April (Easter) Weekend to Invergarry

On Meall nan Eun (Loch Hourn)  On Meall nan Eun (Loch Hourn)  At the Lairig Leacach Bothy  On Carn Mhic an Toisich  Below Ben Tee  On Carnan Cruithneachd

This return trip to Invergarry saw 13 club members pass through the very comfortable Invergarry Lodge over the course of the weekend.  After heavy snowfalls earlier in the week, the general forecast for the weekend was ‘sunshine and showers’, with snow melting slowly below 900m.

Most people travelled up at some point on the Friday, with Iris and Ian, Richard, Calum and I travelling direct to the hostel.  Mark stopped off at Glenfinnan to climb Beinn Odhar Bheag (Corbett, 882m) and Beinn Mhic Cedidh (Corbett, 783m), while Bob and Allan H headed to Kinloch Hourn to climb Meall nan Eun (Graham, 667m).  Gordon, having travelled up earlier in the week, had set off from the hostel on Thursday for the long walk in to the remote Ben Aden (Corbett, 887m).  After what sounded like an uncomfortable night alone in Barrisdale Bothy, he climbed Ben Aden on the Friday.  Finding the same bothy overbooked on the way back, he decided to keep going and head back to the hostel.   The rest of us congregated at the Invergarry Hotel where we enjoyed a pint or two of Timothy Taylor Landlord and the local brew ‘Garry’, and muttered at the price of fish.  Gordon arrived back, safe but very tired, in the very wee small hours of the morning.

On Saturday, knowing that Gordon was back and was planning a quiet day, the rest of us headed off in varying directions.  The weather was dull with some drizzle, but the early threat of hail had disappeared.   Mark climbed Carn na Saobhaidhe (Corbett, 811m) while Bob and Allan H headed for Carn Mhic an Toisich (Graham, 678m).  Justin and Richard headed right along the main road from the hostel and followed the far side circuit of Loch Oich, a route that follows the line of the old railway from Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus, built between 1896 and 1903.   At the top end of the Loch, at the Aberchalder swing bridge, they met Iris and Ian, who had set off from the hostel in the opposite direction along the forestry route.  They lunched together at Kytra lock and while Ian and Iris continued to Fort Augustus, Justin and Richard turned back to complete the final leg of the Loch Oich circuit along the forestry route.  Calum and I had headed in the same direction as Justin and Richard, but had followed the woodland path up behind the hostel before completing the same circuit of Loch Oich.  We in turn met Justin and Richard just beyond the swing bridge and headed home with them.  Gwen and Andy had set off from Glasgow that morning to join us for dinner at the hostel, carrying with them the precious cargo of Andy’s (rightly) famous Fish Soup.  En route they had stopped to walk to Lairig Leacach Bothy under Stob Ban.

Once everyone was back at the hostel, the ‘Gourmet Dining Club’ got out the pots and pans in preparation for the evening meal as follows:

On Sunday the sun was shining and we had the best weather of the weekend.  Mark teamed up with Bob and they headed for Carnan Cruithneachd (Graham, 729m).  Allan H set off with the aim of climbing two Munros.  He made it to the top of A’Chralaig (1120m).  However, metres away from his second top, the conditions prevented him from going any further in safety.  Gwen, Andy, Richard and Justin set off for Ben Tee (Corbett, 904m) at Kilfinnan.   However, part the way up they were faced with a tricky water crossing and having assessed the conditions ahead, decided that more specialist equipment would be required to make the attempt safely and the remainder of the climb was left for another day.  Gwen and Andy then headed back to Glasgow, while back at the hostel, Justin and Richard collected Gordon and headed for Fort Augustus in search of local wildlife and perhaps catching some SPL action on TV.  They arrived back with extraordinary tales of near-death experiences and confirmation that the adopted team of the day had lost.  Iris and Ian had set off on their bikes in the morning, aiming to get to Clunes, have lunch there and head back.  Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas and they found their path blocked by fallen trees just shy of their target.  They returned to the hostel for some soup and then Ian headed back out on his bike to circuit Loch Oich.  Calum and I set off down the main road towards the Glengarry Hotel to see what could be seen of Invergarry Castle.  However, it was fenced off with no access to the public, so after taking some photos we stopped at the hotel for morning coffee and views across the Loch and finished off with a gentle stroll along the River Garry.  In the meantime, Allan B had set off early from Glasgow to come and join us at the hostel for the Sunday evening.  En route he climbed Geal Charn (Loch Arkaig, Corbett 804m) and Meall na h-Eilde (Corbett, 838m).

