Sunday, 10 December 2017


Karen descending Fionn Bheinn 
Storm Caroline passed through quickly last week, here in The Highlands. As forecasted things went much colder from Thursday. We had non stop snow for a couple of days in Scotland.  The NW Highlands and the Cairngorms receiving most of it on the cold Northerly and NW winds. Karen and I headed away for a couple of days up north, basing ourselves at the wee village of Achnasheen. Our weekend was a mix of hillwalking and swimming!
Fuar Toll
On Saturday we headed from Achnashellach and up into Coire Lair. You could never tire of walking up into this area. With two wonderful Munros of Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mor on either side of the beautiful glen. As well as these two big hills, there is also the majestic Corbett of Fuar Toll which only just fails to reach the 3000ft mark. Our objective today was to get to the peaceful and seldom visited Loch Coire Lair which is nestled below the impressive East face of Sgorr Ruadh.
Coire Lair and Sgorr Ruadh
The weather forecast was to be cold with frequent snow showers. We certainly got a few of these. When the showers did come through there was limited visibility, even at low levels. The snow showers were short and in between the precipitation we had stunning clear views with some sunshine. Above 300m the going was hard with the fresh, soft snow. It took us double the time to get to our destination.
Loch Coire Lair & Fuar Toll
Timed perfectly, the skies were clear and a lovely view for the swim. As some of you may know, Karen as set here self a challenge this month. She is swimming or 'dipping' every single day in December, This is day 9. It's something she enjoys immensely but she is also swimming the icy lochs for a worthy cause. Raising funds for Child Poverty Action. She has a Just Giving Page if you want to send a donation.
Sgorr Ruadh & Loch Coire Lair
Karen Psyching up for a swim
Beinn Liath Mhor's Eastern ridge
Obviously we are well prepared for the exit out of the icy waters. Several layers of warm clothing,  group shelter and hot chocolate does the trick to bring Karen back to a 'normal' temperature. The time was getting on a bit by now. This far north in mid December and the sun is wanting to be somewhere else. 3.30pm and daylight goes fast. To reach any of the big hills in these conditions requires an early start and some hard graft! Anything that isn't popular with a big trench up the hill side is going to take you double the time probably. We were the only folk on the hill and in the glen today. Even in summer I very rarely see anyone here. It's one of the gems of the northwest. You don't need to even climb the hills for some terrific views.
Sunset over Fuar Toll
Achnashellach train station
We got a few more showers on our way back to the train station at Achnashellach. Unlike in parts of England, we don't have chaos on the roads or rail when there is snow! The train was spot on time back to Achnasheen.
Temperature Inversion below Fionn Bheinn
Sunday morning dawned cold and crisp. Beautiful crystal clear skies above a temperature inversion in the glen. The winds had dropped to nothing and it was a day of wall to wall sunshine. We fancied a day on Fionn Bheinn, a solitary Munro directly above Achnasheen. It was powder snow from Glen to Ben. Once again double the time and effort compared to summer. It was just stunning to be out. We saw four other folk on the hill, they were all on skis. Perfect conditions if you're into ski touring.
Looking west to Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mhor from Fionn Bheinn
A distant Ben Wyvis from Fionn Bheinn
I love temperature inversions!
Achnasheen & Monar hills
We headed down the hill and time for another swim to finish off our weekend. Today's loch was Loch a' Chroisg which lies beside the road to Kinlochewe, Loch Maree and onwards to Glen Torridon. Not as chilly here and some lovely Scots Pines scattered along the shoreline for some shelter and warmth (!) after a dip.

Karen in Loch 'a Chroisg
Sunset over Slioch & Beinn Eighe
Plenty of Stags around this weekend
Meanwhile back home and I have a big stint of 11 days work on the trot coming up. My Four day winter courses are proving popular this year. I have two of these in December, a weekend winter skills and a day course. Guess what, the snow looks like it's behaving itself so far this winter. At least another week of cold weather to come. All details are now on my new look website.

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