Published 29th May 2023, 19:44
STRAVAIG, the act of wandering casually or aimlessly, has long been one of the finest and most evocative words in the hillwalkers' lexicon.
It derives from the 18th Century Scots 'extravage' meaning to wander about, digress or ramble (in speech), but can be…Read More
Published 10th May 2023, 18:27
IT seemed fitting to finish my fourth round of Munros on May 4th even if the relatively recent appropriation of that date failed to register at the time.
Since 2011, it has been celebrated as Star Wars Day by fans of the…Read More
Published 10th May 2023, 11:24
THE enclosing walls in the higher reaches of the Great Stone Chute were pulsing as the evening sun began to take its final bow, igniting constant subtle variations of colour, light and shade.
In contrast, Coire Lagan was awash with increasingly brilliant…Read More
Published 28th April 2023, 14:52
MY first ascent of Meall na Fearna was 20 years ago, a warm spring day when I walked up from Ardvorlich along with the crowds heading for Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin.
As they followed the well-worn path off to the…Read More
Published 25th April 2023, 12:57
WE pushed upwards through the mist under a spectral sun, emerging to a brilliant blue sky and towering clouds showcasing a landscape of pure brilliant white.
It was one of those magical spring days of winter reprise, a last hurrah with all…Read More
Published 23rd April 2023, 13:02
EVERY Munros finish is a unique tale to tell, that final summit on the round of 282 often the trigger for an avalanche of conflicting emotions.
For many, the ending is bittersweet: it's a time to share with family and friends, but…Read More
Published 18th March 2023, 11:00
IT'S 20 years since Scotland's world-leading access laws were introduced and everyone who enjoys the freedoms we have should be celebrating.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 brought about radical changes to outdoor recreation rights, putting on a legal footing the freedom…Read More
Published 11th March 2023, 11:53
TWO fine winter days, two fine Corbetts at the higher end of the scale, but despite the differing locations there was an unmistakeable feeling of deja vu about it all.
First up was the 892-metre Beinn a' Chuallaich above Loch Rannoch, 48…Read More
Published 9th March 2023, 19:20
WE stood in a solemn circle round the trig pillar on Mam na Guilainn in an ocean of soaking grey, the unrelenting rain running down our faces and saturated clothes. There was nothing to see, nothing to say.
It was the culmination…Read More
Published 1st January 2023, 21:10
FAREWELL then 2022. If the roll call of years was a league table, you would have been relegated with one of the lowest points totals ever.
Considering the previous two had been ravaged by a pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, that may…Read More
Published 1st January 2023, 20:58
MID-DECEMBER in Glen Doll. We had been hoping for snow, and we got it. Lots of it. The first real fall of the winter.
But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and this was one of those times.…Read More
Published 17th November 2022, 19:36
IT was one of those classic yet all too rare winter days, the high mountains smothered in brilliant virgin white under a flawless blue sky and a ceaseless, radiant sun.
Yet the fierce wind whipping in from the east as we climbed…Read More
Published 23rd October 2022, 18:45
IT'S been 13 years since I completed the Corbetts, so it has been interesting getting to grips with them again on a regular basis.
On a couple of recent outings, however, 'interesting' has shown to be somewhat understated and there has been…Read More
Published 14th October 2022, 10:03
WE were sitting in the sunshine of a perfect summer evening drinking in the delights of Schiehallion.
The beer that is, not the mountain. For the record, we were also savouring Ben Nevis, An Teallach, Cairn Gorm, Blaven, and various other brews…Read More
Published 6th October 2022, 08:48
THE line snaked up through the forest and on to the open hill, red, orange, yellow jackets standing out against the pallid backdrop of a misty morning in Torridon.
Oliver's Army was on its way. The target: the beautiful and dramatic Beinn…Read More
Published 29th September 2022, 10:35
THE heavy overnight rain had cleared through but it had left a distinct and beautiful watermark on the Black Cuillin.
The towering dark faces appeared studded with diamonds as the burgeoning overhead light wrestled with the remaining grey while effervescent streams provided…Read More
Published 22nd August 2022, 18:33
EVERY Munros completion is a personal triumph, each one the final step in an emotional journey that delivers so much comfort for mind and body.
Those who spend time in the mountains are in no doubt of their therapeutic power. They provide…Read More
Published 14th August 2022, 16:04
TWO mountain days over a midsummer weekend without meeting another soul, two days of rediscovery in quiet glens that served to feel familiar yet fresh.
This was partly planned, partly spontaneous. And it reinforced the belief that you can find solitude at…Read More
Published 28th July 2022, 19:03
BACK on the night shift, a twilight mountain stroll in the shadow of Buachaille Etive Mor to avoid the searing heat of the day.
With temperatures hitting 30C mid-afternoon, it seemed the only sensible approach was to wait a few hours for…Read More
Published 22nd July 2022, 08:48
I'VE long been fascinated by Loch Loch, that beautiful hourglass body of water tucked away in the confines of lonely Glen Loch beneath the rolling eastern slopes of Beinn a' Ghlo.
Loch Loch: the repeat is enough to spark interest amongst even…Read More
Published 22nd July 2022, 08:27
A NIGHT foray in the Cairngorms 26 years ago, setting off just after midnight from Glen Feshie to bag Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.
By the time we reached the featureless expanse of the Moine Mhor, the rising half-light we had enjoyed…Read More
Published 10th July 2022, 11:30
I SHOULD have been polishing off the few remaining Munros of my fourth round this weekend to celebrate my birthday.
Instead, a series of dastardly twists that would not have seemed out of place in a Bond film put paid to my…Read More
Published 10th July 2022, 11:15
TWO mountain walks in a week, one a 30-kilometre circuit over Beinn a' Ghlo with 1300 metres ascent, the other, to Stuc a' Chroin, just over a third of that distance with less height gain.
The first walk took nine hours, the…Read More
Published 19th June 2022, 13:29
ANYONE who has stood at the top of Seana Bhraigh will likely regard the long trek to this remote and stately Munro as one of their most memorable hill outings.
Reaching that summit cairn on a warm, sunny day on August 20,…Read More
Published 19th June 2022, 13:21
MY abiding memory of Auchnafree Hill is a January trek on a bulldozed track across a vast expanse of heather and peat bog, a thin coating of snow and ice the only cause for any smidgen of enthusiasm.
This less than inspiring…Read More
Published 25th May 2022, 19:17
RIVERS in spate, paths transformed into streams, water, water everywhere: it was one of those mountain days that sparked perverse feelings of nostalgia.
I tend not to do wet and wild any more, one of the benefits of being being able to…Read More
Published 25th May 2022, 19:04
IT felt good to be back in Knoydart. Good to once again make that evocative ferry crossing, good to be enjoying a drink in The Old Forge, good to be reacquainted with some of Scotland's roughest mountains.
Six years had passed since…Read More
Published 10th May 2022, 14:32
WE had grand plans for our week in the Cairngorms, but in the end we hobbled, rather than marched, to our base at Braemar.
Niggling new injuries requiring precautionary measures and older ones resurfacing, recent recoveries from the dreaded C-virus, and a…Read More
Published 29th April 2022, 18:08
WE were travelling home from a superb winter day on Creag Meagaidh when we heard the terrible news that two climbers had died in Glen Coe after being hit by an avalanche.
I knew what was coming. Within minutes of becoming aware…Read More
Published 23rd April 2022, 17:52
WITH the growing numbers taking to Scotland's mountains, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that 2021 was the busiest year on record for our rescue teams.
More than half the recorded 660 incidents – 52 per cent – were mountaineering related,…Read More
Published 12th March 2022, 14:45
I WAS in Glen Doll last weekend, my first visit since the most violent storm for decades had roared through the landscape leaving a trail of devastation.
It's estimated that in Scotland some eight million trees were lost or damaged by Storm…Read More
Published 3rd March 2022, 20:35
JUST one of those days, a stunning interval of calm between storm systems, a blanket of white on the hills protected by an endless awning of blue.
We had travelled north with a generous helping of tequila sunrise spilling across the horizon,…Read More
Published 3rd March 2022, 20:26
BACK in 1971, there was an unusual Munros completion on Sgurr Alasdair which led to a bit of stir in certain circles.
The name Kitchin San appeared briefly on the Scottish Mountaineering Club's official list of Munroists until it was discovered that…Read More
Published 12th February 2022, 14:42
THE tale of an overdue hillwalker who left clues in the snow so Cairngorms rescue teams could narrow down their search area and locate him was heartening to hear.
The 40-year-old was well-equipped and had left a detailed route plan with friends…Read More
Published 12th February 2022, 14:31
YOU'VE been rising steadily for more than two hours and now the summit cairn of the Munro is in sight.
Just 50 feet away, 40 ... 30 ... 20 … then you stop. You take a photo and without actually going on…Read More
Published 26th January 2022, 20:34
I'VE never been lost in the mountains. Temporarily misplaced on a few occasions certainly, and sometimes momentarily confused, but never actually lost.
Most people have gone astray at one time or another, but although it can occasionally lead to tragedy, more often…Read More
Published 26th January 2022, 20:26
IT was a winter traverse in name only, a January route linking the Trossachs Corbetts of Ben Ledi and Benvane with conditions bearing an uncanny resemblance to spring.
The snows that had cloaked the hills a week earlier had melted away along…Read More
Published 12th January 2022, 19:15
MEET the new year. Same as the old year. Apologies to Roger Daltrey and Co, but it's hard to shift the feeling we've all been here before. A classic case of Deja Who.
Normally, this is the time to get excited about…Read More
Published 2nd January 2022, 12:41
A FREEZING cold night in March 2011 with winter reluctant to release her icy grip, a pitch black night despite the waning gibbous moon's best efforts.
I was heading to a remote bothy for a few hours' rest before tackling a big…Read More
Published 2nd January 2022, 12:33
SITTING sunbathing high above the Aonach Eagach, it was easy to forget this was late December.
Just six days before the big guy in the red suit was due to start his annual spree of home invasions, he had delivered an early…Read More
Published 2nd January 2022, 12:26
I WAS approaching the halfway mark of a high-level circuit on a fiercely changeable winter day when I noticed my compass was missing.
It wasn't a disaster, just annoying. I hate losing gear at any time, but had it been a hat…Read More
Published 9th December 2021, 20:10
HALFWAY up the unrelenting north-west ridge of Ben More on the first big mountain test of the winter season and I'm feeling slightly off the pace.
The short hours of daylight are quickly transforming: the darkness has passed through its subsequent half-light…Read More
Published 9th December 2021, 20:00
DECEMBER 1966. We arrived at the Glen Doll youth hostel on a Friday evening, the darkness only penetrated by a vague illumination from the deep snow blanketing the landscape.
It was freezing and it was slightly eerie, but for four 12-year-old Scouts…Read More
Published 14th November 2021, 19:57
IT was a day of contrasting moods, an ever-shifting extravaganza of colour and light, the Cairngorms at their finest.
The rains of the previous 24 hours had left the streams and rivers lively and some waterlogging on the paths but the cleansing…Read More
Published 29th October 2021, 14:36
THE rain was incessant, the rivers raging. Even crossing the smallest burn was difficult.
Yet here we were, three men and a dog, attempting to find a way over the foaming Allt a' Mhuillinn below Ben Nevis in a bid to reach…Read More
Published 20th October 2021, 13:59
I SPENT most of Saturday packing, unpacking and repacking my gear in preparation for a Sunday walk in the Monadhliath, flip-flopping as often as the weather forecast.
Confidence had deteriorated steadily over the past week, first from mostly dry, then to rain…Read More
Published 3rd October 2021, 18:56
WE were promised a day of clear skies and spectacular views on Beinn a' Bheithir but what we got was so much better.
Instead of consistent clarity we had revelatory glimpses through veils of drifting, dancing cloud; instead of an accordant colour…Read More
Published 3rd October 2021, 18:45
IT'S nearly 30 years since my first venture into Skye's Black Cuillin, but on every successive visit one piece of advice from the legendary Gerry Ackroyd has stayed with me: Trust everything – and trust nothing.
If it seemed a bit cryptic…Read More
Published 27th September 2021, 14:54
I SHOULD have been tip-toeing along the spiny crest of Liathach but a wavering weather forecast convinced me to leave it for another day. That was my choice.
Seven days later, and I was standing on that crest in silent reverence, gazing…Read More
Published 14th September 2021, 18:21
WE were ploughing through the deep snow on a long winter traverse in Glenshee. It was hard going, and one or two of our party were struggling. Not the big guy with the tattoos, though. Steve Barnes was in his element.
Published 4th September 2021, 11:11
THE first shafts of light were breaching the cloud blanket off to the east but the peaks of the Fannaichs were still buried deep beneath the sombre grey.
I was heading for a circuit of five Munros in the western end of…Read More
Published 26th August 2021, 22:04
DAY TWO of heatwave walking in the North-west Highlands and I'm wearing waterproof trousers. It also feels like my socks are doing the front crawl in my boots.
It's not cold, far from it. An hour after leaving the car park at…Read More
Published 22nd August 2021, 13:15
THE names and the numbers may be familiar but every single Munros round is different and every individual has their own tales to tell.
When you consider the total of registered 'compleatists' is creeping ever closer to 7,000, that's a lot of…Read More
Published 15th August 2021, 13:12
WE were struggling uphill to an invisible peak, every landmark, every reference point, buried under the cloying grey blanket that had stubbornly refused to relent.
The promise had been of blue sky and sunshine and we were confident the conditions we found…Read More
Published 15th August 2021, 12:59
THE waters of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin had an eerie translucence. Wispy coils of mist were steaming off the surface, while a thicker, broken band sliced through the midriff of the hills and trees above the shoreline.
