Beinn Fhionnlaidh - 959m
Sgurr na h-Ulaidh - 994m

Tuesday 7th May 2013

Weather/Conditions: Warm, blue skies and views for once. Never appreciated the heat so much. Almost toowarm on the walk out, but made a pleasant change.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 17.7km / 1500m / 7h 40m
Accompanying: Lucas and Andy

At long bloody last.

Today, the sun came out.

And I don't think I've ever been so glad to see it. Inversely, by the end of today's walk, I was roasted and looking for shade. (In truth I should appreciate every ray of sun I can lay my hands on.)

Last night mum dropped me in Tyndrum on her way home. This morning, Lucas from Walk Highlands came to pick me up. We headed up to do Fhionnlaidh and Ulaidh hills from Glen Etive. I'd done them before from this side, about this time last year, so knew the terrain well. Lucas's pal Andy also came along for the walk. Thanks guys - it was really nice to walk with people again instead of on my own inside of a cloud!

Mist pulled back throughout the morning, and a haze persisted on the walk up Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The sun split the sky and the Cruachan Range rose like fangs, snow covered and enormous through the haze. (That is an almost identical description of that range, to one Hamish Brown gave in Hamish's Mountain Walk.) These mountains are so magnificent and I wish I'd climbed them with more feeling a few days previously. Well - the weather decides that to a large extent and endless rain isn't very inspiring.

It was amazing to stand on Fhionnlaidh, look around untroubled by weather and see the sea, all the mountains of Glen Coe and Etive. I'm starting to look back to ranges and think "I climbed them". But the majority of the panorama had yet to be climbed, which is sobering.

Andy and I sped up Sgor na h-Ulaidh and another amazing summit awaited. Glen Coe looks fantastic in this weather. Ben Nevis was still very much snowbound. I could even see the hills of Affric, just distant snow-splatters through the haze - hills which I won't climb for more than two months. Crazy crazy crazy.

The descent was like an Alpine scene: the sun was blazing down onto green pines, with Loch Etive sinking out of sight and the summit crown of Ben Starav high and snow-covered, punctuating the haze. Feet were painful on descent. When I get over Bidean and the Blackmount, I think I'll change into trainers. The boots just tear my feet to pieces and I'll be glad to use something more comfortable - and less waterlogged - for the summits.

Tonight, I'm staying at the Glen Coe Independent Youth Hostel. Already one of my favourite hostels in the Highlands, owners Keith and Davina Melton have been more helpful and accommodating than I could ever have asked or expected. Many, many thanks both.

Tomorrow, it looks like the weather will return to the typical rain. My plan is to do the Aonach Eagach in the morning while it's still sunny, followed by the Ballachulish pair in the afternoon (when it gets wet). This will put me back on track and free up time. I've been concerned about how I'll finish all the Glen Coe + Etive peaks in the conditions that are to come. But I think if I can combine the Aonach Eagach and the "Vair Pair" tomorrow, things will be very much on track.

Very happy, but feeling the pressure of the challenge to come. A good way to be. Better get an early night in preparation for tomorrow.

360° Panoramas

Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Sgurr na h-Ulaidh
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 8.50am Invercharnan
(2.50) 11.40pm Beinn Fhionnlaidh
(5.50) 2.40pm Sgurr na h-Ulaidh
(7.40) 4.30pm Invercharnan
Uploaded: 2018-10-13