Looking ahead to the summer

Beinn Sgulaird

Beinn Sgulaird

Yesterday as I was walking down to my studio in bright warm sunshine I was ‘buzzed’ by a large wasp that was no doubt, brought out by this sudden bit of nice weather.  When I left my studio that evening at just after six o’clock, the sky was still blue and the low sun was creating beautiful colours on the harbour side.  I have to admit this got me thinking ahead to the long summer days …and the prospect of long summer walks.

During May, June and July I can tackle some of the bigger or more remote hills.  Even with my slow pace, there is still enough hours of daylight for me to reach the higher tops, and get back down to the car before dark.  Indeed in fine weather in June you can easily start walking at five in the morning and not have to get back to the car until ten o’clock in the evening …if of course your legs will carry you for that long!  We’ve only been out that long once (when we walked the South Glen Sheil Ridge) but have certainly had a good few days where we’ve been walking for the best part of twelve hours or so …and it’s great.

On the ridge to Beinn Sgulaird

On the ridge to Beinn Sgulaird

Although we have plans this summer to walk a number of hills we’ve not previously visited, there is one hill that I particularly want to get back to …Beinn Sgulaird.  We climbed this back in early June 2007 and it really was a wonderful day.  This hill is situated at the head of Loch Creran to the west of Glen Coe and as such makes for a long drive to get to it from Irvine…..I seem to remember it took us about three and a half hours to get there.  We left very early (about 4.30 am) but had a beautiful drive up via Loch Lomond, Loch Fyne and Loch Awe and we were walking in bright sunshine by half past eight.

Beinn Sgulaird is a large hill, grass covered on its lower slopes but predominantly rocky higher up with a couple of rocky tops to go over before reaching the summit at 937m.  As one brought up on the mountains of North Wales, it never ceases to amaze me just how quiet most of the Scottish hills are.  Even back in the mid /late 70’s when I first started walking in North Wales with my father; many of these fantastic hills were decidedly busy with large eroded paths and sometimes quite busy summits.  I know of course that this is the case with some of the popular Scottish hills and with Munro bagging catching more and more walker’s attention these hills are more popular ..but that said, you can still have a day in the Scottish hills when  you have a mountain all to yourself.

On Beinn Sgulaird

On Beinn Sgulaird

This was the case when we visited Beinn Sgulaird; in perfect dry weather we made our way up the long west ridge to reach the south top.  It was very hot to start with and demanded numerous stops to sit and take in the views out to the sea and the western isles.  From the south top we had an entertaining wander across to the main summit with magnificent views all around.  It was so good that instead of descending directly from the summit we decided to retrace our steps back along the ridge ….and the whole time as far as we could see, we where the only people on this mountain.  We sat on the south top for quite a while again just taking in the peace and quiet and then realised that the sky behind us was getting very dark.  It had been a warm day and the thought that this might be a thunderstorm approaching made us scamper off down the hill as fast as our legs would take us.  Thankfully there was no thunder or lightening but we did get a little wet before we got back to the car at about half past seven in the evening ….wow, what a day.

Anyway, a return trip is very much due I think and this time I’ll be hoping to get a few sketches done and photos taken that I can use for some paintings.

Photos:  Anita Groves

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