Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

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Section 4 - Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht

Loch Treig
Loch Treig
Sgurr Elide Mor
Sgurr Eilde Mor
Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis
Loch Ossian
Loch Ossian

This section refers to the hills and mountains between Loch Linnhe and Loch Ericht and include the Mamores, Ben Nevis, the Aonachs, Grey Corries and the Easains. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003. It also includes a walk round Loch Ossian, the Road to the Isles and the final section of the West Highland Way. The Sub 2000 Marilyns within this section can be viewed here.


Section 4 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Cruach Innse Beinn na Cloiche Am Bodach
Glas Bheinn Beinn na Gucaig An Gearanach
Leum Uilleim Binnein Shios Aonach Beag - Alder
Mam na Gualainn Binnein Shuas Aonach Beag - Glen Nevis
Meall na Meoig Cnap Cruinn Aonach Mor
Sgurr Innse Creag Ghuanach Beinn a'Chlachair
The Fara Meall nan Eagan Beinn Bheoil
  Tom Meadhoin Beinn Eibhinn
    Beinn na Lap
    Binnein Beag
    Binnein Mor
    Ben Alder
    Ben Nevis
    Carn Dearg - Alder
    Carn Dearg - Ossian
    Carn Mor Dearg
    Chno Dearg
    Creag Pitridh
    Geal-charn - Alder
    Geal Charn - Laggan
    Mullach nan Coirean
    Na Gruagaichean
    Sgor Gaibhre
    Sgurr a'Mhaim
    Sgurr Choinnich Mor
    Sgurr Eilde Mor
    Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
    Stob Ban - Grey Corries
    Stob Ban - Mamores
    Stob Choire Claurigh
    Stob Coire a'Chairn
    Stob Coire an Laoigh
    Stob Coire Easain
    Stob Coire Sgriodain

Section4 - Trip Reports

Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg

4 October 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 15.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1055 metres.

After an overnight stay at Saddle Mountain Hostel, Invergarry, I drove to the hamlet of Fersit, accessed from the A86 east of Roy Bridge. The sun was just rising and hitting some of the higher tops as I parked in the large area of rough ground at the end of the public road. I then walked along the vehicle track, a Right of Way to Corrour Station, through the hamlet of Fersit, and across the bridges over the River Treig and the West Highland Railway Line.

A few more houses were passed to reach a small gate in the deer fence which I had previously used to access these hills but it was tied down. I therefore continued eastwards until another vehicle track led me to a hut and cattle troughs then came to an end. Beyond the ground was rough, wet and churned up by cattle. I aimed for the Allt Chaorach Beag where there was an intermittent grassy path which later became more prominent. A few waterlogged sections required avoiding and once higher up I left this route and headed west over more rough ground to climb the gully on the north side of Sron na Garbh-bheinn. Then it was through some rocks to gain the north ridge where it was windy and despite the sun a bit chilly.

There were lots of roaring from the stags as I walked along the north ridge, round a small corrie, and onto the summit of Sron na Garbh-bheinn. I then headed along the ridge where there was another intermittent path and ascended Stob Coire Sgriodain with good views down to Loch Treig and across to The Easains. However it was rather chilly so I didn’t linger and descended south then climbed Stob Coire Sgriodain’s South Top, a Munro Top.

By now there was more cloud around as I headed for the 924 Point then the col with Chno Dearg before commencing the mainly grassy ascent of this Munro. En-route I spotted a couple of chaps who had left Chno Dearg head for the Munro Top, Meall Garbh, which I’d climbed before. The cairn marking the summit of Chno Dearg was reached but it was still cold and windy so I descended north-east across some bouldery terrain. The col with Meall Chaorach was reached and here an ATV track assisted me in locating a route through the peat hags. The ascent of Meall Chaorach was across some short cropped heather to a pile of stones marking the summit of this Corbett Top.

The descent north then north-west was through some tussocky vegetation and took me to the col with Creag Dhubh where some more peat hags were crossed. I then ascended this Highland Five, the high point being a rib of rock. A rough descent north-west took me to the path for Corrour which was rather wet, muddy, and had been churned up by cattle but led to the bridge over the Allt Chaorach Beag and the track back to Fersit.

previous ascent

Stob Coire Sgriodain Munro sixth ascent 979 metres
Chno Dearg Munro sixth ascent 1046 metres

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Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain

22 July 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 7.75 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1200 metres.

The plan was to climb The Easains from Fersit, a small hamlet to the south of the A86 between Roy Bridge and Tulloch Station. At the end of the single track public road there was a large area of rough ground big enough to be used as a turning circle and to allow some parking.

Once geared up we set off along the vehicle track leading to the dam at the north end of Loch Treig. At a junction of tracks we took the higher one until the point where it began to descend back to the lower track. Here we headed uphill on a muddy path to a concrete pillar below Meall Cian Dearg. The path steeped considerably and some care was needed as there was a bit of erosion with occasional hand holds required. On reaching a small cairn the gradient eased which made for some easy walking as the earlier brightness was replaced by cloud and the first shower of the day.

Further on it became a bit steeper as we walked round the head of Coires Aluinn and Meadhon, avoiding a large snow patch, to reach the summit of the Munro, Stob a’Coire Mheadhoin, marked by a cairn. Unfortunately the cloud had lowered so with no views we descended to the col with Stob Coire Easain there meeting a chap on his return route. This was followed by a steady climb on a rocky path with some loose stones to reach the cairn marking the summit of the Munro, Stob Coire Easain.

We sat there in the rain and low cloud with a touch of hail hoping that it would clear but it didn’t so set off to return to Fersit by the upward route. On the re-ascent of Stob a’Coire Meadhoin we had some reasonable views.

previous ascent

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin Munro sixth ascent 1105 metres
Stob Coire Easain Munro sixth ascent 115 metres

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Mullach nan Coirean and Stob Ban

20 July 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1275 metres.

I planned an ascent of the Munro, Mullach nan Coirean to include its East Top and Meall a’Chaorainn, both classed as Corbett Tops. I had previously been over the East Top but had no record of being at its summit. A couple of friends were interested in climbing the Munro.

At Achriabhach in Glen Nevis we parked on a piece of waste ground then set off into the forest immediately coming across a sign ‘Achriabhach Munro Access.’ This led to a reasonable path up the west side of the Allt a’Choire Dheirg to reach a bend in the forest track. We left the path here and walked north-west along this forest track to reach a diversion sign where a well constructed path took us through felled trees to a stile in the deer fence and the ridge leading to Mullach nan Coirean.

A wet and muddy path ran up the side of the deer fence but underfoot conditions improved with some height gain. Higher still the terrain became rocky and it was rather windy as we headed round the edge of Corrie Dearg to Mullach na Coirean’s summit cairn.

I took a short break here before leaving my companions to return by the upward route while I descended south-west to the col with Meall a’Chaorainn before climbing to its summit cairn. I didn’t linger here as there was some low cloud floating around as well as being a bit windy so returned to the col and traversed below Mullach nan Coirean to reach the col with its South-East Top. I continued round Coire Dearg, climbed the South-East Top, a Munro Top, before going onto the East Top where there were a few different paths leading to its summit. I reckoned I must have been on this Corbett Top before.

Initially I had planned to return over Mullach nan Coirean but Stob Ban was much closer although I figured the route down the Allt Coire a’Mhusgain would take longer. A short drop took me to the col with Stob Ban where I was exposed to the strong wind but it was less windy on the rocky ascent of the Munro. A small cairn marked its summit.

The descent of Stob Ban’s rocky east ridge was made in low cloud and in windy conditions but on reaching the grassy vegetation lower down I emerged from the cloud and here met a couple on their ascent, the female commenting that the mountain looked rather intimidating with the rock and cloud. At the col and junction of paths I met foreign couple who were studying a book on ‘Scotland’ before heading off in the direction of Sgurr a’Mhaim which was in cloud. They didn’t appear to have a map.

The path into Coire a’Mhusgain was badly eroded and there was little improvement lower down as it kept to the east bank of the Allt Coire a’Mhusgain. This took me back to Glen Nevis 400 metres east of my starting point. Unfortunately it rained during the final kilometre of this descent.

previous ascent Mullach nan Coirean

previous ascent Stob Ban

Mullach nan Coirean Munro sixth ascent 939 metres
Stob Ban Munro seventh ascent 998 metres

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Beinn na Gucaig

22 September 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 545 metres.

On my previous ascent of Beinn na Gucaig I started from Inchree to its south-west, so on this occasion decided to climb the Graham from the north-east. I drove south on the single track road from Fort William to near the east end of Lochan Lunn Da Bhra, and over a kilometre from the road end at Lundavra Farm. Just east of the bridge over the River Kiachnish I managed to get my vehicle off the road.

I then set off across the bridge and along the vehicle track that headed north and away from Beinn an Gucaig in the hope that the track continued further than indicated on the map and changed direction. It didn’t, so at its termination I walked west over some rough and in places damp ground to reach a gate in a stock fence. Once through the unlocked gate the terrain and vegetation was very mixed and included some tussocky ground with occasional sheep trails to make the ascent easier.

The south-west ridge of Meall nan Cleireach was reached then a short descent across more tussocky ground took me to the col with Beinn na Gucaig followed by a steady climb to its summit trig point. Unfortunately low cloud restricted the views. I did hang around for a while hoping that it would clear but to no avail.

I returned by the upward route although lower down descended to the road west of the starting point before walking back to my car.

previous ascent

Beinn na Gucaig Graham second ascent 616 metres

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Meall nan Eagan

25 August 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 42 Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 10.25 kilometres. Ascent - 455 metres.

I met a Graham Bagging friend at Dalwhinnie before driving for around a mile along the A889 Laggan Road to the private road leading to the Lodge at Allt an t-Sluic. Having read on Scottish Hills that parking was possible in an old quarry opposite this entrance I discovered that the quarry was being used in connection with the large pylons under construction all over the country. There weren’t many alternatives so I took a chance and drove down the private road for a few hundred metres and parked beside what appeared to be an abandoned vehicle. I was out of sight of the house and off their road.

