Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Most of the seasons in one day on Drumochter Munros

Written by Fiona April 08 2010
The day started with pouring rain, then headed through snow, low cloud and mist – before finally turning into a gorgeous, sunny afternoon. It was warm, then cold, then freezing, then cooler and then really quite hot. The three of us – the G-Force, Top Sandwich Man and I – first donned heavy duty waterproofs, then peeled off layers, then added on fleeces, then took off our layers before enjoying a good couple of hours of only light baselayers and sunshine.

When you walk in Scotland’s great outdoors, and especially at this time of year, you become familiar with days that can often feature several seasons in the space of just a few hours.

Our hike on Sunday began at a car park on the Drumochter Pass (that fearfully long road of ascent that I once had the misfortune to cycle one hot day a few years ago. It’s 13 miles of neverending climbing, if you want to picture it.) Since the G-Force had previously summitted one of four Munros in the area (being forced to return to his car due to poor visibility that day) we had a grand plan to complete the other three in one go.

The outset, following a reasonably easy-going trail, did not seem that promising, however, as we tramped through the rain. It wasn’t cold though so we kept on with the ascent, cheerfully chatting and trying to keep our eyes focused on the fast disappearing summit of A’Mharconaich (975m). Around half way up the clouds enveloped us and we spent the rest of the climb navigating by compass and wondering if we’d ever arrive at the top. Then, all of a sudden the cairn was in front of us. Stopping for a while to eat our first snack, the G-Force and I looked on in envy as Top Sandwich Man (TSM) unwrapped amazing-looking home-made seeded rolls stuffed full of salad, crumbly cheese and baby tomatoes. We’d managed only a few hastily prepared buttered pancakes. Hmm.

Top Sandwich Man, the G-Force and FionaOutdoors
in the clouds on A’Mharconaich
Just as suddenly as the cloud had arrived, so it disappeared as we made our descent of A’Mharconaich and then another gentle ascent to the summit of Munro number two, Beinn Udlamain (1011m). (More tasty sandwiches for TSM, and a chocolate bar for me.) Having expected to spend the whole day in rain and cloud and with only a compass to guide us, the change in the weather really lifted our spirits. Now we began to take in the wonderful views of the surrounding mountains in the stunning part of Scotland. There is something so special about a landscape covered in snow yet lit by bright sunshine.

Heading onwards towards Munro number three, Sqairneach Mhor (991m) the sun really came out to play, while the wind dropped, and we found ourselves walking in wonderful spring-like weather. We couldn’t believe our luck having started the day in such dreary conditions. It was so warm that I was able to shed my gloves, which, for anyone who knows me, is quite unbelievable. Even on summer days I quite often wear a thin pair of gloves because of very poor circulation in my hands, while on a winter’s day I’ll have a base glove layer plus a pair of thick and/or heated gloves on top! Sometimes even that is not enough to stop my fingers going numb.

FionaOutdoors on Sgairneach Mhor
As you can see from the photos there was still a fair amount of snow around although it wasn’t too deep. (You can also spot TSM tucking into yet another delicious sarnie!) In fact, instead of hampering our day’s hike, the snow actually offered a fast and effective way to descend the last Munro. Ensuring that we were on “safe” snow – and not about to walk on an avalanche-prone snow field – we were able to utilise the slushy snow to bound/slide down the slope at considerable speed. With the snow covering a lot of bumpy terrain we avoided a lot of tiring up-and-down walking over rocks and heather. On some steeper sections we could sit down on our waterproof trousers and whizz downhill as if on a huge slide. This was a big bonus after six hours of walking.

The only thing that would have improved my Munro bagging day out with the G-Force and TSM would have been – a batch of those tasty TSM sandwiches. Next time I’m going to pay him to make mine!

More Like This


5 fantastic reasons to vIsit Guatemala – and 4 things to do there 


How cold water swimming can help with managing depression


Corbett bagging: Morven, near Ballater


Free beginner’s guide to navigation by Ramblers Scotland


Corbett bagging: Meall Dubh, Glen Moriston


Tips for first time traveller’s guide | Greenbrier WV