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Forfar & District
Hill Walking Club

Forfar & District Hill Walking Club

Forfar & District Hill Walking Club


2024 News



2024 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2002-2012
Note that the journal is stored in reverse chronological order. Some items may be missing but can probably be found in the Newsletters


Friday 21th - Monday 24th June 2024
Weekend Meet - Cannich

Awaiting report.


Sunday 9th June 2024
Day Meet - Derry Lodge - Bike and Hike

6 members attended. Since the route in to Derry Lodge from Linn o’ Dee car park starts with a good track, a choice of routes was suggested, one for those who wanted to cycle on the “easy” bit of the route and a slightly shorter option for walkers. In the end, all 6 attendees chose the longer bike and hike. Winter had made its presence felt on the hills in the previous few days, so it was a case of packing the winter fleeces and jackets rather than the sun cream and shorts.
It was cold but dry as the bikers set off, quickly reaching Derry Lodge before carrying their bikes across the footbridge and continuing to the Luibeg Bridge, where the bikes were left and they continued on foot, following the Lairig Ghru track as far as Corrour Bothy. Some 12km had been covered by this time but the hard work was only just about to start. A steep climb up Coire Odhar took the group on to the plateau before they curved south to the final ascent to the Devil’s Point. It was cold, but the walkers still found time to stop and admire the stupendous views of the whole Cairngorm range laid out around them, with the massive cleft of the Lairig Ghru to the north and the River Dee winding its way eastwards. The group then made their way north, high above the Lairig Ghru pass, in a bitterly cold wind. At this point, 2 of the party decided that the next two Munros would be a bit too far, so they decided to head back at this point, retracing their steps down to Corrour Bothy. Nevertheless, it was still into the evening by the time they returned to the car park, while the other 4 strode on, determined to take full advantage of the long June daylight hours with no thoughts of early Monday morning starts. The next stop was Cairn Toul, the fourth highest Munro at 1291m so there was still much hard work to be done to reach this point despite the already lofty altitude of 1000m. More photo stops were called for despite the significant wind chill before soldiering on to the final top of the day, Sgor an Lochain Uaine. The foursome then retraced their steps down to Corrour Bothy and out the Lairig Ghru to Luibeg where they wearily picked up their bikes for the cycle back to the car park. In total they had covered 35km and almost 160m of ascent. It had been a very long and tiring but most enjoyable day, with the clocks chiming midnight by the time they got home.

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Monday 3rd June 2024
Outdoor Meeting - Girds

On a pleasant sunny evening, six members took part in the annual girds contest at the Reid Park, Forfar. This was a much lower turnout than normal, but presumably most members were making the most of the good weather elsewhere.
A round-robin contest ensued rather than a straight knockout competition, but this proved too long for two members who retired in mid-contest, a rather high attrition rate which probably reflects the advancing age profile of the club. The best two performers then took part in the grand final. After romping through the heats, Graeme was given a run for his money in the final by Mel but came through to win in the end for the second year running.


Sunday 26th May 2024
Social Meet - Hampers and Champers

9 intrepids met up at a very damp Tarfside for a pre-Hampers and Champers stroll.
We set off along the Rowan Road in full waterproofs and good spirits. The party split at the foot of the hill. Most elected to go to the tower by the easier direct route but a small group cut ‘through dub and mire’ to visit the hut circles on the SW flank of the hill. We reconvened at the tower where we enjoyed limited views and were subsequently joined by a 10th member who’d got a head start on us. From the Rowan we cut over to Cairn Robbie via the ruined community of West Bank. Again, the views were muted due to the wet and murky conditions. By now everyone deemed that honour had been satisfied. We headed SW, barely stopping on the top of Milton Hill (the views here were almost completely obscured by low cloud.) From there we continued cross-country back towards Tarfside Farm. A brief and unsuccessful attempt was made to locate the site of the oldest church in Glenesk en route. Blame the tour guide!
We arrived back at Tarfside at the allotted time and were delighted to find that St Drosdans Lodge had been transformed for our ‘Hampers and Champers’ event. All credit to those committee members who went the many extra miles to provide us with such a fantastic spread of culinary delights and to have worked wonders in making the lodge so cheery and welcoming. Well done all.
And thank God it wasn’t a picnic.


