Sunday, 30 September 2012


It was a lovely sunny day in The Cairngorms and much better than yesterday. Still with very strong winds but bags of warm sun. The winds had switched to a SW direction. Karen and I had a lovely day on Sgor Gaoith and the translation of this Munro is Peak of the Wind which was a fitting summit for todays conditions. The walk up from Glen Feshie is beautiful as you ascend through the Caledonian Pines and out onto the open moorland. Fab views from the top looking down onto Loch Einich and across to Braeriach.

Braeriach & Loch Einach from the summit
Loch Einach
Windy on the summit!
Sunny & Windy

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Coire an Lochan and the Great Slab
Looking down into Coire an lochan from the plateau
Not a great day for views
The mountain weather forecast was for 'one or two showers mainly in the afternoon'. Reality was the showers were pretty much constant light rain all morning and into the early afternoon! Nevertheless it was good to get out for a couple of hours. Initial plan was up the excellent wee scramble on the Fiacaill Ridge onto the Cairngorm Plateau but with 40-50mph NW and almost sleet just at the narrow scrambly section it wasn't very pleasant so I headed down and into the sheltered Coire an Lochan. I was actually thinking of ski goggles at one point! The cloud broke up a bit so I headed back up and around to Cairn Lochan but the rain and cloud descended again. Not a great day for photos. Typically the sun was out as I headed back down the road. Worth a note here to say that there is an excellent local bus service from Aviemore to the Coire Cas car park which runs around every hour, starting early mornings too and year round and for £3.60 day return it's great value.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


First roam around the hills today for my fiance Karen and I since setting up home in Aviemore. After a few days of climing over removal boxes it was time to climb up a wee hill we thought. After the wild and wet weather we've had recently it was nice to see some blue skies and the tops of the hills this We had a nice half day walk up Meall a' Buachaille which gives fine views out across to the main Cairngorm plateau. There is now a definite chill in the air on the tops, winter not too far away.
Ryvoan Bothy
The main Cairngorm plateau from the summit

Caledonian Pines, Rothiemurchus

Monday, 24 September 2012


Jo & Pete enjoying the views
and enjoying the scrambling
with the odd gusty wind spot!
and a bit of white stuff at the top
After getting an update on the weather forecast first thing this morning, things didn't look that bad. If you'd have looked at last nights weather forecast it looked a very dismal picture! Jo & Pete were out with me today and they wanted an interesting way to the summit of Ben Nevis. It was a shame that the last 3 days have been glorious here in the Highlands but as we walked up beside the Allt a' Mhuillin the tops were clear of cloud so not all bad. A cold Easterly wind was swirling around the coire but we had already decided on Ledge Route so headed up the Ciste Corrie. Once on the narrow upper section things were actually fine with only a stiff breeze blowing at around 40mph. Great views all the way to the plateau of The Ben's fine rock architecture. There was an hour or so of light snow/sleet as we headed up to the summit and the final 50m of so there was a few cm's of lying snow. This was Jo's and Pete's first taste of big mountains and theyhad never done any scrambling before so well done to them.
Tarmachan Mountaineering has now relocated to Aviemore in The Cairngorms where most of my courses will be run. I will, of course, still be up and down the hills of Lochaber no doubt!

Monday, 17 September 2012


I had 6 folk with me at the weekend on their 3 Peaks Challenge event. We had a nice dry day on Ben Nevis with strong winds and cloud on top. Scafell Pike, in the dark up and down, had very poor visability in low cloud and some drizzle. Even needed to get the map and compass out at one point. Never seen so many big groups on there. We thought we'd cracked it and were going to get 3 dry mountains when we reached Snowdonia as there was still blue skies above. Our hopes were dashed though as soon as we set off from Pen-y-Pass the rain came on and stayed on all through. Strong winds on top and the cafe wasn't open so miserable on the summit. Well done all the guys and especialy Siruna, the only female in the group in a mini bus full of blokes!  The team did a cracking time of 23 hours and 54 mins. May well be the final 3 Peaks for me this summer. Now anyone fancy a  challenge for a 3 peaks in winter?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


