The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

2013 in the Scottish Hills

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Outside the rain-spattered window the final day of 2013 is fading away into the gloom. Like much of December it is raining, heavily, and a strong wind has been gusting through the streets of Aberdeen. It’s a good day then for reviewing some of the great times I’ve had out and about on the hills of Scotland (and beyond) this year.

Sunset, Loch Etive

Like 2012, this year I’ve done plenty of backpacking and longer routes, with the clear highlight being the 200+ mile coast-to-coast I did across the country in May. I’ve also enjoyed some excellent day routes and finally reached the half-way point of my Munro round.

Head of Gleann a' Choilich

Looking down Gleann Taitneach

I’ve continued to share my trips via this blog and have enjoyed more and more interactions and comments here and on both Twitter and Google+. Thank you to everyone who has commented or shared my posts through Twitter, Facebook and other Social Networking sites; your feedback is really appreciated.

Hillbagging

On 16th May I arrived on the summit of Geal Charn at the southern end of the Monadhliath Mountains. This was my 141st Munro, marking the midway point of my Munro round! In 2013 I bagged a total of 20 new Munros, and revisited a further six 3,000 footers. I have now completed 56% of the Munro list having now visited 158 Munro summits. I also bagged 13 new Corbetts, my highest total for a single year.

Summit of Gael Charn

Favourite new Munros included the Ben Cruachan massif with its stunning rocky summits connected by airy ridges, and the group of five Munros above the Bridge of Orchy which I traversed in a single long day which started with a beautiful inversion.

The dramatic west face of Ben Cruachan

Beinn Mhanach and Loch Lyon

Amongst the new Corbetts, Beinn na h-Umha in Ardgour was a highlight on one of the very best days of the year, and in the same part of the world but half a year earlier, Sgurr Ghuibhsachain provided challenging scrambling and immense views as part of a wonderful round in the northern part of Ardgour.

Winter walking in Ardgour

Cona Glen

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain

Over the course of 2013 I covered more than 1,000km and climbed over 36,000m. Below are my distance and ascent by month for 2013. Once again I entirely failed to do any sort of hillwalking in December.

Monthly Distance and Ascent

Favourite Trips

Winter brought my first wild camp on snow in the Slugain glen near Braemar as part of a round of the glens in the eastern Cairngorms.

Feet of Beinn a' Bhuird

The White Mounth

This was followed by a nice high-level circuit of Loch an Daimh in Perthshire taking in the two Munros which are more often than not done as two separate out-and-backs from the dam.

Stuc an Lochain

Stuchd an Lochain

The snowy weather late in March kept me low but I still enjoyed a brisk walk around Loch Kinord out beyond Aboyne on Royal Deeside.

Frosty views near Dinnet

Loch Kinord

The spring was dominated by the TGO Challenge. Grand plans for preparatory trips boiled down to two nights in Ardgour to test out a new rucksack and this turned out to be one of the great trips of the year, bagging Corbetts in the wild land between Loch Linnhe and Loch Shiel with fabulous views and great wintry weather.

Towards the head of Cona Glen

Head of Cona Glen

Silhouettes at Sundown

Loch Shiel

Lochan Dubh

Then it was off to Plockton to start my coast-to-coast. Over 12 days I covered more than 200 miles before arriving amongst sunshine and showers on the east coast at St Cyrus. The journey was wonderful with a huge mix of weather, some great wild camps and lots of fabulous mountain scenery.

Port Luinge

Loch Innis nan Seangan

Sunset over the Applecross Hills

Mullardoch and Affric from Sguman Coinntich

Mam Sodhail from Gleann a' Choilich

Mountains of Affric

Looking northwest from Cougie

The River Doe

Monadhliath Wild Camping

Allt Cuil na Chailleach

Lairig Ghru

Path to Glen Derry

The path to the Sneck

Summit of the Mounth Road

Clachnaben from Sturdy Hill

Storm cloud drifting to sea

On the Beach

I rounded off the spring with another big trip, taking in the four Munros around Glen Noe and diverting off to visit Glen Kinglass and Loch Etive, enjoying a superb high wild camp with sublime views out to Mull with a night sky lit by Noctilucent clouds.

