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 every storm system from across the Atlantic. One day it's calm, the next it's hard to stay on your feet.

    It was not surprising to see so many plans blown away last weekend. I lost count of the number of walkers on social media shelving their big outings as the winds blew in.

    We had hoped to climb the Easains but no one in our group fancied tackling these lofty twins near Spean Bridge in wet and windy weather and with zero prospect of a view.

    There will have been some who pressed on to their chosen hills regardless. Peak bagging can make you like that. The only thing that matters is another tick on the list. I would never criticise anyone for that - I have been there myself. You have made meticulous plans and you feel this might be your only chance to summit that peak.

    I don't do that any more. I've done my Munros and my Corbetts, and I have reached that point that so many have done before where quality becomes more important than quantity. I want to savour every day out.

    I remember being in Knoydart many moons ago, determined to tick the Munros despite the clinging low cloud, and being shocked by the old hands who were opting for lower level targets. Why come all the way to one of the finest mountains regions in the country and then not climb mountains? It seemed like madness to a young whipper snapper with a one-track mind. But now I get it.

    And let's be honest here - sometimes the most revelatory views are to be found far below the peaks, deep in lonely glens and hidden corries.

    Just a few months ago, a party of friends were heading for the An Teallach ridge but I declined their invitation and instead took the opportunity to walk up into Loch Toll an  Lochan, the little body of water which sits underneath this spectacular series of peaks and pinnacles.

    I spent the day alone and got lucky with a 20-minute spell when the swirling mists lifted to give me the shot I had always wanted, An Teallach reflected perfectly in waters disturbed by only the merest pirr.

    The advantage of staying beneath the summits had paid off, and there are so many other magnificent places which can provide richer rewards than a clag-fast cairn.

    Venture into Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe and chances are you will soon be asking yourself whether you need to go any higher, for this is a special place. I once sat at the lip of this corrie for hours, capturing the gently gradual arrival of a winter sunset which took the landscape through the full colour spectrum. I didn't need a summit to make me happy.

    Creag Meagaidh's Coire Ardair is another place that is easy to linger, especially in autumn colours or under the white cover of winter, while the options in Skye's Black Cuillin are many. Take your pick from Coire Lagan, Coir a' Ghrunnda or Coire a' Bhasteir, to name a few.

    And when the western ranges are in monsoon lockdown, the Cairngorms often offer challenging low level walks even if the high plateaux are being ravaged by the elements.

    I find it heartening that a couple of friends who are close to their first Munro 'compleation' are avoiding the temptation to go for their remaining summits whatever the conditions. The mountains will be there forever. Don't risk your life for a tick.