#237 – It’s a dog’s life!

Woof woof!! – it’s that time of year again where I sneak up to the Boss’s computer thingy and write my own blog – I definitely do a better job than him!

Winter in The Carneddau, and the Missus having fun ….

…. but she can’t keep up with me!

We didn’t get to play in the snow much last winter, which is a shame ‘cos I like running round in the snow – when we did get a bit of snow in the Carneddau (see that – I’m learning the names now!), I was first up the hill as usual.

Apparently this is the Lost Valley – doesn’t look very lost to me!

Me having a good time on the Cuillin Ridge

Me and the Boss in Upper Coire Lagan

Me setting off towards Stac Pollaidh – see who’s in front, as usual

Me and the Boss again, heading for Beinn Eighe

When we got near the top you could see for miles!

I’m still faster than him though!

I’m still faster than him though!

In May we had a great time in Scotland.    My first proper dog-walk was up something the Boss called the Lost Valley.  Well OK, explain this in words a dog can understand – if that valley is ‘lost’, how come we are walking up it??  Just sayin’!!

After the Lost Valley (which we now know wasn’t really lost) we went to Skye, where I had fun on a bit of the Cuillin Ridge, but my favourite day was up on Beinn Eighe – pity the Boss can’t keep up with me.

And I’m definitely faster than the Missus

Here we are in the Lake District

No lakes here though

No lakes here either

Still, I can always raid the Boss’s pack for his sandwiches when he’s not looking

The Boss and the Missus went to the Lake District a lot this year – there you go again, he calls it the Lake District, but where were all the lakes??   Sometimes humans make no sense at all!    Still, I sometimes get the chance to nick his sandwiches when he leaves his pack near me – all a dog needs really.

The Boss does this every year – still don’t know how he does it

I see he’s still doing that corny trick of shrinking the Missus – I hope he gets her back to proper size before my dinner time!

Anyway, he’s coming back to his computer thingy so I’d better go – a big WOOF WOOF from me, and see you on a hill somewhere in 2018 – don’t forget your sandwiches!

Posted in 1. Scotland, 2. Lake District, 3. Yorkshire Dales, 4. Northern England, 5. North Wales, 6. Mid and South Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#236 – Foel Fras from Aber (with a short wander in the dark)

Foel Fras, seen from Llwytmor

There have been many distractions in 2017 keeping me from the hills and mountains of North Wales, the main ones being the hills and mountains of the Scotland and the Lake District.    When the opportunity for a Welsh mountain day came along, I already had a suitable candidate – a return to the Northern Carneddau to finish off the route I had started (and abandoned) in March (see post #220)

The route, shown in blue (the red route is the abandoned section of March 2017)

The mountains of the Carneddau

Border Collie ‘Mist’ with Aber Falls in the distance

The original plan in March was to approach Foel Fras from Aber Falls, then to swing southwest to Carnedd Gwenllian.    Instead I had run out of time after a minor epic on the ‘greasy slab’ above Aber and snowdrifts on Foel Fras, and at Foel Fras summit I had gone northeast to Drum to shorten the day.   This time I was going to take the Gwenllian option and what’s more, I had a plan!

Aber Falls, seen from the walk in

Zoomed view of the falls

‘Mist’ next to the remains of the woods at Meuryn Isaf ….

…. showing the woods after harvesting

The plan was simple enough – the ‘greasy slab’ was almost certainly going to be in the same state as last time following a long, wet spell, so I would head straight for the diversion by the woods of Meuryn Isaf and Meuryn Uchaf.    Arriving at the woods, I was greeted by a scene of devastation – the forest had been harvested, leaving a wasteland behind.    Commercial forestry isn’t always very pretty, with its straight, regimented lines, but a felled forest is worse.

‘Mist’ with the three ‘Orsedd’ hills behind (L to R – Foel Dduarth, Foel Ganol and Yr Orsedd)

Llwytmor Bach ahead

Llwytmor on the left skyline

The tiny shelter at Llwytmor Bach

I pressed on up the slopes of Llwytmor Bach, leaving the wasteland behind me.    Looking northeast I had great views across to the ‘Orsedd’ hills on the route from Drum down to Aber, but soon my view was restricted to the grassy mound of Llwytmor Bach.    There is a tiny stone shelter at the summit, which seemed as good a place for a lunch break – Border Collie ‘Mist’ was in full agreement, and did a good job of mugging me for my sandwiches.

Looking ahead to Llwytmor from the summit of Llwytmor Bach

Foel Fras, seen from Llwytmor

Starting the descent to the col between Llwytmor and Foel Fras

The final long slog up Foel Fras

Foel Fras summit

From Llwytmor Bach (690 metres) I started on a long slog up Llwytmor (849 metres) and Foel Fras (942 metres) with a loss of height of seventy metres between them.    Last March the walking had been made more arduous by snowdrifts.   This time the ground was waterlogged, on top of which I was recovering from a heavy cold, and the summit of Foel Fras was a very welcome sight when I finally arrived at the trig point.

The path towards Carnedd Gwenllian

The rocky summit of Carnedd Gwenllian on the right with Carnedd Llewelyn in the distance

Carnedd Llewelyn (left) and Yr Elen (right) seen from Carnedd Gwenllian

From Foel Fras the route was effectively downhill, apart from the occasional cheeky bit of ascent.   First on the list was a descent to Carnedd Gwenllian, previously known as Carnedd Uchaf (High Cairn) but now renamed after Gwenllian of Wales, the daughter of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Welsh ‘Prince of Wales’.   Rising in the distance was Carnedd Llewelyn, the highest peak of the Carneddau, with its satellite peak of Yr Elen, but for me it was time to head west.

On the return leg with Bera Bach on the centre skyline

Passing below Bera Bach ….

…. with wild ponies below the summit

The path below Bera Bach and Drosgl was a good navigational handrail, allowing good progress.    Not that I was in any rush – I had started late in the morning to tackle an 18-km route, so it wasn’t a question of would it get dark before I finished the route, but when would it get dark.    Fortunately, this was also part of the plan – my missus hates walking in the dark (I think she likes to be able to see what she is about to fall off!) but I love it.

The sun setting over the mountains of the Glyderau

Getting dark with Aber Falls just visible (centre) – the light showing high left is the forestry work

Sure enough, after passing Drosgl the sun dipped down behind the mountains of the Glyderau, and as I turned the corner to head back to Aber Falls, the darkness took over.  For me, walking in the dark is a real pleasure, giving a different dimension on being out in the mountains – the only dimension that ‘Mist’ was interested in by now was a round dish containing her dinner!

Time to head for home.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s. At the start of the walk I had a fumbly moment trying to turn off the automatic flash on my camera – in doing so I also managed to turn down the resolution of the images to a measly 640 x 480, which is why the pics are not particularly sharp.   It was a pity I only realised this when I got home!

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#235 – The Grasmoor Hills – a quiet corner in the North-Western Fells of the Lake District

Grasmoor (left) and Whiteless Pike

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Having a Border Collie means a decent walk for the dog, every day.   Most of the time I’ll go with Chris, and we do a good number of hillwalking dog-walks together, but every now and then I’ll go off with ‘Mist’ for a solo day as on our Scottish trip in May (see posts #224 and #230).   August saw us back in the Lakes and on Day 1 our dog walk had been on Rannerdale Knotts (see post #234) – the views across to the Grasmoor Hills had been good enough to tempt me back there for a solo day, so that was the Day 2 dog walk sorted.

The route (in red – blue route is Rannerdale Knotts, post #234)

Grasmoor and the North Western Fells

The North-Western Fells of the Lake District are hills for serious walkers, the hills that the tourists don’t bother with.   The Grasmoor Hills are part of this neglected corner, a complex set of linked ridges with Grasmoor the highest at an altitude of 852 metres, but nearby Crag Hill (839 metres) is the hub where the ridges come together.   It’s a group of hills I don’t know all that well, so a route including Grasmoor and Crag Hill would tick a couple of boxes.

