Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Tag

Tales from the Wacky Winter Part 1   12 comments

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Winter in the mountains this year has been wildy unpredictable. I’ve been skiing at over 2000m in the Alps over rocks and bare patches of grass while my mate UF has just been suffering from no skiing due to too much snow just a month later. Ahead of our annual trip top the Southern Highlands the conditions changed from full winter, to no snow, back to loads of snow, followed by another thaw, all in a period of less than two weeks. I had no idea whether to pack skis, crampons, axes or shorts for this years trip!

Our home for the past few years has been the Suie Lodge Hotel. Sadly the wonderful owners who looked after us so well have sold up and the place was in transition to new owners so we needed a new home. This year we gave the Bridge of Orchy Hotel a go, more upmarket and pricey but after some negotiation by your truly we got a decent rate. It has a location to die for and the place is rather nice. The bar was out of action for a refurbishment but the rooms were great and the staff superb. Food was also top drawer so the place comes highly recommended

The weather forecast looked promising but drawing back the curtains on the Friday revealed a stunner. Cloudless blue sky and wisps of mist over the summits and valleys. One of the huge benefits of the hotel is the possibility of munros from the door so we chose a route over Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Achaladair leaving a car at the far end so we could make a circuit

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It was a magnificent day, far better than the forecast had led us to believe.

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As we ascended Coire an Dothaidh the views just got better and better

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We hit the snowline at 700m and it the transformation was dramatic. From odd patches to complete deep cover in a mater of minutes. It was primarily deep unconsolidated snow on very wet ground so no need for metalwork and it was hard going. Luckily we had fit people in the party happy to break trail for me! 🙂

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At the col we were in a winter wonderland. There was much exchange of smug grins and talk of people still at work

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We pressed on towards the first summit of Beinn an Dothaidh. The snow was in places surprisingly extensive and deep considering there had been a major thaw less than a week ago

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This range is one of the best in Scotland on a clear day. They stand proud above the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor giving a reals sense of air and space with a huge spread of mountains to the south and west

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This is the next mountain on the route, Beinn Achaladair

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We hit the edge somewhere between the the three tops and took a wander back to one of the lower tops on a whim, seeing as it was such a nice day.

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It was an inspired idea. Not only were the views majestic but there was a perfect lunch spot tucked under the rocks, out of the wind and with the best of the views

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Ben Cruachan looked particularly superb

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Nothing better than a blue sky day, winter conditions and a chance to savour it with good friends of long standing

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Onwards across the edge to the very shapely north top before plunging down to the col for another climb

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The ridge to Beinn Achaladair is a long one, although not steep but you barely notice such things on a perfect day

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Lochaber and its vast collection of summits was laid out in front of us

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Even Ben Nevis was clear of cloud

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As the day progressed it became a view of two halves. Supremely clear to the north and west but with cloud building from the south. The advance of bad weather that was forecast for the rest of the weekend. The cloud created some mesmeric lighting effects that my camera didn’t do justice to

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The walk along the last part of of the summit ridge was a delight

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It was one of those days that you just don’t want to end. Tired legs and fading light dictated otherwise

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The party divided. Some chose the easy and longer option of a return to the col. The rest of us plunged down a quite outrageously steep grassy slope on a more direct route to the car.

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The setting sun provided a fitting finale to a memorable day.

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I thought we’d used up all our Scottish good weather luck last year but it was still holding

Winter Wonderland – Taking it Easy   10 comments

After the exertions of the previous two days skiing and in a effort to be more sociable with the rest of the party we opted for a day walk this time. A chance for me to add another missing munro on my quest to take the longest elapsed time to complete the list. Meall Glas was our target plus possibly Sgiath Chuil if we had time (or could be bothered in my case)

It was yet another stunning blue sky day as we started the climb up the track from Auchessan. Ben More, our ski mountain from yesterday looming large

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A nice contrast between the brown heathery lower slopes and the snowy summits. Sgiath Chuil in the distance

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On  such gorgeous day with a large group, the pace is slow and stops are many. Sometimes idly chatting and stopping to admire the majesty of the surroundings is more important

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We were soon above the snow line and the going was hard with the snow deep and largely soft. Who cares when the views are this good.

