Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday 23rd June

I have paid a couple of visits to Shustoke but there is very little around. Even the flocks of Common Tern from previous years are not present at the moment.

There is a pair of Hobby locally and I had a Little Owl today sat out in broad daylight on one of the local road, that is the first for quite a while.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Glen Affric – Part 2 – Day 4

After returning knackered from Knoydart and the weather not looking great I was contemplating going home. But we all expressed a wish to try and walk again rather than return later in the year for a weekend. Later that day the weather forecast improved so we sat down and decided that we would go for it, and that finishing the Glen Affric Munro’s would be our priority.

Cairn Eighe from Mam Sodhail
The summit of Cairn Eighe
So on Saturday we were up at 5.00am and on the road by half past, it made a difference and we made Inverness in 1hr 40m. It took a further hour to get to the Glen Affric car park but we were well motivated and were on the move straight away. 

The summit of Bheinn Fhionnlaidh
Bheinn Fhionnlaidh
This was going to be another long day we worked our way up Gleann nam Fiadh climbing steeply to the col and over the three tops to the Munro of Carn Eighe, the pinnacled ridge was brilliant and easy walking. When we arrived at the summit cairn it had taken us 4h 15minutes.

The summit of Mam Sodhail and our ninth hill in a week
Mam Sodhail from the summit of Cairn Eighe
The clouds were high and there was a good wind blowing but it didn’t hinder us. Beinn Fhionnlaidh didn’t look too far away and we were soon down at the col and at the cairn within an hour. On the return we picked up our ruck sacks were we had left them and traversed across eastern flanks of Carn Eighe before the final push up Mam Sodhail which was relatively easy. That left us with a long walk back to the car. We arrived in the car park at 6.20pm unfortunately it started raining at 6.15pm!

So that is now twelve Munro’s climbed this year leaving just four hills left to climb which will take two walking days. One is a 14-16 hour marathon in the Fisherfields and the other is CMD and Ben Nevis!

I am so looking forward to writing about the birds that I have seen, so please excuse my indulgence, I am fully aware that most of the recent reports have a been about hills and not birds!

Knoydart – Day 2

I eventually awoke to find a bright morning – no curtains, the snoring was still going strong, I felt quite refreshed although I felt I hadn’t slept much. I got up walked through to the kitchen to find my brother on his second cup of tea, I went to the loo to find Joy on her way back full dressed. On returned to the kitchen I had some cereal and coffee looked up at the clock and it was 4.50am! What the hell is going on! We decided that we could probably climb Ladhar Bheinn and get back early enough to get the 5pm boat back to Malliag, which after last night appealed!

The view down into Barrisdale Bay from the summit of Ladhar Bheinn

We started walking at just after 6.00am and the biggest problem was finding the path out of the village, which we eventually found (old map). It took 90 minutes to get to the ruins of Folach were we followed a path which climbed up to the west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn then it was a steep pull west along the ridge to the summit.

The summit of Ladhar Bheinn

The trig point on Ladhar Bheinn

The weather was supposed to be really poor but it was really good the opposite of yesterday. The views were stunning and we lingered a bit longer than we normally do. It took nearly as long to get back.

I went to the Quay to arrange the boat and we had a leisurely afternoon then caught the 5.00pm boat back to Malliag. Arriving back in Perth at around 8.30pm. We now had down three of the six walks that we had left with the most awkward one’s done and in the bag.

The Old Forge

If I look sad it is because I am outside of the pub and it is closed. I could have murdered a drink

Knoydart – Day 1

Knoydart is a peninsula in Scotland west of Fort William and there is no road access. There are three Munro’s in the area and there is no way of climbing them without staying on-site. There is a small village – Inverie (population 120) which is run by the Knoydart Trust. There is a pub (The Old Forge) – the remotest in Britain 16 miles from the nearest road. We booked to stay in the bunk house for two nights, climbing Ladhar Bheinn (short day) on arrival, then the longer day with Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe tackled the next day.

We were up again at 5.30am driving across Scotland to Malliag to catch the 9.30am boat to Knoydart, Unfortunately on arrival it was raining, also the midgies were out!

The trip over on the boat was good – we arrived at the Quay and made our way past the pub to the Bunkhouse, a 15 minute walk. The weather forecast had changed overnight with today starting showery but brightening up later, but tomorrow was poor with heavy rain due. At the last minute I decided we would tackle the two hills today and get it over with.

