The West to East Of Scotland – November 1977 Part 2 – Glenelg to Kintail.

Map 2 - Glenelg - Kintail

Map 2 – Glenelg – Kintail

This is part 2 of a Big Walk in November 1977 across Scotland from West to East. What a crazy time to do it in November with limited gear and carrying at times 4 days food and gear on our backs. This was 1977 the gear was fairly simple as were the maps,there were no mobile phones and the weather forecasts were basic. The hills were very quiet and we stayed in bothies, village halls with Keepers and a few rough shelters. This is the tale of “nearly a walk to far!

Day 4. October 31 -Beinn Sgritheall from sea level then a huge walk to Sgurr  a’ Mhaoraich at Kinlochourn walking in unfamiliar areas with big wild walks in between, the hill bag is very heavy with 3 days food. We are now getting used to starting in dark up at 0600 away by 0700 walking till 1800 -1900 and finishing in dark a huge day with massive drops in between. It was a massive drop into Glen Arnisdale and a big walk to the next Munro Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich which we descended in the dark. We are doing these hills away from the normal ascents and in bad weather have to watch where we go all the time. The start at sea level in the morning and then finish sea level was hard to cope with. It was a big day of 29k/3260mtrs a 12 hour day the weather was very wild with fresh snow and gales all day. I loved the glimpse of the Knoydart hills a wild and one I loved, the mountains and the sea are unique and this mountain Beinn Sgritheal gives wild views.   We stayed in a small turkey shed that we 3 just fitted into, it was another cold night, and all our kit was soaked again. I am really feeling my knee a bit behind the boys and it is too cold for them to wait long, as soon as I arrive they are gone. I am glad we have these new polar fleeces, great gear, even when wet.

Lots of Snow no ice axes!

Lots of Snow no ice axes!

Day 5. November 1

Kinlochourn-Gleouraich-Spidian Mhialach-Cluanie Lodge. This was another massive pull from sea level; then a  big walk to Cluannie Lodge at Kintail there was lots of snow and we may have to pull out because of weather is so bad. We had  been wet all day worried about frozen feet, no ice axes with us, hills now plastered and very tricky on the very steep  wet grass descent. Winter was with us on the hills, we may have to re -look at our plans. The keeper gave us a huge dram when we arrived at Cluannie Lodge and told us the weather was going to get worse he gave use of a house near the big Lodge. We had a great fire and tried to get our clothes dry wet gear in sleeping bag every night. Told Terry that my knee was bad he stayed with me Jim pushing on with navigation and route, just hanging in.   I phoned RAF Kinloss from the Lodge and asked for ice axes and pain killers to be sent out asap.  A very long hard day, these are serious big hills, the wind is so constant as is the wet gear. 35k/2816mtrs.

Just before the snow line!

Just before the snow line! Looking a bit bedraggled !

Day 6. November 2

Cluanie Lodge Kintail – We did not want to leave the comfort of the bothy and the fire. Jim still wanted to complete the 9 Munros of the South Cluannie despite the weather conditions. We had some day and used fence posts as ice axes. In the end we settled for seven of the Cluannie Munros in deep snow and heavily corniced. Drum Shionnach-Aonach Air Chrith-Maol Chean Dearg-Sgurr a Doire Leathain-Sgurr an Lochan-Creag nan Damh-Sgurr na Sgine-Sheil Bridge, no ice axes lots of snow. It was really tricky coming off in the dark with  the deep snow all the way. The area knowledge I have is very handy and saves time, we have to watch as we are getting white out conditions at times then it clears. Another huge day of 25k/2841mtrs.  We needed a day off after 13 Munros in pretty wild conditions. My knee very sore had a big chat as we are heading into wild Affric but I will be slower but will get there, pain killers help! Terry has a bit of a limp but still chasing Jim, weather to wild to be left behind and snow too deep to break own steps, all took turns today over the 7 Munros.

At Kintail and get the ice axes brought out and a few years later!

At Kintail and get the ice axes brought out and a few years later! Over 30 years!

Day 7,- 3/11/14  A day ofF at Sheil Bridge Kintail  well needed in the small bothy, we got our ice axes  picked up our winter gear and another wild weather forecast for the following week! It was great to have lie in and sort out the gear and get it dried off. We picked up our rations for the next few days and the bags were very heavy! We went to Kintail Arms for lunch and were soon back at our tiny bothy and slept like logs. The photo above was taken in 1977 and 2012 you can see who is knackered this was after a wild day on the South Cluannie we had ice axes brought out and crampons, we were to need them. Had a great break in the Clunnie Lodge, Into the wilds of Glen Affric now

To be continued!


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Bothies, Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The West to East Of Scotland – November 1977 Part 2 – Glenelg to Kintail.

  1. Bob Hankinson says:

    The advances in gear over the last 50 years have been terrific. I remember on Outward Bound and CCF Adventure Training when I was 15 I carried more weight than ever since. And that was before it rained and your Karrimor OB rucksack took on extra weight with the water. My first bit of gear was a “Joe Brown” rucksack, which I still have – the best shoulder straps ever.
    That was a serious adventure you guys had – and great to see the “Then and Now” photo.


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