Long awaited new book due to be published soon …

Follow the link for a preview of ‘The Great Mountain Crags of Scotland’. The publishers have a limited number of special edition ‘slipcase’ versions available for pre-order.


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Garbh Bheinn and Belig

Some photos from my evening out on Garbh Bheinn and Belig.


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Naismith’s Route, Basteir Tooth

Wednesday evening and the car temperature gauge is telling us it’s 28C. For the Isle of Skye this is hot! The plan was for Ian, Archie and I to nip up Fionn Coire and traverse the Tooth and Am Basteir and be down in good time. Leaving the road at 5 we were up at the base for 7. It is an intimidating spot but with warm dry rock it is also inviting to climb here, as the evening sun turns the rock a warm colour, different from the usual dark cold look that the Cuillin can project. In the end Archie had second thoughts about climbing so he elected to go round Am Basteir and meet us as we topped out. The climb went well, until the part when I realized that the protection that was there last time I climbed the route was now gone – A flake has broken off. Nothing for it but to make the moves very carefully and arrange the sling over a spike higher up. Ian followed the route in good style and was very pleased to have bagged another Cuillin.

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Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr MhicCoinnich

Saturday 5th July, Ian Jeffrey and I went for a trip out in the Cuillin. The weather looked great at Sligachan, where the Glamaig hill race was being held, but as we drove round into Glenbrittle the tops were in cloud. However it was not wet and there was alot of sunshine out to the west. A couple of hours and we were up on the first top – Sgurr Sgumain and here we got geared up for the direct ascent of the SW Ridge onto Sgurr Alasdair. The normal route is a scramble, however we were taking on the ‘mauvais pas’ or Bad Step. It is a really short pitch at the start and it leans out and down. After hooking my sling over a good spike I was happy to make the moves up and arrange a belay at an in-situ sling. Ian had cold hands and had to warm up before making the moves but we left a sling because it was too awkward to get out.
Onwards up the ridge and unfortunately the cloud was still down so no views, just incredible exposure with Coire Lagan down one side and Coire a Ghrunnda the other. There are many many narrow and shattered places on the ridge and some blocks are poised ready to fall. Anyway over the summit and onwards round the ridge to Sgurr Thearlaich, and descend to the foot of MhicCoinnich, still misty but a touch warmer now that we had been moving for 30 mins or so – shorts and a t-shirt beginning to feel like a bad choice.
We chose to climb direct to the summit of MhicCoinnich by King’s Chimney, again at V.Diff standard. This went fine and managed to take a few piccies of Ian. It was 4 O’Clock now so we packed up and meandered down the An Stac screes and arrived down seconds before the rain swept in off the loch!

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Some good hill running this week…..

On Tuesday night first up I had planned a run from Luib through Strath Beag, to meet the ‘Elgol Road’ then to run back to Luib via Strath Mor. I have to say it has the makings of a great run/walk route, but for the discontinuous sections of path in Strath Mor. One minute the path is great – next it is really boggy, (and i don’t say this lightly!) Still a great route and I will do it again with my camera, maybe in Autumn. http://www.strava.com/activities/157700646

Today (Thursday), in the evening I made the time to go out for a few hours. My route was to be the Beinn Deargs ‘loop’ from Sligachan. So this climbs Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach, then on to Beinn Dearg Mhor. The descent after this summit is the crux with some steep scree, and bouldery, to reach the Bealach na Sgairde, which is directly below Glamaig. The evening was very warm and most of the water had dried up – the dog had to make do with boggy peat water :( until we reached the flowing burns after a couple hours. A perfect evening with really clear air, and a gentle easterly breeze. A ‘classic’ in my book worthy of 3 stars. http://www.strava.com/activities/158519444

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Attempt to run the ‘Fisherfield six’

Things don’t always go as planned in the NW Highlands. I had planned the Fisherfield six as a perfect day out, and imagined getting some nice panorama pictures from the summit of A’Mhaighdean. The idea had been to start at Corrie Hallie and run to Shenavall then start the loop with Ruadh Stac Mor, finishing approx 8 hours later.
During the drive North, the mountains around Achnasheen and Applecross had looked clear of cloud, and so I had thought that the weather would improve as the day went on. However after Garve the Fannichs were capped by thick cloud, and driving towards Dundonnell I could not see anything of An Teallach. Sure enough there were light rain showers from the start, not too bad a low level and good for keeping cool. There was brightness around though and arriving at the bothy at Shenavall, the Beinn Deargs looked to be clearing. After crossing the Sealga Bog, I thought to myself ‘at least I don’t have to come back that way’! Indeed I did however have to make the return over the bog.
Gleann na Muice Beag was great running along a well created path, nice and dry, and here the sun made an appearance, and the mountains started to clear of cloud – I assumed that it was the normal afternoon nice weather that had arrived and that the rest of the day would be warm and sunny. Not to be because an hour later the westerlies brought in more rain, and the cloud base dropped again. We made good time up to the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor, but was in the cloud, temperatures had dropped and it was windy and wet. Wearing only running gear I was getting chilled quickly and decided to make the return by the same route back to Shenavall.
The rain didnt let up for about an hour or so until we were back at the river crossings, and the bog. The mountains stayed immersed in thick cloud. So will have to come back another time.

Stats http://app.strava.com/activities/155998164

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Gleann Lichd and the Bealach an Sgairne loop, Kintail.

Well now that I have had the chance to update the blog after missing a year, I am going to update as often as possible now.

Today I decided to go to Kintail, and run the path that goes up Gleann Lichd and comes back round the Bealach an Sgairne to make a loop. This one had been a line on my Anquet map for over a year and I did have a go 3 weeks ago, only to turn back with energy problems.

I had hoped to complete the loop in 4 hours and left the car at 10-12AM managing to complete the loop exactly 4 hours later to the minute. The cloud cover kept the temperature down, about 14C at the start of the day, ending up at 18C on the descent. The scenery is amazing here, the mountains feeling massive, the gorge at the head of Gleann Lichd especially impressive. It is very remote as you head into the back country, passing a bothy called Camban, and turning left near the youth hostel at Alltbeithe. I did pass a volunteer group at Camban digging drainage, they were a very cheerful bunch despite the knee deep peat bogs! I was also surprised to see another runner making his way in the opposite direction to me.

Here the path is less frequented, and narrow and begins a long slow ascent towards the Bealach an Sgairne. At one place the path has recently been improved, but in other places it is a bit of a mud-fest – as I expected it to be of course. On this section over the pass I never saw anyone, until lower down after passing the Bealach. Camera-phone pics.

Stats are: 30.8km 912m 6:47/km average pace, 4 hours total, moving time 3 and a half hours. http://app.strava.com/activities/150119492

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