Monday, November 28, 2011

Lagangarbh Meet

Just before the next meet, here's a brief post about the Lagangarbh meet in November. I had been waiting for others to send me pictures of their days out but none have turned up.
Saturday was pretty much as forecast – cloudy and windy first thing, clearing through the day. Given it was a few weeks ago my memory is a bit vague but here is my attempt at a summary of activities (apologies to anyone I’ve missed): Derek and Calum did some hills around Bridge of Orchy, Graeme, Naomi and Andrew did the full traverse of both Buachailles (!), Richard and Robert went wandering around the Devil’s Staircase area. Meanwhile, Ann & John went to the Mamores to tackle Sgurr Eilde Mor and Binnean Beag. The walk-in from Kinlochleven was longer than the one we had planned due to the access via Mamore Lodge now being closed. Nice approach through the autumnal woods though. Most of the route was on good stalker’s paths which made for a relatively easy day. Binnean Beag was first, mainly to keep lower for longer to let the wind drop. It was still fairly fierce on the summit though. Then the return over Sgurr Eilde Mor was straightforward and aided by a path of sorts up the NW ridge. Got down just as it went dark and back to the hut in time to see the keen party beginning their descent of Buachaille Etive Mor.
Sunday’s activities are a mystery to me….
Loch Leven

Ascent of Binnean Beag

Upper Glen Nevis and The Ben

Binnean Beag

The Ben and Aonachs

South to Glencoe

NW Ridge of Sgurr Eilde Mor

Sgurr Eilde Mor in late afternoon light

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November in Knoydart

Last Friday night saw Ann and John, spurred on by a long-awaited good weather forecast, take the long drive to the head of Loch Arkaig to walk in to A Chuil bothy in Glen Dessarry. When we got to the end of the road there were only two other cars, one of which had a sleeping occupant, so any worries about a crowded bothy disappeared. Packing in heavy is never pleasant, especially after a few weeks off, but fortified by surprisingly good fish suppers in Aviemore we made it in around an hour and only got rained on once. The bothy was in really good nick and had even been left clean and tidy with a fire laid. We had it to ourselves for just long enough to get stuck into a supper of cheese and oatcakes before two other folks appeared. After a quick chat we all turned in ready for big days out.

An early start saw us squelching through saturated bog to the foot of the S ridge of Sgurr nan Coireachan. The steep 750m ascent was hard going for our woosie legs, more use to long but easy-angled tramps on the eastern hills. As we got higher the views began to make up for the effort and we topped out pretty much alongside Naismith in time for an early elevenses (or perhaps second breakfast?). 
Sgurr na h Aide from the ascent

One thing you can rely on in Knoydart - lots of bryophytes
The wander W along the rollercoaster ridge from here was excellent. Although rough with lots of small ups and downs it was easier than I remember, no doubt due to the lack of deep snow. Talking of which, about half way along the shifting clouds thickened enough to snow heavily on us for about half an hour, which was a bit of an unpleasant surprise. As we got towards Garbh Chioch Bheag it cleared and from there to first lunch on Garbh Chioch Mhor gave some great views. The shifting clouds and low sun also gave us glories and Brocken spectres appearing to walk alongside us for much of the time.
Snow moving in...
and arriving

Garbh Chioch Mhor

Triple glory
Sgurr na Ciche
Then it was time for a steep descent and the ascent of Sgurr na Ciche. In the bealach we found three rucksacks, the first sign of anyone else all day. We met their owners near the summit. They were going the other way, having done the long walk in from the road that morning – keen beans. Through the cloud we heard lots of laughter – more folks, this time at the summit. They were staying in Sourlies bothy. As we topped out the clouds parted and we got some great views down Loch Nevis to accompany second lunch, but the cold had done for the camera battery so no pics of the view or the fog bow we got.

Back down in the bealach we met another 3 folks. It was getting busy around here. These guys had walked in and were planning on a high camp along the ridge to allow them to go all the way along to Sgurr Mor. Good effort.
The descent was fairly unpleasant. The saturated ground was very slippery and soon had us all over the place, looking like we had hit the whisky early. Eventually we squelched back to the bothy, somewhat muddier than when we left. Two guys had cycled in just for the night, and then another chap turned up having walked from Inverie. He had planned to stay in Sourlies but found it full (presumably with the group we met) and four tents outside. A cosy night was had thanks to the fire log we had carried in and I even managed to dry out my socks. Unfortunately the fact that it was bonfire night had passed us by, so not even a sparkler to celebrate with.
Sunday dawned damp and foggy but with the hint of sunny peaks above. Donning sodden boots we headed for the Corbett of Carn Mor, just SW of the bothy. A flouter through the bog got us above the fog and the temperature rose from zero to +6 in a few minutes.
Early morning fog

The ascent was straightforward with good views of Saturday’s hills. Unfortunately the cloud thickened but at least kept above the tops. The summit was a surprise. My glance at the map had suggested a fairly unremarkable boggy lump but it was quite steep and rocky. Topping out gave us a spectacular view down the long trench of Loch Morar, the deepest lake in the UK and of course home of the real Nessie.
Carn Mor

View down Loch Morar
Then it was a quick return to the bothy to pick up the gear and a very pleasant second lunch sat outside. Who would have thought it in Knoydart in November?

A Chuil bothy