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Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2


Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:50 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Cranstackie

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn an Eoin

Date walked: 18/05/2019

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May offered up the first chance to grab a week revisiting some corners of Assynt, see some friends and fit in a few other bits and pieces, Those included the Scottish National Theatre's production of "Cheviot" and also a trip to the Isle of May. I could also do a bit of volunteering with Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes (CALL) as for once our dates were going to coincide.

Part 1
Day 1: Arrived Saturday 18th May
Day 2: Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh - just Cranstackie in the end - with Mosquito crash remains
Day 3: CALL volunteering, then to Inverness for the Groam House Museum and "The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil"
Day 4: Sgorr Tuath and Beinn an Eoin what a tart of a hill!!

Part 2 separate WR: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=89860
Day 5: Beinn Dearg abort - Scoraig instead
Day 6: Quinag abort - more CALL volunteering and Ullapool Museum instead
Day 7: Beinn More Assynt South Top & Glen Oykel
Day 8: Catch up with pal on route to Anstruther
Day 9: Isle of May

Day 1: Arrived Saturday 18th May

An evening arrival gave me a quick chance to visit the yelling Smoo Cave fulmars before bed. :)

Image014 Above Smoo Cave by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image023 Calling fulmar pair by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Just outside Durness, I was flown at by a short-eared owl, which was lovely - but it departed into the gloaming before I could get the camera out. Pictures would have been rubbish though, it was too dark.

Day 2: Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh

Well, that was the plan anyway, but ended up being just Cranstackie. After catching up with a pal who'd just completed the CWT, and watching the cloud rolling about to the south (darn), I set off.

Image003 River Dionard towards Foinavens A Cheir Ghorm by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At Rhigolter I was bounced at by a gorgeous collie pup. Bit like Floss (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p077jbt4) but more bouncy!

I decided not to head straight into the corrie to aim for the bealach between these two northernmost Corbetts, but instead to head more directly up Cranstackie. It was steep - every way up is steep - but seeing the crest pulled me up like a magnet.

Image007 1st view of Cranstackie crest by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At first, the offerings at ground level were marsh orchid, and spring squill...
Image008 Spring squill by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

... and [what's this?]...
Image010 Needs ID by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

... with blaeberry in its early pink blush of youth.

Image036 Blaeberry in spring by Emma Kendon, on Flickr


But I'd also stumbled across loads of bits of plane crash. I hadn't known a plane had crashed here, but I'm not surprised. If you're a northernmost Corbett, folk are probably not expecting you to be there. What did surprise me was how many tiny bits there were, and no big bits. And then I found sections made of wood - this was a Mosquito.

Image011 Mosquito crash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image012 Mosquito crash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image017 Mosquito crash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I spent ages picking out these sorry remains and wondering what had happened. I thought perhaps they'd flown in from the north, swung west for some reason in cloud, and, not expecting such high ground, slammed into the crags. But apparently it's thought they flew in over the top of Cranstackie itself from the east, returning from a bombing exercise (1943), clipped the crags as they came over and disintegrated and burnt down the west side. Pilot: Donald Louis Pavey, Navigator/bomber: Bernard Walter Stimson.

Beyond the crash I was looking down to Gualin House and out to the Minch. The weather wasn't looking too promising for views from the top, and I really wanted to get a good view of Foinaven which I'd been up last year but been wind-blasted off the top before I could do any of the ridge.

Image020 Mosquito crash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Still, Cranstackie's top itself was clear, so eventually I carried on.

Image026 Mosquito crash and crest by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

(Well, with a few more distractions...)

Image028 Mosquito crash 2nd wood by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image029 Mosquito crash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Towards the top it was really pleasant at first:

Image036a Stones and grass to the top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

and then really less so!

Image037 Last stony pull to top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Just before the summit cairnI looked back and the Kyle of Durness had appeared:

Image038 Over Cioch Mhor to Kyle of Durness by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Then it was a hop, skip and a jump to the precariously perched cairn, with - yes - Foinaven's beautiful ridge in the clear :D and a whole new interesting angle on this top NW corner I'd not had before.

