Monthly Archives: May 2013

Mallaig

Sunday 19 May. The weather forecast for yesterday wasn’t that great (strong winds and rain) so Saturday was a rest day. Today, it was much better so we caught the 12:12 train to Mallaig for a 90 minute ride through the mountains and lochs. The return train departed at 16:05 so we had just 2½ hours in which to squeeze a walk. We managed 4 miles with 725ft of ascent which took us on a circular route in the nearby hills and to the shore of Loch an Nostarie.

Mallaig is at the end of “The road to the Isles” and offers views across to Skye, Run and Eigg.

West Highland Way

Friday 17 May. Bea did the West Highland Way 2 years ago and had poor weather on the section from the Glencoe Ski Station to Kinlochleven. I thought that it would be a good idea to do this today so that we could all share the views. It was one of those odd walks where there was more down than up but it was still difficult enough at 9.6 miles with 1,630ft of ascent and 2,530ft of descent.

As it was a linear walk, this meant that we had to catch a bus from Glencoe village to the start and another bus from the finish back to our cars. The first bus was City Link from the Isle of Skye to Glasgow. I hadn’t realised that you had to book a seat in advance and although it was fairly full, the driver agreed to let us get onboard. His ticket machine couldn’t calculate the fare for the near 10 mile trip so he let the 3 of us ride for free. A couple who got on at the next stop and got off before us weren’t so lucky and were charged £6.50 each. As we were tied to the timing of this bus, it meant that we didn’t start our walk until just before midday.

The views throughout the walk were superb with the massive Buachalle Etive Mor (3,300ft) dominating the early part of the walk. The first 4 miles or so of the walk ran parallel and a little above the line of the A82 heading towards the top of Glencoe. From here there was an 800ft climb up the Devils Staircase to the highpoint of our walk. It wasn’t so much of a staircase but more of a winding slog up the side of Stob Mhic Mhartuin to the hause which gave way to the descent to Kinlochleven. This downward section wasn’t too bad to start with but seemed interminable as it entered a series of zigzags through a forested section prior to Kinlochleven. I was certainly relieved and exhausted when we had completed this particular descent of 1,800ft. Our aim was to catch the 17:20 bus back to Glencoe village and we made it to the bus stop with just 10 minutes to spare. This was our first day without a rain shower and the sun shone for most of the time out on the hill.

Lismore

Thursday 16 May. We set off today to do a walk that I’d found on the HF Holidays website. It was on the island of Lismore and purported to be 9 miles with 620ft of ascent. However, it turned out to be 10.24 miles with 1,330ft of ascent. This threw my timing out of the window. We caught the 11:00 sailing of the small passenger ferry from Port Appin for the 5 minute crossing to Lismore. The plan was to catch the 16:15 ferry back again but the extra distance and ascent of this walk meant that this was impossible and we made the 17:15 sailing with about 20 minutes to spare.

There were no signposts on this walk and I relied heavily on the route description and my GPS to find my way around. We made one mistake but after about 200 yards I realised that we were going in the wrong direction so no real harm was done. The walk provided excellent views of the Kingairloch Mountains and the Isle of Mull.

As we passed Baileouchdarach Farm we saw the unusual sight of the farmer using the forks on his tractor and a couple of strops to lift a cow to its feet. The farmer’s wife told us that the cow had fallen upside down into a drainage ditch and had blown up like a balloon due to pressure on its internal organs. Consequently, it had problems getting to its feet so the farmer lent a hand. Further on, whilst walking on a single track road, we were approached by an old lady driving a car with “L” plates on. She stopped to tell us that no one bothered on the island that she hadn’t passed her test or that she wasn’t accompanied by a full licence holder. Her car looked like an MOT failure and she drove off without seeming to ever change gear.

This was an eventful and interesting walk with the sea never far from view.

Morar

Wednesday 15 May. It was a beautiful start to the day as can be seen from the two early morning pictures taken from my caravan site. For today’s walk we had a 50 mile drive along the “Road to the Isles” almost to Malaig. We turned off at the village of Morar and then had a 3 mile stretch of switchback road alongside Loch Morar to the start of our walk.

