Another weekend of forecast high winds, mild air and driving rain made us reconsider a plan to find a possible winter route (would’ve been struggling!) so we decided on something a little different.
With the Easter break coming up I wanted to check out the path around the northern shores of Loch Katrine. Bike loaded the night before (with some effort – darn Presta valve on front tyre ;)) and we had a leisurely start of 10.30. The forecast had actually improved overnight – suggesting a dry day – it was wrong and the forecast from a few days before came to deluge us… A heavy drizzle soaked us as we headed along the loch. However just as we reached the boathouse, it broke and we had 15 minutes of dryness which we took advantage of to take some photos… The rain soon returned and thoughts went to the possibility of catching the boat back!!
However we persevered as we soon saw Stronachlachan across the water- it looked close – it wasn’t!! The Loch twisted to the North West and a good bit of cycling was still required! The dilemma now was whether to have a brew at Stronachlachan or continue onto our initial destination – The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond…
We decided to carry on.
The mist and rain continued but as we descended down to Inversnaid some brightness in the sky suggested we may have made the correct decision. A memory from a by gone youth and a night in an old boat house as a 13 year old saw us investigate and travel a short distance along the iconic West Highland way…
A newer boat house now stood on a secluded bay (or so I am told!). A cracking spot for a spot of lunchJ The clouds started to part and lifted above some of the lower peaks of the Arrochar Alps across the water. Cars sped up the busy A82, but less than a kilometre away but we were experiencing wilderness (well it felt like it!) on a private beach in the Trossachs ;)
Coffee and bananas had and I led the way back to Inversnaid leaving my companion a little time to reminisce on a night in childhood in the old boat house. I waited at Inversnaid… and waited … and waited a little longer…. Eventually he emerged pushing the bike and waving over…. HIS BIKE HAD A FLAT – DISASTER! This was the furthest point from home!! However a foam inserting canister came to the rescue and worked very effectively… We headed back up the steep pull to Arklet and enjoyed a fine cycle back along Katrine to the car… A great day out J
Last August I headed into the hills above Glen Carron and whilst there did a vlog on my camping gear… However following the vlog I was getting lots of queries on what type of camera equipment I take into the mountains when making a video. So it’s only taken 8 months to do , but I made the below vlog detailing what camera I use:
It’s been a lean old winter and a brief chilly spell came along. Not having much time I decided on an early morning raid up a nearby hill, Ben Vrackie. Been up here loads and usually make at least four ascents in a winter season due to its proximity to home and proximity to a major road network (a good back up option when the weather is really bad!). I knew my timings and set he alarm for 04.33! Dragging my carcass out of bed, I was on the road by 05.15 and headed north on the A9. Arriving in the pitch black, I was soon heading up the familiar track from above Moulin. 5 minutes later and I realised I had forgotten my water – doh! – I considered leaving it , but quickly realised that would be silly! Back to the car and off we set again!
The good path was circularly lit by the head torch and I steadily made progress, hoping to reach the summit for sunrise (something I failed a last winter!). However about 50 vertical meters from the summit a bank of clag decided to settle on the mountain and I cut my losses and headed for the ridge in the vain hope that I may catch a glimpse of the eastern horizon! It was not to be, so I did my piece to camera about what camera equipment I use and headed to the nearby eastern summit.
As can often happen, the weather gods that dampened my spirits minutes before obviously felt sorry for me and within a few steps from the summit the southern horizon appeared above the clag – WOW – what a few! The sun was now above the land and I decided now to get camera 3 out of the bag (four cameras were used).
Camera 1 was The Sony DSC-HX9V compact system and was used for the in car shots and boots on at the car park scene. Camera 2 was The Sony Nex-7 and camera 3 was the drone – The Phantom 3 Standard!
It was cold- probably about -5 before adding the wind chill and previous experience told me that getting the drone up might be a waste of time due to the batteries getting cold (whether it be craft, phone or hand piece batteries), however I was in luck and up it went, getting footage above the fog, fantastic! However it didn’t last long before the phone died and I had to bring her homeL
Never mind, my hands had lost all feeling in tem anyway and getting the drone away and gloves on was nice!! A short walk and I was on the true summit of Vrackie with Pitlochry and the lowlands at my feet. Camera 4 was then deployed – The GoPro 3 black edition. I sat it on the egg timer on the nice flat surface of the cairn and got a lovely sweeping panoramaJ
Whilst waiting, I did more filming to camera discussing oxters and their essential and pivotal role in keeping batteries warm! I then went into great detail on other camera bits and bobs – all the while trying to warm a phone and a drone battery in “the oxter”. However it wasn’t to be and the drone said no to another flight as the batteries were too cold – never mind, the sony and gopro were still filming away J
By eight o clock I decided I needed to head back ad collected all the gear and headed back down. Back to the car and back home with the family before mid-morning – fantastic!!!
