Category: outdoors

Backpacking Beinn Dearg

Getting busy schedules to co-inside is hard, but Fiona and I put the date in the diary and made it stick. The plan was to spend a few days in the hills, tick a few Munros and generally get away from it all.

A good breakfast and a late start meant a pretty full car park at Inver Lael, and as we headed higher up we began to meet a few folk coming back down.  From the folk we chatted to it seems our late start paid off, we missed the early clag and rain,  and as we climbed higher the cloud began to break.


We first made for the top of Beinn Derag itself, high point of the trip, following the destitution wall to near the summit. then returning to the bealach for the climb to Cona’ Mheall. Views into rear corries from here were ace.


The summits were now cloud free, and we had views across to Seana Bhraigh, The Fannichs, Fisherfeild and into the Glencalvie Forrest. We returned to the Bealach for the final time and finished off the evening with the ascent of Meall nan Ceapraichean.


Meall nan Ceapraichean from the bealach


After crossing a steep, but mushy, snowfeild we descended North to a lochan strewn bealach below Eididh nan Clach Geala and made camp for the night.




As the sun set we were treated to spectacular views into Fisherfeild. Beinn Dearag Mor holding the eye as the sun streamed through the darkening clouds.


Into Fisherfeild


The clouds must have continued to draw in overnight, as dawn saw us waking up inside the cloud. Despite this we headed easily up to summit Eididh nan Clach Geala before 9am. The days plan had been to continue round to Seana Bhraigh, and we set off nav’ing in that direction. But enthusiasm for another night on the hill had been dampened, and Seana Bhraigh had looked so nice the day before it seemed a shame not to see her in full glory. So instead we made for the exit path and returned to the car and a house with a warm shower.


Heading home in cloud


We used day three to head to Glen Cannich and the corbett of Sgorr na Diollaid. We arrived to find company, a large group from Ayr setting off up the hill. The weather came and went, with baking sun, and cloud, but the rain mostly stayed away. Views down Loch Mulladoch ringed with massive hills whetted our appetite for future trips…


The View into Glen Cannich


Morning Mountaineering

I have midweek days off – which most people don’t, including my winter partner.  But we’ve found a solution – just go out for the morning.

It totally feels like a gift getting up a hill or a route and being back at work in time for the afternoon shift at 2pm.  So far we’ve been to the Cairngorms and Sgorr Rudah. Admittedly this probably only works if you live in Inverness – but then why wouldn’t you?


Backpacking the South Glensheil Ridge

Yes I know you can walk the ridge in a day, and I totally could walk it in a day too – but that’s kind of missing the point.  I like camping out at the top of mountains – day into night and back again is when they are at the most magic. And I love all the stuff that goes with camping, the eating outside, the sitting on the ground, the watching the sunset, tea with instant milk, poor sleep, being too hot, being too cold, waking up and sticking your head out the door.  No really, I love it all.

Why camping on the hills is good - waking up to this view

waking up and sticking your head out the door – this

We walked in in the evening – ate our tea at the bottom of the hill then walked up and over to camp at the first bealach.  great views across the glen, and to Ben Nevis, and along the ridge.  We mined clean snow from a remaining patch, and left it to the air do the work of melting it for our morning cuppa.  It’ s hard to turn in and away from the views, but even though we’re up – it’s still a long along to go.

Woke up in the middle of the night for a pea, still light and the cloud had closed right in.  Turned to look back and couldn’t see the tents at all;  just white glowing cloud all around.  A little freaked I made a hasty retreat back behind the tent door.

Morning. Mountains. A ridge to be walked.  walking,  stopping at the sound of running water to refill bottles, shouldering packs and walking more. Eating on summits; a hill walking ritual. Not all of the summits; but most.

Views into Knoydart

Views into Knoydart, photo by Fiona

And then we’re there, then end of the ridge.  We pitch our tents and brew up as the hill clears of the day trippers. Some of them glad to be going down – but some of them get why we’re staying up here.

The next day is to be short, fiona’s got to be on a train south in the evening.  We tackle a corbett.  It undulates and seems to put up more of a fight than the well trodden ridge.  an endearing feature.  Then we pack up and head down into the glen.

And yeah we could have done it in a day – but why would you want to?

Esk Pike Flora/Scramble

Carpet, originally uploaded by lenoclimb.

More rainy days in the Lakes. Time to tick off a few missing Wainwrights; Rossett Pike and Esk Pike. The later by a grade 2 scramble along the North West Spur. Grey, humid, spits, spots. But under foot and hand a wealth of treats for a wild flower freak like myself.

Tower Ridge and Ben Nevis

Whilst Up in Scotland supporting Karl with his west highland way race attempt, I just had to squeeze in a bit of hill time. Cath was pretty keen for Tower Ridge, and I was keen to make my first time on ‘The Ben’ special; so that’s a plan! Just left to rope in Susie in for a touch of local knowledge and some gear and we had a team.

After the weekend’s persistent rain, Tuesday’s forecast look positively good.  Knowing the morning capabilities of our group packing the night before was deemed wise; sitting around catching up on gossip over a bag of gear and guidebooks. Still not what you’d call and alpine start but only 30mins later than the 9am plan.

A sunny walk up the Allt a Mhuillin, and never having been anywhere near Ben Nevis before my eyes were taking it all in, Susie pointing out options for ways down and other routes up the hill. Lunch gave us time to check out our objective, pretty awe inspiring.

Lunch Stop by the CIC hut

A sunny lunch stop by the CIC Hut

We ended up going quite high on the approach path, before contouring in to the approach gully, but it worked out OK as there was a nice big ledge to stop and put harnesses etc on. We used the route description from Dan Bailieys Scottish Mountain Ridges book for the route itself.

We got the rope out for the access chimney, but were soon scrambling off up the ridge after that.


The way ahead

We got the rope out again for the slanty ledge, but back to soling after that.  We made a few trips along promising looking paths – looking for the eastern traverse – but (correctly) wrote them off as unlikley candidates.

Tower Ridge Cave

Really obvious when you find it; enter and climb out through the hole in the roof

When we did find the eastern traverse – leading to the cave it was super obvious, and right below the vertical part of the Great Tower.   I felt like I was getting used to the scrambling now – even on easy climbs I would normally opt for my rock boots – but I was starting to use my feet, and move more confidently.

The weather closed in pretty heavily as we reached the top of the Great Tower, and rain started to fall in earnest. Just in time for Tower Gap. We could just about see it as we peered into the mist.  Ropes out again.  I was secretly a little bit pleased that nobody else was up for leading this. Actually it felt kinda quite easy; one of those reach your tippy toe down moves like the descent from Raven Crag.  Then to belay everyone else across and get into warm clothes.

The guide suggests striking a macho pose at the top of the route – but there was no one there to see. Instead we had a group hug and giggled a bit. Having come this far we then of course had to make a trip to the summit – where we sat in the refuge and and drank tea.

The Top of Ben Nevis

You'll just have to take my word for it - the UK's highest point

A wet descent down the tourist track to the half way lochan, then following the outflow back down to the top car park, and a slow trudge down to the North Face carpark. Last car in the car park, everyone looking very tired.

10 hours car to car.

On the drive home we’d occasionally turn to each other, smile, “hey, we climbed tower ridge”, “giggle giggle”:  still doing that now.