Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Inaccessible Pinnacle of Sgurr Dearg

My first two attempts to climb the famous "Inn Pinn" ended in dismal failure. On the first go, we made it to the top of Sgurr Dearg and were taken aback by the enormous queue snaking from the base of the Pinn al the way back to the ridge. We sat for hours in a shelter tent waiting for a go - and then it snowed and our day was over and we trudged back to the Youth Hostel feeling deflated. That is except for the two climbers in our party who managed to defy the queues by shimmying up the front.... The second attempt went even worse, the guide simply said, "it's far too windy, we're not going up' and our day was over before we'd left the campsite. (It got worse for the friend I was with - she drove off with her phone and wallet on top of her car...)

This Christmas, my wife bought me and our eldest son vouchers for a climbing guide - to have another go at the Pinn. Then after looking at the climb online, joined us too. After we grabbed the last patch of available grass in the Glenbrittle campsite, and had a bad night's sleep - we met Tim our guide at the Glenbrittle Mountain Rescue Base at 8AM

He led us up the track which is s straightforward ascent - with one little scramble, all the way up to the point where the Inn Pinn comes into view. Climbers love this stuff - hillwalkers like me draw breath and say things to each other like, "it's very big, isn't it?" It's also very steep, and very exposed.

Tim the guide led us down from the ridge to the base of Pinn and talked us through the procedure. My son and I were on the end of his rope. He climbed first up four pitches, and we climbed together to him . About three -quarters of the way up he made us stop hurrying, and take time to look around and soak in the view - the Cuillin, the sea, the cloud inversion over the lochs, the island.. and look down (arrghhh!) - and before we knew it we were on the top - for a simple abseil/lower back to the ridge Then we sat and watched while he took my wife around the same route we had just done.

Exhilarating does not begin to describe the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Doing it on a clear day, with no wind, on dry rock was perfect, and unlike my first trip there it was incredibly quiet, hardly anyone about at all. I'm so glad that I've managed that, and while I dreaded doing it, I equally understand how people get addicted to climbing and push themselves further and further!

The day ended with a swim in a river and then fish and chips at The Inn at Carbost before the long drive home. What a day!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Am Faochgach

Am Faochgach is a hill completely overshadowed by its neighbours, on virtually every side. The rocky magnificence of the Beinn Dearg Group seems to tower over it on one hand and the beauty of the Fannaich's on the other. Am Faochagach is a grassy domed moorland with few dramatic features, and a river crossing to negotiate which has a reputation for ruining walkers days out! For all these reasons I have climbed all the hills surrounding it, I have never been up this one - until today.

My wife and I were driving back from the far North today - having had to abandon our attempt to climb Ben More Assynt & Conival yesterday because of extremely high winds and took the opportunity to have a look at Am Faochagach. The weather forecast indicated that we would see nothing, and might get wet...

As we drove past Ullapool, unforecast specs of blue sky began to appear - "Looks encouraging" we nodded. By the time we found the car park betwen Loch Droma and Loch Glascarnoch, the clouds had lifted and the surrounding hills looks stunning. 

Another lovely surprise was that the much vaunted river crossing was.... easy! Dry weather over the last month meant that it was little more than stepping across a series of boulders and feet stayed dry throughout. 

A scratchy path leads all the way from the roadside high up onto the ridges, where it comes and goes a bit - but re-emerges to lead to the broad flat stony summit. This hill will never be on the front of a Colin Baxter calendar - its a big green lump - but the views from the top were great!

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Blà Bheinn

Bla Bheinn is a truly magnificent mountain - worth saving for a clear day. The route from the car park near the head of Loch Slapin is straightforward, but very steep over shattered rock. The view from the top however is....

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Sgurr na Banachdich

Sgurr na Bannachdich is the mountain that sits right in the middle of the Black Cuillin of Skye, and was one of only two Cuillin peaks I didn't manage on the walking and climbing week I did there back in 2005. Poleaxed by a migraine, I spent a wretched day languishing in the Glenbrittle youth hostel. Back on the island for a family holiday, gave me the opportunity to make amends for that disaster of a day!

