July 2008


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Although many of us have enjoyed continental style weather over the weekend, even here in the Highlands the weather has been almost Mediterranean, we are not always blessed with blue skies and warm temperatures during a British summer. The perfect antidote for a normal British summer is to transport yourself to the Alps where you will experience long balmy days with never a cloud in sight. In the distance you can hear a faint yodel and there skipping amongst the alpine flowers is Julie Andrews bathed in golden sunlight…… oops got carried away in one of my Sound of Music fantasies again.

Postcard from Timperley may not immediately bring to mind idyllic alpine meadows but as it is being temporarily written from along an Italian Border Route between Menton and Saas Fee it comes pretty close. The daily postings from along the trail is compulsive reading and you immediately wish you were there striding along high mountain paths, gazing upon small mountain villages far off in valleys below. Our bloggers keep you up to date with their progress along the way, the sites that they see (interspersed with photographs when mobile reception allows) and the people they encounter along the way. You will soon realise that the weather is never always perfect as they have had their fair share of showers. They are particularly making me jealous with their accounts of al fresco rustic meals thrown together from ingredients found in the villages and towns they pass through. To me such carefree dining always reminds me of happy summer holidays in Europe. For these reasons Postcard from Timperley is awarded my first "Click It!" recommendation.

They are on day 35 of their trip so hurry now and get hooked by their blog to enjoy the last few weeks of the journey to Saas Fee. You will not be disappointed as your mind conjures up the mournful whistling of a lonely goatherd….. sorry can’t get Julie Andrews out of my head now.

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Entries have been somewhat sporadic over the last week as I have been distracted by other things. Planning for a backpack trip over the August Bank Holiday, a couple of days walking, work as Chairman of the local community trust, oh….. and work! Even so, I have had plenty of time whilst out walking to think of new features or posts for Munro Musings.

One of those ideas is a feature called “Click It” where I recommend a website that I have been viewing over recent weeks. When you set up a blog one of the first things you think about and add is a blogroll list. Why do we do this? Is it to impress visitors that we spend a lot of time on the internet? Is it in the hope that it will generate reciprocal links, driving additional traffic to your own blog? Is it a genuine desire to say, “I found these sites useful take a look.”

Whatever the motive of putting a blogroll or list of links on your blog, I often wonder why did they include that particular website? What makes that website useful or interesting to the author? The Click It! feature will do exactly that, give my reasons for including it on my site, why I find the site useful, interesting or engaging. Why the site stands out from the myriad of outdoor and walking blogs and websites that compete to hold our attention.

So keep your eye out, the first Click It! recommended site will be revealed later today. Could it be your site?

Starting point: Mamore Lodge Hotel (NN 186 629)

Mountains Climbed: An Garbhanach, An Gearanach, and Na Gruagaichean

Munro Count: 2

Corbett Count: 0

Purists may argue that driving your car to the Mamore Lodge Hotel and starting your walk at 200m is cheating. Instead they would advocate starting in the village and climbing through the woods beside the Grey Mares waterfall up to the land rover track heading for Loch Eilde Mor. Let the purists argue that if they wish, I however will continue to make use of the car park at the Mamore Lodge for my forays into the Mamore range of mountains. All of these mountains have a long approach and starting from the village needlessly extends these approaches.

So ignoring the purists I set off on a warm, sunny day along the land rover track skirting around the edge of the Stalkers Cottage before head up Coire na Ba. This is local territory for me, I can see the beginning of the coire from my living room window with the double summits of Na Gruagaichean towering above. The coire is a large bowl with the crags of Am Bodach on one side and the slopes of Na Gruagaichean on the other, at its head the pyramid of Stob Coire a’Chairn. Many days are spent looking out the window longing to be walking along the path that takes you all the way to the ridge line.

The path leading up Coire na Ba
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Am Bodach from Coire na Ba
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Once on the ridge you are treated with a panorama of some of greatest mountains starting with Ben Nevis and stretching across the Aonachs and then on to the fine ridge of the Grey Corries.

I skirted around the back of Stob Coire a’Chairn to a small col and the path that heads up the steep and rocky slope of An Garbhanach where the fun starts. Barely 400m long this airy, exposed ridge provides a fine scramble for hill walkers. For those of a gentler persuasion you are able to bypass the scrambling by following a path, but in one place I found this to be equally exposed with a tricky steep section on loose gravel and rock. On my return along the ridge I stuck to the scrambling with no particular problems. At the summit of An Gearanach you can savour the Glen Nevis vista before you over your sandwiches and flask of tea.

Ben Nevis from An Gearanach
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The path continues down the northern ridge into the glen and the wire bridge at Steall, this makes a fine through route from Kinlochleven. However, I returned to the main Mamore ridge and headed up the scree slopes towards Na Gruagaichean, on first ascent you are deceived by thinking you are nearing the summit only to find it is a minor top and you still have a small dip to negotiate before reaching the true summit. This small dip is indeed tricky, steep and loose gravel call for gravel but once past it is an easy clamber up and over large rocks to the summit. Here another panorama is before you, to the east the shimmering Loch Eilde Mor and Blackwater reservoir with the bleak Rannoch Moor. Then to the west Loch Leven stretches out bathed in early evening sunlight framed by the Pap of Glencoe and Man na Gualainn with the Morvern hills beyond.