Sunday 19th May 2024
Day Meet - Ben Vorlich & Stuc a' Chroin'

Ten members turned out for the day meet to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin. Four cars were taken, heading to St Fillans before taking the narrow South Loch Earn road where car parking can be a real problem. All four managed to squeeze into little spaces but were strung out over several hundred metres along the lochside.
A short distance up the hillside, the group of ten became eleven when a young walker caught up and, having missed her group at the start, decided that a walk with the Forfar club was not a bad idea. A potential new member, perhaps? The group eventually began to spread out, with the fitter members leading the way. One member, who only intended to climb Ben Vorlich, went on ahead. The other ten intended to climb both Munros but it became obvious that one member was struggling, so the decision was made that eight would carry on and the other two would take their time and climb Ben Vorlich only. It was hoped that the early morning mist would burn off and leave clear views but this turned out not to be the case and the walkers soon found themselves in the cloud. The leading solo walker met the two tail-enders on his way down and advised that there had been a temperature inversion at the summit which gave great views for a short period but this had closed up again by the time that the others reached the top. While the advance walker and the two tail-enders continued on their separate ways, the main group had meanwhile descended west from the summit of Ben Vorlich on their way to Stuc a’ Chroin. Some of them did not like the look of the rocky scramble up the north-east ridge, so instead they took a longer route round to the less demanding slopes on the west side of the hill, successfully reaching the top a little later than expected. The other two walkers had a long leisurely break on Ben Vorlich summit before retracing their steps, regularly looking back up to the bealach on their left for signs of the main group appearing on the skyline. As it turned out, the twosome arrived back at the roadside about half an hour before the main group, so the timings worked out reasonably well.
The hill was busy with other walkers, and this reduced the sightings of wildlife. However, red and black grouse were spotted a short distance away from the path and higher up, the unmistakable sound of ptarmigan could be heard. The full walk covered around 14km with 1200m of ascent and took 7.5hrs.


Monday 13th May 2024
Outdoor Meeting - Visit to Tayside Mountain Rescue Base

A healthy number of members made the journey to Blairgowrie to visit the Tayside Mountain Rescue base. Our hosts were Paul Morgan, leader of Police Scotland Mountain Rescue, Tayside and Paul Russell, Joint Leader of the Tayside Mountain Rescue civilian team. Numbers attending were such that we split into two groups. One group was given a tour of the equipment on the ground floor of the building by Paul Russell while the other group were given a presentation in the upstairs training room on the history of mountain rescue in Tayside by Paul Morgan. The two groups then swapped over. The training room had been set out for us with photographs, mementoes and rescue reports from years gone by. Members spent some time reviewing these mementoes, the older members recognising some familiar faces and names from the past. Our hosts also took the time to answer our numerous questions. All members attending agreed that it had been a very interesting night. President Steve Wilson gave a vote of thanks and a donation of £50 was made to Tayside Mountain Rescue.


Friday 3rd - Monday 6th May 2024
Weekend Meet - Isle of Skye

13 members and obne guest attended.

The traditional May holiday weekend meet was held in Skye, staying at the Waterfront Bunkhouse, Carbost. Members and guests made full use of the final few days of a good weather spell, covering many of the Cuillin tops and beyond over four days. There follows an account by the various groups of their exploits over the weekend.

Friday
Set off early doors from Forfar and headed to Kilfinnan. Started walking just after 09:00 on a cool but sunny morning. Temperature climbed as we did. Quick bite to eat at the bealach then fought strong side winds to make the top of Meall na Teanga at 12:00 . Amazing views towards Ben Nevis and looking down on Loch Lochy. Back down to the bealach and up the zigzag path to pop out at Sron a Choire Ghairba by 14:00. Much deserved cherry muffins out of the wind behind the cairn in glorious sunshine, for once. Off the hill and back at the car just after 16:00. Squeezed an exhausted walker and their dog in the car for a much appreciated lift to their campsite.

