Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 21 December 2015

Enjoy the festivities and the hills in 2016.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Stunning weather in the Ochils

Click to enlarge

We met six people, so it was a busy day.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Talking Greyhound

The astute readers who regularly visit this blog will quickly note that this post has nothing to do with hills. For others, please note that this post has nothing to do with hills....

A man sees a sign outside a house - 'Talking greyhound For Sale.' He rings the bell, the owner appears and tells him the dog can be viewed in the back garden.

The man sees a very nice looking greyhound sitting there.
"Do you really talk?" he asks the greyhound.
"Yes," the greyhound replies.

After recovering from the shock of hearing the greyhound talk, he man asks, "So, tell me your story."

The greyhound looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the SAS"
"In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one imagined that a greyhound would be eavesdropping."

"I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years.But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at Heathrow to do some undercover security work, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded several medals. I got married, had a few puppies, and now I've just retired."

The man is amazed. He goes back into the house and asks the owner how much he wants for the greyhound.

"Ten quid," the owner says.

"£10!!? But this greyhound is absolutely amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheaply?"

"Because he's a lying b*****d. He's never been out of the garden!!.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Green Thing

The following has just been sent to me. Hope you enjoy!

Yesterday after shopping in our local supermarket, I was in the queue at the Check Out, and heard when the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
The woman apologised to the young girl & then sighed, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. You folk didn't do enough to save our environment for future generations."

The older lady said "Ahh yes you're right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day." She sighed then continued:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles & beer bottles to the shops. The shops then sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized & refilled, so those same bottles were used over & over, thus REALLY were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores put our groceries into brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) were not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on their brown paper bag/covers. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.
I remember how we walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store or office building; walked to the grocery store & didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go 200 yards.

. . . But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.
Back then we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind & solar power really did dry our clothes back in our days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. . . . But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day. 

Back then we had one radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And if anyone did own a TV, it had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of a football pitch. When cooking we blended & stirred by hand coz we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send by post, we used layers of old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity., , , , But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, & we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the "green thing" back then. Back then, people took the bus & kids rode bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's expensive car or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing".. 

Oh and we had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest leisure park.
. . . . But it so sad this current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then? . . . I think you should forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from some smart ass young person. .. ...

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off... Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smart ass who can't make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Wind farms and diesel engines

As I sit looking at the Burnfoot wind farm I can't help wondering if the scientists who advised the Blair government on the environmental advantages of diesel engines didn't move on to become climate scientists. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

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Saturday, 12 September 2015

A couple of pics

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Friday, 11 September 2015

Relieved. Perhaps

"We smelt the smell of heather when
We burnt it for the tea,
And granite struck by granite at
The back of Corrie Fee,
We saw the twisted strata in
The glaciated lands,
The little speck of mica that
Stuck glistening in our hands".

A verse from 'The Poem, 1972' by
Syd Scroggie

On our descent of the Marilyn Craigendarroch last week, I slipped on the narrow path. Nothing much; hardly anything at all really, just a foot sliding a few inches. However in the evening I felt a slight nip in my left knee which worsened after a walk through the Morrone Birkwood the following day.

It was the same knee that was operated on two years ago and I feared the worst. The Braemar Gathering came and went with no easing and on Sunday we watched a re-enactment marking the 300th anniversary of the raising of the Jacobite standard here in 1715. Both events were thoroughly enjoyable and involved a fair bit of walking, but I knew that on Monday I needed to get on a hill to either confirm the worst or, more hopefully, discover that I had done nothing more than irritate a tendon.

It was with great relief that at the Glas Maol cairn all seemed well. The midges arrived as did the black flies but not even a plague of midges could have spoiled this glorious day. A young lad appeared and told us that this was his 5th Munro. He was in the forces (REME) and was home for week from his base in London and would soon be posted to Leuchars, much to his obvious delight. On Creag Leacach we met again then went our separate ways. The Knee was still fine.

It was like summer, or at least what summer should have been like. A perfect day with the main Cairngorms looking magnificent, the hills of the western Mounth equally so.

Respecting the knee, we had an easy afternoon the following day lying in the sun on a carpet of heather on Carn Aosda. I picked up a small rock - the mica glistened in the sun.

