The first meet since the start of Foot and Mouth. First the Coulin estate barred access to the Ling Hut, then the local council closed the Torridon campsite, so the only choice left was the Youth Hostel.
was first to arrive, on Good Friday, and made the most of the day by ascending
the eastern top of Liathach. Further progress along the ridge was barred
by snow and ice. Meanwhile, the rest of us were sat in various traffic jams
for most of the day. Alan, Carmen and I were part of a 30 mile queue south
of Dalwhinnie, caused by a disinfectant point set up as a precaution against
FMD. After over 2 hours almost stationary, the police closed the disinfectant
point, which got the trffic moving but rather defeated the purpose of the
thing in the first place. Annie had chosen to go up the west coast, and
met several shorter hold-ups, with the result that we arrived almost at
the same time, some 12 hours after leaving York (it's normally a 7-8 hour
Saturday was dull and overcast, with a strong wind and occasional showers. We didn't let this stop us however, and set off up Beinn Damh, a Corbett with fine views over Torridon. We had to disinfect our boots as we left the road, but other than that there were no access restrictions. Of course, we saw nothing of the promised views, though it turned out less windy and wet than forecast.
On Sunday Gordon set off on the journey home, while the rest of us ignored the weather and went up Beinn Eighe. On the 4 mile walk in we were alternately lashed by rain and horizontal hail, but stubborn as ever none of us wanted to suggest turning back. As we reached the corrie at the foot of the famous Triple Buttress the rain turned to snow and the wind increased, but after some discussion we decided to plough on, to turn back at the col if conditions deteriorated.
The ascent turned out to be harder than expected, with old hard snow and ice filling the normal ascent gully, so since Annie didn't have axe or crampons we diverted onto the rocks at the side and scrambled safely to the col. Conditions were not as bad as feared so we continued to the summit, but decided against traversing any of the ridge due to the ice and snow and returned the way we had come.
The descent of the gully was 'interesting', and Annie's celebrations on our arrival back in the corrie echoed round the cliffs as she collapsed in a heap in the snow! A couple of hours saw us back at the road.
On Easter Monday Annie headed off for a few days in Skye, while Alan Carmen and I decided on a short walk up Sgurr Dubh. This hill lies just above the Ling Hut, and the Coulin Estate had announced that access was being restored the previous day.. The walk took us past the hut (a look through the windows revealed it to be very basic, but in a superb location), then we struck off up hill towards the summit. The going was very rough and took much longer than expected, thougb we delayed by playing about on the rocks near the summit which gave a fine but exposed scramble. The weather was the best of the weekend - very cloudy, but dry and with the cloud base above the tops, so at least we got to see some of the hills. We eventually returned to the car over 5 hours after setting off - not bad for a 3 mile walk!
Despite the poor weather it was a great weekend, and good to get back on the hills after so many weeks.