The annual January expedition to Ossian to celebrate Ian Mac?s birthday became a weekend to Glencoe Youth Hostel. I do wish the SYHA would drop Youth from the title as most of the hostellers I have encountered are certainly not in their youth although they may have a young outlook! Anyway, a bunch of not so youthful hostellers gathered at Glencoe Youth Hostel on a Friday evening to enjoy a weekend in the open air with some feasting and refreshments.
Glencoe is also known as the Glen of Weeping due to the massacre which took place there and a painful reminder of inhospitable Scottish history. However, this memory appears to be kept mainly alive for tourism purposes and certainly groups of tourists in the Glen are kept enthralled by the history lessons of their guides which is often accompanied by the bagpipe music of the lone piper in the car park. While I have no objections to the pipes, it is a bit wearing when you are trying to change into your hill walking boots and the music is blasting very close to you.
The main road runs through Glencoe and there are magnificent mountains on both sides with the Buichaille Etive Mor on one side and the Aonach Eagadh Ridge on the other side. I have written on both these ridges as Scrambles on the Scottish mainland. The Hostel is on a minor road near Glencoe village and more importantly only twenty minutes walk from the Clachaig pub famous to all hill walkers and climbers. It was a cold crisp night and the stars looked wonderful and clear without the light pollution of the city.
Saturday was a cold, clear, crisp day with new falls of snow and we decided a leisurely stroll in the the Mamore Hills was just the thing. We drove up to Mamore Lodge about 200 metres above Kinlochleven and started walking along the stalkers track to Sgurr Eilde Mor from there. Visibility was perfect surrounded by snowy clad hills of the Mamores, one of the finest ranges in Scotland encompassing eleven Munros with linking interesting ridges. As we walked towards Loch Eilde Mor under the shadow of Na Gruagaichean we came across an All Terrain Vehicle which had skidded off the track with a heavy load of culled deer hines. It was very sad to see the trail of blood in the snow but we did not ask the gamekeeper any questions assuming the cull was for control rather than sporting reasons.
We had lunch overlooking Loch Eilde Mor in bright winter sunshine, a perfect place for a winter picnic. The two Toms' climbed to the top of Sgurr Eilde Mor which is the most remote of the Mamores and reported it heavy going in the soft deep snow. Some of us then decided to go for a play in the snow a few feet up the hillside but the snow was soft and daylight was fading so it was back to the hostel for the celebration meal and then a walk to the Clachaig for a few beers.
We walked back to the hostel under the starry sky for a little whisky nightcap. The following morning we abandoned all plans to walk on a mountain as the weather had changed overnight and it was wet and windy. We had a look in at the climbing centre in Kinlochleven with it's ice and climbing walls before heading back to Glasgow. Next year, Ossian is firmly booked for January and you will no doubt hear about it.
Coming attractions; Another Braemar weekend and more Arrochar Alps
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Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos.