Only trouble was, the forecast was for 70mph winds on the tops and driving, heavy rain showers. So what to do? Well one of the joys of Scotland, more than anywhere else in the UK, is the ability to have a wonderful day out on lower paths, exploring hidden, remote and wild valleys.
Incredibly, I'd never been to Glen Affric. It's talked of in glowing terms, as being one of Scotland's real treasures. But it is off the beaten track a wee bit, requiring a trip west of Inverness down narrow single-track roads.
But I found a marvellous route around Loch Affric on www.walkhighlands.co.uk and decided that would make a perfect trip out. 11.25 miles, fairly low level but heading into the wilderness.
And indeed it was splendid. A beautiful valley, with native woodland being allowed to grow again (thanks to deer fences), vast precipitous slopes stretching up above to the high tops, cascading waterfalls crashing down towards the lochside and a runnable path.
The weather wasn't marvellous. Intermittent heavy rain coupled with near-constant light drizzle. But it was warm and so I hardly noticed, enjoying myself as I was. Plenty of stops to take in the magnificent scenery, especially near the far end of the loch. Ahead, dominating the scenery was the fine ridge of Mullach Froach Choire - startling to think that the other end of this ridge drops down to the Cluanie Inn, just a few miles away....wow!
At the end of the loch, in a marvellous remote location, lies Strawberry Cottage, a climbing hut belonging to the An Teallach Mountaineering Club....I think I'll be looking to book in there for a couple of nights sometime!
As I turned back towards the car, the wind was now behind me. Just as well, as the rain turned even heavier. But I was still going well and enjoying myself, and the coat hood was down (meaning I was getting a thorough soaking!). In no time at all, I was heading back down the hillside and towards the car park, finishing in just over 2 hours....quite speedy really!
Affric is somewhere I shall be returning constantly, I can sense it. There are some terrific munros to ascend, and plenty more to explore, with the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel only a couple of miles beyond the end of the loch. A quick look at the map indicates the potential for a splendid cross-country backpacking trip, starting over in Kintail and finishing, perhaps, at Cannich...one to plan.
Did I mention that living in Scotland is just fabulous?!!? :-)