The walk begins at the youth hostel and follows the attractive burn past a series of pools and waterfalls. As we ascended the sun broke through the early morning mist and lit up the ridge before us - which looked as intimidating as ever. On my previous two ventures up the corrie "Coire a Ghreadaidh" we have ascended up to the notch in the ridge known as An Dorus, an airy little scramble up onto the summits. This time however we turned up the path to the right heading for the An Diallaid ridge. The walk is straightforward until just after a pleasing grassy meadow, the ridge bars the way with a wall of scree. A scrathy path is etched into the loose rock, but it presents an awkward challenge. 

We were accompanied on this walk by two of out three children - our middle one, was in Cornwall rock climbing. Our eldest had done this route earlier in the Summer with a load of uni-pals and so knew the way up; our daughter had never climbed anything as hard as this before and found it quite intimidating. 

Above the scree, the ridge narrowed and solidified, but still presented a series of awkward steps, before the summit ridge offered an exhilarating sense of height, exposure, and incredible views along the ridge, (North and South) and down to Loch Coruisk below. We sat on the top for ages - it was just too good a view to squander, before pulling out the walking poles and edging back into the scree.

It was a scorching hot day. and by the time we were down we couldn't resist jumping into the river for a dip. A quite magical day!

Saturday, June 05, 2021


Gulvain is a mountain which sits between the Fort William to Mallaig Road, and Loch Arkaig to the North. Cameron McNeish describes Gulvain as a 'shy' hill, as it is not visible from any major road - but lurks in the background. That is an apt description, and that shyness was compounded yesterday by the fact that whilst the glen and ridges enjoyed good weather throughout the day, Gulvain's two summits hid themselves in cloud for the entire duration of my visit.

I parked at the head of Loch Eil, where the A861 leaves the Mallaig route and heads down the Ardgour peninsular, eventually running past the Coran ferry. There's a layby before the railway bridge which seems to be the preferred parking place for hillwalkers heading up Gleann Fionnlighe. I jumped on my mountain bike, crossed back over the main Mallaig road, and headed up the glen via broken gate leading to a decent landrover track.

The track winds, climbs and drops all the way up the glen until the massive bulk of Gulvain's great northern ridge blocks the way. Dumping the bike here, I followed the scratchy and eroded rack up the grass to the first top at 855 metres. Behind me the view stretch out back to the car and across to Ardgour and Morven - whilst the ridge in front of me climbed into the clouds.

A quick compass check confirmed the route, which was a straightforward, stiff climb up to a circular trig-point. Again in cloud the compass pointed the way down to a high bealach between Gulvain's two summits. The map suggested that the ridge would be easy - but it was deceptive as the pull up to the munro itself was harf work! Thankfully, the clouds parted when I was on the bealach and I got a view of the lovely ridge ahead before ascending once again into the fog.

The return is via the ascent route, back over the first top and back down to the glen. It was only then that I say three other walkers - the only people I saw all day. Once back on my bike it was a simple spin back down the glen to the car and home. I had planned to brew up some coffee before I drove, but summer must be here because for the first time this year I was defeated by a cloud of midgies. A more open and exposed car park near Loch Laggan did the job instead.

In terms of Munro days this was a pretty straightforward one - and would have been great of I had been able to see a bit more. Given it's location, it's one I'd love to do again in better conditions.

Ben Vuirich

 My younger son is doing his Mountain Leader training (ML) at the moment, and so is packing in hill-days in order to complete his log-book - prior to the assessment. He has to complete what are termed 'quality mountain days' or QMD's (which my phone's autocorect always changes to WMD's!). These involve going to high level, waking for more than five hours and navigating rather than following paths.

Ben Vuirich near Blair Atholl nicely ticks all those boxes, and made a delightful walk for us when he was back home for the weekend.  Although just short of being a Munro, Vuirich is more than 900m high and so is a proper hill. It's lack of Munro status - and relative isolation make it path-free in all it's upper reaches, as virtually everyone else heading up the track from Loch Moraig heads for the massive bulk of the adjacent Beinn a Ghlo.