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After another lengthy stop for food, brews and dialogue we pressed on towards the summit. There were a couple of pretty steep slopes to ascend requiring crampons and axes to be on standby but nothing too tricky

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The final summit slopes suddenly felt tiring after 3 straight days in the mountains. Still, the views and the conditions always spur you on

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It was pretty chilly on the top so we pressed on towards the lower top of Beinn Cheathaich with Sgiath Chuil still  a target. The walk across the summit was magnificent. The snow cover was complete and the surroundings fabulous. It was these images that gave the blogs posts their title. It was a Winter Wonderland. Mountain walking just does not get better than this

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We paused on the summit so everyone could catch up. Again all shaking our heads in wonder at how amazing the weather was and how lucky we’d been this weekend

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On the way down towards the Lairig a Churain between Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil I suddenly felt extremely weary. I decided that very long and very steep climb of 1,000 feet back up to Sgiath Chuil was too much and along with TBF and THO decided an easy stroll back from the col was in order. We waved at the others as they set of for the summit and alas didn’t see them again as we left before they got back to the cars

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There had been a gathering haze of cirrus cloud through the day (heralding the fact the weather was to break the next day). Whilst not quite as clear blue it added an even greater atmosphere as the sun began to go down. We stopped for another snack in the middle of this vast expanse of bog now completely filled with snow

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It was a long walk down from the col with much deep snow and several deep gullies to cross. The low light and shadows were just breathtaking. We watched from time to time to see the progress of the others. The slope that MM had chosen looked especially steep (he confirmed later that it had him concerned from time to time

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We were not back at the car till 6pm. We’d been out 8 hours and only climbed one summit and done around 6 miles. That’s what happens when you are forced to stop every few hundred yards, look at the view and share the experience with old friends. I didn’t get home till after 1am but it was worth very tired minute at work the next week. What a truly magnificent weekend. Wonder how long I’ll have to wait for the same combination of circumstances

Winter Wonderland – Six Go Mad on Ben More   2 comments

Another day and another superb clear blue sky morning. Hopes were high that the sun would stay with us all day and deliver a classic. More Ski Mountaineering was on the cards so we ramped things up a notch and decided to tackle Ben More, the highest of the Southern Highlands at over 3,800 feet and a “serious” ski route according the guidebook.

Downside was a low start that involved a long trudge up the forestry tracks to reach the snow in Coire Chaorach. The heavy packs (carrying skis) and heavy ski boots on the feet makes for hard work but the views and awesome weather kept us going

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When we finally reached the open corrie and the snow we were indeed walking – or rather – skiing in a winter wonderland. Ben More beside us and Stob Binnein ahead

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Skis on and it was a sheer delight to slide effortlessly – well not effortlessly but you get the idea – over the perfect snow under a deep blue sky in blazing sunshine

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The perfect winter day with many stops to take in the views across the Southern Highlands, Lochaber and the Cairngorms glinting in the distance

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We reached the ridge and the views were just immense. Distant mountains and the light making waves on the sculpted frozen snow.

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It was full winter conditions, hard packed frozen snow dominating. The NE ridge of Ben More has a couple of steep rocky steps, far too steep for skis so we switched to crampons. You can see one of the steps in the photo below

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I found this especially tough. Steep snow in very heavy boots with an awkward and heavy sack and I was left way behind. As I trudged, wearily up the easier slopes you can imagine my “disappointment” as most of the group started off again just as I reached them rather than let me catch my breath. I was bloody furious. Luckily MM, who is a very kindly soul, waited for me to recover (and have a serious rant) and then walked with me to the point where we could put skis back on and I’d calmed down a bit. Once back on skis I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t a day for temper tantrums and I was soon back in the groove and “at one” with the mountains again

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The views were still sensational and the final slopes to this high summit were a delight

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As we celebrated the summit with some of our other friends who attained the summit the old fashioned way on foot, it looked like the weather might be selling us down the river again. Clouds gathered and for a while we had some rather moody views

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It was short lived though and almost as soon as the cloud appeared it seemed to vanish, We left the summit to a group camping there for the night (must have been a chilly night!) and started our ski route down

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It was tricky descent, steep, with a serious drop off to the left and mix of ice and rocky slopes. A couple of the group tried to head straight down and ended up having to remove skis and climb down. Me and JC headed right and found a decent route down (scarring my skis on the bare rocks) and down to the col.

