Archive for the ‘Western Highlands’ Category

Small but Challenging – Beinn Bhreac   13 comments

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The final day of our trip and more of the same in terms of weather. It’s a long way home on a Sunday afternoon so we were after a shorter day. Somewhere down by Loch Lomond would be on the way home as it were. After much scouring of maps I found the small hill of Beinn Bhreac that seemed to fit the bill. We toyed with the idea of an end to end traverse splitting the cars but decided that was too much hassle and a round trip from Glen Douglas was settled on.

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We’d hoped for a few coastal views and over Loch Lomond but it turned out to be the worst day of the trip. After the steep lower slopes we found a very handy large boulder that made a perfect first lunch stop

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The cloud was much lower today and we were enshrouded in mist most of the way to the top. There were some steep rocky steps that proved interesting with loose powdery snow covering frozen grass. I took no other photos on the way up until we reached the summit

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It was, as expected, brutally wild up on the top. In strong easterly winds even a smaller summit like this (681m) represents quite a challenge of technique, route finding and resilience.

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Much like yesterday you’d think this would make for a grim outing but we were all in our element. We thrived on the challenges and we were all sharing smiles again even on the summit with the wind blowing us around

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However we did agree that there was little point in making a circuit of the day and that returning the way we had come would be adventure enough

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The descent presented no problems and as we dropped down the wind abated and we were able to enjoy the walking in good company again

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Looking back to the summit and our route up, still shrouded in cloud

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Mandatory selfie

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The weather improved as we descended and we got some views of sorts. Not exactly expansive but you take what you can get on a day like this

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We returned to our lunch spot for a second bite

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Before the finally steep and slippery descent down to the cars and the long drive back south

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Only 4.5 miles and a couple of thousand feet of ascent but it felt much longer and tougher. That’s winter mountaineering!

Beinn Bhreac

Not the sunniest weekend I’ve ever had but still memorable for the conditions the challenge and the company. Already seems a long time ago and possibly a while to wait for more of the same as winter starts to draw to a close

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Corbett Bagging in the Wind   17 comments

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The rest of the party joined us late Friday night and the usual protracted planing session took place on Saturday morning to decide where to go. There seemed to be a consensus that the high mountains were out of the question as the winds would be vicious and the cloud base down to around 800m. Time to bag a Corbett and luckily the area around Bridge of Orchy has plenty.

We chose Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh further down Glen Orchy. I was pleased as I’d never been down the Glen before and was looking forward to some new terrain. The first obstacle was the fact they were building a new bridge and the diversion involved walking several miles back up the Glen to where the hotel was and several miles back again! Very helpful – not! A bit of subtle moving of site fencing (the bridge was pretty much complete) and a short trespass through the “no go zone” as referred to on the signs and we were back on track

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The weather looked a little better than the previous day. Snow was still falling gently and it was bitterly cold but the sky was noticeabley brighter with odd clearer (albeit very small) patches of blue sky and scant sunshine

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I normally hate forest tracks but this one was rather pleasant and scenic and mostly a path rather than a track. It gave a nice warm up as it steadily climbed towards our goal

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At the edge of the forest we found a very nice and sheltered spot in the trees for first lunch. We figured there would be little chance for further stops higher up and our return route would bring us back here for second lunch later

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From here it was 400m of relentlessly steep ground. Snow covered grass at the bottom becoming icier as we climbed

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The snow was hiding the watery ground beneath which of course was now solid ice. For a short stretch it became unnerving so ice axes were unclipped and crampons donned

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From here to the summit ridge was steep hard snow. Perfect for practice walking with the metalwork. In places the slopes were steep enough to need front points for security. Great fun

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You can tell from the broad smiles in these photos that we were all enjoying a chance to walk in proper winter conditions immensely

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As the slopes eased we had our only proper burst of sunshine for the weekend. Grins grew broader

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The slope may have eased but as we reached the ridge the weather hit us hard. The wind was pushing us around like rag dolls and it was difficult to walk in a straight line. My face was scoured by ice and snow and it was bitterly cold. I was loving it!

