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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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Not long afterwards Gavin “decided to have an early night ” as they say ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 eventuallyย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

A last look back at the bothy…

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On the way back out….

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Our fears about the car were unfounded and after a chat with the local farmer we were soon on our way back home ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sgรฒr Mรฒr,Cairngorms.

1st December 2012.

One from last winter ๐Ÿ™‚

Very early Saturday morning saw us having the unusual luxury of being ferried around in someone elses car for a change.Step forward and take a bow John B.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

We were going up to the Carn Dearg MC hut at the top of Glen Clova for the weekend albeit via a circuitous route via Braemar.On the way we dropped Graeme off just before the Devils Elbow and he headed off to Creag Leacach to add to the tally of his third Munro round.To think Bob calls me a bagger !
The rest of us carried on to the carpark at the Linn of Dee where Bob decided to emphasise his non bagging credentials by going for a low level walk into Bob Scotts bothy.This left John and I for the walk in to the Corbett of Sgor Mor.

A wonderfully cold,clear morning it was.

Walk in to Whitebridge.

Walk in to Whitebridge.

The three miles up to Whitebridge seemed to pass in no time at all and we soon turned right on to the footpath alongside the infant River Dee,passing the partially frozen Chest of Dee on the way.

Chest of Dee

Chest of Dee

Shortly after we took to the broad south ridge of Sgor Mor which was a bit of a heatherfest in places made worse by the covering of fresh powder snow.Soon however we were on the steeper windscoured slopes just before the summit which were interspersedย  by the occasional knee deep drift . John,as the youngest member of the party,felt duty bound to lead through.It`s nice to meet a young person with manners nowadays ๐Ÿ™‚

Snow drift.

Snow drift.

A brisk walk over towards the summit followed…

Nearing Sgor Mor.

Nearing Sgor Mor.

It was far too cold to hang around for more than a few minutes so took a couple of pics of the Devils Point and Cairn Toul…..

Cairn Toul

Cairn Toul

Devils Point and Cairn Toul.

Devils Point and Cairn Toul.

……before heading off towards the outlying top of Sgor Dubh.

Towards Sgor Dubh.

Towards Sgor Dubh.

The view into Coire Sputan Dearg of Ben Macdui on the way…

Ben Macdui

Ben Macdui

By now we were back in the annoying heather zone so made a beeline down directly to the path about a mile short of the River Dee accompanied by a big black cloud .

That big black cloud is coming down..feel I`m knockin` on heavens door.

That big black cloud is coming down..feel I`m knockin` on heavens door.

We got back to the car just after dark and there was Bob having just returned from a pleasant afternoon sitting by the fire in Bob Scotts bothy ๐Ÿ™‚ Picked up Graeme on the way at the Spittal of Glenshee ,then over the icy backroads to Kirriemuir for a fish supper, washed down by a pint in the Clova Hotel and then rounded off the day in the Carn Dearg hut with a nice bottle of wine along with a few other friends who turned up.Perfection ๐Ÿ™‚

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Errigal,Donegal.

18th November 2012.

We spent a pleasant if somewhat low key evening in the house as a similar forecast to yesterdays was in prospect requiring another early start to make the most of the weather.

Graeme`s hoose.

The Love Nest.

The Love Nest.

We headed up through Letterkenny and onwards through Glenveigh National Park.This is the table top summit of Muckish photographed through the car window and according to Graeme it has a fantastic view up the west coast of Scotland.

Muckish.

Muckish.

We had intended doing the classic scramble up the north ridge of Errigal but we didn`t have time if we were going to beat the incoming bad weather.So,it was another classic ascent of Errigal,the classic Irish bog from the tourist car park ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking back over to the crags at the eatern end of the Poisoned Glen.Quite a few of the early pioneering routes here were done by a Scottish guy by the name of Maxfield in the 50`s and his name features in the early Cobbler guides.Bonington and Estcourt had also visited in the 60`s.

