Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rolling Perthshire Hills on the Cateran Trail

Rolling Perthshire Hills on the Cateran Trail.

The Cateran Trail was the first circular long distance route in Scotland. Fully waymarked, it is 64 mls/ 103 km long and can be easily walked over four or five days - or in stages. Blairgowrie is where many people begin their journey and we enjoyed a leisurely walk today on the section alongside the River Ericht.

The Trail boasts some of the loveliest scenery in a corner of Perthshire that is relatively unknown to walkers. It follows old drove roads, ancient tracks and minor roads and passes through farmland and forests. Signposts, stiles and bridges marked with the Trail logo and direction arrows, allow for easy route identification.

Signposting on Cateran Trail.

Highland cows on Cateran Trail.

I'm told that the word blackmail comes from the days when the black cattle were stolen and the owners had to make a payment to get them back! I don't think that Rob Roy MacGregor made it as far as Perthshire, but he seems to get the blame for stealing all the cattle!

Keathbank Mill, River Ericht, Blairgowrie.

Lade on River Ericht at Keathbank Mill.

Cargills Leap

Cargills Leap, River Ericht, Blairgowrie.

Weir on River Ericht, Blairgowrie.

For lovely Bed and Breakfast Accommodation in Blairgowrie, try Gilmore House where Jillian can assist in planning your trip on the Cateran Trail.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

John Muir Trust

Wild Land Awareness Raising and Recruitment.

John Muir Trust are looking for keen outdoor enthusiasts to venture out and raise awareness on John Muir Trust lands at Ben Nevis, Schiehallion, Quinag, Sandwood and Skye; and at public locations throughout the Highlands. You will ideally live close to one of the above estates. Part-time casual contracts.

If you are confident in the outdoors and can inspire others to join the Trust contact: / 0131 554 0114 for details or to apply by 15th February 2010.

Beinn Fhada Isle of Mull Scotland

Beinn Fhada, Isle of Mull, Scotland.

Beinn Fhada tends to be neglected, as walkers are drawn to the magnificent mountain of Ben More, the only munro on the Isle of Mull. Beinn Fhada however offers excellent views of Ben More itself as well as over the rest of the Isle of Mull.

A'Chioch and Ben More, Mull, from Beinn Fhada.

Isle of Ulva from Beinn Fhada, Mull.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Parallel Roads Glen Roy from Creag Dhubh

Parallel Roads, Glen Roy, from Creag Dhubh.

Creag Dhubh is a nice walk from Bohenie near Roy Bridge. One of the highlights is the view over to the glacial feature of the Parallel Roads. It's amazing to think that glaciers blocked these valleys only 10,000 years ago, creating three distinct shorelines. A real reminder that we are only passing through this wonderful landscape for a very short time!

We previously climbed Creag Dhubh from the south at Murlaggan which made for a very steep approach. The route from Bohenie is certainly a better choice, providing an easy angled ridge. Good views from the summit over the Grey Corries and Aonach Mor.

Rainbow over Bohuntine Hill, Glen Roy.

Summit Trig Point, Creag Dhubh.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lonely on Ben Lawers Perthshire

Lonely on Ben Lawers, Perthshire.

It's a lonely life waiting for your master to catch up on you on the munros of Scotland! A super day walking on Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas with only one thing missing - a companion!

Perthshire is perfect for walking holidays and so much more! The natural beauty of the Lochs and Glens provide so much outdoor entertainment for humans as well as dogs!

First class accommodation for pets and their owners can be found at the fabulous Westerlix, only 5 miles from where these pictures were taken! Gill makes me so welcome, it's a real home from home!

Come to Perthshire - you know you want to!

Blaven and Ben Lawers, Perthshire,Scotland.

Beinn Ghlas from Ben Lawers, North Perthshire.

Birnam and Dunkeld from Birnam Hill

Birnam and Dunkeld from Birnam Hill.