The stubborn grey also made…Read More
Published 15th August 2021, 12:48
THE recent rise in popularity of Munro jigsaw puzzles should come as no surprise as the completion of any full mountain round is really just one giant jigsaw.
Some days you can get on a roll with multiple pieces, sometimes it's much…Read More
Published 15th August 2021, 12:39
EVERYTHING has a saturation point, but ours seemed to arrive in double quick time.
Less than half an hour after setting off up the hill, we had already accepted we couldn't possibly get any wetter.
It was one of those early autumn…Read More
Published 27th July 2021, 10:28
SATURDAY morning, and I see a picture of a friend saying hello from the summit of Ben Avon. Ten hours later he sends a second picture, this time from a hospital bed.
What started as a beautiful day out Munro bagging in…Read More
Published 27th July 2021, 10:19
I HAVEN'T counted the days until Christmas, but it still feels strange to be posting out calendars in the midst of a July heatwave featuring pictures of snow-covered mountains.
You have to plan ahead, of course, and the year-on-year growth in interest…Read More
Published 10th July 2021, 19:27
I SHOULD have been standing at the summit of Buachaille Etive Mor at some point this week as I have done for the past 23 years.
The only blemish during that time was a freak summer event of torrential rain and storm-force…Read More
Published 8th July 2021, 18:28
A FEW weeks ago I was standing at the summit of Gairich looking down on Loch Cuaich. A few years earlier, I had been looking down on Loch Quoich.
At least I had according to most books, including the Scottish Mountaineering Club…Read More
Published 20th June 2021, 14:00
I HAD arrived at the foot of Moruisg on an icy spring morning, weary from a long day's work and the four-hour drive north.
The curtain of darkness hadn't yet started to lift, the light still a couple of hours away. For…Read More
Published 14th June 2021, 15:42
MY last visit to Beinn Alligin started under clear skies and a beautiful January full moon and ended prematurely when I was forced to retreat in a blizzard.
That was three years ago: a return in more favourable conditions was long overdue.…Read More
Published 2nd June 2021, 14:24
STANDING at the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaoraich the other day with not a soul in sight, it was easy to convince myself I was in a high-level nirvana.
Forever views stretching west to Knoydart and Skye, the elongated isle of Eigg…Read More
Published 28th May 2021, 22:32
MINUTES from reaching the first Munro summit and I still hadn't escaped the thick grey blanket that had covered me for nearly three hours.
The higher I rose, the more the infant sun struggled in vain. Then the breakthrough. First, I started…Read More
Published 20th May 2021, 13:09
THE familiar landmarks of Torridon lay hidden in the midnight mist, Beinn Eighe reduced to a couple of shark fins in a grey sea, Liathach an amorphous, shadowy presence.
It was different and it was beautiful, but the reduced visibility meant any…Read More
Published 20th May 2021, 12:57
STANDING at the summit cairn, mountains as far as the eye could see, lighting up one by one as the rays of the fast-rising sun spilled over the horizon.
It was 4.34am. I didn't need to look at my wrist to know…Read More
Published 9th May 2021, 19:58
FRESHLY-FORMED cornices, avalanche warnings, white-out conditions: the calendar clearly shows May, but the reality in the mountains paints a different picture.
It's as though we've tuned in to watch the latest edition of Springwatch only to find it replaced at the last…Read More
Published 3rd May 2021, 12:47
GREAT to see so many pictures of happy, smiling faces on mountain summits over the last couple of weeks.
The sense of relief that the freedom to travel widely across the country has been restored is palpable. It feels we have regained…Read More
Published 15th April 2021, 18:40
IT sits, waiting, biding its time. I know it's hoping I'll crack, that I will eventually feel obliged to step up and switch it on.
It only happened twice during the past year of lockdown restrictions, but each time I came away…Read More
Published 7th April 2021, 10:31
IT'S hard to think of another Scottish mainland peak which sees such a disproportionate number of summit failures as Stac Pollaidh.
Despite its modest height – it barely scrapes over the 2,000-foot mark – this weathered mini-mountain of weird and wonderfully shaped…Read More
Published 2nd April 2021, 10:02
WE paddled across the perfect glass surface of Loch Etive on a warm autumn evening, our canoe barely raising a ripple as it slipped silently towards the eastern shore.
Our target was Ben Starav, the huge, muscled mountain which filled our immediate…Read More
Published 26th March 2021, 11:22
FIONN BHEINN is the only Munro that begins with F, but over the years I have heard many using a different F to describe its charms, or perceived lack of them.
Granted, it's not the most exciting of mountains if climbed directly…Read More
Published 23rd March 2021, 12:51
QUEEN VICTORIA is often attributed the quote 'We are not amused' so I don't suppose it's any surprise that her ghillie, John Brown, decided discretion should be applied when she asked him the name of a particular Cairngorms peak.
And so Bod…Read More
Published 11th March 2021, 13:56
THE massive cairn which crowns Mam Sodhail is an instantly recognisable summit marker, standing out on the skyline like an ancient fortress.
Yet this huge circular stone structure was once much higher: when constructed by an Ordnance Survey team in 1848 to…Read More
Published 6th March 2021, 18:57
THE psychology of fear in the mountains is a constant fascination, and how we learn to overcome or cope with it is dependent on a range of factors.
There are those who seem to have been born rock tigers, but for most…Read More
Published 27th February 2021, 12:14
I EXPECT there will have been glasses raised all over the country at the news that the Knoydart community is putting together a buy-out bid for The Old Forge.
This famous remote pub in the village of Inverie holds many grand memories…Read More
Published 17th February 2021, 20:29
THE plans for our winter traverse of The Fara had been set weeks in advance, and we had been keeping a close eye on the weather and avalanche forecasts ever since.
We would take the track along the western shore of Loch…Read More
Published 17th February 2021, 20:20
IT'S nearly that time of year again when we celebrate the beheading of a 3rd Century Roman priest by spending fortunes on over-priced flowers and chocolates in a desperate bid to convince someone of our love.
The true passion of Valentine's Day…Read More
Published 5th February 2021, 15:47
WE were sitting at the trig pillar on Gulvain's South Top, looking over to the familiar sickle shape of Ben Nevis and the connecting CMD Arete on the distant horizon.
In contrast to the lively chatter of our ascent, there was now…Read More
Published 29th January 2021, 11:27
ONE minute I was dreaming of running along a mountain skyline, the next I was gripped by an overpowering craving.
Not for ice cream or cheese or all those Christmas chocolates now long gone. And I'm pretty sure I can rule out…Read More
Published 22nd January 2021, 12:49
I'M sure I'm not the only one staring longingly at pictures of snow-covered mountains, frustrated that they remain out of reach.
While there may be a tinge of envy towards those lucky enough to be able to access the hills at the…Read More
Published 15th January 2021, 19:40
SEVEN Munro ticks on a gentle rolling traverse of just 11 kilometres, little more than 1,800 metres ascent: it's easy to see why the South Glen Shiel Ridge is a bagger's dream.
For many aspiring Munroists it's an early tipping point, when…Read More
Published 15th January 2021, 19:31
WHEN Ilona Turnbull reached the summit of Ben Hope in October last year, she became the first Australian female 'compleatist' to be registered. In this guest blog, she reveals some of her Munro musings ...
HELLO dear reader. As of October 11,…Read More
Published 15th January 2021, 19:19
MOST of our mountain years are defined by the four seasons but 2020 was quartered in a way that few could have foreseen.
The winter storms that blew in at the start of another year were nothing compared to the microscopic but…Read More
Published 15th January 2021, 19:12
I'VE long been subdued by dark December, when the days are short and the enthusiasm for big mountain walks even shorter.
It's a malaise which strikes regular as clockwork. It starts to kick in around mid-November and lasts until mid-January.
Maybe it…Read More
Published 18th December 2020, 16:18
THERE are days of radiant beauty, when the brilliant white sun is the lone presence in a ceiling of blue and the mountains seem to stretch forever to a distant hazy horizon.
There are days when varying shades of grey are the…Read More
Published 11th December 2020, 17:13
CREAG MEAGAIDH is a spectacular mountain at any time, but under deep, fresh snow its charms are multiplied tenfold.
The great walls that enclose the head of Coire Ardair take on a more ferocious look, the black ramparts almost pulsating against the…Read More
Published 4th December 2020, 19:27
AN ALPINE spring day in the Grey Corries and we were steadily gaining height amidst alternating waves of brilliant sunshine and swirling mists.
The ridge was still holding substantial sections of snow and despite the benign conditions we were in full winter…Read More
Published 27th November 2020, 11:21
THE figures are startling: one in nine species in Scotland in danger of extinction, almost half, 49 per cent, in serious decline.
There's no doubt this is a nature emergency, so it makes the Scottish Parliament's decision last week not to declare…Read More
Published 13th November 2020, 13:22
THERE are those who reckon one round of Munros is enough and others who seem to be on a permanent loop, racking up multiple rounds.
Neither is right, neither is wrong. The mountains are there to be enjoyed for many different reasons…Read More
Published 6th November 2020, 14:58
MY recent blog about possible solutions to alleviating traffic and parking problems in our mountain areas struck a chord with a lot of people.
Most agreed that change is inevitable. But it's one thing extolling the virtues of drastically reducing carbon footprint…Read More
Published 23rd October 2020, 20:10
THIS was supposed to be big ridge year, a return to classic multi-peak walks, a reacquaintance with familiar faces.
Instead, it turned into something of a salvage operation as plans and aspirations were demolished by a microscopic wrecking ball.
The first lockdown…Read More
Published 20th October 2020, 08:49
IT sounded a great idea. Instead of the four-plus hours drive for a mountain day in Torridon, I would go by train. The timetables soon provided a sharp reality check.
An epic journey more comparable to traveling times on the Trans Siberian…Read More
Published 20th October 2020, 08:42
SPENT the last 24 hours wishing I was 33 again. Maybe it was 25. Or perhaps 41 or 36, even 50.
This feeling hasn't suddenly been brought by a desperate longing to turn the clock back, nice though that would be. It's…Read More
Published 30th September 2020, 19:20
IT felt like my very own Groundhog Day; trying to grab a few hours' sleep in the forest car park at Achnashellach with a rainy tympanic accompaniment.
There have been other nights in other places with the same rhythm but on virtually…Read More
Published 30th September 2020, 19:13
I ARRIVED at the parking area under the massive Mullardoch Dam at midnight expecting to have the place to myself. I barely managed to squeeze in.
Normally, there are one or two vehicles at most: now there were as many as in…Read More
Published 30th September 2020, 19:05
ONE of the great satisfactions of mountain walking is the constant learning curve. Experience merely leads to a flattening of that curve.
No two days in the hills are the same: different seasons, different weather, different routes. There is always something new…Read More
Published 12th September 2020, 08:46
ANY trek into the heart of the Cairngorms is a long one, but every minute of our ten-hour, 22-mile circuit of Loch Avon felt precious.
There was blue sky and there was sunshine. There was rain and hail. And as on so…Read More
Published 12th September 2020, 08:33
THERE was a day last week when I had planned to go out on the hills but in the end decided a longer lie in bed was more important.
It's happened before and it will happen again. But what made this seem…Read More
Published 2nd September 2020, 22:01
WEATHER forecast maps of Scotland often look like something created by Jackson Pollock, a riot of colour and confusion reflecting the impossibility of any clear picture.
Anyone who walks in our mountains knows there are few cast-iron guarantees. An 80 per cent…Read More
Published 2nd September 2020, 21:48
THERE are memorials scattered throughout the mountains but the one dedicated to an Edinburgh student who was lost in the mountains above Loch Cluanie many years ago always makes me pause for thought.
Those heading for the Sgurr nan Conbhairean trio of…Read More
Published 2nd September 2020, 21:34
THE midge clouds have reached biblical proportions this year but so far I had managed to outflank the little blighters. I should have known it couldn't last.
There I was, feeling pleased as I neared the end of a tough 20-mile circuit…Read More
Published 9th August 2020, 12:52
THE Angus glens are home territory, but most of my wanderings there tend to be in the winter months when a short journey is preferable to the peaks of the wilder west.
Spring and summer this year has been different: with the…Read More
Published 30th July 2020, 16:04
THE sun was beginning its languid farewell to the day as Duncan McNab approached the summit of Ben Vorlich.
A lovely summer evening, a late decision to head up this sprawling mountain above Ardlui in search of a few hours' serenity after…Read More
Published 30th July 2020, 15:55
IT'S easy to understand why so many choose to tackle the pairing of Glas Maol and Creag Leacach from the Glenshee approach.
The high elevation makes for an easy day for families, mountain novices or anyone with time constraints, but it's also…Read More
Published 26th July 2020, 18:55
TWO Sundays, seven days apart, two magnificent sunrises from the top of a mountain.
Starting out at 2am to avoid the recent weekend hordes, sticking to the eastern glens to catch the most promising skies. Both times it worked to perfection.
Published 26th July 2020, 18:46
EVERY sector of the Scottish tourist industry has taken a hit during the Covid-19 emergency, and for many the recovery is likely to be long and painful.
But while hotels, b&b's and camp sites are now cautiously getting back to business, albeit…Read More
Published 17th July 2020, 18:24
EVERYONE has their own comfort level on airy ridge walks: some take to it straight away, most grow to calm any nerves through time and experience.
There are those who never manage to get over those initial feelings of dread, but for…Read More
Published 17th July 2020, 18:15
I STOOD alone at the mouth of the corrie in suppressed evening light watching damp curtains of grey sweep across the glen.
The only concession to colour, a handful of pink foxgloves and the odd splash of purple heather, the only sounds…Read More
Published 5th July 2020, 11:50
FRIDAY, July 3. The day all mountain lovers have been craving during months of lockdown and travel restrictions, the return to some semblance of normality.