Image039 Cranstackie summit and Foinaven ridge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image040 Towards Kinlochbervie by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image041 Ben Hope with Ben Loyal behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image041 Foinaven by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image042 Foinaven zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image042 SE to shadowy Ben Klibreck by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image043 SSE over Loch Dionard to Ben Hee by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image045 Loch Eriboll by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Time to descend and head up Beinn Spionnaidh. I'd had a sudden burst of sunshine at the top, which was great for a lunch with a view. And now the weather was changing, and with it, the light was stunning.

Image046 Weather coming in over Beinn Spionneidh by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image047 Bens Hope and Loyal with Loch Eriboll by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image050 Shining River Dionard by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The cloud rolled in and looked set to hang about, which it did, cloaking Beinn Spionnaidh in clag.

Image051 Losing Beinn Spionneidhs top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

As I descended, so did the clag. Decision time. A few dozen metres of more loose boulders to get to the top, then once on top 400m of the same loose rock in cloud and no chance of any views... then an equally annoying descent. I knew how very, very little I'd enjoy that! So BS can get a visit on another day.

I came down, this time a bit more into the corrie to see what I'd missed, said hello to the deer..

Image055 Hinds by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

and found this thing. My head said "crap trebuchet"... but that's my silly head. I genuinely don't know what it is though!

Image056 Trebuchet by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Down earlier than planned, I loped around the beaches, picking litter and enjoying the sea 8) before heading to the Lazy Crofter bunkhouse for an evening in good company. Two of my fellow inmates had brought a moth-trap with them, and the star of the show in the morning was a puss moth, the snowy owl of the moth world!

Image057 Back at Sango Sands by Emma Kendon, on Flickr


Day 3: CALL volunteering, then to Inverness for the Groam House Museum and "The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil"

There may not yet be a tourist tax, but I do generally try to make some kind of contributions whenever I'm in the Highlands or Islands. Normally I fit in a beach-clean. This time CALL and Little Assynt Nursery were after volunteers to prick out and replant seedlings of native species (bird cherry in this case) and to weed the young trees. Very enjoyable, in spite of the polytunnel midge-fest :roll: and great to meet Nick and Sue, the Nursery experts, and Vickii, CALL's vol manager.

Image002 Pricking out and replanting seedlings CALL photo by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Two of us replanted 192 seedlings.)

Image003 Weeding alder birch and rowan CALL photo by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (The weeds were mostly willow herb and shepherd's purse, which explodes if it's left to grow.)

Image004 Little Assynt Nursery by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
(on the A837)

Then to Inverness, squeezing in Picts at the Groam House Museum at Rosemarkie, and meeting a friend to see the National Theatre of Scotland's latest take on Cheviot which was blisteringly excellent :clap: So much I could say about this, but here's not the place!


Day 4: Sgorr Tuath and Beinn an Eoin

This has been on my radar for yonks, but every time I've been up in Assynt in the last 12 months the weather's put paid to the views. At last, today, it was perfect :D. I came off ST feeling utterly spoilt. In fact, because I've walked in cloud up here so often, amazingly I've not yet seen this view properly, though have been rewarded by a brocken spectre on Fhidhleir. I adore Ben More Coigach - its subtlety, its corners and that superb elegant limb stretching to the Summer Isles. ST, by contrast, has no subtlety - it's brazen!

The other benefit of this area, for me, is with no paths, big boggy holes, and vertical heather-bashing, people don't bother much with these two. I met three people, all going in the opposite direction to me (Beinn an Eoin first for them, Sgorr Tuath first for me).

Each reveal as you walk up is a stunner, with a good view of Fhidhleir and BMC, but you can't take your eyes off the candy!

Image006 Ben More Coigach to Sgorr Tuath by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image018 Stac Pollaidh over Loch Lurgainn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image020 Lousewort - cause not cure by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image026 Stac Pollaidh clouds and Suilven by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image026 Wide angle from corrie by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image027 Stac Pollaidh detail from ST ascent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image028 Suilven zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image045 Over Beinn Tarsuinn to Seana Bhraigh and Beainn Dearg by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image048 Stac Pollaidh Suilven and Cul Beag from ST summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image049 NW to Enard Bay by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image050 Sideways glance at Stac Pollaidh for subtlety by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (OK - some subtlety :wink:)

Image051 Suilven with Quinag behind and Meall Horn to the right by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image055 Stac Pollaidh and Suilven pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image059 Summer Isles from ST summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image061 Fannichs from ST summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The cherry on top up here is the barley-twist sandstone tors. And a little west from ST's summit crag, here they were...

