Cairngorms day meet, 11 November 2018

Am Fear Liath Mòr made an appearance on Sunday.  More precisely, there were several  grey forms of both genders, appearing wraith like in the mist on Ben Macdhui on the club meet to the Cairngorms.  
The group set off with four destinations in mind: Michael to walk round the rims of the Northern Corries; Dougie to bag Creag Mhor via Fords of Avon; Rob and Ewen to visit Carn Etchachan and the largest party to set out for Ben Macdhui and return via Loch Etchachan and the Shelter Stone.  Each party set off for their destinations from a largely deserted ski centre car park and ascended into the cloud. Only Michael, on Cairngorm, saw the sun thereafter.
The first signs of winter were apparent; remnants from earlier snow falls in the gullies, verglas on rocks and fresh snow falling above 1000m.  From Macdhui a little bit of navigation practice took us past the Sapper’s Bothy, down to Loch Etchachan and thence to the Clach Dhion (or more prosaically, the Shelter Stone).  In  The Statistical Account of 1794 it was reputed to hold ‘eighteen armed men”.  We thought our party of six was about right.  One entry in the log book is reputed to read “it moved”. With a  weight of around 1300 tons, that does gives pause for thought. But it was a welcome shelter from the rain and wind for our party to do some route finding, top photo.
 
After a fairly interesting river crossing in increasingly heavy rain, we headed up the much improved path by the Allt Coire Domhain beside Hell’s Lum Crag, heading for Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais.  The rain turned to snow as we ascended and as the light faded we reached point 1141.
 
Point 1141  was also Dougie’s objective on the long trek back from Creag Mhor via the Fords of Avon refuge, pictured above, and the Saddle. He was a bit earlier than us and was sitting snugly in the Old Bridge Inn with the rest of the party as we soggily made our entrance.
Participants: Dougie, Michael, Rob, Ewen, Toni, Kirsty R, Shona, Ian, Fiona, Robin, Daniel, Masoud, Anne and Arthur.

Lake District Meet, Patterdale 26-28 October 2018

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.

Seven members and Steve’s guest Terence, ensconced themselves in the smaller room at the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale. The hut is manged jointly by the Alpine club and the ABMSAC (for the curious, that is the acronym for the Association of British Members of the Swiss Alpine Club). A few Alpine Club members occupied the members room and there was also a gang from the Derwent Climbing Club; so, it was a busy hut. 
 
One of the delights of the hut’s location is being able to walk out of the door onto the hills.  Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes, St Sunday Crag, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Helvellyn, Dollywaggon Pike and Hartsop above How were all climbed directly from the hut. The photo above is Striding Edge from Helvellyn. Marion and Peter made a determined attack on the Dodds round; successfully so at the second attempt after being thwarted by lingering low cloud.

 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.

 

On the Sunday Ewen and his visitor, Ian walked along High Street from Hartsop; while on Monday Masoud, Robin and Arthur walked along the High Street in Keswick.
 
Participants: Steve, Ewen, Peter, Marion, Robin, Masoud, Arthur (members); Terence, Ian and Nigel (guests)

Glen Feshie, 14 October 2018

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
Inverness.

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.

Kinloch Rannoch meet, 28 September 2018

The squally autumnal weather did not deter the thirteen club members on the Kinloch Rannoch meet. A healthy number of Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and a Marilyn or two were climbed over the weekend. A fairly determined fight against the elements saw Masoud’s barbeque deliver delicious Iranian spiced chicken for dinner. Evidence of Maskelyne’s 18th Century pendulum deflection experiment on Schiehallion was sought and a rather fine example of a cup marked slab from an earlier period visited. The cyclists amongst us avoided the long walks in to remote Corbetts; one less scrupulous member being aided by Hosea Libby’s inventiveness.  Tea and cakes were taken.
Friday afternoon saw the most of party arrive at Kinloch Rannoch Outdoor Centre at the same time from different directions, taking advantage of decent weather to take in a hill or two en route to the meet. Dougie, it has to be said, had an extended journey having started at the head of Glen Lyon and worked his way through the hills between there and Kinloch Rannoch over the preceding week.
Because stalking was in full swing, the Lawers munros and Tarmachan saw several parties on Friday and Saturday, leaving the Glen Lyon munros until Sunday, when no stalking was planned. The three Corbetts to the North of Loch Rannoch saw visits from several parties over the weekend and though stalking was taking place no problems were encountered (although Dougie had a longer walk than expected to Beinn Mholach following the advice of friendly stalkers).
Ewen, Masoud, Marion and Peter sought out the sites of Maskelyne’s Pendulum Deflection experiment to calculate the mass of the earth by measuring the gravitational pull  of a mountain on a pendulum. Schiehallion was chosen because of its isolation from other mountains and symmetrical shape. Two observatories and a bothy were built to conduct the experiment which calculated the mass of the earth to within 20% of what it is believed to be today.  
More significantly for hillwalkers and mountaineers, it was during this experiment that the idea of contour lines to link up points of the same height was hit upon. Where would we be without that idea?
Meet participants: Michael, Kevin, Nell, Steve, Peter, Marion, Dougie, Cerian, Masoud, Ewen, Albert, Lizzie and Arthur.

