Showing posts with label Ben Nevis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ben Nevis. Show all posts

23 August 2014

Soggy socks on the Ring of Steall !

A bank holiday in August in Scotland sounded like the perfect idea and it was.  Regardless of the iffy weather predictions and the threat of sleet and worse we headed north and after a day of basking in the wonder that is Glencoe and dining out at our favourite watering hole – The Clachaig Inn we woke early on Saturday morning for a big day out in the hills.

The Ring of Steall was our target and we knew it was going to be a toughie but first we had to contend with the metal rope bridge but what a reward behind it with the Steall Falls falling from what looked like the sky to the ground.

Metal bridge dealt with (achy arms after for me) and then we had to contend with crossing the river.  Much hilarity ensued and after a wet foot, split walking boot, hat that floated away down the river and a tree that had to be climbed we were over the other side and wading through the marshy bog to the path that would start our climb up to the first summit.

It was tough, shale and loose rocks on most of the path with steepness that spun my head.  It was cold but not freezing and the sun was in and out of the clouds.  I was a little uncomfortable as I’d bruised my leg earlier and having had a dip in the river was now walking with wet feet.  Not the best conditions but onwards and upwards.
 We stopped at a little plateau where I changed into some dry socks and we had a quick snack.  It was then we could see the full splendor of the Ring in front of us including the tasty devils ridge.
However there was still a long way to go and we were only 1/3 of the way up the first summit.
Trudging upwards trying not to complain about the steepness we finally (albeit a good while after we’d intended) made it to the summit of the first munro  An Gearanach.  The top was a cairn but nothing significant.  What was significant was the views all around – spectacular.  Ben Nevis behind us still had its hat on but hopefully later we’d get to see it in all is glory. 

We didn’t stick around long but skipped down off the summit ready to tackle the next incline which indeed was a delight.  A rocky little ridge line between the 2 first munros with some hairy narrow bits which took a little bit of navigation but to be honest this is my favourite type of walking and I love the logistical aspect of working out where to go up and over the rocks with not very much below on either side. 
At the other side we were met with the next target smack bang in front of us with a zig zag path to the summit.  Nothing else for it but a head down and march on tactic and to make things easier I got my poles out.  What didn’t make it easier was the sudden hail shower which battered us from the right and coupled with the sudden wind made the conditions suddenly interesting.  Waterproofs on, cameras away and we ventured upwards to the summit of Stob Core a Chairn.  At the top the weather was closing in a little and we were starting to get conscious of the time. 

The rest of the route was ahead of us and we still had 2 biggies and the devils ridge but only about 6 hrs left to play with.  Now 6 hrs on a normal walk would be sufficient but this was no normal walk and towards the base of Stob Core a Chairn we decided to abandon the ring and head back.  Extremely disappointing but safer and definitely the right decision.

Back over Stob Core a Chairn we went and then at the base decided on a path to the right which would take us round the other 2 peaks rather than back over.  

It was a long plod round the side of the hills but the reward was that the Big Ben almost lost his hat so we could see the summit.  The views throughout the day had been amazing and the weather for the best part had been kind.

It wasn’t looking too clever at this point and by the time we had retraced our steps to the point we met with the path we’d come up on it was getting very overcast indeed.

On the downward path I realised that we’d have to do the metal rope bridge again but with wobbly legs and wet feet I wasn’t sure I had it in me so we decided to look for a place to cross the river before we even got to the bridge.  This would mean we’d miss out the boggy bit too.

Once we’d reached the river finding a place to cross was proving more difficult and it was at that point the rain started.  Heavy rain, you know, the kind that wets you.  Well my feet were already wet from the mornings escapade so I ended up just wading through the river.  Sod it, I wasn’t going to get any wetter really.

One last look at the falls and we were back along the path towards the car.  It was 7pm by this time and there were loads of people on the path heading for the falls.  After dinner walk?  Who knows.
The Ring of Steall had beaten us today but we’d be ready for it another time.  Its certainly not one for the faint hearted but with a little more preparation and a little less flaffing about at the river early doors and we might have stood a chance.

Next time …… afterall those gorgeous hills aren’t going anywhere.