Friday, 29 August 2014

Gairich. Or, not Gairich.

One of the advantages of "The Facebook" is that as long as you post a link to something that somebody somewhere might find faintly interesting (and even that's optional) you don't actually need to think of anything to write to accompany it. A well-placed emoticon - hark at me and my easy familiarity with internet jargon - can suffice all on its lonesome.

That state of affairs may not be unconnected with the dearth of activity on here in recent months. With a blog, you feel obliged to write something even when, as is demonstrably the position on this yin, it's rarely up to much.

Regardless, I pay my internet bill like everybody else, so the blog stays until either (a) I give up all hope of walking up another hill and thus finding an excuse to commit my thoughts to cyberspace, or (b) the Better Together folk come good on their claim that post Independence (which IS going to happen, btw) Scotland won't be able to afford broadband. Or shoes.

So - Gairich.

Initially, it was all going according to plan last Saturday. An early start, a reasonably clear drive as far as Glencoe, a perfectly acceptable, if showery, prevailing weather system and a gradual release from the crippling hangover that had assailed one member of the two strong party (well, two folk and one dug) at the outset of the trip. The sufferer shall remain nameless. At his request.

Two things happened at that point. We glimpsed a slightly forlorn-looking hitchhiker at the end of Glencoe village, holding up a cardboard "Fort William" sign, and standing next to a rucksack that was about the size of a pillar box. Also, the traffic - as invariably seems to be the case - decided that the stretch from the Ballachullish Bridge onwards was the ideal place to congregate and reduce the journey to a frustrating crawl. Tempers were fraying, temperatures were rising and time was elapsing.

In all honesty, had it not been for the fact that the aforementioned hitchhiker proved (after she'd struggled up the road to where we'd screeched to a halt) to be a thoroughly delightful young French lady called Coline, who was holidaying in Scotland, and who - to the best of my recollection - was a composite of all the most appealing physical features of Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Portman, the trip would have turned into something of a trial. Instead, it was all rather smashing. ;)

You can guess what happened next. Although Coline was going to Fort William first, that was because she was ultimately looking to get to Dornie that day. For to see the Castle. Now, obviously, although the target of Gairich meant that me and Andy were starting out on the right road, our turnoff towards Loch Quoich was a long, long, long way before Dornie. About 50 miles, in fact.

So we just took her there..."un cadeau d'Ecosse." Although even I wasn't enough of a sad loser to say that out loud to her. I don't think.

Donc, we stopped into the nearest garage on the way back through Glen Shiel, bought a map, and had a jolly good wander up A' Chralaig instead.

There are photies...

That's yer South Glen Shiel ridge, that.

Can you spot the Cluanie Inn? ;)

The onward route, after the first steep bit.

Summit fever

No' a bad wee spot, altogether

The last leg.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Return to Beinn na Lap

A Film by Danny Boyle.

The easiest way to get the full flavour of how improved this second visit actually was, would be to review the report from trip number 1.

There's not actually an awful lot to add - certainly not about the route itself - so at this stage all I'll do in that regard is repeat what I said last time, but with marginally different photos...

 Catch a train to Corrour Station. The remotest stop on the UK rail network, it isn't accessible by road.

You don't say.

She'd not been that keen on the train, but neither was she keen on it leaving her HERE.

Begin the walk along the vehicle track across the moor to the east.

Jump in the nearest boggy morass.

When the track forks follow it round to the left. The tiny Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is visible on the near shore of the loch.

At a second fork in the track turn left once more, passing an iron barrier. This track is signed as part of the Road to the Isles. Almost straight away the track swings left...

Lot of serious construction work going on all over the place, the now.

...leave it here and follow a faint boggy path that heads directly for the west ridge of Beinn na Lap. After a gentle start it begins climbing straight up the moorland ahead, with good views looking back over Loch Ossian.

Are you lookin' at me?

It's for all the world like a wee gravestone.

The slope eases into the broad ridge of Ceann Caol Beinn na Lap. Head up this towards the summit; there are some rocky undulations along the way.

Some rocky undulations, the other day.

Loch Ossian again.

And again.

Finally the true summit cairn is reached - the high level start minimised the effort involved in getting here and it can be hard to believe this is really a Munro.

More delicate construction work this time.

Next time - Molly finds a decent pub in Fort William!