Annual March Gathering of the Clans   25 comments

It was that time of year for ageing ex-students from the 80’s to heed the call of the wild and head to the Southern Highlands. It’s been a tradition for nearly 10 years to get together in early March and the weekend seems to go from strength to strength.

 

This year TBF joined the gang and the both of us collected GM to head up on the Thursday to make a longer weekend of it. Our home of the past few years, The Suie Lodge Hotel, welcomed us late and looked after us with their usual relaxed hospitality.

Like the previous couple of years we went skiing for a day at Glencoe Ski Area. Last couple of years there has barely been enough snow. This year there was loads of snow, tonnes of the stuff, meters deep. In fact too much. The tops lifts weren’t running as they were completely buried.

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

Still, the skiing was ok and we had some glimpses of blue sky but all in all it was pretty wild, windy and cold and by 3pm we’d had enough for one day. TBH said she “quite” enjoyed it. Scottish skiing is something of an acquired taste 🙂

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

Me a GM did a little impromptu off piste touring to bag a small bump near the piste and escape the crowds.

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

The runs were not open all the way down to the bottom but they were the best of the day. While everyone else downloaded on the chairlift. We had an empty run with some nice views as we emerged from the cloud. A 10 minute walk through the bog at the bottom was a price worth paying

Glencoe, Glencoe skiing

We headed back (via a beer at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel to celebrate) to meet with everyone else for beers, food stories and catching up

The following day (according to MWIS anyway) promised to be a cracker. I have never seen a mountain forecast in Scotland with the phrase “severe risk of sunburn”. I think you can guess the punchline……

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

Despite the promise of some blue sky as we left the car for a ski-touring day, it rarely appeared again

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

We were hoping for a grand tour across the Ben Lawers range and had left a car at the far end. Once out of the nature reserve and onto the snow the conditions were great and we made swift progress up to Beinn Ghlas.

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

By the time we reached the summit the only severe risk was frostbite. Complete whiteout, high winds and spindrift. The ridge looked nasty and corniced. Spotting a cornice at walking pace is hard enough, spotting one at skiing pace was deemed far too risky so we cut our losses and went for a descent down Core Odhar. It proved to be a fine and long descent, my only regret not being close enough to GM to see him hit a wall of snow at full pace. Some people have no sense of theatre. We toyed with the idea of another ascent but the weather was pretty miserable so we headed back to the hotel. We ventured out for a stroll along the disused railway lines behind the hotel at the end of the day. GM recovered his sense of theatre by grabbing an electric fence and getting a nasty shock, much to my amusement (that’s what friends are for I believe)

Another evening swapping jokes and stories and catching up with old friends some of whom I only see on this weekend

Tarmachans, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Coire Odhar

For our final day we headed south to tackle Ben Venue. I’d never walked much in the Trossachs and I was looking forward to the walk as Ben Venue has often caught my eye.

Ben Venue

7.6 Miles

The weather forecast wasn’t great but the sun was out when we parked up and the views along Loch Achray were grand.

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

It’s quite a long walk winding along by the Achray Water and through the desolate forest – desolate now its being cleared

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

At least you get to see the views now

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

These two remaining bare trunks caught my eye – looked like the place had been hit by a nuclear blast. Lets hope it recovers its former glory in years to come

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

Where the made path ran out and turned into the usual sloppy mess that passes for a path in the Southern Highlands we decided to head straight for the summit. As we climbed the snow both on the ground and in the air grew thicker and we were in full blizzard on the summit

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

Time for  brief summit photo and then off back down. The walk along the rocky ridge was interesting and I’m sure its a fine high level traverse in clear conditions but it was pretty grim this day.

The Trossachs, Achray Water, Gleann Riabhach, Ben Venue

The bad weather promised had really set in. As we descended, the snow in the air turned to heavy rain and the snow on the ground turned to wet slush and then sloppy bog. It turned into a bit of route march back down the way we’d come up and it was absolutely tipping it down by the time we reached the cars. Goodbyes were brief in the rain, everyone wet and tired and ready to start the long drive home. Another weekend over, another one to confine to the memory banks, another one to remind you do it all again next year

Advertisements

25 responses to “Annual March Gathering of the Clans

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great traditions and gorgeous views.

