UNSETTLED AUTUMN & REDWINGS ARRIVED
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AN TEALLACH & THE CAIRNGORMS (AGAIN)!
LOW CLOUD AND COLDER IN THE CAIRNGORMS
TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS
|Beinn Alligin from Liathach|
The Highlands were blessed with glorious weather for 3 days this weekend. A big high pressure system drawing warm air up from the south gave hot sunshine an clear skies for much of Scotland. A brilliant spell of weather to be out on the mountains. I met up with Robin and Clare in the NW Highlands on Thursday evening. Robin is on the final hurdle to completing all the Munros. He's got some fantastic mountains to finish on and 6 of these are in Torridon, the finest mountain region on Earth. On Thursday evening we arrived after dark in Glen Torridon, Robin and Clare had just knocked off 4 Munros in the Beinn Dearg cluster near Ullapool which is always a long day. They 'wild camped' with their camper van whilst I truly wild camped in boggy, heathery ground near the beautiful Loch Clair.
|Sunrise on Loch Clare, Friday|
At last it is nearly midge free time now we are getting a few cold nights. Wild camping season is now a joy. A beautiful clear and star filled night and a warm early morning. One of the classic views of Liathach is from Loch Clair so I got up early to catch the first light. I wasn't disappointed. It was surprisingly clear air despite the warm southerly airflow. A good start to two fab days.
|The classic view of Liathach|
FRIDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER
Liathach was our first hill day. What a beauty of a mountain. T shirt conditions from the word go and all away along the ridge. A lovely stiff breeze was perfect to stop us overheating. Stunning clear skies all day.
|The fun begins|
|Down as well as up|
The first Munro summit along the ridge is straightforward walking, then the Fasarin Pinnacles beckon. This is the scrambling section, the fun section. What a pleasure, we had the place to ourselves, there were plenty of folk on the hill but they seemed to have set off earlier in the day. Perfect.
|Looking east along the ridge, Beinn Eighe to the left|
|Mullach an Rathain and Beinn Alligin|
The scrambling isn't too difficult and you can bypass anything that is beyond your comfort zone. I would definitely NOT recommend taking the much lower traverse path, it is exposed and eroded and of course you miss all the fun and all the wonderful views to the north.
|Ridge views to Glen Torridon|
|The final Pinnacle, Am Fasarinien|
All too quickly the scrambling is over and it's an easy walk up to the 2nd Munro of Mullach an Rathain. Wonderful views out west to Loch Torridon from here. A steep descent then follows, what a day. It was still very hot by 5pm when we got to the glen. A pint and grub at the Torridon to end a fab day.
|Am Faserinen and Glen Torridon from the west|
|Loch Torridon and Beinn Alligin|
|Northern corries and the ridge|
SATURDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER
Another glorious morning. Clear skies and a warm night. It was feeling like the south of Spain, not the NW Highlands. Another classic ridge walk today and another two Munros for Robin. Beinn Alligin. A shorter round and easier scrambling. Equally as spectacular views from this westerly Torridonian giant.
|Descending Tom na Gruagaich towards Sgurr Mor|
|Baosbheinn from Sgurr Mor|
|Tom na Gruagaich|
Another hot day but a good stiff breeze to keep things pleasant. Today Clare and her dog, Berry, claimed another Munro summit. Walking up to the first Munro of Tom na Gruagaich. It's a fabulous view from here, especially out to the western seaboard. Very clear air again.
|The Horns next|
The scrambling on Beinn Alligin comes at the end of the ridge traverse. The 'Horns' consist of 3 peaks. More lovely warm rock and wonderful views as we made our way across the Torridonian Sandstone rocks.
|Robin enjoying the scrambling|
|Something a little harder|
|Eyeing up the route|
|Sgurr Mor from the Horns|
|Beinn Dearg and Liathach|
|Beautiful pools, perfect after a hot day|
A fab couple of days and great to catch up with Robin and Clare. That's Robin now down to just 18 Munros left.
LIATHACH & BEINN ALLIGIN
MOUNTAIN HARE & GEESE HEADING SOUTH
EASY WALKS ON SKYE
BEN NEVIS WEEKEND, LEDGE ROUTE TWICE
POOR START TO AUTUMN
|Feithe Buidhe and Hells Lum Crag|
It's unusual to get very high temperatures that coincide with the late August Bank Holiday weekend. Even rarer for the Highlands to get the same kind of conditions. Thankfully we never got 33.3 C like down in Englandshire. A pleasant enough mid 20's was adequate for me.
