Sunday, 21 August 2016

Conival and Ben More Assynt

Conival from Ben More Assynt

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Ascent:         1360 metres
Distance:      20 kilometres
Time:            7 hours 28 minutes

Conival                     987m      2hrs 40mins
Ben More Assent      998m     3hrs  29mins  

The sun was beating down at 6am so I wasted little time in breaking camp and getting on the road from Durness. I had originally intended to climb the two most northerly corbetts, Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh, but decided this would leave insufficient time for Conival and Ben More Assynt later in the day. I could have climbed Canisp instead of Conival and Ben More but I wanted to take advantage of fine day for the two munros. The drive south on the A838 passes some of the most spectacular scenery in the highlands including Foinaven and Quinag. They had a mesmeric pre historic presence in the early morning sun. It was 8:30am before I set out from the Inchnadamph car park that served as midge central so I wasted no time starting the walk up Gleann Dubh. 

After a couple of kilometres up the path I met a walker coming out, he had started his walk at 4am. It is an easy start to the walk on a track and then a grassy path beside the river. After 4 kilometres the path begins to ascend steeply as it climbs into the corrie on a path that oscillates between mud and a quartzite staircase that every so often became a gushing drainage channel. The day was heating up and I had to stop to fill up with water a couple of times. I can seldom remember days as hot as the last three in the Scottish hills and wished that I had worn shorts now that I was out of the long grass and heathers and away from the ticks.  Conival looms over the corrie to the right, on previous visits I have made direct ascents up the crags in my impatience to reach the summit but today I kept to the path. 

There is a scramble through a rock band before reaching the ridge that climbs southwards to the summit of Conival. The final section levels out and provides a wonderful airy promenade with the enticing white quartzite ridge to Ben More Assynt to the east and views to Canisp, Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag to the south west. It was a dazzling spectacle that made the walk a festival of gawping. I had a brief stop at the summit of Conival before beginning the two kilometre walk over the sparkling ridge to Ben More Assynt. There is not a big drop but several descents and ascents over exposed quartzite blocks. Just before the summit I met a walker beginning the return and we chatted for a while. He told me of a route off Conival to the north that passed the site of a crashed airplane and said that there was a good stalker's path back to Inchnadamph. It added a few kilometres but avoided the need to descend the jumbled boulders and mud of the corrie. 

I was on the summit of Ben More Assynt before noon and decided to eat my sparse lunch whilst enjoying the panorama of the northern highlands. There are two summits both with cairns so I visited them both before returning across the ridge. Time was on my side as I had decided not to bother with another hill but to head home instead, I had accomplished the objective of 8 munros in 3 days and the corbetts could wait. They would be a good excuse for a visit next year. It allowed me to try out the route that had been mentioned to me. Instead of descending down the corrie from the cairn I continued northwards, climbing to a small lochan at the foot of a quartzite scree slope, the water was crystal clear. The other walker was about a mile ahead and I watched him as he headed over the plateau of Beinn an Fhurain. There were ninety or so deer grazing on the short grass and an easy gentle descent to the north that involved some dodging of the water courses. More deer watched my approach and moved a couple of hundred metres to allow me through. 

I came upon the site of the aircraft crash that occurred during a training flight in 1941. It was an Avro Anson used in coastal reconnaissance. The six crew had survived the crash but died on the remote plateau as they sought to find a way down. They were found by a shepherd several days later. A grave had recently been erected at the site and the two Armstrong Siddeley engines were both on view as was some of the undercarriage. I had watched the other walker disappear into the rock strewn terrain ahead and found a couple of cairns that led me down a steep descent. The narrow Loch nan Caorach was ahead and I began the scramble over the boulders on its southern shore. A herd of deer were watching my progress from the slopes opposite and I was surprised to hear several loud whistles. I could see nobody so decided to keep clear of the deer, it may have been a stalker, and made for what was a deep ravine ahead. It was too steep and rocky to descend with confidence so I climbed back up to the shoulder of Meall nan Caorach and found a skittish route down to the river below. It looked as if there was a stalker's path on the other side. 

After threaded my way down the crags, I crossed a boggy area and then waded the river and found a narrow path that was cairned. It soon disappeared as I headed towards Inchdadamph and there was a tedious half hour of battering down the heather pleased that I had not worn shorts. Little did I know that the real path was 30 metres above me. Eventually I did happen upon it as I made the final descent to the track along Gleann Dubh. I had a good view of the new house that sits hidden from the glen and appears to have been designed to imitate the conical summit of Quinag. 

