Regular follower of this blog (hello Mum) will know that my year is punctuated by regular get-togethers with a band of accomplices of some 30 years standing. One such is the late winter so-called ‘Boys Weekend’. Very few of those who attend could honestly pass muster as ‘boys’, some being of the wrong gender, and others being a tad long in the tooth.
This year we once again stayed at the Suie Lodge Hotel and I’m sure we’ll be back again next year, because the food and the welcome are always excellent.
The forecast for the weekend didn’t promise much, but the Saturday morning brought at least some gaps in the cloud, and some fleeting glimpses of the obviously snow-plastered ridge leading to Meall na Dige and eventually Stob Binnein. A large contingent of our group set-off, much like we had last year, along the old Oban-Callander railway line and then up the valley of the Ledcharrie Burn.
We were heading for Lochan Eireannaich, from where, last year, strong winds persuaded us to turn West and up the Stob. This time we were intending to head East on the ridge, possibly as far as one or both of the Corbett’s in that direction.
The snow conditions were a bit odd, seeming almost to go from no snow cover at all to deep floundering drifts with little transition between. We stopped for a bite of lunch by Rob Roy’s Putting Stone (it’s much bigger and more impressive than this photo suggests).
We were a bit surprised when a huge party of teenaged Americans walked past our lunch spot and then back past us again five minutes later.
Leum an Eireannaich – the Irishman’s Leap.
The Hardman found us a route which bypassed the huge crag of Leum an Eireannaich taking us up to the unnamed (on the OS map anyway) point 789 (same height as Watson’s Dodd in the Lake District – is it a bit sad that I remember that, but can’t remember people’s names?). I knew by then that I had had enough, and I left the others to follow the ridge East and struck out to the North on the long ridge towards Creag Ghlas.
The walk that followed was a bit odd, at least at first. I was in the cloud and, with white in every direction, I found it very difficult to judge distances and also the gradient ahead. I knew from the map that this was the gentlest of descents, but on more than one occasion I found myself thinking that I had left the ridge, judging the slope below me to be too steep. I found myself checking a compass bearing repeatedly for reassurance. In the event, the ground never did turn out to be as steep as I had thought it.
Aside from the regular bearings, I had the additional comfort of the fact that a large group had clearly already come this way. To begin with, the snow was firm and a pleasure to walk on, but as I lost height I was pleased that somebody else had broken a trail for me.
Eventually, I dropped out of the cloud again, and leaving the ridge just short of Creag Ghlas, had a very pleasant walk back to the Hotel.
On the Sunday, we climbed Ben Venue. The weather once again started reasonably brightly, but we knew that the forecast was for it to turn to rain. And it did.
It was grand to be out, as ever, but I think I need to come back in better weather to get a fair view of Ben Venue and its charms.
I don’t seem to have taken many photos. There’s a fuller account of the day on Andy’s post here. (Very lazy of me that, I know. but then, I have a talent for laziness.)