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A question for TGO Challengers only

Where is this?

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Craigendarroch summit environs (see previous post)

Tuesday 1 September Craigendarroch - (Marilyn) NO 365965 Map 44

Countless times we've studied this craggy, tree-covered hill which overlooks the village of Ballater, but for some unfathomable reason its ascent has never been on the day's agenda.

However, this morning dawned wet and windy so a short climb in wooded shelter seemed like a sound idea. And so it was.

The path, steep in places and lined with heather, blaeberry and cranberry bushes, threaded its way through the beautiful oak wood (the biggest in Deeside) later giving way to birch and some Scots pine. A massive memorial cairn and an information board appeared near the top, the former seeming oddly out of place. Further on a viewpoint indicator marked the summit and a seat provided the ideal place for some tea, although even at the modest height of 402m I needed my insulated jacket on while we sat there admiring the view. Lochnagar and Broad Cairn were clear of cloud as was our hill of yesterday, Morrone.

Our descent route took us through even denser woodland then along the base of this mound of granite, once buried under 500m of ice. Not surprisingly wood ants were hard at work as evidenced by large ant hills. It reminded of days in Rothiemurchus.

It took a moment or two to realise that we were back at our starting point; the disorientating effect of being in thick woodland we supposed. A complete circuit of the base of the hill can be made, and if the present wet weather continues no doubt we will return.

Note: I've just noticed that the lens on the BlackBerry's camera needs cleaned; the photograph is therefore even poorer than usual. I'll post a couple from the iPad which won't allow me to send a full post to Blogger at present.

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Sunday, 30 August 2015


The final preparations for the Braemar Gathering are well underway, but between now and then some hills will be climbed, some places of interest visited.

Thanks to A and D for looking after the house. There's beer and wine in the fridge!
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Monday, 3 August 2015


Following the current craze of posting photos of tractors (Martin, Gayle and Conrad), here is another one, moving this time, for AlanR

Click to enlarge
 I've cropped it since the lad driving did not look too happy about being photographed.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Glenquey Moss - Quarry Application Appeal

Great news. The Reporter has rejected CEMEX's appeal against Perth and Kinross Council's decision last November to reject an application to establish a quarry at Glenquey Moss.

We can now look forward to enjoying many more days in this area, the curlews, red kites, kestrels, buzzards and all the flora and fauna of the Moss left undisturbed.

The view down to Glenquey Moss - area left of white house - from Innerdownie.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

"Old habits die hard, harder than November rain." A brief conclusion.

At the beginning of our recent  three week holiday in the Lake District I said that we planned to roam far and wide; we did not. Generally the weather was better where we were (and very hot during the first week) although we did go to the Ullswater area (couldn't park), the northern fells, Buttermere and finished with a day on Sergeant Man and High Raise via Easedale Tarn.

It was an immensely enjoyable trip and I even managed to post regularly, though whether I'll bother to do that again remains to be seen. There is no doubt that posts are a useful personal record but I think most people much prefer to read about long walks in far off (or not so far off) lands, so I'm not sure the blog needs to be public any more. In any event Lynne keeps a diary!

While we were away I received a comment from one Geoff Jackson on my post concerning Keen Arroyo Sandals. Don't know if anyone agrees with Geoff but I did not!

Anyway thanks for your comments AlanR and DaveB.

Now home for a bit, Braemar in September then we pick up the new car in October, assuming it's built on schedule.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Saturday 11 July - Ullswater and Bowscale Fell

I must confess that the Ullswater district is not one of my favourites although it is without doubt a lovely area; it's just that it doesn't feel quintessentially Lake District. It has, if you will, a Scottish feel which is an admirable quality if you are in Scotland!

Despite the above reservations we decided to drive over to Patterdale and, if we could park, have a walk somewhere as yet undecided. Guess what? Couldn't park anywhere it being a Saturday - now that has a very un-Scottish feel to it. It was a pity but.....

never fear, all was not lost. The quiet(er) northern fells beckoned so we took the Mungrisedale road, eventually parking at Mosedale. It was barely one o'clock, plenty of time for a leisurely ascent of Bowscale Fell.

