Sunday, 15 May 2011

Carn Dearg walk

Scott fancied doing a Munro run from Dalwhinnie to Rannock station and I was going to take the opportunity of doing "another" Munro for myself. The plan was for me to drop him off at Pitlochry for him to get the train up to Dalwhinnie while I drove the car round to Rannoch station way park up and do a walk myself.
The weather forecast was not to great but we agreed to give it a go.After dropping Scott off I drove out to Rannoch moor way to park the car at Loch Eigheach and the start of the "road to the Isles " path. I was going to follow this path for about three miles before striking out for the ridge I planned to walk up to Carn Dearg
road to the isles track
The path was a good one and climbed its way slowly making it a nice easy start to the walk for the next two miles. I did not like the look of the clouds sweeping in on a very strong wind so I put my over trousers on just to be on the safe side as the last thing I wanted was to get soaked in the first hour.I made may  to the only foot bridge after hopping over a few smaller burns on the way with all the rain we'd had even the small burns were full.
good foot bridge
From the bridge you could see the start of the ridge I was heading for but once again noted the low cloud and short showers I had walked through.After another mile walking the path was starting to break up but still easy walking.I was looking for the junction of another path shown on the OS map to choose my route up to the ridge. Much to my disappointment the path shown on the map did not exist  OS had it wrong so I made the call to carry walking on the track as it was still gaining height and would make my own way up the ridge.
bog / heather and rocks
I spent some time looking for a way to get to the ridge as the terrain was going to be tough walking country plus I would be climbing a few hundred feet over this type of ground .
climbing up to the ridge
After taking quite a while for me to pick my way up the hill I did come a faint track which other walkers have used so I gratefully headed up on that one.The wind was picking up and the temperature falling the higher I got until at last the start of the ridge was reached . I knew I had at least 3k to make my way over the ridge to the summit cairn of Carn Dearg and the wind was now head on the only good thing about it was it did blow some of the cloud away and I had glimpses of the fantastic views.
walking on  the ridge
After climbing over three  of tops at 700mtr/820mtr and 860 mtr I was getting the rubber legs feeling and my friend the weather was throwing all it could at me. The rain had turned into little balls of ice and at one point I had to turn my back and shelter as it peppering my face and it Hurt !After climbing over the last top I could just make out the summit cairn in the distance for one final pull. It was about this time that my hip started to play up but there was no way I was not going to get to the top now.I could just make out two other walkers at the cairn at this time so I included them in the next photograph and as you see the weather could have been kinder

summit cairn

In fact the weather god thought he may as well give us the works so we went from freezing rain to sleet the just for fun some snow.It was very exposed on that part of the ridge but I found a rough windbreak and managed to sit out of the main force of the wind.

It was at this time I heard from Scott who was heading over my direction , we had walkytalkies that we have used on other occasions so we were able to let each other know how we are getting on and where we could meet up.I explained that I was just going to head off back down the ridge as I could feel myself starting to chill down and my hands (with wet gloves ) were going numb.He was going to be about one hour behind me so I knew he would catch me up while I was still on the ridge. It was about this time I realised I had a tough walk ahead of me as my hip was giving me problems and I could not bend my leg up very far without yelping (what a wimp ) and had about 5 to 6 miles back to the car.
overlooking Rannoch moor
back along the ridge
True to form Scott caught me up just before we had to head down off the ridge and I was not looking forward to stumbling down the boggy heather etc.We slowly made our way down and eventually picked up another track (not shown on the OS map). I was quite certain that this boggy track would meet up with original track I had walked up and having no obstacles on it I was managing to walk keeping my leg straight .
Scott was chilling down (he was in running gear ) and I was pleased when he saw I was on the track ok he could head off to the car to get a change of clothes.At this point I still had about 2 miles to go which took me ages and I was relieved when Scott came round the corner to meet me and we headed back to the car. I had fun trying to get my left boot off as I could not bend my leg and it was a struggle to get the over trousers off. Scott did the driving as we headed back over to the caravan and the main target was the real ale pub which we both liked.
On reflection I did enjoy the challenge of the walk yes the weather could have been better and I could have done without injuring myself but it's still good to know I can still manage being out of my comfort zone and get out there to do things.

Monday, 2 May 2011

West coast wanderings with Scott

With the extra Friday off for the "wedding" which to be honest I was not interested in, Scott and I thought we would throw the tents in the car and head up north and over the west coast of Scotland. We met up after Scott had finished work he drove over to Leslie to pick me up before heading north to Inverness.We knew it would be late in the evening getting up there so had booked a room for the first night which also so happened to be a pub which we took full advantage of that night.
After breakfast we set for Gairloch which we had agreed on as the camp site looked ok and had a pub close to it.We were in no rush and took a steady drive over to the west coast enjoying the views and the fine weather.