The summit scene where I found the courage to expose my hands and take a photo

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We didn’t hang around and plunged back down towards the forests. It was amazing just how quickly the wind dropped as we descended from the ridge

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These slopes were the only ones where we found any significant accumulations of snow with some very deep drifts

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Back to the welcome shelter of the forest for another late lunch

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Sometimes a long return walk can be bind but I really enjoyed this one. The views were pretty fine and the provided a nice sheltered route

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9 miles, 2,500 feet of ascent Summit achieved and another Corbett ticked. I think I only have a couple of hundred left now!

Bheinn Mhich Mhonaidh

Back to the hotel for another cheeky post walk beer before a grand 3 course meal, stories old and older and falling asleep in the residents lounge. Party on!

Posted March 8, 2018 by surfnslide in Scotland, Walking, Western Highlands

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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…..

Blue Sky, Sunshine, Panoramas and Sunsets   10 comments

A flicker of bright light caught my eye as I stirred, followed by the sound of zips and a “blam!” from GM. I was outside in a flash and this was the scene that welcomed me into the day

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Nothing finer than a wild camp and sunny clear morning, especially after a couple of days under grey skies. It was perishingly cold but you just can’t waste a scene like this. I ate my breakfast outside while GM and TJS cowered in the tents. The views were just sensational

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

A low mist hung over the valley and the low sunlight highlighted the browns of the heather and the streaks of snow

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

What really attracted the attention was Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag framed perfectly between the valley sides. We’d been here for two days and had no idea they were there. Whilst not exactly a surprise to find them there it was beguiling to suddenly find them filling the view. They continued to be focus of my attention while around the tent

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

We packed up and were off before 9, the sun warming the day by the second and making the trudge back down to Loch Treig a little lighter.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Such was the increasing warmth that we paused at the bridge over the Abhainn Rath to de-layer – thermals were not needed.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Then the hard work began. After a brief chat with a guy who seemed to be living off-grid for several months, in a tent by the derelict Creaguaineach Lodge we headed around the edge of the loch and began the long climb.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

This was to be TJS first real experience of heavy Scottish conditions, no path’s here to tame the heather and grass. We aimed directly up Creagan a Chaise, 450m of steep heather. Whilst the climb taxed the legs, the views pulled us upwards. Close at hand the small peak of Creag Ghuanach was magnificent, further afield the Mamores dominated the view west.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Binnein Beag in particular, with its perfect cone caught the eye, more so than it’s much higher more dominant neighbours.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

As we gained height the full spread of the Southern Highlands were revealed, contrasted by the glass smooth Loch Treig. All the while the warm sun and clear skies made it pretty much the perfect day. I kept reminding TJS that he was lucky to be out in the middle of the Scottish mountains on such a stunning day and he should savour this one

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

We took an early lunch basking on the rocks near the summit, soaking up nourishment, sun, and views in equal measure. I could have sat there all day to be honest but there was a summit to be bagged and we were only halfway up.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

We skirted around the summit trying to find the line of least resistance to the Moine na Gaibhre. It’s a really rather nice area of rock slabs and outcrops and grassy terraces, a perfect place for a high level wild camp.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Once across the boggy peat around the small tarn our next objective was to reach the south ridge of Stob Coire Easain, still 150m above us. The ground was steep and the thawing snow deep and wet. We managed to pick a way through, avoiding the worst of the snow but still managing to get bogged down from time to time.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Once up on the ridge the going always seems easier and with the goal in sight we picked up the pace. Coire Easain Mor was just a wall of perfect snow that looked primed and ready to slide off into Loch Treig.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

There were massive cornices to be steered away from as we hit the snow slopes that drew us up to the summit. GM and TJS seemed to have summit fever as they left me trailing on the final slopes that seemed to go on forever.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Finally, after a long climb (long mostly as we’d been savouring the day as we should) we reached the top and TJS had his first Munro.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Despite being an Easter weekend and the mountain being relatively accessible we had the place to ourselves. We had a full spread from Southern Highlands through Glencoe to the North West Highland beyond the Great Glen. East was Ben Alder and the Cairngorms.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Schiehallion as always from this direction looked pointy, rather than its real whale-backed shaped, the most false-summitted mountain in the world I seem to remember from when I climbed it

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

As always on a such a grand day it’s tough to drag yourself away. We returned along the ridge and to vary the route a little we headed down the western slopes towards the Allt na Lairige.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

