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Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:36 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Binnein Beag, Creag Meagaidh, Sgùrr Èilde Mòr, Stob a' Choire Odhair, Stob Poite Coire Àrdair

Date walked: 03/09/2018

Distance: 78 km

Ascent: 5145m

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A four day weekend (thanks to Public Holiday) typically means some far flung adventure for us, but with Allison's back currently playing up and needing less demanding terrain my schemes were curtailed to adventures closer to home. Stick to things with paths that don't involve any overnight hikes. Hmmm. My creativity stymied I came up with a trip to Creag Meagaidh (which would, incidentally, allow me to grab 4 outstanding Munro Tops) followed by a mop-up in the Mamores, then down to Bridge of Orchy. Weather forecast was mixed, with fronts coming and going. What would we get?

Up to Roy Bridge to camp on Thursday night - the owners looking a bit frazzled after a very busy spell. Not many tents however, we passed a peaceful night and woke to sunshine. August 31st, the last day of Summer. Allison contested this saying we were already into Autumn, so we agreed we were in Sumtumn - no doubt Autter will follow quickly on its heels. We got up quite late and meandered the 15 miles to Creag Meagaidh with clear blue skies overhead. The visitor centre (or Visitor Hub as it's now called) has been renovated. Our plan was to walk into Coire Ardair, head up through the Window, do Stob Poite Coire Ardair (Allison's required Munro), head over to Meagaidh as it would be rude not to, then I'd head off and do the 4 Tops and she could return the way we came in. Beautiful morning, fungi everywhere like last week in Kintail, breeze becoming stronger and chilly as height was gained. Passed a couple from Oban on the way to the Window and stopped for a chat.

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ImageP1200487 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200489 by Al, on Flickr

Sron a'Choire on the left of the Window
ImageP1200490 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200491 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200492 by Al, on Flickr

By the time we'd gone through the Window and up onto Stob Poite Coire Ardair the wind was whipping around our waterproofs and sending chills deep into the marrow. Met another couple of guys coming over from Carn Liath who had required to battle the wind the whole way over the plateau. We summited then dropped to the bealach for shelter and lunch. The summit of Meagaidh was quickly gained thereafter and I bade farewell to Allison as I nipped southwest to hit the first of the Tops, An Cearcallach. When we'd done these tops before we'd started off climbing Sron a'Choire from the visitor centre - this was a much better route, basically reversing what we'd done before but taking advantage of paths. There's not much height gained or lost on the 4 Tops and, if one cuts down from Sron a'Choire back to the track there's little difference in distance either - Allison had arrived back at the car only 10 minutes before I did.

Stob Poite Coire Ardair
ImageP1200493 by Al, on Flickr

Mad Meg - nope, that's Allison
ImageP1200494 by Al, on Flickr

An Cearcallach
ImageP1200495 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Choire Choille-rais
ImageP1200497 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200500 by Al, on Flickr

Sron a'Choire
ImageP1200502 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200504 by Al, on Flickr

We returned to the campsite in glorious sunshine and were able to sit and sunbathe for an hour or so until the midges sensed our presence or the sunbeams lost their power over them. A fitting end to what has been a stellar summer (although the drizzle of the last few weeks has hazed the memory a little). Saturday morning - the first day of Autumn, in contrast was muggy and threatened rain, low clouds covering the hills. We spoke to an elderly chap, whom I'll call John Stubbs, that being his name. He had a wealth of tales including of when he'd first moved to Scotland in 1954, climbing Ben Nevis on Christmas Day that year and finding Joe Brown camped out at the top - spending 10 days there to "acclimatize" for an attempt on Annapurna. John was 82 and still going strong, although less up the hills these days. We waved farewell and drove south to Kinlochleven for Sgurr Eilde Mor and Binnein Beag, another two af Allison's missing pieces.