It's a good climb and a 13-14mile stomp, much of which is through the heather, and it was a lovely isolated viewpoint at the top. The route out, went via a new path off the back of Beinn a Ghlo - and back to Loch Moraig.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Fisherfield Six

"The Fisherfield Six" may sound like some long-lost gospel vocal group... but are in fact one of the most sought-after prizes in Scottish hillwalking. These mountains are not only stunningly beautiful, but are amongst the hardest hills to reach anywhere in the country. The six peaks that form this impressive range are not approached by any roads, and are surrounded by other hills which protect them from the gaze of the many motorists on Scotland's NC500. The massive bulk of Slioch guards the south of Fisherfield, while mighty An Teallach, stands between them and the North. Their reputation for inaccessibility is enhanced by the fact the mountains themselves - when you finally reach them - are skirted by deep rivers and treacherous bogs. I tried to get into Fisherfield once before, but was beaten back by appalling weather.

Andy and I reached the Corrie Hallie carpark by mid-afternoon and lifted our monstrously heavy packs onto our backs and climbed the southbound track through attractive woodland, alongside a lovely river. Day one was cool, cloudy and ideal for the hard walk in. The mountains were all in cloud, so as we descended into Strath na Sealga, Fisherfield's secrets were hidden. This added a tantalising element of mystery to our rising sense of anticipation fuelled both by the sense of challenge ahead - and the great weather forecast.

We took the left hand track southwards, not the southwesterly one which forked to the right and Shenavall Bothy. The previous month has been very wet, and fearing that the Abhainn Strath na Sealga and the Abhainn Gleann na Muice rivers might be impassable, we planned a route that could avoid them if required. There is a delightful wood around 57.759873, -5.214479 which makes perfect wild camping site, with fresh water, wood, and soft grass for pitching. We looked at various potential pitches we'd spotted as we descended into the glen - but none of them were as good as this idyllic little spot. Tents pitched, coffee brewed and meals eaten we packed for the big day ahead. Drifting to sleep to the sound of the river was lovely- but it was a very, very cold night in the glen. 

After a good feed, and plenty of hot coffee, we made a very early start southwards along the river, looking for a place to ford. Eventually we found somewhere that looked as if it offered at least the chance of a day with dry boots - and made it across. There is no path up Beinn a Chlaidheimh, whose demotion from Munro status does not indicate that it is any easy climb. Wet, steep and slippery eastern faces of the mountain with craggy obstacles to negotiate offer plenty of resistance -and a gruelling start to the day. We aimed for the ridge to the right of the summit and turned south and reached the icy-cold summit in cloud. 90% chance of cloud-free Munros, promised the usually pessimistic MWIS... Then Andy shouted,,, "Brocken Spectre!" and there sure enough, the sunlight refracting around us projected onto the cloud below. Absolutely magic and something I have never seen before in three decades of Scottish walking. 

The surrounding mountains then poked their rocky summits up through the clouds below. It was like flying.

The southbound ridge to Sgurr Ban took us down into the cloud again, to a couple of lochans at the bealach. The climb up Sgurr Ban itself required a little navigation in the cloud and is a steep rocky affair which warmed us up, and as we reached the summit we burst out through the cloud again, cruising at a little over 3,000 feet!

South again, down the descent ridge caused no problems and the bealach lead directly on to the steep climb up Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair- the highest point of the day. Again, although the sun was blazing above us in blue sky - below was solid cloud, we couldn't see these great mountains much. Following the compass round the the SW corner of the little flat summit ridge, we struck south in the cloud and soon found something of a path which lead down towards Meall Garbh - a great 851m high lump, blocking the ridge. From the bealach however, an obvious bypass path to the right helped us to avoid this obstacle and brought us to the Bealach Odhar.

Beinn Teallach is hill of two halves. The ascent of its western ridge was memorable mostly because the sun finally burnt through the mist and the rest of our day was marked by mesmerising views. The view from the top was incredible as not only could we see the amazing mountains which he had already climbed, but the west coast opened up before us. Tarsuinn itself is a complex thing on it's western side, with a rocky pinnacled ridge, topped with a strange flat-topped lump about the size of a tennis court. After a rest and a good feed, we took the descent track westwards into a very boggy bealach.

