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.
A strong team of nine plus a dog set off from Blughasary, south east of the mountain, on a beautiful if windy day. We headed for the east ridge of Speicein Coinnich, a rocky wee ridge (below) which added some interest to a very pleasant ascent and gave some great views over Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh, Suilven…..
Our hopes of good views to the west were not disappointed, especially when we reached the main top of Ben More Coigach and the outlier Garbh Choireachan, as rough as its name suggests. The Summer Isles looked at their best, and the rocky Sutherland hills rose up impressively out of a landscape of moor and loch.
Despite the good conditions, we didn’t see another soul on the hill all day. The roads on the way back were a different story. There had been an accident near Garve which blocked the road, making the journey back home more exciting than expected. But nothing stops the IMC!
Do check out the IMC Facebook page and Facebook Group page for lots of pictures.
Not an offical IMC meet, but a good story just the same. Saturday 21st April saw IMC members Ian Douglas, Chris Monckton, Andrew James and Robin Forrest (along with Robin Chalmers of the SMC) head west to Torridon having been press-ganged by Andrew, in his capacity as SMC Huts Supremo, to lend assistance with the bi-annual helicopter gas lift to the Ling Hut, a favourite IMC weekend venue for many years.
It would have been a good day for the hill, but there was work to be done, so the quintet of fine (young?) mountaineers quickly got down to the business of attaching an entire lorry load of unwieldy propane cylinders to lifting strops, so that the Eurocopter AS350 – for the aircraft anoraks – whirlybird could hoist them the half-kilometre across the lochan to the hut.
The hard work was over quicker than expected, but there was a wee surprise in store for Chris. Having been tipped off by a little bird (an Erithacus Rubecula for the ornithologists) that it happened to be Chris’s birthday that day, the pilot invited the Birthday Boy into the passenger seat, and flew him off for a short but stunning eagle’s-eye-view trip along the length of Liathach’s spectacularly serrated summit ridge. Having served, in his (even) younger days, as a naval officer aboard an aircraft carrier – HMS Eagle appropriately enough – it wasn’t Chris’s first experience of travel by helicopter, but he did confess never to have flown in one quite so small, and certainly not over Liathach. Happy Birthday!
The omens for the Strawberry Cottage meet in Glen Affric were propitious; a good weather forecast, plenty of snow on the hill, and a lift up the track for all ten of us plus gear to a hundred metres from the hut. The Slaters Arms in Cannich, our meeting point, provided an excellent bar meal too.
The reality did not disappoint; the weather was even better than expected, and everyone had a big day out on the Saturday. Several groups went up Mam Sodhail (1181m), with Kirsty and Cerian heading out separately to Beinn Fhionnlaidh, but returning together. Top-baggers Arthur, Steve and Nell visited An Tudair and Creag Coire nan Each on the way back to the hut, while Michael and Ewen made do with the latter.
Kevin and Dougie went for a long walk to Mullach na Dheiragain, returning via An Socach, with Dougie adding in Sgurr nan Ceathramhnain – just to stretch his legs a bit.
The weather on Sunday was good too, but no-one felt like another big day. Arthur, Kirsty, Kevin, Cerian and Dougie walked out via the Corbetts to the south of Loch Affric, which turned out to be harder going than expected. The rest of the team made their way out to the public car park at the east end of the loch; Steve and Ewen also visited Beinn a’ Mheadhoin – above the loch of the same name – which gave superb views back up Glen Affric.
The weekend was rounded off for most by a return visit to the Slaters Arms to agree what a good weekend it had been.