Monday, 22 February 2016

Bleasdale Circle fell race - 20 February

A day when it was better to be racing than marshalling but that wasn't our lot today. We did, however, get off quite lightly being located a check point low down out of the worst of the weather and near the start of the race.

Conditions weren't ideal for photographers either and a couple of examples should be enough to show what it was like.

Car parking is in short supply at Bleasdale School and to encourage runners to leave their cars at home there was a discount for anyone who cycled to the race. Clearly it proved attractive to all ages.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Birketts above Dockray - 14 February

A small horseshoe of Birketts sit above Dockray and invite an extension on to the Dodds to make a proper round for the day. The weather was having none of it and settled heavy clouds on the Dodds.

The highest of the two Birketts, Randerside and Birkett Fell, were well above the snow line and above the cloud base too, for much of the day.

1. Bracken How
2. Common Fell
3. Swinside Knott
4. Brown Hills
5. Birkett Fell
6. Randerside
7. High Brow
8. Low How

The first four were perfectly straightforward and provided stunning views of Ullswater and the high fells beyond. Birkett Fell is easy to reach even in low cloud because the wall passes very close to the summit cairn. The route from there to Randerside could have been one of many. Over the Dodds would have been slow and unpleasant because of the wind and the snow. The river and the bog on the direct line between the summits were potentially troublesome so we headed down to Dowthwaite Head to cross the river and have some lunch in the shelter of the valley.

Up out of the valley to Randerside before turning into a snow storm on the way to High Brow and Low How. A fine winter day out and 8 Birketts bagged.


Dowthwaite Head



Head of Ullswater and more

Sheffield Pike


The way down

Pauline descending to Dowthwaite Head

Low How

Randerside Summit


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Loch Linnhe - 11 February

A rainy morning helped us regret a little less that it is time to head home after a great few days.

Loch Linnhe

Sgorr Dhearg - 10 February

Whatever affliction I had yesterday is gone today and the climb out of Ballachulish is far less of a struggle than yesterday's attempt on Am Bodach. Much of the initial ascent is through the forest which isn't ideal although it does provide some shelter from the weather. As we were about to emerge from the trees the snow started and it didn't stop until we descended to them on our return.

Between the showers and before the wind really got up this was a very pleasant Winter day - cold but not unbearable, windy but not troublesome and with occasional views right down to the loch. Above the col between Sgorr Dhearg and Sgorr Dhonuill the wind was blowing spindrift around as we climbed towards Sgorr Dhearg. The wind gained strength as we gained height but it was gaining quicker! On the way up it was a bit of a nuisance but on the way down it made progress quite difficult. Visibility was poor too until we were almost back at the col. As we dropped below the cloud base the wind eased and we were able to enjoy the views we had hoped for when setting off.

The photos show the "before & after" snow, just above the forest.

Before the day's snow

Looking back down to Loch Level

Down out of the blizzard

Looking West

Looking South West

Looking South West

Sgorr Dhonuill

After the snowfall

After the snowfall

Looking back up to Sgorr Dhonuill

Looking back up to Sgorr Dhonuill

Am Bodach - 09 February

On a morning that started out bright and sparkling I felt the very opposite and struggled to keep up with Richard and Pauline. Eventually, about 800 feet below the summit I decided I had slowed them down long enough and "called it a day".

Richard carried on to the summit while Pauline and I trudged back to Kinlochleven, hoping it is only a 24 hour bug I have. I think it may have started yesterday and so hope it will be gone tomorrow.

Sunburst over Garb Bheinn

Pap of Glencoe

South from Am Bodach

Towards Loch Leven

Sgurr an Fhuarain

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Na Gruagaichean - 08 February

Up from the car park in Kinlochleven towards Coire an Locahain and after a bite to eat we decide to avoid the Coire and head for Sgor Eilde Beag.

Initially the climb is fine until we have the  choice of much steeper ground or a very long, only slowly rising traverse which is going to to take us a long way out of our way. As the ground steepens the snow becomes both thinner and icy. Crampons and axes ease an otherwise pretty desperate ascent on steep icy, rock ground - the snow and the frozen turf provide reasonable going but the occasional rocks require care and the Top of Sgurr Eilde Beag is reached without further difficulty. Ahead and above us is the completely clagged-in main ridge which we gain at the South Top (of Binnein Beag).

The going is good along the ridge to Na Gruagaichean despite patches of deep snow, very thin snow 'ledges', and the final steep climb into an uncomfortable wind. Getting down is next and most important part of the day. The Stalker's Path almost directly below the summit is attractive but for the steep ground above it. Leachd Nah-Aire and most of the ridge leading to it are below the cloud base and appear to offer a reasonable route down to the Mamore Lodge track. We decide to try it, following two or three sets of boot prints. Richard has previously descended the end of the ridge and like one of the walkers whose prints we are following we have a look at it and decide it is too dangerous. The side of the ridge provides the final descent we are looking for and we reach Kinlochleven a little after dark.

Snow covered Stob Choire a' Chairn 

Loch Eilde Mor

Richard & Pauline

Loch Eilde Mor


The way we came

Loch Eilde Mor

Glas Bheinn

Loch Eilde Mor

Still taking photos


Loch Eilde Mor

Glen Coe - 07 February

Too wet and windy to do anything outside - almost.

Chimping on a Rainy Day in Glen Coe