- Guided Hillwalking Across the Scottish Highlands

Corbett Mini Adventure – Beinn Dearg Mor & Beinn Dearg Bheag

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Monday 30th April 2018 – Tuesday 01st May 2018

It was a stunning spring morning as I drove west towards Corrie Hallie. An Teallach dominated the views from the ‘Destitution Road’ and I had to make a few stops to take photos of some of the classic views of the peak against a clear blue sky!

Glas Tholl, An Teallach from the A832 just south of Coire Hallie

As I wandered up Gleann Chaorachain spring was in full swing with fresh buds on the trees and a constant accompaniment of bird song. By a plantation near the top of the glen I saw a couple of young golden eagles swooping high above the trees. It was a steady climb up the glen with a big pack on but worth the effort on reaching the high point by a large cairn where the track emerges onto high open moorland and the peaks of the Fisherfield Forest burst into view ahead. From there I headed off on the rough path to Shenavall Bothy in Strath na Sealga. The bothy stays out of view until the very last minute, only coming into sight as you drop down to the bottom of a small side glen, but when it does appear, it has to be one of the finest views in the Highlands.

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West Highland Way

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At the beginning of April I was working for Thistle Trekking on the West Highland Way (WHW), Scotland’s first long distance walking route, which stretches for 96 miles from the outskirts of Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city – to Fort William, at the foot of Ben Nevis – at 1345m, Scotland’s highest mountain. I was guiding Thistle’s first WHW group of the 2018, a team of apprentice engineers up in Scotland to walk the Way as part of a team building exercise. We were lucky with the weather throughout, getting pretty much ideal conditions for the walk and there were plenty of smiles and lots of satisfaction at the finish line on Fort William High Street. You can read my full write-up of the week on Thistle Trekking’s Blog here (part I) and here (part II)!

Lots of smiles after successfully completing the West Highland Way

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Bridge of Orchy Munros

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In the middle of March I was working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guiding, leading a small group around some of the Bridge of Orchy Munros. The mini “Beast from the East” was in full swing on the Saturday giving us a wild ascent of Beinn Mhanach, but by Monday, a stable easterly airflow had settled over the country giving one of the best days I’ve ever experienced in the hills! You can read my full write-up of the trip on Steven’s blog here!

Monday 19th March 2018 – Ascending Beinn a’Chreachain with the view over the expanse of Rannoch Moor to the peaks of Lochaber in the background

 

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Kintail Guided Hillwalking & Winter Skills

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I was leading a guided walking and winter skills trip in Kintail in the West Highlands on Sunday and Monday for Steven Fallon Mountain Guiding. We visited 3 Munros, covered lots of skills and got some perfect winter conditions for it! You can read my full write-up of the trip on Steven’s blog here!

Having lunch and enjoying the views on the South Shiel Ridge

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Ben More Assynt and Conival

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During Sunday and into Monday a big thaw set in across the Highlands causing significant melting of what was very extensive and deep snowcover. However, with the temperatures plummeting again on Tuesday the snowpack had consolidated and the avalanche hazard was low. This was combined on Wednesday with the promise of sub-zero summit temperatures, very little wind and bright sunshine. Forecasts don’t come any better and with the day free I decided to go for a day’s personal mountaineering with Ben the dog. We headed northwest to Inchnadamph to tackle Ben More Assynt and Conival, hills that I’d visited a couple of times before, but never in winter. As we headed north and west we were treated to amazing views of all the hills. An Teallach looked particularly good, but the view of Ben More Coigach was really special!

Ben More Coigach from Loch Cul Dromannan early on Wednesday Morning

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Winter Magic in the Fannaichs!

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Sgurr nan Clach Geala in winter

An alpine looking Sgurr nan Clach Geala from the slopes of Carn na Criche

Summits: Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934m) | Sgurr Mor (1110m) | Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093m)

Time: 9hrs 20mins

Sunday’s forecast was looking good from several day’s ahead. I had agreed to get out in the hills with a friend and we had a chat on Saturday night about where to go. It was difficult to choose with so many options. It looked like a day where you could pick your hill, any hill! In the end we decided to go for some old favourites of mine in the central part of the Fannaichs range of Wester Ross, Northwest Highlands.