We walked along the private road which was part of the old drover’s road to Feagour. Although shown on the map the path no longer exists across the moorland. At the Lodge Allt an t-Sluic we walked round the front of the property but the only activity appeared to be several barking dogs. Beyond, the track narrowed as it followed the stream of the same name.

I wanted to include the Hump, Carn na Ceardaich, on this walk so we left the path, climbed an embankment and walked across a mixture of heather, bog and tussocky ground although the going wasn’t as awkward as I was expecting. A large herd of stags ran off on spotting us. The summit of Carn na Ceardaich was reached but below were massive new pylons with associated tracks and workings. It appeared to be a new route for the pylons as swathes of trees had been cut down, a bit of an eyesore.

After a few minutes at the top we descended west over some mixed terrain including a few peat hags but again with no real difficulties. At the col with Meall nan Eagan we commenced its ascent as a couple of eagles circled above. The hillside consisted mainly of heather some of which was quite long making the walking a bit awkward. Old metal fence posts appeared on our right but we kept left to avoid some rocky outcrops. A short steep section of long heather was climbed and this led to the summit area and the cairn marking its highest point. We remained at the summit for some time as it was rather pleasant in the sun and with a light breeze there were no midges around. From here we viewed a number of hills including Creag Meagaidh, Creag Pitridh and those around Glean Spean.

The descent was in a south-easterly direction avoiding a few rocks. Lower down we encountered some wet and boggy round but managed to find some drier areas. At the north-edge of a small plantation we joined a vehicle track which crossed the Allt an t-Sluic a couple of times before returning us to the Lodge and the track back to the car.

previous ascent

Meall nan Eagan Graham second ascent 658 metres

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Tom Meadhoin

26 July 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 990 metres.

I decided to head to the north side of Loch Leven intending to climb the Graham, Tom Meadhoin and the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Doire Ban. I also wanted to include the Graham Top, Creag Bhreac. It was raining heavily as I drove through Fort William so I was having second thoughts about tackling these hills. However by the time I reached North Ballachulish the rain had stopped although the cloud was still low down.

The B863 along the north shore of Loch Leven was followed to just east of Callert House where at a lay-by I left my car then walked back along the road to the signposted ‘Right of Way’ for Fort William and Kinlochleven. This path through a small plantation was overgrown with bracken which I had to fight my way through. At the top end of this plantation I joined a much better and wider track which came directly up from the lay-by and which I used on my return. The path uphill was now quite obvious and there were several ‘verge marker posts’ spaced out along the route which I suspected were placed there for All Terrain Vehicles and not for walkers. There were breaks in the cloud allowing me to see the Corbett, Mam na Gualainn and Loch Leven.

I reached a large pile of stones marking the bealach as the cloud lowered again. I then tried to remain at the same height and I worked my way across to the col between Tom Meadhoin and Doire Ban. This wasn’t always possible due to the terrain but eventually I reached the col and ascended to a small pile of stones marking the summit of Doire Ban, where I had lunch in the cloud.

After my break I returned to the col and commenced the ascent of Tom Meadhoin which initially was quite steep and involved avoiding a few rocks. The gradient soon eased and there were traces of a path as I made my way to the summit of this Graham, marked by a pile of stones. The cloud had lifted a bit although the weather across in Glen Coe looked rather threatening. To the south-west was my final hill, Creag Bhreac, which actually looked higher.

I strolled out to this Graham Top and from its summit, marked by a cairn and a metal fence post, it was obvious that Tom Meadhoin was higher. I was disappointed that there no views across Loch Linnhe to Ardgour due to the low cloud. I headed back to the col between Creag Bhreac and Tom Meadhoin then traversed below this hill to rejoin the path used on the upward route and followed it back to the start.

previous ascent

Tom Meadhoin Graham second ascent 621 metres.

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Stob Coire an Laoigh

12 December 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 18.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1210 metres.

Earlier in the week I climbed the Grey Corries Munro, Stob Choire Claurigh, from south of Corriechoille Lodge parking my vehicle just before the track entered Leanachan Forest. Snow was lying to sea level with lots of soft stuff higher up, which slowed me down and prevented me including the Munro, Stob Coire an Laoigh.

So it was back to climb Stob Coire an Laoigh. I was surprised that there was very little snow below 800 metres although it was -4C as I drove from Spean Bridge along the south side of the River Spean. On this visit I parked slightly further north at a walker’s sign post marked ‘Spean Bridge via woodland’. (Grid Ref NN252793) I wanted to try the route through the forest rather than follow the dismantled railway line, which from experience was rather boggy.

The forest track was in excellent condition except for a few icy patches. As I neared a junction of tracks I had views of the rising sun shinning on Aonach Mor. At the junction I took a left and followed this track up the east side of the Allt Choimhlidh as far as a small dam where the track ended. A stile gave access to the open hillside and just beyond the dam I was able to cross the stream which was surprisingly low. I didn’t notice the dead sheep in the water until my return.

It was a steep climb out of Coire Choimhlidh onto the north ridge of Beinn na Socaich where the going was relatively easy. Higher up I came across an All Terrain Vehicle track and later a path which I followed. In places it was concealed by hard packed snow and ice but I managed to walk round them. Eventually I fitted my crampons which made for an easy ascent to the summit of the Munro Top, Beinn na Socaich.

It was a lovely sunny day, initially in the shade on this northern approach, with the snow sparkling in the sun. A slight descent was followed by a steeper ascent, over more compacted and firmer snow, to reach the summit cairn of the Munro Top, Stob Coire Easain. There was now a thin line of cloud just below the summits of Aonachs Beag and Mor with Ben Nevis clear and visible beyond. It was rather cloudy north of Glen Spean so I appeared to be in the ideal location.

A steeper descent, which included a small rocky area, led to the col with Stob Coire an Laoigh. On the ascent of this Munro I had to seek out the snow and ice to walk on with crampons as there were a few bare patches. Once at the summit shelter I sat in the sun having lunch with hazy views of the Mamores and Glen Coe mountains. The hills to the east were now in cloud.

After lunch I returned by the ascent route although I did bypass the summit of the Munro Top, Beinn na Socaich.

previous ascent

Stob Coire an Laoigh Munro fifth ascent 1116 metres

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Stob Choire Claurigh

6 December 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time Taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 12 .5 kilometres. Ascent - 1060 metres.

I planned for an early start but was delayed due to an accident and the road conditions. The lying snow was a bit of a concern as I wasn’t sure how far along the single track road, on the south side of the River Spean, I would be able to drive. However I managed to negotiated this road and at Corriechoille Lodge the next obstacle was the vehicle track south to Leanachan Forest. My 4x4 made it through the snow and to a parking area just north of the forest. I was pleased that I hadn’t traded this vehicle in for a more economical one as planned.

Once geared up for the bitterly cold morning I set off through the forest, which recently had been re-planted. I came across a snow covered statue which I later learned was the ‘Wee Minister’. (a replacement statue for one that apparently existed years ago in the Grey Corries) I left the track where it alighted from the forest and climbed the snow covered hillside, roughly following the edge of the forest. Deer had scraped away the snow looking for food and I followed their hoof prints which made for an easier ascent. Higher up I spotted a few hinds.

It was a lovely clear and still day with the sun shinning on the surrounding mountains but unfortunately I was on the north side of the Munro Top, Stob Coire Gaibhre so was in the shade and missed out on the sun until higher up. I worked my way round the west side of this Munro Top and onto the ridge which was sparkling in the sun. Cornices were visible above Coire na Ceannain. The snow was now hard packed in places with a thin covering of snow so it was time to fit the crampons before heading towards the 1121 Point which I by-passed to the west.

This led me to the foot of the rocky ridge leading to Stob Choire Claurigh. The wind had picked up and the spin drift was blowing around. The ridge appeared a bit intimidating as loads of soft snow had buried the rocks and the cornices were rather contorted. The snow on the north-west side didn’t look very stable and with a steep drop on the opposite side my only option was to try and find the centre of the ridge. Using my axe, and a walking pole to locate the rocks, I commenced the final ascent. It took a while to get up the ridge and to the snow covered summit cairn where I had some good views of the surrounding mountains.

I contemplated continuing along the ridge to the Munro, Stob Coire an Laoigh but didn’t have sufficient time, especially if the underfoot conditions were difficult. I therefore returned by the ascent route but included the summits of the 1121 Point and the Munro Top, Stob Coire Gaibhre, arriving back at my car as the sun set.

previous ascent

Stob Choire Claurigh Munro fifth ascent 1177 metres

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Sgurr Choinnich Mor

4 December 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 18.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1315 metres.

On my arrival in Fort William I found it was almost snow free compared to the rest of the country which was covered in lots of the white stuff. The road up Glen Nevis had a light covering of snow but a gritter was headed towards Fort William. The road was only treated as far as Achriabhach, due to weight and width restrictions further east, so the last few kilometres were a bit of a test for my 4x4. However I made it to the top car park without incident where a Land Rover was the only other vehicle there.

I set off up the side of the Nevis Gorge following a path, but progress was slow due to ice especially where it crossed a small stream. The underfoot conditions improved once I reached Steall Meadows where I saw that the Steall Waterfall, Allt Coire a’Mhail, was frozen. The improvement was short lived as beyond Steall ruin the path consisted of areas of ice.

Around two kilometres east of the ruin I left the path and commenced the ascent of Sgurr Chionnich Mor. As height was gained the snow cover was deeper but walking wasn’t difficult. My plan had been to miss out the Munro Top, Sgurr Chonnich Beag as I’ve climbed it before, so I was headed for the col between it and Sgurr Choinnich Mor.

On approaching the col I noticed that the corrie below, which I intended crossing, contained a large amount of snow. It appeared fresh and possibly unstable so I decided to climb Sgurr Choinnich Beag until I found a suitable crossing point. The south face of the Munro Top also had a fresh covering of snow but on a hard base, so in the end I continued to the summit of the Munro Top with spin drift blowing around.

