Saturday was looking to be a pretty special day weatherwise with sunshine, cold temperatures, little wind and complete snow cover. Fantastic winter hillwalking conditions like that don’t fall on a weekend all that often in Scotland so I was keen to get out and enjoy the hills. Me, Hua and Ainslie decided upon Glencoe and two munros: Meall a’Bhuiridh (1108m) meaning Rounded hill of the bellowing and Creise (1100m) meaning Grease or fat.
These hills form part of a range of munros known as the Black Mount that in summer can be done together in one big long day, but in winter, two are a reasonable challenge, taking about 7-8 hours. The Black Mount lies to the west of Rannoch Moor, a high plateau of lochs and moorland that during the last ice age held a huge ice sheet, from which ice flowed west to Loch Linnhe and south to Loch Lomond and the Firth of Clyde.
Our hillwalk started at Glencoe ski centre at a height of 400m. We’d ascend past the ski slopes to the summit of Meall a’Bhuiridh, then west along a rocky ridge to the summit of Creise. Owing to the steep ground of its neighbouring ridges we’d return the same way. Altogether the distance would be 10km with about 1000m ascent.
A secondary aim for the day was to make chocolate ice cream! Back in December I was in the French Pyrenees visiting friends and doing a reccy for a Snowshoe Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expedition in February 2019. The reciepe idea came from Angela Pendry from Altitude Adventure, a company that offers some of the best mountain biking holidays in Europe. The recipe was simple enough, just a tin of condensed milk mixed with powdery snow, a little sugar and some cocoa powder.
On the summit of Meall a’Bhuiridh I found a sunny spot and a nice patch of snow and set about making my ice cream: pouring the condensed milk into a tuperware tub then adding plenty of snow, the cocoa and sugar. To my delight, after a fair amount of mixing, the chocolate ice cream came together beautifully. It was had a lovely texture and was delicously sweet and chocolately. The summit was busy with hillwalkers so I served up free ice cream; from Alastair’s Glencoe summit ice cream parlour.
The rest of the hill walk was good fun. We used crampons to ascend the steep bit to the broad ridge of Creise. There was a good amount of ice and frozen turf and we looked out for short steep sections to practice front pointing and ‘daggering’ with our ice axes.
The views all around were fantastic. Ben Nevis loomed large to the north, to the west we could see Isle of Mull, Morvern and Ardgour and to the east lay Rannoch Moor and beyond that Highland Perthshire. Here’s hoping we get some more beautiful days like this this winter season.