Image057 Ah - those tors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image068 Crazy tor SP and Suilven by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image070 SP - tor - Suilven classic shot banner by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image072 SP - tor - Suilven - Cul Mor classic shot by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image073 Fhidhleir north tops by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Up on An Teallach at Easter, it had been too hazy to see the Summer Isles. Today it was clear, and Harris was in good view on the horizon.

Image075 Summer Isles and Lewis Harris zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image077 Zoom to Clisham on Harris by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image079 West to Meall an Fheadain with transmitter mast by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The view of Stac Polleidh, just over the road, was smashing, and evoked extremely fond memories of my first ascent back in 1990.

Image080 Stac Pollaidh and N towards Lochinver and Kylesku by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And Suilven was cloud-free too, unlike my last ascent, which had been a sunny walk in and a clag-wrapped walk up and down.

Image081 Suilven - and Quinag - between lumps by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

After a million more photos (politician-style stat, that, but I did take oodles!), I tore myself away, and set off for Sgorr Deas, looking forward to being a bit closer to my absolute favourite corner of BMC and Fhidhleir.

Image082 Bye bye tors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

On the way, it was good to take in the other beauties around. I don't think a hill has made me feel quite so dirty as Sgorr Tuath! Too much. I was grinning like mad, but really, it's such a tart :lol:

It was a real joy to look out to Beainn Dearg, Seana Bhraigh, the Fannichs et al from up here. Thank goodness there wasn't a sea eagle encounter today, or I'd have totally lost control :wink:.

Image089 Beinn Dearg over Beinn Tarsuinn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image090 Seana Bhraigh zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Looking back (because it is absolutely impossible to resist), I saw a gingerbread-man shaped rock covered in bird-poo. It's obviously a favourite flat perch, and if you've got eagle-eyes - cos you're an eagle - it must be pretty good for hunting.

Image093 Classic view with gingerbread man rock by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Before long I came to the MASSIVE CLEFT I'd read about in Weaselmaster's and Allison's WR. It really does seem to reach right down to hell. I lay on my stomach and peered, which was dizzying, but just couldn't see a bottom to this gap.

Image095 Massive cleft by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Not from any angle...:

Image096 Massive cleft by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Once over that, it was a steep descent, with a little wiggle to the left, down to the bealach.

Image099 Bealach by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Here I saw the first two of my three fellow-walkers, coming down off Sgorr Deas and about to head up where I was coming down.

As I ascended to Sgorr Deas, I looked back at the bealach and this west end of Sgorr Tuath. One of the walkers had made it to the top (tiny vertical line on the ridge in this photo):

Image104 Raised pavement to Sgorr Tuath by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

... and the other was still huffing and puffing up the slope but I couldn't see him. He'd said he couldn't keep up with his friend! :lol: (Good for you, pal, what's the rush?)

Up at Sgorr Deas I was pleased with my choice to go anticlockwise. Suilven and co were just under cloud now.

Image110 Assynt hills with Sgorr Tuath this time by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Looking west I felt at home. Each time I'm up on BMC and Fhidhleir I leave a bit of my heart (figuratively speaking, that is - no internal organ litter, I promise...).

Image111 BMC and Fhidhleir pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And over Fhidhleir's rolling north tops, was that Skye I was seeing so clearly?

Image114 Can that be Trotternish beyond Beinn nan Caorach by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I sat and had a coffee here, looking north and west (to quote Corrag), and enjoying the come-down from the OTT Sgurr Tuath view.

Image116 North to the Point of Stoer by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image121 Fhidhleir prow and Garbh Choireachan ridge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image118 Contrasts from Sgorr Deas by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The two walkers I'd passed might have been feeling the same. They were at Sgorr Tuath's summit cairn, sitting with their backs to Suilven, and looking out over Loch Lurgainn!

