Having checked out the weather forecast for the weekend we were left with no alternative. Alarm set for 5 am, it was a ridiculously early start (all the more so for those of us on holiday!) in order to head for Spean Bridge.
These have been on Bruce’s radar for a few years now, but have always escaped his clutches due to bad weather. Not today though. The very warm weather followed us west and it was near 20C when we left the car. Way too hot for my liking! Suncream clarted on, sunhat and full sleeves/long trousers, I was a’ the bash!
First up, a good track took us to meet the wee minister, a carved wooden statue that watches over the glen. He was somewhat larger than anticipated, not really that wee!
This good track continued climbing very gradually allowing us to gain a few hundred metres in height. Reaching the Lairg Leacach Bothy, we stopped for a sandwich, only realising at this point how long it had already been since breakfast.
Onwards, the wide stream was easily crossed thanks to the spate of recent dry weather. We even had a few sheep pick their way over the stones ahead of us to show the best route. A small cairn then marked the track off up the hill and footprints could be found in the grass to indicate the pull up the side.
This faint path swept round to the shoulder, a good path then pulling us along the ridge and up onto the summit of Stob Ban. This final ascent was steep, but the zig zagging path meant there was nothing too taxing involved. Always good on the first summit of the day!
Continuing on, we had to descend via a steep scree slope. Oh, how I love scree! I debated in my head whether I have more affinity towards scree or scrambling; the decision has not yet been reached. Maybe scrambling is preferable?!
The flatter bealach was fairly easily reached as there wasn’t too much drop overall. This was good as it obviously meant not too much ascent to reach our second summit, Stob Coire Claurigh. There was a good path up this so we made decent progress and before long had reached the top with stunning views along the ridge.
Although it had been a little windy at times, we’d managed to dip in and out of it with the odd bit of shelter as we’d progressed. However, as the ridge opened up the wind also appeared to pick up. We were increasingly buffeted, more so as we moved along, and it was at this time that Bruce’s Buff cap blew away! How very frustrating, particularly given that it was it’s first outing! To make matters worse, it didn’t just blow away, it soared upwards, tantalisingly floating around for some time before coming to rest somewhere down the rocky slope, far out of our reach.
The ridge took in three further tops before reaching Stob Coire an Laoigh. Due to the wind we weren’t greatly inclined to linger. I was, by this point, getting a little fed up of being blasted and the ridge, although not exceptionally steep at the sites, was enough to make me uncomfortable in these conditions. Reaching the top of Stob Coire Easain I therefore decided to sit the next one out – quite literally.
While Bruce continued on to Sgurr Choinnich Mor, I sat in a sheltered position behind the cairn. It was amazing how even in the mild temperatures I cooled quickly, and before too long I had both jacket and gloves on while seeing Bruce finally reach the shoulder ridge on his ascent. It took around 90 minutes for him to return and I was glad to see him reappear, particularly as my Raynauds had kicked in and my fingers were cold and painful, despite the rest of me feeling okay.
I very quickly warmed up again on moving and we followed a path across a minor peak, Beinn na Socaich, before descending via a grassy slope with vague hints of footprints here and there. The stream at the bottom was easily crossed, again thanks to the recent dry conditions, and it was then the long slog back to the car, fortunately on good fire roads which made it less arduous.
Finishing our day, reflecting as we walked, I was happy with my lot – again quite happy to miss a peak as I’m not ‘bagging’ so don’t really care about the numbers – while Bruce was delighted; as they’ve been on his radar for a few years and now they’ve finally been done!