and after a couple of great days in Torridon we got the cars strategically placed in the Glen for a quick getaway. Although legs were tired we made good progress, having left my car at the start point and his at the end point to save a long walk back along the road. This was great and as we approached the end of the walk we complimented each other on our quick round and also the thought of extra brownie points for getting home ahead of schedule. As we de-kitted the sun shone, but our moods rapidly deteriorated in a short period of time! After packing everything into the car we got comfy and it was then that things started to go wrong. The car failed to start!! It wasn’t an old car – in fact it was a pretty new one – jus past its three year warranty. Checking radios and lights we couldn’t see what would have drained the battery?? I the set off on his bike to get to my car to try and source some jump leads and luckily a kid gent on a drive up the glen stopped and helped outJ However after an hour of faffing – still nothing L We then had to head back down the Glen to get a signal and phone the RAC! I sat in the car park and eventually the pickup appeared. I said my good byes and headed off – leaving my brother with anther drive up the Glen to the car – i got home about 11pm – he didn’t reach Glasgow until 3am!! The issue – a failed timing belt – disaster…
Anyway back to today and the sun was shining again. The hill was Beinn a’Bha’ ach Ard and much closer to the mouth of the Glen. I cycled up past the power station and to my delight found that the ATV track continued steeply up the hill after the dam. I got off the bike and decided to push it up as far as I could. This hindered progress but I knew it would help en route home!!!
I was really struggling though and realised I hadn’t eaten for about 5 hrs. A quick refuel and I was soon plodding my way up the heathery slopes. Good views opened up to the west and I was soon rewarded at the summit by expansive views to the flat lands with the Kessock Bridge drawing the eye as the sea loomed behind! Not a bad wee hill and a quick trot to the bike and then an exhilarating cycle back saw my completing the route in under 3 hrs. Another one bagged – not sure how many more I’ll fit in to this spell of bagging but tats 5 Corbett’s in the last three weeks – not too bad J
Bumps and Bags…
Lists….. and ticking things off…… becomes an addiction to many of us… If you are reading this blog then you may also have this affliction in context with mountains and hills!
Some are called Munro Baggers, some just baggers and some look down on this sub section with scorn and ridicule, why do you need to have not climbed a hill to head out etc etc
In some respects I think I fall into both categories (or is it a sliding scale!!?). It really just depends on what mood takes me…. I think the real addiction is just getting out and about and that certainly keeps me satisfied, but then adding in an unclimbed hill and adding to that “tick list” of climbed hills seems to add to the need to get out there!!
There are advantages to this though and perhaps some disadvantages too (there’s always a Yin to the Yang). My last adventure highlights one of the advantages… Creag Rainich in the NW highlands sits between the Fannich Range and the Fisherfield hills with An Teallach to the North. It’s a pretty dull looking hill with a relatively long approach. If I weren’t ticking off the Corbetts - would I have travelled three and a half hours in the car to get here then cycle for an hour to reach the bottom of the hill ?? Probably not… However, as is often the case with the Corbetts, the hill itself is a little rounded but my god the views from the top were well worth the effort! So this little bump of a mountain was put in the bag and another Corbett was ticked off the list…
Of course the fact that there were unbroken blue skies and crystal clear clarity helped, but doesn’t it always;)
The day started at the usual time (no need to get up super early as the days are long , plus the forecast suggested the winds to drop through the day!). A quick bowl of porridge washed down with some Kenco and I was ready for the drive. Past the numerous roadworks I was on the Kessock Bridge by the back of nine. The sun was shining down but Wyvis was cloudy on the northern horizon. It didn’t bother me though as I was headed west and the chances of this North Sea clag reaching the west coast were slight (well according to Judith at the weather centreJ). Up past Aultguish and then a left at the Braemore Junction. A few weeks earlier I had taken the same road, in the same glorious weather, the only difference was the peaks were white and I was headed for Teallach!
After three and a half hours I pulled up at a very busy parking bay. Looked like the Munro Baggers were hitting The Fannichs! Bike out, bag packed and I was off to bag my Corbett….. An hour later (and after a rather bumpy, gravelly cycle – not sure the bike helped too much on this one!) I as stashing my bike away at end of the loch relatively close to the Lochiveroan Bothy…
White horses skipped along The Loch and I was hoping Judith was going to be right in that the breeze was to diminish through the day! Otherwise it would be a hard fought cycle back!!
