Elphin weekend trip (Apr 2014)

Friday 4th April – Sunday 6th April 2014

A varied and action packed weekend of hillwalking, caving, cycling, and couloir skiing ( see separate report on that ! ) plus of course whisky drinking, eating and charades-playing in the hut. More details below:

Iconic seven three one metre peak

by Jim Donaldson

Late drive north to Elphine

Early walk west to Suilven

Long walk in Long walk out

Matterhorn like spire here we come

Inspiration and superlatives all around

Unveiled panoramas abound

Rough very boggy contrived

Magic remote arrived

Fun scrambles up necky scrambles down

Mist and pterodactyls comes in

Summit selfae on the ridge

Great traverse done beers in the fridge

Report from Dave Matthews:-

Met Jim, Kate and Diana at Perth park and ride and made good time up the road to Elphin stopping for chips in Pitlochry. Slightly overshot Taigh nam Famh, a hut owned by the Grampian Speleological Group. Everyone else was there so a couple of beers and it was time for bed.


Jim, Tom, Katie


600m+ ascent

Up early on Saturday saw us ready to start walking just after 8am. A good start for what we knew would be a long day. The walk in was bearable, pretty boggy in places with tantalising glimpses of our target in the clouds. As we got nearer the clouds pretty much lifted so we had great views for the whole traverse.

The scramble up the east ridge was entertaining but at no point really scarey. We were soon at our first summit – Meall Meadhonach. Then the scarey bit comes, the crux of the ridge. Some airey scrambling down ledges to the right eventually got us to a steep corner. Tricky moves over a yawning drop saw us safely back on the path.

A wee slog up to the next summit and I found I had mobile phone reception so I sent a quick text home to say the difficulties were over. This proved a bit premature as we found another tricky downclimb to negotiate. Katie skipped down this whilst the older and wiser members of the group gibbered at the top. After a bit of nervous scrambling we were back on route to the bealach. Here Katie impressed us with her splits over the gap in the improbably situated stone dyke up there. Not long after we were up at the summit of Caisteal Liath by 1pm. Suilven conquered.

Then back to the bealach for a saunter down the side of the hill before facing the long trudge out. Depsite a couple of navigational mishaps we were back at the car well before 6pm. But the last hour or two were pretty sore!

Back at the hut I wolfed my tea down but was dissapointed to find someone had switched the water heater off! No hot showers (which for me equals no shower!) The evening was rounded off with a game of charades.

Caving – Uamh An Claonaite

Andrew, Berenice, Katie, Daniela, Paul

5km walking

200m up. Then whatever happened in the caves.

Sunday Andrew had promised to take us caving. This was great fun. On the walk up we saw Fuaran Allt nan Uamh – a spring where the water was visibly bubbling out of the ground. We had a quick look in the mouth of the bear caves then made our way round to the Rana Hole. All kitted out in our fetching overalls we slithered, clambered and squeezed our way down into one of Scotland’s greatest caves. We went down through Black Rift and Belh Aven which leads to the The Great Northern Time Machine in the Uamh An Claonaite system – a large cave as big as a theatre. A big thank you to Andrew for organising this and if you ever get the chance I can highly recommend it as a day out (or in!). It certainly gives you an all over body work out and I felt it the next day!

Cycling report from Niall Wallace:-

Set off from Inverness hostel early friday, following ncn1 to Alness before taking the hill road over to Ardgay, interesting misty ride with visibility similar to a night mtb ride.

Followed kyle of sutherland past carbisdale where gear lever conveniently sheared off leaving me riding single speed for the rest of the weekend.

Still first to arrive at hut after overshooting and climbing an extra couple of hills…

Saturday road down to Stac Pollaidh road and turned up to Lochinver, decided against the hillier top road due to gearing, used last of hot water in hut (whoever turned off the immersion heater isn’t popular)…

Shrimp and chicken stir fries enjoyed before a game of charades in front of the fire saw a diminishing number of participants.

Sunday, took Stac Pollaidh road again and cycled down to Auchaltbhuie for a burger before returning to Stac Pollaidh and lift home.

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