Pico Grande,Madeira.

2nd February 2013.

It was a nice sunny day and I was looking forward to this but it all fell to pieces when the clutch cable snapped on the hire car.If you have ever seen the roads on Madeira then the fact that this particular part failed will come as no surprise to you :)

The hire company,Rodavante,were on the scene with a new car within the hour even though I was in the middle of nowhere up near the start of the path.All would have been fine if only I had possession of the relevant documents.As they were lying in the hotel I had to go all the way back to Canico de Baixo and by the time all the paperwork had been sorted out at their office it was too late for the hill.Instead I went up to the Nuns Valley and took some pictures of Pico Grande :)

View down on Curral das Freiras from the road up the valley.You can see the old road at the bottom right of the pic about a quarter of the way up the cliff face.

Curral das Freiras

Curral das Freiras and the Nuns Valley

There are some wild and brilliant roads on the island some of which you can see at the bottom of this pic.If you lived in some of these houses and tripped over your back door step you may well die :)

steep roads

Death awaits at the back door.

Pico Grande from the roadside above Curral das Freiras.Looks like some sort of red hot poker in front but if you know for definite then let me know.


Pico Grande,Madeira

Pico Grande,Madeira

A closer look at Pico Grande.


I`d read before I went that it was the only summit that required a bit of scrambling making use of a line of bolts.I can assure you in the next post that there is another one that requires climbing :)

A much closer look at the summit block.


Pico Grande summit block.

Pico Grande summit block.

Finally,a bonus pic of the Penha d`Aguia on the north coast.

penha d'águia madeira

Penha d’Aguia

Posted in Outwith Scotland | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


January 2013.

Some touristy stuff from Madeira.Mountain days on the island due in the next post or the one after that  :)

I`d never have thought of going here for a couple of hill days if it wasn`t for reading Alens excellent blog at Because they are there.Having read the entries and seen the pics of his visit I duly booked a trip for late January.There is only one flight a week from Glasgow to Madeira leaving on a Monday and operated by Thomson the holiday folk.As such it was nigh on impossible to get a cheapish return at anything approaching Ryanair prices.In fact it worked out at around £40 extra for the 4 star hotel accomodation as opposed to just the flights.Wonderful quiet hotel in Canico de Baixo populated by elderly Germans who went to bed at 9.30 pm on the button each night .Hotel,flights and prebooked car hire at the airport worked out about £280pp for two which isn`t bad and the weather was great all week with just one semi dullish day and an odd light shower.

If anyone is interested I booked the car with a local company,Rodavante,through Economy Car Hire and had no problem with them when I broke down in the middle of nowhere and without the documents I should have been carrying at all time.

We had a south facing room overlooking the Desertas Islands where I could watch the sun rise each morning.


The odd pirate ship would sail by….


Took a tour of the western end of the island on the first day driving westwards to Ribeira Brava before heading steeply upwards over the spine of the island.The scenery was unexpectedly spectacular.more so because I had always associated Madeira with OAP package deals.Soon be one myself I suppose :)

Looking back down the valley towards Ribeira Brava.


It`s hard to believe looking at it that a road exists there.

Looking eastwards to the hills from the same spot.


Looking down to Sao Vicente on the north side of the island.


I had been looking forward to driving along the famous old coast road from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz but it had been closed by landslides,a not irregular occurence it seems.

Free car wash available if it was open :)


Some more photos of it here .

Looking back to the east from near Porto Moniz.


Stopped at the western end of the island for lunch and watched the Atlantic crash into the shoreline.


Carried on out to the western tip of the island.


Back across the western plateau which was reminiscent of Scottish moorland in places albeit with bonus sunshine :) Down the hairpin section towards the centre of the island again.


A glimpse of the traverse scheduled for a few days time :)


A couple more touristy ones from later in the week.Having bagged ( I can`t help myself ! ) one of the five highest sea cliffs in Europe a few months back in Donegal I had to go out to Cabo Girao to visit another one.Whilst near enough as high as Slieve League it was pretty tame by comparison and nowhere as exhilerating as its counterpart in Ireland.There is now an extended platform over the edge with a glass bottom.Picture below courtesy of Wikipedia and Maciej Szczepańczyk

572px-Cabo_Girão,_Madeira copy

One of my own looking back towards Funchal.


The Bank of Portugal in Funchal.


The “beach” outside the hotel on a windy morning.


I`d definitely go back here for another trip once my legs refuse to carry me up the bigger stuff :)

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Meall Mor,Loch Katrine.

18th January 2013.

A quick midweek foray in to the Trossachs for Meall Mor at the west end of Loch Katrine.We were away early both to avoid the rush hour traffic but also to get over to Paisley first of all to pick up Sandra,Renfrew for Alan and then the west end for Bob.I was knackered before we even got to the foot of the hill :)
On the way,my favourite Trossachs view,the Arrochar hills from the head of Loch Arklet.

Ben Vane

Needless to say the car park at Stronachlachar was deserted at this time on a midweek January morning.
Looking back west to the early morning light over Ben Venue.

Ben Venue

It was bitterly cold with a raw wind to further add to the misery.Hang on a minute,I was out in a midweek hill,it was dry and there was a blue sky above.It was a brilliant day :)

We had a three and a half mile walk along the water works road to Glengyle House and the easiest access point for the hill.

The Walk In.

A bit of a chequered history with regards to the house ranging from being Rob Roys birthplace to being purchased in about 2004 as a way of laundering drug money,allegedly :)  I see it has now changed hands again for £700,000.It was empty today but a peek through the windows showed that a considerable amount had been spent on the kitchen at least.

Glengyle House

We took a faint path up beside the deer fence towards the Sput Dubh waterfall before angling north westwards by the way of least resistance towards the summit crags.

Loch Katrine

On reaching the cliffs that girdled the plateau I opted for the nice looking gully that split the cliffs as it looked like I might get a bit of shelter from the wind.

Summit crags

Looking down from near the top of the gully.

View down summit gully

Alan with Beinn a`Choin behind him during a lull.


Beinn A`Choin

The bitter wind was soon whipping up the spindrift again.
One minute it was like this…..


….and then a moment of beautiful calm….


…before another pasting.


There wasn`t much picture taking at the summit needless to say.I took three and my fingers were fozen stiff.

An Caisteal and Beinn a`Chroin.


The crags on Parlan Hill on the left.


Over to Ben Lui in the distance.


It really was windy and cold.Two of the young guys in the club were on Ben Nevis this same day and couldn`t get to the foot of their route.
Graeme factored in the windchill and worked out it was minus 27 at one point below the summit.Bob had three balaclavas on :) Managed to get some shaky footage from just below the cairn .

Back down the way we came.

way down

All that was left was the trek back along the loch side to the car in the fading light.
a last look back up at the crags and the ascent route.


All this just 30 miles from the house :)

Bullfinch stripping the buds from my tree the next morning.

Cheeky wee bugger :)

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Glen Dessary Corbetts.

12th January 2013.

This certainly felt a longer day that it looked on the map although how much this was due to the queasiness induced by the ups and downs of the Loch Arkaig road it`s hard to say.I suppose the previous evenings whisky may have made a small contribution also :) A quick plot on the map came to 4,800 ft so maybe around 5,000ft is not far off the mark.

Up at 6.23am and away from the hut at 7.12am which wasn`t bad considering we didn`t go to bed until almost 4am :) We left the car at a deserted Strathan and started walking at 9.15am.

Along the land rover track we headed past Glendessary Lodge and then up the south east ridge of Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh.

Looking back down on Glendessary Lodge from the ridge with Gulvain in the background.

Glen Dessarry lodge.

Glen Dessarry lodge.

Jools looking up towards the final summit cone.

A passing tramp


The summit of Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh. Funny light on the hills all day but not a breath of wind and complete and utter silence.

Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh

Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh

Over to the Sgurr na Ciche ridge from the summit.

Sgurr na Ciche

Sgurr na Ciche

We headed off along the ridge to Druim a Chuirn.

 Druim a Chuirn

Ridge to Druim a Chuirn

Zoomed view of Streap along the way.



It was rather obvious that it was going to be dark before we finished so we took a direct descent off Druim a Chuirn down to the col below Fraoch Bheinn to speed things up .We had a vote here and the consensus,two to one,was to carry on to Fraoch Bheinn.

Descent route :)

Descent route

Descent route

From the col we went up the north west ridge of Fraoch Bheinn.Sgurr Mor from the ridge.

Sgurr Mor

Sgurr Mor

As we guessed it was nightfall when we got to the top.

Summit of Fraoch Bheinn.

Sunset on Fraoch Bheinn

Sunset on Fraoch Bheinn

We got part way down before the head torches had to come out and eventually got back to the car around 6.20pm.I was buggered :)
A quick stop in Fort William for a fish supper and a drive down the road to Blackrock Cottage in Glencoe where we were staying for the weekend.Thankfully the clag was down in the morning as neither Jools,John or I had much enthusiasm for another hill day.

Bad day at Blackrock…

Blackrock cottage

Blackrock cottage

We didn`t want to head home too early so instead passed a pleasant few hours inflicting punishment on Graeme for contravening the club constitution namely Section 3 of the Non Snoring Act of 1996   :)

20 years in jail for loud snoring

Culprit behind bars.

Back up for another weekend in Glencoe in three days time :)

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New Year Bothy Trip.

29th December 2012.

Well,it wasn`t really New Year but close enough.Over the years our New Year bothy trips have dwindled in numbers and length and due to one reason or another nobody was available at all this year.Gavin,Bob and I decided to get out somewhere for an overnighter on December 29th to a bothy that we hadn`t visited before and which must remain anonymous,so,if anyone posts a comment giving away the location it will be deleted :)

We set out in the late afternoon sunshine with packs full of goodies as Gavin in particular likes to dine in style when in a bothy.Never having been here before our first view of the evenings accomodation was a bit of a letdown :)


Carrying on from here we left the land rover track and followed a small trail through some scrub and eventually sighted the bothy in the distance with a welcolming wisp of smoke rising from the chimney.A very well looked after bothy it was indeed and inside were the three folk mainly responsible for the upkeep.In fact I think one of them could be almost classified as living there :) Introductions over Gavin proceeded to get serious with his selection of goodies.As in previous years this consisted mainly of 1kg of Stilton cheese and an expensive bottle of malt whisky.He knows fine well that the rest of us can`t stand Stilton or whisky :)

A group photo taken by David and if you look closely at Gavins eyes you can detect the effect of either 1kg of cheese or a bottle of malt or indeed a combination of both :)


Not long afterwards Gavin “decided to have an early night ” as they say :) The rest of us stayed up to the early hours chatting away about bothies, mutual friends and stepping over Gavin every time we went out for more firewood until,goodies all finished,we went to bed as well.The beds all being occupied Bob and I joined Gavin on the floor,Bob getting the safe sheltered spot under the table and myself on an ingenious drop down platform.


We hadn`t bothered looking at a weather forecast the day before but weren`t expecting a large dump of snow and high winds.A guy and his wife had spent a night here a few days previously and arrived outside on quad bikes with a load of logs for the fire to replace what they had used :)


We made them a cup of tea and blethered away for an hour hoping for the weather to abate ,at least the wind anyway. Harbouring dark thoughts of the car being snowed in up the little side road we had parked in we eventually  got the boots on and ventured outside.As usual when things look awful from the comfort of a bothy it wasn`t too bad outside,on fact it was quite enjoyable :)

A last look back at the bothy…


On the way back out….


Our fears about the car were unfounded and after a chat with the local farmer we were soon on our way back home :)

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