The Club’s second 2018 meet to the Inner Hebrides saw us visit the splendid Craignure Bunkhouse on Mull. The meet was originally pencilled in as an opportunity for club member Jason Bostock to complete his Munros on Ben More. Unfortunately, circumstances dictated that Jason had still not climbed a handful of other Munros on the Cuillin ridge, so the champagne (but not the Marstons EPA) would have to remain on ice. Nevertheless, Ben More still had to be climbed, and a healthy turnout ensured he would not be alone on the ascent.
The club had booked the whole bunkhouse and it proved to be an inspired choice. It was extremely comfortable with picture windows looking out over Craignure Bay and the Sound of Mull and we were made to feel extremely welcome by the custodians.
Jim Aire, Jason Bostock, Dixie Deans, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Rowena Hepple, Michael Lever, Alan Orr, Ian Pollock, Norrie Shand, Gerry Weir
Andy Bostock, Donna Fraser, Jordan Maley, Rab Robertson, Debbie Shand
With the approach of the summer solstice George and Susan set of in their campervan and headed up to Glencoe on Thursday evening. They planned to take advantage of (nearly) the longest day with an evening climb up the two Munros of Creise and Meall a Bhuirdh which tower over the Glencoe Ski Centre. There is no photographic evidence to suggest that George climbed the hills barefoot and bedecked with a flower crown as a nod to the pagan significance of the day. There were some photos though capturing the stunning summit views in the dying light.
The bulk of the troops commenced their journey west on the Friday. Norrie bumped into Alan and Ian hanging out in Oban and together with Debbie they made the short ferry crossing to Craignure. Jim, Jordan and Gerry had already arrived at the bunkhouse and during the course of the afternoon and evening, everyone else made their arrival.
The Corbett of Dun da Ghoaithe rises just behind Craignure Bay so a few of the group took the opportunity to ascend it in fine conditions, firstly George and Susan on their quest to repeat all the Corbetts, then the four fastest legs in Lancashire (aka Mike and Jason) shot up and down in record time while Rowena made her ascent at a slightly more leisurely pace.
All the others contented themselves with an even more leisurely stroll along the coastline. It did however prove a bit exhausting for some…
A fairly restrained evening followed. A few songs were sung though and Alan gave a test drive to Ian’s mega-speaker which would play a much bigger role the following evening.
Saturday morning dawned reasonably brightly but a predicted low cloud base suggested that the extensive views from Ben More’s summit would not be enjoyed. Soon the convoy of vehicles were snaking their way over to west side of the island and the car park by the shores of Loch na Keal with a couple of cars being left 2 or 3 kilometres further north west to allow for a possible horseshoe back over the Graham of Beinn Fhada.
Before long everyone was kitted up and ready to go with some more impatient than others. Ian was a bit behind the others as he stopped to have a chat with the locals.
A decent path wends its way up Ben More’s west ridge with great views from the lower slopes over to Ulva and Tiree.
The chain soon lengthened as people climbed at their own pace. Half way up there were tantalising and fleeting glimpses of the summit plateau. Only the most optimistic though reckoned there would be views from the top.
Sure enough the clag descended with a couple of hundred metres of ascent ahead. Not only that but the temperature dropped considerable and gloves were donned by those pessimistic enough to have packed them. Dixie’s tasteful denim shorts would have been perfect for the beach in Ibiza but can’t have been too comfortable in the dank and chilly conditions.
Jason’s Dad, Andy, not in his first flush of youth at several months short of 70 years made a great effort in completing the ascent without any problems.
Just enough time was spent on the summit to refuel and take some misty photos before the party split. Susan, George, Jim, Jordan and Mike headed North West to descend over the A Chioch ridge and return over the Graham of Beinn Fhada’s long ridge. Somewhere in the back of George’s mind was an additional ascent of a Relative – but that’s exactly where it stayed, their return being complicated by the requirement for some careful route-finding along the craggy ridge in the mist.
The rest of the group returned by their route of ascent, warming up nicely as they returned to the vehicles. Despite the lack of a view and the dampness on top nobody confessed that they wished they had stayed behind and joined Debbie and Donna on a tour of Craignure’s charity shop, coffee house and pub.
A great atmosphere prevailed later in the bunkhouse once everyone had showered and eaten. Ian’s mega speaker was put to great use as an impromptu karaoke hour followed with Dixie’s Little Red Rooster and Andy’s Leaving of Liverpool amongst the highlights. Never one to let everyone else hog the limelight, Alan’s one-man band impersonation impressed once again. There can be very few kitchen utensils in the north of Scotland that haven’t at some point found their way onto Alan’s barren bonce.
The highlight of the evening though was undoubtedly the appearance of Nina, one of the co-custodians of the bunkhouse. Blessed with a gorgeous voice and a great sense of humour, she endeared the party with some great versions of classic songs accompanied alternately by Norrie and Gerry.
The following morning, most of the members headed back home catching one of the frequent ferries back to Oban, Norrie and Debbie after a short trip to Tobermory.
Rowena though was on an extended trip and went on to enjoy another great couple of days in Mull and some of the neighbouring islands.