with Meall an Doire Dhuinn & Sgùrr an Iubhair
Sunday 25th November 2018
Weather/Conditions: Nice weather an cold on top when the wind blew. The tintest cosmetic dusting of white on Stob Coire... Brown hills, the sun in the southern sky and a cool blue afternoon when the sun went away.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.9km / 900m / 3h 40m
Stob Coire a' Chearcaill fitted the bill in just about every way. It's an obvious summit from the road into An Gearasdan and I see it most days I'm in Lochaber. The mileage isn't too long, but I'd have to move fast because daylight was still running out. In any case, I love it when a plan just 'feels right', and this was one of them.
I was over the ferry for the third day running and drove to park near the entrance of the Cona Glen estate. From there, ten awkward minutes of bashing through roddys and barbed wire got me to open slopes. I was heading first to Meall an Doire Dhuinn, which is an east top of the hill. But it was worth going to while I'm was there.
The light at the moment is strong and golden, an angled sun casting shadows and throwing the land into sharp relief. The eastern air is unusually clear and a sun skims the southern sky. It's great to see Nevis covered in snow. It might seem logical to want to get in among the white stuff, but I was on those hills so many times last winter that I'm enjoying the new summits and fresh terrain! I stomped up to my first, Meall an Doire Dhuinn, then went around the edge of Coire a' Chearcaill to the main summit of the mountain.
I've been thinking a bit lately about the comparisons between my two big outdoor loves; hillwalking and climbing. The walking will never match leading a hard pitch of climbing in terms of acute, high-octane intensity. But it makes up for that by the craft of moving over hills for long periods, watching the summits go by and sensing the body settle into walking fitness, which is rising quickly after a couple of weeks off.
On top, the cloud eventually drew back to give an all-round view. Ben Nevis was prominent, very white and very big! I had great feelings of moving well. So many times I'm out on the hills I get a sense I'm just built for it and this was one of these days.
And then there was that light this evening, all November golden-browns and slanting shadows that cuminated in southern skies as a Garbh Bheinn light explosion. Finishing my tops via. Sgurr an Iubhair, I descended down the arm into Cona Glen with the sun disappearing, light shafts fading to a blue evening. I was racking up miles with deer browsing on the pale, chilly fields and strange barking of the hinds. In the glen, the river gurgled and the quiet was pierced by bird call. A lovely evening and a nice way to end the day. I drove home the long way around the loch to save on the ferry fare, with more hills planned for the following day.
Stob Coire a' Chearcaill
(0.00) 12.35pm Parking, nr. Conaglen House
(0.57) 1.32pm Meall an Doire Dhuinn
(1.43) 2.18pm Stob Coire a' Chearcaill
(1.52) 2.32pm Stob Coire a' Chearcaill (left)
(3.20) 3.55pm Sgùrr an Iubhair
(3.40) 4.15pm Parking, nr. Conaglen House