Next up I headed to the editing suite (read broom cupboard in the house!!). I was looking forward to editing all the information I had said to camera, especially the importance of keeping batteries warm and having spares etc etc I had done what I preached and had numerous batteries for all four cameras – superb!!
Imagine my disgust when I reviewed the footage to find out that my external microphone batteries’ had died due to the cold- and I hadn’t even noticed-noooo-school boy error!!
The audio was terrible and I really struggled editing it to be able to hear anything. I was going to bin this film but didn’t. So if you bother watching remember to turn up the volume and apologies regards the terrible audio – remember batteries for all equipment-including external mics – lesson learnt!!!
Its been a while since I updated my blog, so I'll start where I left of! After a wintery and tiring landscape photography trip around The Blackmount, normal service resumed with mild temperatures stripping the snow back and a return to black! A free Saturday and a short outing was all that could be fitted in amongst other duties, so we headed for a pad up Schiehallion.
A night at the local pub (drinking pints of Schiehallon coincidently!) saw a late start and we left to head for the hills at 9am.
Due to the late start we were looking for a relatively easy hike and eventually set our sights on Schiehallion. The weather was dank and murky and we weren’t really sure whether the conditions would remain or if we could possible walk through the cloud. A cold frosty start had us striding up the well maintained path to keep warm! The ice was coating the heather and the fog closed in around us. But as with all days that turn out like this, we started to notice a slight shifting in the light and before we knew it we had a ceiling of blue and a floor of grey;). It was a grand inversion and the views just got better and better. The Glories shone down over the shadow of Schiehallion and we spent the next 40 minutes picking out peaks from the Cairngorms to Wyvic, Lochaber and beyond. The clarity was superb! To top it off , when we reached the summit, we had it to ourselves. One other joined us and it was lovely solitude for about half an hour. Eventually we left and headed back down, enjoying the views ahead. Home for 14.30 it was a fine outing.
As you probably saw from the video, the weather was great but the lack of snow cover was rather alarming! So drastic action was taken and we popped on a plane and headed to Iceland (ok it was booked for months but hey ho!). As we touched down the majority of the Iceland was covered in a blanket of snow and more importantly the skies were clear! We immediately headed out a few hours after landing and went Aurora Hunting! t worked a treat and we got a nice show- first item ticked off the list!
Next up was the Golden Circle. The following day saw us head to the Geysers an the very impressive waterfalls just beyond (Gullfoss I think), a definite visit location if going to Iceland... The snow was deep and driving tricky but the effort was worth it to see the falls...
The adventure continued as we headed to the Silfra Fissure nd a spot of Erm SNORKELLING!! I would lie if I said it was warn, but the waters were crystal clear and it was a bloomin fantastic experience! To warm up we headed to the Blue Lagoon for a night time dook.... Fantastic. Too soon ad it was time to return and Iceland gave u one final surprise- a final show of Northern Lights en route home - finishing off the way we had started! superb..... short film below...
This weekend I had an incredible hike above the clouds on Schiehallion (blog post to follow). The skies were blue above the inversion and the clarity was crystal clear with views from one side of Scotland to the other! It was a near perfect day, but not a 10/10. The reason for no full marks is that it is mid January and we only crossed two patches of snow (10m in size!). The hills were very black and reflect the mild winter we have had. This mild weather means that when the cold snaps come along we need to be ready - and I was certainly at the ready last weekend after a rare snow fall blanketed the Highlands.... Camera in hand headed to th Blackmount.....
Drive along the A82 towards Glencoe and at any time of the year and in any weather, you will hit a piece of road that has numerous photographers standing and waiting with their tripods! The stretch of road I am referring to is just before reaching Glencoe from the south where it crosses the infamous Rannoch Moor, the views here from the road side are stupendous and photographers flock here (and rightly so) to capture reflections of the Blackmount or the endless expanse of Rannoch Moor to the east.
