From the Cairn Ban Archives... 

Winter Weekend in the Fannaichs and Strathcarron

Ian Collinson, 6 February 2005

15 minutes into the walk I had to return to the car having realised I'd left my crampons in the car!

4 hours of plodding through peat and then a lot of snow took us to the summit of Sgur nan Each where a window in the weather afforded us some good views and some heavily laden cornices. Sgur nan Clach Gaela saw stronger winds, white-out conditions and a tricky descent down its north face which demanded crampons - just as well I remembered I'd forgotten them! This ridge required more navigation than we've had to use in a while given zero visibility in many places and it turns out that Jerome posseses his very own magic compass implanted within his head / imagination - ‘naw, your GPS is wrong, were here!’ (as points to various parts of the map).

A few notes from this weekends trip:- ‘pppssssshhhhhhhhhht!’ - Bankfoot, nr. Perth - Dry Blackthorn... Campbell, George & Hugh would have been proud of us.

Friday night and after a long drive the Aultguish Inn served us some decent pub grub and surly service as the Bar Man took great delight in constantly advising us how uncomfortable the Bunkhouse would be - what with no heating, facilities or plumbed in wash basins (private story to be told here)... they had a cheek to take £8 off us for the coldest most uncomfortable night I've had in ages and I would not stay here again. Still a large hearty breakfast warmed up spirits and we headed off for the Fannichs.

Magic compasses aside, Meall a' Chrasgaidh was indeed found amidst deep snow and cloud and 9 hours after setting out we all marched back out to witness clearing skies and a pink sunset illuminating the ridges of An Tealleach.

Suicidal stags jumped out in front of the car as we swigged Scrumpy Jack and headed towards the Inchbrae Lodge nr. Ben Wyvis for a slap up meal in a great wee bar - nearly every meal was under a fiver and decidedly filling accompanied by Devannhia Ale, courtesy of Skye Brewery, on tap. We thoroughly recommend this place for supping...

Arriving at Gerry's Hostel, Achnasllach we were greeted by Gerry himself clad in his bathrobe and he pointed out the terrific drying room, good shower and put on a stonking roaring wood fire for us all to relax in front of. We toasted our buns and the day with a Dram and a Digestive!

The night sky was deep black with millions of stars suggesting better weather in Strathcarron the following day... were my illusions of wet Strathcarron about to be blown away? Owls hooted into the night.

2am - the smoke detectors go off, not sure how he managed it but by getting up and going the the drying room (why?) the detectors went off. Neither Gerry or his bathrobe look too chuffed!

Earl Grey and Toasted oatcakes with cheese for breakfast helped set us up for my second attempt on Maol Chean-Dearg in 5 months and this time we were not to be denied! A crisp blue-skied morning heralded the day and a fair pace up the Glen saw us dripping in sweat despite the cold. Alex led the way up gullies for a bit of snow fun which we glissaded down on the descent. The snow was becoming more crisp here and finally the summit gave us great views to Applecross, Skye & the surrounding hills. Fantastic!

At last, a dry day in Strathcarron! The descent saw us strip down to t-shirts as the sun reflecting off the snow gave rise to a hot trek down. Scrumpy Jack, Ardbeg & Chillied Cashews helped us down the road and I truly feel sorry for the upholstery in Alex's car!

Both Jerome and I reported chronic indigestion that night...

Another cracking trip! Cheers,

Ian