Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

Let's see where we all are in another 365, eh?

Monday, 29 December 2014

Beinn a'Chrulaiste

It wasn't until I diligently trawled through my comprehensive state of the art hillwalk record-keeping system (the search feature on this blog) that I realised it was as long as 18 months ago that me & Andy had been up this hill.

That trip was more memorable for the laid back deer at the Kingshouse carpark than for the scenery, as it turned out rather wet, wild, and gloomily view-free. A day like that does tend to plant the idea that a return visit, when conditions would be more favourable, might just be worthwhile - you couldn't see much, but you could sense that Chrulaiste sits rather slap bang in the middle of some rather good vistas.

And so it proved.

In truth, the forecast was about as confident as these things ever get. For the inland hills at least, we were pretty much promised no rain, negligible wind and top quality visibility. Although it's a recurring lament on here, the fact it was a wee while since we'd been up a proper hill led us to look at stuff that wasn't full-on Munro yomping, so a rematch in more benign conditions was settled upon. And - unanimously - it was agreed that it turned out to have been the right move. It also marked Jorja's return to...well, hillwalking proper I suppose, so it was basically all good. There's also no shame in parking the car next to a handily hill-placed pub, so one can wind down in an appropriate fashion after a decent dauner. (That was another stroke of good luck - the place had been shut for the previous three weeks, as it transpired. I'd have missed those crisps.)

It was also quite a traditional winter walking experience for me, in that once again, although I remembered to put my ice axe in the car when leaving the house, I forgot to attach it to the rucksack when leaving the car. And I left the dog's lead lying on a rock when I took my jacket off half an hour after the start. Many thanks to the kind couple who (a) picked it up and (b) were good enough to shout and attract our attention before it was too late. Jorja wouldn't have resisted thon deer if she'd been unrestrained on our return to the car!

Most of the online route guides seem to have you starting from Altnafeadh and returning via the Kingshouse, but we commenced operations at the pub, and did a kind of anticlockwise circuit. I think there's a lot to be said for that - the views just keep getting better all the way. You can take the occasional backward glance at the Big Buachaille, and Creise etc to begin with; as you gain a bit of height Rannoch Moor opens up; when you reach the bealach before the last pull to the summit there's a whole "Blackwater reservoir and associated Mamores" vibe going on, and get a no' bad view of that kind of famous yin, mentioned earlier.

A right good day.

Oh, and I didn't need my ice axe, so no harm done. It was quite a close-run thing though, so on the plus side, the frisson of panic experienced on the descent means I'm definitely no' going to forget it again this season. ;)

It's definitely quicker on the way down.

Steeper, and quicker. As I said, I'll take the axe next time around. ;)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve decorations

If it was going to be up for more than a few days, I'd footer about more with the header. As it were.

In the meantime, for any poor misguided souls who don't already hang on my every Facebook post, here are this year's Yuletide musical favourites.


Saturday, 20 December 2014


So, the WBD coped with Meikle Bin two weeks back; the longish on-lead road walks continue apace, and the question last Saturday was how to try and move things forward.

The answer - as it often is with me after a hill layoff - was Ben Vrackie. It's not that far away, it's a proper hill, and it is eminently doable in the short daylight hours this time of year.

It catches a lot of snow too. And while I've done it in winter conditions before, I hadn't experienced it quite so consistently deep and soft straight from the car park. Every year, I forget how much more tiring that makes walking up a hill. What I could claim, I suppose, is that I was ever so slightly concerned about how the extra effort of wading through dog-oxter deep white stuff was liable to affect Jorja's return to fitness campaign; and that as a result, I decided to turn back about 15 minutes before the summit.

On the other hand, a blog is nothing if it's not an outlet for honesty, so I'll admit I was Donald Ducked, and when the weather closed in I'd had enough of slipping and sliding up a rather steep wee bit of mountain.  Accordingly, no hilltop photies, but plenty of my faithful (unless there's a better food-related offer elsewhere) companion back to doing what is largely her...reason for being. ;)

...and the weather closed in. I did go a bit further, honest.

Incidentally, on a practical note, there's forestry stuff occurring at the minute, so you actually wander through the farm grounds - it is pretty well flagged up - and regain the original path a wee bit before the cool fingerpost pictured earlier.

It was a proper workout, summit or not. A good jaunt. :)