At the beginning of the month I was working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guiding in the Cairngorms. On Friday 4th January I led a small group out over the plateau to Ben Macdui where we emerged from a mild, grey day to a temperature inversion. We had unbroken sunshine and stunning views for the rest of the day! Then on the 6th, another mild day for early January, we were up on Cairngorm practicing winter skills. You can read my full write-up of the days and see more photos on Steven’s blog here!
Early last year I mapped and walked a route around the edge of the edge of the UK’s only known terrestrial meteorite impact crater, located in central Sutherland. I completed the walk carrying a Google Trekker, with the resulting imagery going live last November. It was a fantastic adventure and I hope to continue to promote and develop the route, so I was very excited to get the opportunity to return to the area last week. Mairi and Rosalind had been in touch regarding a guided day of walking on a section of the route and so we headed out last Monday to the edge of Assynt, to follow a circular route, which I’ve called the ‘Eagle Rock Circuit‘, taking in a portion of the Crater Route around the upper reaches of Glen Oykel.
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!
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.
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)!
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!
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!
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!
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.
On Sunday I was on the Munro, An Coileachan, the eastern-most of the Fannaichs range in the northwest Highlands.
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…