A damp day with the Shepherd

On Thursday I was  disappointed to learn that only two of us had signed up for the Ben Nevis outing.  Stevie suggested  we may want to do something closer, I agreed with him that the trip should be postponed and then got in touch with Heather to ask where she would like to go instead.

The venue chosen was Buachaille Etive Mor, so a grey Sunday morning saw us heading for Crianlarich – thank goodness, though, it was not as hot as the day on Beinn a’Ghlo.

We were the first occupants of the lay-by at the foot of the Devil’s Staircase.  Despite the heavy rain we booted up and set off – lest we change our minds and go in search of breakfast instead!

We were soon past the SMC hut at Lagangarbh and headed up into Coire na Tulaich.  We could see very little apart from our immediate surroundings; the clouds were hanging below the lip of the corrie and the view behind us was similarly restricted. The rain eased periodically, but the clouds obstinately stayed put.  There were a few deer on the slope on the other side of the corrie, but no other signs of life.  A couple of other small parties of walkers were later to be seen toiling up the corrie behind us.

In the upper reaches of the corrie the path became indistinct so the last bit was a vertigo- inducing scramble but we soon emerged on the broad ridge. 

The Path fades....

The Path fades....

The ridge

The ridge

We were surprised when a figure appeared ahead of us as we headed towards the summit.  He turned out to have set off after us, but had climbed Curved Ridge and was now heading for home.  ‘You’ll have the summit to yourselves’ he said; and we did.  We peered out, hoping to see something below us: a brief break in the clouds allowed us to see Alltnafeadh and several cars in the lay-by, a tiny arc of rainbow appeared and then the gap closed again.

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As we descended towards the col we met several other walkers including a family with two rather chilled looking youngsters wearing football tops.   Everyone we spoke to was of the opinion it was a day to head for home - leaving the ridge for another time – a decision we reached ourselves during a damp lunch stop.

We found a rib of rock that provided a natural ladder down the steepest bit of the descent and were soon back in the corrie.  As we neared the bottom the sun came out!  We looked back up the hill at wet rocks reflecting bright sunlight – there was blue sky (grr!).  Suddenly we could see far horizons – the Blackwater Reservoir was visible round the end of Beinn a Chrulaiste and Rannoch Moor stretched away to the east. 

We arrived back in Bathgate before we would have completed the extended walk to Stob na Broige, so a few Brownie points were banked against the next outing – but I’ve just remembered that has been cancelled too!  

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