Hot dogs in Glen Dessary

Sgurr nan Coireachan – 953m
Garbh Choich Mhor – 1013m
Sgurr na Ciche – 1040m
Date: 22nd May 2012
Distance: 16 miles
Ascent: 1,850m
Weather: Warm, overcast and heating up
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Molly and Milly

Our first two visits to these hills had been in disappointing weather on days when the forecast failed to live up to expectations. The third visit had been during the stunning spring of 2011 where views were limitless and the only difficulty faced on the route was whether we would make it back to the car before we were overcome by heat exhaustion. As a result, I had vowed never to visit the area again unless we were guaranteed the same perfect climactic conditions.

Summer had arrived early in the north west highlands and unlike the rest of the country it seemed keen to stay. I arrived at the end of the road after the nausea inducing drive along Loch Arkaig with the car thermometer already reading 18oc and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself the only car at the start; one of the joys of midweek hill walking.

Glen Dessary……………it’s a long way from everywhere.

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Five go to Skye

Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh – 918m
Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh – 973m
Sgurr na Banachdich – 965m
Date: 7th May 2012
Distance: 6 miles
Ascent: 1,150m
Weather: Overcast, cool, dry
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Andy, Robin, John Norton, Steve Forsthye, Edward Rush

Following on from a few days in Kintail we travelled across to Skye for a week of unashamed Munro bagging. Andy is an MIC guide who knows the Cuillin inside out, having climbed over every inch of it for over 30 years and in a moment of weakness, he had agreed to lead a group of us over the Cuillin Munros. It was Steve, Robin and John’s first visit to the Cuillin and on our first day we were joined by Edward who was keen to complete his last three Skye Munros.

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Knoydart: A Virgin’s Tale

Ladhar Bheinn – 1020m
Meall Buidhe – 946m
Luinne Bheinn – 939m
Date: 21st & 22nd April 2012
Distance: 14 miles & 17 ½ miles
Ascent: 1800m & 1780m
Time taken: 10 hours (both days)
Weather: Glorious
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill and Molly

Despite Molly and I visiting Knoydart several times on our Munro and Corbett rounds, Bill had never visited before so was keen to see what he had been missing. We were staying at the dog friendly B&B at Knoydart Lodge and unusually our trip coincided with some fantastic dry weather.

Mallaig was teeming with tourists, the pile of luggage on the quay next to MV Western Isles looked like it was about to gain Munro status before it was all loaded onto the boat and the voyage to Inverie begun. After a few minutes we rounded the headland and Inverie came into view nestling below Sgurr Coire Choinnichean. On arrival at Inverie we were greeted by our host Morag and driven to Knoydart Lodge where we strolled down to the beach, luxuriated in our comfy room and enjoyed the sunset over Inverie Bay from the conservatory.

Molly enjoyed the beach,

Ahead of us lay a whole weekend to indulge in our favourite activities…………..hill walking, eating and drinking. No internet, no mobile phone reception and a real sense of getting away from it all.

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Eastern Cairngorms: Winter fights back

Beinn Bhreac – 931m
Beinn a’ Chaorainn – 1083m
31st March 2012
Distance: 17 ¾ miles
Ascent: 970m
Time taken: 9 hours
Weather: Warm in the glens, bitter winds on the hill
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill, Molly and Meggie

Winter had ended rather abruptly in the Cairngorms with the snow cover disappearing before our eyes, the days were lengthening rapidly and spring was in the air. The carpark at Linn of Dee was bursting with walkers eager to shake off the cobwebs of winter and it was pleasantly warm on the cycle in to Derry Lodge which resembled a bike shop by the time we arrived. We set of up the track into Glen Derry to be greeted by an icy blast of cold air and it was apparent that we had been lulled into a false sense of security. Winter clearly hadn’t finished with us yet.

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Am Faochagach: Wet feet again!

Am Faochagach – 953m
31st January 2012
Distance: 8 miles
Ascent: 790m
Weather: Cold, overcast and snow
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Stewart and Molly

For many Munroists the mere mention of the words Am Faochagach brings them out in a cold sweat, its swamp like lower slopes, challenging river crossing and featureless plateau often relegate it to the bottom of their ‘to do’ list. Many an aspirant Munroist saves it for a poor weather day or a quick nip up and down on the way to or from the more exciting peaks of the north west.