Saturday
As part of the club weekend in Skye, 6 intrepids decided to try and summit Sgurr Nan Eag and Sgurr Dubh Mor in the Cuillin Range. As only one of us had any Cuillin experience we decided it might be prudent to hire a guide. We met Duncan at the Glenbrittle campsite at 8.30am and were relieved to find him a very affable and experienced individual. We wasted little time and were soon moving at a smart but manageable pace S then SE on the footpath to Coire a Grunnda. It was a bright,clear morning with little wind and spirits were high. But maybe not as high as the hills that stood over us! The footpath rose gently all the time so it came as a shock when we turned NNE into the Coire itself. The climb became steeper immediately and very quickly started to require clambering or boulder-hopping. At the first scramble we paused to don our helmets. About an hour and a half after leaving the cars, we had a seat and a quick bite to eat by the beautiful Lochan Grunnda. Shattered rock towered everywhere around us. I looked for an obvious route that would take us in the direction of our first top and could see none. After what seemed like the briefest of pauses we were off again. We headed SE to the wall of the coire and started clambering up the steep boulderfield there. It got steeper as we climbed but it was apparent (by the teethmarks on the rocks) that this was a recognised route. Eventually the boulders relented. We left our packs and continued up, still picking our way through rock faces and scattered boulders up into the ridge. We continued SE along the ridge, marvelling at the views that had opened up and arrived at the summit within 30 minutes of leaving our packs. It was absolutely stunning. We stopped long enough to soak it all in and take 1000 pics, then we were off again. We headed back to our bags then contoured E below the rim of Coire A Grunnda to the Bealach a Garbh-choire. We followed a ledge that made the going much easier and safer. I was hugely grateful - not for the first or last time- for Duncans intimate knowledge of these hills. We headed N along the ridge that formed the Bealach, thankfully bypassing a towering pinnacle on its E side. We were then required to cross the ridge and had our first proper scrambles on its W side as it rose towards Sgurr Alasdair. When we got to the nearest point to Sgurr Dubh Mor, we abandoned our bags once again and headed E. The ground dropped away below us and care was needed along some narrow ledges. At one point we were again required to climb, pass through the narrowest of gaps between two massive rocks and drop onto the other side of the ridge we were on. !00m further on, we had to climb and pass back over the ridge once again. By this time we were only a couple of hundred metres below the summit. Between us and it, however, were steep faces of rock and narrow ledges. Below us was…. well….nothing. We girded our loins and with Duncans guidance and encouragement we dealt with each obstacle in turn. The last one was particularly hairy and airy, where we had to face the rock and cling on while we shuffled our toes along a 10cm ledge. It was our final test and once that was behind us it was an easy sprachle to the summit. The group photo Duncan took of us there shows big views, bigger smiles and a surprisingly small seating area. When I look closely Im sure I can see the smiles are a bit strained and that we’re not all in the moment. I suspect that, like me, everyone else is thinking that we still have to get back down from here!! The descent, for me, was easier than the ascent. Maybe it’s because I knew that the worst was behind me as soon as I’d got past Toenail Ledge. We retraced our steps back to the bags and cups of Now Tepid Tea. We drank and grazed while the Coastguard helicopter practiced over Coire A Grunnda. Had they been alerted that the Far i’ Wi Noo crowd were in the area? Or maybe they thought it was the right place to be on a Bank Holiday Saturday. When the time came to leave, I was surprised and delighted that Duncan announced that we could deploy our walking poles. He was as good as his word and we followed an easy route (interspersed with the odd clamber) down to the loch and beyond to the mouth of the Coire. After that, the shallow angle of the path back to the campsite was heaven for our tired legs and feet. I realised to my amazement that I’d not had to don anything over my baselayer top all day. I nipped to the campsite loo on our return and missed the fact that the rest of the team had gone for an amazingly welcome coffee in the tearoom. I walked to cars and back with no sign of them before the penny dropped. If you’re going to get lost on Skye, I’d recommend that's the place to do it.
Another group: Started the walk to the Old Man of Stor at 08:00, roasting even then. Gentle walk up the good path around the main pillar and behind Cathedral rock. Stunning view, if a bit hazy, towards Rassay and Rona, with Liathach and Beinn Eighe in the distance. Much busier on the way back to the car park, can’t believe the coffee shop wasn’t open. Grand tour of Skye commenced, taking the A855 north past Kilt Rock and on to Kendram and the remains of Duntulum castle sitting high above Tulum Bay, looking out towards Harris. We continued around the peninsular to Uig and back to Portree for lunch at the harbour, being entertained by a hen party from Glasgow. Back to the lodge for a refreshing cuppa then out to Talisker Bay, which we had pretty much to ourselves by that time.
Saturday morning saw the only negative incident of the weekend when one member, who had gone for a cycle, came off his bike as the result of a large pothole. He suffered severe bruising over much of his body but thankfully no more serious injuries. As a result, however, he had to cut his weekend short and go home. With the exception of this incident, the weekend was a great success. It’s not every Skye weekend that members can boast to have been out on the hills for four days in a row.

Sunday
Sunday saw 6 gluttons-for-punishment decide to try for Sgurr Na Banachdaich, despite the prospects not looking too good. We left the Glenbrittle Youth Hostel in still, dry conditions but with the Cuillins obscured by mist. As we walked out the well-worn path, we had occasional tantalising glimpses of the Cuillins. After a couple of km the ground got stonier and steeper. A cuppa was deemed necessary once we’d gained a ‘viewpoint’ on the ridge An Diallaid. The mist was still coming and going round about us. When we started climbing again, the mist seemed to rise just ahead of us. The stony ground became rocky ground but paths wound amongst them. We started to wonder if we might just be lucky enough to get glimpses of views from the summit. Roughly 3 hours after leaving the cars, we gained the top. It was warm, with scarcely a breath of wind and we could hardly believe our luck; we had climbed through the mist and had views over a stunning inversion. The mist ebbed and flowed to reveal more or less of the hills around us as the minutes passed. We had a leisurely lunch on the summit before descending by the same route. The mist had lifted off the lower slopes. We stopped at our viewpoint on the way down and somehow nearly all managed to fall asleep in the warm sunshine. Bliss! We were awoken by the faint but distinct calling of beer. A call that cant be denied. We walked the 2 km back to the cars with a feeling of smugness for having gambled and won with the weather. And a growing drouth.

