September 2017, Bus Meet Report, Laggan

A dry day with some low cloud on the Munro tops saw 18 members, 2 new members, 1 guest and 6 LDWA members set off for Loch Laggan. So a big warm welcome to our new members Sean and Sarah.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_56fFirst off the bus at Kingussie was the LDWA group (Rikki, Mick, Bea, Sally, Carrie, Jenni) and John. Their objective for the day was an 18 mile traverse of the Badenoch Way and Speyside Way from Kingussie to Aviemore. They managed to fit in a tour of Ruthven Barracks before enjoying a coffee and cake stop at Loch Insh Café. Some speedy walking ensured that they were back in Aviemore in plenty of time for some socialising at Café Mambo.

Next off the bus at Adverikie Estate Lodge were George, Graeme and David. Monarch of the Glen fans should be familiar with this location! They parted company at Lochan na H-erba (my apologies if I have misspelled this loch – there appears to be several spellings of this Loch to the south of Loch Laggan) and George headed up Binnein Shios then onwards, well (a long way) down and then up, to tackle Binnein Shuas. With this approach it was easier to spot a suitable gully to ascend Binnein Shuas and then descend to the pick up point at Luiblea. Graeme and David headed up the stalkers path to the north ridge of Geal Charn, encountering low cloud at about 2200ft. Descended south from the summit to collect the Munro Creag Pitridh. With time running out to get to the pickup point they decided not to attempt Beinn A’Chlachair.

The next drop off point was Creag Meagaidh car park. Unfortunately, I was busy talking to Bob and thought the driver knew where to stop … so, having passed the drop off point the driver skilfully completed a U-turn about 1 mile further down the road before returning to the car park. Getting off here were Annika, Rob, Bill, Staurt and Dawn (the Famous 5) with intentions of tackling the Creag Meagaidh circuit or just a traverse of Creag Meagaidh. A quick decision (low cloud) made their minds up that it was more prudent just to do Creag Meagaidh. All reported a great day out – but like the other Munros in the area, the summit was covered in heavy mist.

The penultimate drop off point was Luiblea where Pete, Ken, Sean, Sarah, Andy and myself set off with the intention of tackling Binnein Shuas. After a short discussion at the crossroads – Ken set off for a walk around Lochan na H-erba and Pete followed him for a short while before ascending Binnein Shuas from the South West. Pete commented that the ascent from this direction was a bit “rougher” than it looked and the gullies were quite steep on the descent. However, he did mage to get some good views (and photos) of the Ardverikie wall. Andy, Sean, Sarah and myself set off along the south bank of Loch Laggan before finding a gap in the forest to start the ascent of Binnein Shuas. About 60m ascent short of the summit, I decided that the nausea and tiredness in my legs was not going away and decided to bail out and turn back (on the plus side, I walked and ascended further than the previous bus meet – so still making slow progress to getting back to summiting Munros). Andy, Sean and Sarah continued to the summit and enjoyed some great views before finding an easier descent than Pete to return to Luiblea.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_570The final drop off/pick up point was the Laggan Dam. Graeme, Mark, Richard, Jerry, Bob and Fiona all got off here with thoughts of tackling the 2 Munros of Beinn A’Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach. However, it soon became clear that the ground was quite boggy and that it was wiser only to tackle Beinn A’Chaorainn. Like the Creag Meagaidh group they encountered low cloud and light rain with occasional breaks to take in the views.

Following a discussion about the time left for a refreshment, the planned stop at Newtonmore was changed to the pick up point of the LDWA group at Aviemore. However, in my haste to get some well-deserved fluid replacement, I forgot that we were supposed to pick the LDWA members up at the bus stop. After retrieving my phone from the bus, we eventually all met up.

My thanks to the driver for getting us home in time, despite some additional driving up and down Loch Laggan.

Gordon Eccleston

 

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October 2017 Bus Meet to Achnasheen / Glen Carron

Date: 15th October 2017
O.S. Map(s): 24, 25
Estimated time of arrival: 09.15
Time of departure: 17.15
Leave Elgin: 07.00

The bus will go past the Achnasheen junction and travel down the A896 to park up for the day at Coulags (OS 25, GR962452). The refreshment stop will be at the Ledgowan Lodge. The main drop off points are Achnasheen, Glen Carron, Craig, Achnashellach and Coulags.

Routes from Achnasheen:

1a. Fionn Bheinn (Munro) approx. 4 hours

1b. Fionn Bhein + Meall a’Chaorainn (Graham) approx. 5 hours

Routes from Glen Carron:

  1. Moruisg (Munro) + Sgurr nan Ceannaichean (ex Munro) approx. 5 hours
  2. Carn Breac (Graham) + Beinn na Feusaige (Graham) approx. 5 hours

Routes from Craig:

  1. Beinn Tharsuinn (Corbett) + Sgurr na Feartag (Corbett) approx. 7 hours
  2. Sgurr Choinnich (Munro) + Sgurr a’Chaorachain (Munro) approx. 7 hours

Routes from Achnashellach:

  1. Beinn Liath Mor (Munro) + Sgor Ruadh (Munro) approx. 7 hours
  2. Fuar Tholl (Corbett) approx. 4.5 hours

Routes from Coulags:

  1. Meall Chean-dearg (Munro) approx. 5 hours
  2. An Ruadh-stac (Corbett) approx. 5.5 hours

Please contact Gordon Eccleston via email (Gordon.eccleston@me.com) , phone (01343 842314) or text (07884 358077) by the evening of Wednesday 11th October to book a seat on the bus for this meet.

September 2017, Weekend Meet Report, Dundonnell

A small group of ten eventually assembled at the cosy and characterful Smiddy on Friday evening though several had already spent a day on the hills, enjoying the somewhat unusual ‘heavy persistent sunshine’.

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The Smiddy… full of character(s) [Faye, Simon and Ray]

Evelyn enjoyed a low level walk along the Gruinard river watching the fishermen and fisherwomen trying their luck with the elusive salmon and the native woodlands.

Adrian had spent the day on Slioch while, Robert Ross had flown up from London on Thursday and spent the day, I think, on Beinn Dearg.

On Saturday An Teallach by various routes was the unanimous choice. Jan and Dan drove down the road and started off with the Corbett of Sail Mhor seeing an eagle and twenty goats as well as the Stornoway ferry. Then along the ridge to Sgurr Ruadh and Sgurr Creag an Eich before topping out on Sgurr Fiona and enjoying the superb views. Dan nipped up Bidein a Ghlas Thuill while Jan traversed around from the Bealach. Wondering why her pack had felt heavy all day she realised she was carry some of her work with her so Dan had to wait while she digested pages 2 to 9 of Management by Crystals.

IMG_9883

Jan’s office

Most of the others, Ray, Simon, Evelyn, Faye, Adrian and Robert plus three dogs went up the path by the hut to Bidein a Ghlas Thuill, reminiscing about the hardness of the ice they had encountered last time they were there on a bus meet. Then on to Sgurr Fiona, a very satisfactory tick in the book for Evelyn, now down to her final sixty Munros. The wind dropped, the temperature rose and we all enjoyed the superb views. Robert and Simon continued on to do the circuit of the pinnacles and the interminable descent of the boulder slopes of Sail Liath and finally reaching the welcome sight of Ray waiting for them at the Corrie Hallie car park. Dogs not being too good at climbing, the others returned by the ascent route. Brent and Gus have left no account for posterity but took in some of the other outlying tops.

 

Faye Gonzalez

Faye on An Teallach

All in all a ten out of ten day.

Sunshine continued on Sunday morning. Faye and Teresa went walking on the hills near Braemore Junction, Dan and Simon did a couple of routes on the excellent Jetty Buttress near Gruinard Bay and Adrian cycled up An Faogach but little more is known

Bus Meet October 2017: Laggan

When: Sunday 17 September 2017
Where: Creag Meaghaidh / Loch Laggan (Bus will park at Laggan Dam)
Leave Elgin: 7.00am
Est. time of arrival: 9.45am
Time of departure: 17.00pm
Cost: £15

The bus will park at the Laggan Dam for the day but can go on to Fersit if required in order to access the circuit of Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg.

To the north of the dam lies Beinn Teallach and Beinn a’ Chaorainn. Getting off the bus at Aberarder for Creag Meagaidh is always a popular choice on this meet, it can be climbed via the path going up to the “window” or as part of a high level walk over Carn Liath and Stob Poite Coire Ardair.

From Luiblea there are a group of three Munros, Creag Pitridh, Gael Charn and Beinn a’ Chlachair. For a shorter day consider doing the two fine hills, Binnein Shuas and Binnein Shios, which also lie to the south between Loch Laggan and Loch ‘n Hearba.

Please contact Gordon Eccleston via email or phone on 01343 842314 or text to 07884 358077 by 16:00 on Thursday 14 September to book a seat on the bus for this meet.

October 2017 Weekend Meet: Glenbrittle, Skye

Date: Nights of Fri 6 and Sat 7 September 2017

Venue: Glenbrittle Memorial Hut, Glenbrittle, Skye

Location: Glenbrittle, Skye.  Grid ref: NG412216, Google StreetView

Facilities: The hut has recently been refurbished for its 50th anniversary. 18 bunks (sleeping bags required), All electric; all utensils; large drying room; showers; WCs

Cost: £10.00 per person per night (usual £5 pppn camper’s charge applies)

Things to do: The Glenbrittle hut is ideally situated for access to the Cuillin Ridge. Literally walk out the door for access to the hills from Sgurr na Banachdich to Sgurr nan Eag.

Nearby Hills: Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier, Bruach na Frithe, Sgurr Mhadaidh, Sgurr Ghreadaidh, Sgurr na Banachdich, Sgurr Dearg (& In Pinn), Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr nan Eag or all of these in a full Cuillin Ridge traverse. Loads more hills a bit further afield including all the Red Cuillin and Trotternish ridge. The Isle of Raasay is also well worth a visit not to mention lots of great climbing on superb rock.

Please contact Simon Jacyna to book a place on this meet.

August 2017, Bus Meet Report, Clachnaben and Mount Battock

First of all, a warm welcome to some new members on this meet- Dianne Watters and Rob and Annika Acheson.

This venue was a first for a bus meet – Glen Dye, with the intention of tackling Clachnaben and Mount Battock. 21 members on the bus, with various pick up points – Inverness, Forres, Elgin, Lhanbryde, Keith and Huntly (is this another first for the club?).

Despite the mid-week weather forecast of a hurricane storm hitting Scotland on Sunday – a last minute change to the weather forecast on Friday meant that we had glorious sunshine all day!

Clachnaben

After a long bus drive, along some winding country roads, most of the members were feeling a little motion sick. So, when the bus arrived at the Glen Dye car park there was a speedy exit and a quick start along the forest track. Unfortunately, I still had to put my boots on and got left behind quite quickly. No matter, this was my first outing since the December 2016 bus meet and I had only planned to tackle Clachnaben. I met up with 2 members, Andy and Lianne at the top of Clachnaben and they were planning on going along towards Mount Battock and turning back down the glen. As it transpired, Lianne had a change of mind and continued to the distant Mount Battock. Anyway, some really great views of Aberdeenshire from the top of this little hill, and a welcome little scramble over the granite tor.

Fly AgaricThe main group were traveling at quite a speed, to ensure that they got back to the bus on time! However, there was still time to enjoy a refreshment stop at some of the deluxe estate bothies on the moorland. There was the option on the return leg to cut down to Glen Dye but – the wind dropped and the midges came out with a vengeance! So, everyone came back via Clachnaben. In all, the round trip took about 6.5 to 7 hours.

All in all a good walk in remote countryside – except for the grouse butts and windfarms. The upland track and their effect on the environment, and the prospect of even more windfarms, were the topic of much debate on the return journey (as well as on social media).

The last hurdle to surmount was finding a pub on the way home for a well-deserved refreshment stop. I had been unable to contact any hotels/public house prior to the meeting and was working on some old memories that there were several hostelries on the Aboyne to Banchory road. However, it would appear that most of these are now closed or have been converted to B&B’s. Eventually, we found a rather nice pub in Alford.

Unfortunately, being “tail-end Charlie”, I was unable to get photos of the members on this trip. If you want to see some better photos and descriptions then check out the clubs Facebook page and Heavy’s WordPress blog.

One final point of note, the bus cost a bit more this time because we were charged for an additional driver. Is it worth paying for an additional driver so the we can go further afield (Glen Coe, Glen Nevis) in the future? Note that paying more for the bus means that we need more members to attend to make it financially viable.

 

September 2017, Weekend Meet, Dundonnell

When: Nights of Fri 1 and Sat 2 September 2017

Where: The Smiddy, Dundonnell, OS Grid Ref NH 095 877

Cost: £8.00/person/night; £1 coin meter for power

Facilities: Accommodation for 10 on alpine-style sleeping platforms with mattresses.  Electric lighting, heating, water heater and cooking; microwave oven; fridge; all utensils supplied; open fire (coal supplied); running water; WC

Things to do:  The Smiddy is at the foot of An Teallach and handy for the northern Fannichs and the Fisherfield Munros. Gruinard crag close by has good climbing and the loch offers kayaking. What is not to like?

To book: Contact Simon Jacyna to book your place (even if you are one of the OATs – Old Age Travellers)

August 2017 Bus Meet – Clachnaben and Mount Battock

Date: Sunday 20 August 2017

Map(s):  Ordnance Survey 1:50k maps 44 & 45 or 1:25k OL54
Est. time of arrival: 10:00
Time of departure: 17:00
Leave Inverness: 7:00

The first pick up point is Inverness at 7:00, followed by Nairn at 7:20, Forres at 7:40 and then Elgin at 8:00.

The bus should arrive at the Bridge of Dye car park at 10:00 and will park there for the day.  You need Ordnance Survey 1:50k maps 44 and 45 to cover the start and summits.  Alternatively, the 1:25k map OL 54 covers all the routes.

There aren’t many options for alternative hills – so the routes are either Clachnaben, or Clachnaben plus Mount Battock, or Mount Battock, or a wander around the Glen! There is the option of some scrambling on the summit tor of Clachnaben (but this can be avoided).

There are good paths to the summits of both hills. However, take a little bit of care near the summit of Mount Battock – there is an electric fence close to the summit.

The bus will leave the car park at 17:00 to allow enough time for a refreshment stop.

 

Check out Walkhighlands for descriptions and routes for most of the above hillwalks.

Please contact Gordon Eccleston via email or phone on 01343 842314 or text to 07884 358077 by 16:00 on Thursday 17 August to book a seat on the bus for this meet.

August 2017, Weekend Meet Report, Strontian

Strontianite

Strontian, a small village in a remote corner of a remote region on the remote west of Scotland, is mostly known for its ancient oak woodlands (prime example of temperate rainforest), craggy mountains and midges. In times-gone-by, minerals and mining played a much bigger part. Sir Alexander Murray discovered galena in the hills the region in 1722 and a mine was opened in 1725, in partnership with Thomas Howard, 8th Duke of Norfolk and General Wade. Various materials were mined, including lead and strontianite, which contains the element named after the village, Strontium (Sr). Strontium, lurks on the left hand side of the period table of elements, below Calcium and Magnesium. Until recently, it was used extensively in the glass on the front of cathode ray tube televisions – it absorbed x-rays so that we didn’t get zapped. Anyway, enough history and science, on with the adventures…

 

Babs and Heavy started their weekend early (on Thursday), with a view to fitting in a wee hill (Sgurr na h-Eanchainne) before checking into the Ariundle Centre Bunkhouse. However, the “wild tormented rain” defeated them at the car park. Later in the afternoon the sun came out and they explored the wonderful nature trails through the Ariundle woods. The following day, the weather was still wet and so more Corbett plans were binned and instead they headed to Ardnamurchan, where they had a tour of the lighthouse and enjoyed great views to Eigg, Muck, Rum and more.

On Saturday (at 9am sharp!), a large party (Babs, Fiona Duncan, Ellen Cox, Lesley Botha, Malcolm Campbell, Dougall Lamont, Andy Brooks, Alex Wilkinson, Jake Lee and Dan Moysey) headed up Ardgour’s highest Corbett Sgurr Dhomhnuill. The book of Climbs records “A long day with many steep ridges to conquer.” The party split at one point, with some tackling the subsidiary summit of Sgurr na h-lghinn and the rest skirting its northern flank. Everyone gathered on the summit and were rewarded with a 360 degree panorama, including The Ben (shrouded in clag), Glen Coe and the small isles. There was a steep descent to the col between Sgurr Dhomhnuill and Druim Garbh. From here, most of the group descended the valley via to the old lead mines and then took the path back to Strontian. The day was summarised by Ellen (soon to be deported) as “Terrific day, have absolutely loved adventures with the MMC. Come and visit me in Australia!”

Strontian River Crossing

Crossing the mighty Strontian River

Strontian Slow Worm

A resident of the Ariundle Forestry Commission car park

Dan, Jake and Alex continued along the undulating ridge of Druim Garbh to complete an “aesthetic” round. Alex’s Finnish roots drew him to one of the small lochans for a quick swim. The going was somewhat lumpy, but eventually they reached the road at its high point. Downhill all the way…to the cries of “oh my knees [foot/arm/big toe…etc]”. After a mile or so, a car stopped to enquire where we had been. It had barely come to a halt before Jake had taken his seat – “Strontian please”. Dan and Alex walked.

Alan Duncan is ticking Grahams, so that means lots of days out on his own. Today he followed the main group for a while, but then strayed right towards Sgurr a Chaorainn. He was spotted on the top by the main party (so that’s one out of 219 that can be verified). Alan’s original plan was to leave Sgurr nan Cnamb for another day. It’s only a kilometre or so to the south, but there is about 500m of re-assent. But Zippy had said “of course you can do those two together…and take in Sgurr nan Bog and Beinn Rounded Lump… and be back for tea”. A surprising short time later, having achieved both Graham summits (only one verified), Alan met up with the main party on the track back to Strontian.

Graeme “Zippy” Morrison cycled to Lochaline, caught the ferry to Fishnish, cycled to Dhiseig and ascended Ben More. A quick cycle home completed the 73.12568 mile journey. Zippy’s time is not recorded in the Book of Climbs, but I read somewhere that someone has done this particular round in 5 hours 34 minutes and 15.3 seconds…on a penny farthing.

Heavy spent the day on a film set in Fort William. All top secret, but keep your eye on the Shopping Channel over the next few months.

On Sunday, Ellen and Lesley went to Sanna Bay and Ardnurmurchan Lighthouse. Fiona, Babs and Malcolm ascended the Corbett Carn na Nathrach from near Polloch. “On a somewhat overcast Sunday morning, Babs drove Malcolm and Fiona over the bealach from the bunkhouse and down to Loch Doilet to the start of the ridge climb to Carn na Nathrach (776m).

Fiona climbing the deer fence

After a steep but short climb through the forest, they emerged onto open ground to climb east along the 5km ridge to the summit of Carn na Nathrach. Part bog trot and some easy scrambling, the main obstacle turned out to be a new deer fence near the summit where the contractors had failed to install a gate or style. However, even more disappointing were the coils of old fence lying nearby and an empty wine bottle: clearly building fences requires refreshment. However, that experience aside, they enjoyed superb views west over Loch Doilet towards Loch Shiel and even Rum and Eigg.

While the rain largely held off during the climb, as the trio arrived at the summit, it became really heavy and they lunched in the shelter of some rocks just 20m below.

The descent was wet but uneventful and they were back at the car in under 6 hours, a good time for the conditions.Looking west to Rum and Eigg

View west to Rum and Eigg

Dan, Jake and Zippy went on a bike ride from Strontian to Strontian. “Shortly after starting we arrived at Salen Pub, and although tempted, we decided to push on before first coffee stop. Being peak season on the west coast, all subsequent coffee facilities were shut, until we wobbled into Lochailort many hours later. Zippy was not for stopping so he headed off on his racing bike, leaving the two mountain bikers to savour their coffees and the journey. The road to Glenfinnan was a bit tedious, but eventually we free-wheeled into Glenfinnan, past the “car park full” sign. Time for second lunch at the foot of the monument. After 60km, it was time to commence mountain biking (that’s a long warm up). The track along the shore of Loch Shiel has potential, but in the pissing rain it had lost some of its appeal. We eventually arrived at Polloch. Great! Only a couple of kilometres and we’ll be home, warm and dry. Unfortunately, there is the small matter of the 350m ascent. It was bottom gear all the way. The sign on the other side said “1 in 4”. The descent was somewhat more rapid, but there was a problem… back home with 99km on the clock. Obviously, a 500m out-and-back along the road was required.”

Strontian Oak Woods

The ancient oak woodlands

August 2017 Weekend Meet: Strontian (Ariundle Bunkhouse)

When: Nights of Friday 4th and Saturday 5th August

Where: Ariundle Bunkhouse, Strontian.  Grid Reference NM 821 631

Facilities: There are two bunk bed rooms upstairs each with their own private facilities. Linen is supplied with the exception of towels.  There is a restaurant at the adjacent Ariundle Centre.

Cost: To be confirmed by meets organiser

What to do: Plenty of quality Corbetts, Grahams and Marilyns in Ardgour, Sunart, Moidart, Morvern and Ardnamuchan. If you are desperate for a Munro tick, you could drive the short distance to Lochaline and take the ferry across to Mull to ascend Ben More. Nearby Corbetts include Garbh Bheinn, Beinn Resipol, Sgurr Dhomhnuill and Carn na Nathrach. If Grahams are your thing there are several close by to choose from. Ardnamurchan has some quality Marilyns including Ben Hiant and Meall nan Con (part of an old supervolcano caldera). For further adventure you could charter a wee boat on Loch Sunart to visit the Isle of Carna or if the tide permits have a walk across to the tidal island of Eilean Shona in Invermoidart. There is also classic climbing to be had on Garbh Bheinn and great cragging on Gabbro in Ardnamurchan.

Bookings: Please contact Simon Jacyna to book a place on this meet.