The hill looked like a gentle slope from here… According to my calculations I would only be ascending about 600m due to my starting height being near 200m. The going was good – very good in fact.. Although there were no paths, the recent dry spell meant that even the boggiest sections were bone dry!
I was soon on the minor top of Meall Dubh were the view opened up. The sky was blue and Sgurr Ban and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair looked amazing-a grand time to be having a crack at The Fisherfield Six (or should that be Five now that a demotion has occurred ;))….
With a big smile on my face I made the short descent and re ascent to reach the Corbett’s summit….
An hour later, after soaking in the views and playing with the cameras, I decided to head back, thoroughly pleased with my experience (and also bagging a new Corbett!;)).
For a remote location, the use of the bike meant it only took about 90 minutes to get back to the car. If only the ca journey were the same time!!
So a fine outing in fine weather and another Corbett bagged – not doing too badly that’s four in last two weeks ;) Maybe a finer achievement than bagging four Munros? ( I’ll leave that can of worms for another blog I think….)
The Holy Island – Kayaking and hiking to Mullach Mor - 1st May 2017
After a superb couple of days adventuring around Arran, we had come to our last day.
Finally the seas had calmed a little after some stiff easterly winds and we had a chance to cross to The Holy Island and explore Mullach Mor!
Another leisurely start and we were on the water not long after 10am… The effects of the easterly winds were soon felt as we journeyed further from shore but we soon reached the Holy Isle without too much drama. A welcoming party of goats came to see what the large orange pieces of plastic were before they went on with their day unfazed by our arrival… A quick change and we were soon on our way around to the main track up the hill. A helpful sign points the way “To The Top” and once again we found ourselves heading uphill!
A grand well kept track soon had us on the minor top of Mullach Beag where we stopped for some snacks whilst enjoying the views across Arran.
A short lived steep section soon followed before levelling off toward the summit. A trig point with some atmospheric prayer flags was reached. Time to relax and enjoy the setting. We were lucky to have the top to ourselves and as the ferry hadn’t reached the Island as of yet. Having had The Holy Island in our sights all weekend , it was grand to be here on the top with the land dropping off into the sea in all directions- a special place and probably my second favourite top in Arran (it’s hard to beat Cit Mhor!!!). The night before we had headed up a promontory above the coast to watch the sunset behind the Arran mountains but the views in the opposite direction to Holy Island were just as good !!!
After some time soaking in the views we descend steeply south dropping down to the light houses and then following the path around the western shore and back to the kayaks. Before long we had made the crossing back to Lamlash and then back to catch the Ferry at Brodick.
A fine adventure and what a place Arran is!! Superb!
Arran’s Corbetts- 29th April 2017
Friday evening had arrived and we had set Ardrossan as our meeting point. A quick hello, and bags were soon being carried to the Ferry Terminal for the 18.00 sailing.
We had chosen the same date to visit Arran as nearly every Cub Scout in the land and the Jamboree was set to take part in Lamlash – our destination also – was it going to be busy!!!!
The forecast was set dry but a little breezy and that was the case as we headed along Shore Road in Lamlash, a little later than usual on Saturday morning. No Ferry to catch until Monday and we knew time wasn’t going to be an issue. A cracking breakfast at the Old Pier Café was a grand way to start the day. Bacon and eggs rolls and a coffee had us fuelled up as we started up a sunny Glen Rosa.
The clouds scuttled by and we gradually gained height with some lovely easy scrambling along Beinn a’ Chliabhain. A short drop to a shallow Bealach was followed by the ascent to Beinn Tarsuinn – the first Corbett of the day. The walking was fantastic and the cloud was still steering clear of the tops – for the time being!!
Next up and we decided on Caisteal Abhain , returning to bag the magnificent Cir Mhor on the descent…. We skirted round Glen Sannox with great views to the sea on both side, but within a space of 10-15 minutes the cloud lowered by about 500m and we were soon deprived of the vistas- just goes to show how quickly things can change up here!! The wind was howling as we reached the summit of Caisteal Abhain and in contrast with the prior few hours the views were very grey!!!!!
