Sunday, 24 January 2010

Beinn Suidhe.

A quick phone call midweek and we had a booking for 4 folk at Glasgow University`s tiny hut at Clashgour near Bridge of Orchy.Bob was suffering from a ligament problem and doesn`t really fancy bigger stuff anymore sadly which left Scott,Gavin,Graham and myself to set off from Glasgow at 6.00pm.A stop for fish suppers in Balloch (interesting nightlife there Bob..! ) meant that it was nearly 9.00pm when we pulled into the car park at Forest Lodge.On with the headtorches and sacks and we sped into Clashgour.

I had never actually seen inside it before and any hopes I harboured that it would resemble the Tardis spacewise were immediately knocked on the head on opening the door :)

Nevertheless we got the fire going with the 10kg of coal we had carried in,opened the wine and settled in for the night.Went to bed at the reasonably early time for us of 1.30am mainly due to the fact that the wine supply had disappeared mysteriously.Probably Gavin`s fault...just look at the evil grin staring down from the upstairs sleeping quarters....

Alarms went off at 7am and we had a quick cup of coffee whilst watching a rather nice sunrise over Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.....

Scott and Graham headed of for Stob Ghabhar shortly after while I graciously gave Gavin an extra half hour to recover from his hangover.My plan had been to do the circuit of Beinn Suidhe,Beinn a`Chuirn,Meall Tairbh and Beinn Inverveigh but a niggling sore toe convinced me to settle for an easy day on Beinn Suidhe alone which suited Gavin`s condition also :)

The bearded one and I set off eventually at about 9ish along the banks of the Abhainn Shira where there were huge slabs of ice littering the path,a remnant of the big freeze a few weeks ago.
The bridge over the Allt Ghabhar at NN 238 420 has been removed for safety reasons by the estate but it was easy enough to get across the stepping stones today.Along the riverside to the bridge over the Abhainn Shira and across onto the track heading for Glen Kinglas.

It was pretty nippy in the shade but the sunshine,as predicted, was now on the hills above.
We carried on westwards until a gate on the left gave access to a path leading to the gap betwen Tom Liath and Beinn Suidhe itself.From there it was a steep ascent weaving through the outcrops up to Pt.636.No rush though and we stopped on numerous occasions to admire the views as they opened out.It really was a fine day.

Stob Coir an Albannaich....

The snowfields across to the summit were crisp and a pleasure to walk upon unlike Auchtertyre Hill a few weeks previously.We surprised a lovely hill fox halfway across and he trotted off down to Glen Kinglas having been denied a ptarmigan supper by our appearance.We did however leave him a compensatory corned beef sandwich in case he came back over later.

Stob Ghabhar...

What a great summit for views.! All the way round from a cloud covered Loch Awe,Cruachan,Kinglas and Etive hills,Stob Ghobhar,Rannoch Moor and the Bridge of Orchy hills..fantastic :) We dithered around for the best part of an hour before a slight wind got up and the cold chased us off.

Glas Bheinn Mhor...

The clouds had been hanging around the hills to the east of Bridge of Orchy all morning .....

The return was made down the western slopes as it looked like the frozen surface of Loch Dochard and the late afternoon light might provide some good photos.....

The sounds coming off the frozen loch were amazing.The ice was creaking,groaning and crashing....

Back along the path,just around the Allt Suil na Curra we were treated to a close up of a golden eagle being hassled by a couple of ravens.I`ve never seen one this low before.

The stepping stones over the Abhainn Shira with Beinn Suidhe behind...

A few more stops along the riverbank and we were soon back at the hut just 10 minutes after Scott and Graham.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Goldenberry Hill and The Knock.

