AULTGUISH FEBRUARY 2012
The Aultguish Inn and Bunkhouse hasn’t been used by the MMC since the days when Graeme Morrison could read a map at less than arm’s length, so it was good to get acquainted with a new venue, especially for those Inverness folk who only had half an hours drive to the place.
Those impish weather faeries had been up to no good though, as the preceding five frosty-sharp days of gloriously cloudless cerulean skies gave way to a weekend of gale, rain and clag. Only ‘Wednesday’ Lawson had the good luck to be about on the Friday; amassing Marilyns or whatever Dark Art it is he indulges in.
Pre-dawn Cairngorms from Beinn Tharsuinn (Nice Friday weather )
Friday night saw the usual banjos and tin whistles being flogged mercilessly by an unholy allegiance of the tone-deaf, only Dave Whitelock letting down the wailing banshees with some rare moments of tunefullness.
Keener than any to test the facilities of our accommodation to their full, Kate Whitelock thought it necessary to spend most of the night investigating the breaking strain of the toilet porcelain. Unable to crack the bowl, she was soon assisted by Dave, who in a touching display of husbandly solidarity, joined her in her nocturnal retching. We all hope that Kate’s first weekend outing with the club hasn’t left a bad taste in her mouth. (Should be gone by now. Gargle Kate. Gargle).
And so to reports of derring-do. As with the great Assyrian Empire there was remarkably little recorded of this great event in history, which suits your idle and recalcitrant author. Ray Harron has described his weekend with typical modesty thusly:
On the Saturday Lydia Davis and I walked in along the track north of Loch a’ Bhraoin as far as the Lochivraon Bothy. We had intended doing Sgurr Ban and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair in the Fisherfield group. By the time we reached the bothy, less than half way in, we were confronted by horizontal rain and gale force wind. A half hours respite in the bothy convinced us that to continue was insanity so we hastily retraced our steps back to the car. Lydia went home on Saturday afternoon. I stayed till Sunday but did not go walking, I just do fine weather these days.
Wednesday Lawson sent in some links to his days on the hill, but as he sent them to a man trapped in late 19th century, they are lost forever.
Those resorting to pen and paper are herein enclosed. ‘weather’ seems to be a theme.
Judith and Illona headed for Beinn Dearg (brave), but due to foul weather went up the Munro to the left instead (only marginally less brave). “it was so windy on top we could hardly stand, so we rushed down the other side, round right back past the frozen loch, where the rain finally stopped and the clouds parted to reveal blue sky.” Water-logged and wind-lashed they returned to the Inn.
Fiona D, Fiona C, Alan, Dave Maclean and Jake took the ‘second breakfast’ option and a leisurely start, in order to capture the best of the weather of course, then scaled the mighty Meall nan Doireachan. It was rather jolly I seem to remember.
El Presidente Moysey, Donnie, Graeme and PTWD, for reasons known only to themselves, thrashed their way up the northwest ridge from the bunkhouse to the far away soggy mass recorded by Dan to be An Fucher. More a comment on the day, than Dan’s rudimentary grasp of Gaelic place names I feel.
Oliver and Dave Galloway strained familial relations by heading out from Loch Broom through the Inverlael forest to follow the river Lael at the very un-military hour of 08:30. Despite most of the day being gone, they felt the task was still do-able, and battling the elements they made the summit of Eididh na Clach Geala in good time. Visibility was remarkably good on top, but the descent descended into general foulness and two soggy Galloways returned thankfully to the bar.
With commendable spirit and tanks running on ‘empty’ the whitened Whitelocks made it all the way to a café in Ullapool, before admitting defeat and returning to the Inn for another snooze. As Dave succinctly put it, “another great day in the hills”.
The Aultguish Inn has made significant strides since the days of drafty rooms and a cheese sarnie if you’re lucky, and so the club were able to relax in comfort. There was, I recall, a game of rugby football on in the early evening, but in the interests of international relations I dare not mention the sound thrashing dished out to followers of the Saltire.
Battered and bruised by the onslaught of Saturday’s weather, there were many dark rumblings about ‘getting back early to polish the ferret’ and other such feeble excuses on the Sunday. Either that, or a shyness about revealing events. Thus we are back to the old Assyrian Empire mode of historical reporting. It surely was wonderful, but is now merely legend.
This fat old fool was dragged over the Fannichs of An Coileachan, Meall Gorm, Sgurr Mor and Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich. Floundering in the wake of Morrisson and his long suffering hound. Donnie and El Presidente were also in the party. Strung out across the hills in some pathetic re-enactment of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. The few chances there were to wipe away the sweat from my furrowed brow, revealed a rather glorious day. Almost better than ferret polishing.
A sound early outing in what promises to be a magnificent year.