I arrived back at the car before 4pm and changed and scavenged some food from the cold bag in the car. I was about to leave when the other walker appeared and told me I had taken the wrong route down and that he had been whistling me to stop me going down the ravine. He was relieved that I had made it down and we reflected that it would have been near impossible on a winter's night after an aircrash. 

The three day unadulterated munro bash was over and I drove down to Ullapool to buy a cold drink and then onto Aviemore to visit a large family group who were holidaying there. It was 11pm before I made it home.

Gleann Dubh path
Heading into the corrie below Conival
Looking across to Qunag and Silvan from Conival ridge
Loch Assynt and Quinag from Conival
Beinn an Fhurain and Quinag from Ben More Assynt
Ben More Assynt from Conival
Loch Assynt and Quinag from Conival

Ben More Assynt from lochan

Deer above airbrush site
Avro Ansell engine
Loch nan Cearach
New house imitates Quinag profile
Looking uo Gleann Dubh to Conival

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck

Ben Hope from Hope

Ben Klibreck, Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Ascent:       980 metres
Distance:    13 kilometres
Time:          4 hours 38 minutes

Ben Klibreck              961m      2hrs 24mins   

The early morning was shrouded in mist but it did not stop the midges as I packed the tent and began to roll north up the single track A836 road from Lairg to Altnaharra. It was a scary drive with cattle trucks and van drivers heading south at speed and visibility less than 100 metres. The afforestion here is amongst the ugliest around, oddly shaped spruce plantations with no respect for the lonely landscape. It has been funded by tax dodging celebrities who have exploited forestry grants to degrade the vast voids of the flow country. Ben Klibreck emerged from the mists as I approached the Crask Inn and I thought briefly about starting the walk from here but there were a couple of motor homes parked so I continued down Strath Vagastie until the footbridge over the river that was still in full flow with the recent rainwater. There is a lay-by for 4 or 5 cars here and I was the first customer for the interminable slog across 4 kilometres of bogland.

Ben Klibreck certainly challenges the spirit of the walker, there are a few narrow and boggy paths that fade and re emerge as deer paths higher up but there is little respite from the steady climb with feet operating like suction pads. As you gain height the lochans to the north provide some visual foreground for the stunning distant profiles of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal that pop up above the diminishing horizon. As on previous visits I elected to take the steep route from Loch nan Uan up to the ridge that runs from Creag an Lochan to A'Chioch. It is a brutal 300 metres of ascent through deep heather and facing west the slope was in the shade, the midges were feasting on me as I stopped for blaeberries to sustain me on the climb. Only towards the top did I stumble onto a path that had become a man made gulley for draining the slopes. This is why most people elect to walk the hill from the Crask. It saves 100 metres of ascent and captures the breeze that keeps the midges at bay but it adds 3 kilometres of distance.

Reaching the ridge is entering another domain, short grass, and gentle incline towards A'Chioch with splendid views to the flow country and the distant dramatic hills. There were three walkers behind me coming up from the Crask and another walker was ahead almost at the summit. There is another 250 metres of ascent up a 30° slope that is well defined as it twists upwards through quartzite and other rocks. Ben Klibreck is a fine summit and as I arrived the other walker was still enjoying the vistas. He was a young civil engineer who had recently returned from Nepal and before that he had worked on a wind farm that we could see to the north. My comments about the damage caused by the plantations was replicated by his experience of building the wind farm on the site of a plantation that had been felled but not cleared. One set of plantation subsidies for the landowners had been substituted by a rental stream for the wind turbines.

We spent 15 minutes in discussion at the summit and then began the descent together. We passed the other walkers as they were sweating up the final slope and then for 3 kilometres we shared experiences and he explained his hopes for the future. His ambition was to find work constructing sustainable buildings instead of erecting cheap premises that would be cash cows for shady investors intent on abstracting subsidies and tax concessions. In the meantime he was going to help a friend renovate a traditional bothy. I wished him well in his career as I veered off to make my way down to the bogland that was decorated with cotton grass all the way back to the footbridge. A large dog gave me a rousing reception as I came across a young german family enjoying a picnic alongside the river Vagastie.  Ben Klibreck is not high on my list of favourite hills but like every other hill walk it had provided a reminder of how challenging bogs, heather and steep slopes can be on hot days. It also gave me hope about the good values of the younger generation.