Not hanging around we descended back to the bealach and set about climbing Cir Mhor… And what a mountain this is, must be one of the most scenic hills in Scotland – the climbs on its south face look mazing too – must return one day!!
Views were disappointingly nil on the summit L - however a great reason to return in the future!
Our thoughts now focussed on a speedy return down Glen Rosa to Brodick as we were thirsty for a Pint! We made it to the winehouse just before they stopped serving food. A few pints and fish and chips were lashed up- an absolutely superb outing in the hills of Arran
23rd April 2017. First mountain route (where hands were required!) for some time. An absolutely classic route to the top of this iconic mountain. We started off in blustery cold conditions but apart from a few rogue snow showers we kept dry all da. Alternated the roped pitches, it was just getting back on the bike after a lay off! Much fun and what a location this is. Absolutely smashing ;)
Glen Tilt and The Falls of Tarf
An ancient Glen with a considerable amount of history and also a nice gradient for cycling back down, was the pick of the afternoon as I became child free for five hoursJ
Having just an afternoon, and the fact that it was blowing a hoolie on the high tops I decided that I wanted to visit and photograph the Falls of Tarf.
I had been up the Glen on a number of occasions to Carn a’ Chlamain but had never ventured to the Falls… Having recently read Alex Roddies excellent work – The Atholl Expedition, I decided I wanted to have a look further up the Glen…
So, having dropped the kids off in rural Perthshire for an afternoon with their grand parents, I set on heading for Blair Atholl. However for the second time in a week, progress was brought to a halt south of Pitlochry as the traffic works added about 30minutes to my journey and reduced my time in TGO!!
I eventually reached the Glen Tilt car park, unloaded my gear and set off… The wind was blowing a few light showers through but nothing too bad… Familiar sights came and went (Marble Lodge and the two bridges) and I was soon passing by Forrest Lodge. The only time I had been this far up the Glen was to bag An Sgarsoch and its neighbour many moons ago. I remember the journey back being super-fast and very enjoyable and was confident I could return down the Glen much quicker than I ascended it!!!
Soon the Glen narrowed and the River Tilt was forced into a straight course, a curving to the north and I knew I wasn’t too far from the falls J
I left the bike about 200metres shy of the falls and continued on foot waiting for the bridge and falls to come into sight. I was now well behind schedule and realised I was in the middle of nowhere, however I was confident I could make my time up on the descent?
The Falls were cracking but I didn’t have much time so I set about getting some footage which almost proved expensive!! As I took the drone up the Falls I noticed a black shape circling above it – an eagle was eying up the drone. I quickly brought it back down an decided to try and get some photos. The light wasn’t great but I did what I could before time eventually caught up with me…..
Running back to the bike I still had confidence in a speedy run down the Glen – WRONG!!
The head wind was ferocious and I am sure I was cycling harder downhill than I was on the way up!! Haha
Anyhoos got back to the car – rather tired then another sit in traffic on the A9 before collecting the kid sJ
I will return and make sure I have more time – looks like a cracking spot to wild camp too….
Short Video from previous wild camp up the Glen....
Knoydart Kayak to Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhuarain
This trip had been discussed for nearly four years (well since the last time we crossed Loch Quoich in a kayak!) and we had finally scheduled it and marked it in the diaries. The last time it was Gairich (see link below) and the weather was fine and calm. The waters of the loch were like a mirror and we sat on top of Gairich at 8am looking down over Knoydart!
This time we looked to be heading up Sgurr Mor and Sgur an Fhuarain, which required a slightly longer paddle and a camp on the far side of the loch. The problem was that this time the forecast wasn’t looking as pretty as the last venture!! Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t a bad forecast, we just wanted nice calm waters for the crossing to enjoy the paddle. A westerly 15-20mph would make the crossing a little more interesting and much concentration would be required!
We decided to head up and have a look at the paddle with a hill climb on the northern shores as a plan B should we deem the weather too poor for a crossing (it’s the return journey we were thinking off!!).
However as the weekend approached, the forecast took a turn for the better ;) A glorious Saturday afternoon drive through the Highlands under blue skies saw us arrive at our put in point around 17.00. After the usually faffing and checks we eventually started paddling around 18.00. The conditions were perfect, blue skies, calm waters and no midges!!!