Perthshire is lucky in having so many walks from gentle paths to high munros. The walk up Birnam hill affords excellent views for little effort. We normally park near the Birnam Hotel and walk under the railway to access the hill, climbing it clockwise to avoid the steep North slope.

Summit of Birnam Hill.

Sidlaws from Birnam Hill.

Monday, January 25, 2010

James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd

James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd.

On trip to Scottish Borders at the weekend, we visited the memorial to James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd. Although not as famous as Robert Burns, he still ranks highly in Scottish literature. A wonderful statue reflecting the esteem in which he is held in Scotland.

Scottish Borders sheep fank.

A true reminder that you are in the Scottish Borders, the round sheep pens are everywhere and paint the picture of the culture, as well as any artist.

Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Borders.

A lovely Loch, close to the more famous St Mary's Loch, has the statue to James Hogg nearby! A wonderful spot to stop and reflect.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Southern Upland Way Welcome to the Scottish Borders

Southern Upland Way, Welcome to the Scottish Borders.

Nice walk today in the Scottish Borders, incorporating part of the Southern Upland Way, long distance footpath crossing Scotland. The route, starting at Potburn, took us over the Graham, Ettrick Pen, on to the Donalds, Wind Fell and Loch Fell before dropping down to pick up the Southern Upland Way.

Summit Cairn, Ettrick Pen.

Nice temperature on the way up the hill, but very chilly on top!

Over Phawhope Bothy, Southern Upland Way.

Nice welcoming Bothy at Over Phawhope with kindling for the fire. It's an MBA Bothy and open to any walkers!

Trig Point on Loch Fell, Scotish Borders.

A long tramp in the snow brought us to the last hill of the day, Loch Fell.

Over Phawhope Bothy, Scottish Borders.

Derelict House at Potburn, Scottish Borders.

It really depresses me when I see empty properties that could provide someone with a great home. They are most common on large Estates where the owners have more money than common sense!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Walk Meall Luidh Mor Scotland

Forestry track to Meall Luidh Mor.

With the weather looking pretty grim, we decided on a short walk near Loch Laggan on the modest hill, Meall Luidh Mor. Not the biggest in Scotland at 514 metres, but the snow sure slowed us up! Although the views were limited, it was still an enjoyable walk in spite of finishing in the dark! If you'd like to see a video of a 360 from the summit in good weather in Summer click here for a very entertaining piece by Graeme Paterson.

Steep climb on Meall Luidh Mor

Loch Laggan from Meall Luidh Mor.

Wintry view to Binnein Shuas.

Self Catering Blackwaterfoot Isle of Arran Scotland

Bellevue Farm Cottages - Self Catering, Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran, Scotland.

Farm Cottages to let on the lovely Isle of Arran, Scotland in miniature!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Castaway Cottages Lower Largo St Andrews Scotland

Castaway Cottages, Lower Largo, St Andrews, Scotland.

Holiday Cottage Lower Largo, near St Andrews, Fife.

Choose between three Self Catering Holiday Cottages near St Andrews, Fife, the perfect location to get away from it all. Explore, walk, cycle, sail, play golf at St. Andrews Old Golf Course or just relax, these holiday cottages in Fife are an ideal base for your holidays in Scotland.

Another Burns Classic - Green Grow the Rashes

Michael Marra "Green Grow the Rashes"

Another classic Robert Burns composition, sung by Michael Marra, a beautiful, haunting song.

Journey to Glenbogle 14th January 2010

Journey to Glenbogle, 14th January 2010.

It's always a pleasure to drive the Dalwhinnie to Spean Bridge Road through Glen Bogle and along Loch Laggan. The mountains, lochs and glens make it a real pleasure. Slightly different though when the snow blocks the main route and detours are necessary to avoid the drifting snow. We enjoyed such a journey last week and arrived safely at our destination, marvelling at some of the effects caused by the heavy snowfall.

Loch Laggan, 14th January 2010.

