Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Long weekend January 27th-30th 2011

My birthday weekend! Yet again we chose to spend it in the Kintail area, with the extra bonus of having Friday off as well as Monday.
Friday we had a good long day doing a winter ridge, Sron na Lairig, in Glencoe on our way up to Dornie, taking advantage of the lovely weather. We weren't directly in the sun for long, due to the north easterly aspect of the ridge, and by the time we topped out it was playing cat and mouse with us! This did however involve some fabulous veil-like cloud effects; my photos don't do it anything like justice.

Sron na Lairig is centre right

After the exciting narrow ridge with precipitous drops on either side!

Lovely cloud effects veiling our view down to Loch Etive

Hills to the south encircled by mist

On the slope up to Stob Coire Sgreamhach

We then went to the nearest munro top, Stob Coire Sgreamhach,  to extend the day, then back by moonlight! Two hours later we arrived at our B 'n' B, the lovely 'Old Schoolhouse' in Dornie; our 9pm arrival not leaving much time for our eagerly anticipated relaxing evening, however what a fab trade off we'd had for it!

Saturday dawned fairly grey but, all importantly, totally dry and with a hint of brightness!! We decided to go up A Ghlas Bheinn, a short drive up the loch from where we were staying.  A lovely walk in with Ben Attow looming on our right (for another day!) and A Ghlas Bheinn on the far left (unfortunately despite taking the camera, the SD card was still in the lap top so this photo was taken on Monday:

Only one other couple were on the hill and they turned round at the bealach. From there on we plodded, sinking our way through rather hard going soft, slushy and slippy snow, and after the previous day's exploits it felt like rather hard work - it must have had about 8 false summits! Towards the end I shouted to Stuart 'is this some kind of sick joke?!'...and then there was another! On the extended lead up to the summit  the snow was delightful and crunchy, or creaking and groaning (LOVE the noises, textures and feel of snow underfoot!). The descent had some very steep sections and it was a 7 hour day, as we had to retrace our footsteps coming back to 'ground level' - we totally missed the very obscure path leading to a bridge and started along a much longer route back, then realised and retraced our steps, then eventually realised we'd gone too far so resigned ourselves to another 4 or so kilometers going back on the longer route, then, in the dusk, eagle eyed Stuart spotted an insignificant path and that was us!! So our planned lazy evening was somewhat curtailed but still mightly enjoyable!

Well a mere stroll on Sunday!!! We were feeling it somewhat after the last 2 days and the forecast wasn't brilliant, so we enjoyed a lie-in in our very comfortable surroundings. But lo & behold when we finally stepped outside it was really bright, sunny & blue skied further north (looked stunning!) so we decided to drive over to Skye and into the Cuillin to look at some climbs for the summer. About  40 min drive, and alas although we saw plenty of sun we didn't actually see it around where we were  (much to our disgust, further north towards Ullapool we could see fabulous pale blue sky and wall to wall sunshine)! None the less, it was lovely to walk along a trail thru a pass with lovely mountains on either side...and not go up them!!! never been on Skye in the winter myself, so that was nice too. Not that there were many high tops for us to see due to cloud.  
A fairly flat trail for less than a couple of hours led us to the crags on the side of Marsco, then back again. Much further on we'd have eventually come to Loch Coruisk... one for another day! Anyway, the forecast had been very pessimistic and we had a dry day; the pinky cliffs foretold of good climbs ahead...and Monday's forecast was amazing!!! Sun and blue sky all day! 
Sgurr nan Gillean and Sgurr a Bhasteir, opposite the climbs on Marsco
 The lovely pink crags in close-up
The climbs are on the right; the south west of Marsco. We're drooling at the thought of climbing here in sun...with no may not be this year!!!

Unfortuantely no lie in on Monday as the weather was just as forecast and instead we had a marvellous day on Ben Sgritheall. Drove over to Glenelg (Gavin Maxwell country) - a remote peninsular with a single track road very steep up and down! Then up the fairy sounding mountain Bein Sgritheall (pronounced Screal and probably meaning scree -nothing faerie about it then!) which rises out of the sea practically at the end of the road there. A steep climb but a very attractive looking mountain and yielded amazing views too. Skye to the West; Rough Bounds of Knoydart to the south and a sea of snow clad mountains to the east.
The road that takes you to the base of Beinn Sgritheall leads in from the east, upand over a steep peninsular and down into Glenelg, Gaving Maxwell country. Here's a view of the north-eastern corries of the mountain

Lovely rich colours in the morning sun. Beinn Sgritheall rises very sharply above the tiny and remote hamlet of Arnisdale - almost at the end of the road. We were wished well by a local who informed us of a casualty the previous day who'd fallen head first in the snow  and gashed his head. On our return another local expressed pleasure at our safe return and told us that the casualty hadn't been too badly injured.

These two characters were somewhat unsettled by our approach and kept a safe distance...

...While this old guy was totally unperturbed, contentedly chewing away in the sunshine...I wouldn't have wanted to move either!

View east from just above the bealach


The long descent ridge, heading west; below you can see Skye

View out west; southern reaches of Skye to the right

The lovely long descent

View up Loch Hourne with the Rough Bounds of Knoydart to the right and the start of our route round the coast to the left.