Ben Starav

Arriving in Scotland on a very sunny Friday (17 May 2019) seemed like a good omen for the whole hillwalking trip. But it was not to be so easy. The Saturday, on which we had planned to do the Tarmachan Ridge was a rather dreich and windy affair.We were content with driving from Lochearnhead to Fort William to buy our provisions for the week. There we visited the Costa on Fort William’s High Street, took advantage of the Wi-Fi there and then found no further excuse for not driving back a few miles to Glencoe Village.

We reached our coveted Laraichean Cottage about an hour too early so the housekeeping was still under way. Soon however we could move into the cottage and settled in quite comfortably. The plans for the next day were of course very much dependent on the weather which promised moderate winds, temperatures of a few degrees Celsius above freezing at Munro level and clouds. Fair enough we thought.

The next morning saw us heading for Glen Etive to saviour its rough and beautiful wilderness which will soon be destroyed by hydro developments on half a dozen of River Etive’s northern tributary burns. Shame, shame, shame!

We arrived at the small layby where the hike starts to find one or two other cars parked there already. A group of three just left for the bridge crossing the river when we booted up. Soon we were on our way followed the path around the perimeter fence of the small Coileitir cottage by the river and crossed the Allt Mheuran to reach the start of Starav’s steep and soaring north ridge. After a few minutes on the ridge we caught up with the threesome we had met at the cars. From then on our group of three English and two German baggers climbed the ridge together in a loose line of gasping hikers: It was the first Scottish hill for all of us this year. I had only climbed one mountain two weeks before on Crete – the 2000+ hill … [Read More]

2019-08-13T05:08:57+02:00May 7th, 2019|2001, 2012, 2019, 2019 - 2010, Strath Orchy to Loch Leven|

Sir Hugh Thomas Munro (16 October 1856 to 19 March 1919)

It goes without saying that the Bloody German Munro Baggers (aka Frank and Cord) pay tribute to the man whose work of listing and categorizing the highest Scottish mountains created the background for our hill-walking adventures in Alba since the mid-1990s. More than seventy years after Sir Hugh’s passing away in Provence in France, we climbed our first Munros (Ben Alligin and The Saddle, respectively). Ninety-eight and a half years after his death we completed our Munro round in 2017.

Sir Hugh’s list was first an item of curiosity, then of interest, later it became a daunting task and then finishing it off turned into a mild obsession. From the short biographical texts and media available on the web it seems that Sir Hugh was a meticulous worker. Fulfilling the job of listing the Scottish mountains higher than 3000ft assigned to him by the SMC was certainly only doable because he had some compulsive character traits plus considerable will and stamina. Compiling such lists is not art, it is tough work. Ticking off the list – after having climbed the hills, that is (!) – involves tough work as well. But there is more to lists:

Deer, eagle, fox, dog, hare, spider, frog, toad, ptarmigan, grouse, weasel, pine marten, owl, otter, adder, fish, highland cattle, crow, raven, worm, sheep, owl, squirrel and yes, capercaillie. And oh: midge. Gneiss, sandstone, granite, quartz, hornblende, gabbro, dolerite, rhyolite, feldspar, schist, shale and limestone. Burn, firth, river, reservoir, lochan, loch and allt. Ben, Beinn, Sgur, Sgurr, Sgor, Sgorr, Pap, Meall, Carn, Mullach, Spidean, Tom, Creag or Aonach.

Dreich days, foggy days, snowy days, sunny days. Frostbite, soaked skin, blisters and sunburn. OS maps, the compass dangling from our necks, GPS helping in white out conditions and letting us down after a few hours of steady rain. Gentle breezes, light winds, blustering gusts, raging storms. A Brocken spectre, halo rainbows, cloud inversion.

Evenings spent in holiday cottages, inns, hotels, b&bs, pubs, tents and at least one bothy. Post-hike Coca Colas bought in petrol stations or village shops quenching … [Read More]

2019-03-18T08:30:53+02:00March 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Clisham

Route No. 100 in Ralph Storers Book 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains formed a fitting end to our excursion to the Outer Hebrides in spring 2018. The 2018 trip to Scotland was the first in 25 years during which we climbed no Munro at all having finished our first – and likely last – round of the coveted 282 hills in September 2017 on A’Mhaighdean.

The relatively modest height of these island hills is more than compensated for by their unique setting: The blue Atlantic Ocean in almost every view from the summits, the sea lochs snaking into the heart of North Harris, the white sand and emerald-coloured water of Luskentyre beach, to name but one of them.

The Clisham circuit of course forms the most challenging and most rewarding high-level trip in Harris. With Tomnaval, Clisham, Mulla bho Deas, Mulla bho Thuath and Mullach an Langa surrounding Loch Vistem and Glen Scaladale this is a ridge walk that need not fear comparisons with many a mainland classic.