Ben Starav and the Black Mount

Ben Cruachan

Bluebells near Ardmaddy

Camped above Loch Etive

Mull and Loch Etive sunset

Towards Glencoe

Drochaid Ghlas and Stob Daimh

The summer began with a misty crossing of the Minigaig pass between the A9 and Glen Feshie rounded off by a great barbecue in the sunshine.

The Minigaig

Upper Glen Feshie

I enjoyed a fabulous scramble up the Stuic buttress before visiting some less frequented parts of the Lochnagar massif. Down in the Lake District I climbed my first ever Wainwright, and then another 9 by completing the Coledale Horseshoe near Keswick on a glorious July day.

Garbh Allt Falls

The Stuic above Sandy Loch

Lochnagar and Coire nan Eun

Causey Pike

From Grisedale Pike towards Hopegill Head

Buttermere and the Central Fells

Keswick and Derwent Water

The highlight of the summer was camping on the beach at Sandwood Bay, the most perfect weekend of the year, with my girlfriend who climbed her first Munro the previous month.

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Surf at Sandwood Bay

Morning surf at Sandwood Bay

The good weather deteriorated quickly and I had a stormy visit to Glen Dee with a wild camp on the summit of Sgur Mor followed by a retreat from a Munro the next day.

Cairngorms sunset

Glen Dee

The autumn had yet more changeable weather but I managed a fine traverse of the Cairngorms, visiting the wild, remote waters of Loch Avon for the first time.

Cairngorm and Stob Coire an t-Sneachda

Crags above Loch Avon

Shelter Stone Crag

Approaching Loch Etchachan

Cairn Toul and Ben Macdui

I then started increasing my Munro tally, bagging 5 near the Bridge of Orchy before completing a second long backpacking trip heading north from Killin and finishing up four days later at Kingussie.

Beinn a'Chreachain and Loch Lyon

The Auch Glen from Beinn Mhanach

Loch Tay and Highland Perthshire

Glen Lyon from Meall Corranaich's North Ridge

Schiehallion

Rainbow and the Gaick Hills

Under night skies

There were two excellent club outings, one to the Corbett of Monemenach and then with the first snows lying on the Cairngorms, a circuit taking in Brown Cow Hill with great views across Deeside and Ben Avon.

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Ben Avon from Brown Cow Hill

I rounded off the year with a wonderful week staying in a wee cottage in Ardgour with my girlfriend. I used this as a base for two excellent Corbett outings: Beinn na h-Uamha, which I did straight from the cottage; and Ben Resipole which was climbed from Strontian.

Beinn na h-Uamha from Loch nan Gabhar

In Upper Glen Gour

Mist over Strontian

On the east ridge of Ben Resipole

Targets

A quick review of the targets I set myself last year…

Mull

  1. Reach 182 Munros - No. I did reach my halfway Munro but didn’t quite keep the momentum going and finished the year on 158
  2. Visit an Island - Yes, visited Mull and Iona but didn’t climb any hills on them!
  3. Complete a continuous walk of more than 100 miles - Yes, more than 200 miles on the coast-to-coast!
  4. Camp every month of the year - No! February through to September

An Socach

Next Year

A few thoughts on what I’d like to achieve next year…

Summer in the Grampians

  1. Reach 200 Munros (i.e. 82 to go!) Mountains (still!) on my radar are the Far North Munros, the Fisherfield Munros, the rest of Knoydart and another big traverse in the south-west.
  2. Wild camp on an island
  3. Hillwalk in December

Clouds Racing

Finally, don’t forget you can read about all my 2013 trips by visiting the reports page, and view photos on Flickr by visiting this 2013 collection. Thanks again for visiting.

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