The Poisoned Glen.

The Poisoned Glen.

The bog was boggy ๐Ÿ™‚ but we were soon on to terra firma where Alan soon raced ahead trying to set some sort of speed record in an effort to stay dry. Graeme had an even more cunning plan to stay dry which involved staying in the car for a quick nap ๐Ÿ™‚ As Alan disappeared into the distance Bob and I reverted to our usual pace and the views soon opened up albeit only to the south and east.

View east over Mackoght to Muckish in the far distance.

mackoght

Mackoght

The cloud was hanging over the west face denying us the view out to the Atlantic islands so most of the following pics are sort of similar.We were joined by Kim and Peta from Darwin,Australia who were on a one month flying visit to Europe and had just flown over from Scotland the previous evening after a visit to Iceland.

Bob,Kim, and Peta at the summit with the Poisoned Glen cliffs in the background leading to Slieve Snaght on the right.

kim and peta from darwin

Errigal summit.

One of the locals on his weekly ascent, rather optimistically it must be said,points out landmarks to the girls.

Errigal summit.

Summit

Bob an I took the short walk out to the north top.From here on a clear day it`s possible to see where both my maternal grandparents were born.One to Bobs left in Donegal and one across the sea on Islay in the other direction ๐Ÿ™‚

North top of Errigal

North top of Errigal

A couple of pics of the walk down.

Bob,Kim and Peta.

Bob,Kim and Peta.

Kim from Darwin

Kim from Darwin

Much zoomed view over Gortahork to Tory Island which apparently has some good rock climbing including this ridge which I quite fancy though whether my rapidly aging body would feel likewise I`m not so sure ๐Ÿ™‚

Tory Island from Errigal.

Tory Island from Errigal.

See here for Ian Millers excellent Donegal site about it….

http://iain-miller.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/tory-island-rock-climbing-donegal.html

You really should have alook at some of his videos of the Donegal sea stacks ๐Ÿ™‚

We then went for a drive round north west Donegal stopping for a closer look at the crags in the Poisoned Glen from Dunlewy.I`ve had to alter this pic as it was pretty dark by this time.

The Poisoned Glen.

The Poisoned Glen.

The old ruined church at Dunlewy.

Dunlewy church.

Dunlewy church.

From there we went up the north west coast via Gweedore to the very tip of Ireland at Bloody Foreland where it was Bloody Freezing ๐Ÿ™‚

The tortured coastline of North West Donegal…..

Bloody Foreland.

Bloody Foreland.

Further along we went for what could be termed a “bracing walk” on the beach at Falcarragh to see Horn Head.

Horn Head.

Horn Head.

Just outside Dunfanaghy we came across this unfinished housing development below,apparently one of forty nine similar developments in Donegal that have gone bust.

Credit crunch blight.

Credit crunch blight.

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Unfinished housing development, Dunfanaghy
These houses look as though they are currently being constructed. However, when I visited Dunfanaghy in July 2008 they looked to be in exactly the same state as pictured here. A victim of the credit crunch I would imagine.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] ย  ยฉ Copyright Rossographer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
We rounded the day off down in Letterkenny for a tour of Irelands most popular radio station,Highland Radio, where Graeme`s girlfriend Marion works.They even let us loose in the room that houses their cd collection though I`m sure Jools would turn up his nose at such a minimalist collection ๐Ÿ™‚
Highland Radio.

Highland Radio music collection.

And that concludes the flying visit to Donegal .We`ll be back ๐Ÿ™‚

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Slieve League,Donegal,Ireland.

17th November 2012.

