18 March 2016
An absolutely superb weekend with DMC in Kintail which ticked all the boxes – cloud inversions, long hill days, classic routes, fantastic mountains, hiking and mountain biking activities, great company (including two of our three Mountain Minds), yummy food, and even achievements such as Anton’s first two Munros (aged 6) and another reaching 100.
14 members enjoyed a cracking weekend based at Kintail Outdoor Centre, Morvich; the main activities being road and rough cycling, breaking through cloud inversions or otherwise wandering in the mist and enjoying the president’s cuisine on the Saturday night with a toasty fire and guitar session. 8 of us had a stravaig in Lagganside on the Sunday with one of the party celebrating their 99th &100th Munro!
Pete, Chimed, Franta and I arrived Friday evening at Kintail Outdoor Centre and started our trip on Saturday morning. Our group was relatively late, starting around 11am, from the southeast side of Glen Shiel so we could climb the Five Sisters and end up right next to our accommodation. After a steep climb that cost us a lot of sweat we reached the ridge. In windless conditions we ascended to the second summit of the Five Sisters, enjoyed the warm sunrays and an incredible blue sky with other summits poking through the cloud cover. The next two summits were sometimes really thrilling to climb, there were large snow and scree fields and steep ups and downs to handle, but this was rewarded with the most satisfying view over Loch Duich. The final descent was lit by bright moonlight and therefore a bit exhausting, but our really hungry tummies were spoiled at the communal dinner.
On Sunday we did Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh next to Lochan Na h-earba, again we were lucky with the weather and had some great views on both summits. This mountains also had some nice snow cover on their flanks, which could actually be used to bum-slide down the hill.
- Friederike Knapp-Lawitzke
Setting off up Glean Lichd we aimed to do a wee loop of about 30km. We set a nice pace up the access track stopping at the Glenlicht house and ‘shelter’ to review the facilities. It turns out you’d have to empty the shelter of ladders and stuff before getting inside. Anyway, onto single track and after cycling across the bridges the terrain steepened till we all got off and pushed up the well-made path. Up past the moody and atmospheric Allt Grannda waterfalls we soon reached the first of 5 cols before a fine undulating single track with a few tricky bits (and too many water bars) finally descended into Fionngleann. We stopped at Camban bothy to have a look. It seemed quite comfortable with a nice outlook, worth a visit if you happen to be in the area! Next stop Altbeithe bothy just behind the YHA, basic and poorly appointed when compared to Camban but a welcome pit stop to chomp on some lunch. A fine track led us onwards towards Strawberry cottage before looping north for a circuit of Loch Affric along a loose, and in places rough path which eventually wound eastwards to the bridge where we feasted on Easter eggs – what else!
Taking the ‘smooth’ road we sprinted as fast as our legs would carry us along the southern shore homeward bound. A brief stop for water, extra clothes, more eggs and a snapped chain didn’t hold us up for long, but we were getting tired and the headwind wasn’t helping. Crossing the river and up the valley we were soon pushing hard up Gleann Gniomhaidh. The path wasn’t great with too many obstacles making it tricky to progress with much speed. After slogging our way over bog and burn we reached the loch with momentary relief, only now we could see the final climb looming ahead!! Having crossed the stepping stones as the last of the light faded we began the ascent in darkness as the moon cast our shadows ahead on the steepening ground. After much grunting we had made it and time for a photo or two to prove the point before the final descent beckoned.
Descending Bealach an Sgairne in the dark on a bike with no lights was not much fun! The jagged steep and loose rock gully was challenging for all, still it could have been worse, it wasn’t raining! The path gradually became smoother but became severely exposed as it turned into a superb balcony traversing the cliff before steeply turning into steep but wonderfully smooth grassy single track zigzagging down the slope which was even ridable in the moonlight. Some hours later (13 to be precise, and some 50+km) we had all negotiated the descent arriving back at base famished and ready for a superb meal at the hands of the president which was heartily devoured by all. Nice work pres. Waking with a severe case of bike-ass on sunday morning meant that running appealed more than anything saddle related.