Roybridge meet, 22-23 February 2020

The forecast for the weekend was not good – strong winds, snow, avalanches – and when we gathered at Aite Cruinnichidh hostel on Friday night there was much discussion about what hills would “go”.  The hostel is very comfortable and well situated for the Laggan, Glen Spean and Nevis hills. Also handy for the pub as the Glenspean Lodge hotel is just across the road, but unfortunately it hadn’t opened for the season yet.

Saturday dawned with heavy snow showers being blown in by a strong southerly wind, so a team of Steve, Masoud, Dan and Irene opted to climb local Marilyn Beinn a’Mhonicag (567m), otherwise known as Bohuntine hill; funky photo above courtesy of Masoud.  The attraction was that the ascent was largely sheltered from the wind; a wise choice, as only the last part was exposed to the appalling weather.

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Creag Pitridh

Others opted for different activities; going for a park run, visiting the climbing wall, and finally a trip to the swimming pool to warm up (Shona and Kirsty R); a demanding cycle ride through the Leanachan forest to the Aonach Mor coffee shop, again to warm up (Kirsty G and Michael); and a circular walk from Roybridge up to a modest 270m and back by the river (Peter, Marion and Ewen).  All adjourned to the Stronlossit hotel in Roybridge for a bar meal afterwards.

Kirsty on Creag Pitridh

We had great hopes for Sunday, when the weather was due to improve – it didn’t, but that did not deter the team of Dan, Irene, Kirsty G and Shona from the ascent of Creag Pitridh, the Munro south of Loch Laggan; they get the prize for the highest hill ascended.  After sitting in the Creag Meagaidh car park for half an hour in heavy snow, Steve decided to head south in search of better weather. He ended up ascending the mighty Marilyns of Creag na Criche at Little Glenshee, and Torlum at Crieff, on the way home.

Kirsty R attained a respectable height on Ben Tee to the north of Loch Laggan at 901m, while Peter, Marion and Robin visited the Pictish fort of Dun da Lamh west of Laggan.  Michael and Ewen contented themselves with a wander up Glen Nevis to see the Steall waterfall, and of course a visit to the café at Nevisport.

Strathconon meet, 2 February 2020

Thirteen people assembled at the walkers car park in Strathconon.  This was a bit of a relief, because at one stage over 20 people had expressed interest in coming on this meet and I had nightmare images of crocodiles in a Scottish glen.

The “A” team headed for the round of Meallan nan Uan and Sgurr a Mhuilinn – pictured above – starting at Strathanmore.  The steep climb of over 600 metres straight from the car park to Creag Ruadh is always a shock to the system, but once you are up there is a pleasant ridge walk to the summit of Meallan nan Uan.  We just made that summit as the snow came on and decided to carry on down to the bealach for lunch.  We also managed a bit of ice axe and crampon practice on patches of neve and ice at the bealach.   That was a bit of a novelty for our newcomers, and for this winter, the older hands too. 

Tea break on Creag Ruadh

 It was a straightforward pull up to the summit of Sgurr a Mhuilinn in thickening snow and poor visibility; a bit of navigation practice to the South East ridge, then we were back in the peat hags that flank the Allt an t-Srathain Mhoir on the descent to the car park.

Caroline, Cerian, Ewen, Robin, Dougie and Michael decided to head over towards Luipmaldrig bothy from Inverchoran; Cerian opted to go part way along the path and returned to the car by another route.  The path was well iced up, but all made it across the burn and over to the bothy unscathed.  The bothy is maintained by the estate rather than the MBA, and is a substantial building which is kept in very good condition; it made a comfortable lunch stop. The journey back, initially up the River Orrin, was accompanied by snow showers.

Luipmaldrig bothy

Both parties got off the hill at the same time, and rounded off the day with a visit to the welcoming Priory Hotel in Beauly.  Participants: Richard, John, Brian (and Monty the dog), Anne, Arthur, Caroline, Cerian, Ewen, Robin, Dougie, Michael, and prospective members Katie and Karen.

Burns Supper, 18 January 2020

We had a good weekend at Elphin with better weather than forecast both days, though quite wild on the tops on Saturday.  Dougie, Shona, Brian, Masoud and guest Terry get the prize for effort; they had a cracking day on Quinag – panorama above – despite Shona leaving a piping hot flask of coffee and her lunch in the hut, and Terry thinking he’d lost his van keys on the hill only to find them in the van door!

Quinag looking south to Canisp and Suilven

Marion, Peter,  Louise and Jim were one of two low-level parties starting from Lochinver who followed a WalkHighlands route up the River Inver and over the hill to Glencanisp Lodge and back by the road.  Ewen, Anne, Fay and Catherine, having decided against an original plan for a through route from Little Assynt to Lochinver via Suileag bothy because of concerns about burn crossings, did more or less the same route in the reverse direction.  Both parties arrived back at the same time, and joined forces for coffee in the Pie Shop.  

Robin addressing the haggis

In the evening an enjoyable Burns supper emerged from the apparent chaos of the preparations, with everyone contributing to the feast by making something, peeling neeps and tatties or washing up.  As much as anyone could eat and more, all for £5 a head!

 On Sunday a reduced party of mountaineers,  Brian, Dougie and Shona, had a boggy walk into Canisp, were nearly blown off their feet on several occasions but were rewarded with stunning views of Suliven and the surrounding area.  Andrew, Louise and Fay walked from Blughasary road end along the Achiltibuie postman’s path to Dun Canna, with Marion and Peter opting for the fishing track along the river and up to two hill lochans.  Cloudy at first but bright later. 

On Canisp

Ewen and Jim ascended the mighty Beinn Eilideach, a Marilyn behind Ullapool Hill, starting from the radio mast at Braes.  Superb views of An Teallach, the Beinn Dearg group and the Summer Isles; maximum result for minimum effort, as they were on the hill for under three hours.  A chat with some locals they encountered on the hill explained the well defined path up the rather obscure hill, which was made by an Ullapool resident and his dog who ran up there most days!    A visit to the Frigate on Ullapool seafront resulted in a sociable meeting with the aforementioned low level walkers.

An Teallach from Beinn Eilideach