27 October 2009

Cwm Idwal and Glyder Fawr

Cwm Idwal and Glyder Fawr

3 Sep 2009

Dagnabbit! Bad weather predicted again! With gales on the peaks, AGAIN!

So yet again our plans were changed.

We decided to walk around some lower lakes (Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn Crafnant) in the nearby Gwydir Forest in the morning, and found the weather clearing a little,


though still with a ceiling of about 850m, keeping the peaks in cloud.

But the generally better feel in demeanour encouraged us to wander up into Cwm Idwal in the afternoon, and see if we could poke our noses up onto the range from there.


We followed the Miner's Track from Idwal Cottage up to the stile over the stone wall in the saddle between Tryfan and the Glyders. It had stayed fine in that hour, but when we got to the saddle, it was howling a gale, buffeting us alarmingly, and sounding like a locomotive coming through a tunnel, so we decided that Tryfan would be a little unsafe and a lot unenjoyable on the ridge and so backed down.

Ever hopeful, we poked our noses up via the Devils Kitchen.


By the time we got onto the range, the weather was definitely lifting a little, and we decided we'd make a dash for Glyder Fawr, only a further 250m vertically up. The weather proceeded to clear off, and we finally got some great views of Tryfan and the Carnedau in one direction, and Snowdon in the other.


Murphy's Law then intervened, and just as we got to the top of Glyder Fawr, it closed in yet again, and vis dropped to about 100m. Phhhhthhhhphhhtttt!

That was our last chance of a peak that wasn't clouded. So close!

Still, we had good views on the way up, and the ascent and descent virtually to ourselves, so it wasn't too disappointing.



7.4km in morning (Gwydyr Forest)

10km in afternoon (Cwm Idwal & Glyder Fawr)

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

24 October 2009

Scafell Pike

First posted on walkhighlands.com.

Scafell Pike from Eskdale or "Is it never fine in the UK?"

or "Being A Tale of the Her who Lost Her Spectacles".*

1 Sep 2009

Our big plan today (walk #5) was to walk from Eskdale (southern side) to Scafell Pike following the Esk River all the way to Esk Hause, and then traversing back south over Scafell Pike, Sca Fell and Slight Side back to the YHA Eskdale. Such was the plan...

The day dawned as clear as it had been in the last ten days, and we set off from the YHA east along the road and then north past Taw House ...


It was at times sunny, but there was a lot of dark cloud around as well as we made our way north up the Esk river valley...


Because of heavy rain the night before, we took the higher route, past Scale Gill waterfall, and thence past some crags already under cloud to meet the River Esk at the bend in its final upper valley (around 218050).


We followed the track on the true right of the River Esk all the way to the top.


Up til now the weather had held off, and we actually sort of had views north towards the Gables, Buttermere, Glaramara and those guys, but as we headed towards Great End, the weather closed in. We decided to skip Great End, and head for Scafell Pike.


The cloud got thicker but we found the cairn with a dozen or so people (we'd seen only two others up til then) eating their lunches and shivering. Here is where Helen unfortunately left her glasses behind. I expect the bad weather that blew in over our lunch distracted us, as we decided to leave fairly quickly. We decided to basically head back down, as the traverse over Sca Fell and Slight Side would have left us exposed to bad weather (and whilst it wasn't snowing, it was bad) for another two hours.

Then the weather got really squally, haily and serious, as we tried to find our way down the only route that didn't have threads of cairns. Compass time, as we couldn't even find features fifty metres away. We stumbled across two cairns on the way but by then didn't care, as we knew we had to bail and - having headed south east enough - just dropped south over Broadcrag Tarn to the valley that becomes How Beck. It's nice when you can see down, even if you can't see in any other direction!


Once the squall had blown over, it was possible to see our way down, and we quickly regained the track that follows the stream.


This dropped us down to the Esk valley, and we made our way back to the YHA, warm showers, dry clothes and a meal cooked by them and washed down with some of their wine.

Oh, and the glasses? A generous fellow - Michael Th - picked them up the same day and posted them to Helen's optician. The optician tracked us down only yesterday, two days after we had bought a replacement pair at their other shop!

*Our second reference to something Jethro Tull-ish on our walks in the UK.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

23 October 2009

The Storr

This walk report first appeared on walkhighlands.com and follows the route described there.

The Storr (Isle of Skye) or Lean to the Right as Ya Go

29 Aug 2009

We thought we'd pay a visit to the Old Man of Storr, and thence head up to The Storr for an easy walk.

Continuing our impeccable choice of weather, we were hit by a squall just as we were leaving the Old Man (pictured),


and which continued until we had done most of our descent on the southern side of the Storr. Image

So again our Memento From the Top is two foolishly grinning faces in thick grey air.


The Storr never got its head out of the clouds that day.

Not much more to say, as the route has been really well described except to say stay well west when descending from the cairn in low vis, so as to keep right of the first gully, and that the further north of the two ascent routes described (ie the gentler climb) is easier to pick in close fog.

What was remarkable to us was how strong the wind was. Definitely our windiest walk, though not quite blowing us over.