I preferred the long runs of deep wet snow for rapid and cushioned progress, benefitting from having over-boot gaiters to keep my feet dry. This killed about half the descent in a matter of minutes. To celebrate we stopped and had second lunch by a cool and refreshing snow-melt stream. Me and TJS felt the benefit of our load from the first two days as we feasted on wraps filled with salami, cheese and chutney.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

GM had oatcakes. He protests (a little too much if you ask me) at how fine they are but to me they are truly the driest and blandest creation. He once convinced me to use them as the basis for my lunch on a backpacking trip. I was hungry most of the time and often wished I’d just eaten the packet. Such was the barrage of sarcasm and gloating that he received as we tucked in he could take it no more and headed back down although I did offer him some pork pie as a peace-offering. It seemed to do the trick as he had a brew ready when we got back

The descent from there was easy and trouble-free and the Allt na Lairige a splendid valley full of wild camping potential.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

There was a small sting in the tail as the river plunges into a deep ravine before it enters Loch Treig giving you a surprising and unwelcome 200 feet of ascent that wasn’t needed. We were tired and heavy legged as we returned to base camp after a top drawer day. We have been so lucky that the past three Easter trips have delivered so many awesome days. I’m not sure when I’m going to pay for it

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Lochaber 3

We had a long relaxing lie on the grass and many brews of tea to recuperate and recover and were able to eat or evening meal outside in the watery sunshine.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

There had been a bank of heavy cirrus cloud that drifted over us when we returned to camp but as the sun set the skies cleared again and treated us to a magnificent sunset. The colours deepened and intensified as the sun went down.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Then the remaining wisps of cloud went pink and red before the skies darkened on a magnificent day.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

There was just time for the ritual burning of the rubbish into a less messy and more manageable quantity.

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

Abhainn Rath, backpacking, bothy, , loch treig, Mamores, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Staoineag, Wild Camping, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, Creaguaineach Lodge, Creagan a Chaise, Creag Ghuanach, Binnein Beag, Moine na Gaibhre, Stob Coire Easain, Coire Easain Mor, Schiehallion, Allt na Lairige

No wood unfortunately to get a proper fire going but meths made an acceptable substitute.

Rain, Grey Skies, Rivers and (still) Heavy Packs   6 comments

Second day of our Easter adventures was a total contrast. Blue skies and clear bold sunshine was replaced with leaden grey skies and a persistent rain. It had rained all night and a continuation led to an indoor breakfast. We finally emerged late morning as the rain stopped into a landscape drained of colour.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

We pithered and pottered about the vicinity unsure what to do. We were still a little tired after the previous days exploits and as even the lower summits were smothered there seemed little point in any kind of hill climb.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

After a leisurely lunch we perused options and decided to move on. Whilst a pleasant enough spot the campsite wasn’t what we had in mind and wasn’t well placed for what we’d planned. I still really wanted to see the valley around Staoineag bothy so we hoisted the still rather too heavy packs and pushed on

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

It’s only a short walk with no climbing but it was still hard work, not helped by the intermittent drizzle that kept falling. We decided on the path along the south side of the Abhainn Rath, a fairly mighty river. A somewhat sketchy and infuriating path but even on a grey day a fine stretch of Scottish valley.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

We passed by the deserted bothy, quite a fine one, but no-one was around and no-one had made an entry in the book for a couple of weeks. Despite its remoteness I was sure it was a well-known and popular bothy and was surprised that even on an Easter weekend we saw no-one this day or any other indulging in its charms. TJS was curious to see his first bothy up close and seemed to agree with me that they can appear rather gloomy and depressing. We had planned on walking a couple of km up-river from the bothy but a few hundred yards beyond seemed far enough and we found a rather splendid spot by the river. There are any number of cracking riverside spots along this stretch on both sides of the river but the one that allowed us to drop the packs at the earliest opportunity seemed the best one.

