A gradual climb brings you onto the bleak flat of Beinn an Fhurain.
This is also the site of a crashed RAF Avro Anson, unfortunately the crew of six all died either due to the crash or to the bad weather that caused them to ice up and crash.
The isolation adds a certain atmosphere to the cairn that the Aberdeen Air Cadets rebuilt in 1985.
Onwards we plodded towards the ridge as we all swapped discussions on geology, kit history, mapping and even religion.
It’s great to be out with people from different backgrounds, I suppose it’s a bit like travelling around the world and taking bits of cultures you like and saying no thanks to the bits that you don’t.
It would have been easy just to cut straight across the flat moorland heading for Lochan at the bottom of Connival, but the team without a word of discussion were drawn towards the magnificent craggy ridge line.
We stopped just as the ridge started forming that leads up to the 860m top of Na Tuadhan, this hill is not named on the Landranger1:50,000 interestingly enough.
A quick snack and then we were off again.
The terrain here changes from heather and grass to bare grey rock.
The ridge we followed was like an amazing geologic (is that a word ?) wave that had frozen in time.
The sky remained clear but on the ridge the cold wind stung any exposed skin as we pushed on.
On the top we were greeted with amazing views whichever way we looked.
Dropping down to the lochan was an interesting route, there is no path which is refreshing, just a slope of loose moving pebbles rocks and boulders.
We all picked our own lines down and after filling bottles up in the crystal clear waters we began the climb to the top of Conival.
On the ridge you pick up a faint path that winds through the lumps of rocks and scree slopes.
As always its always worth while to look behind you to remind you where you have been already.
Again we stopped for a quick munch, PTC delving into a Pot Noodle and I had some curry soup.
Neither of which particularly high in calories but some warmth and taste was very welcome.
Sitting drinking my soup I could not stop smiling as I drank in the amazing views all around me.
On the move again the gap that looked short on the map to the top of Ben More Assynt took a bit longer than I thought it would.
Again the terrain offering amazing contrasts to keep you focused and distracted at the same time.
On the top we discussed options for camping whilst looking at the map, the great thing about carrying overnight kit is that there is no rush.
We headed almost due North off the top almost taking a straight line to Coire a Mhadaidh.
This was not without challenge as the slopes were full of little crags and loose scree slopes.
We all picked our own ways down again, my knee was starting to ache a bit due to the effort of resisting against the steepness of the slope.
Red dear roared and we caught the occasional glimpse of a stag or the heard moving as we disturbed them from their sheltered bit of hill.
We spent a bit of time scanning for a campsite once by the lochan.
The original flat spot we thought might be ideal was getting hammered by the wind bouncing off the crags.
We opted for a dip just around the lochan that offered a bit of shelter but not much !
Flat dry ground was at a premium so PTC’s tent ended up close to mine, which was alarmingly un text-book close to a small stream.
It was nice to get in the tent and out of the wind for a change, I sparked up the stove for a brew and then boiled more water for dinner.
I lay in the tent all smug and warm reading my book as the wind grabbed and pushed at the wee tent.
I was convinced that the only reason that it was still there was because I was in it !
I drifted off to sleep after dinner but was woken by the roar of the wind on the crags and the battering of the rain on the fly sheet !
Given it was raining heavy and my proximity to the stream I sorted my kit for a quick “bug out ” the stuck my I pod on and drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night.
Again it had cleared and although windy still the rain clouds had lifted meaning we could pack the tents away dry and get on our way.
A short climb later we were almost back on the saddle next to the wee lochan we had passed the day before.
Customary it is on every trip I have with PTC we need a silly picture of PTC so here we are !
At some point I skirted round the big block of rock and got separated from the rest of the team.
I had not looked at the map either and as far as I was concerned I was heading back across Beinn an Fhurain, I stood waiting for the team and then finally saw them way lower than me on the slopes of Gleann Dubh.
Despite the path winding its way through the rocks it has an interesting few wee scrambles this and the fact the wind was blowing the water back up the waterfall made it a nice way off the hill.
As we dropped into the shelter of Gleann Dubh the terrain changed back to the grassy heather but the path was still surprisingly dry under foot apart from one bit that PTC found which turned out to be slippy under foot.
This left PTC on his arse wich although could have been funny in some eyes gave some concern as he did fall hard.
With only his modesty fractured we pushed on to the caves.
PTC decided to explore the weird Geological features up close and followed the river on its journey underground, mike and I decided to sit on the grass and have a chat, it wasnt long till Marian came out with a failing head torch the PTC returned.
We were in no rush as we sat at the mouth of the cave on the short grass out the wind and chatted.
It almost felt like none of us really wanted to walk that last couple of KM’s back to the cars.
Eventually after much debate but no success in sorting the problems of the world out we walked up onto the track and plodded back to car for a celebration of mini irn-Bru’s all round.
A quality trip with great and interesting company, there is still plenty to be done in this area that’s for sure !