Sunday, 20 October 2013

Isle of Mull

Sadly, Jane, Liz, Kay and I were not quite so lucky at the beginning of October. We had intended to spend three days climbing Grahams in the island but the weather, more specifically the strong winds, got the better if us.
Our first attempt was to summit Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail from Sleibhte Coire in Glen More. We followed the glen path for 3km to the col at 332m before striking out up the west ridge of Cruachan Death, but we were severely hampered by strong winds and it soon became apparent that there was little chance of reaching any summit cairns in such conditions. Retreat was the only option, made a little more palatable by coffee and cake in Craignure later on.
Bad conditions continued into the next day and so we drove (the long way round!) to the northwest of the island for a scenic and bracing low level walk round Treshnish, taking in the abandoned village of Crakaig and the illicit still on the shore. Needless to say, we indulged in more coffee and cake in nearby Calgary to end the day.
The next day was our last and the winds had abated, so we decided to start early and climb Beinn Talaidh before catching the ferry. It was drizzly and misty when we reached the summit cairn which was a pity since I think in better conditions it would have been a good hill to linger on, and from which to enjoy the views.

Lake District

Then summer returned, just in time for a long weekend based in Keswick, guiding a group of eleven for Glasgow Life. Actually it was raining as we drove down the M74 but as we crossed the border and headed west towards the north Lakes the sun broke through and stayed with us all weekend. Our 'legstretcher' after the drive was an afternoon walk on the west side of Derwentwater, taking in part of the Allerdale Ramble. We walked south from Hawes End to Grange in the shadow of Catbells and returned along the lakeside path - a warm, tranquil oasis amongst the rugged fells.
The next day we climbed Skiddaw from the hostel in early morning sunshine, taking the path round the steep flank of Latrigg up onto the main path over Jenkin Hill and Little Man towards the summit. As we passed the car park more people started to appear and it was a pretty crowded summit where we stopped for lunch! We descended over Carlside down to Millbeck, still in hot sun. Initially the going was very steep on loose ground, no doubt exascerbated by mountain bike use, and even when scree gave way to grass, the gradient remained a wee bit punishing on some knees.
Sadly there were no welcoming Lakeland hostelries in the vicinity, so it was a stroll back to the hostel and an early dinner.
On Sunday we drove to gorgeous Ullswater to climb Hellvelyn from Glenridding to the east. Group fitness dictated that we avoid  both Swirral and Striding Edge, but we had a great day on the hill, using the pony track for both ascent and descent. Once again, the views opened up for us and the previous day's sore muscles were forgotten.
The beautiful spot of Ashness Bridge on the east side of Derwentwater was our starting point for our final walk before the drive home. We made an enjoyable circuit of Blaeberry Fell and High Seat, high above the lake, in yet more sunshine. Not as boggy as I had been led to believe, and a picturesque descent back to the minibus and home.

Torridon in September

The plan was to spend 4 days climbing Grahams with Kay and Jane, based at Torridon Youth Hostel. The weather was very mixed throughout, with rain and very strong winds. Nevertheless, we managed to climb 5 Grahams in the 4 days, juggling our programme to suit the daily conditions.
Day one we trudged up the sodden slopes of Carn Breac to reach the summit shrouded in thick mist, so no stop before heading on to Beinn na Feusaige in an increasingly cold, strong wind which made it impossible to spend much time at all on the bare summit plateau. A steep descent west then southwest soon brought us back down into Glen Carton as rain started to fall.

Day two we set off very early to avoid worst of the gale force winds forecast for the afternoon, though these in fact never happenned. Our objective was Beinn a Mhuinidh so
from Incheril by Kinlochewe we followed the track northwest towards Slioch for about 3 km before climbing up heather covered slopes towards a waterfall breaching the cliffs. The going got pretty steep here and any slip would have had consequences, but we made it to a grassy amphitheater surrounded by crags and lochans. From here the climb to the summit was straightforward and views opened up north to Letterewe and An Teallach, west to Beinn Eighe and, of course, northwest to Slioch - fantastic! A long walk south 4km across a fairly damp plateau took us to an easy descent into Abhainn Bruachaig and Incheril.
The third day was a bit of a washout, but we plodded stoically up the grassy slopes that lead to the summit of Meall a Chaorainn in thick mist and heavy rain to tick our 4th Graham.
On day four we made an early start to climb Beinn na h-Eaglaise from the path up the Allt Coire Roill in the shadow of the magnificent Beinn Damh before driving home. The weather was kind to us and we enjoyed good views in all directions. The track as far as the Lochan at Drochaid Coire Roill is excellent and we were even lucky enough to meet a stag with some hinds on the col, though they did not linger long when we arrived.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Two pretty lazy weeks walking on the Isle of Arran, and then it was back to work.  A couple of day walks for Glasgow Life and a weekend working for Outlook Adventures with a silver DoE group in the Trossachs were new experiences, and thoroughly enjoyable though the best of the summer weather had definitely passed by this time.

Early in September I met Rob in the Lake District to spend the day with him climbing Hellvelyn. It was warm and bright as we set off from Glenridding but by the time we reached Red Tarn the views were disappearing.  We climbed to the summit via Swirral Edge and descended over Striding Edge - a busy mountain by Scottish standards, so not a lot of solitude, but the mist did lift to give us some glorious views. The day was ended with a tasty cream tea by Ullswater - perfect!