Ben Klibreck from the Crask

Ben Loyal over Loch nan Uan

Midge remembered heather slopes
The view north west from the A'Chioch ridge
Ben Hope and Ben Loyal from Ben Klibeck

Ben Hope, Tuesday 16 August 2016
Ascent:           940 metres 
Distance:        7 kilometres
Time:              3 hours 26 minutes

Ben Hope       927m      1 hr 57mins

The drive from Ben Klibreck to Ben Hope is a long 20 miles on a single track road that is becoming more like a dirt track with a couple of bridges having been washed out and the tarmac is so old it is weathering. The days of Highland roads being well maintained are no longer with us as Council budgets have been savagely cut since the recession and ex Chancellor Osborne's experiment in enforcing austerity. There is a large parking area at the foot of the climb and it was full of cars and motor homes. The early walkers were returning so I was able to find a space and to load some fruit into my rucksack. The heat was mediterranean like although it was almost 3pm. I thought about wearing shorts but the prospect of abstracting the ticks on getting home made me stick with trousers.

Once again I was staggered how muddy the path was as I climbed the steep path alongside the waterfall and into the rocky quagmire that continues for a good kilometre as the braided path seeks to penetrate the rock girt ramparts of Ben Hope. I am fond of the hill so it may have been the heat or the effect of the morning walk but it was a hard slog. Even the walkers on the descent seemed to be struggling over the unyielding ground. Once on the higher ground at 450 metres the walk becomes easier, not that the gradient relents, the ground is rockier and drier and there is a reasonable semblance of a path. All of the descending walkers made similar comments about rather you than me as I dug into the task of fighting the heat and the slopes. I met a young couple struggling down, the girl had spent three days celebrating a wedding in Inverness and was fully spent. A south african told me there was still ten minutes to go as he staggered down the hill when the summit was only a couple of minutes away. 

The summit is at the top of an airy ridge and although the day was bright, a heat haze meant that the views were less clear than I had hoped. I retrieved an apple, gulped down another litre of burn water and began the descent. It was a lot easier although my feet were suffering in a pair of old hill running shoes the were too tight. The final section of the descent down the muddy path was tricky, I had caught up with walkers who were nervously slipping and sliding down the wet rock and mud. A german couple were bathing in the pool above the waterfall. I briefly thought about joining them but I had no towel and I realised that they were skinny dipping. Besides it was 6:30pm and I had an hours drive to Durness where I intended to stop for food and an overnight camp.

Start of the ascent of ben Hope
Final climb to summit of Ben Hope
Looking east from summit of Ben Hope

Ben Hope summit

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Strathfarrar Four

The portents were good with the possibility of four days of fine weather after the rains of the last week. It was a chance to finish off my remaining munros in the far north. The only problem was the searing heat and the prospect of camping with the midges when they would be at their most ferocious. I deliberated various itineraries and decided to start by climbing the four munros in Strathfarrar that I had missed in June. I could then complete a loop taking in Ben Klibreck and Ben Hope followed by Conival and Ben More Assynt.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Ascent:        1360 metres
Distance:     18 kilometres
Time:           6 hours 8 minutes

Sgur na Ruaidhe                    993m     1hr   59mins
Carn nan Gobhar                   992m     2hrs 57mins
Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais         1083m     3hrs 45mins
*Creag Ghorm a' Bhealaich 1030m     4hrs 31mins
Sugar Fhuar Thuill              1049m     4hrs 50mins 

* top  

I left home early to try and beat the A9 traffic but 20 minutes at the Broxden roundabout in Perth and then a game of follow my leader up the A9 put paid to my good intentions. It was 11:30am by the time I reached Strathfarrar and was allowed a late entry through the locked gate up this magical but private glen. The gate lady warned me about not arriving back late. I would have seven and a half hours to drive up the glen, climb the four munros, walk back 7 kilometres to the car, drive back down the glen and escape before she locked the gate for the night and reported me missing.

Strathfarrar is like going back in time. The glorious long glen provides a remnant of beautiful birch and scots pine woodland along a clear rippling river. It is a game reserve for men in tweed with fly fishing rods strapped on their land rovers (the real ones, not monstrous urban chic range) and the only incursion to its Edwardian charm are 1950's hydro electricity stations complete with obtrusive pylons. I parked at he east end of the four hills and was warned by a woman in the next car, who had just returned from walking part way up the hill with her husband, that the ascent is very muddy and I should wear boots. I didn't have any with me having long ago relegated boots to winter and wet autumn usage.

