Thursday 22 to Monday 26 September

This was our first trip to the Ullapool area, with such a huge choice of mountains to climb.
The weekend became a real Munro mega-bag ....

Bob MacDonald, the Keeper of the Log Book, wrote an introduction ....

Yes, it's that time of year again .. the Club's annual September trip.  This year we were sent an appetising menu of walks from which to choose, organised by our 'head chef', Andy.  Some of us travelled up early to anticipate an à la carte of 5 or 6 courses, while others settled for a 3-course table d'hôte.  For starters we had such appetisers as Ben Klibreck, Ben Wyvis or Stac Pollaidh.  There was a wide variety of main courses .. some more filling than others, and for dessert there was a selection from the Fannaichs or a stroll through the Corrieshalloch Gorge.

All told, Andy as usual provided something to suit everyone's taste.  So again our thanks go to him for the work he put in to organise the walks, and also to Allan for doing his "Hotel Manager" in arranging the accommodation.  (We stayed at the Ceilidh Place's bunkhouse .. Ed).

A final comment .. before anybody mentions it, that some of us may be a year older, but not much wiser ..

YES, I MANAGED TO FALL IN A RIVER AGAIN!

I think I'll need to get an apprentice to pass on my skills to, so that I can retire from such activities.

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Thursday 22nd .. Ben Klibreck

Having collected Arlene and Gordon, we set off early and headed up the A9 in brilliant sunshine.  We met up with Andy, Ruth, Mark and Dougie at the Tomatin Little Chef, where we had a late breakfast.  We then continued north through Lairg and on to Strath Vagastie for the start of the walk.

We started slightly to the south of the book recommendation due to the availability of a bridge to cross the river .. I'll refrain from making comments about Andy spotting a bridge!  As we set out, the weather was getting gloomier, but as we skirted Loch Bad an Loch, we were able to make out Ben Hope to the north.

The route for Ben Klibreck  The Klibreck team  On the summit of Meall nan Con

We made good time and eventually climbed up to the bealach between Creag an Lochain and Meall nan Con.  At this point we started to climb into the cloud, but pressed on and before long arrived at Meall nan Con, the summit of Ben Klibreck.  Due to the cloud and rain, we were unable to see any of the reputedly superb views .. so why should this walk be any different?  However, this was the second most northerly Munro, and to date the most northerly Munro climbed on a Club outing.

We descended the steep western slope and crossed the slightly boggy terrain in a steady drizzle to return to the bridge and our waiting cars.  A quick change, trying to avoid the midges, saw us on our way to Ullapool .. but not before a quick visit to the Crask Inn for some suitable refreshment.

Bob MacDonald

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Thursday 22nd .. Stac Pollaidh

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Stac Pollaidh (taken in 1999)

Stac Pollaidh story

Louise Healy

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Friday 24th .. Seana Bhraigh and Eididh nan Clach Geala

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This was a major day, since Seana Bhraigh is arguably the most remote Munro .. and it was a golden opportunity to visit Eididh on the return journey.  Strangely, nothing was written about the day in the Log Book, despite the fact that I once again made a little route-finding error at the start, and Bob once again fell in a river.  Only 2 pics were in the Log Book, neither of which are suitable for scanning .. so here's one of mine I dug out from an old photo album ...

The group below Seana Bhraigh

Andy

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Saturday 24th .. Ben More Assynt and Conival

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Today was the first main walk of the weekend with 20+ people setting out from the Inchnadamph Hotel.  The weather was looking good.  The first part of the walk was alongside a burn with a gentle incline.  A break was taken before the steep slog up to the col on Conival.  The ridge was then followed to the summit cairn.

Lunch was taken and a pleasant ridge was traversed to the summit of Ben More Assynt.  A short debate followed on which cairn was the true summit.  Just in case, all summits were visited by the baggers and top tappers.  For the purists, the south top had also to be conquered, which involved short sections of scrambling.  The sensible walkers returned back the way we had come.

Janet with Ben More Assynt!

The next decision was how to get down!  There were four options ...

As you probably guessed, option 3 was selected and the hair-raising descent began.  The ground was very loose, and to add a little bite, there was a short vertical section to overcome.  Luckily a rope was available and everyone lived to tell the tale.

The rest of the journey passed without incident, and we made it back to the hotel (the Inchnadamph .. Ed) for a very welcome drink.

