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.
Ally was away camping with pals this weekend so I decided to go off somewhere in Bertha. But where? Friday had been a stunning day but the weekend, as usual, was looking decidedly rubbish with heavy rain thunder and lightning just about everywhere. There was one small window where it looked like the Aviemore area might just miss the worst of it, so off I went.
For my final day of the Easter weekend I just wanted an easy wander before heading home. Again, looking for any slope other than an east due to the avalanche forecast, I chose the Corbett of Beinn Dearg in Glen Lyon that looked like a good choice. I wasn’t based too far from here at Loch Tay and the drive over the pass is spectacular. I always love Glen Lyon – I was last here last autumn, probably at its most beautiful. It really is such a bonnie glen and well worth even just driving down in the car.
I parked up at the Meggernie Estate carpark near the war memorial at Innerwick, crossed the bridge and headed along the track east of the burn, Allt Ghallabhaich. This track is a right of way to Loch Rannoch, about 6 miles away.
Sunday morning was beautiful on the high banks of Loch Tay. A slither of cloud had nestled above the loch and the hilltops were peeking above. My choice of hill today was the Corbett, Meall nan Subh along from Glen Lochay and it looked like near perfect conditions for a fine, scenic walk in the hills.
I stopped in Killin on the way to call Ally from a payphone and let him know my route, and made my way down the wee road along Glen Lochay. This eventually turns into a private estate road with a few gates – a road I drove over last year in Bertha thinking I was taking a short cut from Stronuich Reservoir to Killin, having no clue of either the state or the status of the road. It was the scariest road I’ve driven on in Bertha, with massive potholes, steep zig-zags, huge gates where I had to stop the van and screech open, all the while it was absolutely stotting it down with rain. I didn’t want a repeat of that! I parked at the walker’s carpark just before a farm instead and opted to walk up the road. The carpark was packed out as expected on a beautiful Easter Sunday.
With a mixed forecast and dodgy avalanche risk on all east facing slopes, I was still determined to get away this Easter. 4 days off! Unfortunately, Ally had double-booked so I was on my own again. Following the weather meant Perthshire was probably the best bet so I spring-cleaned Bertha and headed off on Friday – which was a minging day by all accounts. Dinging doon as they say here. The journey took forever – I’d opted for the A90 (via Glenshee or A90 is a similar time from mine) but got caught in the bank holiday traffic and it took me a whole 4 hours to get down.
I was on my own last weekend so planned to get out into the hills at some point. I watched the forecast all week, predicting the east side of the country would as usual be the better side, and planned some Cairngorm Corbetts in. As it was, by Friday the west side was forecast to be wall to wall sunshine, a light breeze and an almost 100% chance of cloud-free Munros! Whereas the east would remain cloudy and dull. I leapt at the chance to go up to the north-west in these conditions and randomly looked up the Corbetts map on Walkhighlands. I chose some Corbetts north of Inverness, mainly based on time to reach them from home – notably Carn Chuinneag for Saturday to promise tremendous west views over Assynt, with maybe Little Wyvis or Beinn a’ Chaisteil the next day. I found the campsite at Tain was open (I hate trying to find a suitably remote ‘wild’ camping spot in the dark with the Bongo’s poor lights) so threw all my gear in the van and headed off on Friday straight after work. Yay!
I don’t know what I was thinking when I made a hair appointment 3 months ago for the middle of Saturday afternoon. What a weekend wrecker! Luckily Sunday was by far the finer day. The Met Office forecast was full sun and low wind over the north and east but MWIS was forecasting winds of 45-50mph and likelihood of snow with appalling visibility for the Cairngorms / Southeastern Highlands and worse everywhere else. Ever the optimist, I went with the Met Office forecast (but took lots of spare clothing just incase)!
I had a hard time making a decision this weekend. Ally was working over the weekend and I really wanted to go off somewhere in the Bongo. I looked at my options in the east for hills I hadn’t climbed yet. I’m not averse to climbing the same hill again at all, but having climbed most of the Munros in the east / Cairngorms I wanted new routes and hills. Plus, Cairngorms are generally a long walk in and there’s only so much daylight. I noticed Monamenach, a Corbett in Glen Isla. It seemed close but far enough to justify a one night trip, and also I’d never been to Glen Isla.
Ally was away this weekend, doing some practice for his Summer Mountain Leader assessment next year. I considered whether stay at home and do some local walks or go further afield. I followed the weather forecast all week and when it looked like the north-east was going to be hit with heavy rain all weekend and further west looked drier for a change, I decided to take the opportunity to go west to explore some hills. I also thought it would be good to be in a campsite this time, taking into account the long, dark evenings and cooler weather. This way I could hook up electricity and have a light on in the van, plus enjoy a hot shower. The trouble is, most campsites are closed this time of year for the season. One I found open was the Cannich campsite (http://www.highlandcamping.co.uk/) which helped me narrow down my options even further. The campsite is very close to the beautiful glens of Glen Affric and Glen Cannich, and also not too far from Strathfarrar and Strathconnon.