Archive for Gorge Walking

A trip to Visit the Devil

These should’ve gone up a while ago but I was overcome by lethargy and away for a while.    Here’s some from a Drumchapel Canoe Club tuesday evening trip to see Auld Nick at The Devil’s Pulpit.  Who would’ve thought the Devil lived so close to Glasgow?  [Don’t answer that].

A Week on Mull – SGC 2010


Well its that time of year again when the Scotstoun Gentlemen’s Club (SGC) head out to the hills for a week of outdoor pursuits – This year we went to Mull. Unfortunately we spent the week trying to predict the unpredictable weather! Nonetheless we made the best of it and got out on the bikes to Tobermory via Loch Frisa, Coastal walking on the Ross of Mull and gorge walking up in Glen Forsa and also by Loch na Keal. So much to do on this Island – definitely heading back there soon.

Spad

Scotstoun Gentleman’s Club – AGM – August 09

For the second year running we (Somhairle, John, Spad & Hamish) made our annual pilgrimage to Torridon. We rented a great wee cottage in the grounds of Torridon House (seat of Lovelace) and have found it to be a great base for exploring Wester Ross. This year the weather was changeable to say the least.

Myself and Hamish had a great first day climbing Ben Damh. This is a great hill with staggering views and some technical walking. Without the use of a decent map we found our way up without bother on the well trodden path. On the way down the path petered out and decided to make our way down Spidean-Coir-an-Laoigh which was steep but manageable. Later to discover there was a decent path down the ridge to the east.

The next day took us to Meall a’ Ghiuthais which is a fairly small hill 887m. We set out up the well bolstered foot path from the car park on Loch Maree. This path is steep but very will built and has stunning view of the loch and Slioch. When we set out it was 25º and blazing sun but soon after we left the path for the scramble up Meall a’ Ghiuthais the cloud thundered in and visibility became very low. Walking between the two summits we found the corrie the guidebook suggested for descent. Somewhere along our walk between the summits something had gone a-wry and we ended up wandering west in to Glen Grudie. We only noticed our mistake once we saw through some small breaks in the cloud; instead of seeing Loch Maree we were looking at the Glen. A long detour above Druim Grudaich brought us back to the path and glourios sunshine. This trip was a valuable lesson in checking and double checking your bearing in poor visibilty. If the cloud hadn’t broken slightly we may have walked into the plateaux and been faced with a very long walk out. Aye, lesson learnt.

As the week progressed the weather got worse, but undeterred me and Spad set out to mountain-bike up the path alongside Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil between Litahach and Ben Eighe. The day started out in the sun with the odd shower, the trail was fun and good going apart from a puncture of one of the square edged water bars.  However as we came alongside Ben Dearg the rain and wind swept in with gusto. The trail also conspired against us becoming totally un-rideble, rugged and undulating over ancient merrain. Things became morbid when we found it impossible to stop and eat due to hash weather and lack of shelter, so we soldiered on hungry, wet and cold. Once we reached the Coire Dubh Mor of Ben Eighe the weather and trail improved giving us a welcom re-fuel ready for the descent. To say this descent is gnarly is an understatement, it is one of the most technical descents i have ever done. With gargantuan boulders, sharp water bars loose rock, sand and steep rock garden steps it is not one for the faint hearted. Riding it I was on the edge of me abilities having to hop, track stand, manual… You needed all the  tricks in the book to clear every section. There was no let up and nowhere to recover. Add to this the un-mistakble grind of metal on metal as the sandstone crud disolved my brake pads, reinforcing the uncompromising rugged harshness of this epic place. A quick burn along the road down Glen Torridon in team time trial style got us home and dry.

We took things a little easier the rest of the week, having a fine day out in the rain on Gairloch sands beach, mucking around in surf canoes and wind surfing. John, Hamish and Spad had a gorge walk up the Abhainn Alligin (i think) while I sat on the couch and licked my wounds. A great wee mountain bike ride round Loch Damh and there was the obligatory night on the shot with Thorburn and Porch. then the depressing drive back over the border (highland) into the lowlands.

If you get the chance to go to Torridon. GO!