From here I descended through a mixture of drifting and hard packed snow to the col where it was quite windy with the snow blowing around. The ascent of the south-west ridge of Sgurr Choinnich Mor was easier than it initially appeared over a mixture of drifting and wind packed snow. The ridge narrowed just before the summit was reached where the cairn was almost buried by the snow. The views weren’t great but I could see the Munro Top, Stob Coire Easain and beyond Sgurr Choinnich Beag, Aonach Beag, the summit of which was now in cloud,

I returned by the ascent route and observed a helicopter circling Aonach Beag. It was dark by the time I reached the Steall Meadows so the Nevis Gorge had to be negotiated by torchlight. On driving down Glen Nevis a helicopter was hovering above the path below the Half Way Lochan with its searchlights on the mountainside.

previous ascent

Sgurr Choinnich Mor Munro fifth ascent 1094 metres

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Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh

21 November 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken - 5.75 hours.
(Cycle 55 Minutes)
Distance - 22 kilometres.
(Cycle - 10.5 kilometres)
Ascent - 970 metres.
(Cycle - 150 metres)

The previous week I had planned to climb these two Munros along with the Munro, Beinn a’Chlachair, but due to weather conditions this idea was abandoned. So after an overnight stay in Fort William I returned to the lay-by on the A86 west of Moy Lodge.

I again cycled to the west end of Lochan na h-Earba where I left my bike and walked up the path on the north side of the Allt Coire Pitridh. A couple of chaps, who appeared to have walked in, commenced their ascent of Beinn a’Chlachair. I continued to follow the path with its light covering of snow, which was deeper higher up. At the junction of paths, (NN489800) I took the left fork and followed some bootprints, probably from the previous day. Further along this route the path was buried by snow and at this point the cloud lowered and I lost any views.

On reaching the bealach between Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh I headed towards Geal Charn where the combination of cloud and snow made for poor visibility. The snow wouldn’t hold my weight so I sought out areas where strands of grass appeared through the snow. This made for less of a sinking feeling. At a steeper area I needed to use my ice axe and higher up I occasionally came across more old bootprints.

I reached the summit of Geal Charn, marked by a cairn and trig point, as the sun tried to break through the cloud but without success. I therefore left the summit and re-traced my route to the bealach with Creag Pitridh. Just as I approached the bealach the cloud began to lift and I was able to get a view.

Some soft deep snow was crossed to reach the foot of Creag Pitridh then a fairly steep climb through boulders and more soft snow. Once this was negotiated there was some ice to contend with before I reached Creag Pitridh’s summit cairn. Unfortunately some cloud was floating about so I didn’t get any clear views.

The descent was down the west and south-west ridge and below Sgurr an t-Saighdeir before aiming for the track on the west side of Lochan na h-Earba. Here I collected my bike and cycled back to the A86.

previous ascent

Geal Charn Munro fifth ascent 1049 metres.
Creag Pitridh Munro fifth ascent 924 metres.

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Sgurr Eilde Mor and Binnein Beag

20 November 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 9 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1575 metres.

I parked in the Mamore Lodge Car Park and saved on the £3 parking fee as the Lodge was closed. A vehicle track was followed east from the Lodge until the stalker’s path that led to Coire an Lochain was reached. I walked along this path, which was a bit boggy in places, until the Allt Coire nan Laogh was reached. I thought this stream may have been in spate after rain earlier in the week and some snow melt but there were no problems in its crossing. Beyond, the path steepened and was a bit rough and worn.

Prior to Coire an Lochain I reached the snow line and at the loch spotted a couple of ptarmigan. I wandered round the south side of the loch, avoiding some pools of water, before climbing Sgurr Eilde Mor. Initially the ascent was relatively easy despite the snow cover but higher up there were lots of boulders with some deep soft snow to contend with, so the ice axe was out and in use.

The summit cairn was reached but visibility was poor due to a combination of cloud and lying snow so I walked out its west ridge with a plan to descent to the north side of Coire an Lochain. A small cornice had to be crossed before plunging down a snow face, which looked rather uninviting and difficult to assess. After a few minutes weighing up my options I decided to return to the summit and descend to Coire an Lochain by the ascent route.

Coire an Lochain was now in cloud as I worked by way round the boggy south and west side of the loch to rejoin the stalker’s path. This path was followed north before it descended to Coire a’Bhinnein. The zig zag path was buried by the snow so I made a direct descent.

From Coire a’Bhinnein I re-joined the path and followed it to the lochan below Binnein Beag. The cloud had lifted a bit and I could see the south ridge of my next Munro and the route I had taken from Coire an Lochain. However the clearance didn’t last and as I ascended Binnein Beag the cloud lowered again. Nearer the summit I had to contend with some soft deep snow hiding gaps between the boulders.

With no views from the summit cairn and as it would soon be dark I set off to return to Mamore Lodge via Coire an Lochain. Just above the Coire and on the east slopes of Binnein Mor I came across three areas of avalanche debris but due to the darkness it wasn’t possible to say if this was a single fall or several small avalanches.

On my return to the car park at Mamore Lodge there were still several vehicles parked there. I never met anyone during the walk although I did see a few folks following different routes and in the dark a couple of lights on the east side of Coire an Lochain.

previous ascent Sgurr Eilde Mor

previous ascent Binnein Beag

Sgurr Eilde Mor Munro fifth ascent 1010 metres
Binnein Beag Munro fifth ascent 943 metres

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Beinn a'Chlachair

14 November 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken 6 hours.
(Cycle - 50 minutes.)
Distance - 20.5 kilometres.
(Cycle - 10.5 kilometres.
Ascent - 880 metres.
(Cycle - 150 metres)

I left my home in Aberdeen before 5am for the 3 hour drive to Moy, beside Loch Laggan, on the A86 Newtonmore to Spean Bridge Road. As I approached Loch Laggan daylight came in and I saw there was quite a bit of snow on the mountains and some wet snow down to road level.

I parked my car in the lay-by west of Moy Lodge and once geared up and with the bike ready set off across the bridge over the River Spean and along the vehicle track to Lochan na h-Earba. There were quite a few deer around and they appeared to be a bit uncertain where to run as the track changed direction several times and this seemed to confuse them.

On reaching Lochan na h-Earba, around thirty minutes later, I crossed the bridge over the Allt Coire Pitridh and left my bike near the south-west end of the Lochan. There are actually two tracks here, the one shown on the map which disappeared into the Lochan, and a newer track slightly further west.

On leaving the Lochan I followed the path up the east side of the Allt Coire Pitridh and at a suitable point crossed this stream and headed towards the easterly of the two northern ridges of Beinn a’Chlachair. The mountain was covered in cloud but this briefly cleared giving me hope that the forecast of 90% cloud free Munros was going to materialise.

I walked over snow covered vegetation which was long and tussocky in places looking for the easiest route without plunging into any bog or water. However compared to what I experience later this was the easy part. The gradient later increased and I was soon into the cloud and had to stop to get my ice axe out for its first use this winter, as the snow was knee deep with the occasional thigh deep drifts.

Progress was slow as I worked my way uphill round Coire Mor Chlachair. The gradient eased but visibility was poor and it started to snow. The area was a white mass with the odd boulder showing through which did assist in keeping me clear of the corrie edge. Eventually I reached the summit cairn of Beinn a’Chlachair around an hour later than expected.

I found a bit of shelter behind the cairn for some brunch and to consider my options as my initial plan was to include the Munros, Geal Charn and Creag Pitiridh. I decided that in these wintry conditions it wouldn’t be possible to complete them in daylight hours so therefore returned by the ascent route following my bootprints, although in places they had been filled by blowing snow.

On the cycle out I stopped and spoke to a chap who had initially followed my ascent route but gave up as he didn’t have an axe with him.

previous ascent

Beinn a'Chlachair Munro fifth ascent 1087 metres

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Carn Dearg, Sgor Gaibhre and Meall na Meoig

6 November 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41 & 42. Time taken - 8.25 hours. Distance - 24.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1130 metres.

There were several possibilities for climbing the Munros, Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre and some included making use of the Glasgow to Fort William train service. On this occasion I decided to catch the train to Corrour and walk over the mountains before descending to Rannoch Station.

I drove to Bridge of Orchy Station and at 8.15am caught the overnight train from London, which was on time. It was a pleasant and relaxing journey as the train slowly headed north with views of the mountains and lots of deer.

The train arrived at Corrour just before 9am and from the Station I headed east along the track to Loch Ossian. I had ample time for my walk so I wasn’t in a rush and the few passengers who alighted from the train soon disappeared and I didn’t to see anyone else for the remainder of the walk.

On reaching Loch Ossian I followed the path known as the ‘Road to The Isles’ as it gradually climbed to ‘Peter’s Rock’. There had been some improvements made to this path since my last visit, but there were still some wet and boggy patches to avoid. At the memorial to Peter Trowell, I left the path and climbed the west ridge of Meall na Leitire Duibhe disturbing some deer and ptarmigan en-route.

The ground was now white with frost but it was an easy stroll to the summit of Carn Dearg following traces of a path. This walker’s path was followed as I descended to the col, Mam Ban, and onto the summit of Sgor Gaibhre. The high cloud had lowered and partially engulfed this Munro and as the cloud blew through there were a few Brocken Spectres to photograph.

I left the summit of Sgor Gaibhre and descended south to the Bealach Leathann before ascending the Corbett, Meall na Meoig and its Corbett Top Beinn Pharlagain. From these hills I had views of the Blackwater Reservoir, Lochs Ericht, Rannoch and Laidon as well as Rannoch Station.

The descent of Beinn Pharlagain was by its south ridge which became quite steep before I reached a wet and in places boggy All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track. This led to another section of the ‘Road to The Isles’ track. I strolled south on this vehicle track, which was drier and in good condition, as dusk fell.

