28th April to 1st May 2023 - An Cala bunkhouse , Lochinver (early May bank hol )
Many of the group decided to stop on the trip north for some activities. David and I headed for a bike ride from Dalwhinnie past Loch Pattack to Laggan for some veggie Nachos before looping back to the van. Martha and Claire H ran to Craig Rainich and saw black grouse, visited the newly revamped Corrieshalloch gorge. Doug and Neil decided against scrambling in the rain and went up Canisp instead, then got in a small climb (? new route) accompanied by Claire in the evening sun at Clachtoll.
There was an extremely friendly cat in the bunkhouse car park. This was a good omen as it always results in Dave J being in a positive mood. The kitchen was quite small so fridge space was at a premium, but the cooking situation was helped by a few members having arrived early enough to take advantage of the famous Pie Shop.
The weather forecast for Saturday was good, so everyone was making plans to take advantage of the exceptional climbing and walking in Assynt. Neil and Doug headed for sea cliff climbing at Reiff. David J, Tim N and I headed for the three summits of Quinaig which was a lovely ridge walk enhanced by sighting a young Sea Eagle (Tim is a twitcher so we believe him). Shireen, Gillian and Fiona C visited the iconic Suilven, Gillian waiting on the hill to enjoy the fine weather whilst the others returned a little earlier.. Rob E bagged the summits of Ben More Assynt and Conival by the usual route whilst Fiona R and Mike sought out a scramble en route. We all felt a little smug when a Whatsapp appeared from team Death March (Claire H, Martha and Duncan I) complaining about the tediousness of their route…
Many of the group headed out for dinner, taking advantage of the pubs and restaurants nearby. The cat very much appreciated the opportunity to share fish from the cafe under the bunkhouse. Meanwhile Team Death March, having made the unusual decision to link Meall Horn with Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh were predictably late, having crossed the surface of the moon before returning to inhale dinner.
Sunday forecast rain, so Neil, ever keen for some climbing, headed south of Loch Ness on his way home. He dropped off Claire H at Ledmore for a run back via Sulieag bothy.
Rob E was also unable to stay a further night and left early with the intention of taking in Canisp on the way. David J and I opted for a coastal walk to the Old Man of Stoer, taking in impressive views of not only the coast but inland to the hills. Shireen and Fiona C headed North to take the normal people’s route to Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh, hoping for sun but reporting back on a need for navigation on the summit. Duncan I and Doug took in some scrambling on Suilven and were well on their way back before the rain began. In all it was a good day, with the rain arriving later than forecast.
On Monday David J and I headed out for a short trip up Glas Bheinn, and were caught up on the summit by Tim N, Martha and Shireen who had stopped in the pie shop in Lochinver on the way. Claire H with Doug, Duncan I and Gillian were outraged to find the pie shop shut.. They went scrambling on Cul Mor (Gillian joined for the path bit). The weather improved but apparently not Claire H’s head for heights. Fiona C was planning to stay in the Torridon area for some camping. Fiona R and Mike W solved the pie shop mystery- they were switching to summer hours on 1st May but only changed the sign when they opened. They gave up on their scrambling plans because of the rain, then took a wander around Knockan Crag and to the lighthouse at Rhue.
All in all it was a really enjoyable trip, enhanced by better than forecast weather and a friendly cat for those who appreciate such things.