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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!