By the time I reached the Rannoch Road, the B846, it was dark but the road was easy to follow to the Station where I had 75 minutes to wait in the cold as there was no indoor waiting area and the tea room appeared closed for the winter. The last train south fortunately arrived on time and returned me to Bridge of Orchy.

previous ascent Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre

previous ascent Meall na Meoig

Carn Dearg Munro fifth ascent 941 metres
Sgor Gaibhre Munro fifth ascent 955 metres
Meall na Meoig Corbett third ascent 868 metres

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Beinn Eibhinn and Aonach Beag

25 September 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41 & 42. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 30.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

I decided to climb these two Munros from Corrour Railway Halt and planned to catch the Caledonian Sleeper at Bridge of Orchy Station. Unfortunately it was running forty five minutes late which was a bit of a concern as I needed all my time to get round these hills and back to Corrour to catch the evening and last train south.

I left Corrour and walked to and along the south side of Loch Ossian as the early morning cloud lifted off the mountain tops. There were a few spots of rain and a slight breeze to contend with but further east I was protected from the elements by a forested section of the lochside.

At the east end of Loch Ossian I crossed the bridge over the River Ossian and followed the path to the small copse of trees which had been harvested since my last visit to this area. Beyond were a deer gate and the bridge over the Uisge Labhair. I followed the path on the north side of this stream for a short distance before commencing the ascent of the Munro Top, Mullach Coire nan Nead. The walk was over a mixture of vegetation including some peat hags and patches of bog which I had to walk round. This Munro Top was some three kilometres away so it took me some time to reach its summit cairn.

The weather improved as the day progressed as did the views of the surrounding mountains and glens. A short descent east from Mullach Coire nan Nead took me to a couple of lochans before a steady climb to the west top of Beinn Eibhinn before heading to its summit, which overlooked Coire a’Charra Mhoir.

I was on schedule so I made the steep descent to the bealach with Aonach Beag, followed by a steep climb to its summit, taking only half an hour to go between the two Munros. It was now time for a late lunch looking across to Ben Alder. Afterwards I returned over Beinn Eibhinn to its west top and descended the south ridge before making the short ascent to the Munro Top, Meall Glas Choire.

It was then a long gradual descent to the path on the north side of the Uisge Labhair before following the outward route along the shore of Loch Ossian to Corrour. Walking along the lochside I heard the roar of the stags, the first of this year’s rut.

I arrived at Corrour with twenty minutes to spare and on this occasion the Glasgow bound train was on time.

previous ascent

Beinn Eibhinn Munro fifth ascent 1102 metres
Aonach Beag Munro fifth ascent 1116 metres

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Na Gruagaichean and Binnein Mor

27 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1200 metres.

I had the four easterly Mamores still to climb for the fifth time so I decided to set off from Mamore Lodge and see how things progressed.

It cost me £3 to park at Mamore Lodge but this saved me nearly 200 metres of ascent. From the car park I walked north-east, passed the Stalker’s Cottage where there was a diversionary route to avoid walking through their grounds. Beyond this cottage the vehicle track headed north and at a U bend in the track I left it and followed the path up the east side of the Allt Coire na Ba. Higher up the path became rather eroded in places but it zig zagged which made for a relatively easy ascent. Here I saw a few deer hinds with their young running beside them, the first calves I had seen this year. I also encountered the first rain shower of the day.

I eventually arrived at the col between Stob Coire a’Chairn and Na Gruagaichean where it was quite windy. From here I commenced the ascent of Na Gruagaichean’s North West Top, a Munro Top, which was in the cloud. Once at the summit cairn it was a short steep descent down the south-east ridge on a worn path with lots of loose stones to the col with the true top of Na Gruagaichean. From this col it was another short but steep climb to the summit cairn.

Due to the low cloud it was necessary to take a bearing to locate Na Gruagaichean’s north-east ridge but shortly after commencing its descent the cloud began to lift and I could see Loch Eilde Mor, the Blackwater Reservoir and the slab rock to my left. Na Gruagaichean’s two tops were now visible.

Once at the col with Binnein Mor’s South Top, I climbed this Munro Top before heading onto the south ridge of Binnein Mor and the easy walk to its summit cairn. However this mountain was still in the cloud but I was hopeful that it would lift and I would get some views. I therefore decided to have my lunch here and as I did so the cloud did break up and I had some good views including Ben Nevis, although its summit was in cloud.

After taking in these views I returned to the South Top of Binnein Mor and descended its south-east ridge to the Munro Top Sgurr Eilde Beag. From here a stalker’s path zig zagged down its south side to the path that led to Coire an Lochain. On reaching this path I followed it as it descended in a south-westerly direction to cross the Allt Coire nan Laogh. The path later joined a vehicle track which I followed west back to Mamore Lodge, encountering some heavy showers en-route.

previous ascent Binnein Mor

Na Gruagaichean Munro fifth ascent 1055 metres
Binnein Mor Munro fifth ascent 1130 metres

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Circuit of Loch Treig

30 - 31 May 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time:
Day one - 10.5 hours.
Day two - 7.25 hours.
Distance:
Day one - 26 kilometres.
Day two - 15.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day one - 1790 metres.
Day two - 910 metres.

I read about a backpacking trip taking in the Munros on either side of Loch Treig which also included Beinn na Lap. As I needed to climb these five Munros I decided to tackle them this way.

The starting point was the hamlet of Fersit reached from the A86 east of Roy Bridge where there was a large area of ground used for parking. It already contained several cars and more arrived as I prepared to set off.

I walked along the vehicle track to the Loch Treig dam where a path wound its way to the col north of Meall Cian Dearg. The cloud was floating around the mountain tops but the weather was supposed to improve later in the day. From the col I climbed onto Meall Cian Dearg where the gradient eased as I wandered along the ridge to the first Munro of the trip, Stob a’Choire Mheadhoin. The cloud was floating around the summits but I still managed to get some views of the Grey Corries and my next mountain, Stob Coire Easain.

From Stob a’Choire Mheadhoin it was a short steep descent followed by a similar ascent to the Munro, Stob Coire Easain. The cloud was beginning to break up but with a cold wind blowing I didn’t linger here and set off down the south ridge, called Irlick Chaoile. It was a gentle descent but it steepened lower down as I approached the Allt na Lairige. On reaching this stream I followed its north bank, which involved a bit of climbing to avoid the gorge, before crossing it via a bridge and heading for Creaguaineach Lodge, which was boarded up, due to vandalism by walkers.

From the lodge I crossed the Abhainn Rath via a bridge and walked along the vehicle track on the south side of Loch Treig. I continued along this track as it continued up the east side of the Allt a’Chamabhreac and just before the track passed under the West Highland railway line I found a suitable spot to pitch my tent.

It was now early evening and I decided to climb Beinn na Lap before cooking my meal. I followed the track under the railway line and climbed Ceann Caol Beinn na Lap, the south-west ridge of Beinn na Lap, with views of Loch Ossian, Corrour Station and a couple of trains heading south. There was a cold wind blowing as I gained height but there were some good views of the surrounding mountains including Ben Alder.

Once I reached the cairn I returned to my tent and had a very late meal. It was now quite cold, with numerous stars visible and a frost setting in so it was time to get into the sleeping back and retire for the night.

It was a fine morning with the camping area bathed in sun and the tent drying out from the overnight frost. After a leisurely breakfast I packed up and once again set off under the railway bridge but this time commenced the ascent of the Corbett Top, Garbh-bheinn. Initially it was a steep climb but this was eased by following an All Terrain Vehicle Track which went a fair distance along the ridge until I lost it amongst the vegetation. It was sunny but chilly on the ridge. On gaining the summit of Gairbh-bheinn a short descent took me to the col with the Munro Top, Meall Garbh. It was then steady climb to the summit cairn. From here I walked north above Creagan Coire nan Cnaimh descending slightly to near the col with Chno Dearg where I left my pack while I nipped up this Munro.

On my return I collected my pack and headed over to and climbed the South Top of Stob Coire Sgriodain, which is classed as a Munro Top. A short descent and then re-ascent took me to the Munro, Stob Coire Sgriodain, the summit cairn being perched above the rocky west face. The descent was by the north ridge before I followed a path down a gorge beneath the rocks of Sron na Garbh-bheinne. Lower down the path disappeared, however I continued north making a slight diversion to avoid hill cattle, before reaching the vehicle track east of Fersit. This track was then followed back to my car.

previous ascent Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain

previous ascent Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin Munro fifth ascent 1105 metres
Stob Coire Easain Munro fifth ascent 1115 metres
Beinn na Lap Munro fifth ascent 935 metres
Chno Dearg Munro fifth ascent 1046 metres
Stob Coire Sgriodain Munro fifth ascent 979 metres

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Creag Ghuanach

1 August 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 725 metres.

The Graham, Creag Ghuanach, is located at the south-west end of Loch Treig and can be approached from various directions involving a long trek in and out. However an easier option is the West Highland Railway that runs from Glasgow to Fort William and onto Mallaig. There are only a limited number of trains running on this line Monday to Saturday and even less on a Sunday so I would suggest, if using the train for a day walk, give Sunday a miss.

I drove to Bridge of Orchy Station and caught the 1046 train north to Corrour arriving there at 1120. The cost of a return ticket was £11. A number of other people alighted at the Station which consists of a derelict station building and Corrour Station House. The next habitation is the Youth Hostel on the shore of Loch Ossian around a mile away.

Having previously walked the exceptionally boggy path on the west side of the railway line I opted for the vehicle track towards Loch Ossian and then the track below the south-west ridge of Beinn na Lap. My map actually shows this to be a path but it is a vehicle track which has recently been upgraded. At the Allt Luib Ruairidh a lot of work had been carried out to allow this stream and the track to pass below the railway bridge. The vehicle track then descended to the shores of Loch Treig where a couple were camping.

I followed the track along the south shore of Loch Treig where it's condition deteriorated. In fact the bridge over the gorge of the Abhainn Rath would be unlikely to support a vehicle as many of the wooden planks were rotten and careful foot placement was necessary. Once across this gorge I took a break beside Creaguaineach Lodge. This Lodge, which once displayed the Scottish saltire from a flagpole positioned on the grass at the front of the building, has over several years been repeatedly vandalised by walkers which is a terrible indictment on the walking fraternity. It has been boarded up with metal shutters on the ground floor and wire netting on the upper windows.

