The Tattie holidays had arrived and a family holiday abroad was planned with relaxation, poolside beers and easy living the activities I was looking forward too. Arriving in Lanzarote on the Thursday and we were greeted, not by a Sahara like heat wave but by a more familiar pattern of showers and rain! I‘m sure the island was just trying to make us feel welcome!
The weather soon changed and over the next few days the winds swung round to a easterly and the effects of the wind coming straight off the Sahara meant sweltering temperatures as the “Calima “ took old. Midday highs of 34 degrees resulted in the swimming pool being used frequently and air conditioning systems being fired up to enable a good nights sleep. Walking seems to occur more often on holiday for me (not mountain walking but just walking!). No car and an urge to explore see leg work activity increase in general terms. In Puerto there are cracking beaches and the old harbour area is a cracking area to explore, but always on the horizon to the South West are the Ajache Mountains. These provided a grand composition when experiencing the Lanzarote sunsets but also got me thinking about a small excursion. Relaxing and pool dipping was definitely happening but the inner chimp was starting to tell me I needed to get up a hill!
A rekey walk to Puerto Calero saw my mind made up and a few days later I hired a MTB with the aim of exploring these Ajache Mountains. The Calima was still blowing so I set off just before sunrise and reached the harbour and start of the trail just as the sun was rising above the Atlantic, creating a beam of light which picked out the fishing boats which were scurrying to and fro. Puerto Calero was reached in no time and I headed onto Quemada. The path was ok but some pushing was required. The landscape here is barren, little vegetation and desert like. On reaching Puerto Quemada, I felt like I was entering the wild west (hence the tongue in cheek music in the video!). Not a soul was seen and the wind blew a long closed derelict restaurants shutters with a squeak. I didn’t stop long.
A rekey walk to Puerto Calero saw my mind made up and a few days later I hired a MTB with the aim of exploring these Ajache Mountains.
Upon looking for a trail to take me round the coast a little further, I saw a figure coming down the hillside. A tall gentleman with a BIG back pack. A wild camper I thought. As the illusion drew nearer I could make out a long beard and a man dressed in an old suit with sandals to boot. Hanging from the huge, tatty, rucksack was a plastic bag with empty bottles….
The man approached and his appearance, now clear, suggested a hermits life style. A quick hello to the Englishman and he was off, keen to keep moving it seemed. The first person I had me since Calero.
The footpath rises steeply out of Puerto Quemada so much pushing was being done and I eventually reached an impressive valley with a large black beach. The suns heat was now stinging the back of my neck as I looked down on the beach and, more tellingly over to the steep rise out of the valley on the other side! I was caught in two minds – will I head to the beach for a swim, will I carry on to Playa Blanca or will I head inland and see if I can find a summit.
The latter was chosen and I turned my back on a cooling swim and rode the bike into the desert like Ajache! The landscape had changed slightly, as opposed to barren black lava scapes, the Ajache seemed a little lighter in colour, more sandy-however still barren….A peak was spotted and I made my way along a four by four track (much better for cycling!). Eventually I had to leave the bike and continue on foot making my way towards my chosen peak. The climb was enjoyable and with height a breeze had developed which was very welcome. I felt remote, the landscape looked wild and my Chimp was being fed! Of course it is hard to be in the wild on such a small island and that feeling of remoteness soon left as I made a Bealach and below me stood the village of Femes with a major road passing through! This would provide an easier if less pleasing ascent J
Soon I was scrambling up the final ramparts and amazingly there was more vegetation on the summit than anywhere else on the trip! Perhaps the tops catch more rain or morning dew? The views across the island were amazing and back across the other peaks of the Ajache Hills with the Atlantic beyond. Although not high (I reckon about 500m?) these are cracking and deserted hills, a grand way to leave the hot pot of Puerto Del Carmen and get away from it for a few hours.
A Scandinavian High Pressure system was dominating the weather so we planned on a wild camp on one of the many Islands of Loch Lomond….
Arriving in Luss we set about getting the kayaks ready, loading them up with enough provisions for the next 20hrs! Soon we were making our way away from the busy beach at Luss and had our sights on a beach we had visited the previous year at Inchloniag. With The Aurora having made a few appearances recently we decided to have a north facing bay, just in case!!!
The weather was perfect, calm waters, warm sunshine and we were enjoying our paddle to the north most Inch on The Loch. After some scouting about we found a nice pitch and started setting camp, very aware that we had about an hours light to play with before darkness fell. Soon enough our accommodation was sorted and our thoughts drifted towards some supper. Chick curry was the order of the day and a couple of fine beers (at a nice chilled temperature-see photo!) were utilised to help wash the dish down.
After being fed and watered we found a pre existing fire pit with some driftwood. A small fire was set going and a night spent reminiscing was thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately the clear skies didn’t appear and we called it a night around 11pm and cleared the beach ready for the morning…..