We opted for doing the whole circuit in exactly the way Mr Storer describes it. This meant a start at the bridge over the Scaladale River where there was enough space to park our car beside the A859. The hike along the A859 to where the easy path towards Tomnaval branches of to the right took us less than 10 minutes. With the crags of Castail Ard to our left we headed up this hikers highway to the three lochans which appear one after the other close to where the path reaches its highest point. Leaving the path behind we took a line avoiding the crags above Lochan a’Chleit Ard which led us through thick heather up onto the broad shoulder of Tomnaval. Once on the open grassy shoulder it was an easy tramp over successive bands of rock to the summit region of Tomnaval. Before we reached the summit we headed due west to the bealach between this hill and Clisham.

At the bealach we rested for a few minutes before we tackled the … [Read More]

2019-02-08T13:20:25+02:00May 24th, 2018|2018, The Islands|

Ullaval, Oreval, Bidigi, Cleiseval

The week we spent on Harris and Lewis was divided in two parts weather-wise. Coming from Ullapool on the MS Seaforth we had arrived in Stornoway in perfect weather. This had given us the chance to see the beauty of the island(s) on our leisurely drive to Borve (on Harris, in case you ask which Borve). Once we had settled into our great Borvemore cottage there – the Beach House, which as its name indicates is only 300m from the beach – we explored the surroundings. The local graveyard, the grassy stretch of land leading to the wide bay and the sandy beach. Later and as we had intended from the start Alex, Frank and me watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. Very romantic indeed.

Less romantic was the fact that a front from the West then brought us two days of nearly constant downpour. I managed to finish reading my book on the geology of Assynt, Alex and Frank made some short excursions but generally speaking we were stuck in the Beach House.

Then, after this prolonged rainy intermezzo, the weather was benign again and we finally ventured out into the hills of North Harris. Our aim was to see the great overhang of Sron Ulladale and then walk back to the road via the ridge. Via Tarbert we followed the A 859 to where the B887 branches off towards Huinish. We followed this extraordinarily scenic coast road to the point where the private road to Loch Chliostair joins it. A few hundred metres on the private road brought us to a spot where we could park our car close to where the road was blocked off by a barrier.

We continued on foot passing Loch Leosaid and when the road started climbing towards Loch Chliostair we kept following it. From the end of the road we followed the well-engineered footpath along the east shore of the loch. This reservoir nestles very nicely between Tiorga Mhor and Oreval. At its north end a short climb leads to another small loch, … [Read More]

2019-04-28T18:16:58+02:00May 22nd, 2018|2018, The Islands|

Foinaven

Alex, Frank and me had rented a bungalow very close to the ultra-scenic camping ground in Clachtoll perched above the sandy beach by the Atlantic Ocean. We spent two nights there before we took the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway. The sunset was very beautiful to watch but the whole spot was a wee bit windy and consequently marvelling at the sea, cliffs and sun left us feeling quite cold before we retreated to our living room.

The program for the next day was simple and plain but nonetheless filled Frank and me with anticipation: We finally wanted to climb Foinaven, a hill whose ascent we had postponed for more than a decade because its remote location and “lowly” Corbett status had kept us from taking a day off from our Munro-bagging quest. Nuts. Indeed.

So, the three of us drove up the A838 to Gualin House where we parked our BMW at the hikers’ parking lot. We went back along the road for a few hundred metres past Gualin House and then struck a more or less direct line across the moor towards the north-west ridge of Ceann Garbh. On the way to the foot of the ridge both Alex and me each inadvertently sunk one of our booted legs into one of the many water holes and tiny pools the heathery land held in store for the inattentive hiker. Once on the first grassy than rocky shoulder of Craig na Claise Camaich and the ensuing ridge of Ceann Garbh we made good progress. Some of us went faster, one of us was not so quick. I struggled to keep up with Alex and Frank but finally they disappeared out of sight. Soon I was greeted by the whirring sound of Frank’s quadro-copter drone, indicating the lads were having a break at the summit. Then I joined them not without having inflicted some significant scratches and bruises to myself: When ascending the boulder field below the summit I had lost my footing and fallen sideways and backwards into a cavity between … [Read More]

2019-04-26T08:19:43+02:00May 17th, 2018|2018, The Islands|

Alba 2017 – A Video

I started carrying a quadrocopter with me while bagging the Munros since 2016. The first results were horrible, i struggled with the wind, with the fear to loose the copter and always with the constantly changing conditions on the Scottish hills – you know what i mean. I am still far, far away from good results – it is still difficult for me simultaneously concentrating on flying and filming. But this clip with recordings from our two trips to Scotland in 2017 is good enough to show it to whomever it may interest.

