Stravaiger’s eBothy

Mountaineering, backpacking, cycling, Gaelic and lots of philosophising

The Dark Heart of the Cuillin

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There were a couple of conflicting forecasts for Saturday. MWIS pointed to clearing conditions and cloud above 900m by afternoon, while the BBC had it deteriorating into the afternoon, with roving bands of heavy showers. The BBC won. But I didn’t realise this until the afternoon arrived, by which time I was sitting on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdich in the Cuillin mountains of Skye. My local hills.

Summer on Sgritheall

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The Five Sisters

Ah the blog. I have a blog I suddenly remembered! What with stravaiging, cycling, writing (a bivvy article in The Scottish Mountaineer), preparing for a photography exhibition and what not, it’s been quiet in the eBothy but this weekend was a cracker as I met up with an old friend at Suardalan bothy for his final Munro. It was to be Beinn Sgritheall by the north ridge. The connoisseur’s route.

Revisiting an Old Friend

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Ah yes, it’s that time of year, when I let loose a sigh of relief that the incessantly soft and deep snow has gone and the spring flowers and birds are returning to my old friend, Blaven.

Stravaiging on Coll

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Easter! Dust off the Brompton, fill up the 120L sac and head for the Armadale ferry, train down to Oban then cycle down the road to the Gallanach campsite, ready for the early ferry on the Saturday morning to the Isle of Coll.

Happenings

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It just sort of happened. I emailed the editor of The Scottish Mountaineer, the magazine of the MCofS, asking if he’d like an article on wild sleeps and pointed him to my flickr stuff as examples of pictures. The reply was along the lines of ‘yes but how about a photo feature first?’. And so, in the February 2015 edition, it duly appeared.

Beginnings

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Quite often, reading someone’s autobiography, especially if it has an outdoors theme, it makes you think back to your own beginnings. Where you started and where you’ve ended up, so far. So it was with me as I sampled Ray Mear’s tales of early wanderings and thought back to a particular day, thirty years ago this year.

Sgurr Nan Each SE Ridge Scramble

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Continuing with the very mild weather, I fell out of bed, had a nice coffee and a read through the outdoors mag then out the door and round towards Torrin for a day scrambling. And what a morning it was. Blaven was stupendous.

South Skye Moors

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What a strange autumn it’s been so far. Temperatures in the mid teens, not a sign of snow after the first dusting at the start of October and quite a lot of warm sunshine. Sums up today’s wander across the wild moors of south Skye.

A Night on the Mountain

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It seems summer has fled for another year up here. The rowans are heavy with berry and the bracken is brown and wilting. The meadowsweet has turned the colour of rusted iron and there’s an ochre tint to the landscape, blotched with the purple of heather. So before the snow comes I thought I’d scratch a long held itch to camp on the summit of Blaven. Before, in the words of that worthy, self styled average mountaineer, Quintin Hogg, my wine would run to ruin.

I kept the best wine till the last, only to find that I had lost my capacity for enjoyment

So yesterday afternoon I headed up that oh so familiar path and into blasted rain and lowering black clouds. Damn the forecast! Up into the coire, load up with water and make my way to the south summit, as intermittent heavy rain and low cloud drifted round the crags. Nothing to see, so keep moving.

The Anonymous Mountain

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It’s been a quiet old time lately, hillwise but today I went out for a walk. Nothing much in mind, just a wander, to see where I ended up. On days like these I like to head up into the coire on Blaven and explore. There’s anticipation in the air as a storm is forecast to trundle in around three o’clock and ghostly wraiths wrap the summit now and then and my imagination takes me into another world.