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Glenfinnan Weekend

28-30 July 2023

Having suggested the Glenfinnan area for a Deeside Hillwalking Club weekend, I found myself promoted to organiser after the walks meeting last year. As it was my first foray into arranging a weekend for DHC, I received help in terms of venue and in rounding up interest from the club. Hence, I ended up booking 3 rooms in the Glenfinnan Railway Sleeping Car for 6 of us. Unfortunately, 2 people had to draw out just before the weekend so we ended up with 4 – John Mason, Ben Mellor, Sandy Reid and myself.

We started inauspiciously with a poor weather forecast for the Saturday and the local pub unable to guarantee a table due to a shortage of staff. The second issue was solved by pre-ordering meals from the adjacent Glenfinnan Dining Car and Sandy buying a crate of local beer from the museum next-door.

Fortunately, Friday turned out to be a good hillwalking day, dry not too windy and the tops clear of cloud. Thus all 4 of us managed a decent hillwalking day on the way over with sandy and Ben climbing the Munro's Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach in Glen Spean. John tackled Stob Coire Easain and Stob a Choire Mheadhain west of Loch Treig and I went up Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh from near Laggan.

Sandy’s Photo of Ben on Beinn a Chaorainn

Ben’s Photo of Sandy on Beinn a'Chaorainn

We were all assembled at the Railway Sleeping Car by 7pm. The Sleeping car was quirky and relatively well equipped but tight for space even with 4 of us. After settling in, our host Ally Entwhistle called in to make sure everything was going OK. She had left eggs and fudge in the fridge for us and also answered our questions about the Sleeping Car itself (a 1950s Camping Car used by railway staff) and the Railway museum plus comments on local issues like parking.

After a comfortable night in the Railway Sleeping Car, we rose early on Saturday for an 8am start for the hills. Ben, John and I set off directly from the carriage for the two Munros up Glen Finnan, Sgurr Thuilm and Sgurr nan Coireachan. The start was a scenic walk over to the Glenfinnan Viaduct with fine views down onto the viaduct itself and down Loch Shiel.

Looking down onto Glenfinnan Viaduct

Train and the Viaduct

Waterfall on way up to Corryhully

We then walked up the road to Corryhully Bothy and on up the shoulder of Sgurr Thuilm with fine views back down the glen. The much forecasted rain then arrived and Sgurr Thuilm disappeared into the mist.

Corryhully Bothy

By this time we had picked up a good path and were soon at the top of Sgurr Thuilm.

Sgurr Thuilm

Looking ahead from Sgurr Thuilm

At this point it was time to use the compass to take a bearing back to the main path along the ridge but after a short descent we were back on the path beside an old fence. The mist cleared and we had fine views back to Sgurr Thuilm and along the ridge itself.

Looking along the ridge to Sgurr nan Coireachan

Approaching Sgurr nan Coireachan

After a fine walk along the undulating ridge the weather closed in properly and the wind got up on the final pull up Sgurr nan Coireachan. We reached the cairn and quickly started on the descent. This consisted of some steep rocky sections but eventually we were back on our outward track and the final trudge back to the Sleeping Car, a bit damp and tired but well satisfied with the route and the day.

Long Descent

Meanwhile Sandy had gone up the two northerly Ardgour Grahams, Meall an Damh and Glas Bheinn and had been back long enough to purchase our beer, talk to our new companions hiring the other room in the Railway Car (a mother and daughter doing a train trip from Montpellier) and start the dinner!

Top of Glas Bheinn looking to Loch Eil

Looking out to the Glenfinnan Hills

Soon we were replete with beer and food, warm and content.

After heavy rain on Saturday night, Sunday turned into a much better day. Breakfast included the eggs from the local chickens. Then someone set off the smoke alarm making toast (me) and woke up our French companions. After that small drama, we all started on our journey back via some more hills in clearer and drier weather. John tackled Gulvain and Sandy went up Creag Dubh, the Graham near Newtonmore, that unusually for a Graham had a track most of the route. I climbed Sgurr Choinnich Mor starting from Glen Nevis where notably the River Nevis was impressively in spate after the heavy rain the night before.

View from Creag Dubh

Overall, an enjoyable weekend with a good tally of hills. Thanks to Sandy, John and Ben for their good company and encouragement.

Alison Paterson


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