Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Braeriach summit looking across the Lairig Ghru to Ben Macdui
Ben Macdui, The Lairig Ghru, Carn a' Mhaim and Cairn Toul
Looking down into Coire Brochan
Looking NW across Braeriach's plateau to Strath Spey
Glad to see the back of a very wet and windy weekend. The best day of this week turned out to be an absolute cracker. There were clear skies over night and a change in airflow from that horrible SW warm and wet stuff that brought down the deluge. Some high level, thin cloud broke by early afternoon and the sun was lovely on Braeriach. With hardly a breath of wind on the summit it was just lovely. We basked in the views for over an hour :) . The path repairing is till on going at the Lairig Ghru side of the Chalamain Gap. I always approach Braeriach  via alternative routes. It always surprises me on the amount of folk who walk up Braeriach and approach through the Chalamain Gap. You may get a head start height wise from the Sugar Bowl carpark but with the awkward boulders in the gap and a massive decent (re ascent on the way back when you're tired) it never makes sense to me. Today we used bikes up to the edge of the forest at the Lairig Ghru. From house to summit we were up in just over 3 hours.  Weather on the change again toward the weekend but it looks like were going to get some proper winter stuff into next week. Goodbye warm SW winds and hello winter!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


It rained for three days solid and the wind blewfor three days solid in Kintail over the weekend and into Monday. Kath and Louis's Munro tally for this trip unfortunately has halted at one on Saturday. With the high winds and constant heavy rain we 'escaped' the deluge and headed east to Loch Ness today. After another coffee shop detour while deciding what to do we eventually got out into drier conditions and had a nice few hours walking on the Great Glen Way from Invermorriston. We took the newly constructed higher level route which is really nice and some great views of Loch Ness, much nicer than the plod through constant conifer trees on the original route. Water levels and burns still flowing high, we hit the rain again at Cluanie on our way back to Shiel Bridge, looked like it hadn't abated here all day. Hope on the horizon- looking like a nice sunny, coler day tomorrow and freezing levels lowering with frosts. Bring on winter - no more warm, wet and windy please!

Saturday, 25 October 2014


The Forcan Ridge in profile from Sgurr na Sgine
The western end of The Five Sisters ridge from Sgurr na Sgine
Kath & Louis coping in the wind
And we could still stand up at the summit!
We'll leave the Forcan Ridge for another time
Return clients Kath & Louis are back up to The Highlands with me for a long weekend of Munro walking amongst the wonderful mountains of Kintail in the north west. Glen Shiel is the main glen in the area and is a delight for the avid Munroist with over 20 Munro's within easy travel from a base at Shiel  Bridge or Claunie. I fired them up prior to this weekend with anticipation of 3 of the finest days out and 3 of the finest ridge walking outings. The Forcan Ridge, The Five Sisters and 'The Brothers' ridge. Well as always the weather has intervined. A forecast of very high winds and very high rainfall put pay to the Forcan Ridge today. Instead we decided if we were going to salvage the day and get just one Munro 'in the bag' then we needed to avoid any length of time spent on narrow ridges. Of course Kintail as many of these! We opted for Sgurr na Sgine which lies adjacent to The Saddle's Forcan Ridge.  We took a line that was sheltered from the SW winds after leaving the good stalkers path at about the 600m contour and veering off into the corrie.  Surprisingly there was only a few short showers throughout the whole day, all the summits were free of cloud 90% of the time and the winds were bearable, only 50-60mph on the final summit ridge. We saw no one and it turned out to be a fab day out. Much water running off the hills, quite spectacular.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Cairngorm from the lower slopes of Meall a' Bhuachialle
Cloud on the plateau

Newly repaired upper path
Some sun in Glenmore
We enjoyed a dry and less windy day over in the east today. It was very pleasant on Meall a' Bhuachaille, although the Cairngorm plateau was shrouded in cloud much of the time and looked like it was getting some rain. Not looking too clever in the NW over the weekend, a few days work over that way and it sounds like it will be a bit damp and breezy :(

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


The bike up Glen Einich
Sgor Gaoithe from the track onto Braeriach
It was sunny at times lower down
Hills shrouded in cloud most of the time!

Despite the dire weather forecast of gales across much of the Highlands and the rest of the UK it was actually quite a pleasant day on lower ground. The bike up Glen Einich was quite nice in the sunny spells and hardly a breath of wind until just before the loch. It was a different story on Braeriach with the winds becoming much stronger, coupled with no views and the sleet/snow becoming quite unpleasant above 1000m where there was a fresh covering of the white stuff. Good day out though and a taster for winter conditions to come!

