23 April 2014

Ben More (Isle of Mull) the long route with the tasty ridge !

It was billed as probably the most difficult walk I'd ever done and it didn't disappoint on that score.  Before we even got near the flanks of Ben More we'd done a days walk and been up and down 2 peaks but never the less it was a hill that tested and challenged as only those beautiful mountains can........

Up early we left Tobermory and headed down to Grulin where we'd start the walk up to Ben More.  We could see the summit, as we could for most of the day, but knew that we wouldn't be anywhere near its top until later in the afternoon.
 Car parked and bags packed we headed up the path from Dhisaig that would take in Ben More via A'Chioch and Beinn Fhada.

The first part of the walk took us through some boggy ground as we rose higher and higher up the side of the first peak (nothing tickable just a vehicle for getting you closer to the ridge of Ben More)
There were more false summits on this hill than I've ever known and it was a hard and steep slog up but the views made up for all that.  Clear blue skies, a bit of haze but full sun.  Perfect.

It was almost lunchtime when we reached what seemed to be the top so we stopped for a snack break.

The next section would take us up the Graham of Beinn Fhada before heading right towards the steep and rocky slope that we would have to get up and over before we even got to the tasty ridgy bit.  By this point I really didnt think I had the fitness in me to get up and over this beastie and it was messing with my head.  Of course I could do it, only the previous weekend I'd been up and over Tryfan and the Glyders in Wales and they were just as steep in parts.  I'll put it down to having an off day but kept putting one foot in front of the other and made steady progress.
We did infact make quite good progress.  There was a fear that this long walk would take longer and we'd be out as the sun went down but we were motoring on and up and over the last peak before Ben More we were presented with a glorious sight.  A rocky precipitous ridge that looked brilliant.  Scrambly bits and ledgy bits and it all seemed incredibly tempting.  There were several bypass routes below the top ridge and we opted for one of those as after feeling a bit dizzy earlier (probably from the sun) I didnt want to risk it.  I'll be back though.

Like all good ridges it was over all too quick and the final "very" steep bit was the last bit of ascent for the day.  This was airy, rocky and very exposed and a delight to climb through.
This route took us right to the summit and some suprised faces from people (with handbags !!!) who'd come up the "tourist" route and wondered where on earth we'd appeared from.
The summit was flat and rocky and we enjoyed a cadbury's cream egg at the top as it was Easter Sunday. A nice man from Staffordshire took our picture and we made our way over the plateau to the route down.
 After an hour or so of boring shale zig zags we followed a stream as it flowed down the side of the hill remarking at its little pretty waterfalls and having a bit of a splash in the water as the afternoon sun bore down.

It was a right turn then, off the path to take us round the base of the mountain taking us back closer to where the car was parked.  It was a slow and laborious tramp through bog and grass but before long we'd reached the road and was on the final march back to the car.

Faces sunburned and extra water taken on board we had had a great day.  As usual it was full of challenges, scardy bits, funny bits, good bits, bad bits but most of all another munro was conquered!

13 April 2014

Tryfan & The Glyders

Out of the door at 6.30 and we’re heading for Wales for a day which could go either of 2 ways.  Would the BBC weather forecast finally get it right or will be be robbed of our day on the hills?  Only time will tell and as we headed towards Wales we had a right mixture of weather.

It was dry at least when we arrived at the Ogwen Valley car park and already other early birds were hauling rucksacks out of their cars in anticipation of their days adventure.  Our adventure would take us up Tryfan then down and up Bristly Ridge or Scree (yet to be decided) and then over to Glyder Fach and finally over to Glyder Fawr before descending down through the Devil’s Kitchen and back to the car.
The cloud was laying low as we headed up the path towards that beautiful rocky peak and it was a great path.  Swirling cloud brought glimpses of Bristly ridge and before long we were passing Llyn Bochlwyd aka Australia Lake.

 It wasn’t long before we were at the plateau area between the Bristly bit and the steep flanks of Tryfan.  A sharp left hand turn we were on the mountain and almost immediately in and amongst the rocks.
We couldn’t see the summit as there was a thick blanket of cloud all around obscuring all views in front, behind and to the side.  Clambering through the rocks was as much fun as I remember and before long we reached the rocky plateau where Adam & Eve stood.  No jumping today mainly because I have no idea how I would get up there with my little short legs and also it was pretty breezy. 
There were about 20 people on top and we didn’t stick around long as we still had a long day ahead of us so after obligatory pictures had been taken it was off down the rocks again until we were at the middle plateau where we decided to give Bristly Scree a go.  I’d come down this previously and it was a nightmare akin to snowboarding on shale so going up couldn’t be that bad, could it.  Well actually it wasn’t that bad at all owing largely to Chris carving out a route that largely kept us on larger rocks.  It was only at the top that we encountered most of the loose and slippy shale and it was hard going but the fact that the sun had come out and the views behind us of Tryfan and the Carneddau were magnificent.
 At the top, finally it was a short hop over to the Cantilever stone and then a scramble onto the top of Glyder Fach.  The views had really opened up now and the landscape looks more lunar than welsh countryside but all that rock is a delight to be amongst, simply beautiful.
 The next part of the route took us over to the Castle of the winds and then on the path up onto Glyder Fawr. The wind had really gotten up now and it had turned chilly again.  We stopped for a bite to eat just under the castle and kept as sheltered as we could but it wasn't long before we were up and on the path again.
Glyder Fawr was just as rocky and then we had the delight of coming down through the devils kitchen.  A slippy and loose descent but we just kept one foot in front of the other and the sun throwing shadows over the surrounding peaks made the views just fantastic.
Soon the sun was dipping and the walk was coming to an end.  Around by the Idwall Slabs and we circled the square and were back on the path down to the car park but not before 1 last glimpse of that magnificent peak that is Tryfan, glowing in the evening sun.
Back at the car park and changing shoes and trousers for the drive home we were joined by this little fellow who seemed really friendly and only flew away when we started up the engine and reversed out of the car park.
 Great day in the Ogwen Valley !