The start of 730 metres of uphill

Looking back towards Crummock Water and the Rannerdale Knotts Ridge

200 metres higher at the start of the Lad Hows Ridge

One obvious fact about Grasmoor becomes obvious the more you look at it – It’s steep from just about any approach!    I was starting from Crummock Water, and the previous days outing on Rannerdale Knotts had been a good recce – the wide, heathery ridge of Lad Hows looked like being a more gradual and pleasant approach route than some of the alternatives, so that was the plan.

Looking back, it looks as though we’ve gained some height ….

…. but there’s still plenty more ahead!

Getting near the top

Looking back down the ascent route to the Lad Hows Ridge below

As Last! Heading for the summit of Grasmoor

Although Lad Hows was probably a less strenuous alternative to some of the other options, the route wasn’t taking any prisoners!    Starting from about 120 metres altitude, I had an ascent of 730 metres over 2.5 kms.   That averages to about a 30% slope, around 1 in 3.  It’s one of those routes that looks like a long way up as you start, and still looks like a long way up when you are halfway there!    Then, suddenly, you are at the top.

Looking north towards Whiteside and Hopegill Head

Time to backtrack a short distance, heading for Crag Hill

Whiteless Pike in the middle ground with Buttermere beyond and the Scafell Range in the distance

Crag Hill ahead, our next destination ….

…. but a bit of downhill followed by some more uphill

The view to the north from Grasmoor summit gave the first and only views of Whiteside and Hopegill Head, but as I backtracked to head towards Crag Hill I had a great preview of my intended descent route along Whiteless Edge and Pike, with the Buttermere Hills beyond and the Scafell Range in the distance to the south.   To the west the view was dominated by my next target, Crag Hill.    This involved a 130 metre descent followed by 120 metres uphill to gain the height lost – the gap between the two seemed a good spot for a wet* of coffee, with a biscuit for Border Collie ‘Mist’.    (* wet = Royal Marines speak for a drink!)

Looking back to Grasmoor from Crag Hill with Wandope (on my descent route) on the left

On the summit of Crag Hill looking down the Coledale valley, with Skiddaw and Blencathra in the distance to the left and the Helvellyn Range on the skyline from the centre running to the right.

On the move again, it was just a question of heading upwards on a not particularly steep slope.   The view back to Grasmoor gave a different perspective on the hill I had slogged up from Crummock Water, but the best outlook came on the summit of Crag Hill, with great views out to Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn Range.   I guess that’s the whole point of the Grasmoor Hills – they aren’t much to look at from a distance, but the views from them to the other hills are amazing.

Looking back to Crag Hill on the way to Wandope

The author and ‘Mist’ on Wandope ….

…. and new buddy for the day – Brendon from New Zealand

I had already had a couple of chats to other walkers on the way down to Wandope – the Grasmoor Hills seem to attract friendly characters.   Then on Wandope I met Brendon from New Zealand – I’ve never met a New Zealander I didn’t like, but Brendon was a gem!  He was knocking off the ‘Wainwrights’ and having a great time in the Lakes – it turned out that we both knew people in Glenridding (Patterdale), and ‘the craic was mighty’ as they say in Ireland.   By the time we parted company we had been nattering for over half an hour!

On the descent to Whiteless Edge with Whiteless Pike beyond – ‘Mist’ ahead as usual!

Looking across to the ascent route up the Lad Hows Ridge with Crummock Water beyond

On Whiteless Edge ….

…. with Whiteless Pike ahead – last summit of the day

Heading back to the valley with the Rannerdale Knotts Ridge and Crummock Water ahead

Brendon still had some mileage to get in before the end of the day, but my route back to Crummock Water via Whitless Edge and Whitless Pike was almost all downhill.    From the Edge there was a great view across to my ascent route up Lad Hows Ridge before my final descent to the ridge of Rannerdale Knotts and a steady walk back to the camper for the usual happy conclusion to a walk – dinner for the dog (slightly overdue) and a cold cider for me.

Heading for home on the path below Rannerdale Knotts ….