!!! A leisurely paddle and we made it too the southern shore of Loch Quoich where the Allt a’ Choire Bhuide meets the loch. A short scout about and we decided on camping on a sandy bay (hoping the waters of the Loch would rise to quickly ;). Camp set, tea had and we enjoyed a rather good sunset. The near full moon rose and the brightness was amazing, we even contemplated a night ascent of the hills given the conditions! No wind and lit by moon light in the middle of nowhere it was a grand evening.
We decided not to go for a night ascent and eventually headed to bed after some star gazing and photos.
05.45, and It was time to get up. Knowing the weather was deteriorating (a halo round the moon the night before was nice to look at but also suggested some weather was approaching from the west!). we got going early. The cloud was down on the tops but the wind was still light lower down and the loch flat clam.
Up Sgurr Mor first, and after a bit of a slog we eventually disappeared into the cloud but made the summit at 10 am. No views and a strong wind, we soon got going and in under an hour we were stood on a breezy Sgurr an Fhuarain. The cloud was starting to lift off the summits now and the views east over to Gairich were grand.
Keen to get back across the loch we headed north and then west at the col to reach the path we had ascended in the Corrie.
By 11.45 we were striking camp. The flat calm loch had now relinquished its mirror like appearance and replaced the mirror with some white horses!! Care was required on the crossing as the now stiff westerly wind had caused a choppy crossing with the waves side on. We made a direct bee line for the northern shore to minimise the time in the middle of the loch where it was most choppy and soon we were hand railing to northern shore finally reaching the calm bays were we had set off from.
By 13.00 the rain was on but we were now headed south and back home.
A grand 24hr adventure J
The weekend had been good but no outdoor mountain fun was planned.. – that was until I saw a forecast for Sunday afternoon and evening! With the longer days and sun setting a little later I took a chance and packed my bags to head for Inverlochlarig – deep in Rob Roy territory!
My last (and only) previous trip to Inverlochlarig was a on dull , murky Hogmanay many moons ago which turned into one of my most memorable hill days as I climbed through the cloud to the most spectacular inversion I have witnessed. That was on the Corbett Stob a’ Choin.
Today was glorious but I had my sights on the giant that is Stob Binnein. I left home about 14.00 and arrived at the car park around 15.30. It’s straight up until about 700m contour but this gains height quickly and the views open up with spectacular results! I took a breather at Creag Artair and from here it really is a cracking sweeping shoulder that leads to the summit. The wind was picking up and by the time I reached the summit it was Baltic. I spent about 30minutes taking in the views but as the sun lowered – so did the cloud! A cue to leave and I made haste getting back to the car about 20.00 without the need for the head torch- love the longer nights ;)
5 days of glorious spring sunshine and Scotland’s Mountains were looking superb. A dump of snow before the high pressure set in had led to some very tempting conditions.
I had managed to head up one of An Teallachs Munros the week before but wanted another outing before the normality of the westerly gales and rain returned. So with the forecast breaking, I decided to squeeze in a late walk to one of the closer Munros – Ben Vorlich. The plan was initially a wild camp, however a squeeze on time meant that this became unrealistic- and I settled for a hike to catch the sunset.
Leaving the car at Advorlich, the skies were blue and the sun warm! The familiar track headed south and the views improved with height with the Lawers group emerging to the North and eventually the Trossachs and Central Highlands to the west. What an evening! The clarity was superb! I was beginning to wish I’d brought the tent, however after a few hours I was stood on the summit enjoying a cracking sunset.
There was a breeze on the summit but this dropped quickly as I descended in the growing gloom. The night was starting to come in but before it won out the Western skies put up one final defensive battle with the sky turning pink as the sun drifted away to brighten up another part of the world!! I was taking my time on descent making lots of photo stops. The wind was completely gone now and ambling down the path in still mild conditions , watching the stars appear one by one was the best part of the walk!
I made it back to car before 9 and was knackered. I had been up since 5am and when a red aurora alert appeared when back in the car, I didn’t have the energy t walk back up the hill. I decided I would find a nice spot with northern skies on the way home ad park up… However as I drove east the cloud moved in and my grand plans were scuppered!
The next day I saw lots of great shots on social media of the aurora from out west and also great inversions shots! If only I had summit camped – aurora over an inversion would’ve been nice – never mind – next time perhaps J
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...