It’s a long while since I’ve been to Scotland, and even longer since the last winter trip.

Snowy Scotland

Written by Haydn Williams

It’s a long while since I’ve been to Scotland, and even longer since the last winter trip. It was a suitably exciting reintroduction though, with day one taking in the three Munros of Sgairneach Mhor, Beinn Udlamain and A’ Mharconaich from Drumochter Pass.

Looking upwards shortly before Sgairneach Mhor was engulfed in cloud for the day.
© Haydn Williams 2020

The day started well, with sunglasses donned and a nice view of our proposed circuit. My intention was to walk to the summit of Sgairneach Mhor with everyone, and then run onwards from there. However, Scotland had other ideas.

“No, it was a nice easy walk.”
© Haydn Williams 2020

As well as unrunnable snow, we were presented with conditions as close to whiteout as it’s possible to be without being fully there. I was walking confidently tentatively on bearings presented by Phil, who did sterling work all day navigating us over the summit and onwards.

A momentary peep through the clouds.
© Haydn Williams 2020

Similar conditions prevailed over the remaining two summits, before we descended steeply down and into some visibility not far from the car. The descent was punctuated by some bum-sliding, although conditions weren’t optimal, unfortunately.

Descending A’ Mharconaich at the end of the day.
© Haydn Williams 2020

To call the next day “a bit driech” is an act of humungous understatement. With a forecast of extremely strong winds, a walk described as a “smash and grab” was planned to bag the Corbett of Beinn Bhàn. I did no smashing or grabbing, making a strategic descent when the ‘gnarl’ outweighed the ‘fun’. Others were made of sterner stuff, and persevered to the summit inside another cloud.

My camera doesn’t have enough range to capture the full grimness level.
© Haydn Williams 2020

With a forecast for further interesting conditions, I made the strategic call to have a quick blast up somewhere on Sunday before heading home a little earlier than planned. The ‘somewhere’ turned out to be Geal-charn, again from Drumochter.

Shortly before the turn around point, Geal-charn.
© Haydn Williams 2020

I had a minor hiccup inasmuch as I forgot to steal a map from Phil, and at exactly the point I realised this while sat in the carpark, nine (!) mountain rescue team vehicles pulled in and parked up. I took the hint and followed an easy track up to just below a bwlch at 750m, where I hit the cloud and so turned around.

Things got a bit harey. #sorrynotsorry
© Haydn Williams 2020

From there I whizzed (post-holed) back down again, and commenced the long drive south. By the end of the day I had remembered just how much effort it takes nowadays to get to the Highlands. Nevertheless, I had a great time and it was a lovely reminder of why I should make the effort more often. It’s just such hard work now compared to when we were young and keen and full of too much energy! 😀

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