…. with one last look up to Grasmoor

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

 

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#234 – Rannerdale Knotts, Crummock Water

Sunset over Crummock Water

Rannerdale Knotts

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It seems odd that, surrounded by hills and mountains as we are in North Wales, Chris and I seemed to have spent more time on Scottish and Lake District mountains this year.  August was no different, which is why we ended up at Rannerdale enjoying views of the sun going down over Crummock Water in the North-West Fells of the Lakes.

The route, going anti-clockwise in the loop

The North-West Fells of the Lake District

Looking out to Crummock Water at the start

The objective – Rannerdale Knotts ahead

We had decided on a less energetic dog-walking day for Chris on day one and a trip out on the higher Grasmoor Hills for me the day after.   Rannerdale Knotts seemed to fit the bill for Chris, and Border Collie ‘Mist’ wasn’t all that bothered about where we went, just as long as it involved dinner on the return, so Rannerdale Knotts it was.

The bridge crossing Squat Beck

Leaving the lake behind

The Rannerdale Knotts Ridge, viewed from the east

Rannerdale Knotts is an interesting little hill next to Crummock Water, and legend has it that the valley with the stream of Squat Beck was the site of a battle between a combined army of the British and Norse settlers fighting against the invading Normans.   There is little evidence to support the legend, but we decided there was no point in letting that spoil a good story, so keeping an eye out for marauding Normans we set off.

Time to start gaining height ….

…. with Chris not entirely convinced by the state of the path ….

…. but there’s always a good view to look at to take the pressure off!

The path turns out to be as steep as it looked ….

…. and even steeper in places

The hill rears up steeply on three out of four sides, and we had one of the steep sides as our way up.  The path started OK on grass but then became steeper with a set of loose-looking stone steps heading upwards.   Chris didn’t seem all that impressed with the state of the path, but it turned out to be solid enough, even if it did start gaining altitude fairly rapidly – at least the views helped to distract her a bit.

At last a chance for a breather ….

…. and more views down to Crummock Water

One more steep section ….

…. but fairly short ….

…. before it gets level

Once past the steps it was straightforward, if still a bit on the steep side.  A short section of steep grass pointed us at a rocky little summit with a gradually descending ridge in front of us.    The hard work was definitely over, though to be honest neither the angle of the slope nor any sense of difficulty had the pulse racing.


Looking southeast up the valley and lake of Buttermere ….

…. while the views to the northeast are the Grasmoor Hills

Steady walking along Low Bank ….

…. with Robinson and Hindscarth in the distance

…. and High Stile and High Pike rising above Buttermere

‘A hill that doesn’t get the pulse racing’ is perhaps a good description of Rannerdale Knotts, but we were, after all, just looking for a good dog walk with a view and this ticked the boxes.   The hill does have the advantage of being surrounded by other, higher mountains though, with good views over to Buttermere and to the Grasmoor Hills, my destination for the next day.

All good things come to an end – time to start the descent

Time to head for home

A sandwich and a coffee for the humans and a couple of biscuits for ‘Mist’ added further justification for the trip, but it is a small hill and it wasn’t long before we had reached the end of the descending ridge to drop down into the valley to return to the camper parked near the lake.    The sun slowly set on Rannerdale knotts and darkness fell over the lake.  The next day on Grasmoor was shaping up to be a good one.

Evening sunshine on Rannerdale Knotts ….

…. before night falls over Crummock Water

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

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#233 – Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag

Dow Crag seen from Coniston Old Man

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Our mammoth Scottish trip in May this year was finally coming to an end, but we weren’t in a rush to get home and the weather was good.   No problem that we weren’t in Scotland anymore, there was still time for a Lake District hill or two.   What better than an old favourite, Coniston Old Man.   Chris and I have been there several times on different variations of routes (see posts #179 and #182) but there’s often a new slant on an old idea.

The route, followed anti-clockwise

The route, showing Coniston and part of Coniston Water

Setting off on the Walna Scar Road

There are several ways to set off up the hill, with the route through the old mine workings featured in post #182 probably being the most obvious (and the most popular).   There is another way though, that most walkers don’t bother with.   It doesn’t even feature on a map, though the path the route takes is obvious on the ground and also on Google Earth.  That was the way for us.

