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Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?

Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?


Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:04 pm

Munros included on this walk: Meall na Teanga, Sròn a' Choire Ghairbh

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Dronaig, Ben Tee, Sgùrr an Airgid, Sgùrr na Feartaig

Date walked: 27/09/2021

Distance: 90.3 km

Ascent: 5715m

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This weekend we were going to do stuff in Kintail, before dropping Allison off in Strahcarron for her latest holiday. OK, easy - The Five Sisters; Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine, then the Applecross Corbetts. Then the weather forecast arrived with winds that made such routes ill-advised. I came up with a pretty route in Glen Elchaig full of Corbetts, Grahams and Munro Tops but had to abandon that due to stalking concerns. So there I was at lunchtime on Thursday trying to determine where we'd go that afternoon.

I don't know if gales are more prevalent at the autumn equinox - apparently it's a myth, and it's just generally more windy in the run up to December. I will need to check my walk reports for the week of the equinox compared to the week before and after to see if I agree with that. So this jury is still out - watch for updates :lol:

We ended up doing the Loch Lochy Munros on Friday, mainly because we both needed them and there were no stalking issues in the area. And I tagged on some Simms and the Corbett of Ben Tee just to make it a bit more interesting. We spent Thursday night camped in Sgeir na Sean Chroit , the viewpoint before Ft William. I've always been curious what it would be like there - you are permitted to wild camp but not park overnight - but there's a lay-by right across the road. It's got new gates on it and was closed for a bit in the summer due to the number of "dirty" campers making use of it. We found the spot in the trees ok, but the road is pretty noisy. And quite a few tents (along with vehicles) appeared in the late evening, although we couldn't hear anything from them due to the wind. 3/10 overall.


2021-09-24_0929 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



We drove up to Kilfillan and set off up the forestry track for Meall na Teanga. Not any appreciable wind until we neared Cam Bealach - after that it was quite fierce. We met a man in a leather kilt coming down from the summit who reassured us it wasn't much worse right at the top, and indeed he was right. Three times up here, three times in clag. Back to the bealach and up the zigzags to Sron a'Choire Ghairbh. So far so good. Now out to the first Simm, Meall a'Choire Ghlais, about a kilometre each way on soft mossy grass, round the rim of the coire. Would be nice on a day with visibility. Back to the summit, and I managed to have us going back out to Meall a'Choire Ghlais again...some navigator I am. It was very claggy, in my defence... We next had the narrow, but grassy, ridge to Sean Mheall to negotiate. It's a nice ridge, well worth a shot. We were largely in the wind-shadow of the summit, for which I was most grateful as I'm not sure I'd have liked to go along it in a fierce cross wind. It broadens out quite quickly. A bit of a traipse back up to the summit of the Simm. There is a further Simm, Meall nan Dearcag a bit further along, but the terrain is craggy and in the clag I wasn't for it, so although it grieved me to leave a Simm it wasn't the day for it. Instead we headed down into Coire Glas. I had intended to pitch in the coire, out of the winds, but with all the tributaries flowing down there it looked a bit wet. We spotted some reasonable looking places beside the river and made for these instead. Ben Tee would have been facing us, had there been visibility. The winds were tamed by our location and the night was uneventful, apart from some stag roaring.

Image5E44A8DC-98B8-4C53-B107-7B5939B9EAB7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE08FEA6D-1AD3-4CEE-BA68-8B3844530394_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image7551183B-2DD7-4DD4-A064-CE9323F7523A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Looking towards Ben Tee
ImageA2CA1C7B-8375-4256-89B6-EBF60FC7B91C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Coire Glas
Image153CE81A-01D9-45DC-BCAF-945186FB6285_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC7E0334D-C349-40CE-9A9C-1E399E0B77B7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Still clag in the morning, though dryish. We gradually climbed the side of Ben Tee, preferring that to a frontal approach from Bealach Easain in the clag. We co-incided with the standard path about 750m up and made the summit despite the wind trying to blow us back down. Took the standard route back to the car, meeting a couple of women from Inverness on the way, with whom we had a good long blether.

Image5277EB27-2785-4482-A9AD-5EFE3829E83D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEE2C2FC2-C5C7-4005-B9D5-6F5303288A2C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

From here, my plan had been to head into Kintail and do a quick Corbett, before heading to Achnashellach to walk in a bit there. However, it would have been a real push to have squeezed in another hill - we'd have been walking from Craig in the dark, so we just headed there in the afternoon and by the time we'd pitched by the river it was 5pm. I noticed there are "No Overnight Parking" signs up at Craig now, which I don't remember seeing last time we were there a couple of months ago. Bit of a bummer since that's the main car park for these hills and folk often do overnighters. We parked overnight anyway.


