Friday 30 December 2016


In many respects this was a shuffle around the edge of the Monadhliath. Plans were made to spend the Christmas week in the Monadhliath. However, as is often the case in winter, the weather dictates what is actually achieved.
The journey up to Newtonmore was fairly straightforward. Mind, the trains from Edinburgh and Perth were hugely overcrowded. There are only a few trains a day that stop at Newtonmore and I arrived shortly after five thirty in the evening. My intention was to spend the Friday night at Newtonmore hostel. This is an excellent hostel and much recommended by fellow backpackers. Neil and Sue are backpackers themselves and I was made most welcome. The hostel is warm, cozy, clean and tidy. Rules are few. A place I would certainly recommend to anyone heading in that direction.
Saturday morning I nipped up to the local co'op for a few extra supplies. It was windy with sleet and wet snow. Thus I dawdled in getting away, giving time for one of the village cafes to open. A cup of coffee and a slice of cake and I headed out. My intention was to head up Glen Banchor. As the road out of the village climbed higher, the weather worsened. Soon I was in driving snow with a head on wind.
Allt Fionndrigh, Monadhliath
Flooded ground and a burn in spate rather put paid to my intended destination. Following a deer trail  that led me to the edge of a stunted plantation and a flat piece of ground. There was just about room for the tent on the edge of the trees. They offered scant protection from the wind but any protection was better than none.
One unexpected snag I hit was trying to get the tent pegs in to decent ground. A thick layer of moss and grass saw me using my boot to drive the pegs deep. A few handy rocks were added to ensure they stayed put. It was a short day but there was no point in trying to fight the weather. Even when the snow eased off the wind remained as strong as ever.
Snowy Glen Banchor.
By Sunday morning a rapid thaw had set in. The wind was still strong but it was now raining and felt very mild. Keen to get out and do something, I followed the track that leads up the glen behind the old Glenballoch farmhouse.  It was not a bad wee wander, despite the wind and rain. However, the wind was noticeably picking up.
 Water rising rapidly, Allt Fionnrigh.
With the wind starting to push me around, I turned back. By the time I reached the tent it was blowing a hooley. Great gusts slamming down the the glen and causing the tent to shudder under the onslaught. Using the ice axe as an extra ground anchor, I hooked a spare guy line on to it and, placed another couple of heavy rocks on the tent pegs. With the tent snugged down as much as possible, it was a case of putting the kettle on and sitting out the storm.
Track up the glen.
By evening the wind had eased a little. The temperature had dropped again and once more it began to snow. The snow continued through the night and was still coming down thick on Monday morning.
Wintery tent!
It was still windy in the morning and still snowing. Needing to top up on water, I had a short wander but it was not a day to be out.
Snow in Glen Banchor.
Monday was largely spent in the tent reading and drinking tea.. By the afternoon the weather cleared and another thaw set in.
Snow storm Glenballoch.
The wind eased over Monday night and another rapid thaw set. Deer wandered around by the tent during the night. Tuesday morning broke dry and I was able to get out without being togged up in waterproofs. There was nothing ambitious in mind, just a walk up to Creag nan Abhag. Everything was streaming with water. Being in no rush and basically, not that fit, I took my time. A chill wind was blowing across the broad, wide open top. A meander across to a craggy  top and wanting to be out of the wind I was soon heading down again. A cleft in a rocky outcrop allowed me to sit out of the wind and enjoy a cup of coffee. Dark clouds were scudding across the tops but the glens below were clear.
Care had to be taken heading down  the hill, the ground was slick with water and  greasy.  It was only a short walk and I was back at the tent early afternoon. It was pleasant though to get out and do something.
Wednesday morning was once more dry. Rather than pack up and head straight out I took a detour.. Following the track that runs up by the Allt a Chaorainn I made my way up toward the red bothy and back.. A pleasant walk and in improving weather conditions. Not a bad trip, little done, but that can happen on winter trips.
wintery Monadhliath

memorial cairn
Allt a Chaorrainn
Monadhliath hills
Above Newtonmore


  1. Well done Dawn. Nice post and photos. I admire your tenacity. Happy new year.

  2. Challenging weather! At least you were out and doing stuff though - always better than sitting at home, wishing you were out!

  3. Thanks Geoff, challenging weather Chrisie, but it was indeed good to be out

  4. Brrr.... what's all this enjoying yourself whilst me and the dog were roughing it in 3 star hotels... ? I quite like that glen and I have a fair idea where you were camped!

  5. It is a nice area Mike, plenty of hills around too, just suggesting?!!!

  6. Nice post Dawn. Sounds like a good trip. Not that I would have wanted those long winter nights!

  7. Hi Fellbound. A kindle comes in handy, as does a good supply of tea bags.

  8. You did well sticking to it Dawn but it must have been nice to have been up there. It looks great.

  9. It was a pleasant break Alan.