Mark Setford

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Saturday 24th .. Suilven

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"A PEAK FOR THE CONNOISSEURS"

It was a bright Sutherland morning as the band of 10 set out from the minibus en route to Suilven.  The daunting length of the walk held no fears for the intrepid team (well, the alternative was a further demonstration of Colin's minibus driving skills!).  At least we could take it easy .. the tortoise club were well represented and, besides, the 'Munro buggers' were already halfway up some non-descript mound in excess of 914.4 metres.  Most importantly of all, last orders was still at least 12 hours away!

The first hour of the walk was meant to be an enjoyable stroll to ease aching muscles back into life after the long walks of the day before.  Unfortunately, nobody had bothered to tell Louise, who had clearly confused the date with that of her impending trial for the Scottish Road Walking Team.  Within minutes, a blur of psychedelically striped leggings vanished into the distance.  Rumours abounded .. had she indeed been pacemaker for Andy McGowan on the South Shiel ridge?  Were the bad taste leggings a sign that she was 'on' something stronger than lucozade?  If she'd been within shouting distance, all would probably have been revealed.  Fortunately, Colin (who else ...!!) ordered a food stop after 4 miles and the tortoise club had a chance to catch up.

The Suilven Team  2 hours later ...  On Suilven at last!

After the break, confidence was high as we continued along the easy track in the shadow of Suilven.  Then Willie and Allan, leading the group, reached a dip in the path and disappeared up the ridge to the right.  Suddenly, the easy walk in was over and the dry, wide path had been replaced by a peaty, heather-clad bog.  We waded on.  Fortunately, the tortoise club suggested an early lunch before terminal fatigue set in.  We relaxed in the sunshine, conscious of the fact we'd not reached the bottom of the mountain yet!  Ahead lay the steep climb to the col between Suilven's two highest peaks up what appeared to be a near vertical path.  David, remembering his recent adventures on Bidean nam Bian in Glencoe, looked none too impressed .. however we all lied copiously, and his confidence was safely restored.  Several rucsacs were left at the lunch site and the long haul began, Mark showing his Munro bagging credentials by flying up the slope.  All fears were unfounded, however, as the path wound its way safely up the dark gully.  Ruth and Colin engaged in a minor mud fight after which Ruth sped up the slope in an attempt to stay cleanish. The top was quickly reached and a stunning view opened out onto the sunlit moorland to the south.  After the darkness of the gully, the effect was quite incredible.  We waited as, one by one, the intrepid team hauled themselves onto the grassy plateau.  What words could describe the view?  We remained silent, until Ruth arrived to utter the quote of the day.  'Orgasmic!!', she exclaimed, as she sat astride 'the col' (need we say more ...?!).

All that remained now was to climb the right hand peak to conquer Suilven amidst spectacular scenery.  Even those for whom the strain of the last two days was beginning to tell found new life in their legs.  The summit cairn was positioned on a grassy plateau which seemed totally out of place with the rugged character of the mountain and, yes, there was a sheep grazing at the summit.  It even asked where Andy was ...!

We returned to the col to wait for David (who was in no mood to give up having got up the gully, and probably didn't fancy retreating down it just yet, either) and Karen (who by now had a painful knee injury).  Colin sat down wearily and savaged his  food bag.  'Colin, are you on for  the "Ben More 7" challenge walk?', I asked.  The reply has been censored!  As David and Karen walked/limped back to the others, we celebrated a 100% success rate for the climb.  'Ten out of ten' for the summiteers and 'ten out of ten' for the walk!  At this point the author would like to point out that his comment of 'Old Git' as we waited at the col was in fact a rather poor Harry Enfield impression, and our waiting for David at the time was PURELY COINCIDENTAL!  What I want to know is, why doesn't anyone believe me?!!!

Now it was time for the retreat.  Typically, Murphy's law raised its head again.  In this case, the number of falls in the mud appeared to be proportional to the tiredness of any given walker.  Suffice to say that some people got very muddy ...!  Back to the path for the 5 mile walk-out to the minibus.  Louise's early pace was a distant memory; the day-glow leggings slowed to a mortal (if not already deceased!) pace.  The minibus was truly a welcome sight to the walking wounded.

