Strathconon is certainly a ‘Glen For All Seasons‘. This neglected glen is a wonderful place to be and only a few miles from Inverness it can be neglected as the better known glens for mountaineers hide the Munros, Strathfarrar, Cannich, Affric but Strathconon is a place I love. The Grampian TV series of the same title provided an in-depth portrayal of life in this most scenic of highland glens. But Strathconon is much more than that. The echoes of Scotland’s romantic and turbulent past are locked firmly within it’s mountain walls. It is also a glen of considerable scenic contrasts, from the wooded banks of the River Conon in the east, to the bare heather laden mountains to the west.
We were supposed to go rock-climbing but it had been wet so it was off to Inverness for breakfast with John and Mary and then pick up Mark from “Southfork” near Loch Achilty. Mark works abroad so loves his days out when he can get them. The drive up the Strath is a grand trip with the tourists and the tight road making it a who dares who wins as they always pass a lay by. It just adds to the fun. There is some great rock climbing along the glen but not today as it was guarded by wet rock ,thick wet jungle and the wee beasties the midges. The glen opens up after the Dam and Mark entertained us with his bike rides and the local history and characters. They had been at the Highland games yesterday and met all the locals. We were soon at Strathmore and the rain came down and we set off up the “path” a bit wet and steep and the midges followed. These Corbetts are wild hills at times and this one is no exception. The ridge is guarded by a deep river in spate then some huge peat hags but this is good training? I had been to an USA F111 crash in this area in 1982 where both crew ejected safely but the search we did for bits and pieces after the crash was hard work in amongst the peat hags. It is a hard won summit to Sgurr a Mhuillin (Peak Of the Mill) as the weather came in on the steep wet ground near the summit. A huge mountain hare black in colour blasted past us and wee saw the odd stag and hind racing across the ground we struggled in. The views when the came in were impressive with Fannichs, Ben Wyvis and the great glens looking grand. Days were planned for the future and on cue the clouds came in and the wind was biting so we decided to wander back. The river had calmed down on the way home and the sun was out as we battled our way down in the occasional peat hag showing remains of the Caledonia forest. I had left my camera at Marks and borrowed Marks camera, leaving the photos I took on a flash drive near my car on the way back. What a great area, the flowers still out and the hills so green. How the flowers live so high up is incredible and the common Butterworth and moss campion looking so good just now. A great wee day out with good friends despite the two-day old sandwich Mark gave me! It is great to see how much a day out can lift the spirits and apart from the effort it all is free.
The F111 was an American fighter that crashed in 1982 and both the crew were okay. This aircraft was unusual as the capsule cockpit was ejected with the crew. We had a good couple of days in the area after the crash searching and guarding the crash site. We stayed in the village hall and the locals as always were great to us. I also stayed with the keeper at Scardroy Lodge in 1977 on my North to South Of Scotland Traverse. After a huge day on all the Fannich Munros a big 9 hill day we stayed at the Nest bothy in the Fannichs now gone. Next day was a trek over Fionn Beinn to Scardroy an easy day but a trudge to Strathconon. I was exhausted after 7 days without a break and struggled in to Scardroy Lodge where I was given soup and a meal by the keeper and his wife. Great people, great memories of Highland kindness.