Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Thursday, 31 May 2012

A pleasant day

Refreshing rain this morning, so gentle that, to the eye, the leaves are undisturbed by it. But it is getting heavier, the cloud is dropping further down the southern slopes of Meall an t - Suidhe. A chap from Roy Bridge, met on Stob Ban the other day, told us that it was invariably his morning walk. Lucky him.

Yesterday the need to check out a campsite took us to Arisaig, always a wonderful journey by road or rail. The latter is finer, in my opinion, though obviously there is no opportunity to stop and savour a particular scene as we did by Loch nan Uamh. A basic information board tells briefly of the historical importance of this bay on the Arisaig coast, but the story is told better elsewhere. (It is also inaccurate regarding the engagement between English and French frigates).

The armed brig Du Teillay arrived from France on 25 July 1745 and anchored in the bay. Aboard was Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who was twenty-five at the time. While summonses to the rising went out he moved to Kinlochmoidart House and, on 18 August, was rowed up Loch Shiel where he spent the night at MacDonald of Glenaladale's house.

Moving to Glenfinnan the following morning with a small contingent of MacDonalds, he was joined some time later by MacDonald of Morar who brought with him a hundred and fifty Clanranalds. In the afternoon numbers were swelled with arrival of Cameron of Locheil bringing with him seven hundred men. The Stewart banner of white and crimson, the Bratach Bhan, was unfurled and raised by the Duke of Atholl, William Murray. The Stewarts of Appin, the MacDonalds of Keppoch and others arrived in the evening bringing the numbers to five thousand.

The Glenfinnan Monument was built in1815, on the very ground where they stood, by Alexander MacDonald of Glenaladale. The bearded stone Highlander on top does not represent Prince Charles Edward but his clansmen.

It was also from Loch nan Uamh that, on 20 September 1746 the prince sailed for France on board L'Heureux, some five months after the disaster of Culloden. He was in hiding at Cluny's Cage on remote Ben Alder, a fugitive with a price of £30,000 on his head, when word came that two French ships had arrived in the loch. A cairn marks the spot where he embarked.

On to Mallaig and we noticed there are new pontoons in the harbour, with yachts moored alongside, and a Marina Reception building. In the last few years there has been a 50% decline in the number of fishing boats using the port, so diversification is essential. It will be a sad day, if and when, Mallaig ceases to have a working harbour.

Historical information - W H Murray.

Alan R - I note you are off now with a busy schedule of backpacking, gear testing and marshalling! Looking forward to reports. Have a great trip with the best weather. Cheers.

Sorry I can't add a comment on your blog with BB (and I can't even do it on my own blog - not even using the 'Name/URL' option) but I can on M&Gs for some reason). Can't account for it.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Monday 28 May - Stob Ban

Plans to go to Rum have been postponed so yesterday we wandered up the familiar path by the Allt Coire a' Mhusgain and through the quartzite blocks to the lovely summit of Stob Ban. The views were extensive but soon those to the north will be blighted by the Druim Fada wind farm. The work of mad people.

Weather thundery today with some cloud over the tops, but it might lift later.

Virtually everything has gone to plan on this first part of the trip, but what now? I'll let you know, though it's going to be hard to match the Inverie days. Is it really only a week ago today we boarded 'The Western Isles'?

Alan R - a bit to go to match Martin's long posts - don't think my fingers could take it! As it is I usually notice glaring errors (punctuation, spelling eg in the last post, Loch Bhraomasaig instead of Bhraomisaig) after I've posted using BB, but I can't access my blog to correct. Anyhow, I hope you both had a great time in Dumfries and Galloway.

Alex - It sounds as if you have an interesting story to tell following your encounter. 'Following' is,obviously,optional! No offence if my blog doesn't come up to your standards and you change your mind :-). Good Corbetting.

D+D - thanks for continuing to look after the house. Cheers!
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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thursday 24 May - Beinn Bhuidhe

(This post has been put together in bits and pieces so apologies if it is a bit disjointed.)
The most western top of the long ridge running eastwards to Beinn Bhuidhe, is clearly seen from Long Beach and although this Corbett is often climbed from the east, via Mam Meadail, we opted to gain the ridge from Loch Bhraomisaig fearing that we would be cooked alive
in Gleann Meadail.