Parked at the church where there were only two other cars and set off for the long walk up An Cumhann to Loch Eilde Mor. Loch Leven lay, dull silver, with shrouds of mist obscuring the mountains. We were enveloped by clag as we neared Coire an Lochain, three souls higher in the mist the only folk we encountered all day. We paused for a welcome lunch and decided to do Binnein Beag first, rather than face the depressing descent into Coire a'Bhinnein later in the day. Down, down when you feel you should be going up, alongside the river, the pointed head of Binnein Beag up ahead shrouded in clag. I quite like this mountain, for all the approach from Coire an Lochain is a bummer. It has definite class. We made the top, noted the "quick" way down that I guess the runners will take to go onto Binnein Mor and opted to descend the way we'd come up. Back along the river and back up the zigzags, then onto the fair path up the north flank of Sgurr Eilde Mor, Allison struggling with the last 100m of very red scree.

ImageP1200505 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Eilde Mor
ImageP1200506 by Al, on Flickr

Binnein Beag
ImageP1200508 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200509 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200510 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Eilde Mor
ImageP1200512 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200513 by Al, on Flickr

For some reason I had no GPS route for this walk and couldn't remember which way I'd descended before. I found a path heading south-west, which I assumed was a standard way down, but it became rather steep and bouldery, something we had been trying to avoid with respect to her back. I think there was a less challenging path down the south-east shoulder... Anyway we made it back to Coire an Lochain and paused for a snack before the long walk back to the car.

Sgurr Eilde Beag
ImageP1200514 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200515 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200516 by Al, on Flickr

We agreed to see how busy Blackwater Hostel campsite was - a line of single-man tents outside the hobbit huts suggested WHW people, but there was enough room up the far end to pitch and we had, surprisingly, a quiet night. We rose late, finding virtually all the other tents had gone. An awful, rank reek of charred flesh in the kitchen area. We set off under heavy skies for Achalader Farm.

It must be four years since we last did these hills, and they remain in my mind also for being one of the last outings with my dear departed hound Finn - a photo of him at the top of A'Chreachain still serves as my computer screen backdrop. I thought we'd take a reverse route today, heading up into Coire A'Chaladair first, maybe returning over the tops depending on the state of Allison's back. Our last outing was in foul weather, today was to be very similar. There's a new sign "hill path" shortly after leaving the parking area which leads you to the boggy delights of the route into Coire A'Chaladair. I had no recollection of this being so manky - I'd descended it twice rather than ascending, but it's not very pleasant at all - horrible boggy wetness and takes an eternity to get to the start of the shoulder of A'Chaladair. Being shut in clag didn't help of course. Once again we were blasted by strong winds and rain as we ascended. Plodding...the 1002m point was reached then the summit of A'Chaladair. Vague hopes of nipping over to Beinn a'Chuirn (the Munro Top of Mhanach) were dispelled before even forming given the conditions. The steep drop to Bealach an Aoghlain was accomplished then an interminable plod over Meall Buidhe to eventually reach the top of A'Chreachain.

Looking back from Coire a'Chaladair
ImageP1200518 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200519 by Al, on Flickr

Summit A'Chaladair
ImageP1200520 by Al, on Flickr

Summit A'Chreachain
ImageP1200521 by Al, on Flickr

ImageFinn at the top by Al, on Flickr

Little hanging about at the summit, we unanimously decided there was no way we were going back over the plateau in this wind and rain, we'd take our chances with crossing the Water of Tulla, bridge or no. A path initially, then lost in heather and tussocks, we made for the outflow of Lochan a'Chreachain until we picked up a track. Sunshine down here! However the drizzle wasn't far away. A horrific ked attack occurred when we went through the trees and ferns near the water - never have I seen them in such concentrations. Allison must have had 30 at least crawling on her shoulders and rucksack. Screaming, we managed to get over the river without wet feet (or without making wet feet any wetter) and were relieved to be on good track for the walk out back to the car, mercifully free from keds.