Hey! Sit up please.Don't be like me slouching at a strange angle typing here with one finger and a deep heat treated leg wrapped up in several layers of material.A wee medicinal vodka at my bedside purely for solace you understand.
Here`s a tale of two pretty green hills done in lush conditions.In my world, as you know,that impertinent fluffy white stuff is soon banished with a slap to the frozen Arctic where it belongs.
Here's a story instead of the anticipation of spring, green shoots of snowdrops peeking shyly out of flattened grass and views from semi tropical hilltops over an emerald oasis. The golden realm makes a welcome return.Yippee!
Soon be crocus lawn,then be daffodils then be leaves on trees again.Here be a hibernating dragon hungry for the heat.Bring it on.
Yellow gorse was even in bloom all the way up the second hill but I`m ahead of myself again.Step back in time.
Alex had never been up Goldenberry hill.Despite this It took a bit of coaxing on the phone to get him out at all.We went.After a dull start it turned out a smashing day.I enjoyed it.Alex was bored.Missing the bigger hills I imagine.
We parked in Portencross ,a small but pretty hamlet with a tiny harbour and a castle getting a makeover.

At first the weather was fairly raw and unpromising (these pictures were taken on the way back) but it soon improved after a dull start.

From the car park a nice beach walk leads to the path up past Ardneil farm then up the hill.I like a beach walk me.Alex less so.Shame that.

We don't agree on lots of things. Music, films or art.Still it would be a boring world if everyone liked the same things.

There were a couple of fields full of sheep busy munching turnips on the path up.The farmers often put these out at this time to build the animals up so that healthy lambs get born in spring.
A few other walkers and one lone cyclist joined us on the path up the hill.

The view from this hilltop summit is extensive.West over the islands of Great and Little Cumbrae,Bute and Arran.North over Hunterston,Largs and the Dunoon hills.

We could look across and see Kaim Hill, one of our early postings on this blog almost a year ago now.So far in all that time we have had one semi wet day (Lammermuirs) and a dusting of snow and sleet (Kaim Hill).Not a bad effort so far.
The way down was north, following a partly forgotten path leading steeply down through the woods to little Brigurd as I thought it would be fun to walk under the Hawking Craig back to the car.
This is a fine level walk,signposted,with the Three Sisters cliffs looming impressively above.

Also got a good shot of Little Cumbrae and St Blanes hill on Bute, one of my favourite places in Scotland. Hopefully get over there this spring.

As it was still early back at the car we drove to nearby Largs and went up The Knock,a fine little hill with even better views over the Firth of Clyde.For anyone who has not driven over the minor road from Largs to Greenock,if you are in the area go on and treat yourself.Its a beauty.Great open moorland, sweeping scenery and nice empty driving.We took the other balcony trail above the Firth,parking at the L shaped wood near Knock castle.Good paths also start from Largs and Brisbane mains.

The sun was hitting parked cars when I took this.Alex enjoyed this hill more than the first.Me, I enjoyed them both.Easy walking up an emerald slope followed to the sheep dotted summit.

A smashing day out with palm trees,sandy beaches,lush green fields and porcelain blue skies.
After the past month of long lasting ice and snow its back to the tropics folks!.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sgurr Mhic Bharraich,Kintail.

This was actually Sunday 10th January but Bob has already blagged that date.

A hard days snowplodding on the Saturday in addition to two nights imbibing Oddbins Chateau Trois Pour Dix Quid Reserve had taken it`s toll on most of us.We found it hard getting out of bed on Sunday morning,in fact,some of us had found it quite difficult actually getting into bed a few hours previously :)

The previous evening Angus signified his intention to get down to some serious swally by donning his Drinking Hat...

Scott,Stuart and I managed to crawl out of bed at 6.50 am and make a start on tidying the bunkhouse and doing the dishes.Eventually we had to move round the various rooms with the hoover going full blast to rouse the other occupants.I`m sure they appreciated our efforts later that day if not at 7.20 am :)

It had been decided beforehand that there would be a mass ascent of Sgurr Mhic Barraich on the Sunday to share the trailbreaking duties.The Cornwallis entourage however were heading up Glen Shiel in pursuit of his third Munro round,Stuart headed home to Ballater,Craig and Neil went off for some ice climbing on the Steall Falls in Glen Nevis and Angus was still in bed when we left.That left eight of us.

We pulled into the snow covered car park at the shop in Glen Shiel with the daylight just breaking above the Saddle.

