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…
Escapism – One of the reasons I love the hills is the time is gives you to reflect and think about things that matter. On solo trips I feel I can reset mentally when out in the hills with the rhythm of one foot in front of the other and the crunch of snow a certain meditative state can be reached- and this has certainly been required recently with the hum drum of the rat race eating away at sleep an increasing anxiety levels. The Mountains weren’t calling – they were being prescribed.
A first proper dump of snow hit Scotland this November and some cracking high pressure systems have been settling in – a perfect combination in my eyes.
With good weather almost 90% certain (website % ;)) I had limited time. In fact the evening before I had nipped up a nearby hill to catch sunset – Ben Vrackie is a fine fine hill and feeds the chimp to a certain extent, but WANTED More! My prescription didn’t only say mountains but also an requirement for some photography….
Some pics from Vrackie the night before:
Similar to last year I decided I wanted to take some wintry sunrise shots and immediately my thoughts turned to Chrulaiste. My favourite Glencoe viewpoint and an absolute belter of a walk, I wasn’t too bothered when the alarm got me up before 4 AM! Last year (albeit a little later – was December) I headed on the same mission and had a memorable, first post op trip, up here. However a bank of cloud that provided a grand back drop later in the day prevented the glorious sunrise I was hoping for last year.
Things were looking better today though. Leaving the car around 0630am I had set my mind on trying to pick a spot on the southern slopes of Chrulaiste to try and capture the sun hitting the Buachaille’s slopes. Off I went and as always the steep start had me delayering, although it was fringing cold (-9.5 at points on the road up!). At this point I knew I had plenty of time so decided to try my hand at longer exposures and some night time shots down the glen. Glad I did as I think these shots are my favourite photos from the day out!
[url=https://flic.kr/p/Nh6FCg][img]https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5728/30374584123_e510c994ce_b.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/Nh6FCg]Glencoe by night under a blanket of snow...[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/scotlandsmountains/]Scotland's Mountains[/url], on Flickr
Numb fingers and 15 minutes later I headed back on my mission to find a sunrise shot, which I eventually found with about half an hour to spare. This is usually good as it gives time to set the tripod up and get the gear ready etc etc, however today it meant star jumps and running on the spot to keep warm. It was Baltic. I even thought about packing up and heading further on just to keep warm , but I am glad I didn’t- got a smashing sunrise, I think the patience paid off ok.
A few photos were taken then I was back moving and generating heat (que the hot aches of sorts!). The camera stayed out and thanks to a spare battery kept warm in my jacket pocket, I was a happy snapper all the way back to the car and for a time my worries and stresses were forgotten.. Happy days these certainly are not but escaping to the hills and mountain therapy remedies the mind for a spell.
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...