Fort William, 9-10 September 2011

This trip wasn't very successful... Last year's September Scotland trip had seen poor weather. When organising this year's, we were sure the club couldn't have the same again... So much for that! It was so bad (forecasts of over 100mph winds, heavy rain and low cloud for most days) that the trip was actually abandoned by those who had intended to take part in it. Still, two hillwalkers and two drowned rats that happened to be already in Scotland from the week before met in Fort William at the campsite near to Banavie. Half an hour before the trip had begun, they had already decided they were abandoning it! And so plans were made while crowded around a Tourist Information Office computer of how best the escape could be made from rainy Scotland. These four had a meal together in the Grog and Gruel and then drove south on Saturday, climbing Beinn a'Chrulaiste, in pouring rain and strong winds, en route to Glasgow. Ironically the only hill to be climbed on the Fort William trip is located 15 miles south of Fort William! (Still, all four had had some decent(ish) weather on some of the days the week before!) Let's hope that next year's summer trip is more successful.
[AW]

Participants

Andrew Williamson, Mark Jackson, Jo Smith & Dave Farrow.

Mark's Trip Report (MJ)

The first problem with this trip was that nobody was coming. The second problem was the weather.

After the washout of last year’s September trip, certain club members had naively hoped for a change of fortunes this time around – that is, for the percentage of rainy days to be less than 90%... Unfortunately, Scotland had other ideas.

The two pre-trips were moderately successful. I, Phil and Andrew spent a damp few days in Corrour – one of the wildest and most remote places in Britain. The only traces of civilisation were the railway station, youth hostel and a bothy (six miles away) – all of which we made good use of in our quest to stay warm and dry. Determined to get up some hills, we binned the idea of a two-day backpack involving six Munros, and went far to the west to the Staoineag Bothy, where we managed to get up two Munros and a Graham (an attempt on a Corbett was called off because the burns were high and wild). We had better luck with a linear walk the day after Phil left, and then the weather really set in. ‘Drowned rats’ was a not inaccurate description of our condition by the time we met Dave and Jo in Fort Bill. They’d at least had a car in which to drive around looking for sunshine, and had one good climb and a couple of good Munros.

But the forecast was truly dire.

Hurricane Katia’s remnants were on their way, and with 110mph winds on the tops, none of us were going to be getting up anything – least of all our tents. Faced with this, Michael F, Dave M and James called off their plans to come up for the weekend. Dave and Jo were heading home anyway. The campsite was pricey and midge-infested – although I think we would have had to move into a YHA anyway.

David P and Harriet (Burdett) were still planning on coming, but I was fed up. When it comes to a week in Scotland, four does not a crowd make, especially when three of them are crazy baggers and the fourth is on her first club trip. I’d poured enough of my money into the YHA’s coffers at Corrour and still my gear was wet.

We went into an internet café, phoned David, booked train tickets, and for the first time in 22 years, a club trip was completely cancelled because of the weather.

We ended up spending the money we’d saved by not buying train tickets from Corrour (shocking, I know) on a slap-up meal in Fort William. The next day, we squeezed into Dave’s car and drove to Glasgow, stopping briefly in Glencoe to storm up the Corbett of Beinn a’Chrulaiste, in strong winds and heavy rain. The car assumed the properties of a sauna from then on, crammed full of wet gear and wet walkers as it was; and thus the only ‘walk’ of the ‘trip’ took place twenty miles from Fort William and took about one and a half hours.

From Glasgow, we went our separate ways.

I know this has been a long write-up for a short trip, but I did feel the need to justify a once-in-20-years event! It seems that what has been a club staple for nearly two decades may be on its way out. Club members only have limited holidays and our attention is being drawn (quite reasonably) to sunnier climes – Corsica, Kyrgyzstan and an Alps trip or two beckon next summer – between spells of summer jobs etc. I even overheard one comment to the effect of: ‘I would make the effort to go, but if it’s just going to be baggers there…’!

So maybe in, maybe out, but as long as Scotland continues to throw rain, wind, snow and midges at us, perhaps I can bear the loss. There are many decisions I regret, but this was not one of them.

Photos

From 59. CUHWC Fort William TripFrom 59. CUHWC Fort William Trip