Hillwalking

Trip Start May 22, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, June 4, 2005

Torridon has long been a part of Scotland that I have wanted to visit. A rugged yet beautiful landscape dotted with lochs, tiny whitewashed villages and great winding roads.
Finally I was getting a chance to get up the Munros here, accompanied by Willie and Simon, a couple of old workmates. By the way, Munros are Scottish hills above 3000ft, more than a set distance apart. There are 284 in total and many people spend their lives trying to 'bag' each and every one.

As we neared Torridon, the twisting single roads (with occasional passing places) were great fun to drive (for Willie) and having stopped at the head of a glen to admire the sun setting behind a distant loch it seemed like the perfect start to a great weekend. The weather forecast wasn't great but as is often said in Scotland you can't rely on the weather!! We hoped.

We found our cottage for the weekend easily enough, a simple place with a friendly landlady who wanted nothing more (apart from her 10 a night each) than to chat about the area. It was a really mild night so we headed to the local pub for a beer and chatted away to the barman about traveling in Africa. I think by the end of the weekend I must have thoroughly bored Willie and Simon with traveling tales but they never let on enough to stop me so I continued...

The next day after a decent sleep, it was a glorious 6am morning, for some at least. Simon was suffering with a cold and Willie had been woken early by the lambs outside his window, but when living in a city it's not something to complain about. We drove a bit to find the start of our climb, then drove back again having missed it but soon we were off up some gorgeous heather covered slopes leading to the summit of Ben Eighe. Being my first bit of real exercise since returning home I took plenty of breaks to admire the scenery, which was absolutely spectacular, the view changing with every step climbed revealing distant hills, lochs and even the far off Western isles. The summit, topped with a small cairn, (a stack of stones that can vary from a nice seat to a decent shelter) was easily reached and gazing around us we had great views of the surrounding hills and also the many rain clouds pouring down all around, but thankfully not on us. Coinneach Mohr was the next goal past a wide grassy plateau where we had great views of Sunday's climb, Liathach (roughly translated from Gaelic as 'the big grey one'.....I think). On the cairn we found a large piston, wondering where it came from we searched around and soon found the aluminium wreckage of a Lancaster bomber that crashed during a snowstorm whilst on a training flight in March 1951. Further on along a narrow rocky ridge and up a large precarious slab of rock we summitted Ruadh-stac Mohr but as the cloud had come in we headed down again quickly and then on down a narrow and precarious rocky scree (loose stone) gully leading to Coire Mhic Fhearchair and our long, wet walk back to the car.

The local pub was really busy by the time we got back but the food was good and come Sunday morning we were off again climbing steeply up Liathach into the low cloud. The climb was fantastic but the views were non existent and probably lulled us into a false sense of security on some of the more exposed ridges. It was coming down that proved to be the worst bit with my 'good' knee feeling like each step down was a stab with a sharp knife. We even considered flagging down a rescue helicopter that was obviously doing maneuvres in the area but eventually and hours behind schedule we made it down just in time for the cloud to lift and the sun to come out ... typical, but we had a great weekend climbing.
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