I was a bit disappointed that the cloud had persisted but this only lasted a few hours as natured called at 3am and emerging from the tent , I was greeted by the milky way stretching over the loch from the summit of Beinn Dubh. Although tired, I couldnt resist the opportunity for some photos! I eventually crawled back to bed around 0430hrs……..
0700am and the alarm woke me just in time for sunrise- the temperature had fallen dramatically from 0430am and leaving the warmth of the tent was a struggle!! However a rather tasty breakfast was being fashioned and the smell of bacon and eggs was a good motivator for getting up!!
After a relaxing breakfast it was time to strike camp and we spent a bit of time leaving everything as we had found it. The loch was mirror flat and to say the next few hours were a joy would be an understatement. Probably the best conditions I have experienced in the boat so far- flat calm, warm sunshine and crystal clear views under blue skies- superb…..a great adventure..
Cnoc Coinnich and Clach Beinn
Mountains get reclassified, it seems almost on a yearly basis. New technologies mean more accurate readings and sometimes mountains and hills that see very little footfall soon gather paths and tracks as baggers make their way to summit these "new " hills.
This was the case yesterday. A few months ago a smaller hill tucked away behind The Brack on the Cowal Peninsula start to welcome many more people to its summit. Previously measured at 761 metres it missed out on reaching Corbett status by a metre. G and J surveys took interest in this and headed up during the summer with their technical GPS equipment and discovered that the actual height of the hill was 763.5m- so a new Corbett was born ;):)
So as an outdoor enthusiast (and self confessed bagger) I found myself looking at maps and possible lines of attack for this new target on my horizon. Having a drop off at Glasgow airport for 0800AM and collection at 1800PM I decided this would be a good day to head for pastures new. As an added bonus the forecasts were looking very good - not a common occurrence for the west of Scotland and at a weekend!!
A quick tweet to Mark from Simply Epic , and I had company for the day. Meeting up at Ardgartan I had suggested biking in, but a few injuries not helped by riding posture saw us heading up the track to a parking spot at the entrance to Coilessan Glen and the bikes left in the boot of the car. The sun was shining, the skies blue and the banter good! The four by four track up the Glen is at a nice gradient and we were soon nearing the head of the Glen on a good path.
Looking back over the tress from Coilessan Glen:
The Brack, often ascended from Glen Croe can also be accessed from here and this fact (as well as us following the Cowal Way!) meant that as soon as we had to head for the "new" hill, we also had to watch where we place our feet! No path and some well hidden pot holes saw us loosing our legs on a few occasions ! This aside the hike was grand with views opening up across Cowal as we reach the bealach. The route to Cnoc Coinich was barred by a craggy rising and we decided to ascend via a gully which cut through the steepening with a descent tot he northern gentler slopes. Having cut up the gully there was a final steep pull to a conical looking summit. As we reached the top it proved to be a flat topped summit with some crags off to the east.
.A picture from near top and also from drive through above the fog earlier in the day:
Earlier in the day the fog had been stubborn but seemed to have cleared inland. However on reaching the top we were greeted by a sea of low cloud out west- a fine view indeed. It was time for lunch, chicken salad followed by some dairy milk!
Some summit snaps from Cnoc Coinnich top:
Summit selfies taken and soaking in the veiws, there was no rush to leave the summit.... It hadn't taken very long to summit and we eventually started our way down, meeting a couple of hikers making their way up. Back at the car by 1300hrs and I now had a decision to make- what to do until 18.00pm????
I decided I wanted to climb a peek at the end of the peninsula that I'd spotted from the Corbett top. It was called Clach Beinn and I was intrigued as to what views it would reveal... I said my good bye to Mark and got the bike out of the back of the car. The track along Loch Long was perfect for cycling (Dukes Path) and a few up and downs saw my head towards Corran Lochan. The only down side to this track was the views were limited by the commercial plantations. On reaching the Lochan the hike to Clach Beinn was only around 180m of ascent, not much and relatively easy - or so I thought!!
If I thought the path less ascent of Cnoc Coinnich was fought, I was soon to discover that it was tame in comparison to the bush whacking I encountered en route to Clach Beinn! Long grasses and ferns (and the number out pot holes!) made for slow progress!! However I persevered and eventually reached the trig point. I was relieved to find that the views were indeed fine, mountains and loch galore!
Now to get back to the airport- it was now 15.00hrs.... The descent was quicker (but not much) and I was glad to get back on the saddle! A good down hill blast from the Lochan was enjoyed then more peddle power until I reached the car nearer 16.00. The airport was reached by 17.15 and all was fine.
So a couple of new ! Peaks climbed and an area I have never visited before explored. Next on the list here is a cycle - The Ardgarten loop - looks great:)
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...