I’m a bit late to the party with reviewing last year but December was such a busy month (and I still have not caught up with all my trip reports).
However, 2015 was an epic year for being outdoors. It was dominated by hills, hills and more hills with less running or cycling than in previous years as weekends away in the Bongo presided over any other plans.
The year got off to a slow start with one or two local walks. Ally and I joined a mountaineering club – The 45 Degrees MC – and joined them one weekend in late March down Glen Etive. This lead to some further memorable and fun weekends throughout the year, staying in mountaineering club huts across the land – the weekends at the CIC Hut at Ben Nevis and the Coruisk Memorial Hut in Skye particularly stand out.
Bothying was sadly limited to just one night at the wonderful Allt Scheicheachan bothy.
I do love bothies and hope to stay in more this year. It was also my only backpacking trip (I think). I have missed backpacking so much and although the van makes things so much handier for short weekends, I really hope to do a bit more this year. In fact I would love to walk the Cape Wrath trail again. It is hard to make plans when you work full-time and there is only a small window of opportunity in which to do things, and there is so much to do.
The fine Easter weekend saw me heading to Loch Tay and the hills around there. I lost my phone on the first day in the hills which was a sickener, especially as it was one of the finest weekends weather-wise of the whole year, and the views were outstanding. A weekend in Nethy Bridge saw Ally and I heading further west to climb some of the Munros nearby. It was a beautiful early spring to be sure. That was all set to change…
Early May saw Ally and I spend some fantastic days at the remote Alltbeithe Youth Hostel in Glen Affric, something that I had long wanted to do. Spring snows had given us winter conditions again and it was freezing!
I then spent a few days myself at Ullapool for the book festival and had some really fantastic days out on the smaller Assynt hills in spectacular conditions.
At the end of the month we took a trip down to the Lake District. Ally had not been before and was keen to see it. We had a great days exploring the fells and good pubs!
The month ended with me spending a fun weekend away with a good friend bagging the Drumochter Munros, again something I have missed!
From here on in began weekend after glorious weekend clambering up Scotland’s highest summits – I truly look back in happiness at the memories. Loch Tay again, the outstanding Mullardochs, back to Glen Affric, back up to Assynt and the far North, and then the other end of the country the next week in the Arrochar Alps.
Then at the end of June the fantastic but challenging weekend at the Coruisk Memorial Hut in Skye with the club.
July was mainly in the wonderful Cairngorms – the remote An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir, a fantastic weekend on my own in the van in the northern Cairngorms, and then some local walks.
In late July / early August, Ally and I had our hill holidays where we took off a week or so to tour around the Highlands in the campervan. The weather was so changeable that week we ended up following the best of it all over the place, starting out at Roy Bridge and climbing the Grey Corries, then up to the Fannichs, a rainy day tour in the van over and down to Applecross, Shieldag and Plockton, across to the Black Isle, and then over to Glen Shiel where we walked the utterly fantastic Five Sisters of Kintail, back down to Glencoe, then back up to Torridon where I reached the Munro halfway point on the beautiful Beinn Eighe! Phew…I was glad of my own bed by the end of it.
The end of the month saw our first foray into the Galloway hills, rougher than the Rough Bounds but very enjoyable and beautiful, and then the following week a very memorable few days in Poolewe where we bumped into some friends and had a cracking weekend.
The August bank holiday weekend heralded the start of a beautiful and very welcome Indian summer after the poor show of summer that we’d so far had, although the club weekend in Braemar was a bit breezy and chilly. That was a long weekend and so after Braemar where we climbed our last remaining Cairngorm Munro (Beinn Mheadhoin), we had gone down to Glencoe to finally bag the Buachaille (Etive Mor), then headed further south to Crianlarich and back up to Tyndrum to finish the weekend on Ben Lui.
The end of the month was the utterly fantastic club meet at the CIC Hut on Ben Nevis. We had stunningly beautiful conditions to climb Ledge Route in, with a cloud inversion down below while we scrambled up the Ben in full sun.
My dad came to visit for a few weeks in October. We had some lovely low-level local walks in the autumn sunshine, including Linn of Quoich near Braemar, Forvie Sands in the far north-east and Abernethy Forest. I had a fantastic weekend off in the van myself walking the Easians ridge and then up to Loch Quoich to walk the very underrated Sgurr a’Mhaoraich while Ally was away doing his Summer Mountain Leader assessment. He passed, which was brilliant news and a huge achievement in my view.
November was a quiet month, walking-wise, with the exception of a fantastic club weekend at the Inver Croft Hut at Achnasheen. We had a splendid sunny weekend and Ally and I walked the beautiful Munro pair of Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh.
My birthday weekend at the beginning of December involved a trip to the Strawberry Cottage hut in Glen Affric with a group of friends. The weekend also coincided with Storm Desmond and we could not even get up the glen on the Friday night. Ten of us ended up squashed like sardines into two camping pods meant for couples at the Cannich campsite! We managed in on the Saturday though, and I had a fantastic birthday. The weather was horrific, and although some of the guys went off to climb Mullach Fraoch-Choire, I opted for a wild, wet and wonderful birthday run with some of the others, down the glen to the hostel and back, running through thigh deep water at times.
It has been such a wonderful and memorable year when I look back now. I really hope to do more of the same this year, although as I said, I’ve missed backpacking and bothies so maybe more of that, as well as more running and cycling. I had some loose targets for last year – these were really to give me some sort of frame for walks as I tend to hum and haw too much on where to go otherwise. These were:
To get to the halfway point on the Munros; to climb 10 Corbetts and 7 Grahams. I reached halfway on the Munros and climbed a further 22, I climbed 16 Corbetts but only 2 Grahams. This year, my loose targets are to reach 200 on the Munros, climb 14 Corbetts and 5 Grahams. But I’m totally fine if I don’t do that – just being out in our beautiful mountains is pleasure enough.
As I sit here listening to Storm Frank batter the house outside, just writing all this out makes me feel happier at the thought of more fun for the year ahead. I started this blog so I could remember all the days I have outside, and it has been great to look back and have these memories. All the best for 2016!