Saturday, 23 June 2012

Duke of Edinburgh Gold training in Knoydart

Sunday 17 June saw Craig drying out his equipment after a very soggy, but enjoyable, two day DoE Bronze exped' in the Pentland Hills in prep for a four day trip to Knoydart.

Knoydart has a sad history but is a fabulously beautiful part of Scotland; I never quite realised how beautiful tho.

Mini bus to Glenfinnan with the team from a school in Ayr followed by the 'Harry Potter' train to Mallaig saw us on the boat to Inverie in good time.

Camping on the beach with the students and midges was fun and we fed the midges whilst enjoying a spectacular sunset over Loch Nevis and the Isles.

Day one saw us off 'quite' early up Gleann na Guiserein towards Mam Li for a lunch stop in the sun.

The going was hard in hot sun and the students were finding the first day testing with their exped packs fully loaded.  We headed on to the bealach and down Corrie Sgamadail to eventually camp at Rubha Ard Slisneach, on a wonderful spot overlooking Skye Cuillin.

Some rain overnight did nothing to dampen spirits and we were off doing micro-nav towards a river crossing, thence to Loch Corrie a' Phuill and the top of Sandaig Burn.   This was a testing time for the students who were developing their nav skills in hard ground, but they did well.  Lunch on the top gave more wonderful views before striking off for a journey through Inverie to the next camp spot.

Eigg in the distance
That night saw the students camp in Gleann Meadail - 'The Glen of the Midge' - well named as we ran around an old sheiling having our evening debrief with hoods on to avoid the plague!   The students set up quickly but the leaders were, thankfully, booked into Druim bothy.

Morning of day three saw the students refreshed and raring to go, which they did, to Mam Meadail, with spectacular views all around, over Knoydart and to Sgurr na Ciche, a beautiful Munro I visited 10 years previously.  The drop from there to Sourlies bothy for lunch gives testament to Knoydart's sad past, as we walked past the ruins at Camusrory and Finiscaig.

Sourlies is a wonderful lunch spot and a bothy of some character, including the friendly, lazing deer in the background.

From here, there was a hard pull up to Mam na Cloich Airde and the two lochans - a truly beautiful spot with everything an mountain enthusiast could hope to encounter - a worried Meadow Pippit, glacial rock formations, varied flora, 'fools gold' on display and views to amaze...what a wonderful spot it was :)

From here, we dined then moved onto Glen Dessary and camped on a knoll for respite from the midges, tho Davey, Lucy and Craig holed up in A'Chuil bothy - a pleasant enough bothy with character and history no doubt.   Day four saw the students charged up with thoughts of home, chippies and a hot bath.

We set them off with clear navigation warnings and they found the path through the trees, giving access to Gleann Cuirnean and the path under Streap.   They were too quick for us and we briefly lost sight of them up the glen...there wasn't much room for error and we were confident they were ahead but we put Lucy's tracking skills to good use and found them sprinting ahead.   They made the bealach when the rain started and hid behind the cairn, although they felt the cold prior to our arrival.

A quick drop into Glen Finnan warmed them up and they got down to Corryhully bothy in double time for lunch and a heat by the fire.

With only 3km to the viaduct, they were off and running and got to the finish line with 'some' energy to spare, for a well earned seat before Davey gave them a debrief on their excellent efforts.

All in, a fantastic effort by all the students, who can be rightly proud of their sterling efforts and team work to get all to the finish line in one piece.

I hope they enjoyed the journey through Knoydart half as much as I did; it is a wonderful place and will be visited again soon :)

Here's a video collection of pictures giving my photo skills inadequate opportunity to properly reflect Knoydart's beauty.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cobbler sprinting

Mark and Craig had an Alps CPD day on the Cobbler on Friday 1 June after work.  We struck up directly on a bearing to the beallach and got there in an hour.  Midges out, we sprinted down to the base of Recess Route - a great wee climb - and took the first two pitches in jig time...sadly left my camera on my rucksack.

We then traversed over the finished off the last pitch of Incubator before a rush back to the bags.   After a trudge back up to the beallach, we set the watches and raced back to the car, dropping 820m to 150m in 29mins arriving at the car lathed in sweat but mightily happy - now I know (a little) how fell runners feel, but we had climbing sacks on! Great sunsets.

Great day, great climb and good training, feeling good with my efforts after a long day on the Ben.

Allez les Alpes...

Ben Nevis First - with Positive Alternatives

Thursday 31 May saw Craig travelling up Ben Nevis by the Pony Track for the first time with a group of Young People from Positive Alternatives - a group helping disadvantaged young people into employment or training.

The weather was pretty poor with lots of mist and rain but short spells of sun...very intermittently. 

Having never walked the Pony Track, in poor vis, I had to concentrate towards to the summit and keep the young people away from the cornices, but they got there in one piece and hats off to them for the effort.

Sadly the summit is a disgraceful mess and I filled a bag rubbish on the summit and on the way down - too much rubbish dumped and plenty bottles thrown down onto the top section of Observatory Ridge...sad!!

Things didn't improve much on the way down but overall, a good day and well done to all the young people for the efforts expended.