Thursday, 12 September 2019

EASY WALKS ON SKYE

The Old Man of Storr

Impressive Pinnacles 

Sunshine between the showers

Bit to breezy for The Storr summit

Storr Lochs

Harry Potter fans about to arrive in Mallaig

The peace of Knoydart 

All aboard

A pint in the sun

My quickest visit to Knoydart 

Sun and showers

Great hills

Jim & Andre at the remotest pub in the UK
I've been guiding on some very easy walks in Skye this week for Walkabout Scotland. Only two folk from USA and Canada on a tour around the Highlands using the very scenic railways to get to and from Skye. Tuesday's walk from Sligachan was a very windy and wet affair. 40-50mph winds at sea level is pretty unusual,  even in Skye. We did have the best pub on the island at the end though. Wednesday's weather was much better with the cloud lifting and some nice sunny spells. Andre and I had a lovely wander around The Old Man of Storr. Some amazing g scenery for such an easy walk. Of course it was busy as usual. On Thursday the weather improved even more with some great sunshine by late afternoon.  Today's walk was a very short walk in Knoydart. We spent longer having a pint at the most remote boozer in the UK, The Old Forge at Inverie. If you want some fabulous scenery, easy walking and seeing a lot of The Highlands in the space of a few days then this is a great wee trip.
Good to catch up with Jon Haber who runs Walkabout Scotland.  I've known Jon for many years and always great fun to work on his trips.

Monday, 9 September 2019

BEN NEVIS WEEKEND, LEDGE ROUTE TWICE

Shabaaz on Ledge Route

Easy scrambling

Carn Dearg Buttress

NE Buttress and Carn Mor Dearg arete

No. 5 Gully


Brilliant cloud formations on Sunday

Final section

Aonach Mor & Carn Mor Dearg

Ledge Route, upper section

The best bit

Allt a' Mhuillin & Great Glen

Mystical cloud

Saturday on the fun bit
Could watch this for hours!


Good spot

Fun, fun. fun


The Ben Race runners
Fabulous clouds
I was over in the west this weekend. A well timed bit of work for the good weather window. Saturday was glorious blue skies, no wind and very warm. I had a wander up Ledge Route on Ben Nevis. One of the finest easy routes up to the highest peak in the UK. Seldom do you see many folk on it, whilst hundreds of walkers head up the Pony Track every day in summer. The North Face carpark was absolutely chocka-block when we arrived on Saturday late morning. I thought the whole of the North Face of The Ben was going to be hooching with people. There were a few strollers heading to the CIC Hut for pic picnic-ing. After heading into the Ciste Coire it was wonderfully deserted. The rock was warm and the sun shone all day. No one on the route. Looking across to the top of The Ben you could see many folk and a piper was blasting out a tune for the runners on the annual Ben Race. T-shirt weather all day. Brilliant.
On Sunday I was out on Ledge Route again. Showing Shabaaz one of the easiest, most spectacular  ways to gain the summit of Ben Nevis. Weather today was very different but equally as spectacular than a clear day. There were layers of cloud coming and going, giving us glimpses of Carn Mor Dearg and the NE Buttress on The Ben. We could have watched this for hours! Alll too soon the fun is over and it's a easy walk back down on the Pony Track. Good craic with Shabaaz and quality couple of days.


Wednesday, 4 September 2019

POOR START TO AUTUMN



Rain no problem for today's Mountain Hare

Sunset over Aviemore &Loch Morlich

Devil's Bit Scabious
Colours of Autumn


Scotch Argus

Fungi season

Loch Pityoulish

Cloud covered Cairngorms
Last of the summer's flowers
The weather hasn't been up to much this last week or so. A lot of cloud and for the west, a lot of rain. Autumn is a fine month to be out on the hills. The colours and light are far more interesting than the summer months. It's been a slow start but I am sure the beautiful cool Autumn skies and colourful landscape will reveal itself one these low pressure systems go away. A few images above from the last 7 days. It's not all bad.
I have a Ben Nevis open group on Sunday 8th September with two places left. This day will be via the spectacular and easy scramble on Ledge Route. Please drop me a line if you wish to book.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

BANK HOLIDAY HEATWAVE

Feithe Buidhe and Hells Lum Crag
It's unusual to get very high temperatures that coincide with the late August Bank Holiday weekend. Even rarer for the Highlands to get the same kind of conditions. Thankfully we never got 33.3 C like down in Englandshire. A pleasant enough mid 20's was adequate for me.
On Sunday I headed off for an overnight camp in the heart of the Cairngorms. It was glorious clear skies from the word go.