Tired now, the ascent of A'Mhaighdean was gruelling and felt a lot more than it's mere 450 or so metres. Counting fifty paces at a time, and checking the altimeter on my phone.. (200 metres to go, 150.... 100) we got to the top - to be met by a view for which no words seem adequate. .... The sheer beauty and vastness of it all...

The descent off this hill was difficult though - a loose boulder field over which we made slow progress. Looming into view as we descended was the fearsome looking prospect of Ruadh Stac Mor - which looked impenetrable! In fact a small cairn in the bealach marks the start of a steep ascent route, whcih swings initially left then tracks over boulders under a cliff face to a steep scrambling pitch and up onto scree over which a scratchy path picked an improbable route up to the airy summit.

The long walk out is .... very, very long! We struck north between two distinctive lochans where we filled our water bottles, before heading westwards until we intersected a stalker path which took out towards Shenavall bothy - in blazing sunshine and intense humidity. Before Shanavall, near the newly rebuilt hut at Larachinivore we waded the river (our feet were now soaking) and slowly navigated the horrendous bog before wading the second river in front of Shenavall. The bogs contain slimy pits which could easily drown someone.... Had the rivers been impassible, we would have picked our way back along the south bank, but the sight of a good path back to the tent encouraged us to wade - and then to trudge back to the tent, the food, the fire, and sleep!

The next morning, we broke camp in bright sunshine, and loaded our heavy packs for the climb out of this most beautiful glen and back towards roads, cards, phone reception and other necessities it was so good to be away from. 

That is a walk I will never forget. The exhaustion, the camping, the bogs, the scenery, the ridges, the company, the sense of achievement, and the overwhelming sense of thankfulness to God for the beauty of the world, and the strength for today to enjoy it.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Beinn Fhada and A' Ghlass-beinn

 Are there any finer areas in Scotland for hillwalking than Kintail? If so - I have yet to find them! The mountains here rise up from the sea, and are beautifully sculpted, great bulks - hugely impressive to see; and challenging to climb. They are also massively varied, with enough pinnacles, and ridges to excite the scrambler but yet also great plateau's reminiscent of the Cairngorms.

With lockdown easing once again, it was great to be able to do a new Munro for the first time this year. Although I've been out and about in The Lawers Group, Glenshee, Lochnagar and other bits of Perthshire - this was the first venture out into new hills for a long, long time!

A very early start from Perth allowed us to check in at the Morvich campsite at 8:30. It's really a caravan site, bit they have 10 pitches for tents on good ground and decent toilets, showers etc. Our three-man tent cost us about twenty-quid to pitch for the night. Once we'd thrown the tent up, we ate, booted up and headed for the hills from the campsite. 

Past the campsite, a track heads on at the road-end past a house called Innis a Crotha, which leads up the glen with the vast mass of the days hills ahead. It's a remarkably well-maintained track speeds access right into the heart of the mountain. After a ford, the track zig-zags up to cairm and a T-junction of paths. Turn right for Beinn Fhada, and left for A' Ghlass-bheinn!

We turned right and followed the excellent track high into the corrie before it abruptly turns right and assaults the side of the hill in a series of immaculately carved zig-zags along the grassy terraces and up onto the ridge. An old stalkers path bears right along the cliff top (which reminded me of Lochnagar), but the munro summit is along the line of the cliffs to the right and is crowned with a

circular trig point. We decided to leave a pack at the zig-zags and just carry a few essentials up, and it was joyous to be free of the weight for an hour! It's been an exceptionally cold May - there is still plenty of snow lying about - and my pack was heavy with hats, gloves, waterpoofs, and spare layers.... 

The views from the summit of Beinn Fhada were so magnificent that they cannot be captured on camera - the photos are just reminders of a quite wonderful experience.

We retraced our steps back down the path, picked up the pack, and sat down for a well-earned lunch.