“Yes, it’s up there somewhere!”

Time to start heading upwards ….

…. with more ‘upwards’ to come

Looking back down the Walna Scar Road towards the start point – Coniston Water in the background

And still more up!

I had written up this route for the Walking World website a few years ago, and it’s been quite a popular download.   One subscriber had recently found difficulty following the route on one section, so I went back to see if there were any problems or recent changes that might have crept in.   As I already knew the route, there was only one way to test it fairly – Chris would have to navigate!  Was this going to be a white-knuckle ride?

Looking across to the Walna Scar Road – our eventual return route ….

…. but still no end to the ‘going up’ business

Moving through a rocky section ….

…. before things start to level out a bit

At last – the summit of Coniston Old Man comes into view

I use just about any means to navigate that doesn’t involve black magic (though I would give that a try if it worked) and a combination of GPS, altimeter watch and good old-fashioned map and compass might be employed.  When I write routes for paying customers though, I try to see things through the eyes of someone who isn’t carrying round every navigation aid known to man.   Or woman in this case, as Chris took the lead.

The author and Border Collie ‘Mist’ at the summit

Looking north towards Swirl How but we aren’t going that way ….

…. next on our list is Dow Crag

‘Mist’ with a new buddy – “Are you sure these things are friendly boss?”

On the descent to the col of Goat’s Hawse with Dow Crag in the centre

Luckily Chris was on form, and took Border Collie ‘Mist’ and me up to the summit with no great difficulty.   At the top it was time for a couple of photos, including a rare pic of me and one of ‘Mist’ with a new buddy!   From the top, the most obvious choices to follow were either the ridge to Swirl How or a descent to Goat’s Hawse to get to Dow Crag – the last time we came this way the choice was Swirl How, so it looked as though we would do good old Dow Crag this time.

Looking back to Coniston Old Man and the descent to Goat’s Hawse

The ascent from Goat’s Hawse to Dow Crag

Looking back towards Swirl How ….

…. and Coniston Old Man

The descent to Goat’s Hawse is steady enough, as is the ascent to the summit of Dow Crag, which goes on a bit, but not in a brutal way.    The clear spring air gave good light for pics for once, and a warm pleasant day made a nice change.   The top of Dow Crag is rocky and was crowded by its usual standards, so we gave it a miss and set off for the bit with the views.

Leaving Dow Crag and heading for Buck Pike

Coming off Buck Pike ….

…. with Blind Tarn below

Brown Pike ahead ….

…. followed by the descent to the Walna Scar Road

The route from Dow Crag along the switchback of Buck Pike and Brown Pike is almost like a ridge walk – well, it is if you have a good imagination and look to the east and not the west.   We spent a lot of time looking east!   Before long, the tiny lake of Blind Tarn came into view, and I vowed for perhaps the hundredth time that I would visit it one day.    Not today though, we were on a mission, and before long we were striding out down the Walna Scar Road, stopping only to take one last pic of one of my favourite views of Dow Crag.

Heading for home on the Walna Scar Road ….

…. with one last look at Dow Crag

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

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#232 – Carrock Fell in the Northern Fells of the Lake District

The steep east side of Carrock Fell

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They say all good things come to an end, and the Scottish trip earlier in the year had certainly been a good one.   We weren’t quite finished yet though, as our route back home passed the Lake District – who could resist a few more days in the hills?   Well, Chris and I certainly couldn’t, which is why we found ourselves on the edge of the Northern Fells of the Lakes.

The Northern Fells of the Lake District

The route, followed clockwise

With the exception of the ‘honey-pot’ mountains of Blencathra and Skiddaw, the Northern Fells are quiet, lonely places.   In fact the area goes under the general title of Back o’ Skidda’ amongst the locals, as if it didn’t have an identity of its own.   A notable exception to this is Carrock Fell – its unique geology has made it a significant little mountain for miners, quarry men, rock climbers and even Iron Age warriors.   It also had a tidy little walk for Chris and me – plus Border Collie ‘Mist’ of course.