Silioch and Loch Maree
Loch Bad an Sgalaig

Over the sea to Skye

We lost no time in pitching the tents and planning the next part of the day a walk was picked out starting from the loch we had stopped at not far from where we were camping ( Picture above )

Grabbing some rolls crisps and snacks we headed off in the car to the start of the planned walk. A few cars were parked up and we just managed to squeeze into a space , it looked like a few people were taking advantage of the weather to some walking of their own.
Heading off up a very good estate track we did a nice steady walk out towards the hills ahead enjoying the sun and the views which changed at every turn on the path.

path to the wilds
After a few a couple of miles of steady walking on the good track we gained some height and even more views. It was a strangle landscape and very brown and dry and lots of evidence of the last ice age with odd rocks perched all over the place.
Large boulders left by the ice

Scott and I split up at this point he was going to try his "injury" out and have a run up the Corbet " Bienn an eoin" at one side of the glen while I walked along to the Loch that ran along the glen floor.

Scott photo from ridge

Wild walking country
Eventually Scott made his way off the hill with a smile on his face as he could still manage to run up hills.Meeting  up at the boulder field we turned to head the few miles back down to the car after a very pleasant walk in the hills still commenting on how brown it all looked in fact Lanzarote was mentioned it was that type of landscape. Making our way back to the camp site and dropping our bags off we were into the pub for the evening for beer and food to round off a very good first day.

View from the camp site

Saturday our plan was to have a slow drive down the west coast and do lots of stops and snacks driving relays of 15 miles each. After some oats and coffee packed up the tents and we left the camp site and headed off down the coast.
We headed back down Loch maree and turned off on the Torridon road driving past Liathach which looked majestic with the sun lighting up it's slopes.
Loch carron was our next stopping off place but we could not resist the views to be had over looking Upper Loch torridon so we had a couple of stops and took the chance of some more photo's.
Over looking upper loch Torridon

A chilled out Scott

This was turning out to be a fantastic day, the weather fine , the roads quiet, relay driving so we took turns rubber necking at the great views. Loch carron Spar shop was our next call in point and we drove over to fill up with more snack foods for a picnic by the loch. The family had stayed there last year in a holiday cottage and it was nice to be back in the area again remembering the times we'd had.After a coffee break near Attadale Scott wanted to visit Plockton as he had heard how much we had liked our stay there a few years ago.Arriving in Plockton as expected on such a nice day tourists were out in force but then again I suppose that's what we were anyway.

Plockton sea front

Views down to the Loch

view over Plockton

After a nice break and walk round we continued our travels heading over to Shiel Bridge and took the opportunity to check out the campsite there for future use. Sun still nice and warm so we were both tempted to have ice creams at the shop which went down very well. Traffic had built up more now but our relay policy was working well all the way to Fort William which as usual was very busy and took a while to get through. Food was on the mind so we were looking for a spot to get the stove on heat up some soup and tuck in with loads of bread. We chose to stop at the picnic area on the banks of Loch Linnhe another one of those spots we had used before the views were  great but the traffic noise would take some getting use to. Leaving our rest stop we then bit the bullet and drove through Glen Coe among the caravans and biker groups to arrive at the Ben more lodge where we had a room booked. Another night of cold beer and food talking about next days activity.
Sunday was going to be a run / walk day for Scott and myself but no running for me.Scott fancied going up Beinn Challum as it was a Munro he had not got round to doing yet and as for me I did not know how I would get on as the last Munro I did was a good few years ago. The plan was to walk together for the first bit before Scott would set of running and I would plod on behind. He would be running back to meet up with me and I would make the call to carry on up or just head back to the car. It was another glorious day though a bit on the windy side which did feel a bit chilly on the exposed hills.

who's this poser ????

Beinn Challum in the distance

After walking for just short of a mile Scott and I parted company as he set of on his run and I walked on behind. I still did not know what I was going to do but managed to maintain a slow progress up the first ridge. The higher I got the more the horizan opened out and you could see for miles with all the hills spread out with speckles of snow scattered over them.At around 2000 ft I was starting to get the rubber legs feeling and played the mind game about going on or turning back. Scott appeared bounding down the hill still enjoying himself and I said I would try going on some more. Scott was going to chill down fast after running then slowly going along with me so my flease and gloves were put to good use by him.
slow plod up but great views
part way up still not the top

Legs were now complaining and I was starting to chill down so another layer of clothing was added before going on.

Scott with dad's coat
Distant Munro's
I was very slow getting up to the first top and Scott had run down to find some water but soon caught me back up.From the first or South top as it's called the true summit is to the North but you have to do a dog leg west before getting on to the ridge to the last dip then steep climb to the large summit cairn.
Hands out of pockets for little ridge walk
Looking back from final climb to the top

Summit Cairn

We met up with some other walkers at the summit and had a quick chat before heading off the ridge to get some shelter from the wind. We found a dip to shelter in from the wind and sat having a good look round picking out other hills we could see in the distance. I was very pleased as it has been a few years since I had managed to walk to the top of a Munro and who knows it may not be the last one yet.
Our day ended with a nice steady walk down off the hill passing the time of day with other walkers who were heading up and meeting up with the other group who were still taking their time going down.It was back to the car and a drive back home to Leslie  for a nice hot bath and to reflect on a brilliant few sunny days in the west highlands of Scotland. Yes we will have to do this all again. J