Only four DHC stalwarts braved a rather mixed weather forecast. On Friday Robert valiantly tackled the two munros Cona'Mheall and Am Faochagach from the north end of Loch Glascarnoch.
Misty view of Cona'Mheall
A long rough route, and some miserable mist and rain gave him a long tough day. Graham, Gillie and Alan went for the corbett Sail Mhor, a smaller challenge but the same weather. The SMC book recommends ascending the path on the east bank of Allt Airdeasaidh, and fording the river higher up, unless the river is in spate when it's advisable to use the pathless west side. The three corbeteers' first challenge was to decide whether or not the river was in spate. As they stood looking at the thundering waterfall by the roadside the conversation went something like "that's not a spate" "looks very full though" "it can't be a spate after all the dry weather we've had, can it?" "it looks full but it's not really a spate" "it just looks like a spate here, it'll be ok higher up".
Unable to call a spate a spate they set off up the east bank. By the time the approximate fording point was reached and reconnoitered Gillie, who was nursing a broken toe, had had enough; Alan, whose aging jacket had lost it's waterproofness, was wet through and had had enough; Graham, however, found a fording point which was less than knee deep and only mildly turbulent. Waving confidently, he squelched off into the damp mist to bag Sail Mhor. Alan and Gillie retreated to Ullapool to buy a waterproof jacket.
(For anyone who hasn't yet done Sail Mhor - it's worth doing it in, or perhaps just after, rain because the waterfalls and gorges are lovely and very impressive when they are full of water.)
All four of us rendezvoused for dinner and beds at the Altguish Inn/Bunkhouse. Opinions on the Altguish varied, but on the whole it was deemed worth using again in future. Graham had the good fortune to get a free upgrade to a single en-suite room with television, tea/coffee and biscuits. Guess who found the accomodation excellent!
On Saturday Gillie enjoyed limping round Inverewe Gardens despite the rain.
Graham bagged Creag Rainich in book time despite a soaking on the way up, before the rain cleared for his return.
(For those still to do Creag Rainich, Graham says it would be possible to cycle to the end of Loch a Bhraoin and best to skirt around Meall Dubh both ways. Look out for red-throated divers on the loch and ptarmigan on the top.)
Robert and Alan set off to do two, possibly four, of the Fannich munros. Over lunch at the top of the first, An Coileachan - one hour behind the book time and hiding from the wind and rain - they decided two munros would be enough "unless something dramatic happened with the weather".
And of course, while crossing the Bealach Ban to Meall Gorm the rain stopped, the wind died and the cloud base rose well above the tops to reveal Sgurr Mor and Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich plus dramatic moody views of An Tealach, the Fisherfields and many far tops to the north-west and south. It was a no-brainer. They couldn't turn down the opportunity to bag four. With luck they could get to Sgurr Mor before the ominous black wall of cloud in the south-west reached it. After that any wind or rain would be at their backs for the stroll over Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and home.
No luck. The black cloud won the race to Sgurr Mor. It was a wet and windy ascent of the final two munros, but thankfully dry on the long walk out to the start at Loch Glascarnoch. Although it had been wet and windy while climbing over the tops, the break in the weather had come at the right time to make it a very satisfying, if long, day (9.5hrs).
On Sunday Robert and Alan decided (with quiet satisfaction and an inner glow of achievement) 6 and 4 munros respectively in two days was enough. Robert set off for home while Gillie and Alan first took a touristy walk in Corrieshalloch Gorge (green, awesome and beautiful). Graham had returned to Aberdeen on Saturday (he denies the Aultguish had refused to give him any more biscuits).