Weekend Meet Report, Feshiebridge, Dec 2019

Mill Cottage is a wonderful bunkhouse situated in the woods at Feshiebridge. Being December it seemed to be dark most of the time, nonetheless, through the trees the River Feshie was occasionally visible.

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Fiona caught cheating again!

Alistair started the weekend early with a quick nip up Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair where he met a couple from Cornwall who were having a year off to climb the munros. The BRB “it was OK”.

The weather forecast for Saturday threatened rain from about lunchtime, so there was an incentive (not necessarily actioned) to start early.

Evelyn Droege and Debbie Raymont started at “8:30am from Auchlean car park while it was vaguely dry and walked through a couple of rivers, one of which was a washed out chasm. Took a left up the landrover track up towards Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair, which we could see over the top into a spectacular Corie Garbhlach. Weather visibly worsening by 1pm so no views. Came back down and visited spectacular new refurbished Ruigh Aiteachain bothy and had another lunch within its beautiful stone walls. Home for tea by 2:30pm as really raining by then.”

Alistair and Darren Brown (guest) went up the Fiachaill ridge to the summit of Cainrgorm. “A good day out made better by free mince pies and mulled wine at the final café.”

Drummond Beatty, Fiona Duncan, Julie Partridge, Alan Duncan and Daniel Moysey all set off from Auchlean to climb Sgor Gaoith. “The clag was down before we got to the top so the classic view down to Loch Eanaich was veiled. We continued north to Sgorran Dubh Mor and hunkered down behind a boulder to shelter from the wind and rain. We were getting quite cold by the time Drummond arrived and took out his mince pie for one. We set off on a compass bearing along the north west ridge. The clag lifted, but the wind was getting up, as we continued along to Geal Charn. Walked back through the forest, past the gliding club, and then back to Mill Cottage just before dark.”

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Drummond’s mince pie

Colin Cowie cycled from Aviemore along the Speyside Way then west along General Wade’s military road, over the spectacular Sluggan Bridge and upstream along the banks of the River Dulnain. The high point is almost 700m, which is quite a slog unless you have an e-bike. However, it’s worth it because the descent to Lynwig is one of the best downhills in Scotland… Colin recons you will get >40mph (if you like speed).

Sluggan Bridge

Sluggan Bridge (Colin Cowie)

Sunday dawned cold, wet and windy. There was very little talk of adventure and even less records in the BRB, so we can only assume that most folk did their mountaineering on Aviemore’s high street. There was an exception though, as recorded by Simon…
Simon got up at some unearthly hour, probably while the late night party was still going strong, wandered round a field in the dark picking up horse droppings then drove down to meet the rest of the paddling pensioners’ party. This consisted of Colin and Simon, (the potential swimmers), Dan, who hasn’t yet discovered the joys of retirement, as the rescue party and Drummond to photograph the mishaps. What could possibly go wrong?
Given their extremely brief caving trip in Assynt last month when they were beaten back by the flood waters, canoeing on the flooded Spey (it had risen 3′ [0.9m for those educated post-1970’s]) could have been seen as hope triumphing over experience. At least the floods meant they didn’t have to walk so far to the water’s edge. After the usual faffery they were off paddling into a brisk headwind, delayed only briefly trying to find a way through the trees.

After crossing Loch Insh they plunged into the flooded reed beds. This quickly became like a scene from the Africa Queen, with some discussion about who was taking the roles of Humphrey Bogart and Kathleen Hepburn. Rejoing the river they continued upstream, listening all the while for jungle drums, and after a first lunch-stop pulled the boats over the embankment and continued under sunshine and a rainbow through flooded fields and woods.

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…and here … we see … on camera … for the first time … the lesser spotted meet organiser.

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Colin, Simon and Drummond

Eventually the grass got too long to paddle through so they headed for the nearest gate (!) to get back to the river. At this point they were joined by five marooned horses cantering along what was left of their small island. No, your humble author hasn’t been smoking something funny – it really was becoming quite a surreal day.

They continued upstream slowly, seeing a lot of swans and other waterfowl which were difficult to identify in the poor light. Eventually cold toes and fingers got the better of our hardy adventurers and having failed to find Kurtz they turned back, covering the miles at high speed with the current and wind pushing them along. A second lunch-stop at the Water-sports centre with tea and cake rounded off a memorable day.

Words by Dan and Simon; Photos by Dan and Colin

Weekend Meet Report, Inchnadamph, Nov 2019

It’s November so it must be Inchnadamph. The tradition of the annual meet to Inchnadamph was upheld in fine form by twenty members this year.

For some the weekend again started early on Friday. Evelyn walked up Glen Kirkaig to the falls and further up for the views of Suilven, Stac Pollaidh and Cul Mor enjoying the lovely autumn colours of the birchwoods.

Simon climbed Ben Stac in an increasingly strong and cold wind.. Frustatingly there was mist on the summit so views were limited but not so limited that he couldn’t see that Arkle was totally clear and bathed in sunshine all day.

The mountain weather forecast for Saturday predicted high winds and rain, especially in the east, but expressed a degree of uncertainty and suggested that conditions might be better in the far north west. In the event there was no uncertainty at all and Saturday ‘dawned’ with low cloud, driving rain and very high winds and so it stayed all day.

So what’s a mountaineer to do? Well, like a true mountaineer, Adrian, plus dogs, set off for Canisp, finding the going grimmer and grimmer. The sixty mile an hour-plus wind blew him over on the summit ridge forcing him to turn back, wet and windswept, about twenty minutes from the top. He then went to the famed Lochinver Pie Shop.

Others thought that it might be drier underground and that caving might be drier option. Joe, Carol, Anta, Alison, Laura, Sheila Al and Ben set off to explore that Allt nam Uamh Bone Caves which were indeed relatively dry, though several in the group were wet before they got there. Having thoroughly explored the bone caves, which are after all no more than 60 yards long, they proceeded further up the valley to explore the Allt nam Uamh stream cave, and were disconcerted to find that not only was the normally dry stream bed a raging torrent but that the water was lapping the cave’s mouth. All eyes were on Joe. He does after all work for SEPA and is their Morayshire guru responsible for flood warnings. His verdict? “Err, dunno, let’s take a look”. But all was well and the cave passages were indeed dry and all agreed that this was indeed a good wet-weather option. Cave duly explored the walk back down the valley was next to an even higher river than on the approach with several more resurgences gushing water. This was followed by a visit to the famed Lochinver pie shop.

Dan, Simon and Colin also fancied caving, Having visited Allt nam Uamh in previous years they decided to explore pastures new and headed up the valley behind the hut to explore the Traligill caves. The Waterslide Cave showed itself to be well named with a raging torrent dissappearing down the great slab into the darkness. It didn’t need a second glance to check that going down it would be a one-way journey. They continued up to the second entrance and enjoyed a second breakfast in the cave mouth. Suitably fortified they kitted up and a short crawl led into the stream chamber. Not surprisingly the river in here was also a rather spectacular raging torrent. Simon tentatively tested the waters while Colin kept an eye on the entrance in case he had to make a hasty exit if Simon were to slip and form an involuntary plug further downstream. The thought of a wet, rapid and rather unpleasant death pursuaded Simon not to further test the waters and so after penetrating 20 yards into the cave they too headed back to the entrance. Walking back down the valley they stopped to look at the other sinks, resurgences and cave entrances in the valley. Colin and Simon then went to the famed Lochinver pie shop.

Traligill Caves (2)

Simon in the Traligill Caves. Just a bit too much water

Evelyn and Debbie also walked up to see the cave entrances, admiring the interesting geology. Debbie then headed straight for the famed Lochinver pie shop as she had heard so much about the pies. She then enjoyed a dry walk with some blue skies up Glen Kirkaig to see the falls which were spectacular raging torrents. Despite the strong winds she then carried on further up the glen for the views of Suilven, Stac Pollaidh and Cul Mor. No mention of the autumn colours in the birchwoods – perhaps the leaves had all blown away.

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Lochinver Pie Shop – Ben, Al and Carol

Alan, Fiona, Susan and Sheena also went to Lochinver and walked the circuit up to Glen Canisp lodge, over the hill and back along the river that drains Loch Assynt. Nice woodlands, pools and rapids and the path conveniently ended at the famed Lochinver pie shop.

Saturday evening was the traditional fancy dress Hallow’een party featuring the usual mix of weird and wonderful Animals. Particularly notable were Debbie as a frog, complete with lily pad, Susan as an ugly duckling, Owl Dennis and a broken chain representing a missing link (Jan).

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Susan and Debbie

Sunday dawned rather less wet but still windy and very cloudy so there was a general lack of enthusiasm. Adrian did a bike circuit from Lochinver in good weather. Colin hoped to cycle the circuit along the hill track below Suilven and back along the road but found it very wet, with lots of stopping and starting and not worth doing while Susan and Simon walked up to the bone caves.

Meanwhile Alan & Fiona reported “ we managed to climb Cul Beag despite particularly strong winds on the final summit ridge. We had been sheltered in the corrie on the west side of the hill until we reached the col. Alas no views on the summit and since it was windy and a bit chilly to say the least it was a quick descent to the car..”

Total score for the weekend? Hills successfully climbed – two. Pies consumed – probably into the hundreds.

Words by Simon Jacyna, Photos by Colin Cowie

Christmas Bus Meet, Grantown, 15 Dec 2019

Date:                         Sunday 15 December 2019
Venue:                      Grant Arms Hotel, Grantown-on-Spey
Pick up times:         Inverness (8:00), Forres (8:40), Elgin (9:00).
Arrival:                    ETA Ballindalloch (turn at Cragganmore Distillery): 10:00
Return Journey:     Depart Grantown 19:00, then via Inverness – Forres – Elgin
Cost:                         £15 Bus fare, plus £25 for the meal.

The Xmas Meet is traditionally a relaxed day with the focus on pleasant company rather than forced marches ticking off mega hills.  There will be request drop off spots of course allowing members to work up an appetite with a challenging walk or simply enjoy a stroll before dinner.

The MMC Christmas Dinner will be served at 1600 hours in the Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on Spey.  Click here for the menu and inform Malcolm of your selections.

The meal will be followed by the President’s speech and presentation of the annual awards , including the “President’s Award for Mountaineering Achievement” and “Order of the Golden Boot Award”.  Inform a member of the committee if you would like to nominate a member for either of these.

Contact Malcolm Campbell to book your seat on the bus and your meal at the hotel.

Bus (Car) Meet, Drumguish (Glen Tromie), Sunday 17 Nov 2019

When:                            Sunday 17 November 2019
Times and drop-offs:  To be agreed with car-share companions
Cost:                               A share of the fuel
Maps:                            Ordnance Survey Landranger 35

This meet is by private car share. Contact Lauren Grant to notify your interest.  The plan is to take the high path over Croidh-la along the ridge to summit of Meallach Mhor coming back via Gleann Chomhraig to avoid the trudge along Glen Tromie. Conquering a Corbett, maybe in some snow showers.  Link to map

Hogmanay Meet: Glen Clova, 31 Dec 2019 to 2 Jan 2020 (3 Nights)

Date:           Nights of Tue 31 Dec 2019, Wed 1 and Thurs 2 Jan 2020, i.e. 3 nights.
Venue:        Braedownie, Glen Clova, OS Grid Reference NO 286 757
Facilities:  Kitchen, shower, toilets, alpine bunks (bring a good SLEEPING BAG)
Cost:            £30 total for the holiday

The hogmanay meet this year is based at Carn Dearg Mountaineering Club’s brand new Braedownie hut located in Glen Clova.  The meet is traditionally a great opportunity for some eating, drinking, socialising and even a little outdoor activity.  Folk usually bring some food to share for evening meals and sometimes folk even put on their best frocks for hogmany – more info to follow in due course.

Glen Clova may be a bit of a long drive from Moray, but it is well worth the effort.  Dreish and Mayar (the local munros) may lag behind Sgurr nan Gillean on the “jaggyness index”, but there are several impressive corries and crags that are the equal of many other better known examples.  If the conditions are right, then there are plenty of winter climbing, skiing and general walking opportunities.

There are still several places available.

Contact Simon Jacyna (preferably by text or email) to book your place.

Weekend Meet, Feshiebridge, 6+7 Dec 2019

Date:         Nights of Fri 6 and Sat 7 December 2019
Venue:      Mill Cottage, Feshiebridge. Google Maps. Grid Reference NH 847 047
Facilities: Full cooking and dining facilities, all electric. Shower, toilets, drying room, multi-fuel stove in lounge, firewood and coal (kindling not provided).
Cost:         £10pppn

This is a great location for exploring the wonderful Glenfeshie, or the less well know Glen Tromie. The obvious big hills are Mullach Clach a’ Blair and Sgor Gaoith with its lofty summit sitting high above Loch Eanaich.  If the weather does not cooperate, then there are plenty of low-level wanders through the ancient pine woods.  Some good mountain biking routes as well.

Contact Simon Jacyna to book your place.

 

Bus Meet Report, Dundonnell, 20 Oct 2019

After September’s Bus Meet cancellation and a dubious forecast for the weekend it looked likely that this Bus Meet may go the same way. Indeed, by Wednesday numbers were so low that Gordon was on the verge of cancelling the meet, but instead chose to book a smaller bus. A 25 seater was booked and the meet secured.

Then there were more sign-ups, and some drop-outs, and more sign ups, and more drop outs, and then more and more sign ups until in the end 27 people, plus Desmond at the wheel, travelled west towards Dundonnell in the large coach that Gordon subsequently, and luckily, managed to book.

First off the bus were Peter Goodwin, Tom Summerscales and Graeme Bartlett. Peter had ambitions on Creag Rainich whilst Tom and Graeme were planning a long low level traverse from Loch A Bhraoin to Coire Hallie. Others had planned to stay low but the sight of An Teallach rising from the moor and glistening in the morning light changed minds to focus on higher things.

Peter successfully bagged his Corbett, with bog underfoot at a cold wind blowing, before dropping down to the bothy at the head of the loch and walking back to the road. The options from here were a long wait with no pub stop or try his luck thumbing a lift. The latter worked well and the first passing car gave him a lift back to Dundonell.

Graeme and Peter walked past both the Loch a Bhraoin bothy and Shenevall bothy as well as the now inhabited Achnegie. Graeme enjoyed the 17.5 mile walk to the bus at Coire Hallie and felt humbled by Tom, 20 years his senior, who continued to Dundonell to make it a walk of over 20 miles, and one that finished at a pub!

Andy Brooks, Ken Ross, Ella Grant and Jerry Jacobsen stayed on the bus until it got to Corrie Hallie. They all walked south from the road, with Andy getting to a high point on Sail Liath and Ella and Jerry reaching Shenevall and Achnegie.

The weather certainly looked better than forecast, but a light sprinkling of snow dusted the highest tops and wind and cloud were due to roll in later. The full traverse of An Teallach over the pinnacles was therefore not on anyone’s to do list for the day and everyone else on the bus opted to do a there-and-back walk up An Teallach from Dundonell

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Drummond contemplates the view

A large group assembled in the pub car park. Strangely enough nobody went straight into the pub for either a coffee, beer or dram, but headed along the road to the hill path. One unfortunate fellow bid a hasty return when he realised he’d left all of his food on the bus. Luckily the bus and the food were both still there and, take two, he started once again up the hill.

The group, consisting of Dottie, Robert, Annika, Drummond, Peter D, Ray, Dianne M, Malcolm, Toni, John H, Lesley, Alison, Lenny, John K, Norman, Bruce, Joe, Brent, Dianne W and John S spread out along the path up An Teallach. It was a steady ascent with nothing of particular note, until a figure was spotted descending. Long before the descending figure was sufficiently close to be identified by sight he was identified by sound. The inimitable sound of a fellow club member bounced from hillside to hillside, booming in the corries, with faint echoes returning from Liathach and Suilven. Oh yes, this distant figure could be nothing else but Heavy Whalley.

It was good to see Heavy in his natural habitat, the tops of the Scottish Hills. He had had an early start and returned home while the rest of us were still on the hill.

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A Picturesque Lunch Spot

There were some flurries of snow but the weather stayed fine for most of the day. A lunch spot was had on the summit, with fantastic views that put the dubious weather forecast to shame. Some of the group carried on to Sgurr Fiona and were enveloped in a swirling cloud that promised Broken Spectres but never quite delivered. All gathered at the Dundonnell Hotel below and enjoyed a drink or two before Desmond once again took the wheel and delivered us all back home again.

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Moody skies swirling around Sgurr Fiona

Words and Photos by Joe Glennie

Weekend Meet Report, October 2019, Skye

This year’s traditional meet to Skye, with a good crowd of 20 people, was notable for several reasons – the organiser actually attended for the first time in six months; we had the key code in good time so we knew we would get in and everything worked. It was also notable for the sheer length of all the entries in the big red book, so this report will be a heavily abbreviated version.