I’ve driven past this spot many times and have stopped at Loch Ba myself to snap the early morning mists rolling over the Am Monadh Dubh. However, Munros and Corbetts aside, I have never ventured into this area to explore it a little further. The fearsome reputation of Rannoch Moor is legendary with hidden bogs and deep peat lochans ready to swallow you up. This maybe another reason I have steered clear! Well after this week’s return to winter I decided I would remove this trip from the tick list. Snow had fallen for three days prior to the weekend but the winds on the high tops were forecast to remain relatively high and this was the excuse for me to try out my route – “The Loop of Achlaise”. I had done a bit of research on the web but couldn’t really find any information on this loop. My plan was to link the four 500m peaks that surround Lochan na h-Achlaise, starting with an ascent of Glas Bheinn to capture the sunrise.
Sunrise was at 08.39 so the alarm was set for 5am and I was out hiking by the back of seven. I suspected that I would be on pathless ground until I reached the WHW, and from the off this was the case. A slight hiccup saw me returning to the car after only 5 minutes walking, to pick up the cameras I had forgotten (seeing as I was wanting to explore other viewpoints and photography angles of the Blackmount) this may have been rather annoying had I realised further from the car!! Second start and within 10 minutes I had already been floored twice by ”The Swamp”! This snow was fab and had blanketed the landscape, but it soon became obvious that in the days preceding the snow, the weather hadn’t been at freezing point! Thus the snow covered unfrozen ground, insulating it from the subsequent frosts and this led to rather treacherous underfoot conditions. Focus was now on my feet. “The Swamp” was in charge and I hadn’t even stepped foot on Rannoch Moor yet!! I was beginning to think this may be a tougher day out than the ascent and length indicated! Windless when I left the car, the marked increase in wind was noticeable as I reached the summit of Glas Bheinn. Unprotected from the moor the Northerly swept across Rannoch’s lochs and burst onto the summit. Undeterred I set about getting my camera gear out and it didn’t take long for my fingers to numb! However I was treated to a grand dawn and sunrise, with the first light hitting the Blackmount and turning the summit ridges pink – it was perfect and worth the numb fingers!!
Photos taken I then started to think about the hike again. I had spent 1.5 hrs on the summit and time was marching on. I headed back down the hill, skirting the forest and managed to avoid the hidden dangers (one bog pool revealed itself and lets just say it wasn’t shallow! Vegetation was key as I picked my way around flat snowy patches which had hidden dangers lurking beneath!
I crossed the A82 and headed for a telecoms station before striking uphill towards summit two – The Mon. I was still taking my time as the snow was soft and the ground pathless (not to mention the views – that were stunning and also hindering my progress!). However I eventually reached the summit, and the views – in all directions – were fabulous. Loch Tulla stretched out to the SW and Rannoch Moor with its Lochans dominated the Eastern horizon. The Blackmount also look great and this also gave me a different aspect from what I was used to. A couple of summit cairns and I then noticed another – this time it was a memorial to a fallen climber who passed in 1962, a poignant reminder that this landscape can be cruel and must be respected. The views from this memorial were amazing.
On to objective number three – Meall Beag. I dropped down to the Bealach and found a sheltered boulder to have my first food break. The solitude was intense, a Saturday with fine weather after a cold snap, not many hills would offer this magnitude of wilderness so close to the A82. With food in my belly, the hike up Meall Beag wasn’t too bad and I soon found myself on another top, dumb founded by the views but also back into the whistling northerly!
The next part of the adventure was the part that was going to require the most concentration – Crossing Rannoch Moor to find The West Highland Way. Map and compass out. Although the clarity was crystal and no clag was in, I need to dog leg around a water course and a number of lochans marked on the map. From the high point of the summit, I could see where these should be, but the snow hid them. Wary of what lies beneath, I proceeded with extra caution as I dropped in to The Swamp proper! As earlier, the drop in height also meant a (significant) drop in wind speed. I got to my first waypoint, took another bearing and started to head towards the WHW. The weather conditions were now superb. Blue skies and no wind and it felt Alpine with the rising Blackmount ahead. I spotted a Drumlin rising from The Swamp and headed for its summit. Once there I stopped again and spent an hour basking in the sunshine and taking photos – doesn’t get better than this. Absolute solitude with stunning scenery with the weather gods smiling down – the sunglasses even made an appearance!!!