This was a visit to the fifth highest sea cliff in Europe on a long weekend trip to Donegal last winter .I`ve subsequently visited a bigger one in January 2013 but will get round to that later ๐Ÿ™‚

As Graeme had ever so kindly bought a house over in Donegal for all his friends to freeload in it seemed like a shame not to take him up on his offer.Well,the truth is he met a nice woman over here butย  she has five children and the only way he could get peace and quiet was to buy a house next to hers. Alan,Bob and I joined him on a trip over to inspect his new love nest ๐Ÿ™‚
All in I think the total cost was around ยฃ55 each for return flights with Ryanair from Prestwick to Derry,car hire and fuel.The flight landed at lunchtime and the plan was to make a quick ascent of Slieve Snaght on the Inishowen peninsula but the mist and gloom dampened our enthusiasm somewhat so we settled for an afternoon wandering around Derry.This was right up Bobs street as it gave him the opportunity to add to his extensive collection of grafitti pics ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of them were right up my street as well especially this one ๐Ÿ™‚

alex guevara

One from Bob below…

Alex.Free Derry Wall

It`s a long story but I have a few cousins in Donegal, Anne and Nora,whom I hadn`t seen in about thirty years or so.Graeme`s house near Ballybofey is around an hours drive away from them but Nora had arranged for her husband,Stefan,to drive over,pick me up and take me back to meet them for an overnight stay,the plan being that the boys would drive over and pick me up the following morning on en route to Slieve League.

I had my doubts as to whether or not Stefan would find Graeme`s house as it is hidden away out in the sticks but,being Finnish and a rally driver,he just zoomed around the country lanes until he found us ๐Ÿ™‚ I got dropped off at the end of the village and had a walk up and down the main street where I spent my summer holidays as a kid.Oh how times have changed.What was once a smallish village with the smell of peat smoke drifting downwind and a few bars now had all day convenience stores and various fast food establishments.Being a Friday night, it was busy with young folk.Not that I have any time for them ๐Ÿ™‚

Had a lovely meal at Nora`s followed by a nice bottle of wine or two and caught up on our respective lives.As I had an early start in the morning I was glad to have got off lightly on the alcohol front. Stefan however had other ideas and was most insistent that I try his special Finnish vodka.Apparently it is considered an affront to the Finnish nation if you refuse.I had no choice.It was potent.

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Out with a hangover the next morning and waited on the main street for my lift onย  a dullish overcast morning.We made our way south west via some lovely remote roads and down to Teelin and the car park where things weren`t looking to bad weather wise.That was until we opened the door. It was blowing a gale outside ๐Ÿ™‚ It was one of those days where an effort was needed to get out the car and if it were in Scotland we probably would have went elsewhere.

This was a few minutes from the car and you can see Alan bracing himself against the wind…

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It was a funny old day indeed.Sometimes a howling gale,sometimes dead calm.Sometimes bright sunshine and then dark foreboding clouds.

A couple of sunny ones….

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And a dark gloomy one looking across Donegal Bay to Sligo and Benbulben.

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We split up after about half an hour or so with Bob and Graeme taking the “easier” route below the cliff top whilst Alan and I tried to stick to the direct route.

Bob and Graeme on the easier route ๐Ÿ™‚

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A couple of pics from the direct route…

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It might not look too hard but maybe this video will give you an idea of the updraught from the cliffs ๐Ÿ™‚

We were soon back together again….

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Graeme,having been up here recently decided to pack it in before Dead Mans Pass and one look at the black clouds scurrying towards us from the Atlantic had Bob deciding to accompany him downwards.Being a bagger I had no choice but to carry on ๐Ÿ™‚ Alan and I headed over to the start of Dead Mans Pass which was nothing much write home about especially after what had gone before.See for yourself below…..

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Just below the summit of Slieve League and the wind is still blowing…..

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We just managed to bag the summit before the front hit us with a mixture of driving rain,snow and stinging hail.

Coming off the summit…

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We found Bob and Graeme lower down sheltering in the old church ruins and the weather improved from there on down until we got back to the car just before sunset.

way back

Starting point is marked as Carrickmacafferty and the summit is at the red arrow.

slieve league

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An Ruadh-stac.

3rd November 2012.

