A great weekend in Scotland’s great outdoors
It seems that the god of outdoors weather was out with us this weekend. The G-Force and I had planned a weekend that would include some Munro bagging and a big cycle. I’d fancied the cycle on the Saturday and then mountain walking on the Sunday but The G-Force insisted he’d checked the weather and we should go for the Munros on the Saturday and the cycle on the Sunday. Hmm. Well, I never normally trust the Scottish weather but this time I went with The G-Force’s weather predictions and it was absolutely the right thing to do.
An start of 5am on the Saturday also helped. Reaching Laggan before 8am we set off to summit the three Munros, Carn Liath (1006m), Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1054m) and Creag Meagaidh (1128m) in warm sunshine. The climb was steady and made a great deal easier than the average Munro thanks to a path. To begin with the path was the kind you’d expect in a tourist attraction (all carved out and properly gravelled). This path actually headed for miles along the valley base to a stunning corrie and lochan. I wondered how long it must have taken to build!
However, we soon split from this path to walk steeply uphill and on a more natural and sometimes faded out trail. Still, compared to the heather and moon grass terrain of recent Munro outings, this route was very pleasant indeed. It didn’t even seem to take us too long to gain sight of the Munro summit of Carn Liath – although as is so often the case it took us a bit longer than we’d imagined to actually reach it. As ever the views across the surrounding countryside were fabulous, and in particular we “wowed” over the banks of gorgeous wild bluebells.
We were still feeling lucky not have felt any rain as we headed on to Munro number two, Stob Poite Coire Ardair. Hiking across moorland we made easy work of the required descent and ascent (to qualify as a Munro proper, rather than a Munro top, there needs to be at least 500ft of descent and ascent between each summit). Although this Munro sports an interesting name, translated as the Peak of The Point of the High Corrie – and indeed the views of the high cliffs and corrie/lochan far below were magnificent – the summit itself was quite average. We weren’t even sure we had reached it but looking back after passing by we realised we had gained the highest point.
Creag Meagaidh by contrast was a much more rewarding bag. By this time the weather had turned a little and we felt the first spots of rain but now we needed to concentrate on our route. (We were thankful we’d set off so early in the day.) We first headed via the “window”, a gully between two steep slopes that looks ominous from a distance but close up seemed nothing more than a quick descent and ascent. And then came another climb. Heading into cloud we kept our eyes focused on the path and then on the line of mini cairns that led upwards.
You could be fooled on this Munro into thinking that the first huge cairn that you reach is the top. It’s not. This is called Mad meg’s Cairn. The summit proper is another 500m or so further on and we were forced to navigate carefully by compass to reach it as the cloud had now completely enshrouded us.
We didn’t hang around and made a quick descent, again back into the dry and warmth below the cloud line. Heading down via that “window” the descent was speedy and we then joined the “nice path” at the lochan and walked for miles out through the valley floor. This was a tiring section but the views were fabulous and it was only mid afternoon when we again reached the car.
One day and three Munros would be enough for most people but on Sunday we were determined to do some miles on the bikes. (We’re doing a triathlon in a few weeks and then there’s the ever looming Bealach Mor in September!). While the forecast for the north has been less than favourable on the Sunday we had been assured of warmer weather for the west. And for once the report was right. We enjoyed a beautiful cycle of around 45 miles from Aberfoyle, via Callandar and then around Loch Katrine. This distance would normally be more than enough for me and after the previous day’s Munro exertions my thighs were definitely lacking in oomph. But we made it – and I really enjoyed the outing.
While the G-Force even found some energy to head off for a tri club swimming session that evening I bunked off, sat on the sofa and ate crisps and drank wine. Well, I can do normal couch potato style stuff sometimes you know!
This weekend made me so thrilled to have Scotland’s great outdoors on my doorstep.