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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It Doesn’t Always Snow in Knoydart

My first visit to Inverie in Knoydart had been in May 2005 and the weather was somewhat un-spring like.

7th May 2005: Meall Bhuidhe – Luinne Bheinn traverse

8th May 2005: On the Ladhar Bheinn ridge

Our re-visit to Knoydart had been booked  the previous November when the promise of spring after a never ending winter was something to look forward to. When the MWIS forecast for the weekend predicted snow showers and bitterly cold temperatures I did feel an ever increasing sense of de-ja vu.

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Turkey withdrawal on Bynack More

Bynack More – 1090m
Hill classification: Munro
27th December 2008
Distance: 12 miles
Ascent: 850m
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Weather: Cold, dry and sunny
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill and Molly

It was our first Christmas in Aviemore and we were grateful for almost two weeks of high pressure, blue skies and sunshine. We have now learnt that this was a fluke. Subsequent Christmas holidays have involved rain, wind, storms and knee deep snow. School holidays and Christmas in Aviemore = crap weather.

We needed to burn off the Christmas excesses and Bill was anxious about being too far from his supply of turkey, nuts and alcohol. So Bynack More fitted the bill perfectly. We arrived at Glenmore Lodge about 8.00 a.m and there is nothing like a temperature of -8°c to make you stop faffing and get your boots on quickly!

The walk through the Ryvoan Pass was somewhat chilly. On arrival at the Green Lochan Molly was disturbed to find it frozen solid and had a major sulk when she realised that a swim was out of the question.

We arrived at Bynack Stable just as the sun was beginning to rise above the hills, the low winter sun was blinding at times, but we mustn’t complain………….we might not see the sun again until March.

Thankfully with the ground so frozen the normally heavily eroded Lairig an Laoigh path was a joy to walk on (this was in the days before the footpath maintenance team had turned this into the stairway to heaven) and eventually Bynack More made an appearance.

Our first glimpse of a distant Bynack More

The ridge had large patches of snow across the path and these were easily avoided. I was so glad I had lugged my crampons all the way up!

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