There we were again, the merry band of twelve fun loving hill walkers off to Ullapool for the weekend to hopefully bag a Munro but more importantly to socialise and enjoy ourselves at the Easter weekend. The other reason for going to Ullapool was to see Diane's croft as she recently packed up in Glasgow and emigrated to Ullapool to lead the simple life in the country with Stuart and Knoydart the dog.
In the midst of the foot and mouth crises, we knew there were restrictions on walking but a quick check of the www.walkingwild.co.uk website confirmed there were hills open which we could safely walk on in the vicinity of Ullapool.
We had a luxurious Friday night in a very comfortable Bed and Breakfast called the Old Surgery in Ullapool and a fine breakfast was served. It was the best of Scottish with several choices including smoked haddock and poached egg.
On Saturday the weather was poor with high winds and rain. The mist was very low so we decided to visit Diane in the croft in the morning and see if the weather improved later. The brave boys, Alan, Davie and Ian decided to climb a Corbett in the atrocious weather and they managed the first top of the Querang but we softies had a leisurely lunch in Ullapool. The Screen Machine mobile cinema truck was in the car park at the Leisure Centre and we were tempted to go to a movie but we resisted the temptation and walked up Ullapool Hill in the afternoon which weather permitting should have given excellent views out to the Summer Isles ( so called for their summer grazing and not the climate!) and also the mighty An Teallach which I have previously written on. Ullapoole Hill is only about 800 feet high but has interesting geology on the thrust plain with Torridonian Sandstone, quartzite, Lewisian gneiss, limestone and mylonite. On return to Ullapool we moved into the SYHA Hostel for two nights
On Easter Sunday, it was up early and off to the Beinn Dearg Group of mountains which we could see along Loch Broom from the Hostel in Ullapool. The wind had dropped although it was still showery but we decided to go up the Glen to the easiest Munro and see how the weather held up before thinking about bagging a further Munro. The approach was through the Lael Forest along a good forest track and crossing the river at a convenient bridge down from a waterfall. A good stalkers path followed the line north east of the River Lael to the col which we call a bealach in Scotland. Unfortunately, the weather started to deteriorate with the wind speed increasing and snow showers developing. The view was non-existent as the mist was well down but the wind was behind us going up to the bealach through the snow fields.
We had lunch earlier in a sheltered spot when the weather was better as from the bealach there would be little stopping in this weather. I carry dried apricots in my pocket to top up enegy levels to avoid stopping to eat from my pack. It was an easy slog up to the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean but we did not linger on the top as it was almost blizzard conditions. With the poor weather and a time limit on returning to the Hostel as we had arranged to have dinner at 7pm, we decided not to attempt the second Munro and headed down to the bealach facing into the wind. We were whipped by the wind blowing the snow horizontally into our faces and at one point it was difficult to see as my goggles had iced over. It was down into the glen for a warming cup of coffee from the flask and back to Ullapool.
It was in to the Ferry Boat Inn or the FBI as it is known locally for a well deserved pint of beer and a chance to dry out at the log fire after our eight hour hike. We had dinner in the Hostel cooked by Katie and Ian and afterwards a liittle party which became quite rowdy swopping stories about our day as some had cycled or just relaxed. Many thanks to Katie for organising all the shopping for the meal which as usual was very appetising and nicely presented.
On the way home we stopped at the Rogie Falls beyond Garve and had a walk around to look at the Falls at close range by crossing a suspension bridge. Alongside the Falls, there is a salmon ladder created from a series of stepped stones which resemble small waterfalls but allow the salmon to travel upstream for spawning. The Falls are in a deep, heavily wooded gorge and well worth a visit as there are walks of varying lengths around them which are well marked.
E-mail me at [email protected] particularly if you have any good recipes for cooking hearty dinners at Hostels for a bunch of boisterous hill walkers.
Coming attractions; Walking in Andalusia, Yosemite Park in the US and the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland