Beinn Airigh Charr, 21 July 2019

The unsettled weather altered our plan to wild camp on the Letterewe Hills and traverse the Corbetts of Beinn Airigh Charr and Ben Lair. We decided instead to have a day meet biking in to the end of the track, and walking in on the well made path to Beinn Airigh Charr.  This was not met with complete approval by the purist elements in the party, who felt that wind, rain and midgies enhanced the enjoyment of wild camping. This viewpoint was dealt with fairly summarily.

So six people and bikes rolled up to the car park at Poolewe.  Two others, Richard and potential new member Eilidh, had set off earlier on foot aiming to meet up with us on the track beyond Kernsary. However, one recalcitrant bike refused to be parted from its roof rack, so we had an additional pedestrian.  A clue to his identity is that he arrived at the summit before the cyclists.

Beinn Airigh Charr

The rest of the party set off in a leisured fashion, following the bike in front. Your correspondent was well on the way to Ardlair, before he realised that to meet up with Richard and Eilidh, he should have turned off at Kernsary. No-one else volunteered to go back with him.  In no small measure, one suspects, because he had the only e-bike in the party and had not yet broken sweat on the ascents.  Sure enough, Richard and Eilidh had waited at the appointed place and the three of us bog hopped through the forest before reaching the path heading past Fionn Loch to Carnmore. Eilidh and Arthur struck off south to pick up the path into Coire nan Dearcag with the intention of meeting up with the rump of the main party  who were heading that way from the west.

We did meet up – at the summit of Beinn Airigh Charr.  The views of the Fisherfield forest, Slioch and Loch Maree came and went as the brisk wind funnelled squalls along Loch Maree and Fionn Loch.  We didn’t linger too long on the summit. The mysterious skid marks in the soft mossy turf on our approach to, and descent from, the summit were explained when we spotted the estate garrons, which had been turned loose until they were needed for the stalking season and had been roaming freely on the hill.

View over the Fionn Loch from Beinn Airigh Charr

The main party headed to the Ardlair track to pick up their bikes.  Arthur and Eilidh went back to Kernsary for Arthur to pick up his bike which was secured to a substantial gate post. Suffice to say that if you forget the padlock key, your Swiss army knife is of little use in these circumstances.   Fortunately, the estate house was not far away and armed with the very kind loan of bolt cutters, a hacksaw and a hammer your hapless correspondent soon parted the bike from the gate post.

We adjourned to the Poolewe Hotel for a welcome refreshment. Participants: Dougie, John, Arthur, Richard, Irene, Sharan, Michael and Eilidh (potential new member). 

Strawberry Cottage, Glen Affric, 5-7 July 2019

Chrysanthemum Hill, as our non Gaelic speaking members christened Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan, saw a fair bit of activity on our Strawberry Cottage weekend. Six different parties ranged over the various ridges and tops of Ceathramhnan and its neighbouring Munros and Corbetts on Saturday. The day started well as most folk popped into Alltbeithe YH for a chat and some high octane coffee which powered us up the hill.  The cosy atmosphere and chance to meet some interesting people provided a very pleasant interlude.

Strawberry Cottage is also a wonderful haven. Although it is only eight kilometres from the road end, staying there provides a great sense of timelessness and remoteness. Fortunately, our two SUV’s were parked out of sight and the mountain bikes were tucked away in the shed so they didn’t spoil the illusion. Apart from Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan – above – and its tops, parties were to be found on Sgurr Gaorsaic, Mullach na Dheiragain, An Socach, and Carn a Choire Ghairbh.  Robin and Arthur came across two stone “art installations” on the west top of Sgur nan Ceathreamhnan and lower down the west ridge, but could uncover no explanation of what they represented or who constructed them.

Richard had MRT training on Sunday so departed on Saturday to be replaced by Daniel,  who was keen to stretch his legs over Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe and Beinn Fhionnlaidh with Kirsty on Sunday. The rest of the group had more modest excursions, with Dougie on Aonach Shasuinn, Michael, Sharan and Arthur on Tom a’ Choinnich (pictured above), and Robin, Peter and Marion on Beinn a’ Mheadhoin. All of which hills provide wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding hills from Ben Nevis to Skye. Participants were Ellie, Dougie, Arthur, Sharan, Peter M., Marion, Michael, Kirsty G., Andreas, Robin, Richard and Daniel.