Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Wonderful weather

The wonderful weather just keeps coming.  The bank of cold air blowing down from the North East has brought snow to many parts of the UK.  The cairngorms are heavily ladden with snow, and snow has even caused travel chaos to many other places throughout the rest of the UK all the way down to the Channel Islands.

Unbelievably though, the weather here in Glencoe just continues to be Alpine like - with largely clear skies and freezing temperatures at night.

Travel chaos can affect us up in the Highlands as well though during this period, although ours is caused by something completely different up in the Glen ..........

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Perfect climbing conditions

The last two weeks we have had the best weather I have experienced in a Scottish winter.  I am an avid reader of the blogs of the local climbing guides, and it seems pretty unanimous, that they have all been saying that these have been the best Alpine like conditions for a quater of a century.

It's not always possible to get out when the conditions are favourable, and work has been taking up a rather large part of daylight hours for the whole of this year to be truthful, but on Monday I had agreed to head up to the North Face of Ben Nevis with a mate Jordan and do a route.

We decided on Ledge Route - a straightforward winter grade II - but it's location, length and the panorama from the whole of the ridge, make it one of the best routes of its grade in Scotland.

My old Scarpa boots had served me well for a number of years, but have never been perfect, and a few weeks ago, I had bought a pair of superb La Sportiva Baturas.  Bright yellow, built in gaitors - they really are the mutts nuts.  This was my first outing in them.

Jordan pulled the old 'my rucksack isn't big enough' card, so I ended up carrying the rope as well as a rack of gear, and off we set from the North face carpark.  The trudge up from the carpark to the CIC hut is seriously tedious - steeply uphill on a trail for 600 m, and in that short time I ended up with a monster blister on each heel.  All that walking around the house in the new boots did nothing in letting me work out if I was going to blister up in them - note to self - start taping those heels again. 

So for the rest of the day I had rather painful feet, but that in no way diminished the beauty of the day.  We headed up the ridge, perfect neve, some areas of solid ice, cracking views, a picnic half way enjoying the views, topping out , and heading down No. 4 gully,  Little more to say other than check out these photos........


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Weather forecasting

Ann and myself went to a great lecture up at the Clachaig  Innlast night, the last in their winter series. It was presented by Andy Nelson, deputy leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue, and top end guide and climber. For all you outdoor folk, checking the weather conditions is imperative to safe days out, and Andy passed on details of a couple of weather sites that I hadn't been aware of before.

The first was http://www.wetterzentrale.de/ a German site that gives great charts on weather systems across Europe including temperature charts. This type of information is essential to getting an idea about past and future weather patterns.

The other site is the good old met office site that in the past I've always dismissed a little as I thought it was too broad brush. But delve a little deeper into the site, and within the leisure section, it is sub split into separate categories including mountains, beaches, national parks etc. So from there you can zoom into exactly where you are heading, pick out for example a peak you want to climb and it will give you detailed information for that specific peak.


In additiona to these sites, then theres a few more that are always on the list to check, so I thought I would list them here which you can add to your own weather forecasting arsenal.


And whilst I'm at it - if you're heading out in winter - don't forget to check the avalanche reporting and forecasts on the sports scotland site.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Winter Sun

Everyone loves a bit of sun on their faces in the winter months - it's a sign that longer days will soon be the norm, and spring is just around the corner.  We had checked out the weather for today and it was set to be a glorious day.  However, when running a B&B, the ability to get up at the crack of dawn and head off to do a route is dependant on whether you have guests in and are cooking breakfast.  That doesn't necessarily mean you can't get a sneaky day out up on the closer hills, but it can become a bit of a rush and you're always watching the clock.

So after breakfast this morning, an early decision was made that we wouldn't be rushing out with the crampons, ice axe and suncream as we had 'things to do'. By 9:00 it was a decision we were deeply regretting. The day was however pulled back from one of regret to a wonderful day. We had a cycle down to the Ballachulish slate quarry - only a quick cycle, but then we walked up around the rim of the quarry. You really get great views of Ballachulish and Beinn a Bheithir from this vantage point and can gain a real sense of the size of the Quarry.

From here, Loch leven was looking very tempting for a paddle out, so we rushed home, loaded the canadian canoe and hit the water. It really couldn't be calmer and for and hour or so we leisurely paddled around the islands. One of the islands, Eilean Munde is in fact an old graveyard where an old chapel lies in ruin, and the clan chief of the Macdonalds, killed in the Glencoe massacre, is buried. The Easternmost island, Eilean a Chomhraidh, had a gently sloping shingle beach, where we landed and strolled around. This is definitely a place to head back to in the summer for a picnic.  The only interuption was a seal making a huge splash as he popped his head out of the water a few times to see what was going on. Just before we landed, there had been about 7 or 8 herons all standing on the rocks - I'd never seen so many together in one place before.  What with the oystercatchers, and the geese low level flying over the water with their wings occasionally clipping the surface, it really was a great wildlife experience.

 So today just goes to prove that Glencoe in winter is not just about the mountains and bashing up winter routes, there's just so much more on offer. Although looking at the conditions - a mountain day would have been nice !!!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Segway fun


There are some things in life that you see on the TV, or read an article about, and it'll immediateley be one of those things that you must get around to doing one day.  And quite often it just never happens.

Segways for me was one of those things.  I'd seen them many years ago on the TV, was intrigued about how they work, how can a simple gyroscope stop you from falling off what appears to be an unbalanced lump of metal on two wheels with a handle.

So when we moved to Glencoe and realised that new off road versions of the segways were available for hire down at the Dragons tooth golf course, it was just something that had to be done.

Ann's parents, sister and brother in law were all visiting, so we all went on mass, to have a go.  Filled with a little intrepidation, we all received some instruction on how to get on board, dismount and go forward and steer.  And I really couldn't believe how easy they were to master.  Within a couple of minutes, I was hurtling up and down the tracks as the others got thier instruction.

We had about an hour of off road riding all around the golf course, up hill, down hill through the trees and across the course - it really was fantastic fun and I'd thoroughly recommend it.  The video of me above turning the segway around on the spot and playing around, really it just about 10 minutes after having my first go.  If you're in the area, have a go.  And remember - it's not just for the young - Ann's dad Norman is in his 70's and found it just as easy to master.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The start of something special

Well - here's the first blog for the new business - the soon to be opening Strath Lodge Glencoe.

Quality bed and breakfast accomodation, operating out of our gorgeous home, in the heart of the most fantastic place in the Scottish Highlands.

We look forward to welcoming you to our home at some point in the future.