Monday, November 19, 2007


For anyone who saw or has been told about the harrowing BBC documentary, Bulagaria's Abandoned Children, and for anyone else for that matter, I have started a petition group on Facebook entitled Get Children in Need to Give Aid to Bulagria's Orphans with an obvious aim. Please join if you are a Facebooker and spread the word.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Mamlorn Hills: Sgiath Chuil (270)

Walk date: 10/11/07
My Munro #'s: 140

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Skeea-chool - back wing - 921m

Duration - 11:00-14:30
Distance - 16.2 km
Total ascent - 827m
Weather - Moderately gusty on ascent. Strong wind on summit. Brief light rain during descent.
Team - solo
Other hikers: two on summit just before I started final ascent.

A slight deviation west in my eagerness to descend!
Last week's hill, Meall Glas, is in the top left corner:

After losing out on Sgiath Chuil and the chance to reach halfway in the Munro tallies last weekend, I just couldn't resist another go this weekend. Even with weather forecasts predicting strong gusting winds up at height, I figured I would at least go and have a look just in case, and I was glad that I did!

Having decided that I would visit the south side of the hill this week, for no other reason than to have a different look at this hill, I parked up at the relevant lay-by on the A85 and made my way across the River Dochart and through Innishewan farm. Straight away after the farm the climbing begins, with a steep ascent through long grass and woodland. This section is very slow-going. Once you get above this, the main section begins, about 3km of wet, rough heather and grassland. My progress was not as quick as the distance would have suggested, with the steady but relentless ascent taking its toll. At least the weather remained dry, although the moderately gusty winds couldn't be ignored. Eventually I made it to the side of Sgiath Chrom, but only having a helpful increase in the incline.

A healthy River Dochart marks the start of this hike:

Fine views over heather and grass to Ben More:

Ben More again (R) with its impressive neighbour (L)
Stob Binnein:

Halfway sees this track on its flat way to the col
between Beinn Cheathaich and Sgiath Chuil:

For most of the way Sgiath Chrom here hides the target:

It is only after rounding Sgiath Chrom that the summit of Sgiath Chuil comes rightly into view, as does the entire eastern edge of this huge mound of a hill. After a quick bearing to ensure I was heading for the right top, I set off up some exceptionally steep grass slopes in a direct line to the summit cairn. Without having had a proper stop in order to quicken my progress, I found this section very tiring, but the nearness of the top kept me going and soon enough (as measured by time, not mental excursion) I was sat next to the cairn enjoying truly great 360-degree views, taking in the Lawers group, Ben Vorlich and the Bridge of Orchy Hills, the latter dotted with snow!

An intended stroll around the top was cut short by a sudden increase in the wind, as I figured that I had had my luck for the day. I thanked the hill for allowing the visit, and I set off down the tiring grass slopes making decent time back to the car despite ending up descending through the wrong wood at the bottom! A satisfying feeling to visit what had been a near-miss hill, but I would imagine that the north side would make a better walk in general as the entire south ridge would be your ascent route. However, with the wind as high as it was on this day, I was glad to only get exposed at the very end of the day. That's it for this year I think, let's hike again in the spring...

The end is nigh, just near vertical grass left!

Ben Vorlich (L) and Stuc a' Chroin (R) to the SE:

Meall Ghaordie to the NE:

C'mon! The cairn finally in sight:

Some heavy weather happening to the west:

Last week's hill, Meall Glas on the left with Beinn
Cheathaich on the right:

The summit panorama:

Cloud low down over Crianlarich:

These fellows remained down at the bottom and
remained confused as to my passing each way:


From the last Munro post, I promised Eric that I would list my kit contains. Here we go then.

First of all, I generally wear thermal trousers except in high summer, then standard walking trousers over them. On top I just wear normal T-shirts although I do own a couple of hiking shirts. I always have a light-weight jumper and a good water-proof. Good quality hat, water-proof gloves, four-season boots and good gaitors make up the rest of my normal wear.

Other pack contents:
Spare jumper (i.e. in addition to the one above)
Spare hiking socks (big wet rivers anyone?)
Foil sleeping bag (in effect these are rubbish and I need to upgrade to a proper dense-packing thermal job)
Plastic two-man survival bag (ideally used in conjunction wth the thermal sleeping bag)
Water-proof outer gloves
Torch (I should upgrade to a head-torch)

As for food, as minimum I always carry:
2.5L water minimum
1L hot drink
3xApples/other fruit inc dried fruit

Do you think I need more?

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Snow flurry in Aberdeen

I kid you not. Snow flurries in Aberdeen today, and I'm wanting to bag my last Munro of the season this weekend!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Mamlorn Hills: Meall Glas (199) but not Sgiath Chuil (270)

Walk date: 04/11/07
My Munro #'s: 139

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Myowl glas - grey-green hill - 959m
Skeea-chool - back wing - 921m

Duration - 11:30-16:45
Distance - 16.2 km
Total ascent - 813m
Weather - Cool with low cloud and plenty of moisture in the air, but almost no rain and only light wind even on top.
Team - with Sonia, Paul P, Bridget and Sarah
Other hikers: one from afar and two across the river!

