Sunday 9 August 2020

Not - Bla Bheinn

Bla Bheinn - from the John Muir Trust car park

Another glorious day on the West Coast of Scotland - the forecast was for 25 degrees again! - so with plenty of water in our packs, we made an early start for an attempt on Bla bheinn - a potential first Munro for grandson #1!

Jim and I had been this way up Bla Bheinn before - we remembered how much we'd enjoyed the scrambling - easy but exciting (on the route we chose!) - and great views of the main Cuillin ridge from the summit - not to far and not too high. Plus we'd had a close up of a golden eagle on our descent!

Bla Bheinn and Garbh-bheinn from near the start of the walk

We weren't just getting away early to avoid the worst of the heat. Everywhere had been very busy and we had a feeling that the recently extended John Muir Trust car park at the foot of our rocky objective could be full if we left later. Good job we did set off in good time - we got the second to last car parking space, and the last place was snapped up a few moments after we pulled in

The John Muir Trust is a great organisation - Jim and I have been members for a goodly number of years now - the pressures on our dwindling wild land are tremendous and the Trust does amazing work, on the ground, within local communities, in education and making sure that those in power have to justify their decisions. And thank you guys for the much improved path into the Bla Bheinn hills...

The approach to Bla Bheinn beside Allt na Dunaiche

Packs and boots donned - off we go. The views were awe-inspiring - especially for a newbie - but we couldn't have wished for a more beautiful day to be in such a grand setting.

Waterfalls on Allt na Dunaiche with Bla Bheinn above

Even this early in the day, it was hot! Hats were dipped in the burn...

Waterfalls on Allt na Dunaiche

The views just kept on getting better and better. The dark of the gabbro and basalt rocks, stark and clear against that azure sky - it didn't feel quite real...

Nearing Coire Uaigneich - ascent of Bla Bheinn

The path became a bit rougher as we climbed into Coire Uaigneich, and once the ascent relented and we got our breaths back, the view just took it away again...

Looking back (east) from ascent into Coire Uaigneich
Views to Red Cuillin over Loch Slapin

Definitely time for first lunch. We clambered up a few rocks to find the perfect picnic spot...

Views south east over Loch Fionna-choire with Sleat Peninsular beyond to a distant Knoydart
from ascent of Bla Bheinn

A few scrambly bits - ascent of Bla Bheinn

Over lunch, we discussed routes and decided to have a scramble about in the rocks to the right (N) of the main path up - initially the path is rough and a bit of a scree slog - so we looked out and spied a good line up a couple of little gullies - if it got too much for anyone, we only had to traverse a few metres left to get back on the main path.

A few more scrambly bits - ascent of Bla Bheinn

Off we go... It was fun.

Ascent of Bla Bheinn - views back (south east) over Loch Fionna-choire to Sleat Peninsula  

Once at the top of the gullies, grandson #1 was keen for more. It had been easy scrambling so far, on that wonderful sticky Skye gabbro - so we agreed to make our way up the next craggy bit. 

We had a bit of a safety talk - not scrambling up anything you couldn't down climb, not climbing directly below someone else, being careful not to knock rocks onto the person below etc...

That way? - ascent of Bla Bheinn

I was in the front, with grandson and son behind, moving diagonally across the hillside, a scrambly bit followed by a grassy terrace - with our daughter-in-law and Jim bringing up the rear.

Before we knew it, a stone was dislodged and went flying down the hill. "Below!"

It bounced and ricochet across the hillside, catching Jim on the side of the head. He did the most amazingly athletic back flip and, luckily, landed on his front on the grassy terrace just a few feet below where he had been climbing. There was a moment of silence and stillness before he moved, got up, laughed and started to flounder about above the cliffs.

Everybody shouted at him to sit down - and shouted again, 'cause he definitely wasn't with it! Eventually he sat on a patch of grass looking sheepish - and bloody!

A scrambly bit too far? - ascent of Bla Bheinn

I contoured my way across the hillside to safer ground with the youngest member of the team and then we went back down the path to the terrace Jim was on. Our son scrambled down directly to his dad.

Jims ear! - Bla Bheinn

Jim's left ear was hanging off!

I've always got a pretty good first aid kit stashed in the bag - and a good job too! - Two large dressings later and Jim's ear was covered up and he was looking a lot less gory. 

And then he wanted to carry on to the summit! I don't think he realised quite how bad the wound was - plus I suppose he was in shock.

We made our way back into the coire and down the path towards Loch Slapin - the view's were still glorious - the hills oblivious - it was almost as if nothing had happened.

On the way to the hospital - descent from Bla Bheinn, Coire Uaigneich

Jim seemed fine in himself, trotting along quite happily - we had a few comments from other walkers coming up the path - bandages and blood can do that!

We took ourselves off to the Dr. MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford - where the wonderful NHS staff stitched Jim's ear back on - only 17 stitches. Thank you guys! If the rock had been 2" to the left, we'd have been laughing about a near miss. But if it had been 2" to the right, it doesn't bear thinking about!

We weren't allowed in with him, of course, Covid-19 regulations - so ice cream and a sunbathe on Broadford's seafront seemed in order.

Views north east across Inner Sound from Broadford, Skye

Jim was fine when we went back to pick him up from the hospital, laughing and joking - trying to make grandson #1 feel better (he thought it was his fault as it was him who had dislodged the rock, but it could have been any one of us). 

Sunset from Glen Nevis

Jim was well enough for an evening saunter beside the River Nevis when we got back to the campsite - enjoying the sunset. 

We'd certainly had an interesting day... 

And it hadn't put the youngster off - he's still wanting to go up Ben Nevis later in the week.

Note to self: purchase climbing helmets!

Route: John Muir Trust car park by B8083 Broadford/Elgin road (NG560215), fp back to road, N across road bridge over Allt na Dunaiche, immediately W along good fp along N bank of burn and ascend into Coire Uaigneich, once into Fionna-choire, just past the crags (NG536212), turn sharp N at a small cairn and follow zig zag very rough path above cliffs return to start

Statistics:  Distance: 6km  Ascent: 550m  Time: 3 hours

Map: OS Explorer 411 Skye - Cuillin Hills

Friday 31 July 2020

A West Coast Summer Holiday - a week at Ardmair (Ullapool) and a week in Glen Nevis

Sidney - views south from Priest Island/AnCleireach - the Summer Isles

After a lockdown spring, a holiday on the West Coast seemed like heaven...

We stayed a week in the lovely coastal campsite at Ardmair Point Campsite, just north of Ullapool, just Jim and me (unless you count Sidney!).

Followed by a week in our regular haunt at the Glen Nevis Campsite, Fort William, with our eldest son and his family, up from Yorkshire.

Below are the walks and boat trips that have their own posts - as you can see it was a pretty busy fortnight!

Ben Mor Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir

Eas a'Chual Aluinn Waterfall

Sidney to Isle Martin

Sidney and the Summer Isles

Ullapool Hill (Meall Mor)

Boat Trip from Arisaig - Lots of Whales

Carn Mor Dear and Ben Nevis

Sidney on Loch Ailort

But here are a few of our little adventures from in between:

Friday, 31st July - Arrival at Cannich and a swim in Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin

Our usual start point for a holiday is a night at  Cannich Woodland Campsite - and this time was no different. It feels like a home from home.

After setting up, we had a little drive up into Glen Affric for a dip in Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin from the Forestry car park under Coille Ruigh na Cuileige (NH244261)

Evening swim in Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin 

It was a little chilly - and the midges were happy to welcome Jim (with his camera) on shore, for a spot of supper.

Evening swim in Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin - the little dot in the water is me...

Saturday, 1st August - North west to Ardmair

River Cannich in Cannich village

After the obligatory morning walk around the lovely village of Cannich, we packed up and headed north west to Ardmair Point, just a couple of hours in the car...

River Cannich at Cannich Bridge

Loch Kanaird from Ardmair Point

Our pitch was right on the shore of Loch Kanaird - views west over Isle Martin and to the Summer Isles beyond, with the mountains of Coigach encirling the loch...

Loch Kanaird and Isle Martin from Ardmair Point

Isle Martin Sunset from Ardmair Point

Sunday, 2nd August - Ben Mor Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir

Monday, 3rd August  - Eas a'Chuil Aluinn Waterfall 

Tuesday, 4th August - To Lochinver

On a somewhat grey and damp morning, and after two days out and about in the hills, we decided on a bit of a road trip - north along the coast roads to Lochinver.

Loch an Eisg Brachaidh, south of Lochinver

We had a short walk along the coastline around the stunning Loch an Eisg Brachaidh - another one of those places we vowed we would have to go back someday.

Seal - Loch an Eisg Brachaidh

And then onward to Lochinver - somewhere we had never explored before, as Jim has always had a strange aversion to the place. So today was the day to change his mind about the village...

River Inver, near Lochinver

We parked up on the seafront, with every intention of finding a cafe for lunch - but everywhere was full to overflowing - so the local shop had to suffice for a sandwich, and we had a picnic overlooking the harbour. 

