In a hurry to catch a train I was running from one end of Leeds station to the other when I realised my Rt leg was still in no mood to go as fast as I wanted it to go. So I reckon a few more days yet before I take
off into the hills again.. In the meantime I'm in reminiscing mode, letting my mind enjoy itself roaming around some remote hills of yesteryear. And they don't come more remote than the rough bounds of Knoydart in the wild north west of Scotland where, some years ago, I spent a dry, sunny Easter bagging all the Munros with a mountaineering friend, Dr Stuart Scott, a lecturer in vulcanology and geology at the University of Plymouth. We'd parked the car at Strathan and walked up the Dearg Allt to Kinbreack bothy where we cooked a meal by the light of head torches as darkness fell.
|My mate Stuart Scott near Kinbreack (Click to enlarge)|
Next morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine, blue sky and all the mountaintops plastered with
|Making myself at home by Lochan nam Breac|
The morning had dawned grey and misty with limited visibility and there was some discussion about whether we should keep to our schedule or have a rest day. "Och, it'll clear before much longer, let's
go" I said. And we set off into the gloom on a rising path, over a rocky shoulder, and into a snow filled Coire Dhorcail for the assault on Ladhar Bheinn. I can't remember a path. All I remember is the snow getting steeper and steeper until we were kicking steps up a very steep wall. I was ahead of Stuart, breaking trail, when there was that dreaded sound, something like a train going past, quite close to our right but invisible through the thick clag. An avalanche.
|Stuart en route to Sgurr Mor from Sgurr an Fhuarain|
|Stuart leaving the summit of Ladhar Bheinn|
We made our way back to the bothy in Barrisdale, staying high to avoid avalanche threats, over
the Bealach Coire Dhorrcail, on to Aonach Sgolte then a steep drop down to Mam Barrisdale where the clag had thankfully cleared. The smelly dog had gone but left it's delightful scent on all the chairs. After refuelling I found a little loft space where I opted to sleep for the night. I'd hardly got my head down when a generator started up, just outside my window, and went on boom boom booming till one in the morning. Barrisdale bothy is not one of my favourite places to sleep, magnificent though its situation might be. Next time I'll stay outside with the horse.
|Contemplating Meall Buidhe|
|Enjoying a brew outside Sourlies bothy|
This is another beautifully situated bothy at the head of Loch Nevis. There was not a soul there
when we arrived so it wasn't long before I'd claimed a bunk, taken off my boots, made a brew and sat outside enjoying the late afternoon sun. Next day would be a hard traverse over three high Munros, and we'd be starting from nigh on sea level, so we got our heads down early anticipating an early start in the morning. Some time after midnight I became aware of voices and not long after the door burst open to admit half a dozen hungry Outward Bounders who set about cooking meals and making brews that lasted well into the wee small hours. It must have been 3 o'clock before silence descended upon the place. We got our own back in the morning, clattering our pots and pans to make darn sure they were all awake before we slammed the door and set off along the Finiskaig river to find a stalker's path into Coire na Ciche, then a tough slog onto the ridge leading to Sgurr na Ciche, the highest of the Knoydart Munros at 1040m.
|Resting on Sgurr na Ciche after the hard climb|
|Approaching Coireachan from Sgurr na Ciche (far right)|
and Garbh Chioch Mhor