Archive for the Hills Category

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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Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , on January 17, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A day that started with a drive through dawn, cocooned in a warm car, heading towards hills increasingly coated in snow. The slopes turned orange and pink as the sun rose behind me and the moon descended behind the area we would be walking in.

After meeting up with two friends, we dropped a car at our end point and continued on to our starting point where it was out into the cold, a biting cold in the wind, which died down over the course of the day.

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Despite the snow, a track up to Meall Tairneachan gave us easy walking, gaining views of Schiehallion and other hills to the west as we went. Views to the south and east were blocked by the higher ground we were headed to, until finally, cresting the summit we had views of identifiable hills in all directions. The world around us was largely white, but layered and textured by distance and features.

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Both summits were quite steep and gnarled, requiring focus to find a line down slopes with fresh snow on them, and occasional drifts of surprising depth along the way slowed us down slightly, resulting in us finishing just as darkness arrived.

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Braeriach – Where Did All the Snow Go?

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on December 23, 2016 by Jinja Coo

Winter’s first snows have arrived and departed again so quickly even the ptarmigan have been caught out. Less than three weeks after a walk in the Cairngorms with the hills well coated with snow, they were now all but stripped bare. That was the first surprise, two others: the nicer weather than was forecast; and the shortness of the walk versus the times quoted in various sources.

Highlights were Chalamain Gap, the narrow, bouldery feature traveled through and the many ptarmigan clustered in groups around the remaining patches of snow on the higher ground. Though I have been through and near the Lairig Ghru over half a dozen times now, we had great views down and over it from a new angle for me and of Garbh Coire sitting above it to the south of Braeriach, within it an ice patched Lochan Uaine nestled in the colder side of the corrie.

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As we walked out we were treated to lovely skies and colouring on the hillsides as the sun set and a moon, already high, began to dominate above.

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Black Mount Bivvy

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2016 by Jinja Coo

Drive up and down the A82 often enough and you soon realise that the views towards the Black Mount hills and the lochs in the foreground are a very popular stopping point for those with a camera. How often does does such postcard scenery coincide with a layby (some don’t even bother with the laybys)? Throughout the year and in all but the worst weather thrown at the place, there is no need to walk far to get a stunning view.

We headed into the area below the hills with a mind to catching up and enjoying a wintry bivvy somewhere with a lot of scenery but not too far to carry in fuel for warmth.

Like all trips on days selected months ahead, there were plan B’s in case the weather didn’t make this a good option, but thankfully they can wait for another time – the forecast bode well and was consistent for the days either side.

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That said, it did start misty and our destination was hidden as we walked in via a surprisingly good path, across an otherwise very boggy area. Occasional glimpses of the higher ground ahead of us and the nearest water to our side soon increased in frequency, largely clearing to give more extensive views by the time we met up with the old military road comprising part of the West Highland Way.

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A lone West Highland Way walker – perhaps there were others – passed whilst we were getting setup and voices we heard the following day suggested others walking the long distance route too.

Time was taken to get the tarp rigged so that our firebox and sleeping space would be arranged ideally for the long night ahead. Then it was time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. By now the mist around us was gone and only clung in pockets to the lowest ground in the distance, highlighting edges and bumps, which would otherwise have blended seamlessly into their surroundings.

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Darkness and temperatures fell together, but the fire kept us comfortable all night until we turned in with starry skies above us. We woke to a grey sky but views of the hills were clear showing fresh snow having fallen on higher ground through the night.

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Our route out was less direct, getting up close and personal at times with the bog, as we aimed to see more of the water in the area close up, but the lie of the land hid a lot of it from us. In such a flat landscape, even just a few feet higher up would afford great views and a route linking together the surrounding small hills (Beinn Chaorach and Meall Beag) should make an ideal outing with spectacular views over this much photographed landscape.

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