This would be my third* ascent of the fell, once with my brother and his wife on a second holiday in 1969 and once with Lynne a few years later. On the 1969 visit we'd stopped at Bowscale Tarn on a wet day and fished for perch and caught enough for tea! Unfortunately we did not catch sight of the two immortal trout.

Today a strong wind was whipping up the waters and yet a few metres higher up it was virtually calm and a perfect spot for a late lunch of ginger bread and biscuits.

Stepping out of the corrie onto the broad ridge we were hit again by the strong wind and had we wanted to stay at the cairn for any length of time our Rab Neutrinos would have been needed. It is July after all and winter looms....

A few photos and we made a quick escape back into the corrie to regain the calm, and eventually the warmth, of lower ground and another stop.

We met a few people on our way down but by and large I suspect these 'Northern Fells' still remain a refuge for those seeking solitude on busy summer weekends and especially on bank holidays.
There's no doubt that we will go back to these peaceful hills, so very different from the rest of the Lake District, and yet so obviously part of it.

*I am not certain we went to the summit in 1969 and it is even possible that we fished in Scales Tarn on Blencathra. It's all so long ago...

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Friday 10 July - Buttermere

"..made by heaven for summer floor and purple heights with the sound of the water under the sunset" (W G Collingwood)

I first came to the Buttermere area in 1969 with my brother and his wife who had generously invited me to join them on a rock climbing holiday, thereby introducing me to the Lake District, a place I've loved deeply ever since. A day of wet weather found us having a look at Grey Crag and Eagle Crag in Burtness Comb on our way to High Stile (I think). Earlier we'd passed Low Crag, scene of a tragic accident where at least one member of the local MRT had been killed a few weeks earlier and several others injured during a training exercise.

Some years later Lynne and I crossed Scarth Gap on a backpacking trip to climb Pillar, Steeple etc. Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe were playing in the final at Wimbledon, although exactly which one I can't remember. It was a great trip.

Our second visit, a year or so later found us on the High Stile group in searing heat with nothing to drink because one of us (I'm being charitable here...) had dropped and smashed our only flask of tea. We repeated these fine hills in the late 1990s and again a few years later.

Arriving at the car park near The Fish I couldn't help wondering why we had stayed away for so long. We weren't here to walk on the fells; we were being tourists for once and had cappuccinos and toasted teacakes in the Croft House Farm Cafe. Very nice indeed.

By the time I'd had a second cappuccino the sun was out, the sky blue, so we decided to walk round the lake. What a beautiful walk, particulary through the oak trees from Buttermere to Gatesgarth Farm, the meadows full of colour and vibrancy, Haystacks and Fleetwith Edge impressive backdrops. Nearly back at Buttermere we noticed a group of women swimming in the lake and later one asked if I would take a group photograph of them with an iPhone. They told us they were on a 'swimming weekend'. Not often I'm asked to photograph women in swim suits!

Now it was hot and I simply could not resist an English Lakes double Jersey ice cream cone before, reluctantly, leaving "... one of the most perfect pictures in the whole of the Lake District".

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Thursday 9 July - a familiar trio

Note: this post has been put together in dribs and drabs and has suffered accordingly.
We just managed to squeeze the motorvan between two cars at the little quarry car park at Rigg Beck.
After the usual faff getting rucksacks ready and a debate about whether to wear shorts or not, whether I should take my windshirt or Astron Hoodie and whether I had my sun-hat, we set off down the lanes leading to Newlands Church and Low Snab farm.

More debate: the mine track to Dale Head Tarn then to Dale Head, Hindscarth etc or the ziz-zags to Dale Head Mine and onwards or an ascent of Hindscarth via Scope End and onwards. Scope End could not be resisted especially since it was in sun unlike the other alternatives. Every step was, as usual, a delight.

Beyond the initial steepness we exchanged greetings with two other (female) walkers who'd left the car park before us and had stopped for a bite to eat and some water.

Further on a lone figure was descending and we fell into conversation. He told us his wife could no longer walk the fells because of knee problems (I sympathised having had two cartilage ops) so he had set out at 7.30 and was now on his way down (11.30) to meet his wife in Keswick for the day. There was no doubt he was a lover of the Lake District and a kindred spirit.

