Monday, October 29, 2012

By Eck it’s Grand Down South

By way of a change last weekend Ann & John found themselves taking the long drive south to Braithwaite, in the northern part of Albion’s Ponds (or the ELD for fans of the TLA). With a cracking forecast an early start was in order for the full circuit of the Grasmoor group of hills. This had the double advantage of getting us out before the inevitable crowds and also some really nice lighting conditions. It was a bit parky though.
We took the long eastern ridge of Grisedale Pike which soon had us up top, which was still quite white from the hard frost the night before. Following the ridge westwards we traversed Hopegill Head where we met the first person of the day, a shepherd out with 3 dogs. There then followed a bit of shameless Wainwright bagging as we carried on to the outlying top of Whiteside. Returning to Hopegill Head things were starting to get busy as by now all the tardy types had managed to haul themselves plus their Full English up to the tops.
The ascent of Grisedale Pike

West from a frosty Grisedale Pike towards Grasmoor

The ridge from Hopegill Head to Whiteside
We then had the biggest dip of the day to cross the pass of Coledale Hause before ascending Grasmoor. Despite lots of people on every other hill it was very quiet on the top, which was just as well as we tucked in to some sarnies filled with leftover garlic potato.
Grisedale Pike and Skiddaw from Grasmoor
Onwards took us next to Wandope, then Crag Hill and its subsidiary bump of Sail, before begingeg the long descent to Brathwaite. Just before we got there we decided to take in Barrow as the final top of the day and were very glad we did as the views were well worth it. Then it was down to the pub for Jennings and crisps as the cloud started to thicken in advance of the foul weather that moved in for Sunday. All very different from Torridon the previous weekend but good to have a tramp without always looking where to put your feet.
Derwentwater from Barrow

Monday, October 22, 2012

Torridon-tastic (October’s Kinlochewe meet)

A week before it was due to happen you would have been forgiven for thinking that going on the meet was crazy. The remnants of Hurricane Rafael were forecast to hit, bringing strong winds and torrential rain. As often happens, those that kept the faith were rewarded by two days of light winds and blue skies as the storm seemed to lose interest in the middle of the Atlantic.
The venue was the Kinlochewe Hotel bunkhouse, improved and much cleaner than our last visit there but still of fairly questionable value for the price. Four nice real ales at the hotel though.
Saturday saw the early birds of Kathryn, John, Ann & The Edge tackle the Horns-first traverse of Beinn Alligin. The early morning vapours evaporated during the ascent to leave a stunning day with crystal clear views. I had trouble convincing people that the things we could see really were the Outer Isles as they looked far too close.
Approach to the Horns

On the first Horn

Atmospheric conditions on the third Horn

Looking back at the Horns from the summit of Beinn Alligin
Approaching Tom na Gruagaich, northern Skye behind

View east to Beinn Dearg and Liathach
Malcolm and Susan, after a long lie in, set off for Slioch. Susan bailed out after the long walk in but Malcolm carried on at what must have been a blistering pace to get back not long after the rest of us. Meanwhile Denis had a solo ascent of the fine Graham of Beinn na-h-Eaglaise.
The forecast for Sunday was even better so the same four early birds were off in time to see the sunrise lighting up the summits as they drove back down the glen for the E-W traverse of the mighty Liathach. As always the steep ascent was brutal but we managed to make it a bit more interesting by using altimeters to maintain a constant Naismith rate of ascent from glen to ridge. Phew! By this time the cloud had unexpectedly thickened and the views were not as clear as the previous day, but couldn’t really complain for mid-October in the NW. The summit was a bit cold and windy so we carried on and ended up traversing to the end of the pinnacles before a well-earned first lunch in the much improved weather. On the final summit we were greeted by an eagle having an unusually close inspection of us before heading off north in the characteristic shallow power dive that made it a distant speck in no time. Our descent by the long tramp down the west ridge was considerably slower, but very pleasant in warm autumn sunshine. 

Looking west along the Liathach ridge

Approaching the pinnacles

Airy scrambling on the pinnacles

The summit and pinnacles behind us

Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg from the western top

Descending the west ridge

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Perthshire Perambulations

Despite being away lots recently the good forecast lured Ann & John to deepest Perthshire last weekend for a spot of Munro bagging. An early-ish departure from Aberdeen on Sat morning got us to the Ben Lawers Hotel and ready for the off at 9.30. The clear blue skies on the drive down had given way to cloudy showers, but we couldn’t not set off at this point so heads down and on with the slog up the track by the Lawers Burn. Lochan nan Cat was reached after a bit of a boggy flouter and given it was still in cloud we decided to give Ben Lawers a miss. The ascent to the bealach between it and An Stuc was fairly steep but much easier that our previous ascent when we had almost swam up in deep snow. From here on it got busy with folks appearing from all directions and we picked up the full force of the biting NW wind. 
Meall Garbh from An Stuc
First lunch on An Stuc fortified us for the only section of the Bew Lawers ridge we hadn’t done, north from there to Meall Garbh. I knew it had a bit of a reputation and in the slightly damp conditions it certainly lived up to it – steep, chossy and slippery. On the summit of Meall Garbh we set foot in our first snow of the season and admired the snowman built by a wee chap we had met on An Stuc. The route from there to the second Munro of the day, Meall Greigh was a straightforward tramp, as was the rapid descent to the hotel for celebratory crisps and beer outside in the sun. 
Ben Lawers, An Stuc and Meall Garbh from Meall Greigh
On the Sunday the weather was, as forecast, stunning so after scraping quite a thick layer of frost off the car we parked at the splendidly-named Edinchip for a round of the two Corbetts above Glen Kendrum. 
Glen Kendrum
A landy track got us part way up the glen before we struck off for the ridge to the north to gain height and views as soon as we could. Sure enough it was a stunning day with crystal clear views all around except far into the NW. The hills themselves were a pleasant enough wander with some short steep bits to add interest, and very nice views of an autumnal Perthshire. 
Ben Lawers group

Ben More and Stob Binnien

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Glen Ey (not bagging)

Since I'm heading offshore this week Juliette and I decided to head out on Saturday for a blast over the Glen Ey hills.  The choice of venue was definitely not down to Juliette not having ticked them yet though....

The other AMCers met us at the Inverey carpark at 0900 and we set off on bikes to Altanour lodge.

Ditching the bikes here we headed off up a good stalkers path following the Alltan Odhar and on-wards up onto Carn Bhac.  The wind was definitely wintry  and the could see snow up on Carn Toul - hopefully with plenty more to come this year!!

Carn Toul
Glas Tulaichean

From Carn Bhac we headed along the glen skyline to Beinn a Lutharn Mor where we passed a couple of other parties making their way up the hill further east.  A quick wheech over to Mam nan Carn

Mam nan Carn
Loch nan Eun

and then to Beinn a Lutharn Bheag with intermittent hail showers was next with cracking views over to The Carnwell hills, and Glas Maol over Loch nan Eun followed.

A quick sandwich stop, then over the last munro, An Socach, back to the bikes and a fine coast back down the glen to the cars.  The obligatory rain shower caught us just before the cars so we were nice and damp for the drive home too!

An Socach
A fine day out, with just enough of a hint of winter to get the imagination going for the coming season.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Arran Antics

Last week was a bit of a busy one for John & Ann with the AMC Sailing Meet followed by a week on the Isle of Arran. The weather was generally fine with the exception of the Mon/Tue, which saw a stormy end to the sailing meet and us only just getting to Arran before the ferries were cancelled. After that was a mix of sun, showers and windy spells. No detailed walk descriptions this time, just a few photos. More from the sailing meet will appear later.

Phil getting to grips with tacking, Arran and Goatfell in the background

Sunrise on the second morning as we departed Holy Island

Fine if busy sailing conditions up the West Kyle of Bute

Anchorage in Fearnoch Bay, perfectly sheltered from the imminent NE gale

The oddly-named hill of Fionn Bhealach at the north end of Arran. Paps of Jura (L) and Loch Fyne (R) behind

Cir Mhor at the head of Glen Sannox
Scrambling on blocky granite between Goatfell and North Goatfell

The Goatfell range from Cir Mhor

From L to R, Cir Mhor, A’Chir and Beinn Tarsuinn, from Caisteal Abhail