Sunday, 31 May 2009

Knoydart Adventure (3 - Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn)

After yesterday's big walk on Ladhar Bheinn, a rest day might have been welcome, but another warm sunny day was forecast, so, once again we set off from the cottage at 8.10am.

Today's targets were Meall Buidhe (for all of us) and Luinne Bheinn (for me).  

Initially, we were retracing yesterday's footsteps for a mile or two, but then branched off across the Inverie River on the path up Gleann Meadail.  

We followed this path, crossed the Allt Gleann Meadail by a bridge, then gradually climbing up the north side of the glen for 4km more, to reach the bealach, Mam Meadaill, at 11.15.  We were now at 500m, and only 1km distant from the summit - a very steep ascent in prospect.  Maybe the gradual route up the long west ridge would have been better!
Sgurr na Ciche from Mam Meadaill (right)

And steep it certainly was!  We toiled up steep grass between crags to reach the foot of the SE ridge;  once on the ridge, the going became easier, and soon we were on the SE top, with a short walk along to the main summit.  12.55pm.

Once again, the views were extensive all around, although more hazy than yesterday.

Inverie Bay from Meall Buidhe (left)

Marjory and Roger's plan was to return down the long west ridge, so I took my leave, and retraced my steps to the SE top, then headed off down the east ridge towards Luinne Bheinn, 4km distant.   It doesn't sound very far, but took 2.5 hours!  

A combination of rough ground, many small ups and downs, tired legs from yesterday, and strength-sapping heat, all took their toll.  If that sounds like a complaint, it isn't.  The ridge was lovely;  with interesting rock formations,  Luinne Bheinn ahead, and Sgurr na Ciche (above right) in the distance.  

I followed the path as it contoured around the intermediate top, Druim Leac a'Shith (the ridge of the fairy stone), and into the dip beyond.  Had a rest on a rock by the path, and who should come along but Donald Walker!   Had a chat;  the Walker family had come across by boat from Arnisdale, climbed Luinne Bheinn, and Donald, Hannah and Jamie were continuing to Meall Buidhe and back.

Looking back along the ridge towards Meall Buidhe (left)

By now, I had run out of water, so at the final dip before Luinne Bheinn, I dropped down to a spring at 680m to refill my water bottles.  

Then a final 300m toil / climb up grass and rocky steps to the east summit of Luinne Bheinn.    

Looking hot and exhausted, on the east top of Luinne Bheinn (right), with the main summit behind;  Ladhar Bheinn in the distance.

One final effort - down and up again to the main summit.

Munro 225.  59 to go!

Lovely summit.  Enjoyed the fantastic view down to Barrisdale, 3000 feet below (left).

Time now getting on, so at 4.10pm it was time to set off down the hill.  Steep path down the ridge at first, then off to the west side, where a herd of deer were surveying the coire below, then  bounded off as I approached.  A boggy path lower down soon led to the Mam Barrisdale at 450m.

Switched to automatic pilot for the long 2.5 hour plod (10km) back to Inverie.

2 Munros + 2 Tops.
26km walk
1200m climb
11.5 hours (again!)

So, 2 dasy in Knoydart, and I had already achieved all 3 Munros, in sunshine, and with no midges!

(posted 14/06/10)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Knoydart Adventure (2 - Ladhar Bheinn)

An early start - left the cottage at 8.10am.  We followed a small path climbing up through the woods behind Inverie, which joined the main track through the Mam Uidhe near the top of the forest.  From there, easy walking for about 5 miles took us up and over into Gleann na Guiserein, with our first glimpse of Ladhar Bheinn (right) from the highest point on the track.  Dropping down into the glen, we passed some semi-wild ponies, and continued along the glen until the track petered out at the ruined cottage at Folach.  

Now 10am, we found ourselves at the foot of Ladhar Bheinn's west ridge.  The next hour or so was a steady trudge up steep grassy slopes on to An Diollaid, Ladhar Bheinn's west ridge.  

Suddenly, the tremendous view across to Ben Sgritheall opened up before us (left), as we sat down for first lunch!

There was still quite a climb on up to the summit, but the hardest work was now behind us.

Soon we were on the summit ridge (right), and a pleasant walk led to the summit (Munro 223) at 12.40.

I left Marjory & Roger for a 20 minute detour ut along a lovely wee scrambly ridge to the outlying top, Stob a' Choir Odhair, perched high above Barrisdale Bay.

From here, the views were stunning in all directions.

Ben Sgritheall above Arnisdale on the other side of Loch Hourn (left)

view over Barrisdale Bay towards Kinlochhourn (below)

On the summit;  61 to go! (right)

Cuillins in the distance

After an hour on the summit (including my detour), we started down the SE ridge.  This was a very enjoyable rough walk, with some scrambles, down and round the top of the impressive Coire Dhorcaill.  All the more enjoyable as we were heading downhill in the heat of the day, passing toiling groups struggling up from the Barrisdale side of the mountain!

At the Bealach Coire Dhorcaill, M and R headed off back down towards Folach, while I opted to continue on towards "point 849" and out to Stob a' Chearchaill - an ideal point for a snooze on the soft grass, and an excellent vantage point.

(left) looking back to the summit of Ladhar Bheinn and Stob a Choire Dhorcaill, across Coire Dhorcaill, from Stob a' Chearcaill 

I felt like I could stay there for ever, but after half an hour of blissful rest, I managed to tear myself away, and headed off along Aonach Sgoilte (right), an interesting ridge, with dramatic drops to the left, and steep grassy slopes on the right.

About half-way down, the ridge split for a short distance into two parallel ridges, with a V-shaped passage between them. 

To the left (south), Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe dominated the view, while ahead Eigg, Rum and Skye floated on the sea.

Gradually the ridge dropped down to Mam Suidheig, 500m asl.  Tiring legs dictated leaving the Corbett, Stob Coire Choinnichean, for another day.  A rapid drop down easy slopes to Loch an Dubh-Lochain proved to be harder going than expected, with knee deep bracken, then scratchy heather and hazel assaulting the ankles!  I was glad to reach the track at 17.45, and made a weary return to Inverie, a 4 mile walk.   Home at 7pm.

23km walk, 1500m climb, 11 hours.  Munro 23 and tops 372/373.  61 to go!

And the forecast looked good for tomorrow, so another early night!

(posted 12/06/10)

Friday, 29 May 2009

Knoydart adventure (1 - getting there)

With Anne away to Whithaugh Park with Selkirk High School, it was a perfect opportunity to accept Marjory and Roger's invitation (or maybe I invited myself!) to join them for a week in a cottage at Inverie on Knoydart.

What a wonderful journey!

Set off from Selkirk at 7am, and travelled via Peebles and Whitburn to avoid the rush hour on the Edinburgh by-pass.   Stopped at Tyndrum for coffee and scone at 10am.  Excellent views of the hills as I drove north:

Beinn Dorain and Ben Mhanach (right)

Buachaille Etive Mor (below)

Continued through Glen Coe and Fort William, then west on "the road to the isles" - newly upgraded to double track all the way to Mallaig.

Wonderful views of Skye for Morar

Reached Mallaig at 12.30, and managed to find free long stay parking round the south side of the harbour.  Had some lunch and met up with Marjory & Roger.

Mallaig was busy and hot!

We bought our boat tickets, and loaded up our gear and food on to the "Western Isles" (right) for the trip to Inverie. 

Meanwhile, we watched a seal swimming tamely in the harbour just at the end of the pier (below).  No need to spend cash on a "wildlife trip"!

At 2.15pm (approximately!), we set sail for Inverie, with the boat's rear deck stacked high with cases, rucsacs, crates and boxes! 

Perfect day for the sail - calm seas, beautiful views.  Is this really Scotland?

Approaching Inverie (below). L to R: Ladhar Bheinn, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, Luinne Bheinn, Meall Buidhe

After heaving our belongings up on to the pier, we accepted a lift along the bumpy road to our well-appointed cottage. We were glad of the shade of the tree in the garden - rare, surely in Knoydart, to seek shade!

Once the sun was a bit lower in the sky, we ventured out of the shade for a walk along to the road end, and a view of the hills.

The evening sun sparkled off the sea as we looked out to Rum on the horizon (below):

Good forecast for tomorrow, so made up sandwiches, packed our rucsacs, and headed off for an early night ...

(posted 11/06/10)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Carn Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch

We spent Easter 2009 on the Isle of Man.  No Munros, but enjoyed some good walks and cycling.  So, the 2009 Munro season didn't get underway until some sunny weather arrived in May.

13th May 2009

Once again, the Linn o' Dee car park provided a location for an overnighter in the car (after a day at meetings in Edinburgh).  Good composting toilets there, too, so no need to dive off into the woods!

Another one for the bike!  7.40am.  After brewing up some coffee, I set off (as I had done on 9th May 2008) up the good track to White Bridge, but this time continued south then west to just short of Geldie Lodge (left) - a distance of around 12 or 13km, with a climb of around 140m.  

Here, the Geldie Burn barred any further cycling.  Now, how to cross the wide burn.  No obvious stepping stones, so - boots off, and wade.   Cold, cold water!  Anyway, soon across, warm socks back on, and set off on foot up the short walk to the ruins of Geldie Lodge.  9.30am and a beautiful blue sky overhead.

Followed a good stalkers' path around the north flank of Sgarsoch Bheag, climbing gradually, then struck off south west across boggy moorland, crossed the Allt a' Chaorainn, then headed up steep grassy slopes toward Carn an Fhidhleir.  My lack of fitness made me wonder if I would ever get to the top!   However, as always, determination and dogged plodding eventually led to easier slopes and a wide plateau, topped by a cairn against which to rest!  (right)  Munro 221.

Superb views to the north, west and southwest.  A cold wind, though.  After a 20 minute rest, I felt a bit more like climbing the 2nd Munro of the year, An Sgarsoch.  

This meant following the southeast "ridge", crossing a few short snow fields, and dropping down to a boggy col at 700m, then a steep grassy / stony slope to the summit, and another (bigger) cairn!

Who is this with the wild hair?

So, Munro 222 achieved.  62 to go!

From the summit, it was an easy descent on short heathery slopes back to Geldie Lodge.  This time I found some stepping stones, so no need for cold feet.  With the wind at my back, and mostly downhill, the cycle back to Linn o' Dee took only 1 hour - an excellent way to finish the day.

25km cycle. 15km walk, 920m climb, 9 hours

(posted 10/06/10)