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A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Inverlael & Assynt

30 April - 2 May 2016
Up in the north-west of Scotland lies some of the most stunning scenery in the country. We were heading up several of the highest mountains up here, with Richard leading and me joining for one of the days. Here's Richard tale of the days...

photo 1 I met up with Diane, Eileen, Graham, Malcolm and Pascal at the Inverlael car park to set off on a long walk over the Beinn Dearg hills. It was a bright day and the cloud was lifting off the summits to reveal a substantial amount of fresh snow above 700m. As we worked our way up the beautiful Glen na Squaib beneath the impressive cliffs of Beinn Dearg we decided to head straight for the highest hill as it looked like we might just catch a view from the top! We made good time through the surprisingly deep snow in places and found a fresh trail of footprints heading up to the beallach as the cloud covered the summit again.

After a rest for some food and drink we headed up the north ridge in a very cold wind to reach the summit just as the cloud cleared revealing some great views of the Fannichs and beyond. It wasn't the weather for lingering too long and we were soon climbing the slopes of Cona'Mheall in the sunshine to claim our second summit with a view! Back at the broad beallach we refuelled and walked up the snowy slopes to reach Meall nan Ceapraichean our third summit and another view. We were on a roll though it was getting windier and as we left the cloud blew in with some sleet and hail reducing visibility to zero as we navigated to the descent route to the our last summit for the day. The descent was on really lovely deep snow that made it a very easy and straightforward descent with the sunshine returning along the way.

A final push and we were almost on the summit of Eididh nan Clach Geala our final Munro of the day when a squall of strong winds, snow, ice and cloud engulfed us making it a very brief stay on the top before descending as quickly as we could straight into the wind. It wasn't a pleasant descent as the showers raced in with limited breaks in between leaving us rather damp by the time we reached the path in Glen na Squaib! There was a steady trickle of folk walking back down the glen and everyone was pleased when the sun came out for the last few kilometres to dry us off by the time we reached the cars. A great day and winter was definitely in the ascendency!

photo 2 Our second day saw us meeting up at Inchnadamph where we were joined by Valerie, Judy, Tom and an uncharacteristically late Steven Fallon (Steven - I stupidly thought it was a 9am start and I thought I was early !). The forecast was good with a potential window in the early afternoon that might treat us kindly before wind, rain and sleet were due to spread in so we didn't waste anytime on our approach and were soon climbing the steep flanks of Connival. The snow was patchy and there was much less here than the previous day though some of it was a bit firmer than anything we had met on Beinn Dearg. It was a very fresh wind on the summit ridge as we weaved our way between the rocks and snow fields to the summit and a great view along the connecting ridge to Ben More Assynt. Steven found us a sheltered nook to enjoy some much needed lunch before we traversed the snowy rocky ridge to Ben More Assynt. It was steady going as the terrain was mixed in places making good footwork extremely important.

Unfortunately as we summited the cloud had come in and our views were very limited. After a quick drink we retraced out steps to the sheltered nook for some more food and drink before a windy descent in very dry weather all the way back to the car park. A few minutes down the road and the rain was bouncing off the cars!

photo 1 The weather forecast was not looking very promising with heavy rain overnight and high winds the following day with some heavy snow squalls coming in so we decided to change our plans for the last day. Also our numbers had gone down so I set off for Stac Pollaidh with Diane, Eileen, Valerie and Malcolm. It was quite sunk as we climbed up to the excellent path to the ridge just in time for our first squall of heavy rain. After taking on some food and drink as well as extra clothing we began our scramble to the summit.

The blasts of cold wet weather were intermittent and once established on the north side of the ridge we were protected for a while and even enjoyed the views north over Assynt. Our timing wasn't prefect as we reached the final summit scramble in a vicious hail squall leaving us working as a team to negotiate the difficult last section in a dripping chimney. A quick visit to the summit with a glimpse of a view and much celebrating before retraining our steps to seek shelter on the north side of the mountain. As we settled down for some lunch the sun came out and we had some great views north. To finish the walk we headed round the foot of the mountain on the excellent path to the west and the wind, but as we descended the sun became really quite hot and dried us off by the time we returned to the car park. Everyone was did really well to reach the top in trying conditions and if we had set of a little later maybe we would have been sitting in the sun on the summit, but you never know!

More photos by Richard and myself are here on Flickr.

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