I awoke to the usual club meet hangover early on Saturday morning but any tendency to malinger was banished by the stunning morning outside the hut.

inver croft

Inver Croft.

Folk were heading off in various directions but Jules and I had already arranged to go to An Ruadh-stac whilst we were still relatively sober the previous evening.This seems to save a lot of time in the mornings ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Richard blagged a lift off us on his way to bag some exotic new square for Geograph along with a couple of esoteric tops to the east of Moruisg.We dropped him off at the end of Loch Sgamhain and then a few miles down the road we spotted our old mucker Alistair booting up in the car park at Achnashellach.We pulled over for a quick gab as we hadn`t seen him since his last Munro party the previous year.

Parked at the usual place at Coulags before heading off up the river and were soon approaching the bothy at Coire Fionnaraich.

Coire Fionnaraich

Coire Fionnaraich

It didn`t seem like 11 years since we last stayed there during the Grand New Year Bothy Tour of 2001 ๐Ÿ™‚

Coire Fionnaraich 2001

Coire Fionnaraich 2001

We`d started off in Invermallie where we shared the bothy with the Lochaber Mountain Rescue team on their annual piss up.This seemed to set the tone for the next week ๐Ÿ™‚

Sleep was at a premium as the bagpiper managed to stay up all night !

Lochaber MRT piper.

From Invermallie we drove up to Coulags and into Coire Fionnaraich for the next night,some of the party taking a detour via this ditch on the way ๐Ÿ™‚

Icy road.

Icy road.

This was on the main Inverness to Kyle road which was pretty treacherous to say the least.If my memory serves me correctly from there we went to Suileag,which was freezing as usual,then Glendhu,followed by a horrendous walk round the loch in waist deep snow drifts to land at Glencoul bothy for New Years Eve.Needless to say we had the place to ourselves .Amazingly the temperature rocketed overnight and the snow had more or less gone leaving us to squelch out along the southern shore of the Loch Glencoul back to Kylestrome the next morning.

Anyway,back to the present.We wended our way up the path to the col pausing briefly toย  talk to a local woman from Dornie who had turned back after having been put off by the sight of An Ruadh-stac on reaching the col.It did present an impressive frontage.

Approaching the col.

Approaching the col.

An Ruadh-stac from the col.

Traversing past the lochans after the col…

col

Beinn Damh from the lochan.

Beinn Damh.

Beinn Damh.

Maol Chean-dearg on the way up.

Maol Chean-dearg

Maol Chean-dearg

Despite it`s imposing prescence the face didn`t present any difficulties and we were able to make a more or less direct route up.Not that Jules would have turned back anyway as this was his third attempt as his missus had balked on both previous ocassions.

The eastern corrie of Beinn Damh.

Eastern corrie of Beinn Damh.

Eastern corrie of Beinn Damh.

Some pics from the summit.

Close up of the ridge on Liathach.

Pinnacles on Liathach.

Pinnacles on Liathach.

Looking over the gullies on Sgurr na Feartaig to the hills south of Achnashellach.

Achnashellach hills.

Achnashellach hills.

Myself with the Torridon hills behind.

Torridon hills.

Torridon hills.

Time was getting on though and after something to eat we headed off on a southerly direction leaving the remains of our sandwiches for the ravens that had been present for the last hour.It was pretty hard going down boulder slopes with snow covering the gaps between the rocks.Jules shouted over to me and pointed across my shoulder and on looking round there was a golden eagle flying past about 20 metres away ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course Sods Law dictated that my camera had been put away for the day and by the time I whipped it out it was a lot further away.For what it`s worth here`s a grainy eagle shot….

Grainy goldie.

Grainy goldie.

We saw him/her sneaking back for the remnants of our sandwiches ๐Ÿ™‚

The least said about the route down to Cnoc na h-atha the better but after that it was straightforward down to the car.Went along to the Strathcarron Hotel and treated ourselves to a few pints before heading back up the road to Inver Croft ๐Ÿ™‚

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