2021-09-25_1518 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




Image693CECA5-2996-4F28-A65E-1CA67EC6F14D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Our plan was to do a circuit of Sgurr na Feartaig, using the stalkers path from the main track and continuing down the west ridge (over 3 Simms) before continuing on paths back to the start - a circuit I've had in mind for ages. Sunday morning was quite bright and the tops of the hills came out of the clag they've been wrapped in of late. We had the interesting bridge to negotiate first, then the excellent stalkers path basically to the summit, one of those ones that gains height almost effortlessly. Some great views of the Torridon hills from here. We were joined at the summit by two guys, one for whom this was his penultimate Corbett, intending a finish on Beinn a"Chruilaiste in the next few weeks. They too, intended to head down by the western ridge, although they weren't doing the Simms. For some reason :lol: Anyway, there's a good track all the way round - apart from to the third Simm, Eagan. We had lunch up there, finding a quietly impressive stone stack. Back to the path, which descends steadily although in the lower sections it was boggy in quite a few places. We got back to the forestry track at the bottom, which annoyed me by going up hill a bit more than I was wanting. I also had intended to make use of the footbridge shown on the map to get back to the level crossing, but this would involve a deer fence crossing and ploughing through densely planted trees - if it indeed exists at all, so we had to continue further along the track til it met with our outward track. Nice brambles to snack on however.

ImageE49126BE-4353-442A-8D83-EE5D8547A95E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC6B6C3FA-4D99-47A8-B4E6-F825FC73181F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image6218FDE0-A7F6-4EA5-9D5F-E5936F00636C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5DD8F39F-1989-48FB-ACB4-BA748DE67D42_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8F9FDCA4-516F-498B-9094-8620A2D738AB_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Torridon hills
Image08B0ECEE-C3E6-4BE9-AECB-A4BB817D4F69_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

West Ridge
Image05B265E7-BDB6-4924-98B5-956AE8609FDE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4EC5651D-91FB-4A0D-8FEA-8BB0977E9FCC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF70BA596-C5B3-4FEB-9D82-75674C3F106F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image7FE25E7F-467A-4F10-9A42-D740799A0097_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image047C8A16-80AC-4D13-83A1-F088BB08A45F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageAEF27DD6-B2C8-4611-AC3F-52F4E31899FE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageBE96639D-E2EB-4BE3-84CE-88FC73A415E4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image02A9E6C3-A7D9-45C6-B9D0-71F42DCA6965_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr


2021-09-26_1609 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



We returned to the car, I dropped Allison off at Strathcarron and pondered what to do. The forecast for the next 24 hours was heavy rain. I had thought I'd do Sgurr na Airgid - I might just have had time for that before darkness closed in - but then where to pitch? I decided instead to do Beinn Dronaig - I could walk in tonight, climb it and walk out in the morning and still do one of the Kintail quick Corbetts on the way home. I parked at Attadale - still dry - and set off along the track. I knew the bothy was closed due to Stalking Season but reckoned I could camp near it - I was sure I remembered some flattish grassy ground somewhere there...After about 3km the rain started, the sky darkened. I was walking past Loch an Drioghinn when I heard a sound like a half snort, half growl, and this big dog otter who was standing about 10 feet away gave me a look of disdain as if to say "what are hoomins doing out at this time" raced off pell mell along a channel at my right side into the loch and disappeared.

Image8A32EA5A-7FA5-4256-8874-5E780BE31FB4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image7ACEBF6B-69B5-4EB2-AA7F-4678FAA2448C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Nearing the bothy I met a couple of rather soggy walkers with big packs - wasn't sure where they were going. Passing the bothy I noted the sign "No camping within the fenced area". Which was basically all the grassy bit. I walked on, and spotted an ideal spot, just by the bridge. A little islet, nice short grass, obviously used as there was a "magic circle" within. It was gone 7 by this time and I lost no time getting the tent pitched in the steady rain and getting my tea on. I reapplied I'd forgotten to bring my wee bottle of whisky, which was a considerable disappointment - little things that make solo camping in the rain more bearable. I settled down with my book instead and listened to the water at my side get louder and louder. It was forecast to rain heavily all night...At 10.30 I decided to get up and check on the river level. It had risen about six inches in two and a half hours. Although I really thought the islet would be fine - it had no signs of being overwhelmed by water in the recent past - I knew that if I stayed where I was I'd lie awake all night waiting for the tent to flood. I'd have to move it. I pulled on my boots and by head torch light waded across the river to the bridge side..I found a useable-at-a-pinch spot just beside the bridge. Returning to the tent I put some stuff in my very wet rucksack and left the bedding etc in the tent, which I unpegged and carried over the river...not very easily done in wind, dark and rain. Managed to pitch it in the spot I'd found and returned for the rucksack. The inside was now quite wet, not helped by the lack of general waterproofness of the tent - a job for Fabsil Gold on my return. I did manage to get some soggy sleep however, freed from the fear of imminent immersion.