And just to make us all feel that normal service really has resumed, here is the weather…Read More
Published 25th June 2020, 10:08
WHEN you describe yourself as a treehugger with attitude, it is perhaps inevitable you end up indulging that passion for the outdoors in a more formal role.
It's just over a year since Ron Neville joined the board of Mountaineering Scotland as…Read More
Published 23rd June 2020, 11:42
IT would appear the current lockdown is not just taking its toll on the human psyche.
Reports from zoos and wildlife parks around the world suggest that animals have been puzzled by the lack of visitors and interaction.
You can imagine how…Read More
Published 17th June 2020, 18:47
IT'S 89 days since I last climbed a hill. That's 89 days of staying local. Not that I'm counting, you understand.
That also means it's Day 89 in the Big Bother house, where the risk of one of us doing the other…Read More
Published 17th June 2020, 18:36
WHILE many still hope to salvage something of their mountain plans this year, there's no doubt the options are being whittled down.
The multi-peak ridges west of the Great Glen, in particular, seem to be getting further away with each passing day.…Read More
Published 17th June 2020, 18:28
IT'S hard to imagine Bing Crosby and Donald Trump as a double act but they proved to be unlikely muses to a more upbeat column.
My last few offerings on the outdoors have (quite rightly) focussed on the effects of the coronavirus…Read More
Published 22nd May 2020, 17:53
IT'S just over a year since the controversial Glen Etive hydro schemes were given the green light, but I'm sure it will come as no surprise to learn that the goalposts are already being shifted.
The proposals for seven separate schemes, one…Read More
Published 15th May 2020, 15:31
THERE'S a lot of mountain dreaming at the moment, time split trawling through photo memories and planning for when we can get back out there.
That day will come but it's heartening to see the vast majority of walkers and climbers sticking…Read More
Published 3rd May 2020, 18:44
IT'S been a few years but it still feels like yesterday: a friend in the late stages of his battle with cancer.
We had been stunned by the bolt from the blue of the diagnosis, even more so with the terse time…Read More
Published 3rd May 2020, 18:30
CLIMB the same mountain every day for a year and you will never experience the same day twice.
This also holds true during these days of lockdown and restriction. By staying local you may be following the same paths, the same circuit,…Read More
Published 3rd May 2020, 18:17
ALL good things must come to an end, and it's better if that end can be brought about in a satisfactory and orderly manner rather than collapsing like an over-the-hill champion boxer who takes on one fight too far.
I had long…Read More
Published 3rd May 2020, 18:07
FOUR weeks into lockdown, and the big mountain days already feel like distant memories.
It doesn't help that we are now in a spell of fine weather after such a stormy and disappointing winter, but these are insignificant grumbles at this time…Read More
Published 22nd April 2020, 18:35
THE eastern glens may be short of soaring peaks and pinched ridges, but these are my home hills and the rolling, heathery terrain has a desolate beauty of its own.
I've been wandering these hills since I was a boy, so it…Read More
Published 14th March 2020, 15:02
THERE'S an old saying that 99 per cent of all statistics only tell 49 per cent of the story.
That may well be the case, but comparative figures for 2017 and 2018 from Scottish Mountain Rescue make fascinating reading.
The stats for…Read More
Published 7th March 2020, 15:19
IF there is a finer mountain experience than sitting alone at a summit watching the sun rise, I have yet to discover it.
Company has its place and its advantages, but for that supreme sense of solitude nothing compares to thinking you…Read More
Published 7th March 2020, 15:13
THE photo wasn't of the best quality, the image grainy, slightly out of focus and now leached of colour and tone by the passage of time, but the smudge on the near horizon was still identifiable as a person.
A tiny figure…Read More
Published 7th March 2020, 15:04
IT wasn't so much a weather window as just a small pane in the top corner, but with the Atlantic storms showing no sign of blowing out, it would have to do.
A couple of hours of sunshine, a few more watching…Read More
Published 12th February 2020, 23:39
A LONG weekend in the Cairngorms with Storm Ciara bearing down, so the high mountains were never going to be an option.
Wild weather calls for considered decisions. There's a big difference between testing yourself in extreme conditions and recklessly throwing all…Read More
Published 12th February 2020, 23:24
THOSE with too many candles on the birthday cake may remember Naked City, an American TV crime drama that aired from 1958 to 1963.
At the conclusion of every episode, a dramatic voiceover would intone: “There are eight million stories in the…Read More
Published 31st January 2020, 14:31
THERE I was, feeling quite chuffed about the fact that last year's fund-raising efforts for Scottish Mountain Rescue had pulled in more than £600.
Then along comes Mr Ed Byrne, who announces he's donating his £22,500 winner's cheque from the ITV quiz…Read More
Published 27th January 2020, 11:40
A FEW years back, an off-the-cuff remark that cast doubt on the eligibility of many Munroists triggered an avalanche of indignation.
The suggestion was that you shouldn't be regarded as a genuine 'compleatist' unless you had climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle under your…Read More
Published 27th January 2020, 11:28
WE all dream of those blue sky winter mountain days, leaving our footprints on pristine sheets of white while the sun beats down, the views running on forever.
The reality for much of the time is vastly different, a strength-sapping battle against…Read More
Published 27th January 2020, 11:16
TWO weeks into the new year, and already there seems to be a better chance of a nuclear winter than a proper meteorological one.
The higher mountains may be sporting white caps, but looking at the advance forecasts, there's little sign of…Read More
Published 31st December 2019, 20:22
WITH the minutes ticking ever closer to the end of another year, I've already made my resolution for the new one: I'm going Back to Basics.
Depending on your demographic, that phrase will evoke memories of either John Major or Christina Aguilera,…Read More
Published 26th December 2019, 23:25
THE successful completion of any mountain list invariably ends up involving planning of a level comparable to a mission to Mars.
It doesn't start out that way. I suspect there are very few people who have decided they will finish every Munro…Read More
Published 13th December 2019, 20:49
THE final full moon of the year is with us tomorrow, and it feels somewhat appropriate for the culmination of this latest round of political mayhem that it's the Cold Moon.
Whatever the result of the general election, no matter where you…Read More
Published 13th December 2019, 20:43
MY preparations were thorough as on any given mountain outing; each and every item taken out of the rucksack, checked, then packed away again.
No point leaving anything to chance. After all, it's not every day you have to face a grilling…Read More
Published 13th December 2019, 20:35
HARD to believe a year has gone by, but here we are again at opening night for one of the main events on the mountaineering calendar.
The Dundee Mountain Film Festival, which started in 1983, is the country's longest continuous running mountain…Read More
Published 13th December 2019, 20:27
THE first snow of the new winter season always brings a heightened sense of excitement for mountain lovers.
That first coating of white across the higher regions turns the ordinary into the awesome, the splendid into the spectacular.
It doesn't matter if…Read More
Published 14th November 2019, 11:34
SOMETIMES I forget that when it comes to big mountain days after the turning of the clocks, running on enthusiasm is simply not enough.
Three hours' attempted sleep, a 2am departure for a four-hour drive west to Glenfinnan, half an hour rest…Read More
Published 14th November 2019, 11:25
THE weather was in playful mood in Glen Coe, the wandering mists and curtains of rain enabling only sporadic views of the mountains. A typical Scottish day, in other words.
We felt sorry for the young Italian tourists standing next to us.…Read More
Published 1st November 2019, 20:24
MOUNTAIN safety should always be paramount but a couple of stories recently made me realise just how far things have progressed in such a short time.
One was the banning of a TV advert for gin, because it showed climbers drinking at…Read More
Published 1st November 2019, 20:15
THE legendary climber WH Murray wrote that 'in Kintail everything culminates, nothing lacks'.
Those words perfectly encapsulate the feeling I have every time I squeeze through Glen Shiel, soaring slopes and multi-peaked ridges on both sides for mile after mile.
Visits in…Read More
Published 1st November 2019, 20:09
SUNDAY in the Arrochar Alps, the weather was in limbo and this tightly-knit pack of rugged peaks was wearing a cloak of lassitude.
Banks of wispy cloud were woven through the water-laden pines, hanging around the autumnal hillsides like ghostly wreaths. There…Read More
Published 12th October 2019, 10:28
AFTER the highs, the lows. It's as certain as night following day. There's no escape – the key is learning to live with them.
Twelve days ago I was standing at the summit of Ben Nevis celebrating the completion of my Full…Read More
Published 3rd October 2019, 15:41
IT had to be Nevis. My mountain life had started with an ascent of the Ben so it was only fitting the latest chapter came to its conclusion here.
Reaching the cairn of the Munro Top, Carn Dearg South-west, completed the six…Read More
Published 25th September 2019, 10:16
MIDDAY on Mull, and I have just touched the cairn that marks the summit of Beinn Fhada and my 'compleation' of the Grahams.
To reach this pile of rocks at the highest point I have passed under the now traditional archway of…Read More
Published 25th September 2019, 10:09
HEADING to Mull this weekend for the second big finish of the week, the penultimate step to a hills Full House.
The Donalds were wrapped up with a gentle walk to the grassy top of Hudderstone on Tuesday. Now the attention turns…Read More
Published 25th September 2019, 09:59
WHEN the end is nigh, I suppose it's only natural to have regrets, to wish you had, on occasion, taken different paths.
Don't panic. I'm not about to head into dark places. I'm talking about the Southern Uplands, not Hades, although on…Read More
Published 28th August 2019, 17:45
IT felt like a homecoming, a stunning weekend amongst the mountain giants of north-west Scotland.
The past six weeks have been spent tramping round the lower hills of the south, some enjoyed, some merely endured. The contrast could hardly have been greater.…Read More
Published 19th August 2019, 18:46
ANOTHER rough tramp in the Galloway hills and another fascinating walk through history.
The Rhinns of Kells ridge runs some 18 kilometres from Loch Doon in the north, terminating just above Clatteringshaws Loch to the south.
This is the land where Robert…Read More
Published 15th August 2019, 12:24
SOMETIMES a change is as good as a rest but sometimes it's more beneficial the other way round. At least it has been for me over the last fortnight.
Thunder, lightning, flash floods – not exactly conducive to safe and pleasurable mountain…Read More
Published 7th August 2019, 13:49
THE number of registered Munroists may be creeping ever closer to 7,000, but it seems there's less of a rush to go on and complete the other peaks of similar height.
Only around ten per cent of those who finish the Munros…Read More
Published 1st August 2019, 08:07
MY experience of the hills of the south has generally been one that would severely test the most optimistic of souls.
So heading for the Galloway high tops with a forecast of thunderstorms and lightning may have seemed like asking for trouble. What…Read More
Published 25th July 2019, 15:42
IT'S often said that nothing is certain except death and taxes, a quote which has its roots in a speech by Benjamin Franklin.
Of course, that was in 1789, and the Founding Fathers of the USA could hardly have foreseen the rise…Read More
Published 18th July 2019, 11:42
IT'S not just the A-Team who love it when a plan comes together; sometimes it can be the key to success for a long mountain day.
My recent focus had been on how best to link a pair of Knoydart Grahams –…Read More
Published 2nd July 2019, 08:03
JUST back from a game of Hopscotch in the Hebrides, three ferries on one Calmac ticket, four days of spectacular contrasts in the hills.
It took longer than that to work out a schedule that would allow me to hop from Skye…Read More
Published 30th June 2019, 14:00
I SEEM to have attended a lot of final Munro parties recently, but the one held on Ben Vorlich last weekend was a bit special.
This was the 'compleation' of a round of Munros and Tops in honour of David Batty, the…Read More
Published 20th June 2019, 14:31
MY heart goes out to the family and friends of Isobel Bytautas, who was killed by a lightning strike while walking in the Mamores.
Isobel was among a group of seven on Na Gruagaichean when she and another woman were hit. It…Read More
Published 12th June 2019, 17:25
A LONG weekend in Islay but at times it was easy to forget we were on a Scottish island.
The advance weather forecasts had been promising. The day before we left, they changed for the worse. Ah well, summer in Scotland –…Read More
Published 12th June 2019, 17:16
IT'S easy to drift back in time when you are standing on the heights of the Five Sisters ridge with the mists swirling around beneath your feet.
It's an area with a long and bloody history, and next Monday marks the 300th…Read More
Published 30th May 2019, 09:48
I ONCE went to a farewell party where the guest of honour decided his attendance would ruin the evening for everyone else, so he sent along money for a free bar instead.
A noble gesture, and as someone else who's not too…Read More
Published 28th May 2019, 20:09
TWO consecutive night ascents of Goatfell, two walks of striking contrasts.
The recent spell of decent weather and arrival of the full moon had raised expectations of perfect midnight manoeuvres for the Arran Mountain Festival walks.
The Flower Moon is said to…Read More
Published 28th May 2019, 20:02
THAT old adage about there being no such thing as a dull hill certainly has its work cut out when it comes to the high points in Glenshee.
The journey over the A93 hardly inspires the mountaineer; rounded, heather-clad slopes rising amid…Read More
Published 28th May 2019, 19:54
FIRST week in May, and we are walking in snow and biting winds. Spring has a habit of coming in a different package in the Cairngorms.
We've been here so many times that it shouldn't have come as a surprise, but somehow…Read More
Published 1st May 2019, 14:53
WE were sitting at the summit of Sgor Gaoith in the Cairngorms silently drinking in the views when another walker strolled up to the cairn. It was September, 1994.
He announced proudly: “Well, that's not a bad day – five Munros ticked.”…Read More
Published 25th April 2019, 07:51
WHEN I was asked if I would be an auction prize for a big night out, I jumped at the chance.
