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!


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ben Klibreck

In long, balmy days of Junes past, me and Andy have generally tried to get one really big walk done, to try and use the daylight to the full. This year, a clever plan was devised to try and cross off the sole remaining Far Far North Munro - less a really big walk than a really big drive.

To add a bit of spice, we decided to try and fit in the drive, the hill and the Colombia game which was due to kick off at 9pm.

The forecast had been a factor in the whole plan, but it proved to have been somewhat optimistic - claggy, rainy and viewless at the summit. Still, if the forecast had been accurate, there'd have been no prospect whatsoever of driving for a total of almost ten hours simply to walk for about five.

On the plus side, it was a new experience to arrive in Tain at 9am, just as the shops were opening. ;)

In all honesty, it's not a hill that I would rush to repeat. It might well be that the Walkhighlands route would make for a more enjoyable day out, whereas we - largely owing to the self inflicted World Cup time pressure - started out taking the "traditional" shortest route that Cameron McNeish describes thus:

Start from the A836 road through Strath Vagastie. There is a good parking spot at 545 303 and once across the river, rough moorland rises towards the western slopes of the hill. Head for Loch nan Uan and from its northern shore the grass & heather slopes steepen quite dramatically towards the lowest point of the ridge above. From the outflow of the loch it’s best to head South East and so avoid the craggy ground below Meall nan Con. Once the ridge is reached, a short ascent on good underfoot conditions lead to the summit boulderfield and the cairn. 

In the event, the grass and heather slopes steepened rather more than we liked the look of, so we kind of cut across country, bypassing the loch on the south side, and headed for what looked a rather less strenuous approach to gaining the ridge.

Looking back to Ben Loyal

The underfoot combination of tussocks, bog, gloopy waterlogged grassy moss and generally adhesive heathery rubbish did not make for a terrifically enjoyable wander...

...but matters did improve once we got higher up, and found the bypass path on Creag an Lochain.

Looking back along the ridge/plateau/nice flat bit

At that point the weather was about as good as it got all day, so there was a perfectly acceptable flattish dander for a wee while, before the final slog up the impressive rocky summit cone of Meall nan Con.

It was proper clagged in by then, inevitably, and remarkably cold to boot. I'm not sure there wasn't a wee touch of frostiness setting in on the WBD's eyebrows at one point.

We were around three & a half hours for the ascent, and exactly two to get back to the car. We came down the traditional ascent route, and it is not something I would have liked to try in the other direction. Steep, boggy, steep, slippery, less than obvious, and steep.

I think we've both kind of agreed that from now on, some of these hills are going to require a wholehearted commitment to overnight stays. I certainly couldn't have driven all the way back down the road on Saturday evening, so I'm glad Andy was in the mood for taking the wheel. Plus, he aye makes better time than I would, so we caught the start of the football after all. Bang!