We were soon making good progress past the Loch an Dubh-Lochain up the Mam Barrisdale (the pass over the hills) by which time it had started to pouring down. A cairn on the path indicated the start of the climb up the north-west ridge of Luinne Bheinn. Visibility was about 30 yards and we contrived missed a junction in the path and ended up below a cliff face with the summit above us, but we climbed up a corrie to our left and were soon standing in the rain at the summit.

The summit of Luinne Bheinn or Luny Bin as it is commonly known.

We headed over the east top on a good path down over Druim Leac a’ Shith and eventually to the base of the east ridge of Meall Buidhe. We were soon standing by the cairn on the south-east top. It was only a further 200 metres to the main summit and as we got close the weather which had been improving suddenly opened up giving us great views.

The view from the summit of Meall Buidhe with the ridge we climbed up in cloud on the left

On top of Meall Buidhe with the sun breaking through

We descended down the west ridge and eventually arrived back at the bunk house at 8.15pm unfortunately we had booked a table at the pub of 8.00pm. We quickly showered and marched off again. The staff were excellent and the food plentiful and good quality.

The two hill we had climbed – it wasn’t like this when we started!

We arrived back at the bunkhouse to find we were sharing with half a dozen others, they were all fast asleep with the lights out, we had to stumble around in the dark, they also had left us the top bunks to sleep in – great, so knackered, aching limbs and a full bladder I clambered up the step ladders and tried to manoeuvre myself into bed. I was just starting to drop off when the snoring started, I was not impressed. Even less so when I had to clamber out of bed at 2.00am to go you know where. Between paying a visit and returning to bed I lost about a pint of blood to the midgies, they were ferocious!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Glen Affric (Part 1) – 31 May 2014

After our successful walks of a couple of weeks ago, we were back in Scotland attempting four big walks in a week. There is a general feeling amongst us that we have to get the Munro’s finished and to bed this year. Our first hill was 20 years ago and as the years have passed we have been obsessed with finishing them – all 282.

This was the most challenging day with 3 really remote Munro’s, we had contemplated camping or staying at the Youth Hostel but that would eat into two days. The best option as far as I was concerned was to cycle in along the path in Glen Affric climb the hills and cycle out in the same day, a big ask but possible.

After travelling up to Perth last night we were up bright and early and on the road before 6am. We arrived in Glen Affric at 9.15am sorted the bikes and set off on our way. 

The Alltbeithe Youth Hostel

The track was good in places but unfortunately it was mainly up and down and we ended up pushing the bikes more than riding them. We arrived at Alltbeithe Youth Hostel just before noon and sat down to eat for ten minutes before tackling the day ahead. Talking to the warden she said most people take around seven to nine hours in total to complete the three hills.

The approach to An Socach
It was a warm day but it took us less than two hours to reach the top of An Socach, as we took our photographs Mullach na Dheiragain looked a long way away across the Glen.

Mullach na Dheiragain centre of the ridge.
I had read that there was a faint path that led down over steep ground to the connecting ridge to the days second Munro – Mullach na Dheiragain. This could have been problematical but the weather was fine and I found the cairn marking the start of a faint path. We took a line towards the col opposite and made good time. We then headed along the ridge meeting a party returning from Mullach na Dheiragain they informed us that it was an hour and a half away! We made it in an hour.
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan from An Socach
On An Socach with Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan behind

The walk back via the top Carn na Con Dhu took a further hour and we then had the prospect ahead of the climb up the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. It wasn’t as bad as we though, steep, but over relatively quickly. As we sat down at the cairn we realised that it was nearly 6pm and we still had to get down. There was a good path to follow over a few ups and downs before we arrived at the top of Coire na Cloiche with a good path to follow back to the bikes and the Youth Hostel.

After two hours of cycling and just as it was starting to get dark we hit a area where we free wheeled for a couple of miles. We eventually arrived back at the cars shortly before 11.00pm, we were all knackered and still had the drive back to Perth to look forward too.

Bird wise we saw a few Ptarmigan and I also had a Scottish tick in the form of a Woodcock.

It’s quiet

Not much to report a pair of Hobby have been seen in the area but it is generally quiet. I have just returned from another week in Scotland hill walking – I will post later.