Cromdale hills, 16 Sept 2018

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.

Galloway meet, August 2018

The Galloway Hills were damp and misty for the IMC Loch Ken camping meet.  Nevertheless, the summits of a variety of Grahams, Corbetts and Donalds were trodden by various individuals and parties of the nine people on the meet.  Amongst the delightfully named summits were Cairnsmore of Fleet, the Merrick, Shalloch on Minnoch, Meikle Millyea, Corserine, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and more prosaically, the easterly hills of Tinto, Hart Fell, White Coomb and Broad Law. 
Dougie and guest Caroline had the best of the weather on these easterly hills – above – earlier in the week.  The weekend itself was fairly wet with low cloud, and it is a moot point whether Saturday or Sunday was the wetter day.  On Saturday  two parties summited Corserine by different routes, with some detailed navigation on unfamiliar ground.  Sunday saw people on The Merrick, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and Broad Law.  
Fortunately, we had the luxury of a dry, warm and sociable yurt – top photo – as our base camp for the meet.  My exhortations to bring some camel dung for the stove to provide some Mongolian authenticity went unheeded, but the firewood was a good substitute once we got it going.
Peter, Marion, Robin and Ewen wisely forsook the hills on Sunday and had an interesting day exploring the cliffs and stacks along the Galloway coast, south of Castle Douglas.  At times, the sea could only just be glimpsed from the top of the very impressive seacliffs at Airds Point!
The rain stopped north of Stirling on our journeys back home.

Blair Atholl Hills, Sunday 19th August

Having climbed the height of Everest, the team then went on to add the height of Ben Nevis and then Snowdon, and at the same time walked the equivalent of the distance from Inverness to Dundee (11,250m and 220 km, cumulative height and distance for 9 people).  You have possibly guessed  from that introduction that the cloud was down for much of the day for our foray into the Blair Atholl Hills and that this report will not wax lyrically about fine vistas and views of distant mountains. 
“4 auld geezers” (a self description from Dougie, of himself, Steve, John and Ewen) were keen on traversing the Beinn a Ghlo massif – below – summitting the three Munros. Mid-morning saw heavy low clag and associated drizzles and some well sodden ground, but a nice surprise was Beinn a’Ghlo transformed courtesy of some excellent paths now put in place. It was dark and overcast all day yet fairly warm, and made for a nice entertaining day out. 
Michael headed off into the cloud for the long trek into Beinn Dearg and returned muttering about never doing this hill again without a bike. Meanwhile the Librarians and Planners quartet (Nell, Robin, Richard and Arthur) strolled up Glen Tilt to the rather fine old stone bridges over the Allt Diridh and Allt Mhairc.  They ascended into the cloud and rain to arrive at the most indistinct summit and most undistinguished summit cairn of Beinn Mheadhonach and then retraced their steps.
Then we all went home. In person/miles, the day’s travel was the equivalent of a round trip from Inverness to Brussels. 

Mull camping meet, 3-4 August 2018

Five hardy souls braved the inclement weather forecast and the long journey to travel to Fidden Farm camp site on the Isle of Mull. Perched on the beach and overlooking Iona, this must rank as one of the best camping spots in the Highlands.
 
All five IMC members – Dougie, Michael, Nell, Miha and Kevin – summited Ben More over the weekend on two separate days but all failed to get any views, as the low cloud, rain and wind produced typical Scottish summer weather.
 
An attempt was made on the Corbett Dun da Ghaoithe by one member of the party, but they missed the summit by 1 km in the bad weather only finding out on their return when they downloaded their GPS data. They shall remain nameless to hide their blushes!
 
The only decent weather of the weekend was on the Sunday afternoon, when an enjoyable trip to Iona was made to see the abbey and the burial place of the Scottish kings. Kevin also managed to fire up his barbie on Saturday evening, so the weather wasn’t a complete disaster. We’ll be back to Mull and Fidden Farm another year … fingers crossed for better weather.

Sgurr a Mhaoraich, 21 July 2018

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.

Durness camping meet, 6-7 July

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.