We had met a chap from Falkirk who was doing these hills (and the drive!!) in a day - and he came back down the path and chatted as we munched our sandwiches. Then we walked back round to the T-junction of paths before heading up the climb into the Bealach na Sgairne. At the highest point of the pass there is a cairn marking the way up into A'Ghlass-bheinn. To our surprise, route finding was aided by a path which ran from here to the summit. Well, I should say summits - it is one of those long-slogs, at the end of a long-day which is hard, hard work compounded by false summits on the way which fuel the frustration.

There seems to be no path on the way off, via the ridge of A-Mhuic, it is just a question of carefully finding a way around the the rocks at the top and heading North of West, and picking the correct ridge. This is important as the two ridges to the south of A'Mhuic are not really descendable. The last section of descent is steep grass down to a bridge, which (as the rain started to lash down on us) became very slippery indeed. At the bridge we met the chap from Falkirk again and walked out down the track, and onto the road with him.

These two hills present a big, muscle-stretching work-out; but are truly magnificent mountains which I'd happily climb again. They have been on my "Must-do" list for such a long time - and they did not disappoint. Off to Kyle for food and then the tent for the night.....

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill.

The high upland between Aberfeldy and Loch Tummel is dominated by two Corbetts, Meall Tairneachan and Farragon, the latter of which sounds like a character from Tolkein. They are overshadowed somewhat by the vast bulk of Schiehallion immediately to their west, but clearly visible from the summit of Kinnoull Hill - which is our regular afternoon dander. I had heard how wonderful Farragon is from a neighbour who was a great walker and climber, but who sadly (and unexpectedly) passed away a fortnight ago. So, with lockdown preventing us traveling further afield to summit new Munros, and with his words in my memory we decided to attempt these two.

Access from the road, (The B846 - Aberfeldy to Tummel Bridge road), is via the bulldozed track carved up through the forests and onto high ground to serve the Foss Barytes mine. There are spaces to park a few cars around the entrance to the mine road, but the obvious car park is not for the public, and presumably is designed for mine workers. 

The road climbs and zigzags up through dense pine plantations before breaking out just under the top of Meall Damh. From there is swings lift and climbs steeply underneath and parallel to the undulating summit ridge of Meall Tairneachan. A tiny cairn at the height of the road marks the point to leave the road and turn right onto the grassy, heathery slopes of the hill. The ridge has a trig point at its western end, and a cairn at the summit. a km or so to the east. The views are phenomenal - this area provides a unique view of Beinn a Ghlo and Ben Vrackie as well as Schiehallion.

The Barytes mine on the other hand is an eyesore. Bags of lime surround the streams, which are full of white deposits. One of my friends used to be a SEPA inspector up there and told me that the lime precipitates salts which then settle in the lagoons, which we saw dug all around the site. I also read that this site is due to close, as a larger mine (Barytes are used in North Sea drilling) is soon to get planning permission. I wonder whether the miners have to return this landscape to more natural conditions or whether they just leave that to time and nature!

Farragon Hill appears to be miles away from Tairneachan - so far in fact that we doubted we'd manage it. In truth, although a lot of height is lost between the two hills, the traverse (though boggy in places) takes only an hour. The final pull up Farragon is steep, and the summit all the more airy for it. There's a splendid feeling of remoteness there. We only saw one other person all day, and these hills are virtually pathless once the mine road is left behind. Faragon provides views from the Cairngorms to the Paps of Fife, with a thousand hills in between!

The walk out is long, and requires regaining a lot of lost height and bypassing the ugly mine workings before trudging back through the forest. Oh for a bike for the long descent! My late neighbour who recommended this route to me did it in extreme winter conditions, we did it in a nothing more than a chilly wind, but still found it a long, hard day! In my cupboard at home I have a nice bottle of Aberfeldy 12yo, distilled at the foot of these hills. As I rested my aching limbs that evening, I raised glass in recognition of my neighbour, who was a great mountaineer, for a fine recommendation.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Finlay's Hill), is one of the jewels of Appin - a superb viewpoint at the end of a long ridge. It rises rather majestically over the head of Loch Creran, a saltwater loch, which brings the sea right up into the mountains of Lochaber. 