Louise rests the stripey leggings

We still had time for an evening meal at the Inchnadamph Hotel by Loch Assynt, best remembered for its warm and friendly atmosphere (not!) and the double concentrated soup we were served as a starter!  Still, when you're hungry, who cares?  Then it was back to Ullapool for beers in the bar as by this time the wind rattled the windows and the rain fell outside.

All in all, an excellent day and one which reminds us all that you don't need to climb a Munro, Top or even a Corbett to have a good time, hence the sassenach translation of Suilven - 'Peak of the connoisseurs' (well, possibly ...)

Phil Brett?

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Sunday 25th .. the Beinn Dearg group

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"JANET'S JOINT"

Janet's Joint below Beinn Dearg

So, what can a title like this really mean
When we're staying in Ullapool town?
Could it be waccy baccy?  Or elbow or knee?
Well, the answer will NOT make you frown.

The plan for the Sunday was Beinn Dearg's three
With a col at 900 between.
We'll just dump the sacs and tackle each one
On its own .. from the 'base camp' I mean.

Janet touting for business

But Janet was tired (not emotional though)
From the '3 Peaks' and our 2 tough days.
"If everyone's ready to go sharp at 10 ..
I'll join you for some of the way!"

Back to The Times she promptly returned
and the 'News' .. well, we're really not cruel.
But into her sac we secreted a jar
Of coffee, the Trangia .. and fuel!

Happy customers

So Janet and Ruth bombed on far ahead
Then Gordon and Bob at a plod.
With Arlene and Dick and Dougie and James,
And Andy behind on his tod.

The track they had followed just two days before
From the starting place called Inverlael.
But this time they went the right way to the hill
That's why Andy's kept at the tail!

On Cona' Mheall

With two and a half hours of climbing complete,
They arrived at the 900 col.
Established the base and set up the stove
For a cup of hot coffee for all.

First to Ceapraichean, then Ceann Garbh
And back to the base camp to preen.
Beinn Dearg next, and then Cona 'Mheall
With coffee and biscuits between.

Janet and Ruth at the Joint

Yes, this is the life .. the sun shining down
And a cafe set up on the rocks.
No sac to carry .. but not far away
If you're needing a quick change of socks.

And everyone passing had stopped for a chat,
So 'hot drinks for sale' was the point.
And who was in charge?  Who sunbathed all day??
Now you know why it's called JANET'S JOINT!

Anon

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Monday 26th .. the western Fannaichs

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After a slightly later rise (it may have had something to do with glasses of wine on the stairs the previous night) we had to pack up our gear and get breakfast before saying our goodbyes to those who were heading home that morning.  We were down to a group of four for today's walk, and Andy, James, Gordon and I set off to rendezvous on the A832 near Loch a'Bhraoin.

We started our walk and soon we were passing a parked LandRover beside the ruins of a lochside house.  Crossing a couple of bridges, we followed the path beside the Allt Breabaig, keeping west of the river.  After a couple of kilometres, we set off west and climbed up into the coire below Sgurr Breac.  From there, we headed up what could be described as a wet, grassy cliff.  We eventually made our way to the bealach between Sgurr Breac and Toman Coinich (these Coinichs just can't be avoided!) where we stopped to don the waterproofs as the rain had started.  We had a quick snack and leaving the packs, set off over Toman Coinich and along the ridge to A'Chailleach, our first Munro of the day.

We retraced our steps, while listening to the stags bellowing in the distance, and returned to the sacs contouring round the Toman top.  We continued on to climb our second Munro of the day, Sgurr Breac.  On the descent, the weather cleared slightly and we were rewarded with some fine views .. the most spectacular was a complete rainbow which formed below us in the glen.

We finally reached the col and the well-worn path leading back to the glen.  At this point, James, Gordon and I decided to to return to the cars while Andy opted to continue and bag another 3 Munros.  As we had a quick break, we watched Andy disappear into the distance, then the 3 of us set off down the path into the glen.  On the return our only problem was deciding exactly where we should cross the river .. but having safely negotiated that problem, we were soon back at the cars.

We got changed, packed our wet gear into the boot, and set off for the drive back to Glasgow .. an enjoyable day to end a tiring but enjoyable weekend.

(I did indeed continue over Sgurr nan Each, Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Meall a'Chrasgaidh before stopping for the night at the pink hotel in Garve .. the Aultguish refused to put me up since the owners were enjoying a night's boozing with their pals! .. Ed)

Bob MacDonald

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