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Hogmanay 2017, Kinlocheil

posted 10 Jan 2017, 06:05 by Allan McCulloch   [ updated 18 Jan 2017, 09:02 by Jon Bowyer ]
29th December 2016 - 2nd January 2017  

Two reports on Hogmany meet from Niall and Justyna. See the photo album

Splitting life two-ways, or in some cases even more, is not easy, as Jim and I discovered when trying to marry our love of the DMC and our loved ones for Hogmanay. Or, as Jim may put it, we are just too popular!

Either way, I ended up getting up at 5.30 am in Aberdeen yet again to travel down and meet Jim for a lift to the West coast. And here we were, having a fry-up and a coffee in the Fort William Morrison’s at around 10.30am. From there we drove up the way to the Glenfinnan viaduct and parked the car there for the night. We were heading up the glen to stay in the very accessible bothy and try to have an early start for some big hills before joining the rest of the gang at the hut. We were both going to leave on Hogmanay and wanted a wee escape and to wish our friends a Happy New Year before we did.

Arriving at the bothy not long after 1pm, the weather was promising but we knew gusts up there were a lot more than we were feeling not much above sea level. We took up residence, cleaned up the floors, chopped some wood and set up for a fire. We then set off to explore the surroundings before it got dark. The surroundings were not hard to find, as the nearest Munros were reachable by a path starting some 200m from the bothy, and numerous Corbetts could be climbed directly from it. Knowing the limited daylight, we opted to explore some smaller nearby peaks, hoping to catch the setting sun and scope out tomorrow’s route.

We reached a set of crossroads and were prepared to turn off and head up, when Jim interrupted my undoubtedly fascinating monologue with a loud “shoosh!!!”. It didn’t take me long to spot the reason – a young stag had emerged some 20m away from us and had just climbed a small mound and stood there, head high, with his front legs higher than the hind, posing for a calendar photo. After a few moments, he cautiously approached us and crossed the path we were on, at times getting closer than 10m away from us. He seemed curious, well fed, though maybe greedy for some treats… We stood there staring at each other for some time, before we slowly walked away in our own direction, and he began following us briefly, before probably realising it wasn’t worth the hassle and turning the other way.

So up we went, up a small but tricky and scrambly rock summit which provided the first little bit of entertainment. The wind was noticeable but we decided to head for a nearby summit, the 749m Sgurr an Fhuarain Duibh. The hill we chose proved tricky, with multiple ascents of long stretches of steep slabs, crags to navigate, steep grassy gullies to go up. And about 30 false summits later, we reached the blustery summit. The view was breathtaking. The red setting sun cast a linear shadow on surrounding peaks, the lightly overcast sky was dancing with colours, faraway lochs shone bright red and orange. If it wasn’t for the fierce wind, we would have stayed much longer. We regretted not setting off sooner and making the nearby Munro, but hey. Tomorrow was another day.

We struggled somewhat on the equally tricky route down and descended in medium darkness. On reaching the hut, Jim took to making a Thai curry and I… to a beer and a book. I helped the cook by chopping up 5 chillies and putting them in the sauce, followed by applying cream to my face with my fingers….followed by dipping my face in the stream for the next 30 minutes. Dinner turned equally hot, and now both the inside and outside of my face were burning. Fabulous. Just as I was regaining sensation, the doors slammed open, and……
“A’rit ma’e!” (que Jim’s flawless imitation of the weegie accent)

And walked in four of the most irritating urban drunkards in all Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
We woke up annoyed and bleary-eyed but having heard the wind and rain on the roof of the bothy we knew we were going nowhere. We decided to walk out (carrying out our “friends’” rubbish) and take a chance with the weather after scoping out the hut.

A cup of tea at the Kinlocheil Outdoor Centre was a good idea, as the second to arrive was Simon and we just managed to entice him to a walk. We found a “low level” option to find Prince Charlie’s cave some 500m from the railway line a few miles out of Glenfinnan. Ascending the rough path, we found magnificent, rough country, rarely trodden, with dramatic rocks and tricky navigation. Reaching a pass in the ridge, we were met with a view of a steep downward slope, guarding a stunning loch, a long glen heading into Glen Dessary and Glen Finnan, and at this point inhabited by a village reachable only by foot or several boat rides. On the opposite side were the wild flanks of Knoydart and miles and miles of true wilderness… Looking down the overhanging rocks and formidable slope, we knew the cave must be somewhere down there. But it was starting to get dark and none of us fancied a tumble down so we turned around and headed back for tea and a whisky.

The whisky was there on arrival, and tea disappointingly late but we all quickly got into the cheer as more people arrived. After dinner a game of Scottish Quest began, and I could see the pain on Berenice’s face as she watched the game played at a pace comparable to the evolution of the dodo, helped by our elderly members who were swapping glasses in an effort to read out the letters on the cards…

Jim responsibly stopped drinking at 10pm as he was driving me back to Perth the following morning, and stepped down from spirits to several bottles of beer therefore predictably I did the driving the following morning. Everyone got there safely in the end and we had a fantastic time, first enjoying some beautiful hills, rarely visited places and then irreplaceable company.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope we make many meets like this in 2017!



A sharp exit from work is always welcome, but on the last working day of the year even more so.
Shooting off up the Blairgowrie road to join the A9 at Calvine for the Drumochter slog I got stopped by a phone call at Bridge of Titlt from some hungry pests demanding to know how long it would be until I got there with the components of tea; it was only half 4...

After tea we played Scottish Quest, where I reveled in playing the banker and Charon, oh and winning too.

We woke to a horrific downpour and while some braved the rain for a run others took to the Mallaig leisure centre while I sat in the hut and read about Peanut roasted guinea pig and a hungry cyclist in South America. Another little creature was sacrificed for that great chieftain of the puddin' race to be our last meal of the year before settling down to a game of trivial pursuit to take us to the bells. That game never finished as the bells turned into a Ceilidh in thew car park!

The first day of the year dawned clear and bright so I took a wander to Corryhully followed by Smirisary and the White Sands at Eillean Coille, returning to the traditional Scottish Ne'er Day meal of Steak pie!

I had originally considered a non-landing cruise of Rúm, Eigg and Muck for the Saturday however Simon had spotted that on the 2nd all 4 Small Isles are visited; so we set off early for Mallaig.

"Non-Landing Cruise, Good Luck with that!"
Rather odd welcome on boar... oh god.

Apparently these were not used

As the master threw the Lochnevis into it's big turn out of Mallaig harbour to head for Canna my thought process was confirmed and the Sound of Sleat was a bit "bumpy" in a decent sized swell. Standing on the bow deck as the bow dived into the oncoming wave sending spray either side of the internal accommodation was rather enjoyable for me at least, At one point I returned inside to warm up to find Simon standing warming himself up while islanders and other non-landers lay horizontal trying to minimize the effect of the motion.

Canna and Rum were visited with little of interest beyond the scenery, Muck however has a tight and tricky approach that can't be done if the swell is too big, and thankfully for the islanders they received their first visit since the 27th of December with their Amazon orders and mail being taken off the delivery van that sails with the boat.

Eigg was the most interesting, the woman in the galley had advised that 80 had disembarked on Hogmanay for the Ceilidth and most likely 80 would be getting back on; the ship was now stowed and I missed my chance of a CalMac burger (too late for a 2nd lunch, too early for tea), there was also an awful lot of people lying down again as we sailed back into the Sound of Sleat with a fair bit of pitch and yaw going on (but no rolling) as we swung into Mallaig harbour.

Then we finished the day off with burgers at the Clachaig and then the blast home.

I might have to do some more mountainy stuff next time I make a club trip!