We enjoyed a beautiful Autumn walk on Skye today. My group of 7 folk from Canada, U.S.A and England had a fab walk from Kilmarie through to Glen Sligachan which is Skye's finest glen. Dividing the impressive Black Cuillin form the Red Cuillin mountains to finish at Skye's finest pub, The Sligachan Hotel. There was a superb clarity of light and the first taste of Autumn colours on the hills. We were so lucky with the weather as tomorrow is going to be a bit on the rough side!
Happy folk with The Cuillin in sun
Pinnacle ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean frm Glen Sligachan
The beautiful South ridge of Bla Bheinn (another time!)
Glen Sligachan & Marsco in late afternnon sun

Monday, 10 September 2012


Coire an Sneachda
Looking over to the Fiacaill Ridge of Sneachda

on our way across the plateau

A cold but dry day in The Cairngorms. First walking day for my group on their 6 day mini adventure across the Highlands. Our trip is making use of the wonderful railway lines across the Highlands, a holiday in itself. After a short limbering up stroll on a 2 hr walk along the Speydide Way yesterday afternoon it was a big day for them in the mountains today. We headed into Coire an t Sneachda and encouraged by calm and dry weather we went up the Goat Track onto the Plateau. It was a definite hat and gloves day. We saw plenty of ptarmigan and not a lot of folk. A chilly NW breeze and feeling like winter not far away. Off to Skye tomorrow.

Friday, 7 September 2012


No.5 Gully & Carn Dearg Buttress
After a very wild and wet day yesterday it was nice to be out in dry conditions with just a light breeze. I took a wander up Ledge Route on Ben Nevis. The North Face car park only had one car in at at 10am and the top car park was deserted so I was looking forward to a day of solitude.
The highest cloudbase all day

The low cloudbase gradually lifetd to around 900m by mid day and this was to be the best time of day as later on it dropped to well below 600m. I heard the first stag roaring as I started up the scrambling on Ledge Route. A lovely sound and quite atmospheric in the mist, the sound marking a definite start to the Autumn season I always feel.
A Familiar landmark on Ledge Route-for how long?
Despite the low cloud and lack of views it is never dull on Ledge Route, the grade 1 scrambling always interesting and spectacular. I was trying out my new Olympus 'Tough' camera today. Quite impressive for a compact camera and as the name suggests it's weatherproof and shock proof though if you dropped it along Ledge Route chances of it being in working order would be slim I'd guess.
Leontodon Autumnalis (Autumn Hawkbit) at over 1100m!
Even the wild and cooler weather we've had recently hasn't killed off all the flora and it was great seeing Starry and Mossy saxifrages and Hawkbit above 1100m on the ridge.
The most sensational bit, even in cloud
There were a few souls walking up and down the Pony Track as I trotted back down from the top. There was a damp misty feeling in the gloom. The heatwave and blue skies down south certainly a marked contrast to the weather we've been enjoying recently. Looking a bit brighter toward the east nest couple of days. So my next adventure is over in The Cairngorms next week with a big group on a big tour of The Highlands.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Yesterday I opened my goody bag from Berghaus who have very kindly provided me with a top of the range waterproof jacket and an Olympus weatherproof camera as part of my prize for being September's Everyday Adventurer Blogger.  It was so good to be back on the hills today after several days of new house hunting which seemed far more tiring than running around mountainsides! Today was forecast to be a slowly improving picture as the day progressed, but how long is slow? I was dropped off in Glencoe and headed up onto Am Bodach with the intention of having a traverse across the Aonach Eagach on warm rock. It did look promising but by the time I reached the summit the cloud had descended and with it some drizzle. No views then so I quickly changed my plan and headed east along the grassy ridge leading off from Am Bodach's summit with the hope of slightly lower hills and away from the showery weather. After descending only a few metres I was soon out and into sunshine. This was also a small area of the Highlands where my boots have never trodden before. It was indeed a slowly improving day until shortly after disturbing a couple pair of Ptarmigan there was a brief shower which ended the illusion. But the descent down to the top of the Devil's Staircase on the West Highland Way gave fine views of The Mamores and Stob Dearg and then the sun finally broke through to leave a fine, warm and sunny end to the afternoon. So a stroll down to Kinlochleven and home on the bus. A fine 'alternative to The West Highland Way! My new Berghaus jacket wasn't tested to any severe weather but I'm sure there will be a day or two soon to do that!