Archive for the Munros Category

A Long Walk in the Mamores

Posted in Kinlochleven, Mamores, Munros on June 10, 2014 by ayrshiretiger

Several months ago I made a passing comment at an Air Na Creagan Mountaineering Club (http://www.craggy.org.uk) club night about how I had always fancied doing the entire Mamore ridge. It seemed like such a good idea at the time but less so when we were struggling up the final two Munros, Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean in the torrential rain! But back to the beginning…

Surprisingly I wasn’t the only club member to have a long held ambition of doing all ten Munros on the ridge. Kathryn also expressed an interest and in the end another four, Kenny, Stuart, Gael and John, made up the team. A support team of Elaina, Irene and Eleanor also volunteered to assist with providing additional liquid…but more of that later!

Most of the few routes I could find on-line were of people doing the ridge from Glen Nevis. However we decided to go for a Kinlochleven start and finish mainly because the thought of having to drive back to wherever our accommodation was at the end of a long day didn’t appeal. We also knew that we could find a good range of accommodation in Kinlochleven including Bob and Chris’s bed and breakfast (http://www.kinlochlevenbedandbreakfast.com/) and the MacDonald Hotel cabins (http://www.macdonaldhotel.co.uk/campsitecabins/).

The next decision was whether to go for an east – west or west – east crossing. Normally it would be best to walk in an easterly direction with the prevailing westerly wind behind you but the thought of having to do the two outlying Munros, Sgurr Elde Mor and Beinein Beag, at the end of such a long day made us opt for the east to west option. In the event this turned out to be a stroke of good fortune as we had a south easterly wind behind us for the entire ridge.

I’ve done all the Mamores before but had never descended from the most westerly Munro, Mullach nan Coirean to the West Highland Way. We decided it would be good to do a practice run to see what the terrain was like. So a few weeks ago we did the circuit of Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean and were pleasantly surprised that the descent was very easy down grassy slopes. It was still a long walk back to Kinlochleven along the West Highland Way though, something we would have to relive again on the day of the full attempt.

So the weekend finally arrived. Fitness regimes complete. Accommodation booked. Plans made with the MacDonald Hotel for late food when we got back. We’d also signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Commonwealth Munro Flagging project (http://flagamunro.blogspot.co.uk/). We also created a schedule of provisional timings for the 23 mile route with almost 11,000 feet of ascent…Naismith’s Rule says 12 hours 48 minutes…Craggy’s Rule suggested around 16 hours 15 minutes might be more realistic!

The weather forecast in the days leading up to the weekend had indicated that low pressure sitting out to the west would drag warm air up from the continent leading to heavy rain and thunderstorms in northern England and southern Scotland. We were just hoping that the northern extent would be south of Lochaber or at least arrive late in the day.

A 4.30am start from the car park at Grid Reference NN188623 was planned but we set off ten minutes later and made excellent progress to reach the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor at 7am well ahead of schedule. We had originally intended to both ascend and descend by the westerly ridge but in the end took the relatively easy southwesterly slope up. We descended as planned and picked up the good path round to the lochan at the foot of Binnein Beag. A relatively easy up and down then saw us heading for the northern ridge of Binnein Mor. Now this is where it became interesting…

An early start

Descending Binnein Beag

In the past Kathryn and myself have descended this ridge from a path that descends from about half way along and it seemed a reasonable idea to simply do it in reverse. From a distance it looked like nice easy grassy slopes but as we got nearer we realised that there was a scattering of avalanche debris littering the slopes and any grass that had been there had been swept away sometime over the winter. At this point I was acutely away that my decision to wear my trusted, but well worn, Keen boots was potentially not the best one I had ever made but managed to get enough traction to get up on to the ridge proper!

Looking towards Binnein Mor

Still making good progress we made it to the airy summit of Munro number three, Binnein Mor. From there we headed over to the double summits of Na Gruagaichean including the increasingly eroded descent between the two. We then ascended the southeasterly slopes of Stob Choire a’ Chairn before heading north along the by-pass path towards Munro number four, An Gearanach, including a short but steep snow patch that Kenny, Stuart, Gael and John negotiated. Kathryn and I, with the recent memory of the Binnein Mor slopes still fresh in our minds, avoided it! From there we left our rucksacks and negotiated the return trip along the scrambly ridge before ascending Stob Coire a’ Chairn, Munro number five. By this time we had lost some of the time gained on the earlier Munros but were more or less on schedule.

Number 5 An Gearanach

It was here that we had arranged to meet the “support” team of Elaina, Irene and Eleanor. However their plans for a start at Mamore Lodge, thus saving a good 200m of ascent were thwarted by a locked gate at the bottom of the access road. They were therefore running a bit later than scheduled and there was no sign of them. In the distance about half way along the ridge towards Am Bodach we could see a group of people sitting waiting and it looked like it could be our missing support crew. However as we approached them it turned out to be a group who had been wild camping the night before having a well earned rest. Looking back to Stob Choire a Chairn we could see three figures silhouetted against the ridge and realised we had finished up in front of our now “non support” team! Irene had joked earlier about having a support team to support the support team – it didn’t seem like such a daft idea after all now!

On and on

We had various attempts at communication but not wanting to get behind schedule we made the decision to carry on. It was a steep climb up on to Am Bodach, Munro number seven and from there on to the now demoted Sgurr an Iubhair. It was still dry although storm clouds were gathering from the south. As on An Gearanach we decided to leave the rucksacks before crossing the Devil’s Ridge to Sgurr a’ Mhaim. One of my hopes at the beginning of the day was that the forecast rain would hold off until we had at least made the double crossing of the ridge. We almost managed it but the inevitable happened about two thirds of the way back so we hastily retrieved our rucksacks and donned waterproof jackets before carrying on towards Stob Ban, Munro number nine.

I think we were all really feeling tired by this time and the rain certainly didn’t help. But at least it was at our back so we plodded on only stopping at Stob Ban for a very quick photo for Munro Flagging purposes! From there we just had to follow the ridge round to the tenth and final Munro, Mullach nan Coirean. Even though we had done this end of the ridge just a few weeks earlier I don’t think any of us appreciated just how long that 3km stretch would feel after such a long day! But we got there just as the clouds totally dropped to give no views at all for the first time all day. Being tired and not wanting to make a simple navigational error (been there, done that before in the Mamores!) we checked the compass and headed southeast then south down to the West Highland Way for the long 6km walk back to Kinlochleven. There is a stream at that runs alongside the West Highland Way which I managed to safely negotiate but then had spectacular slip into a very wet bog just as I tried to reach the landrover track! Thankfully it was just wet and not muddy, to be honest I don’t think I would have been much wetter had I fell in a river!

Number 10 Mullach nan Coirean

Of course the wind was in our faces now but we didn’t really care. We’d done what we had set off to achieve and it was much relief that we staggered in to the MacDonald Hotel at 9.45pm, 17 hours and 5 minutes after setting off for well earned beers and lasagne. Many thanks to everyone for making it such a fantastic day especially:

Kathryn – for foolishly admitting that she had always wanted to do the entire ridge as well!

Kenny, Gael, Stuart and John – for joining us on this mad epic journey

Elaina, Irene and Eleanor – the support team for providing the bubbly at the end (I’m not sure this was quite what we had in mind when we asked them to bring us extra liquid!)

Gail, Gillian, Susan, Debbie and Tracy – for joining us for the weekend
The Real Food Café – for excellent en-route lunches and cake

The MacDonald Hotel in Kinlochleven for agreeing to feed six knackered hillwalkers with lasagne and chips well after the usual time you would expect to be fed in a Scottish hotel! The owners only took over the hotel in the new year and we wish them well for the future.

And of course Bob and Chris for providing their usual excellent hospitality and breakfasts. A fantastic place to stay for anyone doing the West Highland Way or like us having a wander around the Mamores.

Celebratory bubbly

MacDonald Hotel Photo

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Knoydart Revisited

Posted in Knoydart, Munros with tags , , , , on February 13, 2011 by ayrshiretiger

Well what a week that was!

We booked a week on Knoydart to coincide with Elaina’s birthday on the 8th. Unfortunately Elaina has had a knee operation and wasn’t going to be able much in the way of hillwaking but we still had a fantastic time as we were staying at the fabulous Knoydart House.

Knoydart House

Knoydart House

It really is a superb house that sleeps ten and includes the best view you could possibly want from a hot tub! And it’s also only a two minute walk from the Old Forge pub, the remotest on mainland Britain.

The Old Forge, Inverie

The Old Forge, Inverie

We arrived on Friday 4th after meeting our friends Jamie & Nicky, Maria, Kirstin and Zoe in Mallaig, some of whom were staying for the whole week and some for a long weekend.

After a lovely Toad in the Hole made by Elaina we headed for a quick pint at the pub. But of course there’s no such thing as a quick pint at the Old Forge! Several pints later, a game of Killer Pool involving everyone in the pub and an incident involving a paddle (!) we finally headed back to the house…and despite the very short distance some of us still managed to take the wrong path!

On Saturday most of the gang decided to do the Corbett behind the village, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, a hill Elaina and I had done the last time we were on Knoydart. We had an easy day with a walk to the beach and then on to Kilchoan followed by an excellent meal in the pub.

On Sunday we had a short bike ride to Gaschoille House a couple of miles to the west of Inverie. Monday saw Jamie, Nicky and Zoe depart and in the afternoon I went for a wander along the beach in between the showers, the hut at the campsite came in very useful for shelter after one particularly heavy shower!

Campsite Shelter

Campsite Shelter

View from campsite

View from campsite

On Tuesday afternoon we headed out to Inverguseran Farm in the northwest, a lovely relatively flat walk made more interesting by the Golden Eagles soaring above us.

Walking back from Inverguseran Farm

Walking back from Inverguseran Farm

A wet day on Wednesday gave us a chance of a rest which is just as well as Thursday saw us wake to glorious sunshine. Maria had set off early to do Ladhar Bheinn, the highest Munro on Knoydart via Sgorr Coire Choinnichean – an impressively long route! I knew that a) I wouldn’t be able to get up early enough and b) my hill fitness was not what it was having not been out on a proper hill since October so I decided that I would do the same mountain but in a clockwise direction giving me the option to either do a simple “up and down” or if time/fitness permitted go for some sort of circuit.

I left the house at just after nine and made good progress to reach the ruin at Folach at about 10.30am. From there I plodded up the slopes to the beallach between An Diolaid and Ladhar Bheinn. This was the point Elaina and I had got to a few years ago in very deep snow before turning back. This time however the snowline was much higher up but very impressive, no words needed I think the photos say it all…

Heading up the north west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn

Heading up the north west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn

View from 1010m trig point towards Ladhar Bheinn

View from 1010m trig point towards Ladhar Bheinn

Having got to the summit and with no sign of Maria I sent a text letting her know where I was and decided to carry on with the intention of going along the ridge then along Aonach Sgoilte before dropping down to Gleann an Dubh Lochain. Again some fantastic views looking back…

Looking back to the two summits of Ladhar Bheinn

Looking back to the two summits of Ladhar Bheinn

Looking back at Ladhar Bheinn from the south east ridge

Looking back at Ladhar Bheinn from the south east ridge

I met Maria on the south east ridge and after a quick chat we set off in opposite directions. It was clear by now that my plan, whilst doable, was clearly going to see me finish in the dark. Not really a problem as the last few miles are along a good track but we had booked a table at the pub for a last night meal and I really did not want to miss that! The easiest route out was to head south west into the Coire Torr an Asgaill, a glorious coire of grassy slopes that were easy to descend. I eventually picked up a path alongside the stream and enjoyed the walk out with a couple of deer for company making it back to the house at about 5.30pm.

Looking back into Coire Torr an Asgaill

Looking back into Coire Torr an Asgaill

And so on Friday we headed home, sad that we had to leave but happy that we had enjoyed a week of great company with friends and locals alike and knowing that we will be back!

The Wee Buachaille

Posted in Glencoe, Munros with tags , on October 10, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Craig was desperate to do another mountain and the forecast looked promising. The only possible problem was persuading Jennifer and boyfriend Gavin that a hill walk was a good idea! However the mention of the Real Food Cafe did the trick and so the only thing to decide was which mountain to do?

A check of the forecast on Friday night suggested that the further north and west would be the best. I had considered the Luss hills but decided that to be sure of at least a bit of sunshine we should head further north.

I was a bit unsure whether the kids would fancy the long drive to Glencoe but I assured them that there was a good path up Buachaille Etive Beag and it wasn’t actually that big a hill! Despite planning to leave at 9am we didn’t get away until 10.30am. However we made good progress and arrived at the very full car park at about 12.30pm.

We made our way up the Lairig Eilde beofre heading south east up to the beallach below Stob Coire Raineach with the sound of stags rutting echoing across the glen. Much to the kids delight we saw seven deer above us but they quickly ran off (the deer not the kids!).

Craig waiting for Jennifer and Craig!

Craig waiting for Jennifer and Craig!

Craig looking over to Buachaille Etive Mor

Craig looking over to Buachaille Etive Mor

It really was very windy but quite sunny until we reached the summit when the cloud came in. A pity as we had been getting fantastic views. However Craig was actually delighted as he had never been in a cloud before. I think he was expecting fluffy cotton wool and was probably disappointed to be walking in mist!

Craig with a moody Stob Dubh and Glen Etive behind

Craig with a moody Stob Dubh and Glen Etive behind

The wind did drop on the way down and it was a very pleasant walk back to the car at about 4.30pm and on to Tyndrum for Gavin’s first experience of the Real Food Cafe. Was good to catch up with Sarah and hear that quite a few folk had been mentioning the write ups in Trail magazine.

Jennifer and Gavin smiling on the way down!

Jennifer and Gavin smiling on the way down!

Cracking day out for Jennifer and Gavin’s first Munro and Craig’s second. Lots more to come hopefully!

It’s all over…

Posted in Hull City, Munros, Snow with tags , , on April 27, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

While we are not mathematically relegated it would need some bizarre results for us to stay up so it’s the Championship next year for the Tigers. At least I don’t need to worry about finding out the score of this weekend’s match against Wigan as I wander around the Wester Ross mountains!

We are going up to Gairloch and will hopefully climb Slioch if the weather is kind. I’ve been keeping an eye on the forecast and it looks like a cold northerly is on the cards. Might even be a dusting of snow so will be packing the ice axe and crampons just in case!

Will also be good to meet up again with Jamie, Nicky and Kate although I doubt we’ll be doing a re-make of last year’s Gruinard Baywatch…!

“The best weekend ever…”

Posted in Munros with tags , , , on April 12, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

I’ve been promising to take my son Craig camping for quite a while but have been waiting for a guaranteed good weather weekend (those that know me well know that I don’t really do wet weather camping anyway and I certainly didn’t want to put Craig off). So on seeing the forecast on Friday it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Picked him up from his mum’s on Friday night and headed to the new Go Outdoors at Clydebank to get him a decent pair of boots. Also picked up a pair of walking trousers for him with zip off legs to convert to shorts – in the event that turned out be a good move!

We set off at about 10am on Saturday morning to head for Kinlochleven where I knew there was a good campsite attached to the Macdonald Hotel. Arrived there at about 1pm, got the tent set up and were ready to go for a walk by 2pm.

Craig outside tent at Macdonald Hotel Campsite

Craig outside tent at Macdonald Hotel Campsite

Given the time I wasn’t sure how far Craig would be able to manage so I did consider the 764m Beinn na Caillich but then thought the steep initial ascent might not be the best of starts. So we decided to go for a walk up to the beallach (875m) below the Munro Am Bodach (1034m) where I knew we would get a fantastic view of Ben Nevis and the Ring of Steall. It’s also a much more gradual ascent and would, depending on time, give us a chance for Craig to bag his first Munro!

We drove up to Mamore Lodge and parked the car. Normally they charge £3 for the pleasure but it looks like it’s not open – a shame as it really is in a fantastic location but I know from the times I’ve been inside it that it’s not really been maintained. Anyway it’s a great place to park for doing the Mamores as it saves about 200m of climbing! Craig did really well on the ascent, my only worry being the river crossing I knew we would have to make. But he got over it with absolutely no problem and we continued on, with a few stops to get to the beallach just before 5pm. I’d said to Craig that we would need to turn back at 5.30pm at the latest but as we could see the summit I asked him if he wanted to carry on. Of course he did! So we left our rucksacks at the beallach and headed upwards. A few false summits left Craig a bit exasperated and few snow patches slowed us a bit but we got to the summit at about 5.20pm.

Craig on Am Bodach with Ben Nevis behind

Craig on Am Bodach with Ben Nevis behind

A few photos and then we headed down. I did warn Craig that although going down is easier than going up on your legs it can sometimes be easier to slip going downhill. And so it turned out as his enthusiasm got the better of him a couple of times. Nothing serious though thankfully although he did go for a paddle at the river crossing – not too bad although the water did go over his boots so that was the boots well and truly christened! Got back to the campsite at 7.25pm meaning we did the walk in 5 hours 15 minutes which I though was absolutely brilliant for his first real Scottish hill walk (we’ve done Conic Hill and Ben A’an before). Had a well deserved bar meal in the hotel and then crashed out in the tent.

We got up at the leisurely time of 9am and after packing up we headed for the Ice Factor for breakfast and then Craig went on the High level rope course.

Craig on the high level rope course

Craig on the high level rope course

We had a quick stop at the new layby at Loch Achtriochtan in Glencoe to take a photo of the Aonach Eagach ridge.

Loch Achtriochtan and the Aonach Eagach

Loch Achtriochtan and the Aonach Eagach

We were going to meet up at the Real Food Cafe with Elaina, Petesy, Sandy and Bobinson who had gone wild camping up at Loch Quoich but they were having so much fun in the good weather that they were still high up in the hills (it turned out they didn’t get down until 7.30pm!). But we couldn’t go home without introducing Craig to the best fish and chips this side of Whitby! After that it was the long drive home, made worse by the inevitable traffic jam on Lochlomondside as half of Glasgow had obviously been making the most of the excellent weather! Still we made it back to Ayrshire just after 6pm with Craig telling me several times on the road back that this had been “the best weekend ever!”. May it be the first of many!

Winter Memories…

Posted in Munros, Snow with tags , , , on April 4, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Just to get myself back into this blogging malarky I thought I’d post a few photos from this fantastic winter we’ve just had (and still having!).

Snow Snakes were here!

Snow Snakes were here!

Buachaille Etive Mor from the Devil's Staircase

Buachaille Etive Mor from the Devil's Staircase

Elaina descending Stob Mhic Mhartuin above the Devil's Staircase

Elaina descending Stob Mhic Mhartuin above the Devil's Staircase

Looking over to Rum and Eigg from Ben Hiant, Ardnamurchan

Looking over to Rum and Eigg from Ben Hiant, Ardnamurchan

Nevis Range and Grey Corries from summit of Meall na Teanga

Nevis Range and Grey Corries from summit of Meall na Teanga

Cobbler - Christmas Day

Cobbler - Christmas Day

Christmas Day Robin

Christmas Day Robin

We did Beinn Ime in the Arrochar Alps today and there’s still plenty of snow above about 800m. Will put some photos up soon.

Normal Service will be resumed shortly…

Posted in Hull City, Munros with tags , on April 3, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Sorry folks, for various reasons I’ve just not got round to updating the blog recently but hopefully I’ll make amends for that soon.

It’s not been for want of having stuff to write about as we’ve had trips to Ardgour (Ben Hiant, Beinn Resipol), Ben Lomond, Loch Lochy (Meall na Teanga), Lakes (Fairfield), Newtonmore (Drumochter Munros) and Kinlochleven (Am Bodach).

Heading somewhere (probably Arrochar) tomorrow as the forecast is looking good and hopefully we’ll make the most of the never ending snow of this fantastic winter!  And I promise to post a report in the next couple of days!

As for the football it looks like it’s going to go to the last day of the season again for the Tigers.  Fingers crossed!