Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Zamberlan Ultralite GTX - First outing

There's not much to say really. We sploshed through water, mud and slush, over tussocky hillsides, old hard snow and descended steep slopes; even some pounding of tarmac was required. The boots didn't feel like 'old friends' of course, but they were comfortable and felt light on the feet and you can't ask more than that really. We'd want to have a few more days out in them before wearing on a long trip, but that's purely precautionary.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Dunmaglass and Moy Estates - Wind Turbines

I've just heard that Highland Council planning committee have voted by six to two in favour of the erection of 33 wind turbines on the Dunmaglass Estate. The Cairngorm National Park Authority and The John Muir Trust opposed the application and 1556 letters of objection were received and 912 for.

Meanwhile Carbon Free Developments want to establish 55 turbines on the Moy Estate and will likely submit an application later this year. The developer will probably offer free or discounted power as a community benefit.

I'm afraid there is simply no stopping the march of these ineffective monstrosities across Scotland.

Zamberlan Ultralite GTX

We have always been fans of Zamberlan boots but for the last few years have been unable to obtain them up here in Scotland, and they never seemed to be available in the Lakes either. So, when we noticed that Tiso had the new Ultralites (claimed weight, 960g in size 38) we had to go and have a look. Both of us ended up with a pair and will report after their first usage.

Based on past experience we expect them to be comfortable 'from the box' or at least to require very little breaking in.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Walk in Flyrocs

Tuesday 23 March

I bought a pair of Inov8 Flyroc 345 GTX on Monday. It was a bit of a risk since I have a metatarso-phalangeal joint  injury on my left foot and using lightweight footwear on the hill usually means pain, whereas I have had none at all this winter using my Meindl Borneos.

Yesterday I decided to take them on their first walk, an easy one from Castlehill Reservoir through to Castle Campbell via the old drove road. The morning's early promise vanished in thick cloud cover and a spritely breeze, but larks were rising, curlews were crying and around Glen Quey reservoir black-headed gulls congregated noisily.

Snapped trees and branches reminded of the severe winter just gone (almost) and frogspawn that spring was here (almost).

We passed Maiden's Well which is on record as early as the mid-1800s. Legend has it that the spirit of a young woman haunts the well and could be called forth at night by potential suitors. However, those who dared to do so were discovered dead in the morning.  

Records show that she was a princess held captive in Castle Campbell, known at that time as Castle Gloom, because she had dared to fall in love with a man below her station; sometimes her gaolers would allow her to walk to the well to drink its waters.

Full marks for the walk and so far for the Flyrocs, but to find out if the joint injury would remain pain free in these lightweights, some ascent over rougher ground was called for. Whitewisp Hill rose conveniently above us and by the time we reached the cairn I was fairly sure they would be fine. The rest of the walk over Innerdownie and down its steep slopes back to the car seemed to confirm they had been a good buy. Only longer and rougher walks will truly tell.

Their first summit!

Monday, 15 March 2010

River Braan Hydro Scheme

As Chris Townsend has reported (see also Byeways for further comment), the above proposal has thankfully been rejected by the Scottish Executive. It would have been an appalling assault on a magnificent river and thanks must go to all who successfully opposed it.

 River Braan near Rumbling Bridge

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A day in The Lomonds and The Well at Scotlandwell

This is a fine little group of hills and it was time for a visit. Only a 15 minute drive from home, West and East Lomond and Bishop Hill rise above Loch Leven in Kinross-shire to 522m, 424m and c457m respectively and we were heading for the southernmost, Bishop Hill.

Loch Leven

It was pleasant walking in the warm sunshine, but a cold wind soon reminded that spring was firmly trapped on the lower slopes. Someone had been post-holing, probably the day before when the snow was soft, and we followed the thigh-deep holes until the hardening surface allowed us to escape them and choose our own line. The area is popular with hang-gliders and para-gliders; fixed-wing gliders are catapulted into the air above Loch Leven from nearby Portmoak airfield and we watched several thrust skyward before noticing a para-glider drifting above us.

Para-gliding above Bishop Hill

We crossed the wind-scoured undulating plateaux towards the top of Bishop Hill, our plan being to re-aquaint ourselves with 13m Carlin Maggie, turned to stone for challenging the Devil's authority.

 Towards Bishop Hill, centre

Carlin Maggie 

Lynne wanted to have a look at the 'Well' at Scotlandwell, so foregoing a descent into the Covenanter's Glen and a climb to West Lomond Hill, we retraced our steps for tea in the spring sunshine and a short walk to the village.

The Well at Scotlandwell

A Drinking Cup remains for those who feel in need of a cure.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Cairngorm explosions

Such has been the snowfall in the Highlands this winter that, for the very first time, controlled explosions have been carried out to check the stability of the snowpack in the Cairngorm ski area. As a further reminder of the dangerous conditions prevailing in the hills, a huge avalanche has swept the west face of Aonach Dubh in Glen Coe - see Alan Kimber's site.

Yesterday, driving down Glen Eagles in glorious spring sunshine, we saw the debris of an avalanche which had blocked the road last week. It was easily big enough to have carried away any passing car and the slopes of the modest hills rising above the A823, were covered in medium-sized avalanche tracks.

Carlin Maggie, Bishop Hill

On Monday, I found myself on windslab as I made my way across the slopes to photograph this pinnacle. Needless to say, I made a rapid retreat and approached by a safer route.