After 2 years of cancelled New Year meets due to Covid it was great to see the return of an EMC New Year Meet in 2022.
EMC New Year meets were traditionally very popular. This year’s meet was much smaller in size due to the need to book the venue and get commitments very early and try to avoid the risk of the club losing money. Things were still feeling a bit uncertain due to Covid at the time the meet was booked.
This allowed the Meet Secretary to investigate a new venue at Ardtornish. Maybe not an obvious location in deepest Ardgour and no Munros on offer. However, Ardgour offers plenty of smaller hills and the scenery is spectacular.
David T arrived a day early and reported back to the group that the bunkhouse was very warm. It turned out that the electricity was off grid through the Estate hydro scheme. So no worries about rocketing energy prices and very toasty!
The scenery was not on display on the way over. Fiona C reporting an epic drive with the M9 flooded, snow from Callendar and only at the Green Wellie shop after 3 hours. Kenny and I managed a short Marilyn at the top of the pass. Admittedly conditions soon deteriorated from poor to horrific and a definite wet underwear day. As the rest of the team passed our car there were mutterings of – they surely haven’t gone up a hill in that.
Things could only get better. Hogmany saw Mike, Fiona and myself head off for the long walk from the Bunkhouse to An Steaghach. Fiona C headed off the same way on her bike and zoomed past us. At various points in the day we commented that it was strange we had not seen her bike locked up. The summit views were fantastic and we hung about for quite a while. We were just turning to go back down when a figure approached the summit from a different direction. Fiona C had taken a wrong turning on the bike. The OS map has not kept up to date with all the different tracks or new lochs! Fiona did eventually get past us at the end of the day. Kenny did the adjacent Marilyn Beinn a Chaisil and we all met at the impressive bothy Leacraithnaich for a cup of tea. On the way back we passed a large group heading to the Bothy for New Year with an estate truck following with all their food and drink.
Tim, David T and Chris did the excellent Graham, double Corbett Circuit - Beinn na Cille, Fuar Bheinn and Creach Bheinn – the latter having been pioneered by EMC member Neil Adams to become a popular little winter climbing venue in the right conditions.
Mike took charge of food for the communal meal with, soup, an assortment of different home made bread, 2 lasagnes, some excellent roast potatoes, apple crumble, raspberry and lemon cheesecakes and cheese and biscuits. David T provided evening entertainment with a few rounds of rather obscure charades. Chris showed that he could have an alternative career as a bomb disposal expert pulling out jenga blocks with a painstaking, tortuously slow and delicate style. This wasn’t enough to win though as Fiona C’s “smash and grab any block" approach proved to be more successful.
On New Year’s day Tim’s early start was rewarded with a sighting of an otter with crab and fish down at the loch. Chris, Tim and David did the Corbett Beinn Mheadhain. Kenny, Fiona, Mike and I blundered around a forest of fallen trees on the way to the Marilyn Sithean na Raplaich. Eventually, with time ticking on Kenny and Fiona lost interest and settled for a trig point and a tump. Mike and I investigated a distant fire break that turned out to hold the key.
2nd January was definitely an example of smaller hills providing a rewarding day. At Kenny’s recommendation, Chris, Fiona, Mike and I did the Beinn Iadain, Beinn na H Uamha circuit. Beinn Iadian in particular is a really fabulous hill and only 571m high. A fantastic day with wonderful views and brockenspectres. Tim did An Steaghach, Kenny - Beinn Mheadhaim and David headed home. His plan to get the ferry from Oban was thwarted by a lack of ferries from Lochaline. As David said – just need to be positive and enjoy the very long lovely scenic route (the Corran ferry wasn’t running on 2nd)
The rest of us stayed an extra night, thanks to Fiona C for arranging. Nobody did very much on the way home the next day. It was dreich.
We all agreed it had been another great new year, good company, good hills, good weather and great food.