Friday, 21 December 2012

Monday, 26 November 2012

Nant Rhys Bothy walk.

On Friday my brother a I went for a much needed day out. Its been months since I've visited the hills, so a trip to Nant Rhys Bothy in Mid Wales, gave us a gentle walk with an interesting objective.

We left the car in Cwmystwyth and followed the old track that climbs up the valley to the west of Yr Allt.

As the track descended towards the Afon Diliw, we enjoyed the low winter sunshine.

We crossed the foot bridge and followed the bridleway which lead to the bothy. Considering the floods we'd seen on the journey up from Worcestershire, the river was  surprisingly low and clear as it gurgled its way towards of Aberystwyth. But this tranquillity scene was not to last!

Nant Rhys Bothy is a real gem, there are two rooms downstairs the one with a stove, chairs, and sleeping platforms looks very cosy,  plus another bedroom, upstairs.

Outside there is a wood store, complete with saw horse, plus the luxury of a one hole compost toilet.
The walk back from the bothy was quite an eye opener!
The presence wind turbines which we'd tried to ignore on our way to the bothy was quite overpowering, particularly the noise from the turbine blades which almost completely blotted out the sound of the Afon Diliw, what was even worse were the shadows from the rotating blades flickering on the trees. If this had been the windows of my house it would driven me completely bonkers in a very short space of time. And this was from turbines that were about 500 yards away!!!!!

Once clear of the wind turbines, we had a enjoyed the remainder of the walk back to the car and although we got slightly damp from a short sharp rain shower any discomfort was more than offset by this beautiful rainbow.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Negative equity?

Always a good source of facts about the wind industry and its interesting ways of distorting the truth, Dougal Quixote came up with this item on house prices.
His post "The Desecration of Scotland" is also well worth a read, and contains this link showing the concentration of turbines being installed in Galloway, not a pretty site to those who love this part of the country!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dougal Quixote strikes again.

 Dougal Quixote describes himself as "Slightly mad. Always believes a cup is half full so continues to tilt at Wind Turbines and the politicians that seem to believe it is their god given right to ruin Scotland for a pot of fool's gold".

 His Windfarmaction blog is always worth a read, but I thought todays video offering called Arcadia, was particularly good, click here to see more.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Failed again!

Not a good start to the day, I’ve been failing miserably to upload my favourite wild camping picture to the competition on Martins Summit and Valley Blog  

So no chance of winning an Osprey Grab Bag for me then!

If I had been successful, this is the image I would have submitted.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

It's only money!

In order to avoid any nasty shocks when I received next winters fuel bill, my electricity supplier has advised me to review my direct debit payments.

It’s good to know that the money from our ever increasing energy bills is being spent wisely! Click here to find out more.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Blackrock Cottage Part 3.

When I stepped outside the hut on Sunday morning, the cloud was down to about 600m on the Buchaille, and it was trying to snow. It also looked pretty grey and gloomy over Rannoch Moor, but there were some patches of thinner cloud and the odd hint of blue sky, which looked promising for later.

Over breakfast we came to the conclusion that, the best weather would be found towards the coast today. A number of our group were set on Ben Starav, but we thought there was a good chance of cloud at that height, so we decided on Beinn Trilleachan which at 839m is significantly lower, and hopefully would remain below the cloud base.

The drive down Glen Etive is always inspiring with so many famous peaks on view. Unfortunately, the wooden fence surrounding the house at Dalness is a blot on the landscape, but once past this eye sore, stunning views continue.

The end of the road has changed quite a bit since they started logging trees in Glen Etive Forest. There’s a gate across the road, a new car park and the old pier has been modified, so the timber can be shipped out via Loch Etive.

It’s great to see the bare hillside emerging after being hidden for so long. When I first came to this part of Scotland in the mid 60’s, the forests along the A82 and in this area were just being planted, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see them being felled!

We took the boggy path along the edge of the forest until we reached a height of about 200m, then turned left and climbed the south west shoulder of the hill. The going was quite steep with very little sign of a path, as we found our way through the low rocky out crops until we reached the first top, Meall nan Gobbhar. 
Although the going was steep, we were both finding it easier than the last two days, the views were excellent, and the weather was better than we’d expected. There were occasional snow showers blowing across the glen, but fortunately most of them missed us on Beinn Trilleachan.

The ridge now became easier to follow; keeping well clear of the impressive drops above the Trilleachan Slabs we made our way to the rocky peak at of 767m. From here we descended 70m through broken slabs, which looked awkward from above, but turned out to be quite straight forward, to a bealach.

Form the bealach it was just a plod to the summit. The temperature was now dropping steadily, as a cold wind brought in more cloud and snow showers from the north.

It was too cold to linger on the top. So, anxious to get out of the wind we ate a quick snack then started down. As we returned along the summit ridge, the cloud gradually covered Ben Starav, making us feel rather smug about our choice of peak for today. Once off the ridge we were reasonably sheltered, so we meandered contentedly down through the crags until we reached the forest edge, which we followed back to the road.
Another brilliant day!

Monday, 28 May 2012

It doesn’t come much better than this!

Family events are preventing me from visiting the hills this week, so I’ve had to settle for a couple of hours on the bike each day. But with the Worcester countryside starting only 200 metres from my front door, cycling along narrow lanes in the sun is the next best thing.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Blackrock Cottage Part 2.