Laggan Church and Graveyard, 14th January 2010.

Dalwhinnie Hotel, 14th January 2010.

The deserted Hotel reminded me of 'The Shining' with Jack Nicolson!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Long Walk in Knoydart Scotland

A Long Walk in Knoydart, Scotland!

It was an undertaking devised after copious amounts of malt whisky, one of these times when the Ordnance Survey Landranger map seems to shrink, and contour lines merge together to make sheer slopes into easy angled ridges. I'm sure we've all realised in the past, that the miles and slopes are easily walked when we're sitting in front of a roaring log fire, with a glass in hand!

The plan that evolved was the ultimate in corbett bagging in that gorgeous part of Scotland known as Knoydart. A three day adventure designed to bag six corbetts! At this stage, you may or may not wish to consult Landranger map 33 and locate Coiresdubh at grid reference NG 958 054. It's just a mile South of Kinlochhourn. The first day was to take us over two rugged corbetts and through to the wonderful village of Inverie, and that equally wonderful pub, The Old Forge.

Day one and the first target was the Corbett of Sgurr nan Eugallt, a fine hill with a fantastic stalkers path providing easy access to the hill. A fairly steep drop followed to Loch an Lagain Aintheich, and an ascent to Sgurr a' Choire Bheithe. We were then to descend through Gleann Unndalain, over Mam Barrisdale and on to Inverie.

The participants in this escapade were myself and my hillwalking pal, Norrie Shand. We were ably assisted logistically, by my wife Susan and pals Dave and Robin. Susan and Dave accompanied us on the first climb of the day, and Susan and Robin returned two days later to pick us up from the end of our walk at Loch Quoich, after climbing Ben Aden themselves.

The climb up Sgurr nan Eugallt was a real pleasure, with the stalkers path proving that the path builders knew their trade. The conditions were dry and sunny, which was just as well, as for some inexplicable reason I'd decided to do the whole walk in a pair of trainers! Anyone who has walked in Knoydart will tell you that this is folly in the extreme, the 'Rough Bounds' being a clue as to the often terrifying terrain! Anyway, the party had an enjoyable walk to the summit trig point, where we parted, each to their own fate! Not long after our walk, the summit of this particular corbett was resurveyed and found to lie some 500 metres away! This of course led us to return to the hill another day to bag the correct summit. Yes, it does pay to climb all the bits that inevitably seem higher until you get to them and on looking back are obviously lower. Very deceptive these mountains can be!

The descent South to the aforementioned Lochan was an experience in itself, being very steep and rugged! We started off together and yet within two or three minutes I had no sight of Norrie and despite shouting, received no response. As the 'Rough Bounds' tag began to resonate, I had cause to regret my choice of footwear in this unforgiving terrain! On meeting again at the Lochan, we began to question the amount of whisky we had drunk to work out this challenging route. A long haul through thigh high heather took us up onto the ridge and our next goal, Sgurr a' Choire Bheithe. Another punishing descent took us down Gleann Unndalain to meet the Mam Barrisdale path, a right of way from Barrisdale to Inverie. On reaching the high point of the path, Mam Barrisdale, we decided on a course of action that Norrie was later to regret.

As each of our packs were chafing, we swapped packs. Additionally, as Norrie likes to take a little more time to appreciate the scenery, I set off at a canter on the downhill stretch on the way to Inverie. Whether it was the scent of a pint of cider in my nostrils, I don't know, but I covered the ground like a race horse destined for glory! I reached what we later discovered was Inverie House, knocking on the door to check that this was our Bunkhouse for the night. It happened that this wasn't our Bunkhouse, but the caretaker looking after the house, which was being renovated, pointed me in the right direction for the Bunkhouse.

Dropping off my pack, I made my way directly to the Old Forge for refreshment. The bar was a throng of locals and visitors, each enjoying the atmosphere of this special place, as well as its ale! As the clock struck 10pm, the friendly locals engaged me in conversation, kindly helping me with my pronunciation of the unpronouncable gaelic mountain, loch and river names. I quite forgot about Norrie as I noted the caretaker entering the bar and we bought eachother a drink.