Another Gtoup : Out early for a trip to Neist Point, the most westerly part of Skye. Fog impacted on the views as we gained height but not the atmosphere. There were lots of man-made stone piles which resembled a graveyards through the mist. Explored around the headland looking for otters but they were elsewhere. Dropped down out of the fog though a stramash of campervans in passing places and on to Dunvegan for pizza. Past Dunvegan Castle (occupied by the same family for over 800 years) and lovely walk to Coral Beach.

Monday
Headed out about 07:00 aiming for Sgurr na Banachdich but redirected to the Fairy Pools in low cloud. Decided we’d got an excellent feeling for Skye, without getting any of the Cuillins but everyone else got plenty for us and we had our two on the way up, so very satisfied. Another group of three had another venture on Skye on a damp and much cooler Monday as they set off for Blabheinn. Leaving the car at approximately 09.30 we headed off on the excellent path in a westerly direction still hopeful for some sort of view through the clag. Being overtaken before the path split by 3 young chaps from the Mountain Rescue certainly helped one lady member’s pace, and still feeling reasonably fresh even after 2 previously very full days, we found the summit just after 12 noon. A “surprise” bite of birthday cake made up for the lack of any view even though a south easterly wind prevented the candle from being lit, and we retraced our steps to arrive back at the car park just before 15.30. A very pleasant 6 miles on mixed terrain, with great chat, superb paths, loose scree, a wee scramble and a few knee bruising boulders! Would love to return on a day of good visibility.


Sunday 14th April 2024
Day Meet - Jock's Road

The April day meet provided a bit of a change from recent walks, in that a through walk with a bus had been planned. The chosen walk was Jock’s Road, and it was a surprise to many that the club hadn’t done this well-known right of way through the Angus hills for several decades. It proved to be a popular choice, with twenty-five members meeting at Glen Doll car park at 8am, where a bus was waiting to transport them round to the north end starting point at Auchallater.
The walkers set off just after 10am in sunshine on the pleasant track which follows the Callater Burn, reaching Callater stables after an hour where a refreshment stop was enjoyed. At this point one member went ahead as he was planning a high-level route over Tolmount, Tom Bhuidhe, Mayar and Dreish. The remainder followed in small groups along the banks of Loch Callater. Beyond the loch the path fades and the mountains close in as the head of the glen is approached and the path climbs gently to afford splendid views into Coire Kander on the right. The walkers stopped here for another break just as the weather was closing in and donned waterproofs before tackling the steep climb up to the Mounth plateau. The rain showers turned briefly to snow and hail as the plateau was reached and the walkers were now exposed to a chilly northerly wind which did not encourage any let-up in the pace as they passed the high point of the walk at Crow Craigies. The wind abated further along the plateau and the descent towards Davy’s Bourach was made in more pleasant conditions. Some time was spent at the Bourach checking that everything was in order. The rain came on again on the walk down from the bourach, becoming progressively heavier on the way through the forest to the Glen Doll car park. The last group reached the cars just after 5pm, with the “A Team” having arrived some 45 minutes earlier.
Most of the walkers then adjourned to the Clova Hotel, where a buffet meal had been organised. This was a replacement for the 60th anniversary meal which unfortunately had to be postponed the previous October. They were joined by other members who had not walked and four others who had an afternoon walk up towards the bourach.
The total distance covered in this walk was 21km (not eight and a half miles as stated on the signpost at the Glen Doll end of the walk!). The highest point was Crow Craigies at 918m. The solo adventurer completed his walk of 4 Munros successfully in a similar time to the other walkers, having covered an extra 6 kilometres or so! The four afternoon walkers turned back before reaching the bourach, the original plan having been to meet the main party around there, but a combination of old injuries and not very promising weather discouraged them from walking any further. Their walk amounted to around 10km.
This was easily the most successful walk in terms of numbers for a few years – food for thought for the future. Through walks and buses may be the order of the day.

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Friday 22nd - Sunday 24th March 2024
Weekend Meet - Invergarry