Image120 Two chaps on ST summit zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Then it was up and on to Beinn an Eoin's top, with a glance (yeah, right...) back to THAT VIEW.

Image123 Top of Sgorr Deas by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image124 Who is that actor by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image125 Up to Beinn an Eoin summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image126 Elephant terraces by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image127 Fhidhleir through the elephants eye by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image129 Beinn an Eoin summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And finally, the reluctant descent, via the steep SE flank of Cioch Beinn and Eoin...

Image131 Reluctant descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image132 Steep flank of Cioch Beinn an Eoin by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

On the way up, I'd stayed to the right of the deer fence, and where there's a gap marked on the map, there wasn't in reality, so I'd climbed over the fence. So on the way down, I stayed on the south side of the fence. Fine, but it did mean a shinny along a log, hands high on the attached wire fencing to cross the burn.

Image135 Wheres the gap by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image136 Burn crossing at your own risk by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image008 Risk sign - which side of fence by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
(Whichever way you go is tricky...)

What an amazing hill. The forecast for the next two days was dire, so I was so lucky with the conditions.

Days like this always make me wonder why people fly off. Since Easter, and in particular since the Easter bombs in Sri Lanka - where I have a lot of family, who were all ok - I've asked myself this yet again. At Easter, both I and my neice (who is also part Sri Lankan), were in Dundonnell. It was a terrible, awful irony that Anders Povslen and family were in Sri Lanka.
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby arjh » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:46 pm

Brilliant report and photos. Loved the 'crap trebuchet' and the tors.

:clap:
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:32 pm

Enjoyed that - you got great weather (mostly) for great places. We were up Cranstackie recently too (though saw no Mosquito bits, in fact saw very little). I didn't know there had been a crash there - or if I did, I'd forgotten it. I too (like most folk, perhaps) get a mix of emotions on finding such remains on hillsides, fascination and sadness. The usual resource for crash sites seems to be down at present.
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:07 am

arjh wrote:Brilliant report and photos. Loved the 'crap trebuchet' and the tors.

:clap:


weaselmaster wrote:Enjoyed that - you got great weather (mostly) for great places.


Thanks both, and enjoyed your Sutherland Part 1 too, W!
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby Klaasloopt » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:26 pm

Loved this. Felt like you pointed out Beinn an Eoin to me. Thanks!
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:23 pm

LOVED this - entertaining narrative, and so many great pics - a big attraction for someone like me who hasn't yet got that far north.

I especially liked the rock strata in 043 (SSE over Loch Dionard) - and this time it was clear enough, even to these semi-functional eyes, that I wasn't looking at sky!!! :roll:

But also 047, 018, 020 (WHAT a spectacular flower... with such a name??!!??), 027, 028, 120..... Then there's THAT view. Someone said in this forum some years ago that the best hills are those that afford the best views of the best hills (like Sgurr na Stri and the Cuillin Ridge); where you're walking with an uncontrollable grin-rictus. A very fair observation. I was both grinning and oo-aaing looking at those pics of Stac P, Suilven and Culmor. Wonderful.

I will undertake that 11 hour drive one day... (but then I can't expect much sympathy for the long drive from someone who lives even further south than I, I believe...).
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:52 pm

Alteknacker wrote:LOVED this - entertaining narrative, and so many great pics - a big attraction for someone like me who hasn't yet got that far north.

I especially liked the rock strata in 043 (SSE over Loch Dionard) - and this time it was clear enough, even to these semi-functional eyes, that I wasn't looking at sky!!! :roll:

But also 047, 018, 020 (WHAT a spectacular flower... with such a name??!!??), 027, 028, 120..... Then there's THAT view. Someone said in this forum some years ago that the best hills are those that afford the best views of the best hills (like Sgurr na Stri and the Cuillin Ridge); where you're walking with an uncontrollable grin-rictus. A very fair observation. I was both grinning and oo-aaing looking at those pics of Stac P, Suilven and Culmor. Wonderful.

I will undertake that 11 hour drive one day... (but then I can't expect much sympathy for the long drive from someone who lives even further south than I, I believe...).
Klaasloopt wrote:Loved this. Felt like you pointed out Beinn an Eoin to me. Thanks!


