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.

 

Ben More Coigach day meet, 24 June 2018

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!

Harris Weekend meet, 8-10 June 2018

There is always a sense of anticipation on the ferry going to the Western Isles.  Leaving Loch Broom, the swell of the sea makes itself felt and the mountains of Wester Ross and Sutherland get smaller on the horizon.  In what seems like no time at all, the hills of Harris rise up from the Long Island and the Loch Seaforth is nosing its way into Cala Steornabhaigh.  The fumes, noise and bustle of the ferry traffic in Stornoway are quickly dissipated as we drive through the lochs of Lewis into the surprisingly mountainous road through the North Harris hills.
Ten club members made it to Drinishader for a long weekend meet.  The chance to be in the Western Isles in good weather was not to be missed, so some came early and some stayed on to the following week.  One intrepid soul –  Jim – took his bike on the ferry to Tarbert and cycled through Harris before joining us for some hill walking.
And so to the hills.   An Cliseum made a nice short Friday evening walk after settling into the Cottage Hostel at Drinishader for Douglas, Michael, Nell and Arthur, leaving the round of the Mullach and the Mulla Bhos for a future trip.  Jim and Sarah took a more measured approach, leaving An Cliseum until the next day.

 

The fine weather took six of us up Tiorga Mor  with a dubious sighting of a hazy Hirta from the summit.  We wandered over Toirga Beag to gawp at the impressive crag of Sron Uladail – above.  Jim, Ewen, Nell and Michael made their various ways down to Gleann Chliostair, while Douglas and Arthur went on to summit Oireabhal.  The soft drinks and ice cream from the honesty shop next to the big house at Abhainn Suidhe were sublime.
Uisgnabhal Mor was the target for Michael, Douglas, Nell and Arthur the next day.  Jim and Ewen took the old postal path from Urgha Beag to Reinigeadal and back to the Harris Hotel, from whence they were recovered happily sipping pints of beer.  Jim and Sarah had to head back home, but still had time for a local coastal walk with Alan and Gina who were staying next door.  Alan and Gina’s beach wanderings and ascent of Ceapabhal delivered some stunning photos which Alan has posted on the IMC Facebook Group page.
Our final day saw Jim take his bike back on the Tarbert ferry via the Harris Gin Distillery.  Douglas and Michael visited Callanais standing stones (below) just early enough to miss the tourist buses.  And Ewen, Nell and Arthur visited the beautiful Eagle’s Nest bothy on the cliffs at Mangerstadh.

Do check out the IMC Facebook page and Facebook Group page for lots of pictures.

Glenfinnan Weekend Meet, 11-12 May

We had booked the sleeping car at the Glenfinnan Station Museum for our meet; a vintage railway carriage has been converted into a 10 berth bunkhouse complete with kitchen and bathroom.
Kevin, Douglas, Kirsty, Steve, Andreas and Masoud, accompanied by Skye, had a hot and thirsty but enjoyable day on the Corryhully horseshoe, below.  Arthur, Robin, Nell and newcomer Anne, went for a more modest round of the two Corbetts west of Loch Shiel, Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh (top photo) also in super conditions.  Peter and Marion joined them for Beinn Odhar Bheag and then descended by Coire Buidhe.

Sunday saw Steve and Andreas taking to the water, kayaking into the beach at Peanmeanach bothy.  Masoud hired a bike and cycled the 55km down Loch Shiel and back.  Kevin, Douglas and Nell headed for Gulvain, continuing Skye’s Munro bagging excursions.  Kirsty shot up Sgurr An Utha and then found the energy to go mountain biking. Marion and Peter also ascended Sgurr An Utha, but possibly at a more moderate pace.  Meanwhile Arthur, Robin and Anne continued their assault on the area’s Corbetts by tackling Streap, below.
Altogether it was an enjoyable, productive and varied weekend.

Strathfarrar day meet, 29 April 2018

A crowd of 16 members and guests gathered at Inchmore at the entrance to Glen Strathfarrar, awaiting the appointed time for the gate to open.  At the stroke of nine we scattered in different directions.
 
Douglas, Toni, John and Helen – who really didn’t need to go through the gate at all – headed off for a very pleasant circuit of Beinn a’ Bhathaich Ard, the Corbett which marks the easternmost reaches of the glen.
Ewen, Marion, Peter, Andreas and Robin followed a little used path – above – from the bridge across the River Farrar to the east of the Loch Beanhacharan dam, and struck uphill to the Graham, Carn Gorm.  Thence they stravaiged over Carn a Mhuilt and Carn Moraig to explore the old lead mine workings on the descent path to Struy over Blar Mor.
 
The rest of the group – Richard, Nell, Michael, Arthur, Kirsty, Miha and Masoud – drove to the power station at the end of the glen and set off for An Riabhachan, below,  encountering a surprising amount of snow on the northern slopes.  Misplaced ambitions to include Sgurr na Lapaich were quietly dropped, and a brisk drive back down the glen saw them at the gate a few minutes before the six o’clock closing time.
 
The group repaired to The Cnoc for much needed refreshments after interesting and thirsty days out.

Chris’s birthday and the Ling gas lift

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!

Strawberry Cottage meet, 13-14 April ’18

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.