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Last updated: 15/10/10


A Mixture and a Fright!
28-29 March 2008

A mixed bag foregathered at Bridge of Orchy for the traditional “Easter” meet in 2008 – Donald Hawksworth and Sheila Murray in the hotel itself, Alex and Davie in the hotel bunkhouse, and 14 - Ken, Lydia, Colin, Marj, Fred, Stephen, Garry, Carol, Margaret (Carol’s Mum), Gordon, Alec, Jim, Tegwen and Guy - in the chintzy three-tier Sleeper Bunkhouse, aka the railway station. After a chilly week across Scotland, snow was down to about 2000 feet, and the hills looked great though the forecast was not too encouraging. Colin, Garry, Carol and Margaret had set the pace by arriving earlier, and doing Meall a’Bhuiridh above (or rather, in!) the Glencoe ski area on the Friday, though with not much of a view.

Three-tier bunks

On Saturday morning, individuals and couples spread out to do their own thing, with varying degrees of eventual success. Marj was off early via Coire Achaladair for the twin-peaked Munro Beinn a’Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach, but eventually found herself in a white-out on the col over to Coire a Ghabhalach, and decided that discretion was the wiser course. She retreated after giving directions to a passing Jack Russell for whom she felt sorry.

Tegwen and Guy went straight out of the bunkhouse for Ben Dorain via Coire an Dothaidh, to be followed later by Alex and Davie; they found similar bad conditions up on the ridge. While Alec and Davie, powered by mobile phone GPS, made it to the summit, the other two found it impossible to judge their footing in the white-out, and beat a prudent retreat, probably only yards from the summit.

Ken and Lydia had an exciting time in Glen Etive doing the Corbett Stob Dubh on grass and snow steep enough to justify a rope (see pic). While enjoying sight of the local eagle, a few deer, a little sun on the way up, and even a view from the top, worsening conditions in the afternoon suggested a retreat down the SW ridge rather than the more normal circuit via Beinn and Allt Ceitlein.

Cap’n Belcher and his flotilla, Garry and Stephen, went down Glen Orchy for some dangerous-looking canoeing in Canadian Opens from Eas Urchaidh down to Dalmally; they were seen off by Jim, who then penetrated the forest to the west by little known tracks, to succeed on the relatively remote Corbett Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh.

Gordon and Colin tackled Stob a’Choire Odhair and then Stob Ghabhar north-west of Forest Lodge, being followed at a decent interval by Alec, who also wanted a nostalgic visit to the GUM Club hut in Glen Shira. All three found conditions up high quite testing, but commendably all three managed the summit.

Carol and Margaret also started off for Ben Dorain, and were seen by the other four heading up the ridge around 1.30pm; but by 6pm they had not turned up back at the bunkhouse, and Garry swopped his swimming suit for mountain gear to go up to the col for a sighting, and hopefully a mobile signal. This turn of events cast something of a shadow over the hotel meal, which was nevertheless enjoyed despite the empty chairs. Perhaps not much should be said in public print about the rest of the evening and night; suffice it to say that both ladies were in their bunks at 7:30 the next morning, apparently none the worse for wear but (it is to be hoped) a little wiser in the ways of Scottish weather in winter.

What with all the above, the missing hour as the clocks went back, and a pretty dreich west-coast Sunday morning, plans were vague as the author of these lines set off for home that day. However, reports have come in of “an interesting flog” up Beinn a'Chrulaiste behind the Kingshouse Hotel, and “micro navigation west of Tyndrum”, so clearly not everyone was too tired!

Author: Ken Thomson