Walking on Water   19 comments

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Early March is always the time to meet in Scotland with old friends from long and not so long ago. This year plans were somewhat affected by the Beast from the East meaning a few couldn’t make it due to excessive snow and cancelled flights. I headed up early with TBF and The Hairy Oatcake and had one of the easiest journeys I’ve ever had to Scotland. All the doom and gloom meant that despite the fact there was precious little fresh snow on the western side of the UK, everyone stayed home and the roads were deserted.

We spent our first night at the excellent Bridge of Orchy Hotel and the next day were ready for some proper winter conditions. We thought it prudent to stay away from the high summits due to the wind and picked a couple of small summits overlooking Rannoch Moor. As the weather was so cold we thought trying to walk along the shore of the many frozen lakes would add some interest to the day and so it proved

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The terrain around Rannoch Moor is flat yet highly complex with small tarns linking into streams and rivers. You’d be completely mad to want to wander about in here in mild weather but when everything is frozen solid and the weather rules out the higher tops it’s a fascinating place to explore

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We had enormous fun sliding around the shores of the shores of the Lakes and picking our way across the frozen ground. Firstly Lochan na Stainge

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In truth the lakes were not quite as frozen as we’d hoped (a couple of breakthroughs here and there) and the streams were wide and tricky to cross. This didn’t matter much as it added to the adventure and our plans were not ambitious in terms of distance or height

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The views whilst not exactly stunning were interesting in their way and the seriously cold weather added to the challenge. These are our two target hills below although as the phrase goes, there is no such thing as winter hill-walking just winter mountaineering

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We came upon the last of the lakes, Loch Buidhe, which was wide enough and its entry stream fast flowing and broad enough to give us pause for thought and some slippery boulder crossing tactics

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There was even a very odd frozen sand bar to follow

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We eventually headed for our target hills of Meall Beag and its slightly higher yet unnamed sibling. We managed to find a handy boulder to hunker down out of the wind and have lunch

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Once on the slopes the wind and spindrift was – to coin a phrase from a few years back on this trip – mental! You could barely stand up in the wind and we reckoned the wind-chill was in excess of -20C. We donned crampons and sought out some pretty steep slopes of rock hard icy snow to add to the excitement

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Goggles were essential in these conditions, modelled here by yours truly

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The second top had a monument which THO was keen to look at even though we were in the cloud. We were buried down out of the wind and took a while to study the map, work out where we were take bearings etc to see if we could locate it. When we stood up it was clearly visible and only a hundred yards away. Muppets!

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We found an equally steep icy slope to plunge down and back to the last and largest lake, Lochan na h’Achlaise

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The water seemed more frozen but made ominous groaning and cracking sounds so we stayed on terra firma

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THO was not feeling his best (he’s been suffering from a derivative of the same bug that I had). We took a break by the lake for some recuperative snacks

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He decided he was far too weak to walk back down the road to the car so being the saintly person I am I agreed to do the hard yards and pick him up on the way back. I was glad the roads were quiet. The A82 across Rannoch Moor is no place for a pedestrian

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I collected my companion and headed back to the hotel for further refreshments (a cold pint is the perfect finish to a cold day). We took some video of our adventures, compiled below. I should do that more often as it enhances the days experiences when reliving

 

A shortish day of 6 miles and not much ascent but in the conditions it felt much tougher. Added bonus to discover that whilst small the higher of the hills is isolated enough to be classified as a Marilyn – a new tick list to start! 🙂

Rannoch Moor

More winter adventures to come…..

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19 responses to “Walking on Water

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  1. Well from this side of the world I am stunned that you made it to Scotland. What a bleak fabulous hike this has been. Just love the video. In this weather, it really makes one aware of how difficult the conditions are. I hope THO, didn’t succumb to your bug.

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    • The east side of the UK took a battering from the snow but the west side where we were didn’t have all that much – lots of the same stuff blowing around in the wind though. Great challenge to be out in these conditions. THO was fine, a couple of paracetemol and he was in the bar with a beer – faking it I reckon to avoid the walk down the road! 🙂

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  2. Stunning pictures, Andy 😀

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    • I must be a masochist, but I love being out in weather like this. Much better than a day in the dreary, soggy rain. Pictures capture the mood quite well (even if a rare selfie of me spoiled the effect! 🙂

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  3. And a cracking video too! 🙂

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  4. I’m surprised you made it up there Andy and the lack of snow cover. The side roads here (Central Belt) have been buried for a full week and it was 4 days before I bothered to dig my car free as even on the main roads I was worried I’d just get stuck somewhere and regret using it. Rannoch Moor is a great place and I’ve kayaked a fair bit there. Great icy photos. It was a weird pattern of snowfall as it seemed to largely miss the mountains yet dump massive amounts at low levels in the central belt corridor from Fife to Dumbarton. Even some of the Kilpatrick Hills summits cleared of snow before our city pavements did.

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • It was very odd that the only deep snow we saw was between the Erskine Bridge and Loch Lomond where it looked seriously deep. You’d think as you headed into the mountains it would get deeper but by Luss there was almost none and hardly any fresh snow in the Highlands other than the odd drift. Must have come blasting down the Forth and through into the Clyde with nothing to stop it.
      A kayak trip through Rannoch Moor is a long held, never fulfilled ambition. Sliding on it will have to do for now

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  5. That is utterly awesome. glad you made it to Scotland ok. it would appear the brunt of the bad weather stayed to the east of the country. Superb photos, am envious

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    Brenda-Dawn Linney
  6. Amazing views. Great shots. Kudos. My Floridian blood is to thin, I’m afraid, to join you though.

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  7. I didn’t realise that you’d been right out into the Moor like that. Must admit I’m a bit jealous. I’d like to kayak or canoe it too. Inflatables, wild camp, pre-midge season? I see that you’ve enlisted THO as your cameraman. Very wise. Soon you’ll need a Key Grip and a Best Boy etc. Was TBF in the hotel keeping warm?

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    beatingthebounds

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