We were soon pitched up, again in more drizzle, with the sight and sound of a roaring waterfall on the river our companion for the next 3 nights. More rain forced us to cook inside and, well, that was that for the second day. We hoped for better the next day

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

It was, but only marginally. The cloud had lifted a bit and the rain had stopped but it was still generally grey. Having achieved GM’s objective (Leum Uilleim) now it was my turn and we headed off up the valley towards Sgurr Eilde Mor, the only one of the mighty Mamores ridge I’ve not done. I have a fondness for these majestic range of mountains and not just because their name means mammaries! 🙂 One of the best ridges on the mainland with an array of massive peaks and narrow twisting ridges

We’d only gone a few hundred meters when we hit our first problem. The Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan doesn’t look like much on the map but it was wide and deep enough to need a substantial wade which none of us fancied. One look up at the hills that were white 2 days ago and now merely streaked white highlighted the blindingly obvious point that there was a thaw in progress and the rivers were full of snowmelt. We wandered up the eastern bank looking for somewhere to cross but it became obvious we weren’t going to cross it.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

Where the river was wide and slow it was still enough to be a least a knee-deep wade. Where it was narrow enough to consider a salmon-leap the penalties for a mistake were serious. It was clear any progress further west was out of the question and my Munro bagging had gone for the weekend. Had we realised we could have easily chosen to walk up and camp on the northern side of the Abhainn Rath and stood a chance of progress west. Too late now though so a new plan was needed. (There are stepping stones at Staoineag, but they were deep underwater and must only be exposed in the driest of conditions – a contradiction in terms in the Highlands!)

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

Luckily there was a Corbett within reach, the remote and lofty Glas Bheinn. Even so we still had travel pretty much to the source of the river near the watershed before we could cross it, GM daringly, me and TJS a little more cautiously.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

The higher corries appeared momentarily from the gloom giving a glimmer of hope for better weather and the river valley was wild, remote and rather splendid. Sometimes you can extract enjoyment just exploring a valley the probably sees almost no human traffic.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

After a brief lunch we made a direct line up the slopes to the summit ridge and then pressed on to the top. It was cold, damp and cloudy up there and the snow was deep, wet and tiresome.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

We lingered no more than a minute on the summit before heading straight back down, pleased to have made a decent summit on such a day.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

As we returned to our point of ascent the cloud started to break and we got some tantalising glimpses of mountains and the wild remote moors and lakes of Rannoch Moor and Blackwater Reservoir. There was even some sunshine and the air seemed to dry out while we watched. The snow was even worse on the descent and snow melt was filling every gully with water. TJS was getting his first experience of truly wet feet, anything he’d experienced before but a mere damp rag compared to the proper slosh of a boot exposed to Scottish bog and melting snow.

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

GM left us behind, hopefully to get the brew on (which he did, bless him) and me and TJS ambled down at our own pace. In fact TJS put on a bit of burst near the end and left me trailing in his wake. All the time the weather was improving and there were even some patches of blue. He’d gone a little quiet and I think he was disappointed that his first Munro seemed unlikely now that the melting snow had cut off our planned objectives in the Mamore or the Grey Corries

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

It had been a pretty good day.

Lochaber 2

We had the first chance to enjoy our chosen site. It was a rather grand spot and we were pleased with our choice and relaxed into wild campsite slumming about

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

It was chilly enough to want to eat inside the tent though. When we emerged again, the light dimmed and the sun weakly appeared. We were treated to a show of cloud billowing over Glas Bheinn and fleeting glimpses of the surrounding and smaller hills. A fitting finale

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

backpacking,  gleann iolairean, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, Wild Camping, Staoineag, bothy,  Abhainn Rath, Sgurr Eilde Mor, mamores, Allt Gleann na Giubhsachan, corbett, glas Bheinn

Our mood and enthusiasm brightened considerably. Nothing like a calm evening out in the wilds with a cuppa and a fruit pie. TJS mood was even more brightened when GM gave us a plan for the next day. The Easains above Loch Treig were in reach for some Munro bagging providing we didn’t mind the out and back down to Loch Treig again the way we’d walked in. A hefty old day as they top out over 1100m but well within reach. I’d forgotten they were there to be honest such was my desire to bag the ridges further west. Now we had a plan for the next day and the hope of a further improvement in the weather to send us away to bed

Heavy Packs, Trains, Sunshine and Snow   12 comments

Now here’s a first. Writing up a trip within a few days of completing it!

Our backpacking trip to Scotland over the Easter weekend has become a regular and much planned outing since 2009. Thanks to GM and his photos you also have the pleasure of seeing me in action over the next few posts!