Before the final pull to the summit, the cold wind had me rummaging for my windshirt and wishing I had brought my Astron Hoodie. No matter how well I think I've packed my sack, whatever I want is always at the bottom, or so it seems. The two walkers met earlier passed by without a word giving the impression that we were in some sort of race. We weren't but if they were, then they lost!

A chat at Hindscarth's cairn with a couple from Kent revealed that
they had started coming to the Lake District when her husband retired and in the last ten years had spent the equivalent of two years on the fells. He was the spitting image of Chris Bonington.
As always on a fine day the view was superb in all directions. We didn't tarry too long, said our goodbyes and soon the summit of Robinson was under our feet. The two 'racers' arrived somewhat later and began their descent while we retraced part of our route to pick up the ridge to Dale Head. A group of Russians, the last to leave the top, marched by carrying massive backpacking sacks speaking loudly in Russian (well they would wouldn't they).

On our way down we noticed that 'Fix the Fells' had been repairing part of the path though neither of us could recall it needing touched when we passed only a year ago. It's going to look raw for while.
As we approached Dale Head Tarn two women asked where the track was (we were on it) and how far it was to Little Town via Dale Head. It transpired they had walked from Keswick, over Catbells, Maiden Moor etc. We helped as much as we could with timings and so on but in the end they decided to accompany us part of the way down the mine track. They were really nice people but unfortunately we couldn't offer them a lift to Keswick since the motorvan has no additional front facing seats.
An enjoyable day with a few pleasant encounters.
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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th July - Grasmoor, others and a walk to Butteremere (almost)

".......Grasmoor is perhaps the least visited of all the big mountains of Lakeland, and yet it presents a most challenging side above Crummock Water and is at the end of a particularly attractive set of ridges." (A H Griffin, 1970)

Whether Grasmoor is still one of 'the least visited' I wouldn't know, but certainly we only met two other couples on the top, and even on the 'attractive set of ridges' walkers were few in number.

There is a spaciousness about Grasmoor when approached from Eel Crag and its grassy expanse was a pleasing place to be on this beautiful July day. A lamb seemed unable to get up so I assisted and off it went, limping, but now able to find some shelter from the unforgiving sun. We diverted to Wandope; one day it will have to be climbed via Addacomb Hole.

Our return over the ridges culminated in our customary visit to Causey Pike's small cairn where four others were enjoying the sun, the light cooling breeze and the scene. Soon we left it to the Herdwicks.

Relaxing in the evening Lynne occasionally reads snippets from 'The Shepherd's Life' by James Rebanks. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Today (Sunday) we took the path by Rigg Beck and crossed to just above Butteremere. Had we been a bit earlier on the go the previously mentioned 'must do' ascent of Wandope via Addacomb Hole might now have been achieved. Another day.

Returning, it started to rain just beyond the watershed and eventually waterproof jackets were donned. Shorts just got wet, waterproof trousers being just a step too far in the muggy conditions.

The midges are out again tonight, blast them.
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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd July - a film set and a short circuit

On Wednesday we found ourselves down by Derwentwater and it was a hive of activity. Not just the usual tourists getting on and off the launch but a film set being constructed. Various stalls of vegetables (real), glass globes, harbour master's hut, fortune teller booth and so on.

In the water was a rectangular floating pontoon with two outboard motors and a 20ft high camera mount being tested. The attention to detail was impressive.

All this, I was informed, was for filming 'a version' of Swallows and Amazons. I felt like replying in Lady Bracknell fashion: 'A version'? Either it is or it is not Swallows and Amazons.

Thursday was dull and muggy despite the overnight thunder storms. The lightning display was spectacular though Lynne slept through it all.

Plans for the day were simple, involving a short outing to Ashness Bridge, over High Seat, Blaeberry Fell and Walla. It was quite a sociable day meeting various walkers at various points along the way and NT's Bark House provided a pleasant half hour halt.

Descending from Blaeberry Fell we found that the lovely grassy path beyond the sheepfold abruptly changed to a horrible, ugly concrete-like walkway: the worst path 'restoration' I have ever encountered. You might find this on a building site but it has no place on the Lake District fells. I don't know if this is the work of the National Park, 'Fix the Fells' or some other organisation, but whoever is responsible: you are a disgrace, incompetent and don't have an aesthetic bone in your bodies.