Dinner and a show perhaps? Nah. The lucky winner would have the pleasure of my company on a night walk in…Read More
Published 25th April 2019, 07:42
THERE are many Scottish hills that are instantly recognisable, big bold shapes that could be picked out of a line-up even by non-mountaineers.
They tend to be the peak pin-ups, faces easily seen from the road, their charms on display for all.…Read More
Published 25th April 2019, 07:32
THERE'S nowhere in Scotland that can truly be termed remote when compared to the vast wilderness lands of the USA, Canada or Russia.
The concept of remoteness is more a state of mind in our small country, and there are many glens…Read More
Published 8th April 2019, 10:45
THE rugged hills of Cowal have a degree of roughness that elevates the seriousness of the ascent to a greater level than height alone would suggest.
Sheets of impenetrable forestry, slopes abounding with crags, outcrops and steep gullies, long stretches of tussocks…Read More
Published 8th April 2019, 10:38
IT was a day of low expectation but in the end, it turned out to be one of pleasant surprises.
I had set off in the early spring gloom along a bulldozed track, the cloud sheet hanging oppressively low over Loch Merkland,…Read More
Published 8th April 2019, 10:28
TWO days, three modest hills, a total walking distance of 73 kilometres. Disproportionate doesn't even begin to describe it.
Summits that would be regarded as mere swellings in the greater scheme become a different enterprise when it's three hours in before you…Read More
Published 8th April 2019, 10:17
SPRING has arrived, the vernal equinox tilting the balance in favour of longer days and shorter nights, closely followed by the third full moon of the year.
This is the Worm Moon, when the earthworms appear and the birds begin finding food.…Read More
Published 3rd March 2019, 14:20
EARLY afternoon, and I'm sitting on an outcrop of black, volcanic rock enjoying the sun as a stream tumbles down alongside me over a series of gentle steps.
It's not exactly how I had pictured a February trip to Mull. This was…Read More
Published 3rd March 2019, 14:11
TWO conversations, two different people, two different occasions, but the sentiments expressed were the same: One round of Munros was enough.
Both had 'compleated' some 20 years ago but it wasn't lack of energy or fitness holding them back now. They simply…Read More
Published 3rd March 2019, 14:04
I'M often asked if I have a sponsor for my mountain trips. I don't, and many people are surprised when they hear that.
I'm not inundated with offers and I don't go looking for them, but they do come in regularly, and…Read More
Published 3rd March 2019, 13:57
THE deaths of two renowned climbers on Ben Hope last week sent shockwaves through the mountaineering world and beyond.
Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry were huge personalities, and the outpouring of grief and fulsome tributes to their lives and achievements by friends,…Read More
Published 20th January 2019, 18:19
FOR someone who spends so much time tramping round Scotland's highest peaks, Hazel Strachan is remarkably down to earth.
There's no drama, no complaints, just a fierce determination to keep on climbing the mountains she loves for as long as she can.…Read More
Published 20th January 2019, 18:09
THE first real blast of winter this year and I'm sitting at a sunlit summit gazing over a sea of white mountains stretching from Glen Etive to Glen Coe and beyond.
Or maybe it was a walk round a high rolling circuit…Read More
Published 20th January 2019, 17:59
SAD to see pictures of cars with their windows smashed in Glen Feshie but it's a reminder of how opportunistic thieves can strike anywhere.
The car park near the end of the road at Achlean is used by walkers heading for the…Read More
Published 20th January 2019, 17:20
THREE days into 2019 and despite the fine weather I still haven't made it out of the starting blocks.
It would seem I am still suffering from a giant hangover. Nothing to do with festive over-indulgence, more an overdose of night walking.…Read More
Published 27th December 2018, 20:30
I WANTED to finish my year of full moon walks on hope but always believed the expectation would prove elusive.
Ben Hope, December 22. The day after the winter solstice on the farthest north Munro for the thirteenth and final full moon…Read More
Published 27th December 2018, 20:23
COULD you name a famous Dutch mountaineer? I must admit I couldn't think of one off the top of my head but there are a few.
There's Ronald Naar, who made the first ascents of many major mountains by any Dutchman, but…Read More
Published 5th December 2018, 20:40
THE snowline may have been high but it felt as though winter had stamped its first real icy footprint on the mountains last weekend, a proper statement of intent.
Iced rocks, deep pockets of snow in the hollows, and a bitter wind…Read More
Published 5th December 2018, 20:33
IT seemed fitting that we were walking in the massive shadow of the Cruachan Dam on the night of the Beaver Moon.
This was the penultimate full moon of the year. It also felt like the darkest night walk of the 12…Read More
Published 21st November 2018, 13:14
JUST back from three glorious hill days in the North-west Highlands, but each ended with a descent into darkness, a timely reminder of the need to keep a careful eye on the clock with the shorter daylight hours.
Two weeks ago, we…Read More
Published 21st November 2018, 13:06
I WAS pouring over the weather sites weighing up my options for a few days away when I spotted the magic word – inversion.
Life suddenly became much simpler. My plans were cemented; a stay in Torridon with a stop at Glenelg…Read More
Published 8th November 2018, 19:03
THE first snowy shots of the coming winter have been fired, a tantalising taste for those who love the mountain landscape wrapped in a white blanket.
The main event is still a bit away; instead we have a series of freeze-thaw skirmishes…Read More
Published 8th November 2018, 18:52
SATURDAY morning, and I'm sitting in the car at Strathfarrar waiting for the clock to strike 9am and the gate to swing open.
Only 25 cars are allowed in this glen at any one time, so I was nice and early to…Read More
Published 8th November 2018, 18:42
WE were hoping to catch a clear night on Lochnagar for the full moon and for a couple of hours it looked promising.
This mountain jewel of Royal Deeside seemed a perfect choice for the Hunter's Moon. Even the monarchs of the glen…Read More
Published 22nd October 2018, 15:39
OCTOBER 20, the last day of the main deer stalking season in Scotland. It's also one of my favourite days of the year.
There is a link but probably not the one you think. Put aside the arguments for and against the…Read More
Published 22nd October 2018, 15:30
I WAS standing high on the ridge framing the layered beauty of the landscape beneath my feet, just another mountain day in Bonnie Scotland.
From the rocks in the foreground to the pale lochan cradled in the hollow below, past the long,…Read More
Published 13th October 2018, 14:05
THE rain was incessant, the rivers raging. Even crossing the smallest burn was difficult.
Yet here we were, three men and a dog, attempting to find a way over the foaming Allt a' Mhuillinn at the back of Ben Nevis in a…Read More
Published 7th October 2018, 16:53
I'VE always loved the idea of ancient gods using our planet as a plaything, moving geographical features around like chess figures.
Then, an accident. The proud owner of a new mountain range watching in horror as it was dropped and smashed into…Read More
Published 7th October 2018, 16:46
THE mountain of mist lived up to its name, but despite a night that provided merely a fleeting interaction with the full moon, Beinn a' Ghlo was still a realm for the senses.
This sprawling upland of three Munros and copious corries…Read More
Published 7th October 2018, 16:38
I WAS sitting at the summit of a mountain recently when another walker arrived, touched the cairn then picked up a rock to place on the pile.
I hadn't seen anyone do this for years. When I started walking the hills, it…Read More
Published 14th September 2018, 19:06
FOUR weeks ago, I walked the seven Munros of the South Shiel Ridge. The following day it was the Five Sisters.
They are both fairly strenuous days – the former a distance of 17 kilometres and an ascent of nearly 1800 metres,…Read More
Published 6th September 2018, 11:17
ASK anyone to name their final Munro and they can rattle it off without the slightest hesitation.
Ask them to name their penultimate one, well, that can sometimes take a bit more thought.
It's easy to understand why. When you reach a…Read More
Published 29th August 2018, 17:57
THE ninth full moon of the year and we were heading for a night walk on big, bold Ben Starav but for once it wasn't about the mountain.
This was the time of year when the Native Americans saw the rivers and…Read More
Published 22nd August 2018, 20:38
EVERYONE else was heading for the ridge. Hardly surprising: An Teallach’s spine of castellated towers and spires has few equals.
It is a favourite mountain of many and normally I would jump at any opportunity to be scrambling along its crest. But…Read More
Published 20th August 2018, 12:03
APPARENTLY National Relaxation Day has just been and gone. I suppose it slipped my notice because I'm in the midst of a period of relaxation so one day is much the same as another.
There's no urgency to rush out onto the…Read More
Published 20th August 2018, 11:51
I OFTEN think the best hill days are not the ones filled with sunshine but those with moody, shifting cloud and transient glimpses of the landscape.
The recent hot, dry spell has seemed almost alien. Sure, it's good to have settled conditions…Read More
Published 1st August 2018, 18:48
I'VE been lucky to have had three perfect full moon walks in a row but the Buck Moon promised to be the most exciting yet.
Not only was this the eighth full moon of the year, it just happened to coincide with…Read More
Published 1st August 2018, 18:42
I'VE never been keen on carrying huge packs, even when undertaking multi-day expeditions. Fast and light has always been the key.
It's all about staying on the move as long as possible, with short stops for rest. That's why you will find…Read More
Published 1st August 2018, 18:31
THE race to capture every available trickle of water in Scotland seems to be reaching fever pitch.
I would love to think this is for the long-term good of the environment, but as usual, it's all to do with money.
The lucrative…Read More
Published 1st August 2018, 18:25
THE heatwave weather may have been familiar but I enjoyed a wee change of mountain scenery last week.
I was in the south of Italy, on the spectacular Amalfi coast, where vertical towns cling precariously by their fingernails to the mountainous landscape.…Read More
Published 4th July 2018, 18:18
WE walked into the sunset leaving the last of the day's light further behind with every step.
There were no fireworks over the distant western mountain skyline, just a sallow wash, but it was achingly beautiful all the same. This was the…Read More
Published 4th July 2018, 18:11
I'M off chasing the full moon again, the seventh of the year.
This is the Strawberry Moon, so I will be in Glen Affric overnight doing a circuit of the mountains above Strawberry Cottage, starting at sunset and walking by moonlight right…Read More
Published 4th July 2018, 18:00
NOTHING stands still so it's important to have mountain routes regularly updated to keep pace with the constant changes to our landscape.
The Klondyke-style boom in hydro schemes and wind farms mean even the newest guide books can be out of date…Read More
Published 14th June 2018, 18:27
IT'S no secret that Scotland is a wonderful wee country with disproportionately big views, but every so often I am reminded of the sheer scale of the diversity of our mountain landscape.
A few miles in any direction provides dramatic change; from…Read More
Published 8th June 2018, 12:39
SEVEN Munros to go for the big finish, so it seemed fitting that we started our ascent into the Mamores at 7am.
The 'compleation' date for my friend Rebecca has been pencilled in for months, the numbers ticking down steadily in ones…Read More
Published 31st May 2018, 13:15
ANOTHER moon mission, another sensational sunrise. And another big sigh of relief.
Pardon me for sounding like the ground control team at NASA, but the countdown to these full moon walks is proving a nervous one.
This is Scotland after all, and…Read More
Published 24th May 2018, 17:54
DID you put the bunting out and settle back to enjoy every bow and scrape of the £32million wedding? Yeah, me neither.
I was walking down a different isle, Arran to be more precise, lapping up some beautiful sunsets and sunrises and…Read More
Published 22nd May 2018, 13:44
ONE person's mountain may be another's molehill, but either can be the key to happiness and contentment.
The problem arises when one is labelled somehow more important than the other, an inference of inferiority over someone's achievement.
Age, health and fitness levels…Read More
Published 22nd May 2018, 13:34
JUST back from ten days in the magnificent North-west Highlands and I'm scratching my head to think of any other area which offers such a diversity of walks.
It's the perfect pick n' pix selection; Munros, Corbetts, Grahams, loch-side trails, sandy beaches,…Read More
Published 22nd May 2018, 13:24
FIFTH time lucky and my faith has been restored, a timely reminder that there is no finer mountain sensation than walking through the night into the sunrise.
I had been due a break after four less than stellar outings on my Mountains…Read More
Published 26th April 2018, 13:56
THE wave of nostalgia that has broken over the demolition of the King's House Hotel should come as no surprise.
There's a combination of grief over the passing of this 17thCentury coaching inn and a sense of despair over the design of…Read More
Published 20th April 2018, 19:26
I CAME out of the darkness into early morning's grey light, then watched the sun burst through the horizon. It felt as though I had been travelling north for days.
The hills of Caithness feel a long way from anywhere. This is…Read More
Published 17th April 2018, 17:37
MIDNIGHT in Skye. I'm sitting on the shores of Loch Slapin watching the full moon drifting lazily through patchy sheets of cloud.
One minute it's lighting up the dark waters, the next it's dipped behind a gauze curtain. It's the second Blue…Read More
Published 17th April 2018, 17:24
IT will quickly become obvious to anyone who regularly tramps Scotland's hills that size is no real measure of a mountain.
There are many of a high contour line that seem almost humble in their surroundings, the gentle, rolling hills of Deeside…Read More
Published 17th April 2018, 17:15
I WAS supposed to be in the mountains last Sunday but the latest eastern blast persuaded us to give it a miss.
The first plan had been for a night expedition in Glen Doll with comedian Ed Byrne for a feature for…Read More
Published 16th March 2018, 11:08
CREAG MEAGAIDH is a spectacular mountain at any time of year, but under deep, fresh snow its charms are multiplied tenfold.
The great walls that enclose the head of Coire Ardair take on an even more ferocious look, the black ramparts almost…Read More
Published 16th March 2018, 10:57
DEEP snow, blue skies, brilliant sun and superb views, everything you could wish for from a day in the mountains.
