Cairngorm and the northern Corries

Last weekend Neil and I followed the good weather which MWIS showed to be in the East Highlands and choose to do an short walk on the Cairngorm Plateau. The ski resort had opened for the start of the skiing season on Saturday and the carpark, funicular railway, Ciste piste and immediate surroundings were quite busy with Skiers and snowboarders, but once clear of these area they rest of the mountain was quiet.

We chose to walk clockwise passing the Ptarmigan, Cairngorm Summit, and along the Northern Corries (Corie an Sneachda, Coire an Lochain) and back along the ridge above the corrie.

The start of the our walk was in thick cloud, but by the time we arrived at the summit of Cairngorm the cloud became more broken and we enjoyed some lovely clear stretches.

Cairngorm plateau walk
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Strath Rusdale – Kildermorie cycle

The outside thermometer was reading -7°C at 6.30am today after I’d dropped Neil off at the bus station for his coach south. So although I’d planned a day out on my bike, I was in no great hurry to leave. Time for breakfast and another cuppa before loading the bike in the car and heading north to Alness.

The route I’d chosen was to be a mixture of minor public roads and surfaced estate road and rough track. I headed north to the road junction at the start of the no through road to Ardross and with it being the school holidays thought it would be ok to park my car beside the school. As I headed along the minor road along Strath Rusdale, the sun was beginning to warm the air and I was soon able to remove a couple of layers of clothing for now. (I needed it again later, so was glad I was carrying sufficient layers.)
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Roy roving

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

On Sunday we headed south to Fort William to meet up with a friend, Freddie who was staying at the Fort bill to attend the Mountain Festival. We, too, had booked tickets for the festival event that evening – a showing of some of the films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival, so selected a short day walk that would allow us to be back in town in time for that without constantly ‘clock-watching’.

We chose to climb a Corbett and a Graham in Glen Roy, Leana Mhor and Beinne Iaruinn working on the principle that ‘you often get the best views of the big hills from the smaller neighbouring hills’.

This walk in lovely Glen Roy also provided the opportunity to view this glen’s renowned parallel roads. These three sets of horizontal parallel lines running either side of the glen. The ‘roads, represent the shorelines of ice-dammed lakes created during the last ice age when the glen was blocked by a glacier. Typically they are narrow benches (several metres wide) cut into the bedrock of the hillsides and in places covered by remnants of lake beach gravel. It is thought they probably were formed through a combination of intense frost weathering and wave action along the lake shore zone. These lines can be seen clearly from the roadside viewpoint part way along the glen and we stopped here briefly to catch a picture or two. More information about the geology of the area can be found on this

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

We began the ascent of the two hills from a bridge crossing the burn running between the two hills at NN300281. From here we ascended the SE shoulder of Leana Mhor, crossing the three parallel roads in the first 150 metres of ascent. This broad ridge gave an easy, steady plod up through heather and short grass with increasingly better views of the upper glen below.

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

As we gained height we got views south to Loch Linnhe and west Loch Arkaig.

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

From the rounded summit of Leana Mhor we dropped down about 150m to the saddle between the two hills. We found a little shelter from the cold northerly wind for a bite to eat before setting off up the long slog of Meall Bruic. From this point we spotted a couple of other walkers here the top of Leana Mhor, but they disappeared from sight and we didn’t see them again.

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

As we approached Coire nan Eun we had dramatic views down into the head of Glen Roy and the parallel roads. We spotted the snow on the cornice above the corrie rim breaking off so chose a line well back from the edge.

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

The summit cairn on Beinn Iaruinn was certainly a much bigger structure than the puckle pile of stones on Leana Mhor. Again we had a 360° panorama of hills and with varying depths of snow. Heading back to the saddle we could see the snow cornice line better, so Freddie and I enjoyed plodding along in the crunchy snow.

Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

From the saddle we picked up a faint path that followed the burn that runs between the two hills down to the glen. The low afternoon sun gave more interesting views of the parallel roads in the upper glen – an area we must return to visit some day.

Leana Mhor and Beinn Iaruinn, Glen Roy

More photos on Flickr

Some of you may be able to see the embedded video from the BBC featuring geologist, Iain Stewart sharing information about the parrallel roads in Glen Roy.

On the edge of the Lakes

A photographic trip report of a short walk we did when we returning home from a weekend trip to Blackpool. We left the motorway at Kendal to skirt the edge of the Lake District – passing by Windermere with a stop at Amblesisde.

From this busy village we took a short walk up Wansfell Pike. We followed a path that lead up past Stock Ghyll Force and out on to the grassy slopes of Wansfell. From the summit of the western end of the hill – Wansfell Pike – we dropped down to the tiny village of Troutbeck. We returned to Ambleside by Skellghyll Wood.

A lovely, short walk, for an all too brief trip to the Lakes.
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Walking in the footsteps of cattle drovers

The start of the walk along the old drove road in Strath Rory is not the most inspiring track, being a standard gravel-surfaced forestry track – and a wide track at that! But don’t let that put you off exploring this short drove road in Easter Ross. The strath and track are relatively unknown, even locally, and relatively unused.

Strath Rory Drove Road
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By paddle steamer to the hills

As well as my love for the hills, I love the sea, so when Neil suggested a day trip on an old boat I was keen on the idea.

This was not just any old boat, but the PS Waverley, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. It was built on the Clyde in 1947 to replace the previous Waverley that sunk off Dunkirk in 1940. The Waverley was originally built to sail only between Craigendoran & Arrochar in the Firth of Clyde. In 1974 running costs were too high – despite conversion from coal to oil in 1957 – and it was withdrawn from service. The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society bought it for just £1, and restored it to it’s former glory with brightly-painted funnels, timber decks, gleaming varnish and brass fitments.

We studied the itinerary and chose to go from Kyle of Lochalsh via Broadford on Skye and onto Raasay. I thought a hour and a half on the boat each way would be enough and would give us about 6 hours in which to explore Raasay.
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