I’m a bit late to the party with reviewing last year but December was such a busy month (and I still have not caught up with all my trip reports).
However, 2015 was an epic year for being outdoors. It was dominated by hills, hills and more hills with less running or cycling than in previous years as weekends away in the Bongo presided over any other plans.
I’ve not written for a wee whilie….last time I wrote I was driving down Loch Quoich after walking the Easians one fine September weekend. It was still daylight as I didn’t fancy driving this long remote glen in the dark in my Bongo, just on the off-chance the worst would happen and it would break down, miles from anywhere on my own, in the dark!
I originally planned to drive across to Loch Quoich after work on the Friday evening then spend the Saturday and Sunday walking up some of the hills there. But the prospect of a long drive along the very long and very lonely Glen Quoich in the dark put me off so I decided to drive to Fersit on the Friday night instead. It made a convenient stop-over and I could walk up the Easians the next day.
I arrived at Fersit early evening in the van and found a spot to camp near the wee lochan. It was a bonnie spot, the lochan was perfectly still and there was not a soul in sight. I was really tired and fell asleep quite soon after my tea and some Friday night wine.
My dad was through to stay for a couple of weeks in September. We have been blessed, after one of the worst summers I can remember, with one of the loveliest autumns I can remember, and most of the two weeks he was here was in glorious sunshine. My dad is no hillwalker but he is a keen birdwatcher and we had some lovely low-level walks while he was here to try and spot some, in Glen Quoich and Abernethy Forest. We decided on his last weekend to go north and east towards the Ythan Estuary and Forvie Sands National Nature Reserve, which is a famous area for birdwatching in Aberdeenshire.
I couldn’t sleep for about five days before this planned trip in September with my mountaineering club, I was just so excited. I kept refreshing the Met Office webpage for Ben Nevis, willing for it to be a great day, at the very least not raining or howling a gale. We were staying in the legendary CIC Hut – an SMC hut built in 1929 by Mr and Mrs Inglis Clark in memory of their son Charles Inglis Clark who was killed in action in the First World War. It is stunningly situated on the north side of Ben Nevis, nestling right up in Coire Leis.
After another great breakfast at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum, Ally and I were pondering over what to do this day. The day was looking OK but not amazing, but we really wanted to walk up Ben Lui. However we only wanted to go up this beautiful mountain if it wasn’t going to be covered in cloud. Much like the day we went up the Buachaille, we hummed and hawed, drove past it several times to see the summit in cloud, then began to drive further south where the forecast looked a bit brighter. Then for whatever reason I can’t remember, we changed our minds and turned back again.
The western weather high was still forecast for a few days. This was so fortunate! How often this summer has the west (and indeed the east) of Scotland been raining? We were this way for a few days in the van and decided on the pair of Munros near Crianlarich, An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin. In fact it was going to be three with the inclusion of Beinn Chabhair, but after looking at the descent and reascent we would have to do, we suddenly felt lazy.
It was time to climb the Bookil! Ally and I had almost forgotten we had booked a few days off work to make the most of a bank holiday weekend. After our Cairngorms trip we were blessed with a high in the West side of the country. Off we went – the decision was unanimous – Buachaille Etive Mor.
A few weekends ago was one of my mountaineering club monthly meets, this time in Muir Cottage, Inverey, near Braemar. I was really looking forward to this weekend because it would be in the Cairngorms – one of my favourite places, Ally and I planned to climb our last as-yet unclimbed Cairngorm Munro, and the club hut had showers. Ah the joys!
Beinn Alligin was one of my first Munros, many years ago. I had gone on a walk from a guide book with a friend that took us round the back of Beinn Alligin (meaning the north), past the little lochans and effectively on a circuit of the mountain. Then when we reached the slopes leading up to Sgorr Mor, the book said it could be easily climbed if felt like it. We thought ‘why not’ and went for it. I remember clinging on the steep slopes with hands but enjoying the grassy climb. Sadly the views were not to be that day from the top, with extensive cloud cover, but we duly edged back down, not realising there were two Munro summits and that we could go back down via Tom na Gruagaich. From the bottom, the walk had us simply continue round the base of the mountain, except the pathless ground got rougher and rougher, and we took forever descending the tussocky heather. The sun came out and baked us as we slowly made our way back to the road, hot, sweaty and gasping for a drink, eventually collapsing in the Torridon Inn with relief and a pint.