She was right and after the first half kilometre I was ankle deep in mud, the clear sunny day was not going to dry out the boggy ground anytime soon. The path is easily followed and takes a good line up to Coire Mhuillidh on the east side of the burn. Then a long steady climb through the grass and heathers towards the never nearing summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe. A parapenter appeared from Carn nan Gobhar, gliding over the summit then making a large circuit of the summit before continuing his journey east. It reminded me, as do eagles and deer, how slow we move as we climb the hills. It had taken almost two hours to reach the summit. The day was getting better but hotter all the time.

The walk to the next summit, Carn nan Gobhar, is fairly straightforward - a descent down a gentle grassy slope and then a dog leg path to the summit. The final stretch is over a boulder field and the cairn is at the north end of a plateau like summit. I was walking well and set off immediately to curve round onto a flattish ridge before dropping to a bealach and then climbing a long slope to the highest of the four summits. I passed a party of five going in the other direction and arranged a lift back with one of the party who had dumped a bike at the east end so that he could to cycle the 7  kilometres to collect his car, which was parked at the west end where I would finish my walk. If we arrived at roughly the same time it would save me a long walk along the road.

The summit of Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais was a good vantage point and I had a late lunch before descending down a boulder field that I could and should have avoided. I was walking towards the west with the Mullardoch hills, Torridons, Fisherfield and Fannaichs, a tantalising grouping of favourite hills and all in my line of sight. There is an intermediate top, Creag Ghorm a' Bhealach, before the final munro and the walking is easy. The late afternoon sun was beating down and the Highlands had a balmy atmosphere. Where was a cool breeze on a day like this? I continued along the ridge and descended by the splendid stalker's path noting that there was a walker about a mile ahead.

I stopped only for a top up of cool burn water and about 2 kilometres from the road I caught the walker. He was ages with me and trying to finish the munros, 40 to go, despite being based in Middlesborough. He was well organised and had his days meticulously planned. Next day he was off to climb the Loch Quoich munros and then to Bidean nam Bian on his way home. He offered me a lift back to my car and I accepted gratefully, not revealing that I had battered down on the hope that he had a car at the west end.  I had to sit on top of his bike which was filling the back of the hatchback but it was a welcome lift. I had changed and was ready to drive off when the man with the bike arrived at the bottom of the hill to start his bike ride. I explained that I no longer needed a lift back and escaped the glen with an hour and a half to spare. The drive to Lairg in the evening sunshine was memorable although my normal food stops in Evanton and Bonar Bridge had both closed down since my last visits. I found a good hotel for some food in Lairg and camped for the night on a well maintained camp site that looked straight out of the 1960's. Ben Hope tomorrow.

The slog up Sgurr na Ruaidhe was not eased by parapenting cheats

Sgurr a' Choire Ghais and Carn nan Gobhar from Ruaidhe summit

Carn nan Gobhar summit, Fannaichs behind

Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais from Carn nan Gobhar

Sgurr Fhuar Thuill from Choire Ghlais

Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais from Fhuar Thuil 

Looking west to Loch Monar from Sgurr Fuar Thuill, 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Greensand Way, Knole House

Kent landscapes

Borough Green to Sevenoaks
Distance: 16 kilometres
Time:  4 hours

Trips to London usually involve a visit to one of the multitude of national museums, walks around the city sites as well as lots of time taking grandchildren to parks and visiting family members. We were invited by our daughter on this occasion to partake in a long distance walk along part of the Greensand Way in Kent. We were given several options and eventually chose Borough Green to Sevenoaks section, not least because rail connections to other stations had been cancelled. This section was accessed by South Eastern trains that have escaped the opprobrium heaped on the neighbouring franchise, Southern trains.

I was a bit sceptical of a walk without real hills but happy to escape the city on a day the Rio Olympics began. As we set out from Brixton on a perfect summer morning the blue sky above London was perfect, disturbed only by airplanes descending towards Heathrow with police helicopters augmenting the decibel level. As always in London we were staggered at the frequency of trains, the newness of the carriages and the speed of travel. It felt like a different country than the rest of the UK with its clapped out rolling stock, docile speeds and irregular timetables.

Alighting at Borough Green our walk was a a south and then west traverse across the Kent Downs. There was little evidence of way-marking so we relied on our daughter's memory assisted by the app on her phone, a combination that is more foolproof than any map, to guide us along the intricate network of paths. We escaped the small sleepy town before negotiating our way through woods, fields, and crossing streams to gain views of the garden of England in full bloom. It was a bit of a revelation for me. There was always a new perspective and challenge. As we tramped our way through half a kilometre of nettles, a farmer called out cheerily that it should be an Olympic sport. Why not I thought, it is a far more natural sport and a lot less commercial than golf or football. It would fit well with equestrian events and trap shooting and I am sure that Clare Balding could find the right words for a commentary.

