Retreat (or not) on Beinn an Lochain

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , on March 4, 2018 by Jinja Coo

Just over 10 years since my last visit to this hill, which seems hard to believe.

A cold start had us wrapped up early, but this hill’s northeastern ridge is served by a tiered path, which lends itself to a friendly pace and not too much overheating.

We passed two groups who had turned back rather than tackle a section of steep snow / ice and wondered if we might have to too. However, though it looked exposed, there were nice big bucket steps all the way up and it was good to be getting the most out of crampons after so long without having to use them.

This is an interesting hill, especially up top with good views of similar ones concentrated nearby and with good views too to those isolated ones further away like Cruachan and Ben More on Mull. There was quite a murky haze in the distance and so Ben More was only just visible because of the contrast of its own white coating.

From the summit we opted to continue with a loop rather than retracing steps, descending fairly directly to the Rest-and-Be-Thankful car park.

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Gulvain and Braigh nan Uamhachan

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , on June 16, 2017 by Jinja Coo

After making a first hill walking visit to the Glenfinnan area earlier in the year, two of us were keen to return in better weather to see more of the area, on a day with better views from the tops.

A late call had us back on an absolutely stunning day, perhaps the nicest of the year at the time. Friday night’s drive up itself had been a joy and promised much itself with lovely light on the hills and latterly a red-sky-shepherd’s-delight forecast.

After walking up Gulvain we dropped to the west at the bealach between its two summit tops and crossed over to Braigh nan Uamhachan. Traversing its southern ridge, we enjoyed views along the length of Loch Shiel and beyond, before dropping down to re-join the approach path in.

Despite encountering some rough ground on the the high crossing and descents from both hills, this proved to be a great route choice with great views all around, especially to Ben Nevis, south over Loch Shiel and out to the isles of Skye and Rum and into Knoydart too, though Loch Arkaig remained largely hidden from us. I can’t remember the last time so long was spent lingering at summits in warmth, taking in such a wide expanse of scenery.

To the west, Streap was a potential extra hill to link up with, but would have pushed a day, already tiring enough, into knackering territory and would have resulted in a bit of tarmac pounding at the end too. Something to look forward to in future anyway and a potential high camp with a fine set of views all around.

If only we could have stayed up high for sunset, which was surely to be a repeat of the previous night’s one, but with the recent spring-forward in the clocks, the days were already stretching and it would have required a four hour delay before our long drive home.

Glorious Winter

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags on February 14, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A rare (of late), stunning winter’s walk with harsh whites and blues book-ended by warm browns and reds. Strong winds lifted waterspouts off the surface of Cruachan Reservoir and higher up spin-drift was occasionally driven into all nooks and crannies by gusts, leaving behind air heavy with glistening ice crystals.

Amazing views – close up the crags of the Cruachan horseshoe, further away the eye was drawn by the snowy peaks on Mull and Jura.

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Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on February 3, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A big day in (and above) Glen Finnan, which started out bright, but with height gained, it turned grey. All along the tops and ridge, we were denied views unfortunately, from what must be a good vantage point for the Morar and Arkaig areas. Snow was poorly bonded to the ground, making the walking trickier – a bit bruising on tested ankles and knees – adding to the sense of a big day out.

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Arbroath to Auchmithie

Posted in Paddling, Sea Kayak on January 23, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A very leisurely start to this year’s paddling – just 13km along the stunning coastline between Arboroath and Auchmithie – with every cave cutting into the soft, red cliffs explored to some extent.

As we set off from Arbroath a coastguard helicopter and RNLI boats seemed to be training together and made for an impressive sight, with the helicopter hovering low above the sea at times, whipping the surface up into the air.

The cliffs are peppered with caves, mostly tall and narrow, but others are much wider and squarer, occasionally of the size of a large house. Looks can be deceiving, often the narrow entrances lead to a widening cavern behind and at times we could turn our 5m kayaks inside with room to spare, others had to be cautiously reversed. Some have more than one entrance, even leading to hidden beaches and some have stalactites – not something I can recall seeing on sea caves before. All have colourful walls (when you can see), partly a result of the colour in the rock itself, partly due to growth on the surface – lots of oranges, purples, golden hues and greens too.

Though the sea was relatively calm, on a couple of occasions we experienced unnerving amounts of swell and chop suddenly within the caves, which act as funnels for all the water entering them. As well as being on the scary side of things, it (and the lighting) makes it difficult to do the caves any justice with the camera – too much movement, too much contrast and too little light.

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This is definitely a stretch of coastline to return to, there is more beyond Auchmithie for a start, but also to return to the same caves and try and capture the experience a bit better with the camera next time.