Cul Beag – at last the rain stops!
After two great days in the North West of Scotland with very limited views it was good to awake from the SMC Hut at Elphin to see the great peaks clearing. Today we would get a hill done; the hills were snow free with only a tiny patch on Canisp. Two others had arrived at the hut yesterday Jimmy and Al and we had a fine night in the hut. They both work now in the oil industry and were glad of a sneaky night and hopefully a day on the hill. We all were in the MRT with the RAF and it was great to have a chat again, the stories got better as the” Jura” was enjoyed as past tales were relived in this magic place.
The plan to climb was scrubbed and we decided on a much neglected Corbett – Cul Beag often ignored for its more famous neighbours but a grand hill. It was also a hill and a place I had climbed a few times before and once had an interesting day on the West Face trying to climb a hidden gem called Lurgainn Edge. That adventure took us to some interesting places with some wild situations. This cliff is clearly visible from the road but the magic of Stac Polly captivates you and many miss this great face with its prominent Y Gully.
Parking is tricky as is finding the path which starts near the cottage at Linnerraineach it is tricky to find at first but a great path that takes you to Loch an Coire Doire Dhuibh then breaks up to the main ridge, easy going but very wet today. The hills are such a wonderful colour the bracken a magic brown hue and the pace even for an old man not too bad. The “bairns” were taking it easy and the cameras were out enjoying the ever changing views. Many of the great peaks emerge as you gain height and as always the huge expanse of water and lochs grab your imagination. This is a land for “the young, eager and active” as Charles Inglis remarked at the beginning of the 19 century. Nowadays it is still marvellous to struggle up these peaks of Coigach and Assynt.
Once you hit the main ridge it is very steep. even in summer but again the views open and the majesty of this place gets better and better, hills lochan after lochan and moors. We were soon on the summit even the” bairns” saying it was steep and would be interesting in winter? It was so clear and there was no wind and mild. I looked over the steep shattered, sandstone cliffs and wondered of the madness of youth. It was also the anniversary of my Mums passing many years ago and I had a few thoughts for her and I am sure she would have loved the views and the solitude. My Mum was a wonderful lady who with my Dad introduced me to these incredible wild places and I often think of them and how they would love to see that this place is still so special to me. I am sure as we puffed at panted up these steep slopes below the ridge we saw a pair of Eagles? Who does not believe in reincarnation in such a place? Miss you Mum xxx
It was great to take it easy and after a brew and a break, a wind came in and after some food I decided to head back a different way. We split up after and a good look at the top of Lurgainn Edge, it looked so steep but wet and not for today. This is a climb to be savoured in a dry or in a sharp winter’s day? The “bairns” vanished down a steep gully and Ned accompanied me on a long wet, boggy walk back to the main road. (Sorry mate) It was huge open wild moorland, very wet but peaceful and hard going. The “bairns” had returned to the car with the exuberance of youth and had moved my old car to the main road. The car was moved round and they left lots of notes all over it swearing their allegiance to the” No Campaign “ for Independence. That is any chance of joining the SMC scuppered boys.
We got back soaked and muddy then headed back to the hut for soup and chilli, a tidy up and home. Ned drove and for once my back and body felt not too bad. We stopped at Tescos for Glenda to collect Ned and waited in the café with a coffee. It was so busy, lots of noise and people all busy. What a change from the peace and quietness of Coigach and Assynt.
A great two days away, not much done but some magic places visited,only a few people about just a true wildness and beauty .
We are spoiled.
From a Man in Assynt
“Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.”
Thank you – Norman MacCaig.