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!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Beinn a'Chlachair

It probably comes with the territory - I've been up the track from Laggan so many times now that there's better photos elsewhere on the blog. Still, given that the deciding factor for yesterday's return visit was that Jorja hadn't done the hill before, it would be remiss not to stick a few more up.


Wee Greying Dug

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Molly at The Cairnwell

We're managing to struggle up hills fairly regularly at the minute, but after the Macdui jaunt, me and Andy were looking for something a bit more...manageable. The three Munros at the Glenshee ski centre don't seem to engender much love from the hillwalking cognoscenti, but they fitted our bill for yesterday. Not too long a drive, very little ascent, and significantly less than a 20 mile walk!

Plus, at a stroke, it tripled Molly's bagging stats for the last year.

It was a good day out - once you're on the way to Carn a' Gheoidh the ski-tows and stuff are out of sight and out of mind and it's a nice, flat high level ramble. That summit is also a gem of a viewpoint - literally there are hills as far as the eye can see. It was also nice for us to be able to observe anything, because in three combined previous visits neither me nor Andy had been able to see noses in front of respective faces, so it was all good.

There are, as ever, photies.

Which way, d'ye think?

Onwards to Carn a' Gheoidh

Shortly after the Muddy Puddle Incident.

Looking back towards Carn Aosda

Tiny figures on the skyline

Intent on sandwiches.

Heading back

There's no point in trying to pretend that The Cairnwell itself is one of Scotland's prettiest summits, but you're only 20 minutes away from getting back to the car from it, so it's not all bad news. It is, as they say, what it is.