The weather had been a lot better than I had expected but the cloud was now lowering and there were some spots of rain as I set off to the foot of Creag Ghuanach. The ascent looked rather challenging, which it was. Initially I had to walk through shoulder height bracken before traversing round some wet rocks. At one point I used a deer track which cut across the hillside and was spotted by a hind which ran off. As height was gained the gradient became a bit steeper but at least I was away from the bracken. Eventually the gradient eased and I bypassed a couple of rocky knolls to reach a few stones perched on top of a rock marking the summit of Creag Ghuanach. The higher surrounding mountains were cloud covered but I did have views of the route through to Glen Nevis and the Lairig Leacach.

Quite a cool breeze was blowing so I didn’t linger on the summit and rather than descend the route I had just climbed I headed north-west and later north then west round rocks to join the path on the west side of the Allt na Lairige before following it passed the Easan Dubh waterfall to Creaguaineach Lodge.

The return to Corrour, in the rain which was heavy at times, was by the outward route which involved climbing from Loch Treig to Corrour which is the highest point on the West Highland Railway. With some 25 minutes or so to wait for the train I took the opportunity to visit Corrour Station House and partake of a cup of tea before catching the 1825 train back to Bridge of Orchy.

Creag Ghuanach Graham first ascent 621 metres

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Cnap Cruinn

13 September 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 41. Time taken – 4 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 600 metres.

The cloud was rather low with light rain as I crossed Scotland from east to west, en-route to Kintail for a few day’s walking. However once beyond Aviemore it was a bit brighter and the cloud base higher. The plan was to stop off and climb the Graham, Cnap Cruinn, before continuing my journey west.

The start for the ascent of Cnap Cruinn was Inverlair, on the unclassified Fersit Road just off the A86 Newtonmore to Spean Bridge Road, east of Roy Bridge. I managed to park at the bell-mouth at the entrance to the forest without blocking the access road. I walked along this forest road, which was initially fairly steep before the gradient eased and it was then a gentle stroll through the trees.

Around half an hour later I emerged from the forest beside a dam and an old railway bridge. I continued round the edge of the forest, where nearby some cattle were resting. The track then changed direction and headed through a wide gap in the forest. I checked out another track in the forest on the south side of the gap but it didn’t appear to give access to the slopes of Cnap Cruinn.

I therefore continued to the end of the forest and crossed some wet and boggy ground before the gradient became steeper and drier. I headed for the obvious cairn, which was marked on the map and on reaching it I had views up Glen Roy and along Glen Spean to Loch Laggan. It was then a short easy walk to the actual summit which was marked by a few stones on top of a rock. During the ascent a few red grouse took flight.

The higher tops were cloud covered but I had views of the Corbetts, Cruach Innse and Sgurr Innse as well as the Glens already mentioned. I could also see the Corbett, Beinn Bhan, which I had climbed a couple of weeks earlier.

After lunch I returned to the start by the outward route.

Cnap Cruinn Graham first ascent 742 metres

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Meall nan Eagan

3 August 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - Landranger 42. Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 350 metres.

I left my overnight accommodation in Pitlochry just after 7am and was at the start of this walk, the A889 Dalwhinnie to Laggan Road, less than an hour later. I parked at the end of the long straight north of the village of Dalwhinnie where a wooden sign indicated 'General Woodland' but the high gate was locked so I had to clamber over it. Thereafter I followed the track through the forest to a point where it started to descend. This is not shown on my map. An All Terrain Vehicle Track continued uphill to the edge of the forest where there was another large gate, but this one was unlocked.

Beyond the forest an easy walk took me to the col between Meall na Ceardaich and Carn na Ceardaich and then onto another col between Carn na Ceardaich and Meall nan Eagan where a large number of stags ran off on sensing my presence. The terrain beyond this was rather rough as I commenced the ascent of Meall nan Eagan, which was now clear of cloud. However I still encountered some rain showers.

Higher up there was a fence, which could be followed but it was fairly rough going here as there was deep heather and in places rock so I actually tried to follow deer paths as I climbed towards the summit. The summit cairn with its metal stanchion was reached but the cloud was swirling around. I could see Dalwhinnie and part of Dirc Mor and the northern extremities of the Corbett The Fara. The midges were trying to grab a bit of breakfast.

I didn't linger long and descended initially by my ascent route but then cut across some wet and boggy ground towards the Allt an t-Sluic watching a hind and its calf run off towards the Dirc Mor. There was supposed to be a Right of Way to Feagour, west of Laggan in this area but I never spotted any path. I reached the Allt an t-Sluic where there was a rough estate track which I followed to the dwelling at Allt an t-Sluic, which had been upgraded. An unfriendly sign said 'Keep Out' so I diverted towards the stream and passed the front of the house. I rejoined the track which took me back to the A889 and around a fifteen minute walk along General Wade's Military Road to my vehicle.

Meall nan Eagan Graham first ascent 658 metres

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Ben Nevis

18 July 2008

Map – OS Landranger 41. Time taken – 7.5 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1350 metres.

This was to be my final guided walk as I had given up my business and I suppose Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, was a suitable finale. It was a family outing, organised by Debbie, for her partner Jan's fiftieth birthday, which was the following day. They were accompanied by their daughter Silka.

We met at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis, just outside Fort William. Here there is an extensive Pay and Display car park, although the money accrued from parking goes towards maintenance of the area. It was dull and damp with the cloud base very variable.

The route was the mountain path, which has had some work done on the lower sections. As height was gained the rain showers became more frequent and the cloud base lowered. However despite the weather there were still several people heading for the summit and some even descending so they must have been out early.

Near Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe several portacabins, for path maintenance, were positioned here and strapped down. Beyond this Lochan the rain became heavier and it was now windy. There was now nothing to see as we were in the cloud and it was just the sake of following the path to the summit. Near the top we crossed a small snow patch and just above that we passed the path maintenance guys who were working in fairly poor conditions.

The summit was reached where it was cold, windy and wet. A short break was taken before the descent by the upward route. Once off the summit we lost the cold wind but not the rain and we were well down the Mountain Path before the cloud thinned enough to see Glen Nevis and the finish of the walk.

Debbie, Jan and Silka were actually trying to complete their own Three Peak Challenge in a week. They had successfully climbed Snowdon, but failed on Scafell Pike due to bad weather and were hoping to try again on Monday en-route back home.

previous ascent

Ben Nevis Munro fifteenth ascent 1344 metres

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Ben Nevis

20 September 2007

Time taken 5.25 hours Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1350 metres.

This walk was booked several months ago by three chaps from Shropshire who wanted to climb Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg arête. However the weather in the west coast of Scotland had been fairly poor for most of September and the forecast for the day of the walk was wet and windy. However their flights and hotel accommodation had already been booked so an attempt to summit Ben Nevis was still on.

We met in Fort William and at that time the weather was reasonable but it was early and the forecast was still for rain with strong winds arriving around mid-morning. We agreed to start off up the ‘mountain path’ and at Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe reassess the situation. The lochan is commonly known as the ‘Half Way Lochan’ but it is only around one third of the way to the summit of The Ben.

We walked up the mountain path and en-route spoke to a runner who had been to the summit and said it was windy there. At the Lochan the decision was made to continue up the mountain path. Higher up we entered the cloud, it started to rain and was fairly windy. The conditions continued to deteriorate as we reached the deserted summit.

My clients had a look round the summit, which was a tip with pieces of rubbish lying around. We returned by the mountain path in record time, well a lot faster than my last descent of The Ben. The weather continued to deteriorate and we passed several walkers headed for the summit, including eleven teams on a Three Peaks Challenge. Some of the walkers were, as usual for Ben Nevis, ill equipped for the weather conditions. A few walkers had made the sensible decision and had given up and were returning down the path.

It was unfortunate for my clients that they didn’t get to tackle the Carn Mor Dearg arête having travelled so far but at least they got to the summit of the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.

previous ascent

Ben Nevis Munro fourteenth ascent 1344 metres

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Walk Round Loch Ossian

22 August 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 165 metres.

This was day two for Thomas and Yvonne so we caught the early morning train from Tulloch, which was conveniently situated to our accommodation at Station Lodge. We alighted at Corrour, the next stop south from Tulloch, where there is only a couple of buildings, one being Corrour Station House, which caters for bed and breakfast and meals. There is no public road access to Corrour so the train is the only practical means of access unless you wish to walk in from the nearest public road many miles away.

It was a pleasant morning but the midges were out as we walked along the vehicle track towards Loch Ossian. On reaching the junction of tracks we took the one going round the north side of the Loch where there was an occasional breeze to keep those midges away.

At the far end of the Loch we passed the new Corrour Lodge with its large glass frontage looking out onto the water. Beyond the Lodge we came to the Estate houses, some of which can be rented. We also came across the Stables with the Icelandic Horses and were invited in by one of the ladies tending to them. This pleased Yvonne who was an ardent animal lover.

After some time at the Stables we walked along the south side of Loch Ossian to the Youth Hostel which was locked and closed till 5pm. However we made use of their picnic table to have our lunch in the sun at the side of the Loch. We sat there for some time before heading back to Corrour Station where we visited the Station House while awaiting the mid-afternoon train back to Tulloch.


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Walk to the North Face - Ben Nevis

21 August 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5 hours Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

Thomas and Yvonne from Bavaria were staying at the Independent Hostel at Station Lodge, Tulloch near Roy Bridge for four nights where in addition to their accommodation, the owners of the Hostel, Alan and Belinda, were catering for all their meals. It was my job to guide them on some walks in the area but they didn't wish to go high up.

This first day, which is always the hardest with new clients as you are never fully aware of their expectations or abilities, I decided on a walk up to below the North Face of Ben Nevis. This is a more interesting and scenic route than the normal path used by tourists to climb The Ben.

