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, accompanied by gales, heavy rain and freezing conditions and all those hopes were blown away.

    We spent a week in the Cairngorms and the conditions wouldn’t have been out of place in winter; four walks over snow-covered mountains, winds threatening to rip the skin from our faces, even a two-hour blizzard at one point. 

    Then it was over to Arran. I was a guest speaker at the mountain festival and planned to use the weekend to summit Goatfell at night, to catch a sunrise and possibly a sunset.

    This was to be the beginning of a campaign to see the sun come up from the highest point on every Scottish island. But as I waited in the ferry queue with the horizontal rain battering the car, I realised that seeing any sun at all would be a miracle.

    I did manage a day out on Beinn Bharrain but circuiting the hills proved out of the question with the wind making it hard to stand up on the ridge. A swift retreat from the summit cairn was the only option. The final day was even worse, torrential downpours persuading me to head for the earliest ferry, my sunrise mission miserably failing to get off the ground.

    I take my hat off to those who managed to lead and participate in the festival walks during these conditions. Not that it would be difficult to take it off - one gust actually tore the hat from my head on Beinn Bharrain.

    Never mind, I was looking forward to a two-day trip into Glen Affric. We were going to go over A’Chlaraig and Mullach Fraoch-choire, drop down for an overnighter at Alltbeithe, head out to Mullach na Dheiragain and Co. the next day and then walk back out to the Cluanie Inn.

    Then we saw the forecast. Heavy rain arriving in the North-west Highlands and then sitting tight for two days. Not a break at any point. It would be two days walking in a car wash, no views of any description and the possibility of high winds. We decided to head for the sunshine and dry conditions of the Cairngorms instead.

    And finally, the big Munro ending. Round three to be topped off on Sgurr Alasdair, the highest mountain on the isle, with a sunrise to mark the finish.
    Unfortunately the unseasonal weather the week before meant I never managed to reach my other missing Munro, Ben More on Mull, so hopes of a spectacular finale last weekend were dashed before I even got there.

    There was a pleasant surprise on the Saturday though, the forecast improving by the minute, and instead of the predicted rain and high winds we got a reasonable day. Unfortunately the visibility arrived just too late. It’s always a bit of a lottery on the Black Cuillin in poor conditions. Good route finding is everything and any mistake can be severely punished.

    We set off into the rock chaos of Coir a’ Ghrunnda and managed to reach the top of Sgurr nan Eag. The more tricky Sgurr Dubh Mor would be a different proposition, the series of ledges and slabs leading to its top an exact science. By the time we had reached the summit of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn we had ran out of time anyway.

    Driving rain and high winds ruled out another Cuillin assault on the Sunday and so we went for the lower option of Marsco. It was like running a gauntlet of hosepipes and the path was a mini river. It did clear for a while to give views from the top, but then there was snow on the way down.

    I retreated next morning, having lost another battle on Skye, but the war has still to be resolved. As I drove past the Sligachan the Cuillin had a coating of fresh snow. Flaming June indeed.