After that, we visited Kilt Falls and saw the most magnificent double rainbow from the cliff. At times, nearly 3/4 full.


As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

15 October 2009

Sgurr na Stri

Originally posted to walkhighlands.co.uk (which has a nifty topo-map of the route).

An alternative (and much shorter) route for Sgurr na Stri.


Having finally decided that Lower was Better as far as summer views in the UK were concerned, we decided that rather than get to the top of Blàbheinn and see nothing, we'd get to the top of something much smaller, and hopefully see something, and Sgurr na Stri showed much promise, being “amongst it all” in the Cuilins, yet only 500m high.
Because we were heading off the Isle of Skye that day, we didn't want to do the 9 hour round trip from Sligachan, and so devised our own route (not having any resources with us apart from a the map and a hint from the Walk Highlands description saying that you can get down east from Sgurr Na Stri having walked a few km north).

Having flagged down on the side of the road someone who might be knowledgable (okay, they were kayakers, but one of them had done SnS from the east side only two years previously, sans kayak), we firmed up our plan. We were going to

1) walk in from Kirkibost via Am Màm and Camasunary,

2) ascend over the flat at 505185 and then via the western gully on the southern end.

3) descend east via the route hinted at on the Walk Highlands notes

4) reverse part (1)

Total trip time: 4 1/2-6 hours walking.

Total length: 17 km.

Total climb: 130m Kirkibost to Am Màm. 150m down to Camasunary.

500m up to Sgurr na Stri. And reverse for return half of trip.

Bogginess: 3/5, 4/5 in places, plus one river crossing twice.

Stars: 5

Start: 546173

View in Google Earth

1. Kirkibost/Kilmarie to Camasunary and crossing Abhainn Camas Fhionnarigh.

Drive south through Kirkibost and park in the obvious car park that appears on the left as you round the left bend and start driving up the hill. (Apparently Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson had a shack around here). The trackhead is opposite, and heads west. It is a vehicular track, and solid underfoot for the most part, with a few shallow fords that are easy to tip-toe over. A very pleasant view of Camasunary and Sgurr na Stri is to had from Am Màm, and it is a good opportunity to have a good look at the gullies on the southern end of Sgurr na Stri.

The Abhainn nan Leat which drains south of Blàbhienn has some nice gurgly bits you can listen out for as you descend to Camasunary. The deserted building - reached after about an hour from the start - is interesting, and soon, after plodding over some softer, damper soil, you find yourself at Abhainn Camas Fhionnarigh, the outlet of Loch na Creitheach. The bridge had obviously disappeared a while ago. Except in spate or king tide, however, it should be passable with a shallow wade.

There are several shallow crossings to be found as you head north from the decrepit ex-bridge. We only got knee high. Some may choose to take their boots off for this, but we didn't, so as to have surer footing on the stony river bed.

2. Abhainn Camas Fhionnarigh to Sgurr na Stri.

Whilst this part of the route is not exposed, it may become subject to erosion if many people take it, so you may choose to do a reverse of step 3 to ascend instead. Also, it would be unwise to do this route in anything more than light rainfall.

You can either head directly north from 505181 (suggested by another walker), or strike west from further east, but either way, make your way up to the flat top at 505185. From there, strike diagonally up north west to the westernmost of the two gullies. If you are lucky, you may find the odd steps or two from a very faint path. These become more obvious as you get nearer to the top. Also on the way up, you may pass some unnerving pieces of aeroplane and contemplate the saying about lightning not striking the same place twice. The ridge in between the two southern gullies eventually recedes into a small depression about twenty metres below two “summits” (east and west) of Sgurr na Stri (my GPS made these out to be only two metres different in height - the westmost the higher). It is an easy slab scramble up to either, and both boast fantastic views, but slightly obscure each other. The eastern peak has broad views toward the mainland, and the western has the legendary stunning view of Loch Coruisk and the Black Cuillins.

This took about 1 1/2 hours from Camasunary.

3. Sgurr na Stri to Camasunary and then Kirkibost.

Head north following the gully between the two summits. There is a track that will become more obvious. Keep to the east as the eastern of the ridges comes down to join you, but stay high until you are more than halfway to Sgurr Hain. At about 499201, there is a track that traverses down on an angle to the top of the northernmost gully of the basin that drains the eastern side of Sgurr na Stri and its saddle to Sgurr Hain. This track makes the steep descent at the top relatively easy and safe. The path, indistinct at times and soft at other times, generally follows the northernmost large stream as it decends to Abhainn Camas Fhionnarigh. Choose an appropriate place to cross back over and head back to Camasunary (about 1 hour descent), and thence back to Kirkibost/Kilmarie via Am Màm (another hour).

And a few more panoramas



As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

14 October 2009

Beinn Alligin, Torridon

Walk report for: Beinn Alligin
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)
Date walked: 28/08/2009
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 10 km

Beinn Alligin
Observation #1 - Weather Forecasts are not always what they seem...


Aw cripes, we thought, as we looked at the weather forecast. Front coming in, -9C at 900m, gusty winds, possible thunder.