Eventually I dragged myself away and picked my way through the last of The Swamp. The WHW was a welcome sight after all my bog trotting! I headed past Ba Bridge until I reached the ruin of Ba Cottage. Originally I planned on taking the track marked on the map from here back to the road; however the weather was so good I decided on completing the four hills and headed up Beinn Chaorach. I was knackered and must admit to not enjoying the swamp fest between the WHW and the summit. I thought I had left The Swamp behind but the summit plateaux was just as bad if not worse than what I had experienced previously in the da. Added to the fact that I hadn’t eaten in hours, I felt relieved when I slumped on the summit. It was now 14.30, and I needed to be home before 18.00 for family commitments. Cue my emergency supply of wine gums. These were devoured and the sugar rush saw me with a spring in my step as I headed toward the A82. The sun was now threatening to fall behind Stob a Choire Odhair but its lower rays lit up the watery landscape revealing strings of Gold that ran through The Swamp below me- a fine sight!
Soon I was padding back along the A82 – just in time for sunset – so along with all those photographers that I passed I managed to snap the iconic view to the Blackmount too. Reflections galore as the skies changed colour for the final time before darkness fell. Back to the car and back home – in the nick of time!!
You know it’s been a long day with a heavy pack when you are in pain holding the steering wheel and changing gears!!! The hardest and toughest outing for some time….. Never under estimate “The Loop of Achlaise”!!
Short film here : https://www.facebook.com/steaming.boots.71/videos/615153092006693/
We chose the 2nd to head out on a brisk New Year’s hike and eventually we settled on a relatively nearby hill - the magnificent Beinn a' Ghlo:) The forecast was for some buffeting up high but when we stepped out of the car the wind was nil and there were promising signs for a smashing sunrise.
As with many of these "local hills" it’s been ages since I've been up them, gallivanting to the far flung reaches of Scotland "bagging the Corbetts!", and I've been missing out. What a cracker this fella is. I've lost count on how many hundreds of times I've hit the dual carriage way and looked up the face of Carn Liath and used it as a judging station as to whether I may get views on the hills I’m headed for! It always looks close to the road and accessible but the feeling you get as soon as you head past its summit and towards the interior of the massif is somewhat different!
As we took a leisurely pace along the farmers road the skies caught fire above Ben Vrackie and shafts of light filled the sky as the sun rose under a blanket of cloud off to the south east. A cracking start to the day….
The path up Carn Liath is pretty straight forward if not relentless and it soon spits you out on the summit. It is here the walk starts to open out and on the descent to Bheinn Mhaol the views to the rest of the mountain open up (or clag in depending on the weather !). On our journey the winds had now hit their forecast speed and the constant hail/snow was pelting any part of bare skin. Hoods up, googles on and cocooned in our own wee worlds we continued to a sheltered spot at the low point between Liath and our next objective – Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain. Lunch was had and plans hatched. We would summit the next Munro and then head back to this spot and follow a fine stalkers path that headed back to civilisation. The wind wasn’t letting up (either were the machine gun pellets!) so we hit the summit, took some bearings and turned on our heels. Dropping back down below the cloud and following the stalkers path, you get a great feeling of the size of the mountain and the giant rounded corries makes it feel expansive and wild. The tops were still covered but the giant spurs and rounded shoulders make you feel totally insignificant. I reckon a wild camp may be in here later in the year when the nights start to stretch out. Definitely a hill I’m going to explore more off…….
It been a year of up and downs for Steaming Boots and now on the first day of 2017, I thought I’d go back and look at what my top ten adventures have been. Looking back now, a lot has been packed in and its been hard to narrow this down to ten! – anyway – here we go :
In at Number Ten- Witnessing The Falls of Glomach
Back in the summer I had a week exploring a part of the country I had never visited before – the area around Glen Elchaig. I hadn’t heard of this waterfall until I was exploring a route to a remote mountain called Sgurr Gaorsaic…. The weather had been poor but this certainly added to the power of the falls when I reached them. Tucked away and not easily given up The Falls of Glomach blew me away with the sheer beauty and show of natures power. An amazing place and the highlight for me during a 4 day adventure in Glen Elchaig….