This year we had a new member of the team

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

TJS is pretty experienced now in terms of his walks in Wales. However he has never been to Scotland and I’ve been promising to take him. This year seemed like a good time to move him on to the next level. He was just back from a long weekend on the Brecon Beacons Way with TBF in some wild, wet and stormy weather. They did some long days and clocked up some decent miles. However walking on marked paths and staying in hotels, B&Bs and Bunkhouses is a world away from the Scottish Highlands in a tent. The challenge was added to by the fact that Scotland was still in the grip of winter so conditions would be even more challenging. Added to that, we were out for 5 days and needing to carry extra food, extra clothes and ice axe and crampons. This made for a very heavy pack probably in excess of 50lbs for me and GM. With this in mind, where did we plan to take TJS for his first Scottish adventure? The most dense collection of high mountains in the UK in Lochaber!

The trip had the added bonus of kicking off with a train ride.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

Our route was based on a start and finish at Corrour Station giving us a nice hour to chill out and enjoy the ride from Crianlarich. The weather in preceding few days had been appalling but today it was glorious. Blue skies and snow-capped peaks. The train ride was spectacular with the Southern Highlands looking majestic and a little daunting for TJS.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We arrived at Corrour and found snow lying right down at the station and on the platform. I’d expected snow but not this low down. Daunting indeed. Corrour is an amazing place to exit a train. Right in the middle of the mountains with not a metalled road for miles. As the train disappears into the distance you feel abandoned and committed. I felt daunted too!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We hoisted packs and set off into the mountains. Our plan was to backpack over the very isolated and fine Corbett of Leum Uilleim. Immediately we were in deep unconsolidated and untrodden snow.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The views were magnificent but the going tough. By the time we’d plodded up to the NE ridge at An Diollaid we were already feeling the strain.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

I hadn’t expected either this much sunshine or snow and had neglected to bring either sunglasses or suncream. Schoolboy error. For this reason we were sunburnt and squinting for most of the day. We abandoned the sacks and walked out and back to the summit. It’s a mighty fine ridge but a very long way around Coir’ a’ Bhric Beag (and back again!) but the conditions were superb. Nothing finer than walking on snow in the Scottish Highlands under a blue sky. We told TJS just how lucky he was to have this on his first day. He seemed much happier without the burden of a heavy pack. He seemed especially pleased to catch his first view of Ben Nevis, looking mighty and magnificent in its winter garb next to Aonach Beag

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

As we climbed the views become better and better, especially fine back east toward Loch Ossian and Ben Alder

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The snow cover was immense, huge fields of deep snow, hard going in places as you plopped through the crust from time to time. Both me and GM kept thinking how perfect the conditions were for ski touring!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We stopped briefly at the summit for a snack and pressed on back to collect the snacks. TJS was pleased to reach his first Scottish summit but still despite all his walking exploits he was still yet to reach a 3000 foot summit anywhere in the UK

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The cloud was beginning to thicken but the weather was still grand and the return down the ridge was equally fine.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We reached the packs, scoffed some more food and headed off. We had a plan to camp near Staoineag bothy and headed off to cut the corner off cross-country.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The snow was thawing and crossing slushy snow-covered Scottish bog with a heavy pack was no fun. TJS was in particular finding it tough. He’s only ever backpacked in summer before, a single night with a couple of days food, lightweight sleeping bag and minimal clothing. Even though me and GM were carrying the bulk of the weight his pack was still an order of magnitude heavier than he’s ever carried before and he was clearly suffering. To be honest so were me and GM. I had a new pack (A Granite Gear Nimbus Trace if you’re interested) and even though it’s substantially lighter than my old one it doesn’t help when you fill it with heavy stuff. Still, the snow-capped mountain views kept our spirits up.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

By the time we’d dropped down into Gleann Iolairean we were spent. It’s a soggy valley, albeit a nice one with a grand view down Loch Treig, but GM found an elevated patch of bracken that was reasonably dry. It was good enough and after re-enacting our own version of the Highland Clearances we were pitched. I’ve never enjoyed a brew as much as I did at that point!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The relief at dropping the sack was palpable. Despite the glorious weather the tough conditions and created a little tension that was all let go as we settled in. It had been a long day. Only 8 miles but with heavy packs, deep snow and no paths, that’s tough in my book