For several the weekend started early and Friday saw Adrian M and Minnie (his dog) on Blaven enjoying the great views in the late afternoon. Meanwhile Carol J and Adele N, before Carol started writing War & Peace, finally made it to the summit of Aonach Meadhoin on their third attempt. Starting from near the Cluanie Inn at 3:30pm they were surrounded for much of the way by bellowing stags in full rut. On her way across, Evelyn explored the Balmacara Woodland Walk near Kyle and then went for another walk up Glen Sligachan, also surrounded by the bellowing of the rutting stags and enjoying some clear views of the Cuillin ridge.

Glen Brittle Hut

Adrain – Pretty handy with a mop for a sparky. (But such a waste of beer)

Alan and Fiona D, in full Corbett ticking mode, climbed the Druin na Ruaige ridge onto Beinn Dearg Mheidhonaich. A quick descent to the bealach was followed by the steep climb to Beinn Dearg Mhor and then another steep descent down the scree slopes. This was third time lucky for them too – previous attempts on Beinn Mhor having been defeated by rain and high winds. Although the wind was chilly it was clear and they too were able to enjoy good views of the Cuillins. At this point we should mention that Alan has now been a member of the club for thirty years. This is not as long as three of the others on this meet who found their names in the Hut logbook from a MMC meet in October 1985. It is satisfying to note that despite all the intervening years none of us look a day older.

The weather forecast for the rest of the weekend was for Saturday to get steadily worse and for Sunday to eventually get better. Saturday morning therefore saw an early start for most; many of whom probably later wished that they had started even earlier.

Adrian, with Minnie running behind, cycled the Loch Eynort loop in Glenbrittle forest.

Andy B took a gentle plod into Glen Banachdich with the rain getting heavier and the wind getting up to knock-you-over strength. He was rewarded by a good sighting of a sea eagle which unusually was having to flap its wings rather energetically.

Corrie Laggan

Approach to Corrie Laggan

Dan ‘Tigger’ Moysey was suffering from an unusual attack of lassitude, which may or may not have had its origins in excesses the evening before. However, everyone else was busy getting ready for adventures so he suffered an attack of FOMO and hastily packed his bag for a wander into Coire Laggan where he met some of the others. At this point in his account a further attack of lassitude struck and he left it to them to continue the story.

One of these others, Carol, in volume two of War & Peace, takes up the story. “I was undecided what to do so ran after Andy, Jan and Alison Ross, to have a look at the Great Stone Chute, with no hopes of making it to the summit of Sgurr Alasdair due to the forecast strong winds. We stopped to admire the waterfall and some lochans and were eventually joined by Dan at the bottom of the GSC. Alison headed back at that point and we eventually made it up to the ridge. Surprisingly the winds were not as bad as predicted so we scrambled up to the summit of Sgurr Alasdair. There were no views so we headed back down the Chute, stopping again for a second lunch. It was pretty wet.”

Sgurr Alasdair

Carol, Jan, Andy and Dan on summit of Sgurr Alasdair

Susan J had a pleasant wet and windy walk along the coastal path to Rubha an Dinain, meeting Alison on the way. Debbie R, enjoying her first trip to the Cuillins also walked into Coire Lagan, with Evelyn, only getting blown over once.

Alan and Fiona used the poor forecast as the stimulus to take the car over to Raasay where the first stop on their explorations was for cake and coffee at Raasay House whence they enjoyed the superb views back to Skye. Suitably fortified they walked up Dun Caan, where there was no wind at all. A quick jaunt up Callum’s road was followed by another stop at Raasay House and the new distillery.

Meanwhile Ben and Joe thought they would put ‘Mountaineering’ back into the MMC. In full knowledge of the weather forecast and rucksacks bulging with climbing gear they set off into the hills with plans. But Amphitheatre Arete had other ideas and it started to rain as they reached its base. 300′ up the rain was heavier, the wind was stronger, the clouds were something illegible, fingers were numb and the slabby rock had become a series of waterfalls, so Joe fixed a belay and brought Ben up to join him for a quick conference. This led to the unanimous decision to beat a hasty retreat so they abseiled and down-climbed to the base and bravely ran away.

