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
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...