In March 2019 the club headed off to the Jacobites Mountaineering Club Hut at Inver near Achnasheen. Sitting in Glen Carron the hut has a unique location being situated between the A890 and the railway line to Kyle of Lochalsh. The walkway built a few years ago over the boggy ground makes the trips to and from the lay-by much easier as do the wheelbarrows available to ferry over fuel and other essentials.
The club had visited this hut twice previously, in the months of October and February – with exceptionally fine weather on both occasions. After a few meets with less than good weather it was great to be heading to our lucky hut where once again the sun would surely shine.
Jim Aire, Ania Borg, John Calder, Bill Dallas, Raymond Evenden, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Duncan MacLeod, Tina MacLeod, Alyn McNaughton, Adrian Mowat, Norrie Shand, Lorn Smith, Gerry Weir
With the Friday weather putting off all but the keenest, Norrie decided on a leisurely drive north expecting to be the first arrival at the hut. The club flag on the gate over the narrow stretch of Loch Gowan suggested otherwise. The hut was empty when he got there though – other than a full bottle of Talisker on the table which he assumed had been left by James. Having got the fire lit and his gear sorted out Norrie decided that a wee dram from the bottle would not be missed. The prankster then poured about half the contents into another container and Whatsapped the Group a photo of the diminished bottle. Unfortunately, it transpired that whisky actually belonged to Lorn who is a lot harder to wind up than James.
In the meantime, Lorn had gone for a “wee run” from Kinlochewe to the Coulin Pass and back alongside Loch Coulin and Loch Clare. The Torridon giants of Liathach and Beinn Eighe could just about me made out in the clag.
James, eyes set on his 2nd Munro round was tackling the nearby Moruisg. This is one of those Munros which is a bit of a slog but is a wonderful viewpoint when all the hard work has been done. Unfortunately for him he got no visual reward for his efforts with high winds and blizzard conditions obliterating any potential panorama and his camera stayed firmly in his pocket.
The only others taking to the hills on the Friday were George and Susan, who took a detour which enabled them to ascend the Corbett of Meall Dubh, nestled amongst the wind farms above Glen Moriston. With similar conditions to what James was experiencing, at least the large summit cairn was useful in confirming that they had indeed arrived at the summit.
Raymond had a bit of a leg stretcher on the way north visiting the splendid Stag bothy on the Alvie estate near Kincraig.
As usual, club members appeared sporadically during the evening – but with conditions as they were outside, and a cosy blaze going inside, nobody was volunteering to help the later arrivals along with their gear.
James’ efforts had clearly sapped his energy as it took a pizza the size of a wagon wheel to try and replace the spent calories. As ever, his mates could be relied on to ensure none of it went to waste.
As the evening progressed, Norrie, Gerry and Raymond got loose with the instruments and bashed out a few songs. The musical highlight of the night though was undoubtedly Alyn’s set on the accordion which he had lugged over. He had played more regularly a few years back but was now getting back into the swing of things. This was a definite first for the club and certainly appreciated by all.
The weather forecast for Saturday was not at all encouraging and, as they proved accurate, several plans were scaled back to take account of the inclement conditions.
The Undaunted though were keen to get out in the hills. Gerry, Ania, Adrian, Duncan and Tina set out the short distance north east for the Munro of Fionn Beinn (NOT pronounced Fiona Bean) perched just north of the village of Achnasheen. This is another hill where an average walk is rewarded – in the right conditions – by a superb vista, but today was not to be one of these days. Nevertheless, the five enjoyed the challenge of reaching the summit – but nobody was posing for a summit photo in their shorts and t-shirt.
Jim and James were also keen on tackling a Munro or two and their journey took them a short distance in the opposite direction where Beinn Liath Mhor – and potentially Sgorr Ruadh – awaited them. The ascent of both these Munros is a full and rewarding effort on a good day but battling against wind and blizzards all the way to the top of Beinn Liath Mhor was more than enough effort in the prevailing conditions. Fortunately, having managed to attain the summit, they also managed to descend unscathed in the extremely challenging winds, although the same could not be said for James’ water bottle which took an unplanned cartwheel down the mountainside only to be (eventually) retrieved by Jim. James was extremely grateful that he would not have to part with another £3.50 to replace it.
Norrie’s original plan was to tackle one of the nearby Munros he had yet to repeat. Daunted by the weather though he decided that he would have other fish to fry – specifically the monkfish in the Applecross Inn. He set off with George, Susan and Raymond through Lochcarron and up over the famed Bealach na Ba to Applecross. The Corbett of Sgurr a Chaorachain lies a short distance from the top of the pass – although possibly not quite such a short distance as a casual glance at the map might suggest. The four set off in in the alternating calm/blizzard towards the Corbett summit with Norrie getting just about as far as the telecoms mast before waving goodbye to others and returning to the sanctuary of the car. The others battled on though and, heads down against the wind, and after some mild scrambling they eventually reached the 792m summit.
Lunch at the Applecross Inn followed shortly, with the monkfish a delight as usual. This is a well-loved part of the country with stunning and dramatic views whatever the conditions.
The four then proceeded to drive round the scenic road to Torridon where George guided them down to the secluded open-air church, Am Ploc where he proceeded to deliver a fire and brimstone sermon directed at the sinners perched on the boulders below. Alcohol was firmly denounced – at least until they got as far as the Ledgowan Hotel on their way back to the hut.
Alyn and John were also on the Munro trail and their short journey south east to Coulags saw them set off for the fine Munro of Maol Chean Dearg passing the excellent MBA bothy, Coire Fionnaraich where a welcome brew was enjoyed before and after the ascent. Their climb up the south east ridge kept them out of the worst of the weather but certainly “winter conditions” was an apt description of their ascent.
Their climb took them past one of the area’s finest Corbetts, An Ruadh-stac which boasts a steep and rocky climb to its lofty summit. This happened to be Bill’s chosen route of the day, bumping into Alyn and John a couple of times en route. The full winter gear was donned as he strode up the craggy incline – a dawdle in summer but a bit more challenging when blowing a hoolie in sub-zero temperatures.
Lorn was the last to set off declining to climb any mountains but instead went for a long and (mostly) enjoyable cycle circuit from Achnasheen via Kinlochewe, Torridon, Shieldaig, Tornapress and Lochcarron back to Achnasheen. He endured/enjoyed around 40 miles of headwind & hail then 20 miles of sun and tailwind – no doubt burning off a few more calories than most of the party.
With plenty fuel to keep the fire going a typical evening was enjoyed back at the hut including the traditional (for this hut) burning of the whisky cases.
Once again, the resident troubadours loosened their vocal chords and music and mirth was enjoyed into the sma’ hours although clearly it had been too long a day for some.
An uneventful journey home followed for most on the Sunday following some overnight snow and a visit from some local residents.
The exception was James who took “Fraser’s Way” over a pothole on the road north of Rogie Falls. One snapped coil spring later, he and Lorn nursed the car down to Contin with a breakdown truck eventually ensuring a 5.00 pm arrival home.
So, the “lucky hut” didn’t produce the goods this time as far as the weather was concerned but a thoroughly enjoyable weekend was enjoyed anyway.