Numerous options presented themselves, but time
and bridges only allowed one:

The impetus for this hike was the grand visitation of Paul P and fiancé Bridget to Aberdeen. On the Saturday we met the guys at The Ship Inn in Stonehaven for lunch; as a Yorkshire lass I trusted Bridget would appreciate a real ale establishment and I was not disappointed! After lunch Sonia and I showed Paul and Bridget around the charming fishermen's village of Footdee in Aberdeen before Sonia had to depart for a birthday party and I cooked at my place before we headed into Aberdeen for the glorious Prince of Wales and Under The Hammer.

Showing off the sights of Stonehaven (Sonia-Paul P-Bridget):

Paul and Bridget by Aberdeen's harbour:

Anyways, after all that, everyone still managed to humour me in my desire for new Munro action by getting up exceedingly early on Sunday and heading to Glen Lochay and The Mamlorn Hills just west of Killin, some 3 hour drive that included a stop at Perth to pick up another card-carrying Yorkshire lass in the guise of Bridget's friend Sarah. The aim for the day was a two-Munro hike which would have taken me to the magical halfway point of 142...

However, once geared up we set up a good pace only to be met with a complete absence of footbridge at 453356* (only concrete support posts suggested it had once been there). After a look at the river, we decided that fording it seemed like an unnecessarily wet option, and so we switched plans from doing Sgiath Chuil first to heading for the footbridge at 432349 and taking on Meall Glas as a starter before taking stock (reasoning that if we did manage the full walk in reverse we would at least only get our feet wet at the end).

Setting off into Glen Lochay with pipeline in view:

The crags to the north of Meall Glas are dead ahead:

Thankfully, although not in the best condition, the footbridge at 432349 did exist and we cautiously used it to cross the Lochay only to immediately be rewarded with some fine Scottish bog. Instead of heading for the steep and intimidating crags which my book insists is a healthy route, we then reservedly headed upwards alongside Allt Coire Cheathaich through a gate and into the wide grassy corrie below (and north of) Meall Glas. The going underfoot was wet due to the long grass and soft moss and initially the approach was quite steep, but once past the height of the crags the going was much smoother.

Seen better days, but at least it's still standing!

Steady.. Sonia, Sarah, Paul and Bridget take their chances:

At last, some height can be gained above Glen Lochay:

As I had been keeping to the west of a tributary to Allt Coire Cheathaich and the Lochay, our route veered toward the north western ridge of Meall Glas. Figuring that the walking would be easier on the ridge I kept us to this line and after a brief but welcomed lunch and a short rise, we found ourselves strolling up the broad back of this wide hill (hitting the ridge around 427328).

Even with 150m in height to go, this section was very quick and we were on the summit before we knew it. Unfortunately, since hitting the ridge the views had completely disappeared due to the low cloud, but the cairn was very pretty!

With the greater wind due to the exposure on the top coupled with some light rain/cloud moisture, there was no chance of a second picnic happening and it was time to move on. Due to a combination of time constraints and not knowing what the route to Sgiath Chuil was like, we played safe and ditched it, heading back down to the bridge and a guaranteed dry crossing. This descent took less time than expected due to a fine mix of acceptable incline and the quite pleasant spongy grass underfoot, and we were soon crossing the welcomed bridge again.

An entirely different walk, the welcomed ridge of Meall Glas:

It's worth it for the panoramic views! Getting to the top:

So to the south here, you can see some fantastic features:

Our first view below the cloud of the descent:

Paul and Sonia heading up the rear:

From here, the track back to the carpark was straight-forward, although a lot longer than we'd remembered, so much so that light was getting scarce by the time we were back towards the car. However, this did not stop Paul and I satisfying our curiosity as to how the river crossing at 453356 would have been, by just getting on and doing it for no other reason. The answer was "very wet indeed", and we concluded we had been quite wise to not have our girlfriends do this at the start of the day's hike, but maybe not so wise in our method of deducing this!

Once into dry footwear, we hit the fantastic Sarah-recommended Falls of Dochart Inn at Killin where real ales from Fyne Ales brewery and home made food was served in plenty, and the place even had a fire. A long drive then ensued, but at the tail end of a very satisfying day out, all were happy with it. Fine stuff!

Some live walking action:

That quite unnescessary river crossing 1:

And back:

* The complete lack of footbridge where expected for the river crossing presented quite a problem for us, to the point that Paul was even pondering crossing on the back of the wide pipeline that cuts across the valley in front of the carpark. However, in failing light Bridget and Sarah though they could see a bridge near to the carpark, and a re-examination of the map in this area does show a thin track crossing the river immediately SE of the carpark that then enters the marked forest and begins zig-zagging up the lower slopes that lead to Sgiath Chuil. I would suggest this then as a route up towards Sgaith Chuil, but just don't expect much of a path in this area (just a bridge). I would also give yourself plenty of time for this pair, as my book's 4-6 hours proved quite optimistic!

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