It was only 4.65 miles with 1,365ft of ascent. The estimated time for the walk was 2½ hours but it took us nearly twice as long to complete. The path was rough, boggy in places and made for slow going. Our intention was to walk from the shore of Loch Morar to the Shore of Loch Nevis but only Bea completed the full journey which added another ½ mile and a further 400ft of up and down. It was a very steep drop down to Loch Nevis so Karen & I decided to stop a little higher up for lunch whilst we waited for Bea. This took a little longer than expected as Bea couldn’t find her way back to our lunch spot. We set out to search for her and could hear her blowing her whistle to attract our attention.

We heard our first cuckoo of the year whilst we were drinking in the views across Loch Nevis and the distant snow covered mountains.

Glen Nevis

Tuesday 14 May. The drive yesterday from Keswick to Bunree near Fort William was interesting to say the least. 220 miles and 5 hours made all the more difficult with snow showers and temperatures down to 3c in places. The plus is that the Scottish mountain tops have a fresh covering of snow and look wonderful.

The first walk of the holiday was an out and back along the upper reaches of Glen Nevis. It was a total of 7 miles with 1,780ft of ascent, most of which were short ups and downs so it didn’t feel so bad. The weather forecast wasn’t very promising although there was some hope that it would brighten up in the afternoon. We stopped off for morning coffee on the drive there and didn’t start the walk until 11:30. As it turned out, we had a couple of short spells of light rain but on the whole it was sunny.

The route seemed quite a popular one and we met about 40-50 other walkers along the way. It followed the course of the Waters of Nevis, with Ben Nevis to the north of us and the Mamores to the south. We couldn’t see the summits but the lower slopes were impressive in their own right. The path rose and fell as we made our way upstream crossing a number of minor falls en-route  The major fall of Allt Coire a’ Mhail suddenly came into view as we rounded a corner. Nearby there is a 3 strand wire bridge across the river. It was too high for shorties like Karen and me, but Bea climbed up to pose for a picture. Lunch was taken here before we walked on to Steall Falls. The return route was back the way we had come.

Dodd

Sunday 12 May. It was one of those will it, won’t it; should I, shouldn’t I sort of days. Rain was forecast but luckily there was only one 20 minute shower during my 4 mile walk to the summit of Dodd with 1,500ft of ascent .Along the way, I stopped off at the 2 Osprey viewpoints and was lucky enough to see one of the birds flapping about on the far side of Bassenthwaite. I also saw 4 Red Squirrels and a Woodpecker taking advantage of the bird feeders. One final Wainwright for this holiday but still plenty left for future visits.

Unsettled Weather

Thursday 9 May. Listening to the BBC weather forecaster this morning, it seems as if I’m in for a spell of unsettled weather which could last for the next 2 weeks? However, the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) seems to contradict this saying “Overall chilly, showery conditions on the mountains over the coming week to ten days, with snow and hail on higher summits. However, into next week, the cloud base will often be fairly high and the air very clear indeed. Despite general low pressure over Britain, there will also be days when winds are light. Who do you believe?? Playing it safe, I took my caravan awning down yesterday to avoid it blowing away in the forecast high winds.

What I can say is that this morning it is raining in the Lakes and its only 9c so no walking for me today and probably very little for the remainder of my stay. So far, I’ve only been out on 5 walks totalling 32½ miles which is rather pathetic. At least on 3 of these walks the weather was superb.

Whilst I can’t get out walking, I’ve been catching up on some of my domestic chores. As I’m away for 30 days, there’s a need to do some laundry and this job was completed before 8am this morning. The Caravan Club has industrial style washers & dryers which did the job for just £4.40. Not bad value compared to my £2.45 coffee at Rheged where I can get free internet access.

On the subject of technology, my phone advised me yesterday that there was a software upgrade ready which would lift me to Android 4.1.2: a later version of Jellybean. I needed some shopping from Booth’s supermarket so I settled down in their cafe where there is free internet to start the 543mb download for my phone. I had only paid for 1 hour’s parking and didn’t realise that the download would take so long. As they say “I’ve started so I’ll finish”, the task took 75 minutes to complete, the last 15 minutes of which I was worrying that I would get a fine for overstaying my parking ticket. I needn’t have worried as it was raining cats & dogs and I doubt that any meter maids would have been out in such foul weather.