Breathtaking Views from Beinn Liath Mhòr.

July 28, 2011

A combination of beautiful weather and opportunity saw my second attempt on Beinn Liath Mhòr, a large mountain in the north west Scottish Highlands with spectacular views over Torridon, Skye and Loch Carron. Time, weather (snow) and the lack of day light last December put paid to my first attempt to reach even the summit ridge of the mountain. I returned with better conditions on my side and oh boy, was it worth the effort!

The longish walk in from Achnashellach up the River Làir to Coire Làir, a classic U-shaped valley between the target mountains for the day.  Beinn Liath Mhòr is on the right and Sgorr Ruadh to the left.

Sgorr Ruadh taken from the south slope of Beinn Liath Mhòr during the ascent.

There is a long, narrow summit ridge with the highest top at the furthest end from the start of the trek (it always is at the furthest end!).

Fantastic views over the Torridon mountains and Glen Torridon can be enjoyed whilst clambering along the ridge to reach the true summit. In the distance to the west is Loch Torridon and Skye.

Looking back along the ridge from the summit.

On top of the world, or so it seems like it, and a far cry from last December!

Looking north over Loch Uaine and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine towards one of the Torridon mountains I wish to tackle this year: Beinn Eighe.

Looking south over Coire Làir and there’s Sgorr Ruadh, my second mountain of the day. Loch Coire Làir is to the left.

Looking back on Beinn Liath Mhòr before starting the ascent up the north west end of Sgorr Ruadh from the top of Coire Làir.

A view towards Loch Torridon and Skye from the summit cairn of Sgorr Ruadh.

Posing for the camera at the summit mid afternoon, a picture made possible thanks to the timer and a mini tripod. I admit to preferring a deer stalker’s stick over the use of modern walking poles when I am up in the mountains. My ‘third leg’ is most valuable when going down mountains and prodding for soft ground in boggy areas. My day finished with a descent down to the saddle between Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl, round the back of Loch a’ Bhealaich Mhòir and down to the River Làir for the walk out to Achnashellach.


Avoiding The Rain in Carlisle…

July 21, 2011

Typical! You plan a couple of days photting, book an advanced deal hotel room at the city of choice (in this case, it was my annual photographic trip to Carlisle) and wait for the sun. It’s July after all…and there’s the bonus of a DRS open day at Kingmoor too. Then, after the hottest and sunniest week of the year so far, a low pressure area the size of Montana races in off the Atlantic, garlanded with enough weather fronts that would make an Winter storm jealous and ‘washout’ is the word that springs to mind. So despite the ominous weather forecast, I set off for the West Coast Main Line on the Friday before the DRS open day event and find shaded sunshine at Metal Bridge, a location just south of the Scottish border at Gretna, on my arrival at 8 a.m. It won’t last, I tell myself, so make hay and take pictures whilst the sun shines…

Four hours and literally dozens of trains later, the sun had moved round making photography difficult so I decamped to the main station for the afternoon. Little did I know, that hordes of other enthusiasts had turned up to watch the action. Still, the sun was still shining and continued to do so, despite the forecast. Clearly, the Met Office had failed to inform the weather of what it was supposed to be doing at the time: raining.

Eventually, the rain turned up in the evening, cloud sliding in from the west during the late afternoon. Although I continued to take photographs into the night, including mail, coal and intermodal trains, the results were mediocre at best. One of the problems with photography at Carlisle these days is the changes in train crew patterns which means crew changes are not as common at Carlisle as they used to be. Consequently, trains do not pause long enough to permit long exposure photography after dusk. Anyway, the Saturday started dull, very wet and basically uninviting, not a good start for an open day event. Note the rain as the Carlisle-Tees intermodal passed the station.

It rained and rained – I was paying for the sunshine of the previous day! I left it until around midday before venturing to the DRS depot at Kingmoor to find the rain clearing and blue sky showing signs of breaking through the grey. No Kingmoor blue day for me this year. More like a grey day instead. Noteworthy were the Class 66s stored and stripped of their Vinyls and the Colas Rail liveried example amongst the sea of DRS blue.

Despite the typical English summer weather, the two days of photting turned out to be better than the Met Office would had me believe before I set off. As for variety of locomotive classes, I observed and photographed Class 20s, a Class 31; Class 37s, 47s, 57s, 66s (of various kinds) and Class 70s too. Electric locomotives included Class 86s and 92s. The surprise of the two days was this one:

Dapol’s Grand Central HST

July 1, 2011

A further development of Dapol’s popular HST is the Grand Central version with power cars numbered 43 423 and 43 484. The models are supplied in a lovely book set with two Mk.3 trailers: a First Open and a Standard Class trailer. Here’s a few pictures of the models with its striking black and orange livery. Both power cars are buffer fitted as per the surrogate HST DVTs.
The powered car is fitted with Dapol’s slow ‘creep’ performance motor and gearing which enables a scale 125mph top speed to be achieved, yet have superior slow speed control at the other end of the model’s performance. Lighting is standard with no evidence of light leakage into the cab. The livery application is smooth, nicely finished with a slight shine and printing is as sharp as it gets. My thanks to Dave Jones at Dapol for allowing a preview of this forthcoming release!

An interesting (transport) contrast.

July 1, 2011

At the time that Edinburgh’s light rail scheme is fighting for survival, a new section of the M74 motorway in Glasgow is opened. The former is over budget and will be stopped short of its original route at a cost of £770m, but will be a substantial length of line nonetheless. The latter is only five miles long but cost £693m and has caused little controversy over its huge cost. I wonder which will ultimately deliver more value to Scotland? I suspect the new M74 extension will be needing major repairs costing millions in a few years time, in common with most major road schemes. Meanwhile, as has been demonstrated in cities around the world, including one of my favourites, Seattle, the cost of Edinburgh Tram will be long forgotten once the dust has settled and people discover its value. I wonder how long it will be before new routes are being demanded? An enquiry into the handling of the project is rightly needed, but one should also question the cost of the 5 miles or so of M74. Is that really value for money?

In the meantime, I question the SMP’s so-called green credentials when expensive and unsustainable motorway building continues but light rail is opposed by SNP MSPs. Forget renewable energy plans when its transport policy is unsustainable.