No matter how good the conditions, though, there is one constant about winter walking in Scotland: You have to be prepared to…Read More
Published 16th March 2018, 10:46
I HAD always feared the third full moon of the year, the Worm Moon, would turn out to be the problem child of the 13.
Early March, the first full moon of the meteorological spring, when the earthworms begin to appear and…Read More
Published 23rd February 2018, 13:26
THE big melt of the last few days has brought a spring-like feel to the hills but don't be fooled: Winter hasn't done with us yet.
A big front is moving in from the east, bringing a return to much colder temperatures…Read More
Published 23rd February 2018, 13:15
WHISPER it, but the best days of winter may be just around the corner.
We've had some fine days since the turn of the year but the lack of consistency has been frustrating. The weather windows have been open for relatively short…Read More
Published 23rd February 2018, 13:07
I'VE been restricted to indoor mountaineering for the last week. Climbing the walls you could say.
It's been a real tonic to see so many wonderful pictures of snow-covered landscapes being posted on social media, but equally frustrating that I haven't been…Read More
Published 23rd February 2018, 12:58
I KNEW it wouldn't be easy but this full moon chase is proving to be even trickier - and more frustrating - than I expected.
It's a lot to ask for decent weather on 13 specific dates in Scotland's mountains. Some would…Read More
Published 28th January 2018, 16:14
WELL done everyone who managed to get out on the hill in such glorious winter conditions last Saturday.
I wasn't jealous at all, though. (Well, maybe just a wee bit). I had the more than ample compensation of spending the day sledging…Read More
Published 28th January 2018, 16:04
LITTLE over a day into a new year and I was standing high on the slopes of Beinn Alligin howling at the full moon.
Or, to be more precise, I was howling at where the moon had been just minutes earlier before…Read More
Published 24th December 2017, 21:09
DAY FOUR of our Skye Munros sweep and the Black Cuillin ridge had taken a toll.
There was a noticeable physical tiredness in our group after three tough days on Scotland’s most challenging mountains, and, I suspect, a psychological one too.
Published 24th December 2017, 21:00
FUNNY how the smaller the hills you climb, the harder they seem to become.
You’d think that after ‘compleating’ the Munros, the Corbetts would be easier. Nope. And that the Grahams would be easier still. Ha! Sure, the amount of ascent is…Read More
Published 11th December 2017, 13:34
JUST back from a couple of days walking in Burns’ country, and I’m willing to bet the bold Rabbie would be birlin’ in his grave if he could see the state of his beloved Glen Afton.
There’s devastation and vandalism on a…Read More
Published 30th November 2017, 12:14
ONE of the most important mountaineering disciplines to master is knowing the right moment to turn back.
The decision to soldier on in worsening weather or when things are just not right has been a major factor in many mishaps.
It’s easy…Read More
Published 24th November 2017, 12:12
ONE of the few predictable factors about winter walking in Scotland’s mountains is unpredictability.
You can plot and plan with as much precision as you want, but once you are on the hill all bets are off.
Calculated book times are reduced…Read More
Published 21st November 2017, 13:36
WINTER’S return, call of the mountains, excitement of a child at Christmas.
Rising from warm bed at 5am, morning silence, sliver of light lining dark horizon, frost glistening on grass.
Porridge, hot drink, extra layers for chill ahead, final gear check, empty…Read More
Published 13th November 2017, 10:25
I BLAME Hamish Brown. He may be a mountain legend but he’s also a very naughty boy.
There we were, a group of Munroists sitting around the table chatting happily about hills when he lobbed in a two-word grenade ... calendar round.…Read More
Published 13th November 2017, 10:17
THE first scars of winter were in evidence on Ben Wyvis at the weekend, a light coating of snow and ice filling the ruts along the wide summit ridge.
There were other scars too. A lot of work is going on to…Read More
Published 13th November 2017, 10:07
ANOTHER day on the mountains, another day of being buffeted and battered by this seemingly never-ending cycle of high winds.
Yet strangely it felt as though a corner has been turned. There was a definite change in the air. It’s that moment…Read More
Published 23rd October 2017, 11:17
TRAVELLING back from a recent mountain club outing, I listened to two friends talking about plans for tackling the outstanding Munros on their tick list.
They have a lot of long days ahead, journeys to Fisherfield, the Alders, the Mullardochs and Strathfarrar…Read More
Published 23rd October 2017, 11:08
EVERYONE needs a holiday, and I’m currently in the middle of a two-week break from the big mountains.
Not that I’m anywhere exotic; this hiatus has been all about rest and recovery. It has turned out to be voluntary and enforced in…Read More
Published 23rd October 2017, 10:56
I HAD planned to go all Johnny Cash and start this piece: “Am Faochagach, I hate every inch of you.”
You’d think the fact this sprawling mountain south of Ullapool was the final peak for my first ‘compleation’ would mean it had…Read More
Published 23rd October 2017, 10:48
JOHN GREEN has spent a lifetime climbing mountains all over the globe, from Europe to Africa, from the Himalayas to the Americas, but the completion of a more unusual quest gave him one of his biggest thrills.
A member of The Munro…Read More
Published 25th September 2017, 19:23
IF that old adage about learning more from mistakes than constant perfection is correct, then I must be coming close to genius level this year.
I always allow for one navigation faux-pas per annum: It serves as a timely reminder that full…Read More
Published 25th September 2017, 19:10
WE all have a sense of place and stories and memories of how we reached that place.
Sometimes it can be where we have made our home, sometimes a temporary haven where we find a few hours’ refuge from the stresses and…Read More
Published 31st August 2017, 15:35
WE REACHED the summit of Beinn Bheoil around 1.30pm last Sunday, the final piece of my friend’s Munro jigsaw slotted into place.
Her face was a picture of joy, but mixed in with that sense of achievement was a massive sense of…Read More
Published 31st August 2017, 15:25
I’M beginning to think I am the Rip van Winkle of the mountains, that I have just woken after more than 20 years asleep.
How else to explain the sudden realisation that all those years of climbing hills in the middle of…Read More
Published 16th August 2017, 14:50
IT’S hard to imagine another place that rivals the north-west of Scotland for hills that remain so individually stamped on the memory.
Here, every mountain is unique, outrageous shapes that suddenly rise out of nowhere, each defiantly claiming its own territory, no…Read More
Published 16th August 2017, 14:37
I OFTEN wonder how many people head down from a day on the mountain blissfully unaware that they haven’t actually reached the summit.
It happens more often than you might think. Some may realise their mistake later and rectify it but there…Read More
Published 16th August 2017, 14:10
I HAD high hopes for the weekend. Four days based at Corran, four days walking in the beautiful hills of Ardgour.
The problem with planned meets, however, is that you have to take whatever the weather throws at you. And it had…Read More
Published 31st July 2017, 19:06
I THINK I’ve finally managed to perfect the ingredients for a day out in the Southern Uplands.
First, take a Law, a Pen, a Rig, a Comb, a Fell or any combination thereof. Then add a wee dod of Dodds.
Throw in…Read More
Published 31st July 2017, 18:56
WE can all revel in little victories. That’s two big mountain walks in succession where I haven’t had to pick up a scrap of litter.
I’d like to think the Leave no Trace message is hitting home, but I suspect the fact…Read More
Published 15th July 2017, 14:23
THE Grahams were supposed to be gentler, easier options for the days when the big peaks were out of bounds. That hasn’t proven to be the case.
I had another sobering reminder yesterday that although these hills may sometimes be less than…Read More
Published 11th July 2017, 13:29
I AM always drawn to photographs from bygone days in the mountains. One fleeting moment, never to be repeated, captured in a split second.
These snapshots can reveal so many fascinating stories, as I discovered again from this picture of two climbers…Read More
Published 11th July 2017, 13:20
I WAS asked recently by a friend for my thoughts on his plan to tackle Beinn Tulaichean from Inverlochlarig.
I told him my preference has always been to climb it from Glen Falloch, passing over the shoulder of Cruach Ardrain, an interesting…Read More
Published 23rd June 2017, 20:45
I WAS sitting at the western rim of An Garbh Coire waiting for the sunrise.
I had set off from the Sugar Bowl car park around four hours earlier under a full moon, picked my way through the boulder field in the…Read More
Published 19th June 2017, 14:58
I LAY in bed listening to the rain pounding on the roof of the remote hostel at Alltbeithe with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.
The satisfaction lay in the fact that we had got the weather window spot on for a…Read More
Published 19th June 2017, 14:35
WHEN it comes to Munro finishes, Ben More in Mull is the undisputed king of the mountains.
There have been more ‘compleation’ parties here than anywhere else and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
So many see this as the perfect…Read More
Published 17th May 2017, 12:32
FAREWELL then Inaccessible Pinnacle. Thanks for the memories but four times in one lifetime is more than enough for me.
Each ascent of this outrageous blade of rock, the most technically difficult Munro, has been exhilarating. Each has felt like an achievement.…Read More
Published 16th May 2017, 11:05
I NEVER suspected for one minute that an idyllic day climbing in the north-west of Scotland would see us become victims of a murder.
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, though it is accurate. It was a theft, actually. Carried out by a…Read More
Published 16th May 2017, 10:56
FIRST it was Leicester City, then Brexit, then Trump, so it’s little wonder I am genuinely surprised by anything these days.
But the latest statistics of recorded Munro finishes couldn’t have shocked me more than finding out Alex Salmond and Theresa May…Read More
Published 21st April 2017, 13:46
I STOOD at the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe yesterday, another Munro completion realised.
Note the spelling. Completion rather than the archaic ‘compleation’, which is historically used to denote a full round of Scotland’s highest peaks.
This lone mountain which stretches away from…Read More
Published 21st April 2017, 13:31
I SHOULD have spent the last two days climbing Munros with friends in the west.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t staying on plan. While we in the east have been waking up every day to sunshine and blue skies, the north-westerlies have been…Read More
Published 9th April 2017, 13:44
IT’S EASY to see why Lochnagar has been an inspiration to writers, poets and travellers for so many centuries.
That great reveal, when you come face to face with the semi-circle of dark, brooding rock faces and the ink-spot lochan cradled in…Read More
Published 9th April 2017, 13:33
WHEN it comes to food on the hill, I have to admit I am a changed man.
Friends used to find it astonishing that I would never eat, even during the longest mountain days. I never felt the need. As long as…Read More
Published 31st March 2017, 11:32
THE long glens west of Loch Ness are regarded as some of Scotland’s finest with their intoxicating mix of mountain, woodland and lochs.
I’m just back from a few days’ walking there and although I knew there were big construction projects underway,…Read More
Published 31st March 2017, 11:20
NO two days in the Scottish hills are ever the same so I suppose the most surprising aspect of my latest outing was that I found myself surprised.
I had watched high pressure moving in from the west with excitement, the promise…Read More
Published 17th March 2017, 13:27
I READ recently someone boasting that they had been walking up mountains in Scotland for three years but hadn’t once used a map or compass.
Those suggesting it may be a mistake to rely entirely on technology were brushed aside and, in…Read More
Published 15th March 2017, 11:59
WE are continually told never to do things by halves, but half a day on the hills can often be just what we need.
This has proved particularly relevant over the last few disrupted weeks where weather and opportunity have meant my…Read More
Published 15th March 2017, 11:45
I HAD gone from the summit of Everest to a modest Scottish hill where the greatest peril was likely to be a stubborn wall of cows in little under an hour.
As a day of mountain contrasts, yesterday could not have been…Read More
Published 23rd February 2017, 12:01
WE had struggled on along the ridge despite the unrelenting battering we were taking from the wind but now we were on our knees.
Standing up was difficult, walking near impossible, so we crawled to the shelter of some rocks to regroup.…Read More
Published 23rd February 2017, 11:27
I HAD high hopes for February. But just like the winter so far, this month has turned into a constant stop-start affair.
My January tally for mountain days was the highest ever, and I was looking forward to keeping the momentum. It…Read More
Published 23rd February 2017, 11:17
I’VE been lugging my crampons around the hills since early November but so far they have remained redundant.
Now, after months of being nothing but a dead weight at the bottom of my winterised bag, it looks as though these little pointy…Read More
Published 23rd February 2017, 11:03
IT seemed like the start of something big in Scotland, something of which we could all be proud.
After years and years of heel-dragging, in 2002 we finally caught up with the rest of the world and our first national park, Loch…Read More
Published 30th January 2017, 14:20
THE sun was rising in full splendour as I drove through a conflicted landscape, anarchic icy mists dancing and twisting, creating constantly shifting patterns of light on the fields and in the trees.
It was difficult to get a clear picture; one…Read More
Published 30th January 2017, 14:11
THE number three often gets a bad rap. You know, three’s a crowd, bad things happen in threes, the Bee Gees and so on.
Literature is littered with the perils of three. No surprise that Shakespeare didn’t go with two witches, for…Read More
Published 30th January 2017, 13:59
IT had the feel of a bleak winter day in Glen Roy, even if the temperature was more autumnal and there was a distinct lack of snow and ice.
There was a damp, oppressive mood over the landscape; the mist was down…Read More
Published 30th December 2016, 21:09
AS 2016 edges closer to the finish line, I don’t imagine too many people will be shedding a tear at its passing.
For so many, this really was the year from Hell, a year in which hope was overwhelmed by conflict, hate…Read More
Published 30th December 2016, 20:50
DECEMBER in Torridon. I had expected long treks through deep snow, glistening icicles and frozen waters and those iconic peaks puffed up in their heavy coats of white.
Instead, I found blue skies and views stretching forever and barely a patch of…Read More
Published 13th December 2016, 21:16
WE’VE been on winter standby for a few weeks now but apart from a few minor flurries the main event has still to arrive.