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneacda
Ridge under blue skies
A wander into Coire an t-Sneachda to gain the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda ridge. Lovely and peaceful. Only a slight breeze on the tops and very refreshing away from the heat. From the plateau I headed over towards the lip of the Loch A'an basin. There are many choices to get down to the loch from the plateau. One of my favourite routes is down the pathless, wild and remote Feithe Buidhe watercourse.
Well camouflaged ptarmigan on the way down
The wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs on the descent
Spot the climbers on Hells Lum Crag
Hell's Lum Crag was 'busy' with climbers, 4 folk out enjoying the warm rock. Of course the more spectacular Shelterstone Crag is in shade now for much of the day. Autumn is only round the corner. Actually, round the corner lies the beautiful Loch A'an then just a couple of hundred metres higher is Loch Etchachan. Home for the evening.

Shelterstone Crag in the shade, Beinn Mheadhoin in the background

Wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs

Stag Rocks above Loch A'an
When I arrived at Loch Etchachan mine was the only tent. Only mid afternoon so it was time for coffee and cake in beautiful hot sun. A nice, stiff breeze kept the midges away. As you know, I never normally camp in the summer months. Loch Etchachan lies at 900m so normally a breeze and cooler at night which keeps the beasties away. The weather forecast was suggesting 30-40mph winds at Munro height, perfect.

Camping at Loch Etchachan

Looking down into Glen Derry from the shoulder of Beinn Mheadhoin

Beinn Mheadhoin's summit tor
After pitching the tent I had a late afternoon wander up to the Munro summit of Beinn Mheadoin. From Loch Etchachan it's less than 1 hour to the top. If you're climbing this hill in a day from civilisation then it makes for a much longer excursion. It's been a couple of years since I last walked up here. The finest features of this remote Munro are it's granite tors on the summit plateau. The actual top requires a short scramble if you want to 'bag' this one. The other remarkable feature is the unusual and spectacular view down onto Loch A'an. I'm guessing most folk don't wander off the short 10 minutes from the summit to a grand viewing platform, just before the hills NW slopes begin to steepen dramatically. Evening time isn't the best part of the day for this if you love landscape photography mind, the sun's in the wrong place. Even so, it is a beautiful view.

Loch A'an from the NW slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin

The silvery waters of A'an
Monday morning dawned chilly and breezy. All good to keep the midges away for breakfast, my breakfast that is! From Loch Etchachan to Ben Macdui there is a good path and very easy angled for much of the way. It's one of the finest high altitude paths in the area with a sense of wild and beauty all around. There was cloud coming and going in the stiff winds. Some summits free of mist, others clagged in as I made my approach to the UK's second highest mountain.

Loch Ethachan at 0700 with Cairn Gorm beyond

Early morning cloud and light
I reached Ben Macdui and it was in cloud. One of the highlights I was looking forward to over these two days was the early morning light onto the Braeriach plateau. From just down off the summit of Macdui you get a stunning panorama of the Western Cairngorm plateau. The Munros of Bod an Domhain. Cairn Toul, Sgorr an Lochain Uaine and Breariach stand high above the Lairig Ghru. At first all I got was thick cloud. But I trusted the weather forecast of a bright and sunny day once again, from mid morning onwards. So I sat for over two hours on the summit! The patience for landscape photography is well known. Well if you are patient you will get rewards. I got a wonderful Brocken Spectre as I sat in the cold wind. Then very slowly the swirling clouds did thin and break off the tops.

Clouds and a Broken Spectre

Wonderful cloud formations on Cairn Toul

Looking south over Bod an Diomhain

Sun an cloud

Braeriach, nearly

Lairig Ghru
Finally after about two and half hours the clouds suddenly disappeared and another world opened up. Just away from the summit area it was warmer, less windy and now completely clear skies over the entire Cairngorms. What a contrast. I 'escaped' the many folk walking up to Ben Macdui and found a peaceful spot over towards the Lairig Ghru. It's here that you get a better sense of scale of these mountains. The Lairig Ghru lies way low down below Breariach's slopes. When you think the highest point of the  Lairig Ghru is in itself 800 metres then these mountains really are impressive.
Clear at last

and enough to spot the wildlife again

The last remaing snow in The Cairngorms
I santered down and back to the Coire Cas carpark. By mid day it was back to heat. Another hot day. Another fab day in the big mountains.
Tuesday dawned good again. The Eastern Highlands fairing better than the west today. I had a another wee wander up to the hills for some wildlife watching. It was great to laze around in the corries. Unfortunately the wildlife wasn't very active. Although it was a nice surprise to spot a solitry juvenile of 1st summer Ring Ouzel amongst the boulders in the coire. I've been observing this wee guy for the last few days. Most Ring Ouzels  are away back to Africa by end of August.
Sun peeping over the cliffs of Cairn Lochain

Juvenile Ring Ouzel

Sheltering
And finally. The waters of the Feithe Buidhe.