New Year saw us head up to Applecross in the north west of Scotland, fulfilling an ambition to spend new year there that was first hatched a couple of years ago with Rich (onefootinlagrave), but the weather put an early end to that trip. So Barbara and I decided to fulfill the dream of some Scottish winter action followed by dinner in the Applecross Inn and a Ceilidh in the village hall. A little prequal to our travels and a chance to remind ourselves why Scotland is such a great place to live.
We planned to do the traverse of Beinn Alligin on New Years Eve and get down before dark, and in time to drive over to Applecross. The forecast was not the best with 50-70mph winds forecast, but easing to 20mph, it sounded like a goer to me. We set off in high spirits at about 8am, as there was little wind and clear skies. You get a great view of the whole route as you walk in and the Horns of Alligin were looking very wintery indeed. We made good progress on the initial climb up Na Rathanan and the weather was looking like it might be coming in, with the Liathach now almost entirely obscured by cloud. As we started along the ridge the wind was picking up, but still managable, the snow underfoot was mostly soft so the crampons stayed in the packs and we started the climb up to the summit of Na Rathanan. The wind was strengthening and the snow getting firmer so it seemed sensible to put on crampons, actually it would have been more sensible somewhere slightly flatter, a classic mistake.
The wind was now making walking directionally challenging and Barbara was really struggling as this was probably only her second time in crampons! The cloud had now come in and Barbara was on her face having been taken off her feet by the wind. I was beginning to think there may be better places for Barbara to be improving her crampon technique, but the first summit was in sight so I thought we should push on. However, the next gust of wind made me think otherwise! A retreat seemed like the most sensible course of action, Barbara agreed from her prone position on the hill. Back at the van much earlier than expected we headed through Torridon catching a fantastic sunset over the loch on the way.
Then it was off to the Applecross Inn, where we thought we would test out the blogging tools as they had WiFi. The test did not go so well hence the rather late New Year post. However we did get to meet the author of applecrosslife, which was nice to meet a fellow, if somewhat more experienced blogger. Dinner was as you would expect at the pub – AWESOME. Although we did have to lie down to digest food befre heading to the ceilidh where the locals were very welcoming despite our poor ceilidh performance.
Thank you Applecross for a great new year!