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service resumes its forecasts a week tomorrow, a vital service for those venturing out…Read More
Published 13th December 2016, 20:56
I SUPPOSE it was fitting that a day paved with false promise would start and end in ruins.
Ninety per cent chance of cloud-free summits, the forecast said. Widespread sunshine, little chance of rain.
So the surprise raindrops hitting the windshield on…Read More
Published 27th November 2016, 15:41
IF timing really is everything, then my latest mountain outing took on all the characteristics of a broken clock.
It seemed perfect, the first big snow dump of the season leaving the hills buried under a blanket of white, the forecast for…Read More
Published 27th November 2016, 15:31
WE emerged from Crannach Wood to find a woman sitting by the waters of the Allt Coire an Lochain looking stunned.
She admitted she was shattered, demoralised by the struggle through the trees and undergrowth. Her partner didn’t look much better. She…Read More
Published 10th November 2016, 18:02
THERE’S nothing to compare to the sensation of a new winter season in the mountains.
No matter how much you have enjoyed the long days of summer with their endless light or the spectacular changes of colour which signal autumn’s reign, it’s…Read More
Published 10th November 2016, 17:51
FIRST it was Stronelairg, now it’s Altnaharra. Two different wind farm approvals, but each a disgrace.
The Scottish Government’s decision to breach its own wild land map and grant approval for a 22-turbine Creag Riabhach wind farm on the Altnaharra estate in…Read More
Published 10th November 2016, 17:37
I SET off with the best intentions but deep down I knew my chances of climbing all ten Mamores Munros in an autumn day lay somewhere between slim and zero.
In the end it proved to be a typically Scottish attempt: Brave,…Read More
Published 25th October 2016, 19:42
IT was an overdue reunion, a weekend jaunt to the Arrochar Alps, that small cluster of fine, rugged mountains to the west of Loch Lomond.
They are old friends, my fallback hills when I was based in Glasgow, a short run out…Read More
Published 25th October 2016, 19:33
BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to certain mountains and the remote Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich is a classic example.
Lying deep in the heart of the Monar Forest, this is one of the harder to reach…Read More
Published 9th October 2016, 14:19
THAT first mountain experience is crucial. A stunning day with views forever and you can be hooked for life, a miserable, wet plod up steep slopes with no views and the moment is lost.
So it was fortunate the weather was on…Read More
Published 9th October 2016, 14:03
WIND speeds of 70mph accompanied by heavy rain and even snow on the high tops: I think it's safe to say that ridge walking would not be anyone's agenda.
We are now at that time of year where we catch the tail of…Read More
Published 9th October 2016, 13:48
SIX hours into a walk, sitting alone on a mountain summit. I hadn’t seen another soul for nearly five hours.
It seemed as though a switch had been flicked; holiday season over, the crowds dispersed until next July, and autumn taking a…Read More
Published 18th September 2016, 20:30
SGOR NA H-ULAIDH is often referred to as the forgotten mountain of Glen Coe, its attractions tucked well out of sight from those travelling along the main road.
There’s no chance of your knees forgetting it, though. As soon as you leave…Read More
Published 8th September 2016, 13:32
IT was the perfect Munro finish; a tunnel guard of honour, piper playing on the summit and Champagne in the Cairngorms sunshine.
More than 40 accompanied our friend to the top of Sgor Gaoith for her final peak, a grand turn-out for…Read More
Published 8th September 2016, 13:17
TWO weeks ago, I was on a high from five superb days in the mountains. Less than seven days later, I felt like weeping.
It wasn’t just the news that an online poll had voted Mrs Brown’s Boys the best comedy of…Read More
Published 24th August 2016, 13:18
WELL that was a week to remember: Five days on the hills, 15 Munros climbed and a friend’s ‘compleation’ party.
It’s amazing how much you can achieve when the weather behaves. Four great days out of five in Scotland isn’t a bad…Read More
Published 24th August 2016, 12:56
THERE’S something about that first sighting of Beinn Dorain on the journey up the A82.
It seems to rise straight out of nothing, an imperious pyramid bursting skywards from skirts of grass and scree, the perfect mountain shape.
From other angles, of…Read More
Published 24th August 2016, 12:44
IT had been a good day on the hill; six hours over three Munros and we had come across only a few items of litter which we bagged and removed.
But that feeling of satisfaction didn’t last long because, when you look…Read More
Published 1st August 2016, 15:51
I HAD booked my seat for the final show of the evening, wedged between the rocks under the tiny cairn of A’Mhaighdean, sheltered from the fierce wind whipping across the summits.
Ahead lay what many regard our finest mountain view; the deep…Read More
Published 1st August 2016, 15:30
JULY. Named after Julius Caesar. The seventh month of the year, considered the second month of summer in the northern hemisphere.
It’s also the month in which I was born, so you’d think I’d be a fan. But when it comes to…Read More
Published 19th July 2016, 16:17
I FEARED it was going to be one of those days, sunshine promises rendered worthless by stubborn legions of low cloud.
I had already sacrificed the chance to join friends on a traverse of An Teallach, instead choosing to stay lower to…Read More
Published 19th July 2016, 16:01
IT’S the question that crops up without fail at every book and mountain festival, every talk, every show: Which is your favourite mountain?
Truth is, as with any list of favourites, like music or films for example, I have around 20 contenders…Read More
Published 29th June 2016, 19:47
WHEN someone describes their mountain day as atmospheric, it can be taken many ways, from constantly evolving thrills and sudden revelation to the mere consolation of having managed to snatch a brief glimpse in an ocean of misty disappointment.
The best day…Read More
Published 29th June 2016, 19:34
I ALWAYS get nervous before taking a group out on the hills for a midnight walk for one simple reason - the weather.
When I go out on my own, I can always cancel at the last minute if the conditions aren’t…Read More
Published 29th June 2016, 19:21
BOTHIES play a vital role in Scottish mountain life but they also open a fascinating window into the past.
Many of these open shelters have been brought back into modern use through the fine work of the Mountain Bothies Association and the…Read More
Published 15th June 2016, 10:20
EVERY time I think I have seen the very best of Scotland something else comes along to raise the bar even higher.
It happened again when I visited Beinn Ghobhlach, a little gem of a hill located on the spit of land…Read More
Published 15th June 2016, 10:06
I SEEM to have spent a lot of time recently wandering the mountains in that vast swathe of remote country between Loch Maree and Loch Broom.
Every day out in the forests of Dundonnell, Strathnasheallag, Kinlochewe, Letterewe and Fisherfield is a long…Read More
Published 1st June 2016, 16:16
SEANA BHRAIGH is a magnificent mountain but it does provide a testing day out in so many ways.
Whichever way you tackle this remote Munro, heading in south from Oykel Bridge or east from Inverlael, it’s going to be a long, tough…Read More
Published 1st June 2016, 16:03
MIDNIGHT and I’m hanging around in a dark car park waiting to meet a group of strangers. Money had already changed hands.
Now before you start jumping to wild conclusions, I should point out this was part of my remit for the…Read More
Published 18th May 2016, 15:28
I STOOD at the highest point on Iona watching the sun dip below the horizon. It seemed a fitting way to prepare for a three-day trek across Mull.
Dun I may only be some 100 metres high, but like everything else on…Read More
Published 18th May 2016, 15:14
THERE was something surreal about looking out the window of our holiday cottage and seeing palm trees and snow.
But then this was springtime in Scotland - we should have learned to expect the unexpected.
Two years ago at Arisaig, we were…Read More
Published 3rd May 2016, 11:38
THE dazzling white slope stretched ahead to fuse with boiling skies on the horizon, unblemished except for the protruding heads of a line of fence posts.
Filling the skyline behind was Beinn a’ Chaorainn, a triple-peaked Munro with huge cornices reaching out…Read More
Published 19th April 2016, 14:19
I ALWAYS regard myself fortunate to have met some extraordinary people during my years in the mountains but Michael Anderson may be the most extraordinary of them all.
Michael is 75. He is blind and mostly deaf. Despite this, he is about…Read More
Published 19th April 2016, 14:00
MUSIC has always played a huge part in my mountain life.
All those nights alone on the road to faraway places, a long-running festival of eclectic tracks to rival the shows of Bob Harris or Ian Anderson.
A typical journey would start…Read More
Published 19th April 2016, 13:48
I WAS heading to Monadh Mor over the emptiness of the Moine Mhor at 4am when the mist rolled in and swallowed me.
It was mid-August and the first tentative signs of the wakening day I had been beginning to catch on…Read More
Published 24th March 2016, 13:31
IT was a perfect morning; there was already warmth in the early sun, the skies were clear and the wind could hardly raise a breath.
As I made my way through the silent woods, pale laser beams of light slicing through the canopy,…Read More
Published 23rd March 2016, 13:39
THE only thing consistent about our weather is its inconsistency, yet this lull in winter conditions conjures up a distinct feeling of déjà vu.
Last Sunday, March 13, I was out in the Monadhliath mountains, and suddenly it felt as though much…Read More
Published 23rd March 2016, 13:27
NO ONE can ever accuse me of lacking determination when it comes to climbing mountains but sometimes even my best efforts are not enough.
The past seven days have proved to be the most frustrating spell I’ve had since I started this…Read More
Published 23rd March 2016, 13:12
THE mountains are never more beautiful than when coated in fresh snow with unblemished blue skies overhead and the sun on at full power.
There’s a real feeling of satisfaction when you are the first person to set foot on that virgin…Read More
Published 24th February 2016, 13:15
IT’S often said there’s more than one way to skin a cat but it’s highly unlikely I will ever be in a position to prove that. I’m no Freddy Cougar, after all.
But one of the joys of doing multiple rounds of…Read More
Published 14th February 2016, 21:11
IT was heartening to see such a massive response to last week’s blog about litter problems in the great outdoors.
The mission statement ‘Leave no trace’ cropped up many times and, while it is a noble one, unfortunately our species is forever…Read More
Published 14th February 2016, 20:56
YOU’VE had your night in the bothy and are ready to head on.
All that remains is to gather up your trash, put it in a plastic sack and hang it up like a fetid Christmas stocking waiting for some rubbish collecting…Read More
Published 31st January 2016, 13:33
THE landscape was leached of colour but the stark monochrome tones still served up a steely beauty. There were few signs of life yet evidence of it everywhere.
Scotland during a snowy January is a land of contradictions, and all the better…Read More
Published 31st January 2016, 13:19
THE storms had abated and for a couple of days there was calm and the promise of sunshine.
I was looking for a mountain walk, certain avoidance criteria permitting of course ie. ungritted minor roads, major river crossings, anything that would normally…Read More
Published 11th January 2016, 10:55
I HAD always wanted to catch a winter sunset from Coire Mhic Fhearchair and now here I was, sitting at the lip of the corrie as the day bid farewell with a spectacular fireworks show.
First the landscape was brushed with a…Read More
Published 4th January 2016, 14:10
THIS is the time of year when everyone gets around to making wish lists.
I’m no exception. But I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions and I gave up on writing to Santa many years ago. Nothing to do with growing…Read More
Published 4th January 2016, 13:46
IT happened 22 years ago on the summit ridge of Beinn Challum, a lone Munro near Crianlarich, but to this day I’m still not sure exactly what happened.
We shouldn’t even have been on the mountain that day. There had been heavy…Read More
Published 17th December 2015, 20:52
WALKING in thick mist is an occupational hazard in Scotland, but a thick fog is more unusual.
The thought of being on the hills in a real pea-souper intrigued me, so I set off into the unknown with a real sense of adventure.…Read More
Published 17th December 2015, 20:24
THE Scottish landscape has been at the forefront of the news recently with several high-profile and controversial wind farm projects being thrown out and Judy Murray’s plans for a sports centre and high-end housing on greenbelt land rejected.
Discussions over how far…Read More
Published 17th December 2015, 20:08
YOU’VE been on the hill for hours. You are tired and weary, on your last legs.
You need a rest, you need food, you need shelter. You need to get out of the wind and rain.
And then you see it; a…Read More
Published 22nd November 2015, 11:45
THE deer were walking across the horizon in single file, little silhouettes against a backdrop of grey skies.
It had the feel of a great migration, a sign that autumn’s time was up and winter’s mission creep had reached the point of…Read More
Published 22nd November 2015, 11:33
FUNNY the tricks time can play on the mind.
There are mountains I climb regularly and yet feel like years have passed since my last visit, and there are ones I feel I visited only yesterday which have seen a decade pass.…Read More
Published 6th November 2015, 20:27
WE’VE got armchair football, golf, boxing and virtually every other sport under the sun so I suppose it was inevitable mountaineering would join the list.
Ben Nevis is the setting for a new virtual reality game, Oculus Rift, created by, of all…Read More
Published 6th November 2015, 20:07
DRIVING down the A9 last Sunday morning I saw a bizarre and mesmerising sight.
On the eastern side of the road, the sun’s rays were reflecting off the light frosting of snow on the mountain tops, and the brisk breeze was bending…Read More
Published 6th November 2015, 19:54
THE car park at Linn of Dee was unusually quiet, a dozen or so vehicles scattered amongst the trees, some covered in leaves and pine needles, looking as if they had lain abandoned for days.
There was a distinct feeling of change…Read More
Published 15th October 2015, 21:08
I HAD it planned to perfection. I would be sitting at the highest point in Mull watching the sun rise to celebrate the “compleation" of my third round of Munros.
The ferry was booked, the route picked out for maximum impact and all…Read More
Published 15th October 2015, 20:54
WELL, we can’t say we haven’t been warned. The coldest winter for 50 years is on the way.