Fifteen members descended on the Saddle Mountain Hostel at Invergarry on Friday evening for this weekend meet.
Saturday
With the forecast indicating a very stormy Saturday the members very tentatively made plans for the following day. Seven decided on a low level walk, while two decided to take their chances on the nearby Corbett, Ben Tee. Another was determined to climb Sgurr Mhaoraich, “determined” being the operative word as he had two attempts at it! The remaining five, all keen Munro baggers, threw caution to the wind (literally) and decided that Gairich was to be their destination. Their record of a very eventful day follows:
As part of the Invergarry weekend away, a group of intrepids decided to tackle Gairich on the S side of Loch Cuaich. We set off from the car park by the dam at the east end of the loch in less than ideal conditions (wind, rain, hangovers) and with little prospect of conditions improving. We ’skelpit on through dub and mire’ for an eternity (or about 3 km in metric) following the footpath WSW to the edge of a plantation before heading due W up the ridge Druim Na Geid Salaich. The wind and waterproofs negated conversation and the rain mostly obscured any views-other than the view that we were all in need of a checkup from the neckup. We were all in a shallow depression whilst sheltering in a shallow depression when Ian declared that he was baling out. Graciously, he told us that he would sit (on the heated seat) in his (waterproof and windtight) car and wait for us. The rest of us might have followed but a lull in the rain lured us on. We hit the slush-line as the ground steepened and climbed with care, especially where the path passed above a rock face. Thankfully we were now in the lee of the hill. Most of the way up, we stopped for lunch and contemplated the tiny but tricky looking scramble above us. A solo walker on his way down assured us that it was A Doddle. (He was from Paisley.) The Doddle turned out to be a Grade 3 Doddle in the wet snow but we overclamb it and summited 20 minutes later. We could have greeted when greeted by driving snow and zero visibility. We didn’t hang about. On the descent we were relieved to find a route that bypassed the scramble and shortly afterwards dropped below the cloud level. Things were looking up. Then we looked down and saw Paisley Man. He was sitting motionless after having appeared to have thrown all his belongings up and down the hillside. We went down to him and discovered he was trembling and as white as a sheet. He informed us that he’d slipped, been unable to stop himself and plummeted over a 30ft vertical rock face. He’d then tumbled at least another 50ft down the slope before coming to rest. And he reckoned his arm was broken….
All credit, his Garmin watch had already raised the alarm and he had already spoken to the emergency services on his mobile. Help was on its way. After checking that he had no allergies, our mobile pharmacy (Fleur) gave him a couple of analgesics. His arm was put in a sling and he was sat on a mat with a foil blanket around him. He was given a dry hat, a dry glove and his belongings were gathered up (apart from a packet of crisps that was never caught.) His phone rang again and we were told a helicopter was 20 minutes out. This, coupled with the fact that he was getting very cold, had us decide that it would be best for him to try and slide down the hill to flatter ground. Once off the steepest ground he managed to get to his feet and very carefully we continued our way down.
Right enough, the helicopter arrived about 20 minutes later and, after a lot of fanning (!) about it lowered the winchman down. His name was Scottie. He was ruggedly handsome, in crampons he must have been nearly 7ft tall and was altogether dashing. The way the ladies were looking at him, I thought he might be the one needed rescuing….. To cut a long story short, the helicopter managed to set down about 300m away. Our casualty provided the pain for our painstaking descent to it. About an hour (?) after we’d come across him, he was being whisked off to Raigmore Hospital. But not before we tried to get him to sign a membership form. We resumed the trudgery of the long, saturated walk out. True to his word, Ian was still there, waiting in the car park when we squelched up in the fading light. He’d been alerted by an estate manager that there had been a rescue and he was much relieved to see us. But not as relieved as us, seeing those heated seats.


Meanwhile, the lone walker on Sgurr Mhaoraich had to accept defeat as he was reduced to crawling on hands and knees, such was the ferocity of the wind.
The other two groups, by comparison, had a less eventful day. The seven low-level walkers set off in two different groups, following a circular route through the surrounding woodlands, passing Loch Lundie and succeeding in finding a fabled “secret” bothy, the location of which its caretakers ask not to be divulged. In keeping with the spirit of this request, even the other groups present on the weekend could not get them to divulge its location. The larger of the two groups on this walk, five in number, followed an extended route via Bridge of Oich, spotting a golden eagle en route. This walk covered 22 kilometres in comparison to the 15 kilometres covered by the other two low-level walkers.
The remaining two walkers had a testing day on Ben Tee. The calm conditions and drizzle on the lower slopes gave way to knee-deep snow, gales and poor visibility on the higher slopes. They were almost tempted to turn back on several occasions but soldiered on to reach the summit where they had a well-deserved bite to eat before a hasty retreat back down the snowy slopes.
The latter two groups and the solo walker arrived back at the hostel around the same time in late afternoon. As the evening gloom set in, some concern was beginning to be expressed for the Gairich party when they arrived with stories of their eventful day.
Sunday
Sunday dawned with a much drier, brighter and calmer day. A large group of eight went a bit further west and north to Meall Dubh, a Corbett which is now in the middle of a very large wind farm. The hillside is now a maze of vehicle tracks between the turbines, providing some navigation practice to ensure that the correct track was being followed.
The solo walker set off early for Sgurr Mhaoraich, take two. This time he was successful in much improved conditions.
The remaining group of five decided to tackle Am Bathach and Ciste Dubh. Straight from the horse's mouth:-
We parked in a layby half a km E of the Cluanie Inn in Glen Sheil and walked a further half km to the edge of a plantation. There we found a path that led NNW straight up the hill. We were expecting tired legs after yesterday's travails but we climbed steadily, spurred on by the ever-improving views in the still, sunny conditions. Somewhere around the 600m mark we hit the snowline. There wasn’t much of it but what there was was quite wet and slippery, making the going on the steep, grassy slope considerably harder. We arrived at the top of Am Bathach around midday and stopped for a break and a cup of tea. It was at this juncture a major incident was narrowly avoided when a certain gentleman passed a certain lady a bag of jelly babies whilst declaring “Got to keep the old boiler stoked!!” Only furious backpedalling averted another callout for the emergency services. We followed the ridge NW and crossed Bealach A Choinach. We stopped for lunch atop an outcrop of rock having climbed 100m up the other side. It was at this point IC decided the Corbett would be enough for him. After ‘haein’ wir piece’ he headed back towards the cars via the Allt a Chaorainn Bhig. The remaining group continued NNE then N following the ridge. The only deviation from the top of the ridge was to take a small bypass path past the sharp peak of An Cappach. It was during this manoeuvre we experienced the only short ,sharp snowshower of the day. The last half km to Ciste Dubh consisted of a very narrow ridge made tricky by the snow having been compacted by the foot traffic. However we gingerly made it to the top and were rewarded with absolutely stunning views all round. We returned back the way we had come even more gingerly with the long slope to the W feeling quite perilous with the thin coating of snow. Likewise, we opted to drop down to the Bealach 200m to the E of where we came up in an attempt to choose the least steep gradient. Once in the Bealach again, we had dropped below the snowline. We followed ICs chosen route down the Allt a Chaorainn Bhig finding a strong path that led us right back to the cars. All agreed it had been a red letter day to be in the hills. Especially after yesterday!