I needed a beer or two when I got back to the site. No longer will I donate to path restoration.
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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tuesday 30 June - fell wandering

There was little incentive to drive far in what promised to be a very hot day. The small car park just outside Braithwaite was packed with people getting ready for the ascent of Grisedale Pike; we were alone in setting off up the Coledale track. It was humid and we hoped there would be a light breeze higher up. Light breeze? Strong wind, but welcome.

I sat at Coledale Hause waiting for Lynne to arrive. She'd been chatting to an American couple who lived in London and discovered that the husband was a retired geologist. Mine adits, seeping toxic heavy metals into Coledale Beck (zinc, cadmium, copper and lead in particular) and their removal all featured in the lengthy discussion. Lynne arrived, disconcertingly fresh, from her rapid ascent from Coledale Beck and we wandered over to the depression between Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike.

It was a windy journey out to Whiteside - a delightful ridge walk - and we wondered whether the warm weather had remained firmly in the south. It arrived on Grisedale Pike and we descended in stiffling heat  and could have done without the road walk up the Whinlatter to the large lay-by and the motorvan.

An ice-cream van was parked but I managed to resist. A gallon of water was what I needed.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Monday 29 June - Post Wedding Anniversary walk

Unusually for us we travelled to the Lakes on our wedding anniversary day (41st), so today we have had a gentle outing: the mine track to near Dalehead Tarn and then over High Spy and Maiden Moor, making frequent stops and diversions when something caught our interest. On Miners Crag I mentally worked out a route up a wall, delicately traversing at the top to below an overhang. A groove above was climbed to finish. Well beyond me now, but enjoyable to imagine. There was a tinge of sadness too though.

Turning away we came across a small pool dotted with bogbean (or bogpea as I repeatedly call it, much to Lynne's amusement (ridicule actually).

Strolling was the order of the day, stops for tea frequent. We climbed Catbells to finish. It was thronged and we left quickly for the lovely descent to Little Town.

All in all a pleasant start to the holiday.

Note: The much vaunted 'heat wave' did not make an appearance and a cold wind niggled all day, although some folks were not feeling the cold with shorts being the preferred attire. Others had hoods up, some wore hats. We were somewhere in between.

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saturday 27 June - Over the border

Well, that's us sorted and off again tomorrow. Just hope the weather is like that in the photograph which was definitely not typical of our last holiday on and around Skye.

Having three weeks to spend in the Lake District will allow us to visit places we haven't been to for years rather than just our usual days in the north western fells, although we won't be neglecting those lovely fells.
Thanks to A&D for looking after the abode.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Sun in the Mamores

After three hot days in the hills we are sitting in the sun having leisurely coffees.

The wind, cooled by its passage over the snow field in Sgurr a' Mhaim's northern corrie, was welcome after the steep, hot climb. We lazed at the cairn absorbing what lay before us. Dots appeared on the Devil's Ridge but otherwise the hills seemed empty. No doubt the upper snows of Ben Nevis were thronged, but that was a different world from ours today.

We had no plans for any further progress; not even the ridge tempted. Not much anyway. It's better from south to north in my view and Lynne agreed. That settled the matter; we would stay right where we were.

The descent is hard on knees and quads. The quartzite screes have been pounded to fine granules by thousands of walkers all using the same route up and down. Mostly down I would guess.

The day before our Sgurr a' Mhaim outing we met two Outward Bound Trust groups, one planning to camp at Lochan Coire nam Miseach the other already camped lower down the glen in a lovely spot with view down Glen Nevis. Most in both groups looked miserable and all except one girl who returned a wave from Lynne, ignored us. How different from the foursome met in the Lake District a couple of years ago who were carrying huge packs in debilitating heat and heading for 'Seattle we think' (Seatoller). They were all smiles, relishing the fells.

Another fine day we planted ourselves on Sgor an Iubhair and watched a guided party set off for the Devil's Ridge. We just wandered about.

Yesterday,while sitting in the sun at the 'van, we engaged a chap out walking his dog. The weather cropped up and the BBC got it in the neck for only being concerned with the 'soft south'. Then he added 'of course this is the soft south to me'. He lived in Sutherland and had been the Cape Wrath Lighthouse keeper and now retired he was the part-time keeper for several lighthouses checking all was well on a regular basis. Fascinating character.

