Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Swithering

It's a good word, that. Here's a learned exposition on it.

It's a word that was pressed into frequent service last Saturday when me and Andy set off early(ish) doors to have a go at Carn Bhac. We were swithering about keeping going when we reached Perth in the pouring rain. We were swithering still when we paused at the Blairgowrie Tesco for supplies - in the pouring rain. Gazing at the packed Glenshee skicentre car park as we drove past caused a resurgence of said swither, as it rather appeared that every hillwalker in the environs of the Cairngorms had elected to abandon their planned route and nip in for coffee and bacon rolls instead.

The astute reader will probably have guessed that we were still in mid-swither when we alighted at Inverey. But, whatever, the dugs needed a walk, so we set off up the track to Glen Ey.

The Walkhighlands route takes you up the full length of the Glen, as far as Altanour Lodge. Ralph Storer's option departs Glen Ey at the ruins of Auchelie, and up and over Carn Creagach. In a bold move, we combined the two, and made an increasingly enjoyable round trip out of it. In truth, the main reason for any degree of enjoyment was the fact that the weather improved steadily all morning, with something called "the sun" making an appearance as we got to the top of Creagach.

It's not a terribly oft-frequented hill I don't think - especially as a stand alone target. We saw a couple of mountain bikes near the lodge, but no actual folk walking. We did see a higher concentration of grouse (dead and alive, as it happens) than I can recall coming across anywhere before, but other than that, hunners and hunners of sheep and some folk in Landy's on the main track we were on our own all day.

Oh aye - and the entire jaunt took place with the primeval echoing wonder of a full on mid-rut stag-roar soundtrack. Spine tingling stuff.

Anyway - photies:

We'd been walking for about an hour before I risked taking the camera oot! 



Woof.







Nearly at the Lodge



Altanour Lodge


Looking from Carn Creagach over to Carn Bhac

A bealach, recently.

Last gentle pull to Carn Bhac


From that point it was a return to the bealach, then a bit of another peaty hummock trot until we reached the track that runs all the way down to Auchelie. A more inviting wee spot on the way out than it had looked on the way in.




The way home, looking from Auchelie

A fine example of the drystane dykers art!


It turned out a right good walk. Albeit one that I maintain justified a good pre-commencement swither. It has to be admitted though that the dogs (three, count 'em!) were glad of their walk, but partly because it was quite a long day, and partly because it's been a while since the freshly-clipped Molly has been up any sort of a hill, the big yin paid for her exertions the next day.



;)

  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sometimes you eat the bear

At 6:15am last Saturday, gazing out the back door to heavens that had not only just opened, but seemed to be doing their best to deposit their entire fluid content onto darkest Lanarkshire, the plan to head towards Glencoe and sample the delights of the Munros behind the ski centre was...diminishing in appeal.

If I had been on driving duty, I could easily have been tempted to forego my Weetabix, and settle instead for a morning chez moi and a leisurely-prepared full-on cooked breakfast. Happily however, Andy was responsible for transport arrangements and he's made of more robust stuff than me. Accordingly, a few local diversions and consequent delay notwithstanding, two men and one wee black dug arrived at the Glencoe Mountain Resort carpark, ready to roll up the hill just after 10. The skies had stayed resolutely wet and overcast for maybe an hour after we set out, but - as is sometimes the way of these things - during the latter part of the journey the weather gods elected to stick to the forecast after all, and the end result was one of the more memorable hills-with-unexpectedly-fine-views-days that the pair of us have had for some time.

I've been up Meall a' Bhuiridh twice before, with visibility rather limited, to say the least. On the maiden visit we never even tried to continue onwards to Creise; on the return (partly necessary because we realised we hadn't walked the last 10 yards to the actual summit of Bhuiridh the first time!) I can remember precisely nothing about the second Munro, or how I got there. I can remember the view from it, which was nowt.

It's maybe a combination of that, and the fact that these hills don't get a lot of love in the guidebooks - probably because the most straightforward route takes you straight up through the ski tow and chairlift clutter - which means that the extent of the vista from higher up genuinely reduced me to muttering "remarkable...remarkable" for a fair wee while during our summit pauses.

It was one of those days that photos can't really do justice, but that doesn't mean I'm not sticking a few up anyway.

Note to dog owners - it's a good hill from an absence of livestock point of view, but it's relentlessly stony and boulder-strewn pretty much throughout, and Jorja was certainly feeling the effects in her joints by the time we got back to the car. In other terrain related news, the ridge that forms the link between the two Munros looks a lot steeper/awkward than it actually is, and with the mildest of coaxing on a couple of big downward steps on the way back, the dug didn't have the slightest issue with it.



You can't really miss the path, one way or another


But lest there was any doubt.


Ah - cliffhanger!



Nose of Creise in foreground, big Bookle behind

Nose of dug in foreground, etc



Summit of Meall a' Bhuiridh

The onward route to Creise


Looking back the way



And looking back the way again, after the ever so slightly scrambly bit onto the Creise plateau

Creise



And once you're up there, it kind of seems you can see every hill in Scotland.







Even the full size OS map doesn't cover 'em all!



Heading back requires that you retrace your steps up and over Meall a' Bhuiridh, but it's no great hardship, reascent or not.








Once we were up and over that again though, the views kept on giving. A nice wee burst of sunlight striking the Big Buachaille...


...and then Ben Nevis finally clearing it's head from the clouds in the distance...




We had left Bellshill at 7:45am, and I was back in the house - and had a beer opened - by 7pm. Factor in those views, and that's a good day oot on the hills.