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Central Sutherland Crater Walk goes live

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Ben More Assynt from the Crater Route

Ben More Assynt from the Central Sutherland Crater Walk and now viewable through Google Street View

In the past few weeks the imagery that I gathered using a Google Trekker backpack in February/March 2017 has gone live on Google Street View. The experience of walking the route and capturing the pictures was a real adventure but seeing the final images is very exciting and makes the effort of carrying a 22kg load around central Sutherland all the more worthwhile! For more details about the Central Sutherland Crater Walk and how to access the imagery for yourself, see the press release below…

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Torridon 31st July – 2nd August

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At the beginning of last week I spent a few days across in Torridon for 1:1 guiding on Beinn Alligin and Slioch. Here is a quick post about what we did.

Day 1 – Beinn Alligin

Rosalind and I met at the Torridon Inn early on Monday morning and then headed round the bay to the Coire Mhic Nobuil car park where we made a start on Beinn Alligin. The hills was clear and the conditions were looking promising after a fairly dreich morning but the wind was light so we did not linger on the lower slopes to avoid being eaten alive by the midges! We chatted and climbed steadily and before we knew it, we were on the summit of the day’s first Munro, Tom na Gruagaich. The views around the reminder of the horseshoe were tremendous and out west the Isle of Skye and Outer Hebrides were as clear as I’ve ever seen.

The descent from the first summit is steep so we took our time picking the best line down to the next bealach. We stopped at a minor top around 850m on the way round for a well earned lunch break before tackling the final steep climb past the impressive Eag Dubh onto the main summit and the day’s second Munro, Sgurr Mhor. From here we had a decision to make as to whether to continue round the ridge over the ‘Horns of Alligin’ or return by our uphill route. With the weather still looking fair and feeling good about our progress so far we decided to head on round.

Tom na Gruagaich, Beinn Alligin

Tom na Gruagaich, Beinn Alligin

It was a quick, steep descent down to the bealach below Na Rathanan, the first of the horns with great views over to the likes of Baosbheinn. From here on we passed a few groups going in both directions and it was definitely the busiest time on the hill. As we made our ascent up the to the first of the Horns a shower came through and we made a good decision to put on full waterproofs as the rain seemed to get stuck over Beinn Alligin for the next hour or so. The traverse of the horns involves some interesting scrambling steps but despite the damp conditions we made good progress over the first two before deciding to bypass the last.

Once the rain had stopped we made one final snack stop. The views as the rain cleared were very atmospheric and Beinn Dearg made several appearances before disappearing again into a sea of mist. As we commenced the steep descent down to the valley we soon came back out into the sunshine and picked up the path back to the car. This path is in really good condition and it allowed us an easy finish to the day while taking in the views of the beautiful sequence of waterfalls along the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuill. We were back in just over seven hours. A very successful day on the hill!

Day 2 – Slioch

We made an earlier start for a longer day on Slioch on Wednesday morning. We met at Kinlochewe, parked at Incheril and set off on the scenic walk-in along the Kinlochewe River. It was another perfectly calm morning and the midges were out in force so again we chatted and kept walking. When we got to Loch Maree the reflections on the water were immaculate but something to enjoy on the move. After crossing the bridge at the foot of Gleann Bianasdail we turned up toward the hill. We took a line quite close to the river to enjoy some of the spectacular falls in the river before branching off from the glen to pick up the main path heading more steeply uphill.

Abhainn an Fhasaigh, Gleann Bianasdail

Abhainn an Fhasaigh, Gleann Bianasdail

It was a warm morning and we soon made a stop for something to drink but again the midges drove us onward. Our route took us into the hidden corner of Coire na Sleaghaich from where we climbed up onto the south-east ridge of Slioch. We gained the ridge by a small lochan where we made another stop. It was a perfect spot with crystal clear water, views to distant peaks and there was not a sound to be heard. A couple of wild goats were grazing on the other side of the water.

A steep climb from here took us onto the flatter upper part of the hill where the views became very extensive and we passed a very large herd of goats (I counted around 40). It was only a short stroll over to the summit where we stopped for lunch with a view out over the Fisherfield wilderness. Here I found the only litter of the trip, the cork from a bottle of Prosecco. Evidence of a last Munro celebration maybe!?

Fisherfield

The view from Slioch into the Fisherfield Wilderness

Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the summit and traversed the narrow ridge out to the subsidiary top of Sgurr an Tuill Bhain, which potentially offers an even better panorama than the summit itself. By this point it was clear that a change in the weather was on its way with cloud building from the south-west so despite the temptation to linger we descended the steep ground back down to the coire floor and headed back across to pick up our uphill route. By the time we were back down by Loch Maree a bit more of a breeze had picked up and the midges were not an issue on the way back.

It is a challenging walk out through high bracken back to Kinlochewe at the end of a long hill day but we made steady progress and got back to the car in perfect time just before the rain set in, ending a super couple of days in the Torridon area in great company!

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