Isle of Rum, 12-15 April 2019

There is always a sense of anticipation as the ferry approaches your island destination. Journeying to the Small Isles, and this trip to the Isle of Rum, especially so. The Loch Nevis ro-ro door clanked onto the slipway, and one vehicle was followed by a stream of walkers and cyclists who spilled onto the island. Most of the IMC party were staying at the modern, comfortable Community Trust bunkhouse at Kinloch. Fay and David, who had been there for a week, were camping nearby, as was Catherine.


Askival and Ainshival

Anne set off to spend the night in Guirdil bothy, and Michael set off on a similar trip over Barkeval, Ard Nev and Orval to Guirdil early the following morning. The rest of the party were more leisurely in their departure, with Marion and Peter heading for Barkeval and a group deciding to shelter from the strong South Easterly wind by approaching Askival and Ainshival via Atlantic Corrie rather than the Cuillin ridge. Surprisingly, the west ridge of Askival remained sheltered and the summit was calm while the wind roared below us. Only Cerian, who had a date with a Corbett in Knoydart the following day, made it on to Ainshval, again reporting calmer conditions the higher she progressed. The remaining two pairs made their way over to Harris to inspect the singularly incongruous Bullough Mausoleum. Steve and Terence even manged to get a lift back to Kinloch in a local crofter’s Land Rover. Drat!

Blue skies and sunshine continued the next day, but the wind strength was forecast to increase with Calmac announcing possible ferry cancellations. Several folk decided to head back to Mallaig. The rest of us had unfinished business on the island.


Ainshval

Ainshval was the unfinished business for a few of us, and Dougie, who had arrived on the Saturday ferry also had Askival in his sights. Again, our sheltered route through Atlantic Corrie to Bealach an Oir saw a straightforward ascent of Ainshval, and a we took a leisurely lunch back in the corrie while Dougie shot up and down Askival.  Meanwhile, Terence and Kirsty took another look at Harris, descending from the Bealach an Fhuarain this time before making the long walk back across the island. Peter and Marion had a windswept day walking to Kilmory, coming back via Mullach Mor to the north of Loch Scresort. Michael returned from his perambulations on the west of the island.

The community on Rum is moving forward. The local community is progressively taking on ownership of the land and assets in and around Kinloch from SNH – who continue to own and manage the remainder of the island – and the development of the bunkhouse and pods on the campsite are first results.  And Marine Harvest (now MOWI) are building accommodation in Kinloch to serve the 12 job offshore fish farm recently approved off the north of Rum.

Ainshval and Trollabhall

Our long weekend barely scratched the surface of the hills, walks and exploration on Rum; an early return meet seems on the cards. Participants were Cerian, Kirsty R., Peter M., Marion, Steve, Terence, Michael, Dougie, Arthur, Anne, Catherine, Fay and David.

The Carn Deargs in Glen Roy, 7 April 2019

Three parties  of club members, totalling 9 people, meandered around the various Carn Deargs at the head of Glen Roy in thick mist, hence the limited opportunities for photos!

Cerian, Daniel, Kirsty R. and John made a round of the two northerly Carn Deargs from Turret Bridge at the head of the glen; photo below. One of the party demonstrated conclusively that proximity to mobile phones can reverse the polarity of one’s compass: the proof being demonstrated by walking round in circles in peat hags.

One of the many Carn Deargs in the mist

Michael, Ewen and Masoud had a pleasant wander over the central Carn Dearg and Carn Dearg Beag – top photo. The locals showed little imagination in naming the hills; there are three Carn Deargs and two Leana Mhors in Glen Roy. The only party reporting any views were Robin and Arthur who ascended the most easterly of the Carn Deargs from Annat in the north.  They then went onto the most easterly of the two Leana Mhor Grahams where these elusive views were obtained.

Masoud and Ewen contemplating life in a long-gone house

The age of the parallel roads in the glen and the mechanism to produce the different shorelines was mused upon. We quickly dismissed the idea that they might be the hunting paths of the mythical figure Fingal and went for the more conventional explanation that they were the product of the dams of ice. These dams blocked off Glen Gloy, Glen Spean and Glen Roy as glaciers spread from the south west during the Loch Lomond Stadial period around 12,900 years ago. The different levels of the shorelines (roads) at 260m, 325m and 350m were caused by the glacier’s advance. The ice dams finally melted about 11,500 years ago. (scottishgeology.com)

Brunachan bothy at the foot of the north east ridge of Leana Mhor on the east side of the glen is now sadly closed, with dangerous building notices pinned to its door.   The day was rounded off by a visit to a pub on the way home; the Stronlossit Hotel in Roy Bridge and the Bothy bar in Fort Augustus were visited by different parties.

Munro Centenary Wake, 17 March 2019

Tuesday 19th March saw the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir Hugh Munro, the first person to accurately survey Scotland’s highest mountains, the results of which were published in  the first edition of his Tables of Heights over 3000ft in 1891.

Up until that point, it was widely believed that only around 30 of Scotland’s hills attained or exceeded 3000ft in height, but Munro’s work showed there to be no less than 283 separate mountains and a further 256 subsidiary summits reaching the significant height. Sir Hugh had, albeit unintentionally, just invented the uniquely Scottish sport of “Munro bagging”.

The Wyvis car park in reasonably good conditions

To celebrate Munro’s achievement, on Sunday 17 March a party of 12 hillgoers from the Inverness Mountaineering Club set off to mark the momentous occasion with celebratory ascent of Ben Wyvis, before meeting up with other members and guests in the evening at the Inchbae Lodge Hotel at the foot of the hill for a Sir Hugh Munro “Anniversary Wake” followed by an excellent bar supper.

We chose Ben Wyvis as the hill is held in great affection by all those who live in the Easter Ross, Black Isle and Inverness areas, being the dominant feature of the Inner Moray Firth landscape for many miles around. The Ben is unique among Munros as being the only high mountain that stands on the east coast, and though not, as was once thought, the highest  mountain in Ross-shire, is still impressive in scale, with no less than four 3000ft tops spread out along the length of its five mile long summit ridge.

The boulder on An Cabar, our highest point

Unfortunately the weather proved uncooperative on the day, with high winds gusting to 40mph+, sending clouds of spindrift racing over the flanks of the hill, and forcing the party to turn back before reaching the summit. Not to be outdone, most then elected to summit Little Wyvis, the Corbett, by way of compensation.

A special guest on the day was Dingwall resident and Munro completist Dave Broadhead of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC), who for eleven years up until the end of 2018 was the SMC’s Clerk of the Munro List, maintaining the official record of all those who have climbed all the Munro summits. At the end of Dave’s tenure the number of complete Munroists had reached 6464 in number.

Interestingly, there is some doubt as to whether the first person said to have climbed all the Munros, the Rev. A E. Robertson in 1901, did actually manage to summit Ben Wyvis. His hill diary for 1892 records that he turned back due to bad weather before reaching Glas Leathad Mor, the principal summit of Wyvis, and there is no record among his papers of him ever having returned.