Ratagan Day 1: Biod an Fhithich

I’m like many other hillwalkers in as far as I’m an optimistic traveller. No matter how rotten the forecast, I’ll travel for miles, often in vain, hoping that the weather forecasting community is as wrong as Michael Fish in 1987. So it was at the start of May. A bank holiday weekend at Ratagan, with a scenic cycle along Loch Alsh and Loch Duich, then taking in half a dozen Munros in Glen Shiel over two days. A dream weekend you say? A nightmare is only a dream with worse weather. I got off the train at Kyle of Lochalsh to be greeted by horizontal rain and a wind that would rip your skin off. Over the next few hours what should have been a pleasant cycle through amazing scenery turned in to a strength sapping endurance contest. Weighed down with a heavy rucksack, and wearing waterproofs which clearly weren’t, I put my head down and tried not to think about how far there was to go, and eventually it went. I arrived at the youth hostel, hung my gear in the drying room, and settled in, to await the arrival of the rest of the club. Slowly they trickled in, some having arrived the previous day were just off the hill, and brought reports of deep soft snow and journey times far in excess of what they would normally be in summer conditions. Were this a football match it would no doubt be cancelled. Tomorrows programme now seemed wildly optimistic…

The roadside view of Biod an Fhithich

The roadside view of Biod an Fhithich

Our first scheduled walk was The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine. Standing in the lay by waiting on the arrival of the others we could see that this wasn’t a good idea. Snow and winds of up to 70mph were forecast, and even as we stood around we could feel the wind rising. I noticed the prominent (if low) peak of Biod an Fhithich and thought this would make a fairly decent alternative. Tom, the walk leader decided to go up the stalkers path to the bealach, before making a final decision. We spent the next hour or so sweating heavily as we climbed. If I have a personal hate it’s climbing with waterproofs on. It’s tiring, and it really knocks the stuffing out of me early on. Eventually the rain lessened and we found our group on the bealach.

Towards The Saddle- not promising...

Towards The Saddle- not promising…

Biod an Fhithich from the bealach.

Biod an Fhithich from the bealach.

Conditions above looked poor, and Tom clearly made the right decision that the two Munros were off the cards, and it would be a Graham which would be our immediate target, and we clambered up the slippery, wet snow to the rocky 644m high summit of Biod an Fhithich.

Towards the summit

Towards the summit


Heading to the top

Heading to the top


The view. Blink and you'll miss it.

The view. Blink and you’ll miss it.




We were rewarded for our efforts with some all too brief views down the loch, before the wind and snow whipped across us. Plan B, a wander back down the twisting ridge, gave way to Plan C, back the way we had came, to the car, the delights of the pub, and thoughts of tomorrow…

Biod an Fhithich: NG 950 147


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