    Like

  2. Fantastic pictures as usual 🙂 We’re off up to the Killin area next Saturday for a week. Hope there’s no snow left now….

    Like

    • I think the wee midgies will be more of a problem but I reckon there will be snow left. Have you got some nice sites lined up for the van

      Like

      • Actually we’re not wild camping with the van this time, but staying on the site in Killin. For four of the days though, Geoff and his mate Hamish are off touring on their bikes, taking tents this time, so they’re doing the wild camping! While they’re away, me and the doggies are going to do our own walks/watch tv in bed/have breakfast in bed/find outdoor shops to look around/have lie-ins/etc…….

        Like

        • Takin it eaaaaaassssy! 🙂
          We’re off to Pembrokeshire for the weekend and then up to invade Mark’s place to take advantage of his hospitality, eat all his food, drink all his beer, and maybe get out and about a bit 🙂

          Like

  3. Be interesting to know how much snow is left, given how deeply it has settled – I would have thought that some of the big cornices in North facing corries would be around for a while.
    Top weekend as ever. Looking forward to next year already, although there are several other traditional get togethers to eagerly anticipate before then. On that front, I hope this fine weather can prevail at least until the end of the month.
    Oh – those desiccated exoskeletons we found on Seascale beach were Masked Crabs – rarely seen when alive because they live buried in sand. I’m sticking by Sea Potatoes for the other oddities we found.

    Like

    beatingthebounds
  4. PS been waiting for all of the kids to wake up before watching the video. First NT, now The Weight – both strong contenders for my Desert Island Discs selection. (It’s surely only a matter of time before I get the call?) Marvellous!
    PPS – that photo of GM looking out over Rannoch Moor is a corker!

    Like

    beatingthebounds
  5. Fantastic amount of snow you found. I wonder if there is any left up there?

    Like

  6. Snow line was amazingly sharp, nothing below 550m and then meters of the stuff by 600m. Must still be some left in the north facing corries

    Like

  7. Pingback: Another Luib Weekend | Beating The Bounds

  8. “I know that car park!” was my first thought when I saw your post. “What’s it doing there?” (on your blog) was my second thought. I’ve kicked off from there at least half a dozen times over the years. I’m impressed you took the hard way up (mad English people). It’s much easier following the trail up into the corrie end – if a little boggy. 😀 I will admit to having come down that way a couple of times though. Did you make it as far as the wooden platform at the end of the forest – that you jump off into the wettest part of the walk!? Never saw the point in it myself.

    Was just telling Chrissie that I thought most people had given up blogging – until I discovered last night that I’d somehow “unfollowed” a whole random selection. Somewhat embarrassing 😳 . I’m now going around grovelling profusely.

    I’ve put up what is likely to be the last ever post on http://www.reservoirdugz.com and have cleared out http://www.fallingouttheuglytree.com to begin afresh. Now that the sciatica has wiped out the hillwalking (I’m pretty certain for good this time) I want a clean break and a fresh piece of paper on which to scribble.

    Like

    • Well hello there Ken – was wondering where you’d gone. I’ll be catching up whichever blog you decide to write on – always enjoy your whimsical posts 🙂

      The plan was to up into the corrie but we just wanted to get up a quickly as possible as the whether was turning – and in fact turned – pretty nasty. No need for a wooden platform – the wettest part of the walk was all of it.

      What was this wooden platform anyway – I’m intrigued

      Like

  9. Six months on, after the trauma of having to go home early, I finally found the will to read your report. Great write up. Looking forward to next March.

    Like

    • You missed a great day on the Saturday and a wet one on the Sunday! I’ll be arranging the next visit soon so hopefully you can make it this time. You might have missed the snow though 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: