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Last updated: 15/10/10


A Meet of Two (or Four) Halves
21-22 June 2008

The 2008 Overnighter consisted of a return visit to Glen Shiel, with the Organiser’s eyes (if not legs) firmly fixed on the North Ridge, preferably all Five Sisters one way or the other. With that in mind, the relatively early start of 10:00 am from Aberdeen, and a couple of Aberdeenshire pick-ups saw a semi-full minibus happily arguing where to stop for lunch all the way to Fochabers – where we did stop, only to find that Mrs Baxter doesn’t believe in the lunch menu before 12 noon.

However, enough was taken in to sustain the party through to Inverness and beyond, and eventually a party of four were dropped off a mile or so up the Glen Garry road, in between a couple of tasty Corbetts. The others were then conveyed further west, to be dropped off at various points down Glen Shiel.

The weather was cloudy, but at a high level, with excellent visibility, and a slight breeze, perhaps not quite enough to keep off the midgies in sheltered nooks. As the evening wore on, the cloud thickened but lowered only slowly, so that most folk had got a good deal done by dusk at around 11pm.

The Corbetteers first nabbed Meall Dubh, after an interesting start over a concrete pitch by Judy M., followed by thick grass, deer fences, more thick grass, and finally an open ridge with a scattering of lochans.

Judy and Andy having fun climbing concrete

Loch Loyne dam from lower slopes of Meall Dubh

Looking down Loch Loyne towards Knoydart

Beinn Loinne sandwiched between Loch Loyne and Loch Cluanie

Windfarm from summit cairn


Andy at the large summit cairn of Meall Dubh

At the summit, with its very fine cairn, a windfarm a mile or so to the east revealed that an ascent of most of the height could, in fact, have been made by road.

The descent was via forestry (with work ongoing at 6:15pm on Saturday evening), back to the packs at the roadside, and a welcome brew-up beneath the Loch Loyne dam.

Forest descent via firebreak

Water being released at Loch Loyne Dam

From there, another desperate ascent through thick (but dry) grass, deer fences, and more thick grass landed Judy, Lydia and Ken T. on the Beinn Loinne ridge at 10pm, while Andy had long since disappeared into the distance, reached the summit and pitched-up just below the trig point.

Judy and Lydia on Beinn Loinne Forest Track

Lydia and Judy having fun



Other tents were pitched at the bealach in the gathering gloom, but with a great view up Loch Cluanie as supper was cooked.
Meanwhile, the others – Peter, Marj and Eilidh - had been dropped off a couple of miles west of the Inn, and proceeded up onto the ridge near Saileag, from where the narrow ridge was followed west. They met Rhona Fraser going eastwards on the slopes of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe.

Eilidh, Peter and Rhona on Five Sisters ridge

She bivvied on Saileag, her Munro number 1000, and a fine achievement.Gathering gloom and strengthening wind eventually encouraged the trio to bivouac (no tents for these stalwarts) for some hours, slightly above the Sgurr Fhuaran - Sgurr nan Saighead col “a stony and windy spot”.

However, Peter had managed to do his two Munros – a matter of some importance since a Second Compleation on Gairich was planned for the following week.

Peter and Eilidh

Peter and Eilidh

Ken B. – not the youngest in the group, and after Friday night in an Aberdeen B&B – set off from Cluanie Inn at about 1530 hrs to bag the so-called Three Brothers, namely Aonoch Meadhoin, Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag by about 2100 hrs, in mainly overcast and still conditions.

Despite the attractiveness of taking the short route off the ridge back to Glen Shiel from Bealach an Lapan, he decided to venture north towards Glenlicht House and Gleann Lichd.

Despite the steepness and bogginess of the corrie, he was able to find a fairly level rock about 250m below the bealach to bivouac on in reasonable comfort until about 0730 the following morning, and by 2200 hrs he was well off the ridge and snuggly in his bivvy bag.

Overnight, the weather broke down completely, with dawn a prolonged, miserable and definitely damp affair. Visibility was down to yards, the wind had got up, and most folk simply took the easiest route out. In the case of the Corbetteers, this involved a traverse of Beinn Loinne, with its fine ridge over the summit (where Andy had chosen to camp), but purgatorial bogs on its long western slopes before the old road down to Cluanie Inn. Ken B. descended over very boggy terrain and through various fast-flowing burns to the track at Glenlicht House, which eventually led out to Morvich at roughly 1015hrs.The other Ridgers had rather steeper and trickier country to contend with, but all made it back to the main road.
Pick-ups by the ever-handy Alec were complicated by an awkward mix of times and places, and by misleading messages via wives (“he’s in the pub” – at 9.30am?! the victim wished that he was!), but eventually all were scooped up, damp, wet or sodden. The weather remaining bad (though some ridge was clearing), the usual Macmillan kaffeeklatsch was abandoned in favour of a return to civilisation in the form of a snack-type lunch at a Lochness-side caff – which restored weary bodies somewhat, enough at least to trigger a snooze or two during the drive home.

The Cluanie Inn - a welcoming sight

Author: Ken Thomson
Photographs: Ken Thomson, Marjory Ewan, Ken Broomfield