Chris wondering if we really are going up there!

The geology of the mountain is unique in the Lakes, due to the underlying rock being mainly gabbro.   The only locations in the UK where gabbro is found is here at Carrock Fell and in the Cuillin Mountains of Skye.   In the Cuillins it has formed a ridge that is almost alpine in scale and character (see posts #224, #225 and #226) but on Carrock Fell the only real evidence is found in the crags on the east side of the mountain.

Time to start heading upwards ….

…. but it soon gets to be warm work

Over the steep bit at last

The gabbro crags provide the only real rock climbing in the Northern Fells, with the rest of the hills being Skiddaw Slate, a notoriously slippery rock to climb on, especially in the wet.   Gabbro, on the other hand, is possibly the most grippy rock in the country.   Chris and I were not heading directly for the climbing section of the hillside though – the aim was to follow a steep path following a breach in the crags, though in places it was steep enough to invade Chris’s comfort zone a bit!


Border Collie ‘Mist’ and an old sheepfold

Looking south to Blencathra

The last bit of serious height gain ….

…. before things start to level off a bit

Once above the steep little gully that gave upwards access through the crags, things started to settle down a bit, and though we were still heading uphill the gradient eased enough to be able to talk and breath at the same time!   The views on this section were mainly restricted to the slope ahead or south to Blencathra, but eventually the angle eased enough to be able to look up to the summit with its ancient hillfort.

The view towards the ancient hill fort ….

…. with ‘Mist’ heading towards the East Wall of the fort

One of the surviving sections of wall ….

…. and what must have been the gateway

The term ‘hillfort’ may well conjure images of lofty stone walls – what you see in fact are the remains of what was once an Iron Age fort which was well established when the Romans came to Cumbria almost 2000 years ago.   Sections of the original wall can still be identified, which is amazing considering the destruction carried out by the Roman army, followed by 2000 years of Lake District weather.

Modern day walkers’ shelter inside the fort, built from stone probably plundered from the site

Looking back to the East Gateway

‘Mist’ by the summit cairn (663 metres/2174 ft)

Skiddaw in the distance, just left of centre, with our route over the moor on the right

Some of the destruction continues today, committed unwittingly by modern-day walkers using bits of the fort to build stone shelters to get out of the wind.   Another less destructive feature added in recent times is the small cairn at the summit, which gives a great vantage point to look out towards Skiddaw in the distance.   There is a real sense of being on a summit.

Leaving the fort by the West Gate

Looking back towards the West Gate

The name of the mountain is almost as ancient as the fort – Carrec means ‘rock, and comes from the language spoken by the British Celtic tribes who occupied these lands during and after the Roman occupation.   Their language was a form of Old Welsh and their words occasionally reach out to us across the centuries, reflected in other local names such as Penrith (Pen Rhyd or the ‘Chief Ford’).    ‘Fell’ is a more recent addition to local names, coming from the Old Norse spoken by the Vikings who settled in Cumbria in the tenth century – the word comes from fjall, meaning a mountain.

Heading towards Miton Hill

The start of the descent, with Drygill Beck below on the left

Looking ahead to the broad valley of Carrock Beck

A different view of Carrock Fell, looking at the northern side

As we left the summit, we also left the ‘Stone Mountain’ (Carrock Fell) – our route towards Miton Hill can be a boggy purgatory in wet conditions, but the fine weather we had enjoyed in Scotland had obviously stretched as far as the Lakes.   We had a dry crossing of the moor before descending by Drygill Beck into the broad valley of Carrock Beck.   Our views of the northern side were a complete contrast to the steep east side, and we’ll probably take a look there the next time we head out to these lonely, deserted hills.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

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#231 – A day on ‘The other Buachaille’

The north side of Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe

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Mention ‘The Buachaille’ to mountain people, and they will nod wisely and assume that you mean Buachaille Etive Mor which translates as the ‘Big Herdsman of Etive’.  There is another ‘Buachaille’ however and that’s Buachaille Etive Beag, the ‘Small Herdsman of Etive’.  It’s the big version that attracts most attention, and I must confess that I had never bothered with the lesser brother in nearly fifty years of driving past – it was time to put that right.

