Glencoe celebration May 2011


Helen Rose   Hill Diary

Ian Mac always likes to celebrate special birthdays with a group weekend somewhere in the north of Scotland. For his 50th birthday, he decided he wanted it to be based in the SYHA Hostel at Glencoe where he had known the wardens from his previous favourite hostel at Loch Ossian. Kathleen duly sent out an email about the event last year and a group of us committed to going to Glencoe for the weekend in January.

It was late January and we expected lots of snow and ice so were equipped for it as one of the days was to be spent walking. We travelled up to Glencoe on Friday afternoon in reasonable weather and had good views of the hills on the way. Glencoe is about 100 miles north of Glasgow and the road journey is spectacular taking in the length of Loch Lomond followed by the Glen Falloch Hills and through Crianlarich overlooked by Ben More.  Up by Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy there are more high hills and then on to the desolate Rannoch Moor before approaching Glencoe with dramatic mountains all round. We left the main road there and took a small road towards the famous Clachaig Inn near to the Hostel. The hostel sits in a wooded glade surrounded by hills and looks Alpine. There was not much snow around as we had an early winter at the end of the year and much of the snow was gone.

We had a pleasant evening in the Clachaig Inn, a well known haunt for climbers and hill walkers. Wee Robbie at 6 months old slept through the evening. He is wonder baby as he has already been camping in below zero temperatures and been to New Zealand and back.   Robbie was the youngest member of the group and has already been on a climb in a papoose on his Mother’s back.

The next morning, we decided to climb the Pap of Glencoe which is a very shapely hill just below the height of a Munro. It is a well known landmark when seen from the main road travelling south to Glencoe.  We set out for the walk with Robbie in his papoose. There is a good path near the hostel and we followed it gently uphill stopping for tea breaks as we had all day out in very good sunny weather and it was unusually warm and dry for the time of year. We reached the rocky summit cone and some of this was a bit tricky with scrambles.  Some looked for the easy way up but others chose to go straight up and scrambled their way to the top.  It was cold at the top and we did not linger but we had great views over to Kinlochleven and beyond. The hardier walkers went on to the Munro, Sgurr nan Fiannadh, but the rest of us ambled down the same route of ascent to the hostel for afternoon tea.

The evening was the birthday dinner so we set to cooking the traditional Scottish meal. Some people had brought homemade soups including lentil. We had haggis, neeps and tatties, otherwise known as haggis, turnips and potatoes. This was followed by the birthday cake made by Alistair. It was yummy and the decoration was a photo of Ian on a bicycle with his favourite purple colour on the icing. As usual there was far too much food and drink. Afterwards, Ian and a few others went to the Clachaig for a drink but most of us were too stuffed to face the walk to the pub! We were joined at dinner by the Wardens, Thomas and Marion and their children. Ian was very pleased about this as they are firm friends and he visited them when they were working back in Germany.

The following day we headed back to Glasgow and the weather was deteriorating. We were very lucky to have such a good day on the Pap of Glencoe. Ian enjoyed his birthday celebration and wore his kilt for the event. We all had a great weekend so roll on Ian’s next big birthday!

Coming attractions: Colonsay, Ratagan and the Shetland Islands

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