Mam na Gualainn East Top - 755m
Beinn na Caillich - 764m
Monday 6th February 2017
Weather/Conditions: A wild day! Accelerating winds ahead of a weather front, grey skies, spindrift scouring one side of the mountains, and throwing plumes of snow skyward. Inspiring hard weather, but also difficult to walk into!
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11.6km / 970m / 4h 37m
I parked up at Callert, the sky with patches of blue, but giving me a slight unnerving feeling, generated by the wind, drumming up turbulence.
I headed up the old track over the path, signposted Fort William. I definitely wasn't in a big walking mood for the first while, but some altitude made things go easier. The big thing about this day was the sense that progress was hard to get. As soon as I was in the snowline, the spindrit started. The wind direction was such (slightly east of south) that any spindrift was essentially blowing in my face. The constant wind, intermittent spindrift tornadoes, alternating scoured ground and deep drifts made progress hard. It broke up rhythm, and so I never really achieved a rhythm at all. I just slowly plodded or staggered until the summit arrived. Here it was really wild, I was pleased to have the goggles Steve got me for Xmas - they made the most massive difference. A few times I even looked dead into the spindrift onslaught which was surpisingly frightening.
From the summit, I headed onto over the east top to the foot of Beinn na Caillich. This hill has a long, attractive west ridge, which culminates in a pointed summit. Today this summit looked like a hellhole of blowing spindrift. Absolutely insanity. And yet none of this seemed too thrilling; I wasn't getting that primal emotional response. Maybe it's because I've done this so much. Once again, I plodded up, no rhythm, but wrapped up and annoyingly caked in sweat. I never felt cold in any way, but the effort of walking made me warm, though taking a layer off would have made it harder to handle the spindrift to the face. So I didn't....
A few false summits then the cairn arrived. I shot some of the spindrift and let the lens get a bit manky because I wouldn't shoot any more until I got back to the car at least.
A westward descent was instantly easier, as the spindrift was slightly behind me now. At the saddle where a rock band cuts across, I dropped south and made quick tracks out of the snow. Now not being harried by the wind, and now more confortable, I could finally 'switch off'. With a couple stops to remove jackets etc, I made the Loch Leven road in not very much time at all.
A little highlight as I got back to the road was heading through an abandoned township (or the likes) of Camas na h-Eirghe, complete with a Right of Way Society sign explaining what was there.
The road walk was very enjoyable - a quiet road, no rain and the hills looking spectacular. I observed the surroundings; what businesses were here, how old were the houses, what was the rock type underlying, what had washed up on shore... I enjoy this observational aspect of walking. In good time, I rounded one bend and the car was there.
I got my stuff unpacked as titantic gusts swept through, then within five minutes of driving off the rain stated. Result.
Mam na Gualainn
Beinn na Caillich
(0.00) 10.25am Layby, Callert
(1.48) 12.13pm Mam na Gualainn
(3.05) 1.30pm Beinn na Caillich
(4.37) 3.02pm Layby, Callert