2018-12-27T19:39:35+02:00December 30th, 2017|2017|

COMPLEATED!

We did it finally! Munrocount 282! Munros left 0! Compleation! A lot of exclamation marks! After 25 years of visiting Scotland we finally ticked our final 2 Munros Ruadh Stac Mor and A’Maigdhean in Fisherfield Forest. Not everything went as planned. If you want to know more about read Cord’s nicely written article below. For now this will be one of the last entries at this blog. It was fun while it lasted!

2019-01-04T09:43:44+02:00September 18th, 2017|2019 - 2010, Compleation|

A’Mhaighdean

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” as the text from a poem by Robert Burns says. The intention to bag our final Munros in June 2017 had come to nothing when less than perfect tour planning and even less perfect weather conditions had seen us do only six successful hill walks during the nine days we spent in Alba. The sub-optimal use of our time left us with a total of 280 Munros bagged and A’Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor still unticked when we left Scotland in early June. After a few days back in Germany it became clear to us that we did not want to wait until 2018 for the compleation to take place. We checked our calendars and decided that the weekend of 9 and 10 September 2017 would see us back in Scotland to return to the Fisherfield Forest.

So when we landed at EDI on Friday 8 September we were looking forward to our compleation weekend. Off we went in our cosy little Audi A1 towards the Northwest Highlands. We stacked up on provisions for the weekend and on gas for our stove in Aviemore. At around 5:45 p.m. we reached Corrie Hallie, slipped into hiking clothes and shouldered our really heavy rucksacks. At 6:10 p.m. we left the parking and embarked on the hike towards Shenavall Bothy some eight kilometres away in Strath na Sealga.

The going on the track was good but the heavy load slowed us down considerably. It took us about one hour to reach the cairn beside the Landrover track that marks the starting point of the footpath to Shenavall that skirts around the lower slopes of Sail Liath of An Teallach. Rain kept coming down on us. In fact the whole week had been very wet in the West. Soon after the highest point of the footpath had been passed the track dissolved into a muddy and boggy quagmire interspersed with the all so well-known slabs you can find all around An Teallach. We made tiresome … [Read More]

2019-01-04T09:40:55+02:00September 9th, 2017|2017, 2019 - 2010, Compleation, Loch Marree to Loch Broom|

Ruadh Stac Mor

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” as the text from a poem by Robert Burns says. The intention to bag our final Munros in June 2017 had come to nothing when less than perfect tour planning and even less perfect weather conditions had seen us do only six successful hill walks during the nine days we spent in Alba. The sub-optimal use of our time left us with a total of 280 Munros bagged and A’Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor still unticked when we left Scotland in early June. After a few days back in Germany it became clear to us that we did not want to wait until 2018 for the compleation to take place. We checked our calendars and decided that the weekend of 9 and 10 September 2017 would see us back in Scotland to return to the Fisherfield Forest.

So when we landed at EDI on Friday 8 September we were looking forward to our compleation weekend. Off we went in our cosy little Audi A1 towards the Northwest Highlands. We stacked up on provisions for the weekend and on gas for our stove in Aviemore. At around 5:45 p.m. we reached Corrie Hallie, slipped into hiking clothes and shouldered our really heavy rucksacks. At 6:10 p.m. we left the parking and embarked on the hike towards Shenavall Bothy some eight kilometres away in Strath na Sealga.

The going on the track was good but the heavy load slowed us down considerably. It took us about one hour to reach the cairn beside the Landrover track that marks the starting point of the footpath to Shenavall that skirts around the lower slopes of Sail Liath of An Teallach. Rain kept coming down on us. In fact the whole week had been very wet in the West. Soon after the highest point of the footpath had been passed the track dissolved into a muddy and boggy quagmire interspersed with the all so well-known slabs you can find all around An Teallach. We made tiresome … [Read More]

2019-01-02T22:23:14+02:00September 9th, 2017|2017, 2019 - 2010, Compleation, Loch Marree to Loch Broom|

Compleating The Munros – Next Try

After failed compleating in June we didn’t wailed for long but put ourself together and planned our next trip to Scotland. So we are going again in September, fly in to Edinburgh, drive to Corrie Hallie, walk in to Shenavall, built up our tents, will have a nice outdoor meal and of course a wee dram or two, sleep well, get up early in the morning AND will hopefully finally bag Ruadh Stac Mòr and A’Mhaighdean. Then we will walk out and drive to Ullapool and will have a compleater curry and hopefully lots of beers. And while we are in that marvellous area there should be a return to An Teallach, one of our first Munros. Definitely looking forward to that microadventure.

2017-09-19T14:14:55+02:00June 29th, 2017|2019 - 2010, Uncategorized|