Lovely morning – early start before the weather breaks.
We were staying in Glen Affric in the Strawberry Cottage and the midges were lousy and with a poor weather forecast it was an early start. I was with the Moray Mountaineering Club on their monthly meet.The rest was planning trips all over Glen Affric even a couple on huge bike rides and if the weather allowed a Munro will be done. The others were heading onto the Affric ridge and see how far they get. You are spoiled for choice in this majestic area so much to do and so many choices. I fancied a few new Munro tops and the odd Munro on the far end of the Kintail hills so I was on my own that suited me for the day. I had hoped to climb the Munro tops Tigh Mor Na Seleige at 979 metres and Sail Choaorainn at 1002 metres going over another top on the way. The wind was going to come in at midday so I was as always flexible.
The future ? Track damage in the Gleann na Ciche? Gone are the days of the pony for stalking?
The midges attacked me as I set off from the bothy alone but the weather was great, no rain but no shorts today. The morning sun was out and the hills looked great, so green and the rest were getting away not far behind and making the most of the day. I enjoy walking alone, my own speed and stop and take photos when I want. The track for about 2 miles along Gleann na Ciche is special and I had not been along it for many years on the Big walks and these are great hills and not often done from the Affric side? It is a sense of adventure walking along and as you past the forestry the big hills and views open up.
The great hills
Sadly the track now becomes pretty rough through the forestry and the use of 4 wheel vehicles has with the weather made this now an unpleasant walk. It must be the estate vehicles but what a sad mess and it will get worse, the days of the stalking and horses (garron) seem numbered. From the end of the muddy track I headed up (no path) onto the ridge that takes you to the summit of the Munro Top Tigh Mor na Selige at 972 metres a lovely peak. The ground was steep and tricky onto the ridge and seamed with steep gullies and care had to be taken. I moved carefully and the wind picked up a bit and yet it was a grand place to be with the gullys and steep grass interesting. The huge back Corries of Kintail were there to be seen and few get these views. Most do these from Kintail in a high level walk where the views can be restrictive. I was not feeling great I had little sleep in the hut and felt a bit flat but with slow progress made it eventually onto the ridge. I was glad I was on my own and could go at my own pace. I had great views of the Munro top A’ Cioch a shapely hill just over the glen a must to climb again. It is a wonderful place to be and to come here in winter is even more special.
Steep ground on the way up onto the ridge. Not the place to slip. You take even more care when on your own.
It is a shapely hill this rarely visited Munro top with wild view of the huge Corrie Mheadion I had a good look here as many years ago I went in search of Prince Charlies Cave in the Corrie. According to the SMC District Guide Tigh Mor na Selige (The big house of the hunting) is where Prince Charlie stayed during his travels after Culloden in 1745, On 24 July along with the 8 Glen Morrision men who had fought with him at Culloden they took refuge in a cave in Coire Mheadion at the head of Coire Dho in Ceannacroc. This is a cave I visited many year ago a big drop into the Corrie on a previous visit. It resembles the Shelterstone in the Cairngorms and is well worth a visit. In this cave the prince stayed a week after a night on Sgurr nanConbhairean ” wet to the skin and eaten by midges” Little changes it seems a Corrie that needs a visit again?
The wild Corrie worth a visit.
The ridge is narrow and I remember coming this way in winter and taking care, the views were great and the wind was picking up and a bit chilly. Time was moving and I wandered along the corrie rim and onto another Munro top on the way to Sail Chaorainn at 1002 metres one metre higher than the Munro top! Here I met 3 lassies the first people I had seen and they were heading out to my remote Munro top they were going well after an early start from Kintail. They would have to move to miss the weather as they had to return by the same route and we had a quick chat. I had a break and realised my sandwiches were not there left in the bothy but had a few nuts and a drink and looked at the views. I was alone again and it was so peaceful. I was tired it was just after 1300 but felt it lack of sleep and I decided to return as I had a big glen walk to return the same way.
The weather still holding at the top of the Munro Sail Chaorainn.
I wandered back off the path along the ridge line and got some cracking views, it was still windy and I had my hat on and watched the three figures head off along the ridge. I stopped a few times and marvelled at the space the weather should have come in by now but was still clear and I lingered looking at the wildness of this place. The huge glens and big Corries were so peaceful and away from these sometimes busy summits. There was little movement in the Corries maybe the deer know it is the stalking season soon?
Great place to linger. The space and views are wildness itself.
I never usually like to return the same way but that was what I did and the windcontinued to blow a bit on the way back. The energy was not there today but going alone I held no one up and took my own time, stopping when I wanted. I decided to descend into the Glen the same way and took care the odd bit of rain and had made the grass even more slippy and I took it easy and was even glad I was down in the Glen again. The track was even more muddy and wet untill I met the road again and then with a few stops headed back to Strawberry Cottage. The weather was still holding it was now nearly 1600 and the midgies were back and the wind gone. Most had a good walk/run in Affric and done several Munros a bit blowy they said but worth the early start. Penny the wonder dog and Speedy her owner were given a race by Lucy, the new racing snake on the hills. Poor Jake plus his bust shoulder and “the knowledge” Andy had a walk round loch Affric spotting an Osprey. The others did Ben Attow Uncle Ray and Jan had stopped at the Aultbeithe Youth Hostel for tea. The mountain bikers had another long circuit by Mountain Bike of 45 K! Last but not least our Joe managed a big cycle, the Munro A Ghlas Beinn and 5 punctures on the way home from Morvich arriving home after a 12 hour day. Luca our Aussie visitor vanished after the hill on walk about Aussie style and went “rouge” on the hill for a while? He went his own way, strange people these Aussies and then he went for a swim. some guy and a great character mind you Jake is his Uncle?
Luca our Aussie visitor n for a swim despite the midges.
The weather held most of the day and I had a brew and some soup to re hydrate and found my sandwiches thanks Jake. He made up by making chocolate brownies/ marshmallows and he had tea on when we arrived back. It was a low-key night, raining and the wind is getting up when “Baby Joe” arrived back with tales of punctures and to lots of sympathy from Lucy and Jane , it is the eyes that do it. I had my meal and a small drink the fire was on and the wind was now up and the roof rattling. It was not the night for a tent and we were glad to be in the hut with the fire on and the midges dispersed ! I left them to Joe’s tales and solutions to repair a bike and back to my book what a great read it is ?
Kettle on after a great day – Hut drawing.
Tomorrow looks awful with huge winds already building up outside inside the Strawberry Cottage it is warm and midge free inside.
A day to be alive!