The long drive to the Lake District was amply rewarded by some excellent hill walking in cold, sunny weather, albeit with some strong biting winds. The picture above is of Fairfield and Grisedale Tarn.
Lest you think that serious bagging was neglected in favour of enjoyable walking, it can be reported that your esteemed President completed his last UK Furth with the ascent of Scafell from Eskdale; the photo below is Goat Crag from Eskdale. Your reporter and driver that day thought that the road trip over Hardknott Pass – occasioned by road closures – was a much more significant challenge. Other Furths – Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Helvellyn were also ascended. The summit of the last presented a bizarre spectacle of mountain bikers doing wheelies on the summit, whilst our party found it difficult to stand up because of the wind.
We decided to take a less trodden approach to Sgor Gaoith, via Creag Follais, Clach Choutsaich
and Sgoran Dubh Beag and Mor. Easy walking, with forest tracks and paths lower down and
surprisingly dry ground on the hill after the amount of rain over the previous few days, made for a
very sociable and chatty outing.
We numbered 10 people and 3 dogs, with “weel kent” faces and a couple of newer ones: Anne,
for whom this was her second outing with us and Laura, for whom this was her first. Richard and
dog confined themselves to forest tracks, the former still nursing a knee injury after falling into a
badger sett whilst walking and reading a book at the same time. There is a lesson there.
There was a fair bit of travel talk. Anne was heading off to Nepal for the first time and Rob had
been there earlier this year, so there was a good exchange of helpful information. Wendell had
been in the Canadian Rockies in the summer, so it was good to hear about his adventures there.
Sollifluction, Saharan solar power as a source of global energy and the ethics of vegans eating
mushrooms were other overheard conversations.
Sgor Gaoith finds itself in much reduced circumstances. Prior to the 1981 revision of Munros
Tables, four of its six summits were Munros. Now only Sgor Gaoith itself has Munro status. We
descended over Geal Charn, one of the demoted Munros, and picked up a rough stalkers path
which neatly channelled us between the converging burns of Allt nan Cuileach and Allt a
Mharcaidh. That is when we discovered where all the water of the previous few days rainfall had
gone – into the burns. After casting about for a while we found an easy crossing point and
finished off with a bit of a route march back to the cars so Laura could get back to start work in
The day was rounded off by relaxing at the Loch Insh Watersports centre watching the sunset
over the loch. We covered 21km in distance and 1050m of ascent. Photos by Michael Garrett.
Participants: Michael, Nell, Arthur, Laura, Ann, Miha, Richard, Robin, Rob and Wendell.
A wet forecast for the west and 40mph+ winds expected on the east coast mountains led us to the Cromdale hills, just east of Grantown on Spey. A team of 10 folk, including one prospective new member and her friendly collies, turned up hoping at least to stay fairly dry.
A short walk along the road from the parking in Cromdale village took us over the Haughs of Cromdale, site of the battle in 1690, onto the track leading up the hill. An easy ascent led to the first cairn and thence to Creagan a’Chaise (722m, above) which has an even more impressive cairn, built for Queen Victoria’s silver jubilee in 1887.
The weather was mainly fair but very windy and no-one felt like continuing the traverse to the north-east end of the ridge, which is well worth while in good weather with extensive views over the Moray Firth and the Cairngorms. Instead we finished up with a visit to a coffee shop in Grantown, feeling that we’d made the most of the weather conditions on the day.
Despite an overcast day and only a 30% chance of clear views from Munro summits, eight members (Kevin, Nell, Dougie, Richard, Rob, Robin, Helen and Juliet) of the IMC set off along the Great Glen and up into Glen Garry, heading towards Loch Quoich. Of the four Munros around this loch, Sgurr a Mhaoraich was chosen as probably offering the easiest summit of the day.
As forecast, the tops were all in cloud when we arrived and the prospects for views looked slim. However, a good stalkers path would at least give us an easy route to the summit. As we climbed, so the cloud began to lift and at the summit it had cleared sufficiently to give us good views to the East and South, including a clear view of The Ben – top photo – which was sitting above the cloud.
There was some consideration given to a descent via the Am Bathaich ridge, but in the end it was decided to return by the same route (below), which was just as well as the cloud descended and it began to rain shortly after leaving the summit.
As well as the eight club members, four dogs were also out for the day and with two of them being called Skye this caused some confusion for both the owners and their dogs.
No less than eleven club members braved the North Coast 500 roads to get to the aptly named (on this occasion) Sango Sands Oasis campsite in Durness. And it was indeed very dry; excellent weather on Friday evening, and a good meal in the restaurant attached to the campsite.
Most folk opted to ascend Foinaven on Saturday. A car was left near Achfary, at the south end of the massif (below) and the whole team walked down Strath Dionard – accompanied by a swarm of clegs – and up Coire Duail on the north-east side of the hill. A steep ascent onto Ceann Garbh, the northernmost top, gave stunning views over the sea to Orkney and most of Sutherland.
Here the party split, with Arthur, Kirsty R and Kevin opting to do the full traverse – a mammoth 28km, one of the classic Scottish mountain days. Helen, Michael and Ewen called it a day at that, heading back to Gualin House over a very dry moor; lucky for Ewen, as he had forgotten his boots and did the walk in trekking shoes.
Alan and Gina conquered Ben Hope on Saturday and swam in a loch on the way back down. Catherine and Rob joined us after a night in Kearvaig bothy near Cape Wrath, and Robin managed a quick trip up Quinag in the afternoon on his way north.
The weather broke on Sunday, with mist and drizzle deterring most from anything more adventurous than a trip to the new improved coffee shop at Balnakeil. But some helped Catherine and Rob to take the dogs for a walk at Balnakeil Bay, and all agreed that it had been a good sociable meet.