Weather forecast not great for May with low pressure and some buffeting winds forecast. Adjusted our walking times and felt that we would have enough time to head round before the gate shut at 7pm. Didn't really appreciate it was going to take us 40 minutes to get through the gate ,up the glen, parked, wet gear on and set off. Anyway onwards and upwards through leg tiring wet ground hitting the summit of Sgurr Na Ruaidhe 2 hrs 25 minutes after setting off. Slightly faster than we thought.
Weather forecast was spot on 9-12 wet and then a dry window until 4pm before rain setting in again. Better get a move on. Heading off towards our second top of the day we could see the 2 men who had set off ahead of us shopping for a bite to eat. Quick stop in the Beallach for us too. Then uphill over the boulders and out to the cairn of Carn Na Gobhar. Living up to its name. Trying to find the larger boulders for stepping on. Delighted we were still in the weather window.
Setting across the plateau we could see the steep side of Sgurr a Choice Ghlais with the boys looking like specks heading up it beside the last of the years snow. It looked rather intimidating from where we were sitting catching a quick drink. Surely our eyes were deceiving us it didn't look that steep or high on the map when we were doing our prep on Thursday night. Friends that we are we bit our last wine gum in half shared that, took a deep breath and set off. Wow we were up much easier and quicker than we thought. Despite being 40 minutes late setting off we were now only 25 minutes behind our plan of the day.
Clang came down at the summit and no views for us. Quick bearing from the trig point and off we set again for Sgurr Fhuar-thuill finding the path 2 metres up the hill from us after 10 minutes made life easier. Couldn't believe the difference in the visibility now. Trusting our compass we hit the cairn spot on at 4.20pm. One very tiring day so far. Now a wee bearing of 262 for 700m and true stalkers path down. How simple could that be. Paced it out in really poor visibility. No sign of the 2 men that we had trailed all day. No sign of the path either. Back we went and tried again. Nope a second time. Map out and re worked our position and bearing. We were correct. Couldn't find the stalkers path. Snow was covering the path we were on. Trust our compass and crack on. No too steep. Plan change to stay safe. Looking at the time wasted we were never going to make to back to the gate for 7pm. Nothing for it but to take a bearing and head down to meet the path at the Lochan. whoops wind took the map out of our cold hands. Digging out the spare map and thanking our preparation to have 2 maps with us took the bearing and set off down the open hillside. Success at finding the path at 5.45pm right on our compass bearing, but still downhill to go and the very long walk back to the car (70 minutes planned took us 85) along the road on very tired legs with wet feet from fording the stream which was knee high. Barely stopped at the car and drove back to the gate to find it locked and nobody at the gate house. Granted it was now 20:30- Well we were safe and had opted for a route out that kept us safe if not late. Thank goodness for the lovely lady driving the Audi estate car for letting us out of the glen ahead of her so as we wouldn't encounter the wrath of the gate keeper. 25 minutes later sitting down to dinner and a gin and tonic. Another great day on the hills with another story to tell. No photos as mainly 2 wet bedraggled souls and 2 tired dogs in front of different piles of stones.Weather gods were not kind to us.
Reckon if the clang had lifted we were just metres away from the path. Thinking on really tired legs our pacing was wrong and we were just short. Lessons learned we can trust trust our compass and remember that very tired legs on a long day take shorter strides than normal.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.