Having recovered from our previous day’s excursion on Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh, we decided today we would be a good day to have a look at Meall Lighiche. It lies south of Glencoe and is surrounded by other hills, so we hoped given good weather, we’d be treated to excellent views of Sgor na h-Ulaidh, Bidean nam Bian and the Ballachulish Horseshoe.
We left the car by the side of the A82 (at NN119564) and took the farm track to Gleann-leac-na-muidhe. Just before you reach the buildings there are signs instructing walkers to follow a path of poorly constructed of stepping stones, which bypass the farmhouse. Presumably this is to keep the nasty mountaineers well away from the lovely locals. These diversions seem to be on the increase in Scotland; I’m not sure how legal they are, but they’re very irritating and do nothing to encourage harmony between landowners and visitors.
Back on the main track again, as we cleared the farm buildings, we began to get super views of the Aonoch Eagach ridge behind and Meall Lighiche in front.

We continued up the track until we reached the Allt na Muidhe. The water was very low, so we bolder hopped across to the west bank and followed it upstream for a few minutes, before heading towards the north ridge of Creag Bhan.  After the initial climb to a saddle, we went to the right of the next small hump before re-joining the ridge.

The ridge is made up of steep grassy terraces and as with most Corbetts no sign of a path.

At last we came to the top of Creag Bhan but of the small cairn which is supposed to mark the top, there was no sign.

From here you can see the summit of Meall Lighiche and the views were brilliant!

The final ridge follows a line of iron fence posts to the top.

After a leisurely lunch near the summit, it was time to tear ourselves away from the wonderful views and descend. We were tempted to find a way down the northern slopes of the hill, but eventually we took the easy option and returned via our route of ascent. The way back is quite straight forward, but would need care in poor conditions, as there are some impressive drops on the east side of Creag Bhan.
Back at the river crossing, we sat basking in the sun and considered how someone can enthusiastically rent their holiday cottage to walkers, but object other walkers using the track past their farm house?

We felt the logic didn’t stack up, if we’d chosen to cycle to the end of the vehicle track, we’d have been entitled under Scottish access law to ride past the farmhouse anyway! So we determined that on the way down we’d keep to the road and see what happened.
As luck would have it, we arrived at the path just as the landowner came out of his barn, he shouted a cheery hello, but as soon as we passed the diversion he pointed out that we’d missed the path! My brother without breaking his stride, said “ah I’m glad we’ve bumped into you, could provide us with details of your holiday let”? To this our trusty landowner replied “oh in that case PLEASE come THIS WAY we NEVER away a BUSINESS opportunity”!

So we collected a business card from his wife, expressed our regrets that we couldn’t accept a guided tour of the cottage, as we were far too muddy, and carried on our way!

Maybe only a small victory, but it had us smiling all the way back to the car. If we come this way again we will be on our bikes, it will be interesting to see what the guy has to say for himself then!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Blackrock Cottage Part 1.

When we left my house in Worcestershire the rain was hammering down; it was still raining in the Lakes, but it finally stopped as we passed over Beattock summit.

I used to love this piece of road in the 60’s and 70’s, driving north after leaving work we’d arrive here well after dark. If we were lucky and the night was clear, the stars would look amazing as we headed in to the transport cafe for a bacon and egg sandwich and a mug of tea. Now the old cafe has long gone, bulldozed when they built the new motorway, and the skyline is obscured by overpriced, inefficient wind turbines which seem to be creeping ever closer to junction 13 and Tinto.

As we approached Glasgow, the early afternoon traffic on the M8 was moving well; and before we knew it we were peak spotting, as we drove through the Arrochar Alps.
When we arrived in Inveraray the weather was unbelievable, clear blue skies, bright sunshine and no wind. We booked into the SYHA for the night, then headed off for a fish supper at Mr Pia’s fish and chip shop in West Main Street (£6.50 and highly recommended).

The next morning we drove up Glen Orchy in fine weather and parked by the Bailey bridge at (NN242320), which is the starting point for Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh.

We crossed over the bridge and walked up the track for about 2km where it reaches a pleasant meadow surrounded by trees. Here there's a sign pointing to a footbridge over the Allt Broighleachan.


The normal way up the mountain crosses this bridge and follows the track for about 200 metres until it reaches a footpath which branches off left, this excellent path is followed for another 2km where it terminates at a stile by some ruined shielings.

By the time we reached this stile I was knackered! Our recent trip to Mallorca (trip report under construction) had left me with a chesty cough, that and a lack of exercise in last few weeks, meant I was really struggling! This general malaise wasn’t helped by the fact that we had managed to turn off the upward track in the wrong place, and had spent ages ploughing over boggy, rough ground, before regaining the delightfully smooth upward track 500m short of the stile.

As we sat eating our lunch the mountainside in front (foreshortened in the photograph) looked very steep, I'd had enough, but my brother was keen to continue, so we set off up the hillside. It was absolute purgatory, I had no energy, my legs were burning and I couldn’t seem to take enough air into my clogged up lungs.

I probably stopped about every 10 metres on the way up this slope, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to turn around and go back to the car, but for some reason I carried on. The only time I’ve ever been more exhausted, was on the final approach to the Bertol Hut a few years ago, but then I was above 3000 metres, climbing on steep wet snow, in mist and sleet.

Eventually after what seemed an age we reached the crest of the ridge at about 720m, from there to the summit turned out to be easier angled plod.

The views from the summit were superb, but unfortunately I seem to have been too knackered to take any photographs!

The descent is quite straight forward: first, go north east towards a small lochan, then south down the grassy slopes to the stile by the shielings. Then follow the path back to the road, avoiding any unnecessary diversions into the forest.

Back at the car we drank a well-earned can of beer, and both agreed it had been a very tough but interesting walk.