Today it is blazing hot and we think we may go home tomorrow which gives us a couple of weeks before we are off again. On the other hand we might just have another day in the hills. Hard to leave here in the current weather.

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Monday, 8 June 2015


The wi-fi signal on this pitch is barely sufficient to allow me to buy wi-fi let alone use it. So, AlanR and Conrad: thanks for your comments and I'll respond asap. Good to hear from you both and catch up with your blogs in due course.

Also, I responded to Oss's excellent post but it may have been a victim of loss of signal. If so, I'll comment again. What a life.

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Saturday 6 June - Rain and more rain.

It is absolutely throwing it down today with high winds just to add to the drama. The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is being held at Aonach Mor this weekend but the morning training session had to postponed because of the conditions. The site is packed, partly because of this event.

Supposedly things are looking better for next week with high pressure dominating. I'll believe it when I'm enjoying the sun on a hill and not before.

We took a forest walk this afternoon and as the photo shows the weather has 'improved'! Some West Highland Wayers looking wet and weary were heading into 'The Fort' and the end of their sojourn. The weather has not been kind to them at all - and it shows.

Before and over dinner we watched a wagtail feeding a youngster. It sat on the wooden fence in the rain, sometimes for ten minutes or longer, waiting patiently while mum went off to find food. This went on for over two hours. Occasionally the young wagtail would position itself closer to the fence post, for better shelter presumably, before resuming the wait for sustenance.

A sunny finish to the day (now Sunday!). A hill tomorrow.

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Friday, 5 June 2015

Wednesday 3 June - a wintry June day

After a couple of days of more wild weather we have, temporarily, moved to Lochaber and made our annual pilgrimage to the top of a very wintry Stob Ban in the Mamores (the photo doesn't show this but I might be able to post a couple of better ones later). It is a very special hill for us, climbed in all sorts of conditions from white-outs to blazing sunshine and everything in between.

Today was one of those days when waterproofs were frustratingly on and off, on and off. I said to Lynne that I couldn't remember all this faffing about in earlier days. We didn't have all this stuff to faff about with as she pointed out, but I wonder if comfort was as much of an issue back then. I can't say I felt any less comfortable in my woollen shirt, M&S jumper, and in later years my Javelin Jacket (fibre pile) than I do today. Might be my memory though or just plain youth!

I've probably said it before but the walk by the Allt Coire a' Mhusgain is truly lovely, the scattered birches like old friends. The old stalkers path took us quickly up into Coire Mhusagain and to the cairn at the bealach. From here, set against a dark sky, the northeast face looked Eiger-ish.

The slaistery snow and slippery quartzite on the ridge required care. I took some video of Lynne on the steep scree and snow of the 'direct finish' carefully making her way towards me. It's anything but difficult but a fall from here would be unthinkable.

The big gully below her still held lots of snow and avalanche debris was in evidence. All was calm at the cairn and a couple enjoyed lunch perched near the edge of the cliffs. Another walker whom we'd met lower down eventually arrived having stopped to chat to a few others. He enthused about the ascent, the Mamores in general, about the long day he had planned and his/our luck with the weather, the Glen Coe hills to the south being cloud-covered. Light snow began to fall and the sun shone, transforming the atmosphere instantly. It felt alpine, but not for long.

We departed taking the easier exit and lower down encountered two other walkers, one wearing shorts, who asked if the winds were strong on the summit. They made some unflattering remarks about BBC weather forecasters with which we heartily agreed.

It was dry as we sauntered through the Mamore Grazings, a place of many memories. Another rewarding day in hills was over.

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Saturday 30 May - Beinn nan Carn (Marilyn) and a visit to the cleared village of Boreraig

It was cloudy (as usual) as we set off from our parking spot but there was hope that the sun would at last make more than a fleeting appearance.

The path leads to Boreraig but our first objective was the Marilyn lying above Loch Lonachan. We made quick progress spurned on by the cold and a late-ish start. At a stile a notice informed us that we were entering Beinn nan Carn Woodland established between January and May 2000 under the Government Assisted Woodland Grant Scheme. The gross area of the woodland is 275 hectares and has been designed to mimic native woodland distribution patterns. The 240,000 trees which have been planted - birch, rowan, alder, willow, ash, oak, hazel, aspen and holly - were grown from seed gathered from existing native woodlands on Skye.