On Sunday I headed off for an overnight camp in the heart of the Cairngorms. It was glorious clear skies from the word go.
|Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneacda|
|Ridge under blue skies|
A wander into Coire an t-Sneachda to gain the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda ridge. Lovely and peaceful. Only a slight breeze on the tops and very refreshing away from the heat. From the plateau I headed over towards the lip of the Loch A'an basin. There are many choices to get down to the loch from the plateau. One of my favourite routes is down the pathless, wild and remote Feithe Buidhe watercourse.
|Well camouflaged ptarmigan on the way down|
|The wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs on the descent|
|Spot the climbers on Hells Lum Crag|
Hell's Lum Crag was 'busy' with climbers, 4 folk out enjoying the warm rock. Of course the more spectacular Shelterstone Crag is in shade now for much of the day. Autumn is only round the corner. Actually, round the corner lies the beautiful Loch A'an then just a couple of hundred metres higher is Loch Etchachan. Home for the evening.
|Shelterstone Crag in the shade, Beinn Mheadhoin in the background|
|Wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs|
|Stag Rocks above Loch A'an|
When I arrived at Loch Etchachan mine was the only tent. Only mid afternoon so it was time for coffee and cake in beautiful hot sun. A nice, stiff breeze kept the midges away. As you know, I never normally camp in the summer months. Loch Etchachan lies at 900m so normally a breeze and cooler at night which keeps the beasties away. The weather forecast was suggesting 30-40mph winds at Munro height, perfect.
|Camping at Loch Etchachan|
|Looking down into Glen Derry from the shoulder of Beinn Mheadhoin|
|Beinn Mheadhoin's summit tor|
After pitching the tent I had a late afternoon wander up to the Munro summit of Beinn Mheadoin. From Loch Etchachan it's less than 1 hour to the top. If you're climbing this hill in a day from civilisation then it makes for a much longer excursion. It's been a couple of years since I last walked up here. The finest features of this remote Munro are it's granite tors on the summit plateau. The actual top requires a short scramble if you want to 'bag' this one. The other remarkable feature is the unusual and spectacular view down onto Loch A'an. I'm guessing most folk don't wander off the short 10 minutes from the summit to a grand viewing platform, just before the hills NW slopes begin to steepen dramatically. Evening time isn't the best part of the day for this if you love landscape photography mind, the sun's in the wrong place. Even so, it is a beautiful view.
|Loch A'an from the NW slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin|
|The silvery waters of A'an|
Monday morning dawned chilly and breezy. All good to keep the midges away for breakfast, my breakfast that is! From Loch Etchachan to Ben Macdui there is a good path and very easy angled for much of the way. It's one of the finest high altitude paths in the area with a sense of wild and beauty all around. There was cloud coming and going in the stiff winds. Some summits free of mist, others clagged in as I made my approach to the UK's second highest mountain.
|Loch Ethachan at 0700 with Cairn Gorm beyond|
|Early morning cloud and light|
I reached Ben Macdui and it was in cloud. One of the highlights I was looking forward to over these two days was the early morning light onto the Braeriach plateau. From just down off the summit of Macdui you get a stunning panorama of the Western Cairngorm plateau. The Munros of Bod an Domhain. Cairn Toul, Sgorr an Lochain Uaine and Breariach stand high above the Lairig Ghru. At first all I got was thick cloud. But I trusted the weather forecast of a bright and sunny day once again, from mid morning onwards. So I sat for over two hours on the summit! The patience for landscape photography is well known. Well if you are patient you will get rewards. I got a wonderful Brocken Spectre as I sat in the cold wind. Then very slowly the swirling clouds did thin and break off the tops.
|Clouds and a Broken Spectre|
|Wonderful cloud formations on Cairn Toul|
|Looking south over Bod an Diomhain|
|Sun an cloud|
Finally after about two and half hours the clouds suddenly disappeared and another world opened up. Just away from the summit area it was warmer, less windy and now completely clear skies over the entire Cairngorms. What a contrast. I 'escaped' the many folk walking up to Ben Macdui and found a peaceful spot over towards the Lairig Ghru. It's here that you get a better sense of scale of these mountains. The Lairig Ghru lies way low down below Breariach's slopes. When you think the highest point of the Lairig Ghru is in itself 800 metres then these mountains really are impressive.
|Clear at last|
|and enough to spot the wildlife again|
|The last remaing snow in The Cairngorms|
I santered down and back to the Coire Cas carpark. By mid day it was back to heat. Another hot day. Another fab day in the big mountains.
Tuesday dawned good again. The Eastern Highlands fairing better than the west today. I had a another wee wander up to the hills for some wildlife watching. It was great to laze around in the corries. Unfortunately the wildlife wasn't very active. Although it was a nice surprise to spot a solitry juvenile of 1st summer Ring Ouzel amongst the boulders in the coire. I've been observing this wee guy for the last few days. Most Ring Ouzels are away back to Africa by end of August.
|Sun peeping over the cliffs of Cairn Lochain|
|Juvenile Ring Ouzel|
And finally. The waters of the Feithe Buidhe.
BANK HOLIDAY HEATWAVE
|Gavin & Aiden on Sgurr a Mhaidh |
|In Pinn, next time|
|Gavin, Aiden and Ben summit selfie|
Not great weather over on the west coast these last couple of weeks. Last Sunday and Monday Ben was guiding for Tarmachan Mountaineering. Gavin and Aiden were looking to explore some of the Black Cuillin ridge. With strong winds and rain it was looking doubtful for any summits on Sunday but the afternoon improved, wind wise. Ben got them onto Sgurr a Ghreathaidh and Mhaidadh.
On Monday the winds were fine but still cloudy and rainy. The boys did well getting Sgurr Mhic Coinnich done, the Inn Pinn will have to wait until next time.
SKYE SUMMER MUNROS