Friday, 17 October 2014


Brian was out with me  on a one day navigation course. We headed onto the Cairngorm plateau and it was ideal navigation conditions, ie cloudy. Brian as just started out on his Munros and wanted some extra navigation skills to gain more confidence in getting around the mountains safely. We covered loads of ground on the plataeu and Brian left with lots of vital skills including micro navigation. The drizzle and cloud lifted by mid afternoon and some sunshine.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


On the NW ridge of A' Mhaighdean
It's been over 10 years since I lasted ventured into that most beautiful and remote part of the northwest Highlands - The Fisherfield Forest. The area is sandwhiched between two of my favourite areas in the whole world, Torridon and An Teallach. It boasts five Munros (once six) and some of the most rugged and majestic mountains with unbeatable loch views and a feeling of wildness. I guess a lot of folk want to traverse and 'bag' all of them in one go from Shenevall Bothy but I think the best way to savour and appreciate these hills is to pick them off and walk into the area by other routes. So I headed into Carnmore from Poolewe for a few days of wild camping.

The walk-in from Poolewe, spectacular in itself
It's around a 3-4 hour walk on tracks and then a great stalkers path that used to be a right bog trot but now sheer delight and the views just become more and more spectacular as you pass under the mountains of the Letterewe Forest, Beinn Airigh Charr, Meall Mheinnidh and Beinn Lair. None of these are Munros but they are every inch as spectacular and that's another expedition. In front of you draw the delights of Carn Mor and its rock towers with A' Mhaighdean getting closer.
You want a beech as well as mountains?  Here you go then

 Arriving just before dusk at Carnmore and setting up camp. All round stags roaring and bellowing in the crags, what a wonderful noise. The objective for me was the NW ridge of A' Mhaighdean which is clearly seen from Carnmore and the most compelling route to the summit of this, the remotest Munro. Tomorrow's forecast was to be excellent. Clearing skies and a wonderful moon as the stags bellowed into the night added even more atmosphere to the place.

The following morning was overcast with light cloud cover that was above the tops. It looked like it may clear so I set off for the ridge. The ridge has scrambling in places of grade 1 or 2 standard but much of this can be avoided (if you want)! Most of the long ridge is walking. The views behind you are just amazing. With the Lochs of Fionn and Dubh stretching out to the coast.

 The best sections of the scrambling are two big pinnacles before reching the easy angled slopes onto the summit plateau. These look formidable but are easily bypassed, if taken direct they are definitely rock climbing! There are wonderful views over toward An Teallach and Beinn Dearg Mhor & Beag. With the lonely loch of Fuar Loch Mor in the foreground. A place to linger a while.

The views from the summit are amazing with mountain, loch and sea vistas to the Hebrides. There isn't a single road in sight. One of the few places still left in the UK that is the nearest to true wildness.
Well that was the first ascent of this wee trip. The sun never did come out on that first day, despite nice views and all tops clear the light was very flat. I will admit that I am greedy and I was hoping for more than this. Autumn being one of the best times of year for glorious rich colours and wonderful low angled light. I didn't get it. So being the photographer that I am I went up again the following day. My patience was rewarded. After a clear night with another wonderful moon and stags still  bellowing as ever I got out of the tent and was treated to a stunning day. I retraced my steps up the NW ridge and savoured it all again. As you will see the photos above are all from this second trip up. After tearing myself away I headed down to the tent and packed up for the wonderful walk out again. The camera by now over heating! I've been up A' Mhaighdean at least 8 times now, the fist was a mid summer bivvy on the summit. In a glorious two days of weather and very, very special. I've guided groups along the rest of the Fisherfield hills including this one and there have been nice days and gloomy days. I think this one ranks high with that magical first time up some 16 years ago. Next time I think it as to be a winter trip, but only when we are forecasted stunning weather! Some more pics

Friday, 10 October 2014


Creag an Leth-choin  (Lurchers Crag)
Looking down to Strath Spey
The Lairig Ghru and Ben Macdui
Fine Autumn colours
After a misty early morning the sun broke through and it was very warm with hardly a breeze. There were plenty of stags roaring away in The Lairig Ghru, always a lovely sound of Auntumn. Colours stunning too. There was some cloud drifting over from the west and by mid afternoon the showers moved in but a good day out on Braeriach.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


The top of Pinnacle Gully
The finest viewpoint of Loch Avon-from the summit of Carn Etchacan
Another dusting of snow high up
Loch Avon & The Shelterstone Crag
Top of Castlegates Gully
Stag Rocks from top of The Shelterstone Crag
This afternoon was glorious blue skies, no wind and warm sun over The Cairngorm mountains. A welcome change after two days of rain and strong winds. There was another dusting (dumping) of wet snow above 1100m but this was melting with the warm sun, well it is only the start of October after all. I had a good chat with a keen bird watcher who was off to try and spot the Snowy Owl which has apparently been spotted in the Ben Macdui area, I met him again on the way down and he turned back at the snowline, sensible chap, especially if your navigation skills or confidence aren't up to navigating on featureless terrain. I took a wander up the Fiacaill Ridge and over the plateau to Carn Etchacan summit. The finest views of Loch Avon from here. It was wonderful just sitting in the warm sun. A lot of water in the Garbh Uisge Mor and other burns running into the Loch Avon basin, the only sounds heard today, apart from many ptarmigan. Unfortunately no Snowy Owl sighting, so far!