Sat 23rd Apr - Sun 24th Apr, 2005

We'em Going To Weem

Members: Andrew Croughton, David Lygate, James Richardson, David Whittingham (meet leader).

Guest: David Bish.


For those who read my meet advert it all went as planned: sunny weather, a comfy bunkhouse, a convenient pub and no wee midgies.

This meet upheld the finest traditions of the club. There were at least three Daves, henceforth known as Scottish Dave, English Dave and New Dave; and everybody abandoned the meet leader at the first opportunity. James and I arrived at the bunkhouse in good time on Friday evening to find the KMC had been reserved a dormitory of their own, with en-suite loo and shower. Very posh. In the interests of a comprehensive meet report I felt obliged to check out the pub next door and yes, they did serve beer and food, both quite acceptable. The other three arrived too late for beer, being unable to leave Manchester early.

Up betimes on Saturday morning I was ready to fulfil my leaderly responsibilities with the planned walk over Meall nan Tarmachan (1044m). I should have known better! Scottish Dave and Andy left in the general direction of Ben Vorlich. New Dave and James were taking a leisurely breakfast before checking out the local crags.

This left just me, English Dave. Undaunted I drove the length of Loch Tay, parked near the Ben Lawers visitor centre, checked I had map and compass and set off in the general direction of "my" hill and into thick cloud. I found a good path heading upwards and in due course arrived at a summit plastered in hoar frost and with many snow patches. Working on the assumption that it was the right one I took a bearing and set off along what turned out to be an interesting ridge, broad enough to support wee lochans near the first summit and quite narrow further on. Just occasionally there were hints of views through the cloud below me. Descending the steep section to the bealach beyond Meall Garbh I walked in to bright sunshine, with the climb up to Ben nan Eachan clear ahead. Onward and upward. From the summit of this Ben (spot height exactly 1000m!) I could look back and see the cloud thinning on the summits of the Mealls. Over Ben nan Eachan the path led me onward to Craig na Caillich. This hill has a big, steep, broken crag on its eastern side. Rather than take an easy line over the grassy top the path contoured the upper lip of the crag. Very airy. Beyond here the path became indistinct but following the ridge down took me to a peaty col and a left turn down grass and heather led to the corrie floor where rough walking led to a track and back to the car.

As first one back to the bunkhouse I enjoyed a cup of tea or several in the sunshine before cooking dinner. No sign of the others by 9pm so it fell to me to uphold the club honour - into the pub next door and drink beer. Team breakfast and team Vorlich eventually appeared about 10pm. Scottish Dave and Andy had driven around half of Scotland trying to find a road to Ben Vorlich. They even drove off the map and had to buy another one. It seems someone had heard they were coming and removed all the bridges. Dave said they were washed out by winter floods but? James and New Dave had taken the bus to Craig na-h-Eighe and climbed just about every lower grade route, no nasty E numbers, in sunshine. (Thanks to Dave Bone for the loan of his Scottish Outcrops guide.) They were having so much fun they missed the bus back and had to rely on the charity of strangers for a lift.

We all decided on a shorter day for Sunday. Scottish Dave and Andy set off for Schiehallion. New Dave, James and me, English Dave, went climbing on Polney Crag above Dunkeld. This pleasant crag on a wooded hillside above the town was reminiscent in some ways of Shepherds Crag, and of Tremadoc. The rock is a compact schist and between the obvious crack lines protection is sparse. But there are routes of all grades, mostly single pitch, and having a southerly aspect the rock warms up early in the year.

Once again the Scottish springtime meet was under-attended, and once again those of us who did go had a rewarding weekend in excellent weather. Start queuing here for next year's meet: it's too good to miss again!

Dave Whittingham

Meet Promo:

Weem bunkhouse that is, near Aberfeldy. This is a weekend meet in a different part of Scotland. This cosy environmentally friendly bunkhouse is relatively easy of access from Manchester, and is next door to a pub.

The weather at the end of April is guaranteed warm and sunny, probably. (Definitely if I can persuade Shaun to come along.) The days are long enough to allow a full day on the hill without exhausting too many head torch batteries.

AND nae nasty wee midgies - honest.

There are, as you would expect, more Munros than you can shake a trekking pole at. The classic Schiehallion (1083m) and the Ben Lawers (1214m) group are nearby. I quite like the look of Meall nan Tarmachan (1044m) for a day out. Others include the hills around Loch Rannoch and the Tarf and Tilt hills. Even the Cairngorms are just a quick blast up the A9 away.

For those who take their pleasures vertically there is a crag in the hostel's back garden, with bolt routes up to F7b and a V Diff with abseil descent. Yes, bolts in Scotland. For those of a more traditional persuasion Craig a Barns is just down the road. Roadside cragging with routes of all grades from Diff to Ee by gum.

To get there from Manchester take the M6 and M74 for Glasgow, M80 and A9 past Sterling and Perth then turn left for Aberfeldy.

See me in the pub for details and to hand over money, or phone me. Hurry before you get trampled in the rush. Did I mention there is a pub next door to the hostel?

Dave Whittingham

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