Somhairle

Cashell Burn

Chris and myself took the bank holiday by storm with an adventure fit for kings.  Piling the car with wetsuites, ropes, helmets and swimming goggles amongst other things, we took off to explore a the Cashell Burn gorge on the North West side of Loch Lomond about 5km past Balmaha.  What started out as a gentle walk through the lower section got gradually steeper and steeper.  In a slightly insane move we took off to climb a waterfall running down the gorge wall.  Loose rock and moss a plenty, you’d have to think this would go down as a first ascent, although only because no one else has been stupid enough to try it before.   An abseil back down into the gorge got us back on the main drag where waterfall after waterfall kept us entertained for a good few hours.  The final surprise came as a 10m waterfall (not very good at estimating heights) .  By this time it was starting to get dark and it started to dawn on us that our lack of a map or headtorches was less than ideal.    We tried, unsuccessfully to climb a line just to the right of the waterfall before taking a different approach through the trees, moss and mud on the side of the gorge.   By this time, things were starting to look a little sketchy.  Without a path we’d be fighting our way down through thick forest or trying to walk down alongside the gorge, all in the dark with no headtorch or map.  We took our chances and headed directly away from the gorge across a heather slope, thinking  we’d seen a path running parallel to the gorge when we checked the map back at the car before we left.   Had our luck not be in we might have spent the night stumbling around in the forest wearing a wetsuites and an weird assortment of climbing/swimming gear – it was all starting to look like one of those lateral thinking jokes that go like ‘two men found dead in the middle of a forest wearing wetsuites and swimming , how did they die?’.  But today the gorge gods were on our side, we spotted a path just before dark and it was straight down to the car and glasgow-ward for a fish supper.

Misha + Chris

Torridon gorge walking

The river that flows down past the Torridon Inn might sometimes looks like a trickle from the road, but just round the corner it steepens up into a gorge section with a series of waterfalls.  We got a chance to head up through the gorge when we made an escape from the Shieldaig Fete for a few hours, hoping that a good dunk might sort out our hangovers from the ‘Shieldaig Sheep Shed Shuffle’ from the night before, and it did.  Hamish, who was dressed in usual walking gear, joined us for the first section hopping from rock to rock with no intention to follow us up through the gorge.  When he slipped and fell in, it seemed that he may as well clamber up through the  water with us.  It wasn’t until he was neck deep in a pool and unable to haul himself up the waterfall out of it – due to the ‘drag’ of the clothes he was wearing – that it dawned on him what was going on, and that it had gone several nothches past the ‘walk’ he’d set out on.  Tom accompanied him back down and a comunication mistake mean’t that we didn’t do the second part of the river.  Can wait for next time.

Robin/Hamish/Tom/Cathy/Misha

Photos/video to follow from robin.

Equpiment:
wetsuites
shoes/wetboots
missing: helmets and lifejackets

Gorge Walk – Kilannan Burn_Abriachan

Last weekend we got out to Kilannan Burn in Abriachan.  Chris, Sarah, Lorraine and myself wandered up the gorge in wetsuites.  The Burn itself was once the subject of book by Mollie Hunter, about the amorphous and mythical Highland creatures known as Kelpies.  As kids my brother and sister ocassionally went up the gorge – we once found a dead sheep in the gorge but I dont think we saw the kelpie, although it is difficult to tell when they can change from one animal to another.

The Gorge section is an excellent trip from the bridge which crosses the river about half way up the hill (GR568347).  You can also visit the waterfall which is beneath the bridge -wander down the path to the left of the river for a hundred yards or so and you should be able to get down into the gorge (watch the steeps sides though).  Once in the bottom of the gorge walk upstream  to get a little shower under the waterfall – excellent!

After the waterfall we wandered back up to the bridge to walk thorugh the main gorge section.  We did it without ropes, but a confidence rope probably wouldn’t go a miss, particularly if anyone’s just getting used to gorge walking.  It is of course level dependant – this river in spate would be a different proposition.  Most obstacles/waterfalls are avoidable but be careful of loose rocks and the slippy sides of the gorge which could be more dangerous than the waterfalls.  The end of the gorge section is easily obvious as it’s just after the biggest waterfall climb.  You can sometimes jump into the plunge pool form here although I dont think it’s that deep.

I did take a Hi-8 video cam in so should be able to get some footage up here soon.

Equipment:

wetsuites
dry shoes/trainers
helmets << should’ve had but didn’t
lifejackets << should’ve had but didn’t

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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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.