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The plan had been to go over Stob Binnein as well but I announced that my climbing for the day was done and I intended to chill in the warm sunny col and top up my tan before what looked like a magnificent cruise down Coire Chaorach. Reports from other walkers seemed to indicate the slope to the summit was hard and icy making a ski ascent very difficult. GM decided to join me a more leisurely way down. In fact the others only managed to ski up a few meters before the rock hard icy slopes forced them to revert to boots and crampons and climb to the top on foot

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As an aside, I’ve always referred to GM as, well, GM (Geordie Munro). ED has pointed out that he is neither a Geordie or Scottish and as this is self appointed moniker we felt he needs a new one. ED provided several suggestions but seeing as GM is now growing an appallingly daft looking beard and has a appetite for plain boring oat based biscuits then The Hairy Oatcake seems more appropriate and will remain his identity on the blog until I come up with something funnier or more annoying, or hopefully both

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So, after an extended scoff of goodies me and THO headed down. The corrie wasn’t steep but it was completely plastered in snow and was a truly magnificent easy cruise down on perfect untouched snow. The earlier descent almost meant we were in the sun the whole way down.

I reset the exposure on my camera to a more average setting, hence the much brighter shots from hereon. I think I prefer the lower exposure ones from the first part of the day

You even get the added delight of some photos of yours truly looking like the hard mountain enthusiast he is

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The skiing brought many shouts of delight as we cruised down without a care. One of the finest hours I’ve ever had in the Scottish mountains. Wonderful skiing, blue skies and bright sunshine

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I like this photo for the rather bizarre fork-like shadow that THO seems to have created

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One of the fun parts of Ski Mountaineering is picking a route as the snow starts to thin out. We had a great time weaving in and out of snow filled peat hags on ever patchier snow, desperately trying to find the last possible spot to take off the skis. Eventually you end up on slopes more grass than snow with patches only a foot or so wide in places.

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All the while the views and the situation were unrivalled in recent memory

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When at last we decided skiing on boggy grass would be rather foolish we reluctantly took off the skis, fixed them to the pack and set off for the long trudge back to the car. Despite the weight and the distance to go we were all beaming smiles and feeling pretty damn good. Could we finish the day off to make it even more perfect? Hell yes:

  1. We managed to hitch a lift all the way down the forestry track with one of the guys working on the Hydro Scheme in the valley.
  2. We were back early, decided on a cheeky beer before we went back to the room to change and ended up staying a couple of hours (and several beers later) chatting with a group of very friendly locals in the bar
  3. When everyone else was back we enjoyed a fine evening of great food, more beers and  tales old and new with friends and friendships going back 30 years

That was a great day!

Winter Wonderland – Ski Touring in the Tarmachans   4 comments

Our winter trip to the Southern Highlands has been a fixture now for 10 years. In that time we’ve had a few days of sunshine and a couple of days of proper winter conditions. We’ve never had both together and the weather has always been mixed although the weather has never been a complete washout.

This year, our 11th, the forecast looked promising with high pressure and cold weather following a snowy spell giving much hope for a great conditions. Drawing back the curtains on the Friday morning gave substance to that hope.

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Lots of deep fresh snow equals a chance for some ski touring. I abandoned TBF to the tender mercies of the Sheffield Boys while we headed to Lochan na Larige for a high start. We had park below the reservoir as the road was blocked by snow and ice.

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Spoilt for choice with the mountains plastered in snow above 500m, and after much debate we settled on Meall Nan Tarmachan.

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The weather and views were just breathtaking. How often is it you’re glad you remembered sunglasses on a day out in Scotland. We ploughed our trail up towards the ridge that carries the baggers path to the summit

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Alas the Scottish weather nipped at our heels as a bank of grey cloud drifted in and started to cloak the higher summits. We were even treated to the almost unheard of sight of MM struggling with tiredness (he had just flown back from a business trip to Brazil!)

