The Roaches


Memories from the Scotland walking trip - 2012

The original eight was down to seven after Rich dropped out with a couple of weeks notice. This left Ratboy, Jon, Jim, Terry, Mark, Geraint and myself as the magnificent seven.

This year's destination was Shiel Bridge where the western end of Glen Shiel provided numerous steep rocky hills to conquer.

Jim was rather quiet during Sunday evening and retired to his room at around 10pm. Would he be OK for the morning?

DAY 1 - SUNDAY

Jon wanted to do the Five Sisters of Kintail and Geraint fancied the South Glen Shiel ridge. I'd walked the Five Sisters on two occasions so didn't want to do it again and had completed four of the seven South Glen Shiel ridge munros.

There was also the Saddle, which I'd done with Ratboy, and the Brothers higher up the glen so we'd got plenty to go at.

Jim felt a lot better and was on for the walk. A good night's sleep had done the trick.

After a few minutes of chat we agreed that the western end of the South Glen Shiel ridge would be Sunday's target with four munros on the hitlist. The weather forecast looked OK so three cars headed up the glen to remove the need for a long road walk at the end of the day. Terry wasn't feeling up to a four munro hike so set off along the road towards Eilean Donan castle.



The ridge up to Maol Chinn Dearg.

The direct route up to the first Munro was wide at first but narrowed towards the summit. Stags could be heard bellowing in the glen and all was well in the world.

Geraint, Rat and Jim headed the group, as expected, with the rest forming a line behind. Jon was suffering from a cold and wasn't feeling overly hill fit so this suited Mark and I just fine.



Jim, Geraint and the Rat lead the way.

After just under two hours the summit was ours. Another new munro for all except Rat and me.



One down. Three to go. Maol Chinn Dearg (981m).

This was Mark's first munro as he'd had to escort Terry off Bidean nam Bian the previous year and so missed his chance to summit. He'd another three to enjoy today.

The ridge towards the next munro, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, looked pretty straightforward apart from a minor top, Sgurr Coire na Feinne, standing in the way. The views were beginning to open up but the odd low cloud lurked close by and the temperature was becoming rather chilly. The summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathain is just off the main ridge but the minor detour provided great views over to the west - when the mist cleared that was.



Munro number two - Sgurr an Doire Leathain (1010m). Nothing to see here!



Full team timer shot on the same summit.

The descent off Sgurr an Doire Leathain appeared quite steep and lengthy in the mist but we soon realised that the murk was playing tricks with our eyes. It was certainly getting cooler so an extra layer was added - just in case.

The next peak, Sgurr an Lochan, is generally accepted as the best of the South Glen Shiel ridge so we marched on as the conditions improved and the temperature rose. We 'delayered' in readiness for the climb up to Sgurr an Lochan.



The Rat doing something stupid on the summit of Sgurr an Lochan (1004m).

The rest of the ridge was now visible but rather than ascend the minor top of Sgurr Beag a bypass path would take us to the col below the final munro of the day, Creag nan Damh.



Looking towards Creag nan Damh with Sgurr Beag in the middle distance.



The descent to the col....

The initial section of the bypass path was a pain in the arse. It was wet and muddy and at a pisspoor angle for yomping. Luckily the going improved and we were soon at the col with the final climb of the day in front of us - all 700ft of it!

Mark was beginning to slow even though he'd enjoyed numerous fags enroute but he girded his loins and joined me on the plod uphill.

The ridge leading up to Creag nan Damh isn't as narrow or shapely as those before so there wasn't a great deal of interest in the immediate vicinity. After what seemed like an age we all grouped together on the summit and pondered on the route down.



The final summit - Creag nan Damh (918m). Now where?

Geraint had parked his car by the Glen Shiel battle site with the intention of us using the north east ridge for the descent off the hill and hitting his car dead on. A stalkers path was supposedly present depending on what map was being used with Geraint's map showing a path at around 1500ft. My OS map showed nothing.

I was hoping that any route towards the north east would be visible from the summit along with cairns but nothing was apparent. Jim, Rat and Geraint popped off for a 'reccy' but couldn't confirm the presence of a reliable route. My uphill glances on the morning's drive up the glen hadn't confirmed that a path was present but the lie of the land didn't look too promising.

Jon, Mark and I continued on the 'correct' route which involved us continuing along the ridge and dropping down into the glen from the next bealach. We shouted the others who'd decided to join us on the fun scramble up a rocky barrier. Jim enjoyed this immensely.

One of the disadvantages of the bealach route was that we'd descend the full 3000ft to the glen. It's fair to say that the descent went on a bit and the wet underfoot conditions weren't helping Mark who wasn't looking too good. His feet were hurting and we'd still got a tough descent to complete. The same tough descent resulted in me turning my right ankle over but all appeared OK after a brief swear.

As we reached the road it was obvious that Mark wasn't well. Jon decided to help Mark down and as he was a good few hundred yards away the rest yomped on order to walk up the glen to reach Geraint's car. A river crossing just before the road required either delicate boulder balancing or less than delicate wading. I decided to take the latter option which result in in wet feet. Mark attempted the boulder option but slipped into the river which also resulted in a soaking.

A near two mile hike was now the order of the day so Geraint and I decided to march on whilst Rat and Jim waited for the stricken Mark and his assistant, Jon.

After collecting all of the cars we returned to the Kintail Lodge hotel and enjoyed a few relaxing beers. Where to tomorrow?



DAY 2 - MONDAY

Mark's feet were knackered so had decided to drive Terry to Elgol and take a boat into the heart of the Cuillins.

My ankle wasn't feeling great so decided to take a 12 miler up the lonely Gleann Lichd to Glenlicht House. Rat, Geraint and Jim decided to conquer the peak of  Sgurr an Airgid (841m) which was renowned for its excellent views. The weather was sunny and cold as both sets of walkers yomped off towards Morvich where we'd part for different challenges.

The walk up Gleann Lichd provided Jon and I with superb views over to the back of the Five Sisters.



The back end of the Five Sisters. Phwoooaaar!

Glenlicht House, which for some reason I'd always thought would be a substantial hunting lodge, turned out to be relatively shite. Jon and I discussed the option of marching onto Cluanie but the wetness of the ground and the risk of boggy ground to come forced us to return back along the glen.



The view back down Gleann Lichd, The other group climbed the peak at the end of the glen in cloud.

Jon and I were back the hotel after clearing 12 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes. Not bad for a pair of cripples.

The others were nowhere to be seen so after a quick shower we decided to drive up to Eilean Donan castle for a sarnie.



Not sure if anyone has seen a photo of this castle before?

The weather was stunning so we decided to venture onto Skye and to Terry and Mark's destination - Elgol.

The route to Elgol passes next to one of most impressive hills in Britain - Blaven....



Blaven over Loch Slapin.

Elgol was next on the list where the view into the Cuillins could be wondered at. Terry and Mark were nowhere to be seen.



The stunning view over to the Cuillins from Elgol.

Rat, Geraint and Jim were enjoying a drink in the hotel when we returned. The views off their hill were as good as expected and they'd had a thoroughly enjoyable, if rather chilly, day.

Mark had gone nuts and after driving to Elgol decided to drive all the way up to Applecross over the Bealach na Ba. To be fair the weather was that good it'd have been rude not to.



The rather impressive view from the summit of Sgurr an Airgid over to Torridon.

That was it! Another Scotland trip done and dusted. Only 440 miles from home.

It had been an excellent weekend and everyone had enjoyed the break.

Where to next year?

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