Sgurr an Utha - 796m
Fraoch-bheinn - 790m

Monday 5th November 2018

Weather/Conditions: Damp and misty, no views on top but some pretty stunning cloudscapes in the glen and over Sgurr a' Mhuidhe opposite
Distance/Ascent/Time: 9km / 750m / 2h 40m
Accompanying: Alone

Good day out today. Fingers (and left brachialis) needed a break from bouldering so I knew I'd do a couple hills. I got out the door late, so just one hill in the end. The day was grey, but not oppressively so. I headed west to Glenfinnan. Trying to park, I slowed at the Drochaid Allt an Utha. Just beyond I got some parking on the left.

I got on my way on the steep slog up the access track. This track has been improved massively for the micro-hydro which now lies up the burn. And it was handy for getting on the hill. Around me was a high grey ceiling of cloud, from which rain occasionally spat. But it never came to very much. MWIS said the lower atmosphere was 'saturated' under the main cloud layer, so mist formed at all levels, and from my perspective it was impressively wrapped around Sgurr a' Mhuidhe.

It's definitely feeling like the onset of winter now. These dull days of grey skies and dull light: the sun is starting to feel scarce, but there's about six weeks until the shortest day, so the next three months are the proper dark period.

I followed the track steeply up the side of Sgurr an Utha. It was good to get walking again, though I didn't feel like moving too quick. It also stuck me how nice it is to get back on my feet with the walking. I feel pretty motivated right now in a way I feel I lost during my stint working on Skye in September. The motivational malaise seems to have crept into October - it didn't help that I was struggling to get a room and then the cold hit me for a couple weeks. So that month ended up a write-off for all my good intentions. But it's great to be back here with ideas, motivation and direction.

Anyway, back to Sgurr an Utha. I left the track and struck off in a straight line up the hillside. Mist was sitting on the tops, so a plod brought me to the mist, then inside. I had the 1:25,000 handy which also does a good job of showing every crag on the map. My navigation has changed a lot with my getting Viewranger. I'd get to a rock outcrop, suspect I knew where I was, then check Viewranger - and I was always bang on. I'm pleased with that. My sense is good. The summit cairn of Sgurr an Utha arrived in time, entirely uncomplicated and obvious: a massive pile of stones on an obvious prominence.

I was also keen to check out Fraoch-bheinn, which is the hill's east top. It is only marginally lower and would make a nice round trip, rather than the easy up-and-down. I'd also heard about magnetic deviation on this hill, so set some carefuly bearings over Fraoch-bheinn. The rumours turned out to be unfounded; the compass went exactly where I asked it to. One or two false tops on Fraoch-bheinn, I reached a small cairned summit and took some moments to do an Instagram post on the 4G - the phone makes this place feel not-that remote! Which I suppose it isn't. The terrain is hard west coast, but you're only 3km or so from a road...

Heading off Fraoch-bheinn, I popped out the cloud to the sound of the stags rutting and running off, and conveyor belts of mist piling up against the flank of Sgurr a' Mhuidhe and soaring over in long streamers. An emphasis of form and a display of slow motion movement in the air. The mountain seemed to be sailing under this carpet of mist, part unseen, but it's form emphasised instead of obscured. These leaden, misty days can sure be dramatic. Wandering around the mist is one thing, and the nav is fun, but to watch these bastions of mist batter in slow mation against the mountains is just spectacular. I was so glad I came.

It wasn't a long walk either: before long I was losing height, back on the track and heading back to the car. I was almost in the mood for another hill.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 12.20pm Parking A830
(1.15) 1.35pm Sgurr an Utha
(1.42) 2.02pm Fraoch-bheinn
(2.40) 3.00pm Parking A830
Written: 2018-11-05