Some two hours later, the bar door swung open and there stood my bedraggled pal, his dark glasses steamed up and a bemused look on his face! When we'd parted, I'd taken his normal glasses which were in his pack, and in the dark he was well nigh blind in his dark ones. Norrie explained that he too had approached Inverie House believing it to be our Bunkhouse. With the caretaker in the Pub, Norrie pushed open the door and entered the establishment. With no lighting and our hero being blind as a bat, he fumbled his way from room to room seeking some lighting. The highlight of his nocturnal ramblings was to feel his way round the snooker table wondering what strange object this could be! It still brings a tear to my eye to imagine Norrie and the snooker table!

After his first pint, he still couldn't quite see the funny side, but we made up the next day, enjoying another super day out in Knoydart, one of the best places on the planet. If this story seems more Ronnie corbett than climbing corbetts, then I apologise and will save you the story of the next two days which were equally eventful! I love Knoydart! Thanks to Knoydart House for reminding me of quite how special this place is!

Paolo Nutini meets Robert Burns

Paolo Nutini meets Robert Burns - A man's a man for a that!

With Burns night approaching, I came across a Paolo Nutini performance and think it's absolutely brilliant. Click on it and stick with it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ascending Beinn a' Chaorainn

Ascending Beinn a' Chaorainn.

Our only munro climbed at the weekend, Beinn a' Chaorainn provided an excellent short days walking in mixed weather. The day started with the ground frozen and the promise of sunshine, but soon deteriorated. With fresh snow falling on the way up and zero visibility on the summit, it showed how changeable conditions can be on the Scottish hills. The presence of a sheer drop from the cliffs dropping off the summit made sure the compass bearings were thoroughly checked.

Another great winter walk in the the Scottish hills!

Loch Treig from Beinn a' Chaorainn.

Summit Cairn, Beinn a' Chaorainn, 17th January 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

West Highland Way Scotland Long Distance Path

West Highland Way, Scotland, Long Distance Path.

Took a walk on the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven over to the Kingshouse Hotel on 18th January 2010. This is the most visited long distance path in Scotland, and the scenery around this area justifies this. Glencoe speaks for itself, but cresting the Devils staircase and seeing the Mamores mountain range spread out in front of you, makes the heart glad.

Buachaille Etive Mor from Devils Staircase.

Mamores from West Highland Way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter in Lochaber Scotland

Winter in Lochaber, Scotland.
A great stay at a lovely, cosy cottage, Tigh Mo Mhiann, Roy Bridge, Lochaber, Scotland. It's ideally situated for climbing the wonderful Grey Corries, one of the best ridge walks in Scotland!

The happy couple, Grey Corries, Lochaber.

Grey Corries, Lochaber, Scotland.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Skiing in Cairngorms Scotland January 2010

Skiing in Cairngorms, Scotland, 10.01.10.

A great days skiing in the Cairngorms on 10th January 2010. Thankfully the access road from Aviemore was clear all day on Sunday having been closed until 11am on the Saturday. It's certainly possible to have fun skiing in Scotland in these conditions!

Aviemore to Cairngorm Mountain, January 2010.

Cairngorms for Skiing in Scotland, January 2010.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Loch Choire Ben Vrackie Perthshire Scotland

Loch Choire, Ben Vrackie, Perthshire,Scotland.

For those who don't fancy climbing Ben Vrackie in North Perthshire, Scotland, there's a rather shorter walk taking in Loch Choire. It avoids the steep pull up to the superb viepoint of Ben Vrackie, by skirting by the Loch following a path back to the main track. Not that it's too easy to find in the snow!

Loch Choire, Ben Vrackie, North Perthshire.

Loch Choire from Ben Vrackie, Perthshire, Scotland.