The burn from Coire nan Gobhar provided a welcome water suppy for pouring over heads, as well as for drinking and filling water bottles, before the pull to ridge and Sgurr Coire nan Gobhar. The Knoydart ticks were out in force and we spent some time removing the tiny brutes from arms and legs (and in my case, feet). Lynne sympathised: "Serves you right for wearing shoes". From the moment we'd taken to the hill after crossing the bridge over the Inverie River, the going had been harder - steeper, rougher and hotter than on Beinn na Caillich, but I felt none of the weariness of that day. I'd put it down to temperature alone but I suspect it was a lack of calories. For me, hot weather and eating don't go well together. Also that day I couldn't get the Quest adjusted as a day pack and was constantly stopping to re-adjust. It was a frustrating experience and a painful one. Two paracetamol taken by the cairn!

Anyway, Sgurr Coire nan Gobhar was eventually reached and in a light breeze we made our way to the Bealach Bhuidhe. Food.

We were quickly over the intervening 786m top and up to the trig point (pic). Sgurr na Ciche jutting skyward(pic); Ben Aden above the River Carnach, still to be done. Too many to name. Go see if you haven't been there. The ridge continues down to the Mam Meadail and Meall Bhuidhe could be linked with our hill of today (a hard day out I would think) but most will include it with Luinne Bheinn as we did from Barrisdale with our young border collie Mist, as eager to explore the hills as we were. We'd walked in from Kinloch Hourn, hurriedly pitched the tent and climbed both Munros. The following day we did Ladhar Bheinn, walked back out in the cool evening and drove back to Invercoe and the caravan. We'd had temperatures similar those on this trip while snow had fallen in the Cairngorms and mountain rescue teams had been in action. By morning it had arrived in Glen Coe. It was 2nd June.

As we left the summit we met the same lone walker encountered on Beinn na Caillich. More or less just starting the Corbetts, he was fourteen Munros away from his second round and looking forward to the peace and quite of the Corbetts. I recalled a light-hearted magazine article from many years ago titled "You'll meet a better class of walker on the Corbetts", wished him well and went our separate ways.

The lower slopes leading down to the River Inverie were a tangle of old bracken and new, the air fragrant with the perfume of wild hyacinths.

Sitting back at the tent removing ticks from legs (covered all day) a passing walker stopped "Are you Afootinthehills", he asked. "Certainly am. Are you Alex?" Fellow blogger (but not a Follower! Ed.- generously, he is now) he also was here for the Corbetts. Good to meet you Alex and I hope you enjoyed Beinn na Caillich. I think your suggested route via the Mam Li might have been a better choice than ours, so I hope you weren't cursing us too much yesterday! To be honest I don't know why we didn't go that way. Phillip Tranter eh? What a man.

Later we met Gus and Jess (I think that was their names) who'd just completed their East to West coast crossing having started from Aberdeen. We had a coffee with them in Inverie before catching the boat. Have a wonderful trip to Peru, Jess.

And so we are now back at Glen Nevis enjoying coffee in the sun.
"For Knoydart you will want many more days than you ever have avaiable. Knoydart is a far country as well as a rough one". Hamish Brown.

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Friday, 25 May 2012

Friday 25 May - Mallaig

Now back at Mallaig after an idyllic sail, courtesy Bruce Watt. Reluctant to leave Inverie and The Rough Bounds after four unforgettable days on and off the hills. We met some interesting people at the site including blogger Alex, aka 'Scotland's Mountains', but more of that later and of yesterday on Beinn Bhuidhe.

Conrad - Knoydart always stirs strong memories, either of days like those we've just experienced, or of battling with unfordable rivers, thick mist and navigational nightmares!

PhilR - are you roasting alive in Torridon yet?
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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Wednesday 23 May - Beinn na Caillich

We were off by 7.30am to get some distance and ascent done before the temperatures climbed.

Snipe were heard, then seen, just as we took the track to Gleann na Guiserein and so to a crossing of the Abhainn Inbhir Ghuiserein. We got across easily but in spate the bridge near Folach would be required.

The route from here is rough as only Knoydart can be. The scent of myrtle was in the air as we walked through a veritable forest of it brushing the leaves as we went. The temperature soared; slopes steepened; upward progress slowed. As always, a steady rhythm brought us to the broad, rocky and complex ridge, but Beinn na Caillich's summit looked no closer. In fact it didn't look part of the same hill - but we knew it was! Ladhar Bheinn with plunging slopes of An Diollaid dominates the immediate scene and, across Loch Hourn, Beinn Sgritheall. Pure wildness.