It must be true. The Daily Express wouldn't have made it front page news otherwise. No, if the paper decided to relegate its usual targets…Read More
Published 15th October 2015, 20:42
IT’S not the longest ferry crossing, but I suspect even Marco Polo might have been impressed by the feeling of adventure you get when you set sail from Uig.
Perhaps it’s the long journey to reach this point, perhaps it’s the windswept…Read More
Published 23rd September 2015, 18:31
WHAT’S the connection between the Cuillin ridge and Poundland? Intrigued? Then just bear with me a minute.
I was back in Skye trying to climb the five remaining Munros that would edge me closer to a third-round finish. Success would mean I…Read More
Published 23rd September 2015, 18:21
REMEMBER that scene from the film, In Bruges, with Colin Farrell trying to subtly suggest to two extra-large American tourists why they should think again about climbing to the top of a high tower?
Well, I did something similar once. I had…Read More
Published 3rd September 2015, 19:25
BUACHAILLE ETIVE BEAG is something of a Cinderella peak in Glen Coe.
There it is, shoehorned in between its bigger brother Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian with the infamous Aonach Eagach ridge just across the road.
But the Wee Buachaille…Read More
Published 3rd September 2015, 19:09
I NEVER need much of an excuse to head for Knoydart. This rugged peninsula sandwiched between Loch Hourn and Loch Nevis has been a favourite since my first visit around 20 years ago.
There’s a real wilderness feel about any expedition here, no…Read More
Published 3rd September 2015, 18:56
I HAD been planning the walk for weeks, a Cairngorms traverse from dusk ’til dawn.
Set off from Linn of Dee around 9.30pm to catch the sunset, walk up the Lairig Ghru through the dark hours before catching the sunrise from the…Read More
Published 10th August 2015, 19:30
GLAS TULAICHEAN is one of those Munros that is often labelled as being at the duller end of the scale.
There’s a Land Rover track leading virtually all the way to the summit and its translation, ‘green hillocks’, hardly conjures up the…Read More
Published 10th August 2015, 19:19
THREE weeks ago I was on top of Buachaille Etive Mor. Ten days later I was exploring the high parts of Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe.
The contrast could hardly be more dramatic, the windswept ridge at the gates…Read More
Published 10th August 2015, 19:07
THEY may be better known as the Cairngorms but they looked more like their given name, the Monadh Ruadh, as they glowed a burnished red around me.
It was 4.30am and the sunrise had just cleared the top of Braeriach and was…Read More
Published 10th July 2015, 14:44
I HAD almost forgotten about the satisfaction of the one-day walk through.
It’s the classic way of walking mountains - start at one point, travel cross country and finish at a different point a long way from your start - and there…Read More
Published 10th July 2015, 14:30
THE butterflies had just settled as I sat having lunch on the tiny summit platform of Sgurr nan Gillean after an exciting scramble up the exposed West Ridge.
The razor spikes collectively known as the Black Cuillin were stretched out in the…Read More
Published 30th June 2015, 18:36
I WAS privileged to be with Hazel Strachan the other day as she touched the cairn at the top of Geal-charn to set the female record of seven Munro rounds.
That’s seven full circuits in just ten years, the latest taking just…Read More
Published 30th June 2015, 18:27
A MAN stands in front of a firing squad. He’s asked: Any last requests? “Yes,” he replies, “any chance of seeing a dentist? This tooth is killing me.”
Now you may laugh (relax, you don’t have to) but sometimes we get so…Read More
Published 12th June 2015, 18:07
THE loneliness of the landscape seems fitting for a final resting place. The silence is eternally eerie, nature providing its own tribute to 15 lost souls.
They had survived World War II and were heading home to the USA when their plane…Read More
Published 12th June 2015, 17:48
I HAD big plans for spring - a third Munro finish, the start of a search for a sunrise from the highest point of every Scottish island and a backpacking trip over multiple peaks.
But spring sprung a leak, a big one,…Read More
Published 12th June 2015, 17:36
WE had just waded the river and had entered the trees heading for Beinn a’ Bhuird when we were overtaken by a cyclist.
Nothing unusual there - the first few miles of the route up Glen Quoich are track and it makes…Read More
Published 25th May 2015, 14:25
I WAS under the snow-streaked summit tors of Ben Avon taking pictures with my phone when it started ringing.
I told the caller: “Hold on, I’ll ask,” and then turned to my four stunned walking partners to pose the question: “This guy…Read More
Published 25th May 2015, 14:13
IT felt like a step back in time, the kind of journey that had become habit for 15 years.
This was a focussed trip to climb a solitary mountain, one of the eight strays needing to be climbed to complete my Munro…Read More
Published 10th May 2015, 12:32
NEVER mind the General Election - Scotland’s weather would have sent the swingometer into meltdown last week.
I suppose it was it inevitable the mini heatwave we had been experiencing would disappear just in time for our week-long expedition to the Cairngorms.…Read More
Published 6th May 2015, 13:58
I REMEMBER watching helplessly as a friend slipped coming down a hill and then went into an uncontrolled and seemingly unstoppable descent.
She wasn’t on a sheer rock face or a knife-edge arete - it was a simple grassy slope. But she…Read More
Published 22nd April 2015, 11:01
I’VE always tended to follow a Marxist philosophy when it comes to signing up for club memberships.
Groucho Marx that is, not Karl. When invited to join one club he famously declined with the reply: “I refuse to join any club that…Read More
Published 22nd April 2015, 10:45
THE mist was hanging in a gauzy layer just above Loch Rannoch as if frightened to get its feet wet, the sunlight reflecting the snow-capped peaks perfectly in the sheet of glass that passed as water.
A few miles further on, the…Read More
Published 1st April 2015, 19:54
THE clocks may have taken us forward into spring but winter is still refusing to pack its bags and head off for a well-deserved rest.
It’s a dangerous time of year. The fine conditions of one day can be swiftly replaced by…Read More
Published 1st April 2015, 19:37
IT’S often said there no bad hills, just good ones and not so good ones. I bet the people who live by that adage have never been up Carn nan Tri-tighearnan.
I suppose even calling it a hill is debatable. It’s basically…Read More
Published 22nd March 2015, 12:11
I STARTED climbing a hill 23 years ago and last week I finally reached the top.
It may sound more like the timescale mountaineers have taken to summit one of the world's highest peaks but this was no Everest or K2. Beinn…Read More
Published 22nd March 2015, 12:00
WHAT’S the link between a classic John Ford film and a supposedly haunted bothy in the heart of the Central Highlands?
One famous quote: When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Basically, most people don’t want the banal reality – they prefer…Read More
Published 7th March 2015, 21:08
I SEEM to have spent more time talking about the mountains recently than actually climbing any.
February has been an avalanche of book festivals and events, and coupled with the wild weather, has led to an almost three-week gap in my outdoors…Read More
Published 7th March 2015, 20:56
EVERYONE has their own pace when climbing a hill.
There are the mountain hares, racing up and cutting hours off average times, and there are those happy to plod away for the whole day to reach their goal.
The majority of walkers…Read More
Published 21st February 2015, 21:09
WE HAD just descended into the Lairig Gartain from an early morning jaunt up Buachaille Etive Mor when my American friend stopped and stared up the length of the glen in astonishment.
He couldn’t believe there were no houses in such a…Read More
Published 21st February 2015, 20:44
THE January cabin fever has subsided and normal service has been resumed.
My diatribe last week about the merits of being alone in the mountains certainly struck a chord with many hillgoers and feelings of guilt in others (you know who you…Read More
Published 21st February 2015, 20:29
GRETA GARBO never had this problem. When she said she wanted to be alone, no one ever suggested it was because she had no mates.
So let’s get this straight - the reason I go out in the hills so often on…Read More
Published 4th February 2015, 15:12
WE all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to mountains and one of mine is Carn a’ Mhaim.
This often overlooked hill is not one of the obvious Cairngorms attractions like Braeriach, Ben Macdui or Cairn Toul but it does have…Read More
Published 4th February 2015, 15:00
THEY’RE in the bag as always but so far this winter my crampons have made just one brief cameo appearance.
Even that was probably just me erring on the side of caution. There was deep soft snow but never really any threat…Read More
Published 19th January 2015, 12:46
I SPENT last weekend sitting looking forlornly out of the window. Similar to what most of my mountain pals were doing I suppose.
I hadn’t managed to make a move for the great outdoors for nearly a week in fact, but with…Read More
Published 19th January 2015, 12:27
THE winter days may be shorter but it’s always surprising how many contrasting moods can be packed into one mountain outing at this time of year.
Even the drive across country is a feast of ever-changing vistas. One minute you are in…Read More
Published 31st December 2014, 16:56
MUNROS round or Corbetts round - which is tougher? There’s only one way to find out …
No, no, no, let’s not descend into a Harry Hill-style fight involving papier mache models of Ben Nevis and The Cobbler rolling around the floor…Read More
Published 31st December 2014, 16:41
WE were above the snowline nearing the summit ridge of Beinn a’ Chaorainn when the visibility disappeared. It was if the whole mountain had suddenly gone into hiding.
From having views all the way on the climb up the north-east ridge, we…Read More
Published 9th December 2014, 20:06
IF there was an award for taking the breath away Coire Mhic Fhearchair would be an annual recipient.
The sight of the Triple Buttress towering over that little loch in a semi-circle of rock heaven comes as a revelation, no matter how…Read More
Published 9th December 2014, 19:55
I’VE never been too lucky with outings to the Southern Uplands, the good days in this beautiful part of the country proving few and far between.
Most have involved low cloud and no views or a lot of effort dodging in and…Read More
Published 9th December 2014, 19:43
HERE’S a wee tip for those of you thinking of taking a short cut through the trees to save time in the dying light of a winter descent: Don’t do it.
There’s nothing nicer than a walk in the woods and any…Read More
Published 17th November 2014, 14:01
THE sign at the side of the road says it all: Glenelg (Earth) twinned with Glenelg (Mars).
You do feel you have entered a different world when you cross the high, twisting Mam Ratagan, the pass that leads over from Glen Shiel…Read More
Published 17th November 2014, 13:48
IT was one of those perfect autumn days you often get between storms, a calmness that appears as if the weather is holding its breath.
Three days of heavy rain, high winds and all the mayhem associated with these conditions had passed…Read More
Published 17th November 2014, 13:39
IT’S always wise to have a Plan B when heading for the mountains, but recent monsoon weather saw me moving rapidly through the alphabet.
Flooding, landslides, bridges washed away and roads closed - no wonder I was now on Plan J or K.
Published 21st October 2014, 12:12
I SPENT two days last week staring into the abyss. Well, more than one abyss actually. And there wasn’t really much staring, but there was a lot of dangling.
That’s just the way it is when you are tackling the most fearsome…Read More
Published 21st October 2014, 12:04
WHEN it comes to mountain gear which type are you? Do you make sure every piece of clothing co-ordinates or do you just grab whatever happens to be nearest and damn the fashion police?
Do you swear by certain manufacturers and stick loyally with their products…Read More
Published 21st October 2014, 11:53
THE day started with Champagne on the misty summit of Cairn Gorm and finished with the orange lights of Aviemore twinkling on the horizon as we descended in the twilight.
In between, we managed to lounge around on a beach, hopped across…Read More
Published 21st October 2014, 11:44
MANY mountain days can be a psychological battle as well as a physical one and none more so than in Skye’s Black Cuillin.
The thought of scaling Scotland’s Alps can reduce many a budding Munroist to a trembling wreck, and there are…Read More
Published 25th September 2014, 11:18
THIRTEEN years ago to the day I was sitting at the top of a mountain watching the sun rise, unaware that 3,000 miles across the Atlantic the world was about to catch fire. It was September 11, 2001.
While I was making…Read More
Published 25th September 2014, 10:51
THE night assault on the senses brought the memories flooding back as I tried to catch a few hours sleep in the car before heading out on the hills.
My nocturnal outings are few and far between these days, in stark contrast…Read More
Published 3rd September 2014, 16:00
A FRIEND who does voluntary work for the National Trust for Scotland told me a rather depressing, but all too familiar, story the other day.
He was taking part in a clean-up at Culloden. As he was working he was approached by…Read More
Published 3rd September 2014, 15:50
IT was a scene that would have David Attenborough salivating and it was unfolding right before our eyes.
We were heading for Beinn a’ Chreachain on a wild, windy day. Three days of constant rain had left the ground saturated and the…Read More
Published 19th August 2014, 10:17
WE’RE a right miserable lot when you come to think of it. In fact, some of my fellow walkers make Goldilocks seem positively agreeable.
They moan when the weather is wet and yet they moan when it is dry and hot. They…Read More
Published 19th August 2014, 09:50
IT’S the hottest day of year and I’m about to head in to the Fisherfield wilderness to tackle two of Scotland’s most remote mountains.
A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor are superb hills and the best option is to camp or bothy…Read More
Published 26th July 2014, 15:07
ONE of the great advantages of going out on hills solo so often is that I long ago learned to trust my own judgment.
Never rely on anyone else. Always do your homework. Know how to get out of trouble. And, most…Read More
Published 26th July 2014, 14:53
BAGGING is a dirty word to some hill goers. It conjures up images of someone running up one peak to get another tick while ignoring the further delights of the mountain.
But those who show such a single-minded approach to running down…Read More
Published 26th July 2014, 14:36
THE first time I went climbing in Wales I came home on crutches.
An accident on Tryfan, a helicopter ride to hospital and a hobble into a packed party night at a curry house still in the mud-caked, slightly whiffy gear I…Read More
Published 26th July 2014, 14:04
SCOTLAND’S future path will be decided in September but the independence debate doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting the value of our land.