You can backtrack to the col and the Coire na Ba path or continue down the southern ridge, as I did, to meet the land rover track that will lead you back to the Mamore Lodge much to the purists disgust!

Zemanta Pixie

The deer stalking season started on the 1st July and although few estates begin to stalk that early many will be commencing at the beginning of August. I picked up a handy pocket guide this morning produced by Scottish Natural Heritage that outlines the main stalking areas covered by the excellent hillphones service.

During the season you can phone up and listen to a recorded telephone message that will indicate when and where stalking will be taking place in a particular area, as well as giving a forecast of activity over the next few days. Generally the advice normally given is to stick to the main hillpaths, prominent ridges and main routes through the glens. I have never had any problems during the stalking season, much of the advise is common sense, but I would recommend using the hillphone service if you are in any doubt.

You will find the information booklet in tourist information centres and outdoor shops throughout the Highlands or you can look at their website – www.hillphones.info

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Starting point: NN 60850 37900 – Ben Lawers Visitor Centre Car Park

Mountains Climbed: Meall Corranaich, Ben Lawers, Beinn Ghlas

Munro Count: 3

Corbett Count: 0

A belated route report from last weekend.

This club walk promised so much, walking in a area of the Highlands I haven’t explored before, ascent of an iconic mountain and the possibility of conquering five or six Munros in one day. Alas high expectations soon turned to disappointment, as the cloud that had been threatening to engulf the area from the south soon rolled in to envelop the summits. There would be none of the fine views promised by fellow walkers and guidebooks but the sight of walkers lurking in the greyness ahead.

Much of this area is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland and the first part of the walk heads out through the Trust’s nature reserve enclosure. This area is cordoned off from grazing sheep and deer to allow the moorland to regenerate and native plants to have a foothold. The well made path through the enclosure makes for a pleasant prelude to the walk, reminiscent of days in the Lake District.

Path though the nature reserve
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Eschewing the main tourist footpath direct to the summit of Ben Lawers, we took the alternative path up Coire Odhar a steady rise to the bealach between Meall Corranaich and Beinn Ghlas. It’s a short climb up a zig-zagging path to the summit, at this stage we were joined by what seemed half of Scotland as competitors in a quadrathon threaded their way around us. The wind grew stronger as we ascended and the path provided no shelter. On reaching the summit we immediately turned around to get down to lower ground and out of the wind.

Heading up Coire Odhair
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Back at the bealach we rejoined the path that skirts around the northern side of Beinn Ghlas steadily ascending to another col below the summit of Ben Lawers. At the summit having hastily consumed two rolls and felt the full effect of the wind chill we discovered wind speed to be 40.2mph. This was not gusting but a steady onslaught from the north. With such strong winds and little visibility there was no incentive to carry along the ridge to complete the other Munros. A hasty descent and then re-ascent to Beinn Ghlas saw us heading down the tourist track to the car park and finally catching glimpses of Loch Tay below the cloud base. Only hot chocolate at the Killin Hotel made up for what was a disappointing day on the hills.

Zemanta Pixie

I set out with the aim of writing not only about munro bagging but also about Kinlochleven and the surrounding Lochaber area on this blog. Since its creation I have failed to mention the latter in any detail, instead concentrating on recent munro walking.

To address the balance a bit I thought I would highlight some of the walking opportunities around the village by posting a local walking leaflet. This was produced by the village trust some time ago following the closure of the local Aluminium Smelter. I am the new Chairman of the community trust and one of our priorities is to review and regenerate the path network in and around the village. That is a mammoth task that will involve working with other landowners as well as applying for outside grants. We are determined to make a difference and attract more walkers to this great area.

An early task will be to update information about walks in the area and expand this to include some higher level walking guides as well. I am sure I will post more information on this project as it develops. In the meantime take a look at the leaflet, it is primarily aimed at casual walkers looking for undemanding lower level walks but it does give a flavour of what is on offer.

I set out with the aim of writing not only about munro bagging but also about Kinlochleven and the surrounding Lochaber area on this blog. Since its creation I have failed to mention the latter in any detail, instead concentrating on recent munro walking.

To address the balance a bit I thought I would highlight some of the walking opportunities around the village by posting a local walking leaflet. This was produced by the village trust some time ago following the closure of the local Aluminium Smelter. I am the new Chairman of the community trust and one of our priorities is to review and regenerate the path network in and around the village. That is a mammoth task that will involve working with other landowners as well as applying for outside grants. We are determined to make a difference and attract more walkers to this great area.

An early task will be to update information about walks in the area and expand this to include some higher level walking guides as well. I am sure I will post more information on this project as it develops. In the meantime take a look at the leaflet, it is primarily aimed at casual walkers looking for undemanding lower level walks but it does give a flavour of what is on offer.

Attached Files:

I have been searching for blog client software that will allow me to write blog entries offline and easily upload them later. I think I have now done so with this program. This is a test post using it. Please ignore.

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