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7-9 October 2022

Eventually there were twelve DHC members booked on this weekend to the Glen Coe – Mamores area. Unfortunately, Iain, Kenny and Alison had to cancel late-on. The remaining nine covered two munros, a corbett, six grahams and low-level walks – trying to dodge some wet and windy weather, typical for the west coast in autumn...!

Graham started early by meeting a bird-watching pal on Thursday and walking the graham Fiarach near Tyndrum – not many birds, the highlights being a buzzard and a pair of red grouse. They got a soaking and it was very windy on the short summit plateaux. On the Friday, after drying out, Graham climbed Meall Odhar another graham near Tyndrum. Another wet and windy day with a few red deer the only wildlife of note.

Sandra left early enough on Friday to complete a munro in Glen Coe. ‘‘I walked up Sgor na h-Ulaidh at 994m on Friday on the way to the hostel. The start of the walk was in fine weather, but it deteriorated as the day went on. Rain and low cloud preventing any good views. Still a good day on the hills’’. Irene managed to squeeze in a late afternoon walk from the Blackwater hostel up to the Grey Mare waterfall area. The other six arrived at the hostel throughout Friday evening. Their staggered entry meant a variety of hill options were discussed and re-discussed for the Saturday – over a wine or beer of course...!

Saturday – Anna and Moira had an eventful day with tributary-burns in spate, leading to a route change and longish day, with them eventually climbing a graham. ‘’Moira and Anna set off to climb the corbett Meall Lighiche south-east of Ballachulish. After following the path to the confluence of the Allt na Muidhe our progress was halted by the high river and despite walking to and fro and further towards Sgor na h-Ulaidh we turned back mindful that any further rain would make the return more hazardous. After a brief coffee at the car, we drove to Inchree by Loch Linnhe and set off towards the graham Beinn na Gucaig. The path to the waterfall provided splendid views but accessing the ridge proved difficult at first through long, course, and uneven grass. Once on the ATV track, we made better progress to the summit, with good views towards Loch Linnhe and Ardgour. The weather was a mix of wind, rain and cloud, but shafts of sunlight offered dramatic vistas".

The views from Beinn na Gucaig (Anna)

Waterfall in spate near Inchree (Anna)

Ruth and Steve had better luck with the river crossings and completed two grahams near Ballachuilish. ‘’On Saturday we did the grahams Sgorr a' Choise and Meall Mor, to the south of Ballachuish. We did it as an anticlock-wise loop walking up Gleann an Fhiodh then crossing the river. Surprisingly, we found a wide braided part of the river which made for easy crossing. We then climbed the lovely ridge of Sgorr a' Choise, with great views across to the Pap of Glen Coe. We then dropped down to the bealach and up onto Meall Mor, a much more interestingly shaped hill than we expected. The mapped forestry on our return to Ballachuish had been felled, but we were fortunate in finding paths through the brash. A great day, with hills low enough to stay out of the cloud’’.

On top of Sgorr a' Choise (Steve)

The remaining five members set out together direct from the hostel, following the Grey Mare waterfall track, then through the steep birch-wood to the north-east heading for the Mamores ATV track (the wood was busy with many small birds heard – such as tits, finches, goldcrest, blackbird, robin). On reaching the ATV track, and after a coffee break and further discussion, the party split – Graham and Sandra aiming for the corbett Glas Bheinn, with Ken, Gail and Irene heading for the munro Sgurr Eilde Mor.

After a few showers and much changing of gear (good for a wee break.!) Graham and Sandra ticked the corbett off. Just after Graham remarked that the corbett’s are under-walked another hiker appeared...! The hiker also failed to find a path for the last 2km, but most of this walk was on a good path or ATV road. On the return we had a close sighting of a pair of ravens and great views of Loch Leven, and the corbetts Mam na Gualainn and Garbh Bheinn.

Loch Leven, Mam na Gualainn and Garbh Bheinn (Sandra)

After the coffee break and split, ‘’Ken, Gail and Irene started on the rising traverse on the southern slopes of Sgurr Eilde Beag to the north side of Coire an Lochain, with an interesting river crossing negotiated. Ken and Gail then continued the ascent, getting a fine vista at the summit’’. ‘’Irene climbed up Sgurr Eilde Mor's western slopes to a boulder bed about 150m+ above Coire an Lochan. Great views as the clouds shifted, and although not far off, decided best to leave the summit for another day’’. The trio had similar weather as Graham and Sandra, but possibly more spectacular views.

Almost at the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor, with Coire an Lochan in view (Ken)

We had a good meal at the Highland Getaway Inn, then drinks and stories back at the hostel ended a good day. The Sunday weather forecast for the west was poor, with guaranteed rain and wind, and a variety of options were considered to avoid the worst conditions – mainly by heading east..!

Sunday – After three soakings in three days (and in need of a rest..!) Graham decided to do some ‘go-slow’ birding on the way home. Sandra also decided to head home dry. Irene had a non-hillwalking commitment and headed north. Ken and Gail attempted a munro near Dalwhinnie. ‘’We tried to beat the encroaching rain by moving east and going for a quickish ascent of Meall Chuaich. We reached the shoulder before the final slope but were beaten back by ferocious winds and decided that this hill can wait for another day’’.

Ruth and Steve also went east and managed a graham at a good pace, certainly there was no long lunch at the summit! ‘’After assuming it was too wet to walk, we realised the rain was coming in later than forecast and drove to just south of Newtonmore and did the graham Creag Dubh. It was a lovely hill, with nice views and a great ridge. It was a fast up and down, aided by the fact there was a path. While it was a little windy on the top, we got back before the rain arrived’’. Finally, Anna and Moira challenged the west coast weather forecast by tackling a local graham. ‘’We decided to at least start up Tom Meadhoin (a graham ENE of North Ballachulish), after all it didn’t look too bad a day! What a mistake. We got soaked and should have just left like everyone else..!’’. So, Sunday was largely a disappointment (apart from Ruth and Steve’s climb).

Thanks to everyone for a nice social week-end and for some up-to-date logistics at some of the hills. The Blackwater Hostel was comfortable, and we all appreciated the en-suite rooms. One potential hitch was having only one key per room, and the hostel needs to address this for group bookings. We managed, but only by hiding a key outside..! (l have flagged this up in my review). The next DHC weekend meet will be in 2023 and yet to be decided.



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