The Auch and Invermearan estate in Perthshire is the latest to be snapped up, selling for £11 million. The 28,300-acre…Read More
Published 27th June 2014, 16:55
A FRIEND contacted me recently asking me if I could identify the mountain in an old picture he had picked up in an antique shop.
You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, but my initial thought turned out to be wrong.…Read More
Published 27th June 2014, 16:38
YOU pull into the car park beside the locked gate at Glen Strathfarrar and the haggling begins almost immediately.
For walkers hoping to tick off the four Munros on the horseshoe circuit on the north side of the glen these can be…Read More
Published 13th June 2014, 12:40
IT’S one of the great dilemmas for peak baggers - just what is the best approach to tackle the elusive mountains of Fisherfield?
When we first climbed them, there were six Munros in the round (there are now five, Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh…Read More
Published 13th June 2014, 12:29
WHEREVER you walk in Scotland’s mountains, there are poignant reminders that you are walking through a sad and painful history.
The remains of solitary houses stand in remote glens where every day must have been a struggle way beyond the comprehension of…Read More
Published 30th May 2014, 12:20
THE cars and vans looked like miniature models as I watched them zip silently along the side of Loch Lochy some 3,000 feet below my breakfast spot.
It was 7.30am and I was sitting at the head of the Cam Bhealach, the…Read More
Published 30th May 2014, 12:06
GULVAIN is a wonderful mountain - beauty and the beast in the one wrapper.
The beauty comes in the form of its perfectly curved summit ridge which stretches from the South Top to the main peak.
The beast is the brutal constant…Read More
Published 8th May 2014, 14:43
YOU can often get off lightly with one mistake in the mountains but a series of them can really ruin your day.
And it happens to the very best. The K2 disaster of 2008 was caused by some of the world’s top…Read More
Published 8th May 2014, 14:30
THE West Highland rail line is a vital link for walkers, an artery straight into some of our more remote mountains.
The hills around lonely Corrour Station, for example, would be harder nuts to crack without the train. They are remote hills…Read More
Published 24th April 2014, 19:54
IT was 2.30am and we were sitting listening to the rain pounding on the roof of the car.
This was not in the script. The forecast had been for warm, dry weather but when we arrived at Glenfinnan ready for action, the…Read More
Published 24th April 2014, 19:37
THE battles may rage for weeks but there’s always that pivotal moment when the war is won, when winter is finally defeated and spring emerges victorious.
Sometimes that victory can be sudden and decisive, a massive change in a matter of hours. The…Read More
Published 15th April 2014, 09:47
FORGET Sunshine on Leith, when there’s sunshine on Skye you have to cancel all other plans.
The Misty Isle is usually typecast. The normal mountain adventure here is undertaken under low cloud and a fine drizzle at best, making the fearsome Black…Read More
Published 3rd April 2014, 15:00
I ENJOYED reminiscing about the joys of Rum last week so much that I’ve decided to stay on the islands.
Not that I had much choice during a weekend in Arran a good few years back. Storm force winter winds forced the…Read More
Published 3rd April 2014, 14:45
A DAY on the Scottish mountains should always feel like an adventure but there’s an added edge when you are heading for the islands.
The feeling of remoteness, the military-style planning and the variables of the journey itself all add to up…Read More
Published 25th March 2014, 14:39
THERE will have been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the closure of Culra Bothy.
The famous green shelter stood at the gateway to the Ben Alder mountains and was key to many climbers and walkers’ expeditions to climb…Read More
Published 25th March 2014, 14:24
GLEN LYON is one of our most beautiful glens and the mountains here have a more pastoral feel than some of their more rugged cousins further north.
It’s ideal country for this time of year when winter is starting to loosen its…Read More
Published 6th March 2014, 13:13
DRAMATIC seems too tame a word for a mountain as imposing as Slioch. Driving along the side of Loch Maree towards Gairloch you can’t help your eyes being drawn to this massive sandstone monolith forcing its way into the sky.
It dominates the…Read More
Published 1st March 2014, 21:49
IT’S happened to every walker at least once. You’re standing in a whiteout, zero visibility and the wind whipping spindrift like tiny daggers straight into your face, but you just have to check your map.
No matter how well it has been…Read More
Published 1st March 2014, 21:38
THERE’S no such thing as an ideal weight for hill walking. In certain conditions it pays to be on the lighter side, while in others a little extra bulk is an advantage.
You always tend to walk heavier in winter conditions anyway,…Read More
Published 15th February 2014, 17:20
WE were on the summit ridge of Beinn a’ Chaorainn with no visibility, thick mist all around and the path buried under deep snow.
We had lost all vision in a matter of seconds. The compass was our only clue as to…Read More
Published 15th February 2014, 16:56
THERE are a lot of fed-up walkers and climbers around at the moment. It’s no fun sitting in your living room watching the seemingly never-ending rain batter the windows while you are all dressed with nowhere to go.
But don’t panic, surely…Read More
Published 15th February 2014, 16:20
THERE are many magnificent sights to behold in the Scottish landscape but nothing comes closer to making the heart soar than seeing a golden eagle in full flight.
The recent BBC Winterwatch programme from the Cairngorms showed just how elusive these imperious…Read More
Published 30th January 2014, 20:29
SOME days it’s not about reaching the top or ticking off another peak. Some days it’s just about soaking in the beauty of our wonderful country.
Having been confined to barracks by a heavy cold for the last ten days or so,…Read More
Published 30th January 2014, 20:10
MOUNTAINEERS can often be accused of having naked ambition but there are those who take it all a bit too literally.
Back in 2007 a young couple from Bedfordshire caused a bit of a stir when it was reported they intended to…Read More
Published 30th January 2014, 19:56
WE’VE all taken a bit of a battering in the last few weeks with a series of Atlantic storms rolling in on a low-pressure conveyor belt.
One after another they have rampaged their way across the country, gale-force winds damaging buildings, uprooting…Read More
Published 31st December 2013, 13:50
LIVING on the east coast has its advantages. The weather is generally drier than in the west, thanks in part to the massive blocking influence of the Cairngorms.
But when it comes to the mountains us easterners are at a big disadvantage.…Read More
Published 31st December 2013, 13:23
IT won’t be long now, the annual clamour by the ill-informed to try to curb the freedom of those who enjoy the mountains in winter.
At the first hint of an accident they are there with their pompous soundbites and hoary old…Read More
Published 13th December 2013, 17:33
SOMETIMES you have to be reminded of what you are missing before you realise just how much you have missed it, and often that reminder can come at the strangest times.
Take the other night. Three of us huddled among huge boulders…Read More
Published 13th December 2013, 17:16
IT was supposed to be a simple day out, a stroll round the northern corries and peaks of Lochnagar via a superb network of tracks and paths.
Little did I suspect that I was heading for the annual starring role in my…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 14:26
IT was one of these days when everything had to be put on hold. Snow, beautiful snow everywhere and the further west we travelled the more there was of it.
After the false winter starts of the previous couple of weeks, here…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 14:10
I LOVE the hills in winter condition but sometimes it takes a lot of effort to swing into action.
The forecast was good for the Friday, so the plan was to head west of Tyndrum. However a busy and late Thursday knocked…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 13:27
IT’S a debate that seems to come around as regularly as Christmas: Should we re-introduce wolves and bears to the wild in Scotland?
The romantic in me loves the idea of seeing animals that were hunted to extinction reclaiming their place in…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 13:09
THE clocks have turned and the temperatures are beginning to creep consistently downwards. The higher mountain tops have a dusting of snow but even the lower peaks seem to be bracing themselves for the inevitable covering of the white stuff.
It’s the change…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 12:57
IT’S easy to be seduced by the charms of Beinn a’ Bheithir. Driving across the bridge a few miles south of Fort William, the eyes are drawn to the huge twin-pronged mountain and the deep V of a plunging neckline separating the…Read More
Published 21st November 2013, 12:42
ASK anyone to come up with a Top 10 of Scotland’s finest mountains and Torridon’s big three, Liathach, Beinn Eighe and Beinn Alligin, are likely to feature.
Liathach is the intimidating one, seemingly impregnable to mere mortals as it sweeps straight up…Read More
Published 13th November 2013, 14:25
LATE autumn is a wonderful time to be out in the mountains, the colours changing almost daily as nature prepares for its winter shutdown.
But with the increasing chance of Atlantic storm fronts sweeping in with high winds and heavy rain it’s…Read More
Published 13th November 2013, 14:13
WHEN the Reverend Archibald Eneas Robertson reached the summit of Meall Dearg in 1901 he became the first person to climb all the Munros. It would be 22 years before anyone else matched that feat.
But as Ronald Burn finished his round…Read More
Published 13th November 2013, 14:03
THERE’S no finer sound on the hills at this time than the roaring of the stags as they go into battle during the yearly rut.
Their majestic sound carries for miles across the glens as each testosterone-fuelled male tries to scare off…Read More
Published 13th November 2013, 13:46
WE set off at 3.30am in a darkness made even more impenetrable by low-lying mist, impossible to see more a couple of feet ahead.
It was fitting that we were heading for Beinn a’Ghlo, the mountain of mist, a beautiful triple-Munro mountain…Read More
Published 13th November 2013, 13:15
MENTION the words Aonach Eagach to hill walkers and you are guaranteed an emotive response. The infamous Glen Coe ridge either brings you out in shivers of excitement or a cold sweat.
Aonach Eagach means notched ridge and it provides the most sensational…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 02:20
YOU can’t escape the feeling you’ve taken a step back millions of years when you climb Ben More Assynt and Conival.
These two rough, rocky Munros are the highest points in Sutherland – and it’s not just walkers and climbers who get their…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 02:10
THERE’S often a feeling of the surreal when you summit a mountain in moonlight, but this one really took the biscuit.
I was on Stob Coire Sgriodain, a rough, rocky mountain near Fort William, which provides a superb view of the fjord-like…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 02:00
IT was raining but the heavy grey skies and swirling mist only seemed to make the desolate moors of Sutherland even more beautiful.
I was on the rough B-road to Ben Hope that runs up Strath More from Altnaharra when a glance…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:50
IT started on the island of Mull on May 2nd and ended 100 days later in the far north of Scotland.
Kevin Woods, a 21-year-old student from Glasgow, stood at the summit of Ben Hope to complete his mission of climbing all…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:40
FOR most people the completion of a round of Munros is enough of an achievement for a lifetime.
A second round is quite common, a third less so but still not unusual. And then there are those who just keep on going.…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:30
THERE are those who climb mountains and then there are those who only climb Munros.
There’s nothing wrong with ticking off peaks but when it means you restrict your view to a matter of a few feet either way it’s a real…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:20
The warnings were there. If you are planning going on the hills in this heat, cover up, use plenty of sunscreen and take lots of fluids. And try to avoid walking between 12 and 2pm.
The sensible thing then was to walk…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:10
THE South Glen Shiel ridge is a Munroist’s dream, seven peaks that can be ticked off in one day.
Most walkers do it east to west, starting on a track near the Cluanie Inn.
Creag a’ Mhaim is the first target, then…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 01:00
ONE of the great joys of walking at night in the mountains is the feeling of solitude.
You are totally alone with your thoughts, no one around to disturb you as the cares of the day are massaged away.
Not that I…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:50
BUACHAILLE ETIVE MOR is the pin-up boy of the Scottish mountains.
Its image is on calendars sold all over the globe, instantly recognisable even to those who have never been near a hill.
Standing majestically at the entrance to Glen Coe, it’s…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:40
IF there’s one certainty about walking the mountains in Scotland it’s that the rain is never far away.
Even in spells of superb weather such as we have been enjoying recently, your average hill punter knows it won’t last. Plan for the…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:30
IT feels like summer has only just made an appearance but already the year is about to turn.
Midsummer’s Day is here, the longest day of the year, and from here on in the daylight hours are chipped away gradually to lead…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:20
THEY say you should never meet your heroes - they’ll only leave you disappointed.
Try telling that to my pal Ken after his first visit to An Teallach.
This multi-peaked wonder of nature is not so much a mountain, more a mountain…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:10
THERE are tough hill days and even tougher hill days – and then there are the Mullardochs.
The four mighty peaks which form a long twisting ridge up beyond the dam at the head of Glen Cannich provide a challenging day out for…Read More
Published 31st October 2013, 00:00
IT’S never nice to see one of your walking partners injured and unable to get out on the hills. But it can be quite handy sometimes.
One of the great joys of the big mountain days is the walk through. Unfortunately, that…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:59
BEINN NA LAP isn’t one of the most highly rated of Scotland’s mountains but it is fast catching up on Mull’s Ben More as the choice for a final Munro party.
This rounded hill sits quietly and inoffensively above Loch Ossian but…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:58
THERE are many reasons to enjoy walking the mountains in the early hours but solitude is by far and away the No.1.
Having the summits to yourself with dawn breaking is simply magnificent. For a few hours you can imagine you are…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:57
IF there was to be a purpose-built playground for walking in the early hours then surely the Cairngorms would provide the template.
Long approach walks on good tracks and a superb network of paths through the hills take most of the strain…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:56
SEANA BHRAIGH is one of the great Scottish mountains.
This remote and stately Munro stands in true wilderness country, deep in the heart of Ross-shire, miles from any road.
It’s not one of the calendar pin-ups like Buachaille Etive Mor or Schiehallion,…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:51
SPRING may have finally arrived but in the mountains winter is still never far away.
The warmer and wetter conditions will blast away most of the snow from the slopes and ridges but the sheer accumulation this year will take a long…Read More
Published 30th October 2013, 23:38
THERE’S nothing quite like being on a Scottish mountainside to watch the sun rise.
The sight and sounds of another day coming alive swells your heart and lifts your spirits.
What more reason do you need to become hooked on regular excursions…Read More