Number Nine – Experiencing a wild camp in the Letterewe Wilderness
This makes it in at number nine, and what an experience! I don’t think I have ever witnessed a sky as starry as I did on this trip. No idea if this is listed as a star gazing spot (a little difficult to reach right enough) but my god - the milky way spread out as I looked toward the sky and the Aurora came briefly too-what a night it was! Beinn Lair must be one of the most dramatic Corbetts with its northern cliffs dropping to a dramatic cleft separating it from Fisherfield- would highly recommend a visit but come in from Poolewe to witness the full beauty ! Along with the positive highlights, I will also remember this trip for a few other reasons – the ground mat exploding and suddenly being placed in a snow globe (read down feathers filling the tent!)- cue a last minute evacuation in deteriorating weather. Also getting to within a few hundred metres of perhaps one of the most remote Corbetts in Fisherfield and having to turn back!
All in all probably the best kept secret in Scotland …. Get yourself up thereJ
Number 8 – A Kayak Wild Camp with the Capercaillies on Loch Lomond’s Inchlonaig Island
A look at the number eight adventure of 2016 on Christmas Day. I definitely had more sleep on this wild camp than I did last night with excited kids waiting for Santa! Anyway back at the start of October another High Pressure system was dominating and we took advantage with a superb night on Inchlonaig. An advantage of kayak camps is the boat takes the load so we even afforded ourselves two beers each (living on the edge). The paddle across was cracking and we chose a north facing bay just in case the Aurora came to visit (it didn’t!). However a magic camp was had, - beer, fully cooked breakfast (compliments to the over qualified chef ;). And the sound of the Capercaillie ringing in our ears for most of the night J After brekky and leaving the bay exactly as we found it we headed out on mirror calm waters for an amazing paddle across the Loch and eventually back to the cars. Another amazing experience and perhaps one of the last times we will be able to do this…..
Number 7 – Night time ascent of Ben Lomond's Ptarmigan Ridge
After a heavy fall of snow there was a brief lull in the weather and the only way we could take advantage was to get the head torches out. Now this wasn’t an outing in hard crisp Neve under a star lit sky but an outing in soft deep snow with little in the way of ambient starlight. Much care was required but a great adventure experiencedJ
Number Six – Witnessing the Sunrise over a snow covered Glencoe.
I had tried the year before to experience this but unfortunately the weather didn’t play ball. So when an early dump of snow fell over the Scottish Highlands and was followed by blue skies, I got up nice and early and hiked to find my spot to sit and watch the sun rise. It was fantastic albeit all little chilly-a great way to spend a few hours in the morning and a grand chance at some photographyJ
Number 5 –Wild Camping on Stac Pollaidh – Skies on Fire
Late Autumn and I headed for Assynt. A little unsure as to whether I’d find a suitable pitch (it’s a rocky little fella!) I headed up and eventually found a flat (ish!) piece of ground to place the tent. I then scrambled to the top along the serrated ridge before heading back to the Eastern summit for tea. A little disappointed I didn’t get a red sunset I went to bed hoping for better at sunrise. I woke and there was still cloud about, however there was a long thin break in the cloud to the east, maybe , just maybe the sun could peak through this and illuminate the cloud from below. The next 40 minutes were spectacular with a highlight being a red / pink rainbow over the summit of the mountain created from the sunrise. I had never seen or heard to this before but it was an amazing sight. The arch of the rainbow was much higher than usual and the colours on an around it were amazing. The video and pictures don’t give it any credit! Seen lots of Brocken spectres, fog bows, nacreous clouds etc etcover the years but this was a first… hopefully not the last.. and what a place to witness it J
Number 4 – Summit Camp when the Black Cuillin turned to The White Cuillin…
Deciphering between the top four has been a bit tricky and all have changed places since I started to think about what were my top ten adventures this year! This could easily have ben number one but today as I write this, it comes in a close fourth
Probably my favourite place- anywhere- Skye and The Cuillin are a magical place at any time and in any weather. I had waited for an easterly air flow and got lucky on this trip, some of the best views I have ever experienced. It was a bit windy and I nearly lost all my footage when my tripod fell very near the cliff and the drone was also on its limits here!
I don’t think I have had a better pitch either, perched on the edge of a 2000 foot cliff that fell dramatically into Loch Scavaig! It took a bit of effort getting here, but the end results were worth it, an amazing place and in at number four! – should it have been higher on the list????
