The last weekend in March and I was out with Ally and Linda again and the weather was brilliant I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here! We were based in the lovely village of Strontian in Ardgour for the weekend with some rugged mountain walking on the cards!
After meeting up on the Friday for a catch up drink and planning session we headed for Beinn Resipol on Saturday walking from Resipol Holiday park. It was a stunning morning with bright sunshine and blue skies though there were some possible wintry showers forecast later. The approach is a beautiful walk through some native woodlands behind the campsite before climbing up onto the open hill through some rather boggier ground where there have been some path developments and quad bike tracks. Not the nicest stretch, but soon picked up as the path weaved its way towards Beinn Resipol. We started getting good views of hill and as we gained height the showers moved through though not for long and then we were enjoying sunny spells in between. With the cloud clearing from the top it looked like we had a chance to reach the summit in between showers and get the view which would be perfect…
There was fairly hard snow up high though we could just make steps in it to reach the top for 360′ views and a very prolonged clear spell! We simply had to stop for lunch up there to savour the moment and take in all the views with the wild summit of Sgurr Dhomhnuill looking very impressive. It was a cold wind though so we were soon descending the snow with great views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding hills as we went. On the way down we were suddenly looking up at a huge White Tailed Eagle soaring above us in no rush to fly away. We could see the white tail feathers in the sunshine though whether my photo does it justice is doubtful, but it was pure magic!
Our journey back to the car was mainly in sunshine and we even discussed the possibility of ice creams though we could see the showers on their way and sure enough the 3 o’clock heavy showers arrived as we reached the finish. A memorable day on a new hill for all of us.
Our planning session was over a lovely meal at the Ariundle Centre on Saturday night and the weather forecast was looking very promising again so we opted to head for the highest peak in Ardgour and climb Sgurr Dhomnuill on Sunday. We met up at the forestry car park by the Ariundle centre in the morning and enjoyed a lovely walk through the old Atlantic Oak woods and up to the old lead mines where they first discovered Strontian. A special place indeed and just walking to there is a good day out, but our route lay over the burn and up the rough hillside. It was warm climbing to start with and as we reached the ridge we were caught in a very wintry squall with heavy snow and strong winds for a lot longer than a shower!
It eventually abated and we were treated to a great view of Sgurr Dhomhnuill with a fresh dusting of snow on it clearing from the cloud. The route weaves between rocky knolls and dips to eventually reach the slopes that lead to Sgurr na h-Ighinn though we decided to take the balcony route round to the beallach between Sgurr na h-Ighinn and Sgurr Dhomnhuill since we weren’t sure what the weather had in store for us after the really brutal squall earlier. The going was surprisingly easy and mostly on good snow round to the beallach. The sunshine was with us as we began the climb through the broken tiers of rock guarding the summit of Sgurr Dhomnhuill. We found a relatively sheltered route though very snowy and even managed to get to the top before the next wild squall!
We backtracked to find enough shelter for lunch and take in the views of Garbh Bheinn, Beinn na h-Uamha, the Glenfinnan hills, Beinn Resipol and Ben Nevis. It was a stunning spell of weather with lots of photos being taken in the ever-changing dramatic light. After discussing our route choice we decided to take the same route back down and were extremely pleased when we were hit by the next squall back on the ridge with some relative shelter since we would just have begun descending Sgurr na h-Ighinn if we had gone that way. A lucky escape there. Once the squall abated we were enjoying the descent along the wild ridge and by the time we reached the lead mines we were roasting hot in the sunshine so some layers were removed and afternoon tea was had. It’s a fairly long day out, but worth every step for the views and very different to my last trip here with an overnight bivi on the summit. We enjoyed an increasingly hot sunny walk back through the oak woods to Ariundle to finish a fantastic weekend of wild walking. We didn’t see anybody else all weekend either!