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Slioch: Third time lucky

Slioch  – 981m
2nd July 2011
Distance: 13 miles
Ascent: 980m
Time taken: 8 ½ hours          
Weather: Hot, dry, bright sunshine
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill, Andy, Stewart, Robin, Hendo, Doogz, Dave, Sheila, Anne, Phil, Nelson, Will, Simon, Molly, Ali and Fara

On 3rd July 2010 I climbed my final Corbett on Am Bathach in a joint completion with Dave McRonald. After the Corbett completion we continued on to Ciste Dhubh where I completed my 2nd round of Munros.

As we were making our way off the hill Simon innocently suggested ‘same time next year then Anne?’ This innocent comment planted an idea in my mind and I thought………………a Munro round in 364 days, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, ‘how hard can it be’?

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Liathach – Calling International Rescue!

Spidean a’ Choire Leith – 1055m
Mullach an Rathain – 1023m
Date: 2nd May 2011
Distance:  4 miles on foot & 1 ½ miles in helicopter
Ascent: 1,270m on foot & 600m descent in helicopter
Weather: Sunny, dry and warm
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Stewart and Molly

An area of high pressure was fixed over the west of Scotland so we decided to go to Torridon. When we arrived in the lay-by at the foot of Liathach we noticed a small patch of smoke further down the glen which we assumed was some late muirburning. It was a stunning morning, very warm and it was a steep slog up the ‘path’ in Coire Liath Mhor, eventually reaching the ridge after 2 hours.

Early morning mist in Strathcarron.
Across Coire Liath Mhor.

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If Carlsberg did hillwalking: The Monadhliath

A’ Chailleach – 930m
Carn Sgulain – 920m
Carn Dearg – 945m
28th February 2011
Distance: 15 ½ miles
Ascent: 1,150m
Weather: Cold wind, dry, bright sunshine
Two Feet Four Paws:  Anne, Bill, Molly and Milly

With high pressure firmly in control we decided on a local route to minimise driving and maximise time on the hill. We had been out on the Glen Feshie and Drumochter hills on the previous days so we knew that the snow was perfect for walking on with none of that tedious post holing or breakable crust nonsense.

It was -5oC when we left the car but despite the chill Molly and Milly were impatient to be off.

As we walked along the track beside the Allt a’ Chaorainn the warmth in the sun was apparent and by the time we had reached the old bothy at 550m we were down to t-shirts and the dogs were falling over their tongues in the unexpected heat wave.

There was relief all round when we reached the snowline and things started to cool down.

Molly takes a cooling snow bath.

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Even the dull ones are good

Fionn Bheinn – 933m
27th January 2011
Distance: 6 ½ miles
Ascent: 790m
Weather: Cold, sunny and snowy
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Stewart and Molly

With high pressure reputedly about to land on western Scotland we fancied a day out that was easy on effort but good on views, so it was off to Achnasheen to climb the mighty Fionn Bheinn.

The freezing fog up the A9 to Inverness and then a thick mist along Strath Bran did not bode well for the day ahead but we were rewarded as we approached Achnasheen with the sun shining on a cloudless Beinn Eighe and the clouds beginning to rapidly disperse.

We climbed the hill by the normal route up alongside the gorge, across the peat hags and thankfully frozen bogs to Creagan nan Laogh and then around the rim of the corrie of Toll Mor.

On a day like this even the dullest of grassy mounds can provide stunning views……………….I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Beinn Eighe and Liathach appear over Meall a’ Chaorainn.


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Escape to Mull

Winter had arrived early in Aviemore, tons of deep powder snow had made hill walking an energy sapping slog, post holing or wading through knee to thigh deep snow. Exercise was restricted to ploughing through the snow on along the Speyside Way and endless cross-country skiing in the woods around Loch Morlich. The highest thing I had climbed for two weeks was a ladder to remove frozen snow from our gutters.

It was time to escape and I needed to go west as there was significantly less snow there. I decided to combine a visit to Oban to see Andy with a jaunt across to Mull. Andy had recently acquired a new Bearded Collie puppy so this gave me the perfect excuse for a visit.

Ali at 16 weeks

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