We all ate in at the hostel that evening and then a few headed down to the Invergarry for a final pint or two before coming back for whisky and cake .. a very happy combination and a perfect way to round off a weekend.

On Monday the rain poured down outside while we were having breakfast and continued most of the day.  This scuppered most, if not all, plans for Grahams and Corbetts on the way home.


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April Day Trip to the Galloway Hills

Download a map of the area?

There were 10 made the trip south to the Galloway Hills.  I received a call from organiser Bob MacDonald at 7.30am to say he was unwell, and headed down to Cathcart to meet James, Willie, Gordon, Steven and Heidi.  Steven and Heidi had to be back for 5pm, so travelled together .. and Willie, Gordon and I settled down in James' spacious wagon for the journey.  Making their own way to Bruce's Stone at Loch Trool were Jim, Elena, Hamish and Cornel.

The whole group set off for the Merrick at 10.20am and made very quick time up to the ruins of Culsharg Bothy, where 3 or 4 people had set up camp.  The pace slowed slightly on the steeper ground up to the summit of Benyellary (719m), where the first break was taken, with great views over the Neive to the summit of the Merrick.  The cold northwesterly wind made this a short stop, and we made very quick time again to the summit at 843m, arriving at 12.30pm.  After a sandwich or two, and a visual survey of the surrounding hills, the group split up according to different plans.

Break on Benyellary  On the Merrick 

Steven and Heidi returned by the upward route; Willie decided to make a slower descent and explore round Loch Trool; Jim decided to descend by Redstone Rig to Loch Enoch and look for the "Old Grey Man" .. not a local resident, but a fairly famous rock formation somewhere between the Loch and the "Murder Hole"; Hamish, Elena, Cornel, Gordon, James and I decided to extend the day with an ascent of three more summits .. Mullwharchar, Dungeon Hill and Craignaw .. returning by the Loch Valley path, which would allow me to complete my round of the Donalds.

Leaving the Merrick just before 1pm, we made a quick descent by the northern edge of Redstone Rig to the northern edge of Loch Enoch at 500m.  We then had a straightforward direct ascent of just under 200m to the summit of Mullwharchar at 692m .. not only a Donald, but also a "Graham".  After a quick sandwich, we left at 2.15pm for the direct southerly descent which returned us to the 500m col, and began the ascent of Dungeon Hill by tracking southeasterly over the rough and sometimes difficult terrain.  We reached the summit at 620m at 3.15pm and enjoyed another quick munch before the roundabout descent to the next col at 495m.  The group spread out widely on this section, which would be a most difficult descent by navigation.  The final ascent to Craignaw at 645m involved a tricky, steep but fortunately short, section to a wide flat area with the summit above quite difficult to find even with good sunny conditions like today.  At last the final Donald .. and as a bonus, Craignaw is also a "Graham"!

On the summit of Dungeon Hill  Craignaw .. Andy's last Donald

Yet another munch and a few photos, and we were off at 4.30pm for the long descent, firstly to the northern edge of Loch Valley, then down to Bruce's Stone.  On the way, we stopped to view the cairn erected to mark the scene of a famous plane crash in 1979, then continued at a very fast pace to arrive at the car park at 6.30pm .. where Willie and Jim were patiently waiting.

The decision was made to return home immediately, since we still had a 2-hour road journey.  The distance covered was 21.5km with a total ascent of 1200m .. many thanks to my five companions!  Of the four summits visited, one is a "Corbett" and two are "Grahams" .. I hope your legs recover quickly!!


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