The Curved Ridge route on Buachaille Etive Mor (red), the ‘Two Lairigs’ route round Buachaille Etive Beag (green) and the route taken by Chris and I (plus Collie ‘Mist’) up Buachaille Etive Beag (blue)

The mountains of Glencoe and Fort William

On previous occasions I’ve gone straight for what is one of the best, short mountain days in the UK – Buachaille Etive Mor via Curved Ridge (shown in red on the map).  The last time I was there was in 2010 (see post #36) and it’s a great day out.  Three years earlier than that, before Border Collie ‘Mist’ became part of the household, Chris and I had walked the ‘Two Lairigs’ route around Buachaille Etive Beag (shown in green) but hadn’t gone for the mountain itself.  This time we intended to put that right (route shown in blue).

Buachaille Etive Mor seen from Rannoch Moor

The start of the scramble route on Curved Ridge (MB)

The author on a short rock pitch – June 2010 (MB)

Above the descant into Coire na Tulaich

I’ve been on the Curved Ridge route about half a dozen times, and never had a bad day there, though on my first trip I managed to start on the wrong route and my partner and I ended up doing quite a bit of ‘D Gully Buttress’ instead.  On the 2010 trip, I went back to write up the route for the Walking World website (Route ID 5714) and it still gets a few ‘hits’ every year.

Looking southwest along Lairig Eilde (June 2007)

Glen Etive seen from the turning point of the route

The start of the short ascent into the Lairig Gartain

The cairn at the bealach (pass) on the Lairig Gartain

The peak of Stob na Caber on Buachaille Etive Beag

Coming around the northeast shoulder of Stob na Caber on Buachaille Etive Beag

The route that Chris and I walked in 2007 was also done as a Walking World route (Route ID 4360) and manages to walk all the way round Buachaille Etive Beag without actually going to the summit.  I titled the route ‘The Two Lairigs’ for the simple reason that you walk one lairig (valley) going out (Lairig Eilde) and walk another one coming back (Lairig Gartain).

Setting out up Buachaille Etive Beag – May 2017

The start of the Lairig Eilde path, looking back to the road

The route out, following the Lairig Eilde path

Start of the ascent up to the col on Buachaille Etive Beag

We had intended to do the ‘Little Herdsman’ route at the beginning of our Scottish trip in May this year, but it was ‘blowing a hoolie’ and the summits were going to be unpleasant – instead we had carried on north and had a great time on Skye and beyond.  Heading south now, the winds had dropped though there was still a cheeky, cool breeze

Quite a bit of height gained ….

…. but even more ahead. (Border Collie ‘Mist’ out in front as usual!)

More of the same ….

…. but looking back gives a chance of a breather

Buachaille Etive Beag can hardly be regarded as a challenging summit, but there’s a good bit of ‘uphill’ at the start.  A party of young blokes went striding past us before running out of steam half an hour later – we passed them as they were heading down in retreat.  The usual ‘steady away’ approach worked its usual magic, and we arrived in good order on the col between the two summits of Stob Dubh to the southwest and Stob Coire Raineach to the northeast.

On the col at last, looking up towards the northeast summit, Stob Coire Raineach

Looking across to Buachaille Etive Mor

Just above the col, looking towards the southwest summit, Stob Dubh

The last bit of uphill, heading up to Stob Coire Raineach

It was cold enough for Chris to get another layer of clothing on, and we came to the decision to go for Stob Coire Raineach and to give Stob Dubh a miss – Chris isn’t a ‘peak-bagger’ as such, and I wasn’t too bothered about reaching every bit of the mountain.  We grabbed the northeast summit before heading down, just a little bit smug (well, in my case anyway) that the youngsters had given up before the pensioners!

On the way down, heading for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (MB) © Mark Bradley

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