My plan for the day was to drive home to Perth from Applecross, and climb a pair of Munros on the North side of Loch Quoich on the way. My plans did not go as expected however. Firstly, I was a little later leaving Applecross than I had hoped - and was always going to be racing to catch up. Secondly, I had great difficulty finding a shop that could sell me a compass, it took three or four attempts - which wasted more time. Then finally, I hit a really rough bit of road - and had a blow out in the car. I reached start of my walk feeling harassed!
The beginning of the track up Gleouraich is hidden amongst a dense patch of infernal rhododendrons. The estate on the Applecross peninsula are investing thousands of pounds in having their rhoddies removed, and burnt. Locals told me that these monstrous plants, which are so ubiquitous, were introduced into the Highland landscape by the Victorians. They presumably had no idea that their lovely flowering bushes would become such a menace. A small metal post marks the spot where a tiny, boggy path leads through the bushes and out onto the open hill.
It's a remarkable path too, zig-zagging its way up the blunt nose of Sron a Chuillin, and up and over the top marked as Druim Saileach on the OS 1:25 000. The path abruptly ends at a small semi-circular stone wall underneath Gleouraich's steep sides, but although the formal path ceases, a upward stretching line of bootmarks indicates that most walkers continue on towards the summit.
The climb here is steep, and in snowy conditions like those I had, exceptionally slippery. I was hoping from magnificent views from the ridge. The usually pessimistic Mountain Weather Information Service was suggesting a 90% chance of cloud free Munros, but alas it was not to be. I climbed up into the cloud and stayed there for the duration! The view did not reappear until my descent.
My plan to continue from the summit of Gleouraich along the ridge to Spidean Mialach were thwarted by the weather too. The edges around the summit were decorated with amazing cornices requiring careful navigation. The ongoing ridge looked a bit dicey too; and I was looking along it in two minds as to whether to go that way, when the snow started to fall heavily and visibility reduced to very little. It was obvious that as I was there on my own, it was time to retrace my steps (which as they were imprinted to clearly in the snow is meant literally).
The finest view of the day came along Loch Quioch from the track on this descent, once back under the cloud base.
Once back at the car, I had to "limp" it home on one of those stupid half sized wheels that are limited to 50mph...... I'm sue losing 3cm of boot space would make up for this!?