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Home arrow Meet Reports arrow Scotland Spring Week 2009 - May 23-30: Glen Affric

Scotland Spring Week 2009 - May 23-30: Glen Affric

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Contributed by Cristina Sorelli   

The base for this year's Scotland Spring Meet was Glen Affric, an area where eleven of us from the club enjoyed a wide choice of Monros and Corbets.

We stayed in two comfortable self-catering wooden chalets in Tomich (just off Cannich), surrounded by the magnificent Glen Affric Forest. The village amenities were just a pub and a post office, but the pub had a wide variety of whiskies and local ales, that we really appreciated.


Our accommodation also included the use of an indoor swimming pool, which, although very small, I had the luxury to enjoy in complete solitude and found it a very pleasant treat at the end of a walking day.  And I shall not forget the play room, where I was particularly attracted by the free use of the table football, a game I could play the entire day, but I only got Paul to play with me for half an hour, as the pub seemed to be the most appealing evening entertainment for the rest of the crowd. :-))

Going back to the purpose of the holiday: hiking mountains, here is what we (the different group of people I walked with each day) managed to achieve in a week of highly variable, but not completely horrible weather conditions.

Day1 - Just a long 10+ hour drive from London (two of us chose to fly to Inverness and rent a car instead).

Day2 - We entered into Strathfarrar via the gate at Struly, which is opened strictly from 9am to 7pm, with controlled access. We left one car at the end of the track after the Power Station, to avoid completing the planned loop walking back on the paved road, and drove the other two cars at the beginning of the path leading to the first of the 4 Munros which rise to the north side of the glen. In particular we reached in order Sgurr Fhuar-thuill (1049m), Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais (1083m), Carn nan Gobhar (992m) and Sgurr na Ruaidhe (993 m). We covered slightly less than 22.4Km and 152 m of ascent in 7 hours. The weather was OK as we gained the first two Munros, but turned foggy and rainy while reaching the third. We still decided to complete the day hiking up to Sgurr na Ruaidhe (meaning peak of redness), but we basically could not see much more than our feet, so I couldn't tell where the 'redness' name comes from.

Day3 - The weather forecasts were not promising, so most of us decided to take a rest day, well deserved after the tough start on Strathfarrar. Rest day meant for some hiking a Corbet missing in their collection and for others renting a mountain bike and cycle all day along glens or in muddy forests. I joined the Paul and Wayne for a morning shopping in Inverness and in the afternoon Paul and I went for a relaxing walk in the woodland around the cottage, up to the beautiful Plodda Falls.

Day 4 - This was another successful day of Munros ascents, although we had some rough moments due to the sudden changes in weather. We drove into the Glen Affric, from Cannich until the final car park. From there we walked straight up the hills, before reaching the Affric Lodge, to get to the summit of Sgurr na Lapaich (1036m) in a glorious morning. Once on the top however, strong gales carrying a cluster of thick clouds and hailstorm, forced us to stop longer than we wanted. It got really cold; I wore all the cloths I had battling against the wind  and managed to fit 4 layers of shirts and jumpers, plus two waterproof jackets. As we were considering how to move back quickly to avoid freezing, a new gust of wind moved the cloud we were in, and suddenly the sun was shining again. So we could carry on, up to Carn Eige top, in a mix of wind, sun and rain. On Carn Eige we enjoyed a great 360 degrees view, including Torridon and the far profile of Sky.
After the rocky ridge of Stob Coire we scrambled the steep descent to Gleann nam Fiadh and walked along the river until we reached the paved road. Most of us did not feel like crossing the swollen river to join the path that would bring us to the car park, but luckily Ian and Steve volunteered to go ahead fast and walk back the street to get the cars. Even more luckily they bumped into Wayne, who gave them a lift. He was driving back, after completing a longer walk on his own and having waited for us in the car park for an hour. So as the rest of us reached the road and started taking off the muddy gaiters, the cars arrived and we sat back reassured that we would shortly be under a warm shower.

Day 5 - Another resting day for most of us. Another Corbet ticked off the list for Ian, Marianne and other followers. After a lazy morning I had an afternoon walk with Lylli to the Dog Falls, which are not as photogenic as the Plodda Falls, but are surrounded by a stunning forest of contorted Scottish Pine, also called Granny Pines as they can be up to 500 years old.

Day 6 - The weather forecasts were gloomy, but Paul spotted an area of decent weather south-east of Inverness, in the Cairngorms and proposed to hike the Bynack More. Most were put off by the long drive. However Don, Lylli and I joined Paul and had another excellent day and great views. We obviously managed to get back in time for the pub lunch booked for that evening.

Day 7 - On the last day we had the best possible weather, blue sky all day. We drove up to the end of Strathfarrar and parked at the last power station. We followed the path along the river, passing the waterfall and then going up to Loch Mor plateau. We carried on into the strenuous climb to the pass and then up again along the rocky ridge of Creagan Toll an Lochain, until we reached our last Munro of the week: on An Riabhachan (1129m). We stopped on the summit enjoying for a while the best view of the week. While Wayne had gone ahead to complete a longer loop, the rest of us agreed to get back on the same route. Toward the end we had a close encounter with a snake, people said it was a viper, so how comes I was told there had never been poisonous snake in the UK? We arrived to the car park o find out that Wayne had beaten us again and there waiting, this put me and Lylli off our plan to try a quick jump in the river and probably it was for the best!

As a final note, I should mention that Martin used Tomich as the starting point for his bicycle tour up to John o'Groats and got back on Friday to celebrate the achievement.

Maybe I should have celebrated too, because I had climbed my first 8 Munros, but it really seemed nothing compared to the remaining 276!!!


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