The old A-road makes a circuit around the lower part of Loch Creran, from which a dead-end spur runs up the glen past some impressive houses and through dens forests. At the point at which cars are allowed no further, a walkers carpark is provided near Elleric, from where a track forks off to the right across the Glenure estate. They seem to welcome walkers as the mountains are signposted, and gates provided alongside the cattlegrids on the estate tracks.

Navigationally the walk is straightforward. The track from the car park leads to the estate house, at which bear left until forestry is reached - then turn right through the trees to find the start of the long ridge which leads (via several false summits) to the trig point and amazing views! A recent hydro-scheme has made directions in many of the Munro books obsolete, but there is a path of sorts which leaves the new bulldozed track. We didn't use the path on the way up (We missed it!), but that wasn't a problem - our self-composed route was probably better underfoot than the soggy path on which we returned. It is a bit of a gruelling slog - but a terrific one!

Very unusually the weather on the west coast was fantastic while Perth lingered in low flying cloud and a grey dankness all day long! Views across the Nevis range, all of Glencoe, Mull, even Knoydart were visible.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Meall Dearg

Everyone assures me that the Aonach Eagach ridge is wonderful, amazing, etc etc. I believe them, and maybe one day I'll venture along it's pinnacles and edges. Today, though - I was happy to trudge up the munro at the eastern end of the ridge. Meall Dearg. If I ever do have a go at the ridge, it will not be on my own on a freezing cold October day either!

I picked a route from Loch Leven, up the 'back' of the ridge, which avoided all the tricky scrambling on the Glen Coe side of the ridge. Driving towards Kinlockleven from GlenCoe, there is space for a few cars just past the campsite at Caolasnacon. Just past the second of the two bridges a path leaves the main road and follows the north bank of the Allt Glenn a Chaolais. After a few metres, it forks - with the left hand branch leading walkers off towards Garbh Bheinn - a striking Corbett. The main path though continues straight ahead, up the glen, which I took.

When I say "path" - I mean long, linear ghastly swamp. It's one one of the worst paths I've walked up for a long time. It is soggy, eroded, peaty and om some places just seems to disappear altogether! I had the dual misfortune today of also having pretty poor weather... MWIS is usually fairly pessimistic, but I think for the first time ever I had worse weather than they predicted! The cloud came down, it was cold, and going on the 'path', was slow and hard work.

In the mist, the only sound was that of howling stags, bellowing mournfully, the sounds bouncing back of the walls of the corries, high under the Aonach Eagach ridge.

Eventually I reached the huge bealach between Meall Dearg and Garbh Beinn. Thankfully one of the walkhighlands contributors had noted that in bad weather you can go past the lochan on the bealach and find a series of old iron fenceposts, which serve as a guide up to the summit. I was very grateful for the good online advice and the presence of the posts as I slipped. slimed, and edged my way up the alternating bands of peat, rock and scree. 

As I neared the top of the ridge, the first signs of sun began to mark the thinning cloud. Then, as I stood on the summit, the clouds parted for maybe 10 minutes, offering the most wonderful views down Glencoe..... which vanished as fast as they had appeared. I descended back to the bealach in thick cloud, feeling cold, and underwhelmed by the prospect of the slippery descent.

Still, the sun re-appeared and I could both see and hear the bellowing stags as I picked my way back to the car through the soggy peaty excuse for a path.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Beinn Each


Beinn Each is a great Corbett which sits just behind the more famous Stuc a Chroin, the Munro noted for its delightful scramble from adjacent Ben Vorlich. 

There is a layby on the main A84, Callandar to Strathtyre road, alongside Loch Lubnaig, and a farm called Ardchullarie More on the OS Map. with space for about 10 cars. The instructions on many of the hillwalking blogs and in the books, have been made slightly out of date by the amount of work which this farm is spending on landscaping, fencing, and hydro schemes. It's still pretty straightforward, but if you're reading this ahead of a trip up Beinn Each, note the following.

Start at the A84, by the track up to the farm, but you'll see that the right of way no longer goes up the farm track, but along a separate path behind a major fence. It's signposted by the SRWS so you'll not miss it. The path leads up to the right of the river at first, then crosses it, and ascends through thick woodland. 

