Above Glen Dessary

We recently headed west again following a working day for Neil in Fort William. Heading along Loch Arkaig in the early evening, we’d forgotten just how long the loch is and just how much of a roller-coaster the road is and it was getting towards dusk when we were only half way along the loch. Nae worries; we found a wee corner to pull off the road and a wee bit of flattish grass to pitch the tent.

Loch Arkaig

Early the following morning the lighting was wonderful and gave more great views over the loch and to the hills in Locheil Forest, Glenfinnan and out towards Morar and Knoydart.
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TGO Challengers

Approaching Glenelg
Near Glenelg, on the way to Sandaig (‘Camusfearna’ of Ring of Bright Water)

I know some of my fellow hiking bloggers are heading north-west to the best part of the country 🙂 to take part in the TGO Challenge. I wish those taking part “Good luck and happy walking”. As you travel north to set out from Arisaig, Acharacle, Mallaig, Glenelg (don’t those names just lift the heart with promises of wonderful seascapes with hills beyond?) think of us lucky souls who live and work in the Highlands! 😛 I hope you all have an enjoyable trip and I hope the weather co-operates to help you have a great adventure – but not too adventurous.  When that wee bit rain arrives, remember it is good for your skin, but remember to keep your whisky glass covered!

If anyone is passing (or staying at) Glenmore camp site on Saturday or Sunday feel free to say hello to me there. Ask for Sheila the Ranger if we’ve not met – which, come to think of it, is practically everyone on my blog list! I’m about during the day and Saturday night each weekend.

The invitation to pop in to see me, is extended to any bloggers visiting the Cairngorms during the summer. I’ll give you a Highland welcome and a cuppa or a wee dram!

A short stroll in the Cairngorms

South to Loch Etchachan

I know a couple of blogging acquaintances are currently undertaking long backpacking trips into the heart of the Cairngorms, but as I work in the area I’m able to take short frequent strolls there. It doesn’t equate in any way to the wilderness experience the backpackers will get, but still, it’s nae bad for a ‘Sunday afternoon’ type stroll.

I had originally planned to tackle Beinn Mheadoin, but I was delayed in leaving Glenmore as I waited for my son to come to drop off a few large plant pots and to rig up a support and notice board in my ranger tent. When I set off I was not feeling 100%, so decided to have a short day and save the longer route for another day.
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Creag Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Ardair and Carn Liath

For our second day in the Glen Roy area we chose to climb the three Munros on Creag Meagaidh. Creag Meagaidh is a big brute of a mountain, consisting of 3 Munros: Creag Meagaidh (1130m), Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1053m) and Carn Liath (1006m) and several ‘Munro-tops’. The route over the three summits is 1334 m of ascent and 20.46 km long.

The area is a NNR (National Nature Reserve, managed by Scottish National Heritage (SNH). A SNH information panel beside the path gave a bit of information on the way the reserve is being managed.

On this National Nature Reserve, SNH seeks to establish a self perpetuating native woodland WITH red deer.

To permit growth of young trees it is vital that deer numbers are controlled. This annual cull of deer is achieved on the reserve using two methods. By live capture and by selective culling between 1 July and 15 February. Trained and experienced SNH staff accomplish this task using the most practical and humane methods.

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Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain

We spent two fabulous days of the Easter Holiday weekend walking in the hills in the Glen Spean area. This involved climbing Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain on Sunday, an overnight camp near Loch Treig (our first camp this year) and climbing Creag Meagaidh on Monday.

Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain

For this hill walk we started just north of An Dubh Lochan half a mile or so before Fersit. There is a path of sorts heading SW which crosses the line of the old tramway. The tramway ran from Loch Treig to Fort William and was part of the tunnelling works for the water supply for the aluminium works in Fort William.

Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin &  Stob Coire Easain

The path leads onto the broad ridge gradually gaining height and was easy walking, but the ground was wet. Very wet. We squelched through the sticky, black, peaty morass, passing a couple of hydro survey pillars connected to the water pipeline.
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Alone on Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh

Last Thursday was my first day on the hill alone this year. In the winter my family worry if I go out hillwalking alone as the risks of hypothermia following an injury or incident increases as the weather deteriorates. But I love the feeling of being completely reliant on me alone – on my navigation skills, etc to keep my safe and also the feeling of being the only human for miles around, that I do go alone in spring and summer.

Thursday’s route was only a wee local hill, Meall Fhuar-Mhondaidh above Loch Ness. There is a clear path up this hill, and no need to use my map, never mind my compass, so there was no sense of self-reliance in this instance. But I was completely alone on the hill. There was one other car in the small parking space 4 miles from the village when I arrived, but I passed one guy going down (we chatted a few minutes) as I was setting off. I didn’t meet another soul for the 4 hours out on the hill. The walk took 1 hour 45 mins to the summit and 1 hour 30 mins to descend, but I stayed for a full 45 minutes on the top. I hunkered down out of the wind and sat absorbed in the (seemingly) empty land and stillness up there. Wonderful!
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