We emerged from the early sections of the walk into the glorious Kent landscape, an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), of rolling countryside dotted with oast houses, now converted to expensive houses, hop fields, wheat fields, orchards, parkland with grazing deer, lavender fields and well preserved villages from centuries past. We arrived at Ightham Mote after a couple of hours and found a picnic table to partake in some healthy refreshments that had been brought along for us. We had met few other walkers on the Greensand Way but at Ightham we encountered hundreds of visitors arriving in cars to visit the house and gardens. We continued the walk passing the medieval house and its moat and then circling above its gardens alive with the throngs of visitors delving into their picnic hampers.

We were alone again and the next few miles were a real treat as we walked through the garden of England. A well tended Bramley apple orchard with a density of fruit as bunched as brussel sprouts was followed by wheat fields and then some dairy cows. I was salivating at all the indigenous ingredients for my favourite sweet course. Next a few fields of lavender, soft fruit was being grown in polytunnels in nearby hollows and what looked like a vineyard was baking in the heat. A craft brewery was in a converted barn and the brick huts for the hop pickers made the terraced houses of industrial Britain look large.

We had not seen another person as we entered the heathland as we approached Knole House. The famous parklands had been hunting grounds for Henry VIII after he had commandeered the 400 room house from an archbishop. The grounds now host fallow deer, a golf course and thousands of tourists. The National Trust claim that the deer are wild but they seemed oblivious to the dogs, children, cyclists and photographers that trespassed on their territory. We walked across a school playing field and rested on the perfect grass soaking the sun and admiring the well tended grounds of a private school that had more land that it wasn't forced to sell than would accommodate a dozen urban comprehensives.

Sevenoaks was pretty much as I expected, Waitrose and Sainsbury with their massive car parks full of german engineered cars and then a pedestrianised town centre. There were no vacant shops, just a mixture of high end retailers, banks and building societies, independent shops and a smattering of well tended pubs with tables spilling onto the squares and streets. A perfect place for a drink to end the walk. It was only 4pm so we absorbed the atmosphere of this well heeled town before marching down the hill to the station.

On the way to the station every other car seemed to be an open top coupe complete with a pair of well dressed pensioners. We passed a dealership that had more Bentley convertibles on display than in a premier league football team training ground. The train to London flew through villages and towns that reminded me of famous by-elections like Orpington. We returned to Herne Hill station and decided to walk another 3 kilometres (to keep the fitbit ticking) through the leafy streets of Dulwich to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate the day out with a healthy meal although I did crave an apple pie.

Kent had surpassed my expectations, if you leave your wheels at home you can escape the crowds and there are some steep inclines along the way to keep the thighs in trim.

Saturday morning waiting for the train
Bramley Apple orchard

Oast Houses
Ightham Mote
Wheatfields for the pie crust
Knole House
Fallow deer

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Choice, the bane of our lives

I don't want to switch suppliers, its all the same stuff

Listening to the radio this morning I was angered by the chief executive from ofgem claiming that the only way to reduce energy costs is to encourage switching. The six major energy companies put us onto their standard variable tariff once households switch from the time limited 'inducement tariffs' that are no more than a bribe to switch.  Apparently 70% of us, me included, have never switched and therefore lose out. But life is too short to spend time looking at comparison websites to find the best tariff and then coping with all the paperwork, contact centres, switching dates and changing direct debits, only to have to do the same again 12 months later unless you forget.  Gas and electricity are just the same whichever of the big six suppliers provides the headed paper. It is just another call centre with all the mind numbing nonsense that you have to deal with.

And all this in the name of choice. What would make life so much easier is not to be harangued every day by call centres seeking my custom for something I don't have or don't want to change. Or to be told by regulators like ofgem that the best way to get a lower price is to switch. The beauty of the internet is that the customer can decide if and when they want a different product. Electricity and gas are just electricity and gas. Push marketing by the big six and the ever increasing throng of new 'suppliers' just consumes vast resources of personnel and cost that could be better spent reducing energy costs. Besides I am quite satisfied with my supplier, SSE, it is investing heavily in sustainable supplies, has a good customer contact centre and is the generator as well as supplier of electricity in the locality.