Lochaber 1

The weather was clearly on the turn but the views and the situation were still superb. Nothing finer than a good pitch out in the wilds with what feels like the whole of the mountains to yourself. We set about the important task of reducing the pack weights by eating the food. I’m not into the whole ultra-lightweight backpacking obsession although this trip was testing that reluctance severely. It’s only when you take the pack off, open it up, and realise that your reward for that pain and effort is food, nice food and lots of it that it makes it seen worthwhile. We ate like wild camping kings with fresh chicken and noodle stir fry followed by Jaffa Cakes and Tebay Fruit Pies (well worth a detour off the motorway for) washed down with plenty more tea and hot chocolate

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

Bellies full and with tired bodies we turned in. We weren’t hopeful on the weather and indeed it was raining before we fell asleep. On these trips though you take every day in turn and this had been a great one. We’d had a ride on the train, basked in the sunshine, climbed a summit, walked in the snow, had majestic views, found a decent campsite and were set up warm, cosy and dry in the tent. Whatever the next few days were to bring we had at least one glorious day. Scotland has a habit of kicking you up the ar5e when you think everything is going your way and the steady rain that lulled us to sleep was a reminder of that

Easter in Ardgour Part 4 – The Walk Out and Drive Home   16 comments

Our final day in Glen Scaddle and we woke to another glorious morning of clear blue skies. It was wickedly cold again with the easterly breeze adding an extra bite

Sgurr a Chaorainn, Beinn na h-Uamha, Gleann Mhic Phail

Early morning

We took a whole host more photos as we savoured our surroundings before we had to head back home. Mornings like this are inspiring and depressing in equal measure. Inspiring as the soaring peaks and wild glens lift your spirits. Depressing in the knowledge that the following morning I’d be waking up to another day of work in a stifling office.

Glen Scaddle

Glen Scaddle

We enjoyed a fine breakfast. Well I did anyway (GM is still in the pigeon loft scrapings club). It was then time to break down the tent, pack up, take a last lingering look at our splendid home for the past 4 days, hoist the packs and trudge off

Glen Scaddle

Late Breakfast

Glen Scaddle, Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Carn na Nathrach

Breaking Camp

Glen Scaddle, Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Carn na Nathrach

Fond Farewell

The walk out was every bit as magnificent as the walk in (albeit with tired feet and a heavy heart). The views with sun now behind us were different and yet as always with a few days spent in the same area familiar and welcoming

Glen Scaddle

Heading Home

Glen Scaddle

The Long Walk

This time we decided against the riverside path and took the forestry track. Partly for a change of scene and partly for an easier walk. It was a result on both counts and despite my very sore feet I thoroughly enjoyed it. The views back up Glen Scaddle from a break in the forest at it’s highest point were particularly fetching

Glen Scaddle

GM & the Lone Pine

Glen Scaddle

Green on Brown

Glen Scaddle

The Wild Beauty of Glen Scaddle

Heading east, it was Ben Nevis that really held the attention and it was great to watch it become larger in view as we plodded back out

Glen Scaddle, Ben Nevis

GM on the Forest Track, Ben Nevis behind

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

I have to admit that I found the final couple of miles along the freshly gravelled track a real chore. My feet ached and the sack was a real burden even though I’d eaten a good portion of the weight. Probably it was just the low feeling of a cracking trip coming to an end. I was glad to reach the car, drop the weight for the last time and change into some clean clothes.

Ben Nevis, Glen Scaddle

The weight is off

The weather was still glorious and I enjoyed again the superb views while waiting for the Corran Ferry

Beinn a Bheithir, Corran Ferry

Beinn a Bheithir across the Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Scotland had one last treat for us. The drive through Glencoe was truly magnificent. The sky a deep blue and all the big summits were in full winter conditions. They were just begging to be climbed on such a perfect day but we had long journeys home and I had to content myself with the views from the car and a few photos taken through the windscreen.

Ardgour

Southern Ardgour from the A82

Pap of Glencoe

Pap of Glencoe from the A82

Glencoe

Glencoe

Pap of Glencoe

Glencoe

Buachaille Etive Mhor

Buachaille Etive Mhor

And that was it. We headed back to Berwick via the chippy in Callander and then for for another 5 hours back home to Hereford. It was a long and lonely drive but my head was swimming with memories of a spectacular trip, one that will live long in the memory and take some beating wherever we end up next Easter

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