Fortunately the path,though icy,had been given a good trampling from folk going up the Saddle in the previous week and it proved easy enough going for us,even the ones with hangovers. We stopped for cigarettes,sweets and drouth removal juice around the 1000 ft mark just as the going got a bit tougher but Jules doesn`t like cigarette smoke so she was sent of in front to break trail for the boys :)

Fag break....

A quick flog up the slopes and out onto the level for a bit followed by a steeper snowplod up to a handy rock for lunch.

We managed to link up the windblown and rocky patches bypassing most of the drifts making it a pleasant day out in comparison to the day before.The views opened up with height...

John B. defies his age...

Iain with the Five Sisters behind....

Beinn Sgritheall made an appearance.The North East ridge looks well worth a visit from Suardalan bothy maybe...

Summit fever breaks out...

A more leisurely approach for the rest of us....

Yours truly with Skye as a backdrop....

Jules has a cup of coffee after her trailbreaking exertions....

The summit...

We must have spent the best part of an hour on top but the need to get back down and the prospect of the long drive home to Glasgow had us heading off....

A zoomed shot of Eilean Donan castle with the huge corries of Beinn Bhan looming behind...

The drive home was notable for the ice crystals on the trees at the Glen Moriston junction.Minus 12 according to one of the other guys behind.We recorded minus 20 on Rannoch Moor on the way up on Friday night.On the run down to Invergarry the weight of the snow on the branches had caused them to lean over and touch the road....

A cracking weekend on the hills to start the year :)

Thanks to Scott for a couple of pics :)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A night prowl.

As has been mentioned before Alex sometimes misses the greater ranges.Me, I do not, particularly in winter.At this time of year smaller mounds do me.They tend to be warmer and more sheltered,that way I can cling to my grand delusion of an all year round summer in Scotland.Frostbite and spindrift up my crevices tend to impact too much grim reality into this mental utopia.
Bugger that.I also have my own ideas as to what constitutes an adventurous outing these days.Wee hills mean you can bag a few then still have time for a night time prowl.
So....first stop on a lovely calm and still Sunday was Loch Ardinning for a quick stroll round the frozen landscape.

On the way back cut down the middle of the loch following animal tracks into the reeds at the narrows.It was at this point I fell in but I knew it might happen here as the ice was very thin and it was only knee deep as expected.You could see the bottom.Still cold though but I got my shot of mice chewed reeds.
Next stop Conic Hill, socks drying out at max on the windscreen heater vents, bare feet in a spare pair of trainers.I`d heard that Loch Lomond was partly iced over around some of the Islands and wanted a look.

Good view from the top.Very icy descent.Only some of the loch frozen but picturesque.

A few pics then off to the Lake of Menteith for round two.Last Sunday 20 cars approximately in the laybys this Sunday..........

........a two mile parking jam on both sides and thousands on the ice.Got a spot by arriving late and lady luck.Off to walk over the ice to the islands a very rare opportunity indeed.No sign of the ferry now.

It reminded me of a Lowry painting with all the little figures. Bagged both islands then decided with heavy heart and legs that a good viewpoint would be on top of the hill overlooking the loch.The Menteith hills seen here......

......were too high to climb before night fell but a smaller outlier would do for a good outlook.
And so it proved.

A great day and it wasn't over yet.Motored back listening to" Soulsavers- Broken", socks and sounds back on.Happy!
Took the back roads through Kippen and got a good evening shot of village lights.

Next came Fintry and then Drumchapel where I left the car for a walk through this pretty village on the northern edge of Glasgow.

Its a great scheme for night time views as its built on several small hills.Castlemilk is the same, always good for a wee stroll at night meeting interesting local wildlife.

Didn't put the flash on as it would have chased it away.
I`ll finish with this one of a river of ice in a car park near Bearsden.

See, you don't have to go up mountains to find adventure I found plenty in Drumchapel and surroundings.I like the odd prowl of an evening sometimes.You never know what you might stumble across out in the darkness.

A good little day and night out and still back in time to watch a film.Keep yer big uns I`m a small mound boy when the snow is around.