On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I undertook a 100km cycle trip around the Black Isle in Easter Ross with Kate. The route was mostly on quiet country roads, some of which formed part of NCN 1. We started at Inverness train station and our route on the first day took us over the Kessock Bridge, past the Tore roundabout and along the north part of the Black Isle through Culbokie (with great views of the Cromarty Firth and Ben Wyvis) to finish in Cromarty where we camped. On the second day our route took us back along the southern part of the Black Isle, past the high point of the Eathie Hill transmitter, through the Tore roundabout again and then back along the Beauly Firth coast, to return to Inverness via the Kessock Bridge again.
On Thursday last week I travelled to the Lake District to walk up to the 950m summit of Helvellyn. This was my second walking trip to the Lake District (the first being to Skiddaw in March, see the blog posting ‘Skiddaw‘)
I walked up along Mires Beck river from Glenridding and onto the broad ridge of Birkhouse Moor before the arête of Striding Edge itself.
For the past few years I’ve made summer trips to the Cairn Gorm – Ben Macdui plateau in the summer months to check on the snowpatches that remain at high altitudes on the plateau (see the previous blog postings ‘Summer snowfields in the Cairngorms (2)‘, from August 2009 and ‘Summer snowfields in the Cairngorms‘ from July 2008). See my website page here for more information about ‘perennial’ snow in the Scottish mountains.
Last Saturday I walked up to the summit of Sgùrr Chòinnich Mór in the Grey Corries with Norma. This was our first munro-bagging trip for two years, since our long cycling and hiking trip to An Sgarsoch and Carn Ealar in June 2008. In April 2007 I walked on the same route up to the nearby summit of Stob Coire an Laoigh but did not go further along the ridge onto Sgùrr Chòinnich Mór.
Last Sunday I did some walking in the hills of Morvern, a quite anonymous and hidden part of of Scotland. The area has no high summits, but has some amazing scenery and views. After a quick trip across Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry, I walked up Coire nam Frithhallt from Glen Tarbert towards the site of some wreckage from a jet that crashed here in 1964. A USAF Voodoo jet fighter came apart over Maol Odhar and there are aircraft parts littered over a large area, including the jet engines. Unusually for such a relatively recent military wreck, the parts were never cleared away. You can see my page about this wreck site on my website here.
Two weeks ago, Lesley and I went on a trip to the Western Isles, travelling the entire length of the Islands from north to south.
Highlights of the trip included the standing stones at Calanais on Lewis, eating at the Gallan Head restaurant (a converted building on an ex-RAF base), the mountains and beaches of Harris (Losgaintir beach looking like it should be in the Bahamas or the Caribbean, although definitely not as warm!), staying on the remote island of Baleshare off North Uist, the desolate panoramic view of Benbecula and South Uist from the radar station on the summit of Ruabhal (used for the nearby missile range), walking in the flat machair landscape of the west coast of South Uist, sampling the nightlife of Castlebay on Barra (curry and pubs full of drunk young people) & walking on Vatersay.
Last week whilst on a trip to the Western Isles, I went to the island of Vatersay at the southern tip of the chain of islands.
On Vatersay I visited the site of the wreck of an RAF Catalina flying boat that crashed on the island in 1944. There is still quite a bit of wreckage at the site, even though it is right next to a public road and the coast of the island. It is very remote though, requiring a long ferry trip from the UK mainland to get there.
You can see my page about this site on my website here.
Last weekend I went on an ML refresher course at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. This course was to enable me to have another go at some of the skills that are required as part of the ML award syllabus (and which are initially covered in the ML training course, which I also did at Glenmore Lodge in 2008, see my blog posting ‘Mountain Leader training course‘).
On Sunday last weekend I walked to Glen Affric from Glen Shiel (see my blog post ‘Glen Shiel’) . About 9km from Glen Shiel, not far from the Alltbeithe hostel, on the north-western slopes of the Munro summit of Mullach Fraoch-choire lies the site of an RAF Wellington bomber that crashed in the Glen in 1942. The location of the site is in a particularly magnificent setting, surrounded by the bleak moorland of upper Glen Affric and steep-sided mountains. Wreckage sites from crashed Wellingtons are suprisingly widespread throughout the Scottish mountains, this is the 6th I’ve visited.
I spent Saturday and Sunday last weekend in Glen Shiel, staying on the Saturday night at the Cluanie Inn, which I think is one of the best places to stay in Scotland for hillwalking – it sits right in the middle of an enormous area stuffed full of fantastic mountains and remote landscapes. Late April and early May is a good time to stay, as it is quiet, the weather is often good and there are no midges about.