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Glen Shiel, 18-26 September 2010

"September", we (oh, OK, I) thought when planning the trip back in May, "what a lovely time to be in Scotland." Scotland, however, had other ideas - and treated us to the soggiest trip I've been on for quite some time. Luckily, the Highlands are rather wonderful in the rain too - especially when you ignore the weather forecast and go up hills anyway! Which, of course, the dozen or so hardy CUHWC souls on the trip did with aplomb, completing (among other things) the classic ridges on both sides of the glen. Although our boots are only now drying out, the views afforded by sudden gaps in the cloud were well worth a bit of sogginess...

Towards the end of the week the rain cleared, the campsite became less of a bog and those of us remaining enjoyed a fantastic day of scrambling, walking and even sunbathing on The Saddle. With the promise of blue skies stretching into next week, we returned to Cambridge with some reluctance - but at least we were assured that September in Scotland can be very lovely indeed!

Participants

Tom Ashton, Joe Barker, Valerie Brandt, Paul Cook, David Crosse, Gillian James, Oliver Knevitt, Ken Koyanagi, Larissa Moore, Dave Mackenzie, Mary Sheaf, Jo Smith, Toby Speight, Chris Wade.

Walk Reports

Five Sisters, Part I (JB)

Joe and Chris walked up the Five Sisters; they were wet and slippery and largely shrouded in mist, except the 5th Sister who rewarded our perseverance with some exciting views. Joe smiled and nodded a lot, whilst Chris explained maps and bearings. Then we came home for supper. It was still raining.

South Shiel Ridge (DM)

Oliver, Gill, Jo, Joe, Dave, Chris

We committed the night before, so there was no backing out, despite the heavy rain! It stopped raining as we got out of the car, at which point we huddled under the porch of the Cluanie Inn to wait for the others. Thence followed a day of RAIN and MIST. There was the occasional suggestion of a potential view! Being a long walk along a ridge we ascended a total of 7 Munros...with a 30% chance of cloud-free summits we might have expected at least one cloud-free...but perhaps the forecast was unreliable. [But see photos below for proof that this is merely poetic licence... -ed.]

Navigation was generally good if you discount taking the wrong ridge for a couple of k's in the mist, taking us NE instead of West. Righting this error, 3 Munros and 800m of descent later we reached the road, whereupon the singing began to while away the last 5km home along the road...with renditions of all the best songs, including Yellow Submarine, Wild Rover, American Pie etc.

Ciste Dhubh (VB)

Valerie, Tom, Dave, Joe, Chris, Jo, Ken

Today Tom and I went on a walk with all the tired but keen people, and we survived! They were so worn down by the Shiel Ridge walk, that we were actually a good match for their tired, yet keen muscles. On a separate note, Tom thought we were at the top of the first hill, but we were not even close. I think he was deceived by the cairn. The rest of the walk was pretty much non-eventful.

Five Sisters, Part II (JS)

Everybody who hadn't done it yet...except Paul and Larissa (still MIA)

It came as no surprise to anyone that it was raining when we got up - but since this hadn't stopped us so far (and there was really no point waiting for a good day) we persuaded Tom to drop us off in the right place and set off up the hillside.

The Sisters were still (as reported by Joe) wet and slippery, but with added wind, so we spent a rather unpleasant couple of hours having very little idea how far along the ridge we were, until everything cleared suddenly. Amazing how much one can appreciate a small patch of sun on a distant hillside! There was a rainbow too, and for half an hour or so, all was right with the world (very Biblical - unlike the rest of the trip).

It was, however, too much to hope that we would get home in the dry - and stopping to check the latest MWIS forecast in the Kintail Lodge Hotel wasn't very good for morale either. Luckily, Dave proved extremely good at handing out chocolate, so we made it back to camp in high spirits for a most sociable evening of risotto-cooking and Bananagrams (Joe had far too many minxes).

One may check out, but one is not permitted to leave... (TS)

Toby, Jo, Joe, Oliver, Gill, Paul, Larissa, DC, Mary

Despite an absence from these pages (particularly the first page - thanks, Michael), CUHWC's appearance in the Highlands means that my association with the Club is not over. Today I arrived at the campsite to find keen walkers with aspirations of the Forcan Ridge. Though I have done it before, the memory is lost far in the dusty corners of the past (1998, I think). So I joined in, and drove half the group to the start.

The approach is surprisingly easy - lots of height gained in a steady, well-built stalkers' path. Then the scrambling begins. Nice, sun-dried rock in the hands and underfoot, with steadily-expanding vistas, make an enjoyable ascent. All too soon, we were at the top, admiring views of Knoydart, Rum, Eigg, Sleat, the Cuillin, Crowlin Isles, Applecross, Torridon, Cluanie hills, Grey Corries & Ben Nevis, and much much more!

We continued on, down and up again (passing a wee lochan in which Paul didn't swim) to Sgurr na Sgine. A long rest in the sun had to eventually end, and we returned to the cars over Faochag and the long steep descent off its end.

Thanks to everyone for another great day out.

Notable Quotes

  • Joe: "I'm trying to work out a way of getting all my stuff and teeth brushed"
  • Jo: "I'll take that as an invitation to remove my trousers"
  • Valerie: "I want to get myself a Scottish woman!"
  • Joe: "It's the taking count that parts"
  • DC: (after much deliberation) "Well, I think I'd quite like to do the Munro, just in case I find I am bagging..."

Photos

From CUHWC Glen Shiel, 18-25 September 2010From CUHWC Glen Shiel, 18-25 September 2010From CUHWC Glen Shiel, 18-25 September 2010