Choice was the mantra of Mrs Thatcher and pursued vigorously by Tony Blair for all sorts of public services from railways to schools as well as energy. Has it made things better? Well not according to HMIe for schools, the various regulatory bodies or even the Competition and Market Authority for services like gas and electricity. And the customers have shown a steadfast reluctance to participate in the game of leapfrog that has been introduced by the voracious suppliers that have grown in size and avarice since choice became the mother of efficiency.

There are far fewer people switching energy suppliers today than there were in 2008 before the recession. Customers by and large want to switch on their energy not to switch their provider. Playing the lottery of tariffs that the government and their regulators think is the only way to increase competition is for gamblers and folk with more time than sense. Stability and fairness is what is required not the choice of a market place that inevitable penalises those who can't play or won't play this game of chance. How I long for the days of nationwide tariffs that are consistently fair to all and freedom from the never ending inducements to switch. Choice is too often a means for companies to manipulate prices and reduce value through duping the customer. I want to choose life instead.

Stob Ban and Cruach Innse

Stob Ban

August 2016
Ascent:     1276 metres
Distance:  19 kilometres
Time:        6 hours 9 minutes

Larich Leachach   470m       1hr  29mins (1/8/16)
Stob Ban               977m       2hrs 37mins
Larich Leacach     470m       3hrs 50mins  
Cruach Innse         857m       4hrs 58mins

After the walk the previous day, I drove up to Corriechoille from Spean Bridge. It was a beautiful summer's evening, the clouds had disappeared and there was a warmth in the air that meant I could dispense with a jacket. After packing some gear I set out to walk to the Lairig Leacach Bothy where I would camp for the night. I had some notion to climb Stob Ban and watch the sunset on a clear evening but it was 8:15pm when I reached the bothy and I spent 15 minutes with the inmates after being told to close the door and keep the midges out. There is no such thing as a typical collection of individuals in a bothy. There were three middle aged men on a week's walking holiday from England and an 18 year old girl who had succumbed to munro madness and was keen to finish before she was 21. Another man who worked with Ordnance Survey and had recently begun to climb the munros, despite living in Southampton, had already retreated to his tent.

I pitched my tent beside the burn so I could enjoy the soothing rippling of water as I dozed off. Even though it was not yet 9:30pm I turned in, feeling remarkably comfortable having escaped the midges. The next morning I was walking just after 7am and true to the forecast there were blue skies but clouds were gathering in the west. There is a reasonable path up the ridge to Stob Ban that leaves the track a couple of hundred metres south of the bothy. It is a steep climb for 200 metres and then there is a pleasant level section below the ridge before the final steep ascent to the summit. I could see a walker ahead of me and presumed that it was the walker from the tent next to me, was my snoring that bad? I had just about caught him by the summit although he had been carrying a full rucksack and I had travelled with nothing but a camera and mars bar. We spent 15 minutes or so talking through his plan for the day and the business plan of Ordnance Survey. He was on a week's walking holiday snd wanted to climb the Mamores. The weather was not promising so he decided to walk over the path to Kinlochleven and get a bed for a night.

I decided to descend the quartzite screes to the north as I had done on four previous occasions. It is steep and tricky particularly in the wet. The loose blocks of quartzite are not easy on the feet and there is a sense that there could be an avalanche at some point. I reached the bealach where Gregor and I had camped on a rain soddened night with surface water passing through the tent in the early hours. The descent back is down the corrie and the path, although boggy in places, allows a quick return to the bothy. It was still not 9:30am so I packed the tent and gear, a wind had sprung up so the midges were in abeyance, and finished a strange breakfast of cous cous and banana before setting out for Cruach Innse as the grey clouds began to sweep over the Grey Corries.

The climb was far quicker than expected, a couple of kilometres back along the drove road and then a climb to the broad bealach between Sgurr Innse and Cruach Innse. There is a fine climb threading through the rock bands until reaching the broad summit ridge. I arrived just before the clouds engulfed the summit and didn't stay long enough to become immersed in cloud. I made a fairly direct descent to the track. On reflection this was probably a mistake, I should have headed to the outlying hill Cnoc nan Ceann Mora, which would have been far gentler and kinder to the legs. I was back at the car before 12:30pm well ahead of my schedule. My original intention was to drive round to Kinlochleven and climb another corbett but the rains had started by the time I reached Onich so I headed home.

Cruach Innse from the drove road to Lairig Leacach
Stob Choice Claurigh and tops (Grey Corries)
Cruach Innse and Sgurr Innse from slopes of Stob Ban
Mamores from Stob Ban summit
Lairig Leacach Bothy
Cruach Innse from Lairig Leacach
Cruach Innse summit as black clouds gather
Walk done looking north west