River Inver, near Lochinver

The next couple of hours were spent happily exploring around the harbour and the village.

River Inver, near Lochinver

Followed by a wander along the River Inver - a lovely walk which we had to ourselves, although it started only a few minutes from the bustling village centre.

Weir on River Inver, near Lochinver

I think Jim's views on Lochinver have softened somewhat.

River Inver near Lochinver

We drove further north to Scourie, but the weather took a definite turn for the worse - raindrops bouncing off the road in front. So it wasn't exactly a day for further exploring on foot. 

But whatever the weather, this bit of coastline is superb. We never tire of it...

Wednesday, 5th August - Sidney to Isle Martin

Thursday, 6the August - Sidney to the Summer Isles

Friday, 7th August - Ullapool Hill (Meall Mor)

Saturday, 8th August - Onward to Geln Nevis

Isle Martin and Garbh Choireachan from Ardmair campsite

It seemed such a shame to be moving on, on such a glorious morning - but we were meeting up with the next generation in Glen Nevis - so after the usual packing up palaver and a cuppa on the beach, we headed south.

Meall Mor from Ardmair campsite

And only 3 hours later we were pitching up again in the Glen Nevis Campsite - with some real hill biggies all around. Plus the sun was still shining!

Glen Nevis campsite - views to Sgurr a'Mhaim from our pitch

The family duly arrived and the annual holiday shenanigans commenced :)

Stob Ban from Glen Nevis campsite

Evening light on the lower slopes of Ben Nevis and Sgurr a'Mhaim from Ben Nevis campsite

Sunday, 9th August - Not Bla Bheinn

Monday, 10th August - River Etive

The River Etive

After a leisurely breakfast, a walk around Glen Nevis and a trip to the shops for supplies, we headed out with our swimming gear for a bracing dip...

After yesterdays adventures on Skye, Jim and his ear were benched and he was left in charge of the towels and the camera!

Swimming in the River Etive

The River Etive has more than one amazing wild swimming spot - this particular one was ours for the afternoon.

Swimming in the River Etive

Tuesday, 11th August - Arisaig Boat Trip and lots of whales

Wednesday, 12th August - A lazy day around Glen Nevis Campsite

Deer in Glen Nevis

We had a wander down into Fort William - taking in the wildlife and having a mess about at the old curling "pond" on the way - coffee, cake and shopping ensued... 

Rescue over Ben Nevis

Later in the day the rescue helicopter was seen over Ben Nevis - it's always a worry when you see it! But thank goodness for those guys.

Sgurr a'Mhaim from Ben Nevis campsite

A barbeque and another walk is always a good end to the day :)

Thursday, 13th August - Carn Mor Dear and Ben Nevis

Friday, 14th August - Sidney on Loch Ailort

Saturday, 15th August - Back to Cannich, and a swim in River Cannich

Another packing up morning - once again, the weather was glorious and looked set in for a few more days - do we really have to start heading home?

The youngsters headed south and we headed north east - back to Cannich.

River Cannich, east of Loch Carrie

You've got to make the most of the last evening - so a dip in the River Cannich seemed in order.

Swim in River Cannich, east of Loch Carrie

We'll be back soon...

Swim in River Cannich, east of Loch Carrie

Saturday 18 July 2020

An afternoon on the River Glass

River Glass near Teanassie

An afternoon paddle on the River Glass from the dam near Teanassie.

River Glass near Aigas

It was a blustery sort of a day - the wind from the west - making it hard going in the more exposed spots along the river.

River Glass with views to Eilean Aigas

We took the eastern channel around Eilean Aigas continuing upstream towards Eskadale.

Eileanaigas House from downstream

The forecast showers did not materialise and it was just a lovely paddle...

River Glass Gorge from downstream

The local ospreys soared overhead, the chicks must have fledged by now.

River Glass - views to Eilean Aigas bridge

River Glass by Eilean Aigas

River Glass near Eskadale

River Glass near Eskadale

Once past Eskadale, the river became more exposed to those pesky westerly gusts and we decided that a leisurely float downstream and through the gorge was the order of the day.

River Glass near Aigas

We only had to steer a course, no effort required, on our way back...

River Glass near Aigas

River Glass Gorge

And the gorge never disappoints.

River Glass Gorge

River Glass Gorge

River Glass Gorge

River Glass Gorge

Just a gentle paddle back to the dam - we'll be back soon.

River Glass dam near Teanassie

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...