Archive for February, 2010

Witches Trail


A wee video of a fine jaunt around the trails at Aonach Mor. Good day, good company and quality trails…

Boomerang Arete

Sitting on a Saturday afternoon looking at the amazing weather outside is a painful experience, but at least it’s given me the chance to put these up from last weekend.  Robin, Spad and myself climbed a funny (and fun) variation of boomerang Arete.  Wasn’t immediately obvious where to go but then I kind of like that.

Scratching Around for Ice

On the Road at 6am it was a familar pilgrimage up Scotland’s Great Western Road on Saturday morning.  Into Glencoe’s Stob Coire nan Lochain, Mini and Kia managed to get the rope properly fankled on boomerang gully, while Spad took a slightly uncommon  route up to Dorsal Arete.  Having previously avoided it for more difficult routes, the Arete proved to be nothing but good fun and I wondered why I hadn’t done it before.  Back down in the Fort it was pints and pub scran before lamb chops arrived.  A good sleep in till 7am, but rescued by the gondola it was off the back of Anonach Mor on Sunday.  We all lacked ice screws and on a variation of Tunnel vision, Mini and myself ran out of rope, with me 25m above the last shakey protection, and 2m from the top.  Plenty of excitement as it felt like I soloing over hard ground (for me).  Soft snow didn’t make life easy higher up, but luckily some other friendly climbers, up from Glasgow, dropped us a line.  We did the same for lamb chops,Skippy and Spad, who had had a similarly taxing climb.  Having run out of time for the Gondola, all that was left was twilight descent into the Glen, some gear sorting, and a pint on road down before making glasgow at midnight.

Arrochar Alps


7.30 in the morning. Trundling through the freezing, dank, dark streets of Yoker to Scotstoun; Chae bundles his stuff into the boot and 50 minutes later we’re standing at the foot of the Arrochar Alps. The sun was peering over the eastern hills turning the glass like loch pink and orange, it was a brisk -1ºC. After a short spin along the flats the climb up the fire road begins in earnest and gains height quite rapidly. The surface is hard packed and easy going apart from the odd patch of ice. The track soon levels off and meanders it’s way following the contours of the hill until Ben Vane comes into view. It’s 950m and is an impressive mountain, snow capped with cascades of ice running off it’s slopes and an imposing cap of swirling cloud. We were fortunate that the sun was shining and once we were in amongst the peaks it really did feel like we were in an alpine environment. The climb topped out and gave us view up to the damn at loch Sloy and to the east the hills beyond loch lomond, with the loch itself obscured by the fore ground. The descent on the fire road was fast a wee bit loose and heaps of fun culminating in a rough and icy ford over the Allt Coiregrogain. Another high speed descent followed, with deep water bars and loose gravel to contend with it was more fun than you’d have thought. Then you join the single track which leads back to Arrochar, this is where the real fun begins, it starts out pretty smooth and flowing punctuated with the odd shallow climb before a short, steep and technical ascent. This is when you get what you came for, the trail plunges down on loose rocky, water eroded and rutted terrain. The trail snakes it’s way down glen Loin, the riding is excellent, not to challenging but loose and rough enough to get the juices pumping. Speed is high and the km’s get despatched rapidly. There are some great steep sections both up and down, which keep you on your toes. In no time at all you are on the valley floor, the final stretch is easy going but still fun with the odd water bar and rocky patch to keep you interested. I would say the route is about red grade and being so convenient for Glasgow is a real alternative to heading for the Carron Valley or Glentress. The trails are natural, amongst real mountains and quiet except for the odd walker on the Glen Loin trail. Totally recommended, I’ll definitely be heading back.

About High-8

High-8 is a loose gathering of like minded adventurists who document first person, on the ground experiences with words, photos and film. The hope is to form a rough guide to outdoor adventure sports in Scotland and provide a warts and all, honest representation of what we find. No sport is excluded from mountaineering and mountain biking to gorge walking and kayak all are welcome and encouraged.

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Weather

We have compiled a list of usefull weather forecasts to help with planning trips. This list is designed to work on mobile phones, so it can be used when out in the wilds. Signal willing of course...

The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.