The descent seemed no easier, the temperatures still high. Back at Inverie, pints of iced ginger beer from The Old Forge finished off the day. What a scene - what a day. Mutual tick removal back at the tent!

I'm sending this from the Beaach Bhuidhe looking at some the finest hill country to be found anywhere in the world.
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sgurr Coire Choinnichean

Seen from the 'Western Isles' as she sails in to Inverie Bay, this is an impressive hill. Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Bhuidhe are the other two peaks making up the 'Inverie Corbetts', and this trio, together with a dozen others, have peered out at us from the Tables for about eight years now. Other ploys always seemed to take precedence over completing 'the list': climbing; picking up those remaining Munro 'Tops' we missed out on the round; hills on nobody's list but ours; exploring the great headlands of NW Skye; bird watching at Neist and so on. Now though, we have resolved to finish what we started!

So here we are in Knoydart; at Inverie campsite on the shores of Loch Nevis.(We seem to have brought everything including the kitchen sink with us). The walk to Long Beach from the village is a lovely one with primroses, wild hyacinths, bistort and lush greenery lining the roadside. The view from the tent door is of Rum

By the time we'd disembarked, walked to Long Beach, pitched the tent, packed the sacks etc it was 1pm and a perfect afternoon for an ascent of Sgurr Coire Choinnichichean. In our haste to get going we missed the start of the track which leads to Mam Uidhe, so much faffing took place (as Gayle would say). Once clear of the forest the ascent to the spectacular Allt Slochd a' Mhogha gorge is trackless but on the ridge it's good all the way to the summit.

To the north across wet and peat hagged Coire Choinnichen and Glean na Guiserein lay our hill for tomorrow, Beinn na Caillich, and to our north west was Ladhar Bheinn. It's a wild and special place, The Rough Bounds.

I'm sending this sitting at the cairn on Beinn na Caillich - no signal from the camp site.

Conrad - your exercises sound a bit unpleasant to say the least, but it'll be worth it I'm sure. So far the trip is living up to expectations.

Geoff - when you get a decent forecast you just have to go somewhere like Knodart.

Alan R - enjoy your jaunt north.

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Monday, 21 May 2012

Blair Atholl - Alan and Sheila

I can't use 'comment' on BB but I was about to post that Struan doesn't do camping any more when I reveived your second comment. It's years since I stayed at Blair Atholl, but I imagine it will be fine - if big - and expensive.

Hope the weather keeps up for you. Enjoy yourselves!

I've had a failure message so this post might appear twice if the first eventually makes it through!
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Knoydart bound

We've made our usual stop at Bruar before heading on for an overnight stop in Glen Nevis. Then, tomorrow it's the train and boat to Inverie for four days in Knoydart with Beinn na Caillich, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean and Beinn Bhuidhe on the list of things to do.

Situated as they are, these planned Corbetts don't really lend themselves to any logical backpacking trip so we'll be camping at Inverie and exploring them as day excursions. And are we looking looking forward to that!

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

May trip to Kintail and surrounding area

For anyone interested I've put some photographs here on SmugMug. All in all we had mixed weather as the mobile posts indicated, but it was an enjoyable trip

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Home again

Back home after a really enjoyable trip to Kintail and surrounding areas, getting just about everything the weather could throw at us. I'll sort out photographs and put them up on SmugMug in the next few days, in between getting ready for our next foray.

Thanks for all the comments on the mobile posts: Martin B, Alan R,Andrew W, David L, PhilR

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Gale force winds and blizzards

That's the forecast. Challengers starting from this area tomorrow will be hoping things improve, particularly if they have planned a high level route out of Glen Shiel.

Plockton is a pleasant village, even in the rain, with yachts in the bay sheltering from the stormy conditions out at sea. There was some sailing activity this morning with a few Lasers (I think) on the water, but it was brief. And conditions have steadily worsened since the photographs were taken.

We've had a good run this holiday so can't complain really. Home I think then, with back muscle apparently sorted, maybe a backpacking trip to Knoydart when the weather improves.

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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Saileag and Sgurr nan Spainteach

It started to snow as we reached our first summit of the day. Proper snow. Small flakes, but not the ' blowing in the wind' stuff which has been normal on this trip. Hills and ranges of hills took turns to be obliterated from view as the snow showers swept in then passed through.

We descended to the Bealach an Lapain, an excellent way, incidentally, from Glen Shiel to Glen Lichd and on to Glen Affric. It was warm in the bealach and nice spot for a cuppa but we decided to continue to Sgurr nan Spainteach, a Top of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, hoping to arrive before the next blatter swooped in from the north.