All fifteen walkers therefore managed two full walking days on this weekend, no mean feat considering the conditions on Saturday.

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Tuesday 12th March 2024
Mountain Mind Quiz

The club has won the prestigious ‘Mountain Mind Quiz’ trophy at a mountaineering quiz held at Blairgowrie Golf Club on Tuesday 12 March. This is the fifth time the Forfar club has won the event. Congratulations to members Graham Brown, Ray Campbell and Colin Sinclair who represented the Club at the quiz, expertly organised this year by Blairgowrie and District Hill Walking Club. The team topped the leader board after answering questions on Scottish mountains, bothies, geographic featues, glens and lochs, flora and fauna.

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Sunday 3rd March 2024
Day Meet - Ben Vuirich

Six members set off in the direction of Blair Atholl to climb Ben Vuirich by the western approach. The new car park at the road end above Old Bridge of Tilt is a vast improvement on previous arrangements and the £5 parking charge seemed reasonable under the circumstances. The walkers set off eastwards from Loch Moraig at 8.50am. After about three kilometres the path forked, and the group took the right hand fork towards the old settlement at Shinagag. It was about this point that the walkers disturbed three black grouse. This was to prove to be a walk with wildlife much in evidence for the first time for a few outings. The bridge over the Allt Coire Lagain was crossed just before Shinagag was reached and it was noted that that the river was quite high with meltwater, a factor which was to cause some difficulty later. The path from here disappeared temporarily due to some new plantations but after a rough few hundred metres the track was found again. There had been some significant fresh snowfall and the last part of the track was covered in very wet and slippery snow. After a refreshment break about 11am the track end was reached and the group took to the open hillside, with the snow becoming much drier and easier to walk on. As more height was gained the walkers soon found themselves above the cloudbase and frequent navigation checks became necessary. Just before 1pm the welcome sight of a snow-engulfed trig point came into view and the walkers settled down in the shelter of the cairn for a well-earned break. After taking bearings in the poor visibility, the descent was made in a north-westerly direction before turning north down a gully to join the track which runs under the slopes of Beinn a’ Ghlo. From here the walkers faced a long nine kilometre walk back, following the route of the Allt Coire Lagain much of the way. A herd of red deer watched our progress for a time before nonchalantly moving on. Shortly, another path junction required a decision to be made between continuing to a ford across the river or taking a longer route back to the bridge at Shinagag. The shorter route was taken, and the group soon found themselves at the ford. Most of the stepping stones were submerged under water and it took some time scouring the bank for a likely-looking route before all members managed to cross, some getting wetter than others in the process. The last stretch of the track was notable for the presence of wildlife. Some red kites were spotted, along with a group of roe deer and some lapwings, but the stars of the show were some short-eared owls which were patrolling low over the grassland and heather, looking for voles, evidence of which had been spotted earlier with the tell-tale signs of little holes in the snow and grass. It was just after 4.30 that a very weary group of walkers reached the welcome sight of the cars, about seven and three-quarters of an hour after leaving. The distance covered in the walk was 22 kilometres with 800 metres of ascent.

