Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Scotland Failures

This blog is mostly as a reminder for me what NOT to do. It's been a while since I was in Scotland and a few years since camping out for more them a few days.

1. Boots - utterly crap, soles too thin and not waterproof enough. Ended up with hammered soles and blistered toes. Top priority to get suitable ones.

2. Really needed a bigger tent then my Vango 150 1 man tent. I need one with a porch to cook in and probably put a bike in. Will buy one if needed next year. The Vango is good, but with the rain pouring down there's not much space.

3. Maps - why I didn't bring extra maps is beyond me! I always carry lots of alternative maps and guide books, this time I seemed determined to the point of being blinkered on a certain number of Munros! Bad mistake, I must be more flexible.

4. Car - the Ford Focus is nice to drive and very economical. However, with the bike and all the gear, I couldn't help fancy a medium sized van. Again ground clearance caught out the Focus and I broke a plastic bracket near the front bumper when the car grounded on a bit of rough road.

5. Food - no problems. I liked the Coucous mixed with Thia curry and Tuna that Mountainmanjunior recommended. Really need to take more Mint chocolate biscuits. Never eat them at home but when camping...yum yum.

Also had the worst buns ever. I bought them in Cannich and they were like the bread Gulag prisoners would have rioted against!

6. Clothes - No faults. Jacket hood is still too big but can't do anything about that.

7.  Sleeping bag - not warm enough, will need to upgrade my basic sleeping bag someday. However, it works well with my fleece liner.

8. Comment from Mountainmanjunior.."Some nice pics, I will be interested to hear about the campsites etc. Could be a place to start my munro bagging"

Cannich: http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/reviews.asp?revid=3081

Cannich is an excellent site and one of the best locations for mountains in Scotland. Open all year round!  Fancy snow camping?

Morvich: http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/reviews.asp?revid=3774

Morvich is expensive, but a good location  (but not the best) for mountains in Glen Sheil. I didn't like the fact I couldn't park my car next to my tent. Seperate camping/parking I'm afraid.

Roybridge: http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/reviews.asp?revid=2741

Nice big open site, ideally suited for a large number of Munros! Only downside is it's difficult to find and there's a long narrow road to get to it.

I can't think of anything else, if I do i'll update in a new blog.

Paddy Fields of Scotland

Just back from Scotland. What a disaster in many ways. I always try and avoid. July & August as it's the busy season for tourists, midges and stalking (of the deer type).

This August is also wet....very wet. In fact, it's like the paddy fields of Asia, but with Munros in them.

Here's a brief blog day by day:

Sat 8th August 2009.

Drove almost 8 hours to Cannick campsite. Very tired and very boring journey. The entrance to the campsite has the worst pot-holed road I have ever driven on. Soon they were to fill up with water!

Sunday 9th August 2009 

Arrived 8:55am at the gatehouse to the famous Glen Strathfarrar estate. The gate lady came out at precisely 9am and issued a road permit to me. Only 25 public vehicles a day are allowed on this private estate, so get there early. There is no restrictions if you walk or bike along the Glen. However, beware of the stalking season - that's why I picked Sunday (traditionally no stalking on Sundays).

Mountains climbed - height in metres:
Sgurr na Ruaidhe - 993
Carn nan Gobhar - 992
Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais - 1083
Sgurr Fhuar-thuill - 1049

Glen Strathfarrar is really very beautiful and a great pleasure to drive down.

Monday 10th August 2009

The campsite at Cannick is excellent for access to Glen Affric, which is a long Glen running West-East  and can be cycled along. However, my eye caught on 2 Munros.

Tom a' Choinich - 1112
Toll Creagach - 1053

There is a longer route involving 5 Munros but that's a big day out and I'm still trying to get fit. This is where the fault of my boots happened. The initial track is a rocky landrover road. My boots are fairly thin soled and after 3km the soles of my feet were pummelled. It was like someone hitting them with a hammer. Instead of the soles pivotting over the rocks, they were getting pressed down onto the rocks. Ouch!

Tues 11th August 2009

Again arrived at Glen Affric to finish the 3 Munros in the group. The weather wasn't too bad to start off with, but as minute by minute came on the rain started.  Basically after slogging up a ridge and arriving at 900m height, the wind and rain was annoying me. I looked at the map and immediately decided to retreat. I had and have no regrets. Arriving back at my car, both little toes had large blisters, which were to prove painful over the next few days.

Every picture tells a story...The ridge over my should was my target. 

Wednesday 12th August 2009

Moved camp to Glen Shiels. On the way I bagged 3 Munros parking near the old military road at Loch Clunie. Again the weather wasn't good, with rain, showers and wind. But at least it was breaking out in sun every so often.

Carn Ghluasaid - 957
Sgurr nan Conbhairean - 1109
Sail Chaorainn - 1002

Later on I eventually found the camp site at Morvich and it was an expensive one at that £9 per night...Ouch!

Thursday 13th August 2009

The Glen Shiels hills are big, I mean BIG. With my blistered feet the South ridge was far to long and the Five Sisters route was also a bit to far. The Forcan Ridge with it's steep scrambles wasn't on either as my boots would be crap at climbing. So, it was Ben Fhada (Ben Attow). 

Ben Fhada - 1032
A Ghlas Bheinn - 918 

Actually, this was a great route and Ben Fhada was a huge lump of mountain almost Alpine in parts once you started to get into it's centre Choire. The was a difficult descent to A Glas Bheinn and long descent from there to a forest track that pummelled and bruised my feet all over again!

Friday 14th August 2009

RAINED HEAVILY ALL DAY. Got fed up, packed up and went to Fort William. Walked around the shops trying to make up my mind what to do. The Information Centre had a weather forecast and it wasn't nice...rain for the next few days.

Finially decided to camp at Roybridge, rather then go home. I was wet, tired and my feet were badly blistered. 

Sat 15th August 2009

The day's rest yesterday di me a world of good and I decided to do a double Munro of :

Chno Dearg - 1046
Stob Coire Sgriodain - 979

The drive to the parking place at Fersit was horrendous, very narrow roads, tight bends and rough roads. The weather was just cloudy to start off with but soon the showers came. The lower part of the hill was a paddy field of water. Everywhere was water. My feet soon got drenched and it became a full on slog upwards.

Sunday 16th August 2009

Strong winds and heavy rain all night and early morning. Couldn't get out of the tent until 9am. Listened on Fort William radio for weather forecast and it said...RAIN.

Decided to come home and be damned!