The second place you might get lost is that the books say, "follow this path until you reach a bulldozed track and turn left onto this". However, there is a new bulldozed track through these woods, leading to what looks like a new hydro-electric scheme. So, when you reach the first bulldozed track, continue straight ahead along the footpath through the woods. When you reach the second one, that's the one to turn left onto! If you turn left too soon.. you'll end up in the bottom of the glen, far below the track up to Beinn Each.

The track up Glen Ample is a hideous eyesore in its lower reaches where bulldozers have 'upgraded' the access, and left an appalling mess - which is visible for miles. I know that estates have work to do, and that these lands exists as their economic assets, not just for my picture-postcard moments; nevertheless surely a balance must be struck. It's not as awful as the works under Beinn Bhuidhe (which defy belief), but I'm not convinced that the estate needed to leave quite this much damage as they did their work... or perhaps, to give them the benefit of the doubt, they are still working on it, and it will be fine when they have finished!

A very clearly marked signpost points walkers up the hill path away from the bulldozed track, This path, leads steeply at times, all the way to the summit - which cannot be seen until the last 100m of the 500m+ ascent. The views afforded from the top are really wonderful though, and this must be what attracted a surprising number of people to the summit today. The Forth, and the Ochils were obvious to the South, the Crainlarich Hills to the west and the Lawers group to the North surrounded us as Stuc a Chroin blocked our view of nearby Ben Vorlich. 

We took the same route down as we had come up, although I think my wife was tempted to go on a climb Stuc a Chroin (which she has not done, but seen from Vorlich). A time-check revealed that we were an hour or two late for a walk of that length which will be left for another time!

This  is a great, shorter, easily accessible half-day which rewards the walker with wonderful views and after a steep, stiff climb! I'd say, judging by today (a midweek in October), that car-parking spaces are at a premium, so get there early if you want to go up on a summer/weekend day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ben Vorlich & Stuc a Chroin


Although I've been up Ben Vorlich many times over the years, I haven't gone on to the enjoyable scramble up Stuc a Chroin since July 1996! I remember that day clearly, as only a few days later I drove down to Stranraer to get the ferry over the Irish Sea to get married! This time with my older son, and Andy from work we took the usual route up from beautiful Ardvorlich and up the track to Ben Vorlich. The sudden explosion of a view as you reach the trig-point on this ascent is always a thrill and a delight. 

Trudging down into the bealach between the two Munros seemed to take ages, and lose a huge amount of height - however we were rewarded with a terrific ascent of the 2nd Munro. A path appears to veer to the left of the ridge, but we followed the book's advice and went right at the top of the boulder field, where the scratchy path led us over rocks, and along grassy ledges all the way to the top, While the summit of Vorlich was well populated, Stuc a Chroin - just that little bit further from the car - was deserted!

The traverse path around Ben Vorlich to get home was slow, boggy and long. Nevertheless a terrific hill day. It will also be remembered as the day that we started very late from Perth because of blocked drains... but that is another pungent story!

Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh & Sgurr a'Mhadaidh

Although high gusting winds meant that an attempt on the Inn Pinn was impossible, it was nevertheless fantastic to up in the Black Cuillin of Skye again. Three of us had booked a guide and gone to the island to try and climb some Munros, and the mountains there never disappoint! I've climbed these two before, unlike the others in the group for whom these were new. In fact this was my son's first trip to the Cuillin, and it was great ti be with him as he took his hill adventures to a whole new level!

Up through An Dorus

Friday, September 18, 2020

Sgorr nam Fiannaidh

The Peak of the Fingalean Warriors (no less), Sgorr nam Fiannaidh forms one end of the fearsome Aonach Eagach ridge, on the north side of Glencoe. We weren't up for attempting the ridge today, but after dropping our elder son off by the beehive cairn (he was doing Buchaille Etive Baeg), we had a great walk up Fiannaidh.

Starting from the path up to the Pap of Glencoe, from the road past the Clachaig Inn, we forked right away from the Pap and up to the Munro. The path was slippery, scree-ridden and in places a river - yet it took us all the way to one of the most magnificent viewpoints I have ever stood on.

Glencoe in the sunshine- just marvellous!