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Loch Linnie area – August 19/20th 2023

Eleven of us – Alison, Anna & Tony, Gillie, Sandra, Alan, Ben, David, Sandy, Ruth, and Steve - arrived at the Corran Bunkhouse on the Friday evening, with several of the party taking the opportunity of a fine day to do hills, either on the way or in the vicinity. The main discussion that evening was around the dire forecast of high winds and torrential rain associated with Storm Betty. Certainly, the winds during the night were ferocious and at Saturday breakfast, folk made plans for low level local walks.

Steve & Ruth left promptly to climb the Pap of Glencoe (742m), a Graham/Fiona neither had done before. They were blessed with relative calm and were just below the cloud base, giving spectacular views across Loch Leven, both west to Ballachulish and east to Kinlochleven. Meanwhile, the rest of the party did walks from the hostel. Ben, who had arrived very late Friday, enjoyed a low-level walk up to Druim Na Birlinn (206m) from where the photo of the Corran lighthouse (above) was taken.

Alan, Sandy, Sandra, Alison, David, and Gillie attempted the Graham Beinn na Gucaig (616m), from the hostel. Unfortunately, the weather was as horrendous as the forecast! So, they took the forest track to begin with to stay out of the wind, except by the time they were climbing the steepest part of the hill they were wading through thick, head-high bracken, with the rain bucketing down. Sandra and Alison made it through the cloud to the top, but the rest cut their losses and returned the same way. Nonetheless, the party agreed it was better than shopping! Anna and Tony met up with Moira, who had come over with Stewart staying in their camper van nearby, to walk up towards Tom Mheadhoin (621m). They managed most of the climb before the heavy rain set in forcing a retreat the same way they had gone up.

The bedraggled walkers returned through the afternoon to the comfort of the bunkhouse and relaxed before going out for dinner. Originally, we had planned to cross on the Corran ferry to eat at the Inn at Ardgour. However, the ferry has been plagued by repeated failures of its steering, and the vehicle service replaced by a 12 foot-passenger, only. Given there were 13 of us, we opted to stay onshore, and walk to eat at “Roam West”, the renamed restaurant/bunkhouse at Inchree!

On Sunday, the forecast was much better, with a variety of agendas for hills on the way home. Sandy travelled southeast to Glenartney to ascend the grassy Graham, Beinn Dearg (706m – see photo above). Although he caught the odd shower, it was very mild, and he enjoyed good visibility. The lower slopes had not been grazed for some time, so the grasses were at knee height - he only saw three hinds, in an area that 20 years ago had one of the highest density red deer populations in Scotland! Also, there were no sheep either.

Sandra and Alison tackled the Munros Bidean nam Bian (1150m) and Stob Coire Sgreamhach (1072m) in Glencoe. They arrived in time for the carpark’s piper to start his day piping them off onto the hill, following the well-made, if relentless, path up into Coire nan Lochan stopping to admire the nonchalant deer grazing above them. Still sheltered from the wind they climbed up to the small lochans admiring the rocky pinnacles appearing through the mist, before ascending to the north ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan (1081m) and onto its top.

A slightly airy scramble then soon took them up to the top of Bidean nam Bian itself, where they were relieved to find that the wind was manageable, if gusty. Still in the mist they started along the ridge to their second Munro of the day. Soon they had descended out of the mist and had views of Glen Etive and beyond, at last even from the top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach. Back to the bealach, the descent down the scree into the Lost Valley proved to be more straightforward than anticipated. However, by this time the hill was busy and the descent from the Lost Valley even busier but eventually they were back at their cars with big grins having had a great day out on the hills.

Meanwhile, Ben was also making his way towards Glencoe to do his last Munro in the area – Sgurr Na h-Ulaidh (994m). The path followed the clear spring waters of the Alt Na Muidhe. As he reached the end of the path, he decided his best route would be to aim for the bealach, just below the steep ascent to the Summit and between Sgurr Na h-Ulaidh and Stob An Fharain. This was not the recommended route, but he was desperate to avoid the rocks which seemed to surround the hill. Although the ascent proved more complex than the impression given by the map, he found a clearer route, mainly on grass. At the summit it was windy but nothing that caused any great concern. Since the cloud base was just above him, he was rewarded by excellent views of the Glencoe Hills – including Bidean, where Alison and Sandra, were walking and, the dark outline of the Aonach Eagach Ridge. Amazingly, and unlike Sandra and Alison, he never saw a soul all day.

Alan, Gillie, Ruth, and Steve stopped just east of Roy Bridge to climb the Graham, Creag Dhubh (658m). A great ‘wee’ hill with magnificent views around, especially south towards the Grey Corries. It was surprisingly busy for a Graham with quite a few folks on the way up as they descended. On the return, they found a way into the tranquil churchyard of Cillie Choirill. A lovely setting with many interesting headstones. It was a particularly peaceful place.

Finally, Anna and Tony, had a fine walk up Creag Liath (743m) near Newtonmore. They followed the track NW from Glenballoch. At its end they crossed the river and walked south over the top of the hill back to the car. A fine, sunny day with lovely views.

So, while the weekend threatened to be a wash-out, everyone had good experiences.

Steve Albon & Ruth Mitchell with many others!


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