We had only one day to have a crack at Beinn Alligin. Let's curl up and whimper now.

However, because we'd be sheltered from the prevailing wind by the Coire on our ascent, we decided we'd at least try and sneak up to the first peak, Tom na Gruagaich. From there we could easily sneak back down or, weather permitting, push on. So kitted up ready for snow, we started up the west track, stopping at the stile to remove several layers of poly. It was indeed dark, and blowy, and rainy at times, but we pushed on doggedly, stopping only to look quizzically at the sky and sniff the air. Hmm. Dark, blowy and rainy.


By the time we'd reach 600m height, we were in cloud, but still not too bad. We arrived at Tom na Gruagaich some 2 hours - all uphill - after our start, having followed the very reliable track. If you know the general direction of the track, it is always there for you, except perhaps from the cairn to TnG's trig point, but that's just a matter of walking uphill. Visibility was down to about 50 yards some of the time, less when looking upwards.


Now more confident about the weather, we pushed on, down the barely visible spur. As we descended to the col, suddenly the view northwest opened out amongst the cloud and we got glimpses of An Ruadh - Mheallan and other lower hills. Sleet and high wind kicked in then, but had started to blow over by the time we got to Sgurr Mhor just over an hour after Tom Na Gruagaich. Wasting little time, we dropped down towards the Horns. As soon as we'd gotten out of the line of fire, there was very little wind, the sleet had stopped, and it became eerily quiet. And very pleasant.


The weather proceeded to open out for the rest of the trip, opening up views north and west, whilst we toddled our way up and down the three Horns, which were really good fun to scramble over. All very straight forward, so long as our eyes were open, as the track was pretty obvious all the way, and leads over a relatively new bridge at 882597 (where the track crosses the creek on the map), removing the need to do a creek crossing of Allt a Bhealaich.


The waterfalls of this creek and Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobull were really pleasant features of the remainder of the walk, which took us a relaxed 6 1/2 hours.


This walk - even in at times bad weather and poor vis - Five Stars.

And a few panoramas...




As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

11 October 2009

The United Kingdom

Having decided to fly over to niece Becky's wedding, we thought we'd make a short walking holiday of it, by driving around England, Scotland and Wales, and sample some of the best day-walks the country has to offer.
But for the weather, it would have been awesome!
But the weather itself was awesome, meaning there was very little in the way of views.
But weather is not to be taken for granted in the UK.
But not to worry. We may return!

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

Ring of Steall. Not!

A mini-arc of the Ring of Steall, Mamores - or - Welcome to the Western Highlands!


Originally posted on Walkhighlands
This was really an after-thought, to attach a munro walk to a visit to Glen Nevis, the naming-place of our first son (a beautiful picture of it out of a Scotsman Calendar was our inspiration). We even brought him along, now 22 years old and keen to see the place after which he was named. And as we found, Glen Nevis really is a beautiful place, and Steall Falls and the gorge of the Water of Nevis both quite spectacular.


So the plan was to visit the Glen and then continue up onto An Gearanach, proceed clockwise down and up and exit north west off Sgurr a'Mhaim, with a potential bombing-out before the Devil's Ridge if required.

It was straightforward enough making our way from the carpark up along the gorge to the three-wires (I was going to ask why they weren't joined so as to be more stable, and then I realised you could possibly slide a carabiner along them as they are). Carefully sploshing through the mud either side of Steall Falls was fun and a fairly easy acent was made up the zig-zaggy stalkers path. A quick snack was had in the grassy spot below An Gearanach, enjoying the patchy (due to rain) view up the Glen, in the lee from the South Westerly that was getting stronger.


By the time the snack was finished, rain had begun, and the wind had freshened. By the time we got to the top of An Gearanach, it had blown in fierce, and whilst visibility wasn't bad, being able to look up to actually see was problematic, due to the icy wind. Hadn't considered snow goggles for this trip!


Even after the simple traverse to An Garbhanach, it had been so blustery and sleety that aforementioned son asked how much more we were going to do. Taking the hint, and realising that we had at least another hour of walking into the sleet if we continued, we decided to bail east and anti-clockwise, making our way north high above the Allt Coire na Gabhalach, sometimes on an old bench track, continuing on above some ten or so deer, and skirting above the An Cearcallach to join the original track as it dropped down to the Nevis valley again.

Passing below the Steall Falls this time was quite spectacular, as the volume had doubled, perhaps tripled on what we had passed only two or three hours earlier. Helen and I had to link arms on our crossing, and the stream bottom was only barely visible (we figure that if you can see the bottom, you're probably okay - that's a rule of thumb we've used in NZ before, anyway).


The Water of Nevis thundered through the gorge, leaving us not disappointed, but impressed.

So the day was not what we - as naively optimistic Aussies - had hoped, but actually still had an interesting and beautiful trip, and learnt much about Highland weather.

A few more pics...

Panorama over Glen Nevis


The Steall Falls catchment.


The upper reaches of the Water of Nevis


One of the few shots taken on our descent...


The Nevis Gorge, Before and After


As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.