Before the ked attack
ImageP1200522 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200523 by Al, on Flickr

Stob a'Choire Odhair was to be our hill for Monday's "rest day", so I thought it would be reasonable to find a spot to camp around Victoria Bridge. We did find a suitable spot in the trees by the car park - obviously a popular spot given the evidence of campfires. A living tree had been cut down and presumably consumed in flames in stages - not an insubstantial sapling either. I don't understand the mentality of people who have to have a fire whenever they camp - even in the midst of a forest, where the consequences could be dire. I did have some worries about other campers turning up during the evening, but we were left in peace and quiet.

Up early to a fine morning - the sort of morning one only gets in early autumn - sun shining on mist, a wistful almost melancholy lament for the summer that is gone and the drawing down of winter's barren cloak to come. Spiderwebs caught droplets of dew, colours appeared more vibrant as if they'd been washed anew in the overnight rain. A fine day was promised - it seemed a shame to be doing only a short walk today in good weather whilst we'd been mist and rain bound over the last 2 days on longer walks. But it is what it is - we'd doubtless enjoy an outing on a hill I've only previously summited in clag in such fine conditions. We said good morning to a couple of campers pitched at the gate after Forest Lodge and set off along the track for the Clashgour Hut. The Abhiann Shira was gurgling and plashing, brilliant blue. We turned up onto the boggy track leading for Coire Toaig - some things never change. Up the path to Stob a'Choire Odhair grand views across to Stob Gabhar, misty out over the sea. Summit reached then a little Sim Diversion - well I hadn't tagged any on all weekend and it was only a short distance to the rather shapeless summit of Beinn Toaig. Mission accomplished we tracked back towards the path up Stob a'Choire Odhair to descend, passing a human caterpillar of about 12 walkers going on to Stob Gabhar.

ImageP1200525 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200526 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200527 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200528 by Al, on Flickr

Stob Gabhar
ImageP1200529 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Odhair
ImageP1200530 by Al, on Flickr

Down to Beinn Toaig
ImageP1200533 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200536 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200539 by Al, on Flickr

Back down by the Shira we sat by the bridge and enjoyed an early lunch in the sunshine, trying our aim at pitching rocks to demolish some rock stacking that folk had been doing (we were both very poor shots). We reached the car by 12.30 and were home at an unfeasibly early hour for a hill day. Allison's back seemed to have held its own, for this weekend at least.
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Re: Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:50 am

Autumn's in the air :D

We went up Creag Meagaidh the previous weekend. It was busy with walkers, some of them doing the outlying tops (I even wondered if you two were lurking there somewhere :lol: ). The new Visitor Centre was a nice surprise and the paths have been upgraded, too, apart from the eroded descent from Carn Liath. Next time I'm going up that way, I'll pick a different line of descent.

Hope that Allison recovers quickly. Incidentally, Kevin had a minor injury as well and we are in the same position at the moment. Sticking to paths, no big rounds and no scrambling.
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Re: Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:03 pm

Injury is a bummer. Hope Kevin recovers quickly.
Main challenge for Allison is how to get An Socach and An Riabhachan done without excessive demand on her back - might even have considered taking the boat, but of course it's off now til next year. Don't think the lochside walk (which I've not done before) would be good for her - tussocky/uneven ground is a real challenge at the moment for her, so may have to be a very long (but track mostly) approach from Killilan...watch this space :wink:
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Re: Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:42 am

That was fantastic - must get up there again. :D

Re the Mullardoch lochside path I wouldn''t go just now. It's eroded and disappears into shoulder high bracken in places (see my recent report) and is a proper scunner! :cry:
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Re: Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:27 pm

dogplodder wrote:That was fantastic - must get up there again. :D

Re the Mullardoch lochside path I wouldn''t go just now. It's eroded and disappears into shoulder high bracken in places (see my recent report) and is a proper scunner! :cry:

I was thinking the same when I read your report. Allison’s not a fan of high bracken :lol:
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Re: Weasels and the Last Day of Summer

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:26 pm

A very entertaining read :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: .

I note you guys are still in the superspeed league (26.3 kph max!!!).

Creag Meagaidh and surrounds look wonderful - I need to get up there. It's been high on the "to do" list for some time...
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