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Last updated: 15/10/10


Chance encounters, and snow
18-19 April 2008

The Cannich meet on 18th-19th April was a small one, attended officially only by the two of us. On Saturday, however, while waiting at the Glen Strathfarrar gate for the 9am opening, we came across Neil Cromar, who was up for the day. The three of us then made off to climb the Strathfarrar Munros, starting with “no. 2” (Carn nan Gobhar) and walking west. The weather was not exactly as advertised (“dry in the north, with excellent visibility towards the west”) but cloudy, and drizzle/hail and a biting cold wind met us towards the top of the glen.


After a steep ascent towards the first summit, we were greeted with a disconcerting white-out on a whaleback ridge. Eventual recourse to a map and then a compass revealed that travelling north-east rather than due west (as the intended horseshoe had suggested) stood a greater chance of landing us at the summit, and at last we reached the cairn of Carn nan Gobhar, for an uncomfortable lunch.

Sgurr na Lapaich from Carn nan Gobhar

Ridge W from Sgurr Fhuar-thuill

On descending to the bealach, the weather cleared, revealing all the tops along the Strathfarrar chain cloaked in snow. Also revealed was the fact that we were not alone, as several groups of like-minded souls could be seen dotted about the ridge. And indeed, after a fine climb up to the summit, the first there (Ben) was reduced to cairn no. 3 on Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais, the others being occupied. Neil then bailed out for home, while Ben and Ken traversed as far as Sgurr Fhuar-thuill before an exciting snow descent to the walk-out down the Allt Toll a’Mhuic and the even longer hike back along the road to the car. Indeed, as the witching hour of 6pm approached, only a friendly lift for the last mile may have saved us from being locked in for the night!

In the (rather chilly) bunkhouse, we had a jovial encounter over dinner in the evening with a female officer for Suicide Prevention Scotland. Difficult though it may be to imagine how our conversation could possibly be entertaining, we were permitted to leave the table, for our respective rooms, only after assuring her that we had only positive thoughts for the night and day ahead!

On Sunday we set off for Glen Cannich, parking below the reservoir. As we started to fit into our boots, a face appeared, at a near-by tent, which turned out to belong to Claire (the meet organiser!), up with Kenny. They had had an epic 10-12-hour marathon along all the North Mullardoch hills on Saturday, and were not bubbling with vitality at 8:30am on Sunday! But at least that made five members, in all.

West from Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais

Carn nan Gobhar summit ridge

Wind-chill was again a significant feature on our ascent up the Cannich Carn nan Gobhar, and some of our legs felt a bit weary. However, the sun shone throughout the day, giving splendid views as the high cloud lifted off Sgurr na Lapaich immediately to the west, and many other hills further afield. And this time we saw not another soul - but plenty of deer, and some ptarmigan. We hope that the photos show what was missed by those who backed out!

Authors: Ben Mellor and Ken Thomson