The Corriemulzie Mountaining Club (CMC) is a group of folk who were associated with St Andrews University in the late 1960s and 70s – students, postgraduates and staff. We wandered the hills and pubs of the Highlands staying mostly in bothies, had various epics of one kind or another and formed lasting friendships. Several meets each year are organised by Liz, our wonderful general factotem, including our autumn dinner meet in Ullapool. We’ve gone soft as we’ve got older though and now stay in a hotel rather than camp.
Obviously, November in the North-West is a bit risky for weather but we’ve had a range of conditions from the predictable downpours to crisp snow and sunshine, last year on Ben Hee.
I had a meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday (coincidentally with Hillary Sillitto, a lapsed CMC member who works in systems engineering like me and who has recently started his own consultancy business) so I headed north on the A9 on Friday. The day dawned well but a bit north of Pitlochry the showers started. The sun was still shining though – fabulous autumn colours and a double rainbow.
The A9 was its usual horrible self with slow lorries and painful progress to Inverness. By the time I got onto the road to Ullapool, the rain was a bit more serious although there was a glint of better light on An Teallach.
Saturday wasn’t bad – dry with high cloud so it was fine for a day on the hill rather than a low level walk. We’ve been going to Ullapool for a while and have done most of the well-known hills so we headed for Glas Bheinn, which is on the opposite side of the glen from Quinag. We took two cars – leaving one at Inchnadamph and parking by Loch na Gainmhich, where we started up the hill. It was quite still on the lower slopes but as we got higher, the wind strengthened and it was pretty cold. We had clear views of the Sutherland hills from the top but sadly no sunshine. But we did manage a group photo on the top.
Sutherland is a magnificent landscape of strange hills and lochs and lochans where the ancient rocks are always close to the surface. It’s one of my favourite places to visit, whatever the season. This picture captures some of the essence of the landscape.
As we approached the top, we saw a couple leave and set off down. But when we were sitting around the cairn, they came back and went off in the opposite direction. This seemed a wee bit strange but thought no more about it as we set off along the ridge to descend to Inchnadamph. The weather was worsening with the mist blowing in when we met them again and it was clear that they hadn’t a clue where they were going (although they did have map, compass and GPS!). We pointed them in the right direction and set off down to Inchnadamph. We did daft things in the hills when we were younger but we always had an approximate idea where we were going.
We headed down and the weather was clearly worsening with the mist blowing in from the north. As we got to Loch Fleodach Coire, the rain came on in earnest and Inchndamp would have been a more appropriate name than Inchnadamph. It would have been nice to have had a pint by the fire but the hotel was closed for the winter so it was a cold snack in the hotel porch instead.
Back to Ullapool for pints, dinner and catching up with folk that we hadn’t seen for a while. After a leisurely breakfast, I headed south on Sunday, with my pal Bill, who was going to Perth. The weather on the way home was frustratingly good but I had to be in York for 3 days so had no time to stop for a walk.