Glen Dessary May 2006

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: To Garbh Chioch Mhor. The Munro bagging is progressing and with only 38 Munros still to climb, I recently made a trip to Glen Dessary. This glen was new to me and I knew the walks would be long days as this glen is very long and not nicknamed Glen Desperate for nothing! I have to accept that the remaining Munros are nearly all long walks. If one set out to Munro bag systematically then it would be sensible to start with the further away Munros and work south but life is not like that as usually you start hillwalking on day trips and gradually slide into Munro bagging with the hills nearer home.

Photo: Burn. Anyway, back to Glen Dessary where I booked a weekend with Janis Whyte at Glen and Mountain Guides. We were based at Tulloch Station Bunkhouse which is the former station building, the station is still operational. Glen Dessary is north of Fort William and the Caledonian Canal and leads into the Rough Bounds of Knoydart. Andy led the walk which was to have taken in three Munros. I had read the SMC Hillwalkers Guide to the Munros which said five hours to the third top of Sgurr na Ciche. I would say that this is understated. The problem with taking these times as a benchmark is that it depends on the person who has reccied it and their speed and fitness. I am a slow walker but I just keep going. I enjoy the hills and being outdoors, taking in the views so Munro bagging is secondary in the day out but I do admit to finding ticking off Munros satisfying.

Photo: From Sgurr an Coireachan. The long drive along the north of Loch Arkaig to the start of the walk had marvellous views over the loch with a clear reflection of the mountains. It was a perfect sunny day and fabulous views in every direction. The walk in along the private road is fairly long and finally we reached a track along the side of the forest to the start of the uphill slog. Fortunately, there are good stalker paths in this area and we had a relentless uphill of over 2,000 feet. There is nothing else to it but just put the head down and keep going, coming up regularly to take in the views. Sgurr nan Coireachan was reached and we had our first lunch, eating little and often is the best way to cope with long days.

We had views over to the Glenfinnan Hills and could even see Schiehallion to the far south east. It was the best kind of day for uplifting the spirits and we all agreed we could not understand everyone not wanting to hillwalk. We walked through small snowfields and the mountains looked exceptionally beautiful with their white snow caps. By the time we reached Garbh Chioch Mhor, we realised there would not be sufficient time to reach the third top and to get back to the bunkhouse for dinner. As it was we did not get back until after 10pm.

Photo: Dry Stone Wall. There is an impressive well built dry stone dyke to follow over the crest of these mountains. We walked down to the coll between Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche and descended the very rocky gully down into the head of Glen Dessary and the long walk back out to the public road. One of the good things about not completing the Munros is that I will one day go back to Glen Dessary to climb Sgurr na Ciche. We were out for eleven and a half hours and enjoyed every minute of it. We had a delicious dinner at the bunkhouse cooked by Belinda and much appreciated. The next day we climbed Sgurr Mor but I will write about that another time.

Many thanks to Janis for organising the weekend and all the driving and to Andy for his good leadership on the hills.

Coming attractions; Cairngorms, Glen Dessary again

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Thanks to Wallace Nicoll for the photos.