Number 3 – A Classic Winter Mountaineering Adventure –Ben Lui Central Gully…
On the very last day of winter we were treated to some wintry cold weather and decided to head to Ben Lui. Not only is this an amazing day out, but we managed to get it on a perfect day with blue skies and a temperature inversion. After an exhilarating climb, the topping on the cake was climbing out of the route to a sea of cloud below us stretching to the horizon with the highest peaks standing clear of the cloud…. An amazing way to top out! We then spent a good hour on the summit taking it all in… One night later and the short film was airing on STV (albeit for only about 30 seconds!!;)) Another amazing experience from 2016 J
Number 2 – The Aonach Eagach
A Glencoe Mountain Summit Sunset and Sunrise then having total solitude to traverse The Aonach Eagach Ridge in Perfect conditions
Having the entire ridge (out and back) to myself was amazing but throw in perfect weather, an amazing sunset and sunrise and a summit wild camp- a world class adventure…. so close to being in at the number one spot…… ;)
Number 1 – A Torridonian Summit Camp with the Aurora Borealis
A perfect February day saw me head up Beinn Alligin with a very large pack looking for a summit camp on Sgurr Mor. The views and weather were perfect- light winds, blues skies and crystal clear clarity! This made the trip memorable – however what really pushed this adventure to the top spot was the amazing light show I experienced for hours on the summit.
As I started taking some night time shots – I saw a faint green glow to the north on some of the snaps. This quickly got stronger and stronger and eventually became an amazing show of the Aurora Borealis dancing above North West Scotland with no camera required. I stood for hours watching the lights, feeing rather lucky to be where I was and for the Aurora to be providing me with some evening entertainment.
I eventually hit the hay and woke to a fabulous morning and sunrise. A truly memorable experience and one that I won’t forget quickly…..
Here’s to many more adventures in 2017 – Happy New Year all
With a rather blowy wet day predicted across much of the highland region, we turned our attention to the South and started looking at option in the Southern Uplands where the forecast was (a bit) better. Tinto was mentioned but I wanted to bag another unclimbed “Ronnie” and suggested White Combe. No chance of snow (or anything wintry! – in fact the car told me it was 12 degrees at one point on the roa down !).
A first big hill post-Christmas and Gerry and George joined me around the back of 9 for a wee amble up the hill. With the clag down and the forecast looking pretty grim we decided on an out and back approach passing the wonderful Grey Mares Tail on route. The well-constructed path follows the waterfall to the top (although the best views of the falls are from the bottom) and once we reached the top we found a handy dyke wall that we would utilise as a handrail. For the next 20 minutes the weather cleared a little and I thought we may get lucky, however it wasn’t to be and as we closed in on the summit the clag came in and the predicted wind howled ;) A brief stop on the top and we decided against a day in the clag circling the loch and headed back down the way we came. A few more people around on the descent and Georges gismo told us we had taken 2 hrs 20mins, walked about 5 Kms and ascended a little over 600 metres. A fine morning out.
Now where’s the snow- bring on Monday!!!
Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn
With Annual Leave required to be used by the end of the year I found myself off for a week before the kids holidays! Mountains I thought, the long range forecasts had predicted a likelihood of high pressure on the build up to Christmas – excellent – or so I thought. With this being Scotland the models soon changed and the predicted high pressure was now due to move away from Tuesday introducing some spicy low pressure systems to rattle Scotland and the North West! Plans changed, up until Tuesday the forecast was ok – quite benign weather albeit mild and a little muggy….
The chance of cloud free Munros was around 20% with summit winds of around 20-30mph- time to bag some Corbetts…
A few years prior I had headed to the three Munros to the north of Glen Dessary with a summit camp on Garbh Chioch Mor, my only previous visit along Loch Arkaig. I had looked at the Corbetts here a few times but never ended up hiking in the location. With the winds a little high on the tops I decided I would look at a road/loch side camp and use this as a base for a couple of days hiking.
05.30am and I was up – the alarm wasn’t set until 06.50 but as is often the case I woke and thought I’d get going. The route I had planned would mean a possible decent in darkness so I was glad of the earlier start! 2.5 hrs later and I was happy to see my researched camp spot had no campers – maybe not a surprise given it’s the middle of December! I parked up and stuck the tent up and was away by 09.45am. After the warmth of the car I was taking my time up the hill. The forecast suggested the clag may move later in the day and so I headed straight from the camp site up the southern slopes of Mhurlagain. I soon hit the clag and got progressively damper in the fine Scottish mizzle! Once on the ridge the walking was relatively easy going albeit a little squidgy.
1 hour and 45 minutes later I was on the summit looking at the grey inside view of a cloud. The only wind was really on the summit but I didn’t hang around as I was aware the sunset was about 15.30. Compass out and I was off descending towards the bealach between the two hills. It didn’t take long to reach it and my expected views never materialised, the clag had dropped and the little rain continued. Up to Fraoch Bheinn and the microspikes came on and steep ground crossed as I made a bee line for the summit not wanting to waste time. I sat on the summit and I could have been on Mhurlagain again, the views identical- The Grey! Off again and I decided my ascent route was a little too steep for a descent so I headed down the southern ridge a distance before tracking south east towards the lochside camp.
At around 350metres the views returned as I ducked under the cloud, always a nice feeling- the light rain wasn’t however!
With microspikes doing their job perfectly I was back at camp for around 14.30.
Although wild camping is usually the preference, this road side camping has its advantages. 10 minutes after arriving I was out of my damp (read soaked to the skin) clothes and warming nicely in the car. The hassle of inflating the ground mat was a joy in comparison to summit camps and tea and coffee were made in a leisurely manner!
A few hours were spent in the warmth of the car reading maps and routes for tomorrows adventure – a hike up The Corbett Sgurr Cos na Breacgd-laoidh. Hopefully the weather gods smile and I get some views tomorrow…
Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh
Nearly 12 hours kip- unheard of in all my days sleeping in a tent, but head was down at 19.00hrs and I didn’t rise until 07.30 the next morning! Could have been the comfy pillow I brought and dry set of clothes – an advantage of road side camping as opposed to wild camping maybe? Anyway, even though I had a long lye, it was still very dark when I emerged from the tent. I soon set about taking it down and headed to the car to get a brew on and get ready for the day ahead.
The weather was worse than yesterday with rain falling and the clag right down, so I decided to get the waterproofs on from the start. A short drive up to the new ? car park at the end of the road and I was soon on my way, tucking in right and heading down the beautiful and remote feeling Glen Dessary. The mood was atmospheric with low cloud and mists hugging the hillside and deer appearing here there and everywhere? Not sure they would have been so brave a few months ago!;)
My marker for the hill was the amazing Dessary Lodge. Now this really was a 007 style house and reminded me of the one that was blown to pieces in the recent film.
Onwards I headed up trackless terrain – the rain still falling but the grey atmosphere did stir te Scottishness inside! Again, as on the previous day, I was soon inside the cloud but today the wind was stronger and rain heavier, but the Goretex was doing a grand job. A few ups , and then a few false summits, but I finally reached the top, confirmed with a quick ViewRanger check. It wasn’t weather for hanging around so turned on mu heals after taking a bearing- ten came back down he way I came, sticking to the western side of the ridge to take in the sketchy views in to upper Glen Dessary….
Then , about 40 minutes after leaving the top, the rain stopped, cloud lifted and sun came out! The views were amazing, my only regret was that I hadn’t been an hour or so behind schedule! With a extra bit of energy the blue skies brought I was soon tracking back down Glen Dessary , and then finally back at the car ready for the long drive home. A fine way to spend two das J
Full Video report below :)
A weekend forecast suggesting blue skies above an inversion, a morning pass from the wife and the ever present urge to get high, meant one thing - headed for the mountains at a rediculously early time! Having to get back for the afternoon and also suffering from Man Flu, I decided on The Tarmachan Ridge. Starting ata grand height of over 450metees the ascent to Meall nan Tarmachan isnt too bad- well from what I could remember , bee up loads but for one reason or another havent been up in last 9 years!!!!
Being relatively close to home The Tarmachan Ridge is nice and easy to reach and the car park is at 450meters! . Hadn’t been up for a while, so when the forecast suggested blue skies and a chance of an inversion I decided to head for Tarmachan. The plan was to get near the summit for sunrise and in a perfect world I’d have enjoyed a summit sunrise over a sea of clouds – didn’t happen tho!! The clag was in from the start and I reached a cold, windy and claggy summit about 20minutes after sunrise – ho hum.
I decided to head along the ridge and drop off just beyond Meall Garbh, however just as I was approaching the “bad step” the weather cleared and I was standing above the clouds. I turned on my heels and returned to Meall Garbh, the extra height giving great views and a fantastic Brocken Spectre! With the weather clearing I found myself heading back to Meall nan Tarmachan to get some summit views! However it wasn’t to be as the clag returned and the views disappeared!
All in all though it was worth it for the 20minutes on Meall Garbh where the views were grand!
A great morning adventure and great to meet some familiar Walkhighland faces up there J
Not a massive 007 fan but I did really enjoy the film Skyfall and if memory serves me correctly 007’s family home is located in the beautiful Glen Etive- probably somewhere on “The Road to Nowhere”. Now, when I watched the film I recognised the Glen but not the location of where the house actually was (I don’t frequent Surrey too often ;)).
I can understand why this wasn’t filmed here because if it were, 007 would have lost out on being the star attraction- Starav would’ve taken over and won the accolades ;) obviously tongue in cheek here but heading down the Nowhere Road, the bulk of Starav dominates the horizon and draws you down the Glen.
Rising majestically to over 1000 meters, it’s not one for a quick half day operation, combine it with Glas Bheinn Mor and its gives a full day adventure with soring ridges and amazing panoramas with nearly 1400m of ascent.
The cracking late Autumnal weather was set to continue and the forecast was for the brief overnight mild spell to be blown away with cold crisp blue sky weather taking its place as the day progressed- definitely an improving forecast. With this in mind we decided on clockwise method of attach, gaining Glas Bheinn Mor first then hopefully enjoying the high level traverse in some sunshine……. Mmmmmmmm
Arriving at the start of the walk around 0830 (transportation via My Little Pony Princess mobile) and it was rather raw, windy and cloud hung onto the tops with no blue skies to be seen!!
We headed off and the 4-5km walk into Coire Odhar was rather challenging! The (very boggy) path was partially frozen and when you didn’t lose your feet down a bog you were skating over lots of ground ice (micro spikes should’ve come out earlier!). The wind hadn’t died down and it was cold and not very enjoyable (even less enjoyable should you have a big metal device implanted in your foot- apologies G!). Breakfast break at the bealach and we assessed our options. The plan was to get onto the ridge which stayed above 750m for the next 5km to Starav and beyond! Obviously this would be perfect in the forecast blue skies, however in the current conditions where the cloud level was at around 750m and the winds rather blustery, it meant a cold wet miserable day in the clag L
We decided to crack on and if things didn’t improve perhaps head off the ridge and back home- it really is a route to be kept for a good day with the views you get up here! Malt loaf and tuna sandwiches eaten and we felt a little better heading up a much better path towards Glas Bheinn Mor. Soon the summit was reached and still no sign of the blue skies. The camera was placed back in the bag (it was icing up!), microspikes fitted (note we had full crampons and ice axe but condition assessed we placed the micrspikes on- amazing how much snow had disappeared from the previous week!) and goggle placed on face – it was freezing! The predicted drop in temperature was happening – maybe a sign of things to come….. On we went, a few ups and downs and finally reached Bealachan Lochain Ghaineamhaich where the map showed a descent option.
It was here that the day turned on its head. A day of two halves. The wind started to drop and the gloom started to lift. Within 10 minutes breaks were appearing. Mountain views were whisking past in small windows in the cloud. Further south we caught glimpses of white sun hit mountains.
We decided on summiting Starav and so glad we did. On the climb up to Stob Coire Dheirg we met the only people we were to meet on the round. They had just come off the summit where they reported the views were nil but it was nice to get out. We headed on and gained height. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. As we reached Stob Coire Dheirg we were greeted by our Brocken Spectres to herald a fantastic few hours ahead. The camera was back out and the shifting mists and blue skies offered great views all around with fog bows and spectres accompanying us for the next few hours.
Lingering on the summit we eventually made the 1000m descent knowing we would be hit and miss on whether the head torches would be required. The walk back down was a panoramic joy (if not so joyous on the knees!) with the lowering light casting shadows up and down Glen Etive and the Glencoe Mountains. Dusk came and was on its way out as we reached the car. Perfect timing again and a grand adventure. I think 007 may have enjoyed this too…
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...