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By the time we reached the summit it had reached us as well so it was the briefest of stops, tinged with a little disappointment that the fine start to the day had petered out.

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Luckily skiing downhill is great fun even in the cloud. This descent enlivened by my attempt to ski an extremely steep gully badly broken by deep footprints and with boots not adjusted properly. Ratio between ski and fall about 20:80! 🙂

We skied down to the track and then back up to the ridge for another descent back to the car. The fickle Scottish weather turned again and the sun came out

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Not sure what I did with the camera settings but they came out rather dark and broody looking but still capture the essence of what was a cracking ski descent

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The snow was a little heavy but fluffy enough for some wonderful easy turns as we picked a superb route through the crags and gullies

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I seem to have lost the ability to keep a camera aligned to the horizon as I’ve got older. However this particular shot seems to be best yet. Pretty sure Loch Tay would empty rather quickly at that sort of angle. 🙂

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The patches of blue and the sunlight on the mountains, backed by dark clouds was just magnificent

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This shot of GM in action is my favourite from the day

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The descent went on all the way down to the dam and the massive water pipe that pops out from the base

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For most of us climbing under the pipe was the only time we took skis off all day. MM made a very brave effort at trying to limbo underneath without taking them off. A then made it look easy!

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Blue skies, a ski munro, two cracking descents, and ski to/from the car on excellent snow with great company. Does a day get better than this? Watch this blog to find out.

Reflections, Lighter Packs and Trains   6 comments

We’d had our big day in the sun and after 4 days in the mountains it was time to head home. There are only 3 or 4 trains a day from Corrour so we were up early to make sure we didn’t miss the lunchtime one and have to wait another 6 hours for the evening train. Entertainment is somewhat limited at Corrour. We had some grand ideas about walking out over the Loch Treig hills but we had a long journey home and work the next day – and the packs were still heavy enough even having eaten most of the food. Time to pack up and haul the packs onto tired bodies and off to catch a train

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It was an uneventful walk, returning firstly, again back along the riverside path to Loch Treig

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From there it’s a bit of long grind along the track by the lake-shore and back to the station. The cloud was down on the summits but the air was still and the reflections of the mountains in the calm waters of Loch Treig enchanting

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backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

As we made progress along the track the cloud made progress away from the summits and all became clearer

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

It was turning into a pretty fine day for our walk out.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

The power or water company are doing some kind of work on the Allt a Chamabhreac for the Loch Ossian Estate and there is now a well made road heading up to the station. It climbs much higher and was much steeper than I’d thought and I found it a bit of grind under the heavy pack with my big mountain boots on. TJS now seemed to be more at ease with the pack and was keeping pace with GM, no mean feat, while I dragged my heels at the back.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

As we climbed the views improved and as the road cuts under the railway line and heads away into the estate we were able to pick up a more foot friendly path to the station

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

We stopped for a bite and took a look at Leum Uilleam, our summit from 4 days ago. The transformation was dramatic. I think these two photos taken 4 days apart told the story

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

The walk to the station was really rather enjoyable. The streams and rivers gave a soundtrack and there were numerous places to camp. With hindsight, I’d have just walked down here from the train and pitched up for a night, claiming Leum Uilleam without the packs or the cross-country bog trotting of the first day. Still, having had a superb 5 days I wasn’t about to pick apart what we’d done and chose to celebrate in my mind a tremendous trip full of great experiences and great walking.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

All that remained was the last mile or so to Corrour, approaching from the north really gives a sense of how remote and bleak a place it is for a train station and the sign reminds you of the altitude

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backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

We arrived with an hour to spare and spent a lazy time massaging sore feet and reflecting on our adventures. As the train rolled in, Stob Coire Easain, our Munro from the previous day, finally emerged from the cloud to bid us farewell

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

It had been an amazing and at times pretty tough adventure but so rewarding especially for TJS. I think we have a new regular for the Easter trip 🙂

Blue Sky, Sunshine, Panoramas and Sunsets   8 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

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

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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

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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   4 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

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