Heartening to read, and the young trees were in evidence. Meanwhile the community at Ose on north Skye has welcomed approval for a wind farm in Glen Ullinish with 14 turbines. Guess where I won't be visiting again.

A surprisingly large cairn marked the 301m summit of Beinn nan Carn which was easily reached from the track, although the lower terrain provided ample opportunity to plunge feet into deep boggy holes. This we managed to avoid - until on the way down.

Once back on the track we continued southwards in the sun. It is truly a delightful walk by the Allt na Pairte. Loch Eishort sparkled, on its shores the lush fields and sad ruins of Boreraig. Here in the mid-19th century Lord Macdonald evicted the people in mid-winter - men, women and children. The are many ruins here
and I found it easy to imagine the plight of those who had their homes destroyed, left to the mercy of the elements. I felt both angry and sad.

Reluctantly we turned away from this beautiful place and made our way back to Strath Suardal. Bla Bheinn was looking magnificent; Ladhar Bheinn was topped with fresh snow. There really is no where like Skye on such a day.

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Friday, 29 May 2015

Thursday 28 May - Glas Bheinn Mhor (Marilyn)

Rain, wind, hail and, yes some sunshine. That was the mix on 570m Glas Bheinn Mhor with only the predicted thunder being absent. All this 'weather' is keeping the midges away though.

At the Luib 'carpark', flasks of Lapsang Souchong were made, sandwiches prepared, ginger bread cut, biscuits selected. The sun appeared.

We quickly abandoned the path (RoW) through Strath Mor to Torrin on Loch Slapin and took to the sodden hillside, aiming for the well defined north ridge and drier ground. The bright conditions didn't last long as rain swept over the Cuillin and headed our way; we had waterproofs on just in time to avoid a drubbing.

The rain eased as we reached the start of a wall which Lynne aptly described as resembling a 'trail of gun powder' (first photo). A short descent eastwards gave a view of Loch na Sguabaidh and Lochain Stratha Mhoir looking dark and wild in the gloomy weather.

Apparently, one should stick to the path through this Strath because sink holes lie in wait, though exactly where I have no idea. We didn't notice any or, obviously, fall into one, when we did Beinn na Cro all those years ago. Sometimes it's best not to know about these things.

Some pics were taken while trying to keep the camera dry then our thoughts turned to food. The perfect spot revealed itself just as the sun returned - and stayed for the remainder of the day. We heard a cuckoo, stopped to say hello to two tiny ponies (smaller than Shetlands) and made a short diversion to check that the Folk Museum really had gone (now a ruin).

Glas Bheinn Mhor is well worth a visit and a longer trip can be made by continuing to Belig and Garbh-bheinn, a Marilyn and Corbett respectively - though those are their least important features.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Wednesday 27 May - The wet, wet west

This is the wettest day so far and yet the place is busy. I would have predicted a clear-out given the preceding five days and the weather forecast for the rest of the week.

We are back at the motorvan parked at Eilean Donan Castle after a walk by the River Glennan, dry for part of the time then wet. Very wet. At least we can get things dry.

Neither of us can remember May weather like this in, what, forty years? Yes about that. Neither can the locals. And yet, the pull of the west is strong and any urge to escape east (think Cairngorms or thereabouts) is tempered by our love of the hill-sea combination. It's not that much better elsewhere in Scotland anyway.

(Now back at the site so time it's time for a beer)

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Monday 25 May - Luib and a very easy day

We pulled into the small car park at Luib just off the 'new' A97 which hugs the shores of Loch Ainort.

By contrast the old road skirts the southern slopes of Am Meall giving fine views of Strath Mor before descending to the Allt Strollamus. Strath Mor had been our route into the hills many moons ago when heading for Beinn na Cro and others. Luib still had a cafe and a Folk Museum then.

We stopped above Strollamus had some tea and munchies, as Conrad would say - - then decided to climb the small hill immediately above us, Glas Bheinn Bheag, a mere bump on the way to Beinn na Cro. From its cairn, Bla Bheinn dominated the scene to the south, and the north ridge of Beinn na Caillich looked a worthwhile alternative to the usual (and excellent) approach from Strath Suardal.

