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Ciste Dubh: Chris's last munro

At the start of the week I was worriedly watching the weather forecasts for the west coast as they predicted heavy rain and gale force winds for the weekend ahead. I wondered how many of my invited group would actually make the summit of Ciste Dubh on 9th July, my long planned final munro. Of course I had no choice about it – some things just have to be done – so perhaps I’d be there on my own.

As luck would have it, as the weekend approached the wind speed forecasts eased but low cloud and rainy weather remained. It was far too late to try to re-arrange my plans so we were just going to have to go for it, whatever the weather.

I’d booked out Ratagan Youth hostel for our exclusive use and was expecting the arrival of 27 people, with another 2 to join on Saturday night. The friendly and efficient warden, Bartosz, had just finished explaining all the rules to me on Friday afternoon when the first people started to arrive.

For the weekend I was extremely pleased to be joined by fellow DHCers Bob, Jane, Ali, Ruth, David, Iain, Tim, Robert, Sandy, Peter and Hamish & Tansy who both popped over from Skye. And as well as my wife Helen and my 3 sons (Peter, Patrick & Will) I was joined by several Banchory families; Finlaysons, Duncans, McQueens and Youngs. Not forgetting Steve from Aboyne, Ian from Tillicoultry and Chris from somewhere near London.

On Saturday morning 28 of the party set off walking from the layby past the Cluanie Inn just before 10am. Drizzle set in from the start so everyone started in full waterproofs which remained firmly in place for the rest of the day. As everyone trudged up the glen along the boggy path….

…we looked up towards the cloud base and made the most of the last limited views behind us over Loch Cluanie.

After reaching the saddle, Bealach a Choinnich, completely shrouded in cloud, there was a healthy discussion over the best route to be taken and a general consensus was reached. Shortly after that we were pleased to be caught up by Sandy (who had just driven over from Banchory) and Tansy (plus friends Abigail and Idelle plus dog) over from Skye.

First stop for lunch was in pretty dismal conditions but we found some shelter from the relatively light winds. Perhaps not surprisingly we encountered no other walkers on the hill that day.

The climb up the good ridge path continued and we got the occasional glimpses of the valley floor at the bottom of the steep slopes to our left.

Eventually what appeared to be the summit loomed ahead of us through the cloud.

I hung back to let everyone go ahead…..….thinking this was finally it after 15 years and 283 munros (2 since demoted). I pressed onwards to be greeted by a tunnel of poles leading the way to the fairly small summit cairn.

The champagne corks popped and although surrounded by cloud there was respite from the rain and drizzle for a while which allowed a group selfie to be taken after Neil constructed a makeshift tripod out of walking poles.

I was so pleased that the total of 32 plus a dog made it to the summit.

and a summit family shot...

Most of us returned the same way back but a small breakaway group of 4 came back over the Corbett Am Bathach.

The evening celebrations at Ratagan went extremely well as we were well supplied with food and drink along with a very friendly atmosphere.

This will certainly be a very memorable occasion for me and thank you again to all those that came along to accompany me on my final munro……… onto the corbetts!


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