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Thursday 15th- Monday 19th February 2024
Weekend Meet - Lake District

11 members attended. Six members arrived on the Thursday evening for a four night stay at the Robertson Lamb Memorial Hut in Great Langdale. Five further members arrived on Friday for a two night stay. This was the first time the Club has stayed at this mountain hut. It had been recommended and it was known to be in an excellent location. Members found it to be well equipped and comfortable. The fact no one else was staying at the hut also helped to make it an enjoyable weekend, despite the poor weather Friday and Saturday.
Friday
Five members set of from the road end in Great Langdale in showery weather with the intention of climbing Scafell Pike. To begin with the odd top revealed itself as the group followed the Cumbrian Way before climbing to Angle Tarn via Rossett Pike. As the group reached Esk Hause, and took a refueling stop, the weather closed in and the rain became more consistent and heavier, reducing visibility in the process. One wet (sic) member decided to turn back at this point. The other four continued to climb and reached Scafell Pike via Broad Crag. They found the going tough with a number of boulder fields to be negotiated. Given the time and poor weather, the group decided to return via the approach route rather than trying to complete a circuit. Distance c20k with c1300m of ascent. Another member walked a short way with the main group at the beginning of the walk before exploring Langdale.

Saturday
The weather having worsened overnight, the very low cloud level obscured the fells and Saturday’s rain was increasingly persistent and heavy as the day progressed. Making the most of the day, all eleven members walked from the hut to Ambleside following the Cumbria Way. The group enjoyed the pleasant track to Chapel Stile, then on to Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge. By this time the rain was heavy and the remainder of the route left the Cumbria Way and became a trudge along minor tarred roads then the main road into a very busy Ambleside. After a spell of welcome shelter and sustenance in two of the town’s hostelries, the drookit group caught the bus back to the hut where they filled the drying room with their soaking gear and enjoyed a very good evening after their wet day out!

Sunday
The weather forecast for Sunday was more encouraging and it remained dry with good visibility. Four members decided to explore the Langdale Pikes. Setting off from the National Trust car park below Dungeon Ghyll, they enjoyed a fine day in the hills completing the circuit of Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, High Raise and Sergeant Man before returning via Stickle Tarn and Dungeon Ghyll. Distance c12k with c1000m of ascent.

Five members set out to walk a circuit of Great Langdale and Little Langdale around Lingmoor Fell. Having walked to the top of Great Langdale, they followed the footpath from the campsite, climbing out of Great Langdale, then descending past Blea Tarn and into Little Langdale. They enjoyed the magnificent views of the Langdale Pikes, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, the Pike of Blisco and many more which they tried to identify. Descending into Little Langdale, the wonderful views of the fells to the south opened up. Following the pleasant track from Fell Foot Bridge along Little Langdale, the group then crossed the Greenburn Beck over the quaint Slater Bridge footbridge and climbed northwards towards Great Langdale, stopping on the way at a roadside hotel where they sat outside and enjoyed a welcome short break and cool drinks while they basked in the surprisingly warm sunshine. The path then took them through the woods along the southern edge of Great Langdale to Oak Howe where they crossed the Great Langdale Beck and followed the road the short distance to the RL hut.

Two other members walked round Tarn Hows, enjoying the wonderful views of the Lakeland fells after the cloud of the previous two days.

Monday
After cleaning the hut, the six remaining members departed. One member headed south to visit friends while the other five visited Grasmere. On another dry day, and after a search for somewhere to park, three members pottered about in town while two enjoyed the short climb to Helm Crag above Grasmere.

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Monday 12th February 2024
Open Meeting / Annual Photographic Competition

21 members and a guest attended. After the short Open Meeting, the Annual Photographic Competition was held. Graham Chalmers, the judge, had been perusing the 81 photos from 17 entrants. Entrants had been given a code so Graham had no idea of whose photos they were. Graham went through the entire 81 entries, commenting on each. His comments will be added here later. Results are as follows :-
Best Photograph (Brian Coull Memorial Trophy) : 1st Jackie Arbuthnott, 2nd David Sinclair, 3rd Nicola Baillie
Best Collection of 3 Photos (Norrie Trophy) : 1st David Sinclair, 2nd Nicola Baillie, 3rd Jackie Arbuthnott

