Friday, 30 September 2016

AUTUMN MUNROS IN THE FANNICHS

Ian on Sgurr nan Clach Gealas NE ridge

Constant views of An Teallach all day

The Munro summit of Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Loch a'Mhadidh

Third Munro of Meall a' Chrasgaidh

Sgurr nan Each & Loch Fannich

 Loch a' Bhraoin, Fisherfield & An Teallach

Fisherfield Forest and An Teallach

Summit ridge, Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Sgurr Mor from Clach Geala

Hinds and Stags a plenty

A day of atmospheric cloud and sunshine
After several days of heavy rain and gale force winds the weather finally came good on Friday. With a good forecast in the North West Highlands, Ian and I headed up to that wonderful part of the world. Ian has plenty of Munro summits left to bag in The Fannich Forest area so with a plethora of 3000ft mountains to aim for, we set out with 3 in mind. The Fannichs offer fabulous walking and  many different routes up them. A network of stalkers paths in the glens make it easy to have a long or short a day as you wish. Sgurr an Each, Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Meall a' Chrasgaidh was on Ian's hit list today. We set off up a very wet path from Loch a' Bhraoin. Living in drier Cairngorms I sometimes forget how wet underfoot the western hills can be, this weeks deluge made it extra boggy. We had a few very brief showers through the day but it was mostly beautiful clear skies and plenty of sunshine with stunning views. The recent media hype of snow on the mountains was a wee bit over exaggerated, although it is most definitely chilly conditions and we were donned in hats and gloves on the tops. The stags we're roaring away all day in the corries and as we descended off our last Munro we had brilliant views out to my favourite mountain, An Teallach. A great day out and Ian is a few Munros closer to his finale.
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Thursday, 29 September 2016

GEAR REVIEW: VSSL SUPPLIES

The VSSL

Candle/Compass
Bivvy, An Teallach
Camping at Loch Avon
Excellent torch with a compass at other end to get you out of trouble

Camping on the Cairngorm plateau

Rain and high winds today means it's gear review time again folks!
Over the summer I've been trying out a piece of gear from VSSL Utility Tools . The Canadian company produce high quality LED torches. Todd Weimer, the founder of the company, kindly sent me one of their best selling and multi functional torches, The VSSL Supplies model. The superior quality of the torch is obvious as soon as you handle it. Constructed from military spec extruded  aluminium, this unit will take some battering. The hand held torch is multi functional. As well as the powerful LED's for lighting, the model also has an oil filled compass at the opposite end. The two ends screw off and inside the casing there are neatly fitting useful items including a long life candle, first-aid supplies, water purifying tabs and tinder/ fire starters amongst a few more items for survival in the outdoors.
I took the VSSL out on a few overnight trips including  wild camping and bivvying. The torch is very powerful and gives a great beam of light for walking in darkness. I also used the 4 hour burn time candle several times and this seemed to cope well in a breeze.
The VSSL Supplies model would be ideal for Bush craft courses with plenty of gizmo's in there to keep you safe in the wilds.
The VSSL Flask model looks good, I wonder if it comes with a wee dram inside? :)

GEAR REVIEW: VSSL

The VSSL

Candle/Compass
Bivvy, An Teallach
Camping at Loch Avon


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

AN AUTUMN BREEZE ON THE BHUACHAILLE

The Cairngorms from Meall a' Bhuachaille

Aoife finding it a breeze in the wind

Great light today

Lochan Uaine

Tea break at Ryvoan Bothy

The Cairngorms

Autumn colours

Loch Morlich

Landward TV crew getting ready
The first spell of Autumn winds this week, today it was over 50mph on Meall a' Bhuachaille. Aoife is on a week long walking trip with Walkabout Scotland, today we had a lovely day traversing the hill. On the way up to Ryvoan we bumped into a film crew who were doing a piece on Wild Water Swimming at Lochan Unaine for the BBC Landward program. After having a chat with them we headed onup the hill. The winds weren't too bad but I gues it would have been a bit moe of a struggle on the higher summits today.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

BEN MACDUI, CAIRNGORMS

Trying out the new tent

Stunning views from Ben Macdui

Lairig Ghru and Carn Toul

Cairn Gorm from the Goat Track

Snow patches in Garbh Coire Mor, Braeriach

Loch Avon and Shelterstone Crag

Angels Ridge and Braeriach


Lairig Ghru, looking north
For anyone who has been on holiday up in the Cairngorms area, or indeed most places in the Scottish Highlands this week, then they have had seven days of glorious sunshine. Probably the finest spell of weather since that couple of weeks back in May, otherwise known as our summer 2016. Today I loaded up the rucksack with about 20kg of winter clothing and camping gear and headed out onto the plateau for some training on a run up to the Patagonian Icecap Expedition that Richard and I will be guiding in 8 weeks time. Yes, even leaders/guides need to get into fitness training for big trips! With the new tent to try out it wasn't the ideal conditions to mimic Patagonia, ie warm sun, dry and hardly any wind. But good to get the tent up in less than 10 minutes. I headed up to Ben Macdui this morning and the clarity of light was superb. If you wander off the main trails you get much better views of the Carn Toul, Sgorr an Lochan Uaine and Braeriach plateau. One of those classic Cairngorm area views. A great day to be out again, all change from tomorrow afternoon with some very wet and very windy weather coming in.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

ALMOST A WEEK OF SUNSHINE IN THE CAIRNGORMS

The cliffs of Coire an Lochain

Fiacaill Ridge

Cairn Gorm

Plenty of ptarmigan today

Coire an t-sneachda, no sun now till Spring

Fiacaill Ridge from the cliffs of Lochain

No camouflage here
It's been almost a whole week that the Cairngorm mountains have been bathed in sunshine. It was definitely a fair bit chillier in the morning today but once in the sunshine it was absolutely glorious. Autumn is a fine time to get out on the hills, now much quieter. The light and colours are stunning and with this fine spell of sunshine it is an absolute joy. I hope the Australian group I took out in The Alps a couple of weeks ago are now following my blog. They scoffed at The Scottish weather (even though they have never been to Scotland) and claimed it always rains. Well guys, take a look at this period and many other periods of wonderful conditions we get here :) . It's also a great time for wildlife watching. The ptarmigan are really vocal and lots of them about at lower altitudes now. I can never tire of photographing these guys. Once again it was the east Highlands that fared better today, a bank of cloud in the South West whilst we just bathed in sunshine for many hours. The Cairngorms the place to be just now. Looking good up to the weekend. Get out there!

Monday, 19 September 2016

SGOR GAOITHE ON ANOTHER GLORIOUS DAY

The summit of Sgor Gaoithe

Fine views of Breariach

The Moine Mor

Strathspey and the Sgorans

Loch Einich and a distant Cairn Gorm
The sun shone once again in the East. We have been blessed with some wonderful weather over the last few days with plenty of sun in The Cairngorms. Looking west and it was a different story with a lot of cloud over Creag Meagaidh way. A tad cooler today on Sgor Gaoithe and not a soul seen all day. Sgor Gaoithe is a fine hill, not too long a Munro day and one of the best views of Braeriach which was looking superb in the clear air. Not a breath of wind on the summit, Peak of The Winds it certainly was not today. More of the same tomorrow, I could get used to this