Initial pitch
Image5643AAAA-0A4E-4C93-8901-16F4025552F6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

In the morning, when I squeezed out of the tent, I was not chuffed to see my little islet looking perky and dry, the waters nowhere near overwhelming it. Typical. I left the tent in place and headed up the track for the "preferred" route up Beinn Dronaig during stalking season.I hadn't done it from this direction. Both times previously we'd come off Lurg Mhor and used the stalkers path up the eastern nose, which begins and 400m and is quite easy. This had conspired in my mind to make me think it would be an easy up and down...up the track for a bit then across small rivers, swollen after the rain. The clag had lifted, to let me see where to make for - ie not the craggy sections - and I was up on top in about 1.5 hours, although the going was steep (and wet) in places. Back down to the track by the same route, pack up my sopping wet tent and set off along the track. I met the couple from last night who were doing part of the CWT, ending in Kinlochewe. They'd found a place to camp further west than me - they'd looked at the spot id chosen on the islet, the guy wanting to use it, his lady saying "too near the river". They were looking for the elusive track that goes to Strathcarron, the start of which is not clear on the ground...

Image9E370AE9-0BE5-47AF-BA40-ABD1D662022D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image9993066F-AC2F-4BB6-A448-C603899BD8D5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image3021C9EE-156C-48D7-A483-14D48610F452_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageAC1EDDE7-2E2A-45C2-AE5D-6F4FC29CC5A3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image9EF01F16-250D-4149-9B36-B223839F6C31_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2CB18E0C-AF3F-45A4-92CD-BB9D725CC6BE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I made it back to the car, passing the stalker coming out of his cottage with his dog and the gralloched entrails of a stag. The sun had even come out and I was pleased to get a little bit dried off after the deluge. I had lunch at the car, thinking what I could do next...I reckoned I could get to Sgurr an Airgid by 1.30 and should be able to get up and down in 3 hours, meaning I'd be home for about 8.30...so off down to Kintail, held up by a series of motor homes, like fatty white atheroma in the arteries of the highland roads. At the car park was another guy just preparing to head up. I caught him up quite near the start and we began walking up together, we had a similar pace. Peter, from Edinburgh, was doing his Corbetts, and proved excellent company. We had a good talk about all manner of topics on the way up and down. The mountain was much as I remembered it, offering good views over Kintail when the weather permitted. Heavy rain and dark skies met our arrival at the summit, but it brightened up on the descent again. And we did manage it in just under three hours (which was still more than twice as long as the hill runner we met going up on our way down, who was back at the car about five minutes after we got down).


2021-09-27_1316 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



ImageD25397A0-EBC1-4762-8680-2D480A43DA61_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image47C52361-9A14-454C-87EC-589B1520415C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Peter at the summit
Image281EDA3A-778A-4B2F-8438-2256F27E4423_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Overall, not a bad weekend, despite stalking restrictions and the big winds. And the wet tent. I had planned to be away on the hills all this week, but the weather dissuaded me - hoping that the week after is considerably better.
User avatar
weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1987
Munros:252   Corbetts:89
Grahams:82   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?

Postby gld73 » Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:34 pm

Great report, I feel like a wimp for abandoning hillwalking plans just because of rain! ..... and "like fatty white atheroma in the arteries of the Highlands roads" has to be my favourite line in any walk report ever :lol:
gld73
 
Posts: 630
Munros:157   Corbetts:64
Grahams:52   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:66   Hewitts:42
Wainwrights:59   Islands:13
Joined: Aug 11, 2015
Location: Inverness

Re: Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:38 pm

gld73 wrote:Great report, I feel like a wimp for abandoning hillwalking plans just because of rain! ..... and "like fatty white atheroma in the arteries of the Highlands roads" has to be my favourite line in any walk report ever :lol:


Thanks - That made me smile :lol:
User avatar
weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1987
Munros:252   Corbetts:89
Grahams:82   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?

Postby Peter57 » Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:58 am

Hi Al. This is 'Peter from Edinburgh'. I very much enjoyed your company up Sgurr an Airgid last week. The week continued pretty wet for me but I got a few more hills done before returning home. And, having climbed Fraochaidh in similar weather yesterday, I'd have to say that the answer to your question is definitely 'yes' - nothing mythical about those heavy showers. By the way, after talking with you I was inspired to update my hills on this website - so my total's looking at lot healthier these days. Hope to catch you again up a hill somewhere.
Peter57
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 3
Munros:282   Corbetts:144
Grahams:15   Donalds:15
Sub 2000:22   Hewitts:150
Wainwrights:58   Islands:42
Joined: Sep 12, 2016

Re: Equinoctial Gales - Myth or Reality?

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:12 pm

Peter57 wrote:Hi Al. This is 'Peter from Edinburgh'. I very much enjoyed your company up Sgurr an Airgid last week. The week continued pretty wet for me but I got a few more hills done before returning home. And, having climbed Fraochaidh in similar weather yesterday, I'd have to say that the answer to your question is definitely 'yes' - nothing mythical about those heavy showers. By the way, after talking with you I was inspired to update my hills on this website - so my total's looking at lot healthier these days. Hope to catch you again up a hill somewhere.

\Chees Peter, was good to have someone to chat to for a change (Allison and I tend to operate on a telepathic basis these days most of the time). We may well meet up on another Corbett sometime soon :D
User avatar
weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1987
Munros:252   Corbetts:89
Grahams:82   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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