The path twists and turns, ups and downs and all in all is a delight. Beinn Fhada was gathering cloud again and the wind was strengthening. Snow swept in and the flakes were bigger this time. It felt like early winter but a cuckoo reminded that it was spring. Paramo trousers and ME jackets were eventually required and stayed on until back at the bealach. Tea. Mists formed and dissipated, rose up from the glen, flowed across the ridges. It was an atmospheric place.

The sun appeared as we made our way down; large hail stones had me pulling up my hood; it rained for the last ten minutes back to the 'van. What wonderful day we had.

Andrew W - from the road to Arnisdale (yesterday) Eigg was in sun but the interior of Knoydart, and I expect Morar, looked grim. Not much good weather to shove your way at present. It will arrive. Have fun!

PhilR - a lot can change by the time you're due in Torridon. Have a great week.

Alan R - it can't make up its mind what season it is at present. Still greatly enjoyable trip though.

Martin - won't know dates until friends make up their minds when they plan to be up here. Will know more when you get back from the Challenge. I'll follow you when I can but can't get the BB to allow me to comment! Good luck.

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

May snow

Not unusually for May, being a transitional month in Scotland, we have gone in the space of a week from the weather shown in the first photograph to that in the second. (Can happen daily, of course). It all makes for interesting times on the hills.

The fine weather is due to return for the arrival of Challengers here in Kintail on Thursday.

Martin - We might be in Torridon in June also!

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Monday, 7 May 2012

TGO Challenge

Best wishes for a great crossing to Martin and Sue Banfield and to Alan Sloman, Andrew Walker and the third member of the party whose name escapes me (Willy?).

There are no midges up here as yet and I haven't picked up a single tick. Hope the weather keeps fine - for all of us!

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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg

Our starting point was as yesterday, but today we followed the Allt Coire Tholl Bhruach intending to join the ridge at the bealach between Aonach Meadhoin and Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg. However once in the corrie we opted to take the steep slopes which would see us emerge a few hundred metres west of Aonach Meadhoin.

High on this slope I stopped to add a layer of clothing and noticed that there was no Satmap in the rucksack. It was probably in the motorvan but there was also the possibility that I'd left it lying on the ground outside the van when I'd picked up the sack. This was unlikely (I told myself) and pushed on, soon arriving at the well-worn path.

The ridge now dropped away to the bealach and it was a delight to follow it, pausing occasionally to savour the fantastic views west. Being a Bank Holiday the place was becoming busy. Some (mainly young) seemed to be taking their Munro bagging very seriously, grim- faced and barely able to say 'hello'. A job of work it appeared. Shame. Don't they know this is fun?! The final slopes quickly lead to the large cairn and with photographs taken, we made our retreat to make room for the approaching crowds.

Retracing our steps to the bealach we met two ladies, one a fellow Munroist and on her second round, the other with eight to go. We chatted for ages exchanging experiences on hills the length and breadth of the Highlands. Kindred spirits indeed and what a difference between these seasoned hill-goers and the others we'd passed who had been so reluctant to even acknowledge our presence.
From here we took the grassy slopes to pt 806 and so down to the Tholl Bhruach and back to the van. The Satmap wasn't on the ground but on a seat under a fleece. To be honest I'd forgotten all about it, such had been the quality of the day.

Mark - hope your back problem is resolved soon so that you can enjoy your backpacking trip.

Alan R - yes, I'm fine now and if it weren't for the fine scenery and weather, I'd be pretty depressed about cancelling our walk. I note that you are getting back to full fitness yourself which is good to hear.

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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Greetings from Sgurr an Fhuarail (1)

Snow showers with some sun. We've come from Aonach Meadhoin (Lynne in pic) where it was, quite frankly, b****y freezing. The hills of Torridon seem to have acquired a fair covering of snow overnight. Settled downfor lunch in a sheltered spot overlooking Coire nan Eun.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday 4 May - Glean Lichd

Light snow showers were sweeping across the hills this morning and a cold north wind was blowing, so we opted for a lower level excursion. A wander down Gleann Lichd to the E.U.M.C Hut and then the pass to Glen Affric. Maybe. A plaque on the door informs that the hut was opened in 1956 in memory of two climbers killed in a storm on Ben Nevis in May 1955.

We had no ambitions today other than to walk, look and listen. Some soft hail fell as we left Glenlicht House but the day was improving quickly and all the burns were low, so even without the bridges the two we had to cross would have posed no difficulty. I reminded Lynne of one of our previous, always wet, trips here when the first was impassable and we turned back: she had no recollection of it, so it must have been a dream. Who am I to contradict!

Our peaceful lunch spot at the summit of the pass gave fine views south to Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg and to the east, Mullach Fraoch-choire. The track eventually drops to Camban, an open bothy in Fionngleann, and continues on to Glen Affric.

Reluctantly we began our descent pausing to photograph the rather lovely waterfall created as the Allt Grannda emerges from a small gorge. Summits and lofty ridges are great places to be, but you can miss much of interest by neglecting old ways through the hills I think.

That said, it's the tops again for us tomorrow!

Distance - 20km and about 500m ascent.

Martin - Thanks. My back muscle has recovered much more quickly than expected. It took 6 weeks last time. Tonight would have been our first wild camp of the trip.....

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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Wednesday 2 May - Beinn Fhada, Meall an Fhuarain Mhoir, Sgurr a' Dubh Doire

It was a beautiful May morning and a cool breeze and cuckoo kept us company as we made our way up Glean Choinneachain, the finest in Kintail in W H Murray's view. I could find no reason to disagree with the great man. The path makes for easy going all the way to the Bealach an Sgairne, although today we weren't passing through 'The Gates of Affric' but taking the stalker's path into Coire an Sgairne and onto the Plaide Mhor.

A check of records shows 30 May 1983 for Beinn Fhada but unlike today the two Tops were not part of the plan, Meall an Fhuarain Mhor (954m) and Sgurr a' Dubh Doire (962m) being inconveniently situated west and east of the Munro. 'Always leave something to come back for' a friend once said. How wise.

The crags of Sgurr a' Choire Ghairbh held our eyes as we climbed out of Coire an Sgairne (winter climbs here surely, and if not there should be) onto the summit plateau and over the gently rising, grassy slopes to the cairn on Meall an Fhuarain Mhor. The view from here was breathtaking: Skye, the Applecross hills, Torridon, the Five Sisters, distant Ben Nevis and the Cairngorms.

It was time for a break and some food and tea - and lots of photography. Before heading for our second objective of the day we had a look at an alternative route to this summit by Beinn Bhuidhe and Sgurr a' Choire Ghairbh which involves a rocky sramble into and out of The Hunter's Pass, clearly seen from our vantage point. Another time no doubt.

Sgurr a' Dubh Doire gave fine views of the Affric Hills and of Loch a' Bhealaich in Glean Gaorsaic. In fact if we'd thought about it earlier and visited Bheinn Fhada on our way to this Top, we could have descended to Glean Gniomhaidh and returned to Morvich via 'The Gates'. A backpacking trip for the future perhaps. As it was, our way home lay back over the Munro and by the time we arrived at the trig point the few other walkers we'd seen from afar had gone.

After the ritual photography we descended to Coire an Sgairne and so to the path in Gleann Choinneachain. It was unmistakably May in the Highlands with a freshness not found later in summer.

Tom Weir once wrote that you couldn't have too many months of May in a lifetime. Let's hope this is one to remember.

Distance: 27km
Ascent: 1420m

Andrew W - have arranged for good weather to last for The Challenge. Send cash.

Mark - hope your miserable weather has improved, but don't send any of it up here please.

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Tuesday, 1 May 2012


It's easier to reply to any comments in the body of a post so that's what I'll do in future (assuming there is anyone who thinks there is something worth commenting upon in the first place of course)

So, David L - "the fine piece of stone" is indeed local, very local now, and is captioned on the blog. Cheers David.

Martin - yes, postponed is more accurate but it will be next May before it's revived. I will enjoy Skye when I finally get there thanks.

Alan R - very true and I am enjoying!


I am giving myself one more day of lazing around before hitting the hills again, so we've pulled into the Caravan Club site at Morvich. Beinn Fada is the objective for tomorrow, or more accurately' its two 'tops' are and then the following day, Skye at last.

There's not much snow on the Glen Shiel hills so any Challenger starting from here should have no worries on that count. Likewise the Drumochter lot (though a bit more) and there was no sign of 'Beauly to Denny' activity to cause access difficulties either.

The hills are looking their fabulous best, it's warm and there isn't a cloud in sight. Heaven. Time for a beer.

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