A simple day. If there had still been a cafe at Luib we could have finished with tea in best Conrad tradition.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

Morar Motors, Kyle

On our way to Skye on Saturday a front indicator bulb failed so on Sunday we dropped into Morar Motors in Kyle of Lochalsh. They were extremely pleasant and fitted a new bulb on the spot and charged £1 - the cost of the bulb. In fact I couldn't have bought one from the local shops for that price. I offered to pay more, but no, £1 it was. OK, it wasn't a big job but when was the last time you were only charged a pound at a garage or for that matter anywhere? Thanks again to Morar Motors.

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Saturday 23 May - Ben Lee (Marilyn)

Sligachan camp site was a busy, bleak, windy place and happy smiling campers were in short supply. The Cuillin had more or less disappeared smothered in the ever thickening clag; rain threatened and Ben Lee didn't look a particularly inviting prospect.

Not far from the camp site a young couple were returning along the boggy, skittery path their faces a picture of utter misery. Skye magic wasn't working for them, at least not today.

We crossed a burn, me taking a route that ensured wet feet, Lynne sensibly crossing dry-shod a few metres away. The path on Loch Sligachan's north shore improves beyond the Allt an t-Sithein but here we took to the hillside, realising after twenty minutes that we were on the wrong side of the burn for the best route up. Now the Allt was out of sight and well below us in its deep gorge, seemingly impossible to reach let alone cross. Was it going to be 'one of those days'? A quick descent brought us back to the obvious crossing place which we'd ignored a short time before and soon we were on our way up again.

Glamaig looked superb across the loch, a sharp peak thrusting skyward. Our little Ben Lee seemed very ordinary by comparison, an impression which would prove as unfounded as the forecast of heavy rain.

As many of you will know, Ben Lee, only 444m, is famous. In 1882 Lord Macdonald tried to remove the right of the crofters of Braes (Peinchorran, Balmeanach and Gedintailor) to use the common grazings on Ben Lee, but the crofters went ahead and grazed their stock anyway. Some refused to pay rent to Lord Macdonald until their grazing rights were restored so a sheriff's officer from Portree was sent to issue an eviction order. The crofters forced the officer to burn the document. To quell this uprising fifty policemen from Glasgow were despatched to force eviction but they were met by a hundred men, women and children armed with sticks and stones. What followed became known as the Battle of the Braes.

The government set up a commission of enquiry (The Napier Commission) and in 1885 the Crofters Act was passed giving crofters security of tenure and various other rights. A cairn on the road to Peinchorran commemorates the battle:

"Near this cairn, on the 19 April 1882 ended the battle fought by the people of Braes on behalf of the crofters of Gaeldom"

That, in brief, is the story.

We had previously toyed with the idea of descending to see the cairn and returning to Sligachan via the path but decided to leave the visit for another day.

The summit gave a real sense of spaciousness and, appropriately, sheep grazed nearby. On a good day the views would be very fine and even today they weren't bad. Below we witnessed that most west highland of scenes: a ferry making its way to an island, in this case, Raasay. Southwards to Glen Sligachan, Marsco was all but clear of cloud and even snow patches in Coire a' Bhasteir were visible as the cloud started to lift, temporarily as it turned out. To the north though, all was murk. A few photos, then we departed, our mission to find shelter for lunch.

There was no respite from the wind, the open ground allowing it free play. Eventually we found a hollow by the Eas Ruadh where we spent a quiet forty minutes or so. An impressive gorge lay further upstream.

Nearly down and as we re-crossed the Allt an t-Sithein we heard then saw an ambulance; then another arrived at Sligachan. Traffic from all directions ground to a halt and we resigned ourselves to a long wait before we could escape the Sligachan car park. Sooner than expected, things began to stir and as we crossed the bridge we could see a completely wrecked motorbike and damaged helmets. We couldn't imagine anyone surviving. Hope we were wrong.

Rain arrived as we rolled onto the camp site. Our timing had been, for once, perfect.


The photographs are from the BlackBerry. I may try posting using BlogPress in the future and thus be able to use pics from the Sony RX100. However, Highland Wi-Fi might not allow such big files to be uploaded. We'll see.

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