Sunday, 23 May 2010

Give Me The Hills!

Set off early on Saturday for what promised to be a great day on Ben Alder. Up before the alarm at 4.30, I was at Dalwhinnie crossing gates for 6.30 and then the cycle into Culra. I was at the summit of Ben Alder by 10.30 having taken the Long Leachas ridge to the plateau. I'd enjoyed the mild scrambling and the sunshine on the ridge. By contrast there was no sun at the summit - clouds had come in from the west, providing a thin veil which the sun was unable to penetrate.

On and down to the Bealach Breabag then the pleasant ridge along to Beinn Bheoil by 12.30. I'd been fortunate to see four ptarmigan - including one apparently lone female on the plateau, then a pair and lone male on the second Munro - followed by a pair of dotterel as I left the cairn.

I was back at the car by 15.30 after a memorable day.

On Sunday I had decided to continue painting the outside windows on my cottage. This has been an ongoing project since 2002, the property being (I suspect) a typical hillwalker's house, suffering from a certain lack of attention from the paintbrush.

With the rain on I decided to head for B&Q and realised why I like the solitude of the hills so much. The crowd was so great there was even a queue for the shopping trolleys.

'Give Me The Hills' I thought, with thanks of course to Syd Scroggie.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Signs on the Corryhully Horseshoe - Helping Who?

You may remember the comments in the media last year about waymarking on the hills - apparently considered by some commentators as an ideal solution for helping out hill walkers who might not be able to navigate with confidence. That debate seems to have died down - although there's bound to be a resurgence when we get into the political recess this summer!

I was out last weekend on the Corryhully Horseshoe, and surprised to find some neat little directional signs had been provided, presumably by the estate, to direct walkers on to the ridge. Sure enough, the signs pointed to the start of the stalkers path up Sgurr nan Coireachan, and to the start of the ridge heading up Sgurr Thuilm, where I headed.

Talking in the MCofS office this afternoon, it occured to me that placing these 'helpful' signs will help some, but also put off others who might wish to exercise their rights of access to all parts of these wonderfull hills. While many will be content with ticking the munros others, with the bothy close-by, may wish to enjoy a different type of experience and wander off that beaten track around the ridge.

Next day, it was down to Glen Creran and Beinn Fionnlaidh. Many would consider this a dull hill, but it's a fantastic viewpoint, albeit a bit of a plod to a rather reticent summit. On the approach there were helpful signs on the tarmac road put up by the landowner (public to the left, private straight-on) obviosuly done at some expense. But there, by a brand new gate with a smaller side-gate for walkers, was a rather crinkly 'CAUTION - STALKING IN PROGRESS' poster in its own glass case!

Whilst I had a fantastic 2 days on the hill, I can't help feeling that we have to keep the SOAC and our rights to access front of mind, even after 5 years has elapsed since the land reform legislation was enacted.