Meanwhile, further to the north Adele was keen to bag a peak on the ridge. Despite the forecast she coerced two easily led souls, Sheena and Simon, to join her on an attempt on Bruach na Frith. The head wind on the ridge proved too strong so they traversed into the corrie for a more sheltered approach. The cloud was only just down on the summit but the rain held off and the wind had dropped a bit so it was a better day than anticipated.

Someone who has chosen to remain anonymous, but by a process of elimination was probably Robert R, on a flying visit from London, headed back to the mainland to climb A Ghlas Bheinn. He had fewer problems than the day before when after climbing Beinn Fhada he went wrong on the descent and dropped into Coire Chaoil and reascended to Sgurr a Choire Garbh. He descended a long ridge in the mist and the dark, not getting back to the car until 19:45. He then got stuck in the roadworks and didn’t make it to the hut until nearly 10:00.

Drummond and Ella headed north with a long drive to the Quirang. This, like the Fairy Pools, has been discovered by hordes of tourists, so having paid their £5 parking fee they joined the throngs on the path who eventually thinned out by the time they got to the far end. They had excellent views and visibility and they explored the Prison, the Table and the Needle. A spectacular location. They headed back in heavy rain. Apparently the Quirang features as the backdrop to a very popular video game in the far east so is a ‘must see’ for many tourists. The road to the Quirang is disintegrating rapidly; as is the road to Glenbrittle. This keeps the local garages busy and we were joined in the hut on Saturday night by a young couple who had badly dunted a wheel rim and had to wait until the next day for a call-out.

Saturday night saw the usual sampling of traditional beverages and Sunday morning dawned wet and cloudy as forecast. Consequently most people decided to head for home, though Andy, Jan and Robert headed for Blaven. The rest is known only to those who were there.

Words by Simon.  Photos by Dan and Carol

Weekend Meet, Inchnadamph, 1+2 Nov 2019

Date:           Nights of Fri 1 and Sat 2 November 2019
Venue:        Inchnadamph Lodge (Google Maps) Grid Reference NC 252 218
Facilities:  Well equipped kitchen, drying room, loads of space, log fires, bunks
Cost:           £17.50 pppn  for the dorm and £27 pppn for the twin rooms, (£5 pppn camper’s charge applies)

A mere two days is grossly inadequate to do justice to Assynt.  Activities include lots of great hills (Ben Mor Assynt, Conival and Glas Bheinn are all on the doorstep), caving (See Caves of Assynt by SNH), climbing at Reiff and kayaking.

Saturday night is traditionally fancy dress.  This year’s theme is ‘ANIMALS’ so this is your chance to let the inner beast reveal itself.

If you don’t want to share a dormitory with a bunch of snorers, then there are some twin/double rooms, £27 pppn.

Contact Simon Jacyna to book your place. Also let Simon know in advance if you fancy a caving trip and he will provide further information. This is usually to the Allt nan Uamh stream cave, which is damp but not wet. There is some scrambling and crawling but nothing that is too difficult.  Helmet, TORCH, BATTERIES, spare torch and spare batteries are essential.

Bus Meet, Dundonnell, 20 October 2019

When:                                Sunday 20 October 2019
Final Bus Stop:                 Corrie Hallie Car Park (Grid Ref NH 114 850)
Pick up times:                   Elgin (07:00); Forres (07:20); Nairn (07:40); Inverness (08:00)
Est time of arrival:           09:50
Time of Departure:          18:00
Cost:                                    £15.00pp
Ordnance Survey Maps: 19/20

This is a popular venue in the Northwest Highlands. The big objective here is An Teallach, comprised of two Munros: Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona (and lots of Munro tops). There are several routes of ascent. One directly from Dundonnell and another from Corrie Hallie up to Ghlas Thuill are straightforward. A longer route from Corrie Hallie via Sail Liath offers enjoyable but exposed scrambling.

Worthwhile alternatives to An Teallach in the Dundonell area are Sail Mhor, an ascent of Beinn nam Ban (Marilyn) or a low-ish level walk into Shenavall bothy and back. Various hills in the Fannichs can also be done on this meet by leaving the bus at earlier points.

Contact Gordon Eccleston by 21:00 on Thursday before the meet to book your seat.