See 3 links here on Google Photos


Sunday 4th February 2024
Day Meet - Morrone

After some discussion about the intended location and name of the hill for this meet, it was clarified that the destination was the Corbett overlooking Braemar, and not the Morven located 25km further east as some had thought.
Nine members in total ventured out on this meet, six setting off from Forfar at the relatively late hour of 8am and three others heading straight to Braemar. Seven members set off through the village at 9.40 with two latecomers intending to go for a low-level walk before meeting the others afterwards. The weather was calm but overcast with drizzle in the air, which was a bit of an improvement on the high winds which had been expected. The road led steeply upwards from the west end of the village, rising above Morrone Birkwoods before becoming a footpath leading on to the open hillside, with good views back to the village and Balmoral beyond. To the north, Ben Avon and the other high tops were just clear of the cloud, and it was clear that much of the snow cover of recent weeks had gone. As more height was gained, the wind increased notably and layers of clothing which had earlier been removed had to be hastily retrieved from rucksacks. The cloudbase over the Cairngorms had also lowered significantly. By the time the walkers reached the top at a height of 859 metres, the wind was really making its presence felt and the wind chill was significant. The walkers were therefore really grateful for the shelter provided by the buildings surrounding the telephone masts for a refreshment stop. While they were sitting there, they were joined by the President and her husband who had decided to follow the others up the hill rather than go for the intended low-level walk, no mean feat considering they are both working their way back to full fitness after long lay-offs. After a lengthy break it was time to venture out into the wind again. The latter two walkers decided to retrace their steps down the path while the other seven headed off on a slightly longer route in a southerly direction on the vehicle track to a subsidiary top before curving west, down to the Clunie Water. The first kilometre or so was very exposed but once past the subsidiary top the wind abated as height was lost and the walking became very pleasant again, although the light drizzle continued to make its presence felt on occasion. The last part of the walk followed a minor road which runs alongside the Clunie Water, past the golf course and back to the village. The car park was reached just before 2pm, a total time of just over four hours. The two walkers who had returned by the upward route arrived only minutes later, and all nine enjoyed a cup of coffee in Braemar before returning home. The distance covered on the walk was 12km. The total ascent was 600 metres.

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Sunday 21st January 2024
January Day Meet / Annual Social Meal

Unfortunately all walks were cancelled because the arrival of Storm Isha. 33 members attended the meal at Sinclair's Kitchen at 5.30pm. Unfortunately, 5 other members had to call off. An excellent meal was served and a good blether was had by the attendees. By the time the group left, Storm Isha had really set in with torrential rain and high winds.


Sunday 14th January 2024
David Sinclair - New Donalder!

Congratulations to David Sinclair who "compleated" the 140 Donalds, consisting of 89 Donald Hills and 51 Donald Tops. These include 7 Corbetts and 24 Grahams. David was accompanied by his wife Sarah, and his parents, Colin & Linda. The last of his Donald walks set off from Glentress Farm on the B709 and climbed the Donald Top of Bareback Knowe (657m) before climbing to his final summit, the trig point on Windlestraw Law (659m). No great celebrations took place there, as a shower of snow and freezing rain swept over just as David reached his last summit. The event was celebrated with a meal in South Queensferry on the return journey. David reports that he did 71 on his own and the rest accompanied mainly by Sarah, and a few with other family and friends. It took about 50 walks, starting in 2015, when living in Linlithgow. Completing them from Pitlochry was a good deal harder. Munros and Donalds done. Corbett completion is fairly near but Grahams might take a bit longer!

David is the club's 2nd known Donalder. Alec Smith ""compleated"" in March 2017. See details here.

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Monday 8th January 2024
Open Meeting

18 members and a guest attended. The meeting was followed by an excellent presentation by David Sinclair on his 2017 bike trip from Linlithgow to the Black Sea and back. David also showed his 2019 bike trip to France and Spain to complete a loop bypassed on the 2017 trip. He brought along his bike and various bits and pieces.

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Sunday 7th January 2024
New Year Meet - Tarmachan Ridge

The New Year outing fell victim to the weather, but with settled conditions moving in a few days later a decision was made to head a bit further west to the Tarmachan Ridge on the following Sunday. This range often gives good winter conditions and so it proved on this occasion.
The short notice given for this rearranged walk meant that only four members turned up, although others took advantage of the good weather to enjoy shorter local walks locally.
The small group reached the already busy Ben Lawers car park just after 9am and were walking by 9.20. The recent rain followed by the cold nights meant that the path was a sheet of solid ice in many places. The snow line was reached around the 900m mark and the walkers had a refreshment stop in a sheltered spot facing the sun before putting on crampons for the last steep section before the main top, Meall nan Tarmachan, at 1044m. From here it was a wonderful high-level walk round the south-facing cliffs in snow which was deep enough and crisp enough to comfortably take a crampon. All the hills to the north and west were pure white, with Ben Nevis standing out particularly clearly against the cloudless sky. After another refreshment stop at the western end of the ridge, the group retraced their steps a short distance before descending into a corrie filled with fresher, softer snow. This proved to be quite steep in places and was quite warm work in the sunshine. The walkers then contoured round the side of the hill to the east before eventually rejoining the outward path. Crampons were then swapped for ice grips to negotiate the icy path and it wasn’t long before the car park was in sight. The car park was reached just after 3pm as the sun was lowering in the sky and the temperature was starting to drop. The walk covered 12km and although much of the walk was at an altitude of more than 1000m, there was only a modest 800m of climbing, thanks to the high starting point.

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