Tag Archives: Glencoe

Going wild

After watching @steamingboots film of his winter camp up Beinn a’ Chrulaiste I had become fixated with a similar adventure. Gill had suggested some ideas for the weekend and then on Thursday I asked if the others wanted to camp up a ‘hill’ in Glencoe. I’ve learned to be suitably vague with details.

So after work on Friday we loaded up the car and headed up to Glencoe. After an electric sunset over Rannoch Moor we packed our bags in the failing light and set off for the summit. It was a clear night and despite no moon, our eyes adjusted and we managed without head torches for a good while.

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We weaved our way up through the patches of snow and managed to find a nice grassy spot near the summit to camp.

I’ve been desperate to see the aurora for years and despite several late night dashes to East Lothian, I’ve always returned disappointed. I missed some spectacular displays the previous two nights and was hoping this was going to be my time. Nothing visible to the naked eye or camera lens but still a magical moment as we watched shooting stars and the milky way.

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We were quickly to bed seeking the warmth of our sleeping bags but it was a cold night and we didn’t sleep too well.

The alarm was set for 5.50am to catch the sunrise. I normally struggle with early rises but peeked out my tent and the start of the orange glow and a beautifully calm morning was a winner.

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We warmed ourselves with coffee as the sun slowly spread through our camp, our frosty tents glistening.

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The moment the sun reached our faces reminded me of the Banff Mountain Film Festival winner North of the Sun, although our journey was one night, not nine months!

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The sun warmed Buachaille Etive Mor and it would have been easy to stay put for the day soaking up the panoramic views but we had to crack on with our next adventure – paddle boarding into Barisdale Bay on the Knoydart Penninsula. If I though the wee windy roads north of Assynt were something, the road into Loch Hourn is on a different level!

We hadn’t timed things too well and the combination of an incoming tide and headwind made it look like we might not reach Barisdale Bay. We couldn’t rest and refuel without being pushed backwards and it was energy zapping. We hugged the shoreline and took advantage of where the rock jutted out creating a welcome haven of calm.

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We arrived at Barisdale Bay exhausted but with a real sense of achievement. It is nestled amongst the towering Beinn Sgritheall, Ladhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buide and has a great sense of remoteness.

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Another stunning sunset (with views over to Skye), another perfect morning.

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We started our paddle back with a glassy Loch Hourn, enjoying the sun on our backs and the tide carrying us along. The wind picked up towards the end reminding us nature is boss.

The best memories are the ones we earn and we certainly did that!

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Kinlochleven Easter biking trip

Last year’s Easter biking trip to Torridon was going to be hard to beat. The sandstone mountains burned sienna, the riding was epic and we were blessed with gorgeous spring weather.

This year, driving to Kinlochleven in torrential rain I wish I’d taken the plunge and bought a van.

With the cloud hanging well below the tree line, we decided on a wee pootle around the trails at Nevis.

Thankfully by evening the rain had stopped and we enjoyed the first of our warming fires on the shore of Loch Leven.

Saturday was still dreich but you can’t let the weather dictate so we headed over to Glencoe to tackle the Devil’s Staircase and Ciaran Path. Starting at 300m this is serious bang for your buck when you end up at sea level on the other side.

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We hit the snow line about half way up and carried the bikes but it probably only took about an hour to get up. Then the fun began…….

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Snow biking to start with and then a sweet flowy descent over some chunky rock.

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Before the bottom, we took a right onto a concrete culvert which carries water from Blackwater dam to the power station, and followed it for a few miles to the foot of the dam.

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Riding across the top of the dam was surreal; on the right the distant shores of the reservoir glistened in the sun while on the left was a sheer drop down the face of the dam.

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Then we hit the Ciaran Path which was techy and pretty challenging, especially when we arrived at the waterfall. Matt and Gregor took control and all bodies, bikes and dogs got over safely. Not the time for wearing Sealskinz socks though!

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The weather gods arrived by Sunday morning and we woke to a stunning morning with a glassy Loch Leven. I went out on the paddleboard and it was one of those moments where perfect reflections cause your mind to play tricks and the horizon becomes hard to place. Most folk had a shot on the board although had to be quick before the strong current at the Narrows kicked in.

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We then headed to ride the enduro trails above Kinlochleven. The sun was shining and the climb to Mamore Lodge was hot and sweaty.

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After refuelling a bit further up we continued past the start of the trail to check out the bothy at the start of Loch Eilde Mor for future trips. It was a dump, filled with litter from fishermen.

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This trail was awesome! Rocky and rooty with some committing drops, lines and gullies. I had major thigh burn and adrenaline was in full flow. Thankfully made it down unscathed (unlike some of the bikes) but almost came a cropper a few times. Wow, wow, wow!

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By Monday our legs were weary so we opted for a wee hike into the Hidden Valley and a chilled end to the trip.

I always find myself saying ‘Scotland doesn’t get better than this’ then I go on another trip and say it all over again. Once again awesome scenery, riding and banter.

Thanks to Gregor McMeechan and Rob Kerr for some of their photos