Thanks both. Klaasloopt, I think you've been up here and Alteknacker, you would be in Alteknacker heaven.

We had a Lochnagar corrie-related mini-chat about going up the wee hills to look at the big hills (YES, e.g. Sgurr na Stri :D ).

Yep, I start from the South Downs, and it takes me about 11 hours to get up to, say, Ullapool, as long as I leave before sunrise. It's always worth it. Can't take you that long, surely? Maybe I should chauffeur you when I'm passing through your bit of the Effete South (Midlands?)

Oh yes - the sky! - I'd forgotten that :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:50 pm

Your photos brought back memories :D Beinn an Eoin especially, and "the naughty tor" :lol: We did the same route last year in spring, and enjoyed every moment, including scrambling up some tors on Sgorr Tuath. Funny, this top has 149m of drop, only 1m short of classifying as a sub'2000 Marylin (which would make it compulsory for many hill baggers). I saw too many reports of Beinn an Eoin being climbed as a sidekick to Ben More Coigach and missing this fantastic extra ridge, which in my opinion is better than the man one!

We're actually planning to visit the crash site on Cranstackie at some point this year, so many thanks for the info where to look! We had done the two Corbetts before, but we didn't realize there was a plane crash site there... Each one of them is a part of our history. Once we were strolling along the ridge of Scaraben in Sutherland and I stepped on a piece of aluminum. Another lost plane I didn't know about... There are so many crashed planes scattered over Scottish hills and almost every one is connected with tragedy and death. Sad yet so fascinating...

I don't know if you have done Ban More Assynt-Conival, but there is a crash site (the only one with graves of the crew) on the northern slopes of Na Tuadhan (N top of Conival). Worth a detour on a good day, also the extra top is an interesting addition. We visited it two weeks ago. I'm so behind with my reports that I will probably take a couple of weeks to post my story :D
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:31 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Your photos brought back memories :D Beinn an Eoin especially, and "the naughty tor" :lol: ... I saw too many reports of Beinn an Eoin being climbed as a sidekick to Ben More Coigach and missing this fantastic extra ridge...!

Once we were strolling along the ridge of Scaraben in Sutherland and I stepped on a piece of aluminum. Another lost plane I didn't know about... There are so many crashed planes scattered over Scottish hills and almost every one is connected with tragedy and death. Sad yet so fascinating...

I don't know if you have done Ban More Assynt-Conival, but there is a crash site (the only one with graves of the crew) on the northern slopes of Na Tuadhan (N top of Conival). Worth a detour on a good day, also the extra top is an interesting addition. We visited it two weeks ago. I'm so behind with my reports that I will probably take a couple of weeks to post my story :D


"the naughty tor" :lol: :lol: - And I was trying SO hard to keep it clean against all the odds :wink: I haven't read reports of Beinn an Eoin, I confess, but often seen pictures of what I've captioned the "classic" view from ST which have had me salivating for ages. Some of those were undoubtedly yours :D

I didn't know about Scaraben, so thank you for sharing that, and though I have been up BMA/Conival I didn't know about the crash site there until later. Like you, Weaselmaster and (as he says) probably many others, I do have a mixture of feelings when I come across them: first sadness and curiosity, but also peacefulness, and yes, a connection with our history.

Apologies, because I haven't put my Cranstackie route up, but basically, don't go to the bealach - just make a beeline for the centre of the top crags. Let's see if I can plonk it in here...oh yes, apparently so. v

Looking forward to your Na Tuadhan report! Bound to entice me up there again sooner rather than later :)
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:18 pm

PS thanks for drawing my attention to the wonderful puss moth. :D

Puss Moth.jpg
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:50 pm

Alteknacker wrote:PS thanks for drawing my attention to the wonderful puss moth. :D

Puss Moth.jpg


Gorgeous, isn't it!! I do now want one the size of that ^ :lol:
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Re: Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:06 am

Good report - enjoyed reading it :) That's a heck of a size of cleft.
Was up Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh last year - also had clag on both summits but needless to say it was clear in between.
You were probably right about not going up BS that day - the boulder field seems interminable ! Thanks :)
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rockhopper
 
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Joined: Jun 1, 2009
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7 people think this report is great.
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