We parked in the car park at Torlundy, which is signposted from the A82 north of Fort William, and headed off through the forest. A new and fairly steep path led through the forest and onto the open hillside with views of Fort William and Loch Eil and occasionally when the cloud cleared the North Face of The Ben and the Carn Mor Dearg Arête.

The path was followed up the side of the Allt a'Mhuillin, but higher up it became a bit rough. We reached the CIC Hut, its full name being the Charles Inglis Clark Memorial Hut where it was rather windy. We saw a couple of climbers, who we had spoken to earlier, head up to the foot of the cliffs.

Yvonne and Thomas decided that due to the wind they didn't want to go any further into the corrie so we headed back down. However I took them to the path that led over to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe and gave them directions for the mountain path.

I returned to the North Face Car park and drove round to the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis and headed up the mountain path and met them at the junction with the path that led to the Youth Hostel. It was sunny on this side of the mountain but they had preferred the other side where it was a lot quieter and the path was in better condition.

On returning to the Visitor Centre we drove to the head of Glen Nevis and visited the Nevis Gorge and walked as far as the Steall Bridge but the midges were a real nuisance there.

Later we also had a look at Neptune's Staircase at the start of the Caledonian Canal.


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Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg

18 July 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 5 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent  - 935 metres.

The start of this walk was the hamlet of Fersit reached along a single track road on the south side of the A86 Newtonmore to Spean Bridge road, west of Roy Bridge. At the end of the public road there was a large turning area sufficiently big to allow parking for several vehicles.

I set off and walked passed the houses at Fersit and crossed the River Treig and the railway line by bridges. Once beyond the fenced area east of Fersit I left the vehicle track and headed over some wet and boggy ground. I kept close to one of the streams flowing from Lochan Coire an Lochain and found a path, obviously used by walkers and cattle, which was slightly easier to traverse than the surrounding wet vegetation.

Higher up I left this path and made my way towards Sron na Garbh-bheinne, which is a mass of rocks to the north of Stob Coire Sgriodain. I found a grassy gully which I climbed but it was hot work as there was no breeze. Once on the ridge there was a bit of a wind and it was a pleasant walk traversing round some rocks to the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain. I sat eating my lunch with views of the Easains, the Grey Corries, across to the Glen Coe mountains and down into Loch Treig.

Further south around the Bridge of Orchy area it was very dark and they were obviously having some poor weather which I hoped wasn’t heading in my direction as some areas of Scotland had experienced thunderstorms the previous day.

After lunch I headed over to Stob Coire Sgriodain’s South Top which was rather rocky and here I spotted a large herd of deer feeding above Coire Meadhoin. Unfortunately they soon spotted me and headed off round the south side of Meall Garbh. I descended from this Munro Top to a bealach where more deer crossed my path before I commenced the easy grassy climb to the bealach between Meall Garbh and Chno Dearg. From here it was a short and easy walk to the summit of Chno Dearg.

There was still bad weather to the south but I had views to the west of the Easains and Grey Corries and to the east Carn Dearg. I took a few photographs before I headed down the north side of Chno Dearg. Here the underfoot conditions were fairly wet all the way down the mountainside where I saw a couple of mountain hares and several frogs. I eventually reached the vehicle track used on the outward journey and returned to my car.

Stob Coire Sgriodain Munro fourth ascent 979 metres
Chno Dearg Munro fourth ascent 1046 metres

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Ben Nevis

30 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken 10.25 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent  - 1330 metres.

The client for this ascent of Ben Nevis by the mountain path was a lady from London who apparently takes on challenges without fully realising the problems involved. On this occasion she had announced that she was going to climb Ben Nevis for charity and subsequently contacted me to guide her to the summit and back.

We set off from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis, crossed the River Nevis by the footbridge, and commenced the ascent of Ben Nevis. The mountain path was already busy not just with walkers setting off but also those completing the descent. There was another of those Three Peaks Challenge on so the path would be busy all day. The forecast was good for the morning so those out early would have the best of the weather.

It became evident that my client had underestimated the ascent of Ben Nevis. She soon found it tough going and started to struggle as the majority of other walkers passed us. However after a short food stop near Loch Meall an t-Suidhe she felt a bit better till around 900 metres when she really started to struggle and found it very difficult to continue.

Slowly she reached the summit trig point where we had a summit photo. Here we met a lady from Dundee who told me that she was part of a group of sixty people from that area who had travelled to Fort William that morning by bus also to climb Ben Nevis for charity.

There were no views from the summit as cloud covered the top prior to our arrival. It had been building up from the south-west for a few hours but those that arrived before us managed to get some views. However my client wasn’t worried about the low cloud that had engulfed the summit as she was too exhausted.

We had some more food before setting off down the mountain path. Unfortunately the rocky and stony path wasn’t to her liking and the descent took almost as long as the ascent. There were still several groups of charity walkers ascending the mountain via the path.

The lady was delighted to get back to the car park but her comments about Ben Nevis will have to be left in the Glen.

previous ascent

Ben Nevis Munro thirteenth ascent 1344 metres

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Stob Ban

27 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 8 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 945 metres.

Dave and Joyce, from Pennsylvania, USA, visit Scotland every year for their vacation and this year they were staying in the Fort William area. For the past four years they had requested that I arrange to take them up a Munro. Unfortunately on all the previous visits they had bad weather.

I had decided on Carn Mor Dearg or Stob Ban in the Mamores as both have good views, in particular Carn Mor Dearg which looks onto the North Face of Ben Nevis, the best side of our highest mountain. I had hoped for good weather but the forecast indicated snow showers and that the weather would deteriorate later in the day. In the morning when I looked at the mountains Carn Mor Dearg was covered in cloud drifting off Ben Nevis so Stob Ban it was.

We drove up Glen Nevis to the Pay and Display Car just east of Achriabhach. Payment is voluntary but the monies raised go to maintenance of the area. From this car park we walked up the path on the east side of the Allt Coire a’Mhusgain. Initially the weather was in our favour with some sunny spells and with views down Glen Nevis and across to the lower slopes of Ben Nevis.

As we gained height the cloud was building up to the west and on reaching the bealach at the head of the corrie it started to sleet. However from the bealach we did manage some quick views across to the Glencoe mountains and the south end of Loch Linnhe. The east ridge of Stob Ban was ascended. Initially the path passed through some grassy terrain before the path steepened and crossed some rock and scree which was a new experience for my American clients.

The snow showers were brief but the summit was cloud covered as we reached the cairn. However we stayed at the cairn for a bit of lunch hoping that the cloud would clear but despite some brief glimpses it didn’t happen. We were back at the bealach before the cloud cleared the summit of Stob Ban. We also had more views of the Glencoe mountains before following the path used on the upward route back to the start.

Although it wasn’t a fine sunny day as I had hoped at least on this occasion Dave and Joyce at least had some views and the weather for Scotland wasn’t too bad.

previous ascent

Stob Ban Munro sixth ascent 999 metres

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Sgurr Eilde Mor

26 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken 6.5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 815 metres.

It was a pleasant morning when we drove to Mamore Lodge north of Kinlochmore where for a small fee parking was permitted within the Hotel car park.

We set off from the car park and followed the vehicle track west towards Loch Eilde Mor.Around a kilometre before reaching this Loch we took the stalker's path up to Coire an Lochain. There was a cool wind blowing at times but we were enjoying some good views especially back along Loch Leven .

At Loch Coire an Lochain we walked along the south side of this loch and commenced the ascent of the south ridge of Sgurr Eilde Mor. There were traces of a path but the climb was relatively easy with a few rocks to traverse. We came across a female ptarmigan and around eight chicks which were trying to waddle across the rocks and away from us. We took a slight diversion to avoid them and continued to the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor where we had lunch. In fact we remained at the summit, which was Shona’s 200th Munro, for over an hour, enjoying the sun and taking in the views, which included Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, the Grey Corries, the Easains, the Glencoe Mountains, south to the Bridge of Orchy hills and of course the usual sight of Schiehallion. We were briefly joined by two other walkers who had come up the west ride.

After the long rest break we descended the west ridge, which had a bit of scree to content with, and round the north and west sides of Loch Coire an Lochain. We rejoined the path used in the upward route and followed it back to Mamore Lodge.

Sgurr Eilde Mor Munro fourth ascent 1010 metres

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Ben Alder Trip

22 – 24 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day One - 1.25 hours/6.25 hours.
Day Two - 6 hours/4.25 hours.
Day Three - 1,5 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 6.3 kilometres/16 kilometres.
Day Two - 13.5 kilometres/11 kilometres.
Day Three - 6.3 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 70 metres/760 metres.
Day Two - 840 metres/570 metres.
Day Three - 40 metres.

This trip had been planned for a few months as part of Laila’s challenge to finish her Munros. She was joined by Norman who was working his way through the Munros trying to ensure he didn’t leave the more remote ones to the end.

The approach to the Ben Alder Group of Munros is normally from the Railway Station at Dalwhinnie where there is limited parking. This entails a long walk, or cycle down the north-west shore of Loch Ericht as far as Ben Alder Lodge on a good vehicle track. However access by vehicle is controlled at a gate beside the Estate Office near the start of the track.

I had an exemption so the start of our three day trip was from the rear of Ben Alder Lodge with a walk along the vehicle track towards Loch Pattack and then the path to Culra Bothy crossing a small swing footbridge over the Allt a’Chaoil-reidhe just before reaching the bothy. Don’t confuse the bothy with the newly renovated Culra Lodge nearby.

We found a vacant room at the bothy and set out our sleeping gear on the platforms. A discussion took place as to whether or not to try for one of the Munros as it was only just after 4pm. We only had sufficient time to climb one of the mountains so I decided on what I thought would be the hardest of the trip, Ben Alder.

We left the bothy, returned to the footbridge and re-crossed the Allt a’Chaoil-reidhe and followed the well maintained path up its south-east side to around 670 metres where we left the path, crossed some heathery ground and descended to cross the Allt a’Bhealaich Bheithe. Thereafter we headed over some rough ground to the Long Leachas and ascended this ridge with a wee bit of difficulty due to the wind and wet rock, in particular near the top of the ridge.

Eventually we arrived on the Ben Alder plateau and walked to its summit as the cloud came in obscuring the top, marked with a cairn and trig point. After a few minutes at the summit we walked round the corrie and out of the cloud before the steep, rough and in places wet descent towards Bealach Breabag. It had already been decided that we hadn’t enough time to include Beinn Bheoil so once down the steepest section we headed to the path leading to Loch a’Bhealaich Bheithe.

This path was followed to and along the east shore of the loch but was wet and boggy in sections. However at the outflow of the loch the path had been upgraded and this was the one used on the approach to Ben Alder so we followed it back to the bothy.

The next morning it was wet and windy. Norman had the four Munros on the north side of the Bealach Dubh to climb while Laila only required the easterly two. Norman set off half and hour before us and I had hoped that we would meet on Geal-charn, Norman’s third Munro. Laila and I followed Norman’s route, which was over the Bealach Dubh, but only as far as the outflow from Loch an Sgoir. We followed this outflow and climbed onto the ridge south-west of Diollaid a’Chairn.

The next section was a steeper climb onto the Geal-charn plateau where visibility was very poor due to low cloud. It was a very featureless area so we followed a bearing to the summit cairn. There was no sign of Norman but we were unlikely to see him in these conditions so we returned to the ridge we ascended earlier and headed for Carn Dearg as the cloud broke up slightly and although still windy we had some sunny spells so it was time for a lunch stop.

On finishing lunch a figure was seen at the top of the ridge but we were unable to identify the person so we ascended Carn Dearg as the figure got closer and the clothing was similar to Norman’s. From Carn Dearg we descended to Culra Bothy as we watched Norman closing in on us and he arrived at the bothy a few minutes after us.

Although the weather was clear it was windy but both Norman and Laila were keen on going out again and climbing the final Munro of the trip, Beinn Bheoil. I had my doubts as I felt Laila was tired after the last two days but she wanted to get it over with so after a break and some food and hot drinks we set off for Beinn Bheoil using the same path as for Ben Alder the previous day.

Where the path changed direction we headed towards Beinn Bheoil trying to stay off the ridge due to the strong wind. Laila, who doesn’t like the wind, was now fairly slow as she tired while Norman, although feeling the effects of his earlier ascent of the four Munros was still keen on setting a reasonable pace so he led the way up the ridge.

Higher up the ascent became steeper and more exposed and the cloud base lowered. Norman had reached the summit cairn and passed us on his way back down while Laila struggled to the summit. We returned to Culra by the route of ascent although we did keep to the ridge more as there was very little difference in the exposure to the wind. Once back at the bothy it was time for a meal and a well earned rest.

The next morning, having climbed all the Munros necessary we returned to Ben Alder Lodge.

previous ascent

Ben Alder Munro sixth ascent 1148 metres
Geal-charn Munro sixth ascent 1132 metres
Carn Dearg Munro sixth ascent 1034 metres
Beinn Bheoil Munro seventh ascent 1019 metres

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Ring of Steall

12 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 8.75 hours. Distance: -13 kilometres. Ascent - 1620 metres.

I met Frank and Peter at the entrance to Glen Nevis camp site. Peter had phoned me just over twelve hours earlier from his work on the outskirts of London advising me that he was leaving home in the next few hours and heading for Fort William. He assured me that he would arrive in time for our 8 o’clock start. This caused me a bit of concern as the Ring of Steall is a fairly demanding day and I wasn’t sure how Peter would cope without any sleep. Peter in fact arrived in Fort William at 7am.

We drove to the car park at the head of Glen Nevis and walked through the gorge to the meadows. Here we used the wire bridge to cross the Water of Nevis before we crossed the Allt Coire a’Mhail below the waterfall. This was followed by a boggy section of ground before the steep ascent of An Gearanach. A path lead all the way to the summit cairn, where despite some cloud we had views back to Glen Nevis and to the cloud covered tops of Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag.

After a short break at this summit we followed the narrowing south ridge to An Garbhanach which involved a bit of easy scrambling. The cloud began to engulf the ridge at times but at least there was no wind to contend with. From An Garbhanach a fairly steep and in places eroded descent led to a bealach before the climb to the second Munro of the day, Stob Coire a’Chairn.

There was no point in remaining on this summit, as due to the low cloud, we had no views so we descended Stob Coire a’Chairn’s south-west ridge before a relatively steep ascent of Am Bodach. Here there were several paths, most of which were badly worn with lots of loose rocks and stones, however after a bit of effort, even from Peter who must have been very tired, we reached the summit with restricted views due to the cloud.

It was now time for lunch but rather than sit at the summit we descended to the bealach west of Am Bodach where the cloud had started to lift. Sitting there we had views across to the Aonach Eagach and glimpses of Bidean nam Bian. We also had views back along the ridge and the afternoon’s section of the Ring of Steall.

After lunch we climbed the demoted Munro, Sgurr an Iubhar, now a Munro Top and onto another Munro Top, Stob Choire a’Mhail. At this point it started to hail, initially fairly gently but later it became a bit heavier as we walked along the Devil’s Ridge. This made the traverse that bit more awkward as the two rocky sections were now wet and slippery. We traversed to the west of the first section but the second section of rock had to be down climbed. Once over these sections it was a steady ascent to the summit of Sgurr a’Mhaim which was almost white with hailstones. There was still some old snow in the northern corrie.

The long descent of Sgurr a’Mhaim’s north-west ridge commenced in showers of hail and then rain but we eventually reached the car park at Achriabhach where Frank gave me a lift to the upper car park to collect my vehicle.

I was surprised to see how Peter coped with the walk, in particular after lunch when he seemed to pick up the pace. He was even considering heading home in the evening rather than camping overnight in Glen Nevis but later decided on the safer option.

previous ascent

An Gearanach Munro sixth ascent 982 metres
Stob Coire a'Chairn Munro sixth ascent 981 metres
Am Bodach Munro sixth ascent 1032 metres
Sgurr a'Mhaim Munro sixth ascent 1099 metres

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Glas Bheinn

22 April 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 850 metres.

It was a damp morning when we set off from the Grey Mare Waterfall car park in Kinlochmore which adjoins and is located north of Kinlochleven. We followed the red signposted route but shortly thereafter lost it for a few minutes as one of the signs beside a white cottage wasn’t obvious.

Once on the correct path we climbed steadily through woods. There had obviously been an extensive grass fire as the whole hillside had been burnt. Beyond the forest we were on open moorland still on a path which eventually joined the vehicle track which led from Mamore Lodge to Loch Eilde Mor. This track was followed for a short distance before we left it and took the path that led down to Loch Eilde Mor and round to its south-west edge. Thereafter the condition of the path deteriorated along the shore of the loch and up to Meall na Cruaidhe.

The weather had been a mixture of low cloud and showers but visibility was now poor but a small lochan was the indicator to leave the path and commence the ascent of Glas Bheinn. This required following a bearing over heather and grass but eventually we reached the summit cairn.

Visibility was still poor so there was no point in remaining at the summit and we returned to the path near the lochan. Instead of following the path we continued downhill over some rough terrain to the Allt Coire na Duibhe where at a venting system for a water pipeline we had lunch. Afterwards a path along the side of the pipeline was taken for a short distance before descending, again over rough ground, to the path on the north side of the River Leven. This path was followed back to Kinlochmore in the wettest conditions we had all day.

previous ascent

Glas Bheinn Corbett second ascent 792 metres

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Beinn na Gucaig

2 March 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 630 metres.

I was en-route to Kintail from the Trossachs area to do some guiding work and as I had some time to spare I decided to tackle the Graham, Beinn na Gucaig as it was close to my route of travel. Studying the map I elected to climb this mountain from Inchree between Ballachulish and Fort William.

Inchree is just off the main road so I drove through this tiny hamlet to a small car park within a forest. The car park would normally be frequented by those wishing to stroll through the Glenrigh Forest or who were visiting a nearby waterfall.

I followed a path northeast through the forest to a small quarry and then continued on a vehicle track. Here I saw the first frog spawn of the year but it is unlikely to produce any tadpoles as it is too early in the year as there will be more snow and ice to come before Spring truly arrives. I was now looking for a fire break in the forest to gain access to the open hillside so that I could commence the ascent of Beinn na Gucaig. However I never found any suitable break so I decided to continue to the end of the track. Here there was a small stream to follow uphill through the trees to a deer fence which I had to clamber over.

Once above the forest I had good views down Loch Linnhe towards the Island of Mull and across the Loch to the hills of Ardgour. I also had a view of Corpach near Fort William and up the Great Glen. The ground, which was fairly wet, consisted mainly of heather and afforded reasonable walking conditions. The sun was shinning so the conditions were fairly pleasant.

As height was gained the snow clad and cloudy summit of Ben Nevis came into view. On approaching the summit trig point I found out that I had been on the sheltered side of the mountain during my ascent as there was a cold wind on the top. I stopped there for a while looking at the surrounding mountains, the tops of which were snow and cloud covered.

On identifying the nearby mountains I set off down the south west ridge of Beinn na Gucaig and over the 575 Point. Initially the ground was a bit spongy and awkward to traverse but beyond the 575 knoll there was an ATV track along the ridge. Here I saw a hairy caterpillar but as with the frog spawn I thought it was too early in the year for it to survive.

Lower down I left the ridge to get some shelter for lunch. Once fed, instead of returning to the ridge, I descended towards a stream and the vehicle track heading to Gleann Righ. The underfoot conditions were again very soft with deep heather and dead grasses which slowed progress. On reaching the track it was only a short walk back to the car park.

In hindsight I should have continued down the ridge following the ATV track as I was making reasonable progress there rather than taking what I thought was a short cut through ankle breaking terrain.

Beinn na Gucaig Graham first ascent 616 metres

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Mam na Gualainn and Tom Meadhoin

16 December 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5 hours Distance - 10 kilometres Ascent - 860 metres

The start of this walk was the B863 North Ballachluish to Kinlochleven road just east of Calvert House where there is a 'Right of Way' to Lairigmor where you can join the West Highland Way to Fort William or Kinlochleven. Just east of this path and round a bend in the road is a small parking area provided you don't obstruct a gate.

We waited in the car for a heavy shower to pass before we set off along the very wet and in places boggy 'Right of Way' through a small plantation. The heavy rain of the past week hadn't improved the underfoot conditions. The climb to the bealach was interspersed with rain showers and underfoot it was still rather wet.

We reached the bealach which was also the snow line and commenced the climb onto the south-west ridge of Mam na Gualainn. Here there was a bit of a breeze compared to the calm conditions we experienced on the climb to the bealach. The snow was very wet and slippery but higher up it was firmer and walking was easier.

Once established on the ridge there was a heavy snow shower with reduced visibility but a fence was soon reached which aided navigation. I had been on this route before so when we reached a gate we passed through it and headed towards the summit. This avoided climbing over the fence near the summit.

Visibility hadn't improved as we reached the summit trig point and cairn. It was cold with some blowing snow with poor visibility so we didn't linger at the cairn and followed our boot prints back to the bealach as the cloud cleared. At the bealach we found some shelter for lunch but unfortunately after a few minutes we were hit by another rain shower.

After a quick lunch we headed west onto the east ridge of Tom Meadhoin with a fairly flat section which was wet and boggy. Beyond this we reached the snow line again and climbed more steeply onto the north ridge of Tom Meadhoin. There had been a break in the cloud with a brief sunny period but it had started to snow again by the time we reached the small summit cairn of Tom Meadhoin.

The conditions were deteriorating so we commenced our descent back towards the bealach avoiding the wet and boggy section by traversing below it and joining the 'Right of Way' just south of the bealach. Here we met our first walker of the day, a lady doing some navigation. However her dog didn't take to us and started barking.

The rest of the descent was uneventful still with a few showers.

Mam na Gualainn Corbett second ascent 796 metres
Tom Meadhoin Graham first ascent 621 metres

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Meall na Meoig

9 December 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 700 metres.

The drive to the start of this walk was rather tricky as the wet and occasionally flooded single track road was frozen in places making traction virtually non existent and being a remote road it hadn't been gritted.

The start was on the B846 Kinloch Rannoch to Rannoch Station road just over two kilometres east of Rannoch Station on the north side of Loch Eigheach. Here a vehicle track, part of the 'Road to the Isles' headed north-west then north to a bridge over the Allt Eigheach. As I walked along this track I heard and saw the morning train from Glasgow pass through Rannoch Station en-route to Fort William and Mallaig. This was the only human activity I saw until my return.

At the bridge over the Allt Eigheach, which has been renewed during the last couple of years I remained on the east bank and followed All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) tracks to the east of Leacann nan Giomach before leaving these tracks and heading up Leacann nan Giomach and on towards Beinn Pharlagain. The weather had been a bit changeable and as I gained height the cloud lowered and I lost any views I had.

Around 700 metres I reached the snow level and headed to and over the 807 metres point of Beinn Pharlagain. As I walked towards Garbh Mheall Mor the cloud started to break up and I had views of Loch Rannoch and Schiehallion. The snow was rather deeper here than I had anticipated and was fairly crisp due to the wind but wouldn't hold my weight so on ever step I sank into the snow.

From the summit of Garbh Meall Mor I had views of Ben Alder, Beinn Bheoil and Loch Ericht before the final short walk and climb to the summit of Meall na Meoig. The views of Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil were now obscured by darkening clouds but the summits of Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg were still visible.

I took a few photographs from the summit but there was a cold wind blowing and with the prospect of a heavy snow shower heading my way I descended west then south-west off the hill and avoided the snow shower. Lower down the terrain was a bit wet with peat hags so I crossed over to the ATV track on the west side of the Allt Eigheach and followed it south. The ATV track was wet and boggy in places with sleepers to cross which I didn't trust as one slip and it would be into the bog. The track didn't follow the Allt Eigheach but climbed slightly and joined the 'Road to the Isles' path north-west of the small forest plantation.

I followed the vehicle track south, crossed the Allt Eigheach and returned to the start by my approach route. Near the end of the walk the afternoon train from Glasgow was heading north. These trains were the only sign of civilisation I had all day.

Meall na Meoig Corbett second ascent 868 metres

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Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre

18 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7 hours Distance - 19 kilometres. Ascent - 920 metres.

My client and I had resided overnight at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel so we were well positioned for climbing the two mountains to the south of Loch Ossian.

It was a fine still morning when we left the Hostel although the mountain tops were cloud covered and there was some low cloud in the glen. We set off along the very wet and boggy path to Peter’s Rock and climbed the ridge to Meall na Leitire Duibhe. A few weeks earlier I had been in contact with the Estate and they were happy for us to climb these mountains as long as we stayed on the ridges as it was the final week of the stag stalking season and they told me it was their busiest time of the year.

On the climb to Meall na Leitire Duibhe we heard the roar of the stags and this continued for most of the day. We never saw any of them but did spot some hinds. From Meall na Leitire Duibhe we headed to Carn Dearg in the mist and the visibility had not improved by the time we reached the summit cairn.

We descended the north-east ridge of Carn Dearg to the bealach as the cloud started to break up but this didn’t last as we were back in the cloud as we commenced the climb of Sgor Gaibhre. It was a steady ascent but once again we had no views when we reached the summit cairn so there was no point in hanging around this top. From the summit of Sgor Gaibhre we descended to Bealach nan Sgor and climbed the Munro Top Sgor Choinnich again without any views.

The descent from Sgorr Gaibhre took us over Meall Nathrach Mor and down its west ridge. As we lost height we came out of the cloud and had views of Loch Ossian. Lower down a new deer fence had been erected to the east of the forest at the east end of Loch Ossian so a slight deviation was required to the gate in the fence before we headed over to the path that led to Culra bothy. There was evidence of work being carried out at the bridge over the Uisge Labhair and a sign on a fence nearby stated that the bridge was closed to walkers. Unfortunately there aren’t many alternatives if the river is in spate.

We walked along the path to the east end of Loch Ossian, as the cloud started to lift from the surrounding mountains, and followed the track on the south side of the Loch back to the Youth Hostel, latterly in pleasant Autumn sunshine.

We had three hours to wait for the train back south but the autumn colours were interesting and it was warm enough to sit outside for a while before we headed to the Restaurant at Corrour Station House to wait for the evening train.

Carn Dearg Munro fourth ascent 941 metres
Sgor Gaibhre Munro fourth ascent 955 metres

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Leum Uilleim

17 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 510 metres.

I was booked to take a client over the two Munros on the south side of Loch Ossian which meant the day before I either had a long walk in or I had to utilise the trains that run between Glasgow and Fort William.

I opted for the latter joining the train at the remote Rannoch Station alighting at Corrour. Here there is only one occupied building, the Corrour Station House. It is used as a restaurant and bed and breakfast establishment. I was staying overnight at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel, about a mile east of the Station. The Hostel is surrounded by trees, in an idyllic location at the west end of Loch Ossian.

I arrived at the Hostel and checked in. I had a plan that if I had sufficient day light left I would attempt an ascent of the Corbett Leum Uilleim. However it was now around 4.15pm with low cloud making it rather dull but I thought I could make the summit before it became dark.

I returned to Corrour Station, crossed the railway line and headed south-west. Immediately I was confronted by a very wet and boggy area caused by All Terrain Vehicles, and it took careful footwork not to disappear into the quagmire. Once beyond this area the wet and boggy ground was a bit easier to negotiate and then I reached Leum Uilleim’s north-east ridge.

I climbed this ridge called Sron an Lagain Ghairbh which led to a more level area before the final short climb to the summit. However by the time the summit visibility was very poor and it was getting dark. Initially I couldn’t see the cairn but on moving a few metres to my right there it was in the gloom.

Once I located the cairn I headed back by my route of ascent. As daylight faded care was required but once back around 500 metres I could see the lights of Corrour Station and later the evening train heading south.

The boggy section was hard going especially beside the Station but once on the track to the Youth Hostel it was easy to follow without the use of my head torch. I reached the Hostel three hours after I had set out so I was happy that I had made the effort.

Leum Uilleim Corbett second ascent 909 metres

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Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis via The Arête

15 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken: 7.75 hours. Distance: 17.5 kilometres. Ascent: 1490 metres.

I had been contacted a few weeks earlier by Jodi asking if I would be available to take her boyfriend and herself up Ben Nevis as a birthday present for him. She didn’t want to take the mountain track to the summit so we agreed to try the Carn Mor Dearg arête.

I met Jodi and her boyfriend David, in Fort William where we discussed the plans for the day, before setting off for the North Face Car Park at Torlundy, north of Fort William. We headed off from the Car Park and followed the path south-west to the Allt a’Mhuilinn before taking another path up the side of the stream. It was a cool morning with some low cloud in the glens.

Higher up we left the path and climbed through some heather and boggy ground onto the north-west ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach, a Munro Top, where we followed a path to the bealach north of its summit. It was now a pleasant sunny day with cloud rolling over and obscuring the arête. Everything to the south was covered in a cloud inversion with Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis being the barrier between the sunny and clear north and west.

We climbed Carn Dearg Meadhonach before descending slightly and ascending Carn Mor Dearg, Jodi and David’s first Munro. Here we had good views of Ben Nevis and the climbing areas of the North face, as well as the sun drenched cloud to the south.

After taking in the views we headed for the arête and entered the rolling cloud. This was Jodi’s and David’s first experience of scrambling and they coped well and we managed to stay on the highest parts of the arête.

The arête took around ninety minutes to traverse before we reached the final ascent of Ben Nevis. This involved clambering over some large and rough rocks before reaching the summit plateau of Ben Nevis. Here it was fairly busy with walkers having ascended by the mountain path now partaking of their lunch in the sun. The conditions were ideal on the summit with virtually no wind, an unusual experience on Britain's highest mountain.

We climbed to the summit trig point before having lunch and a look round the summit including a view down the North Face. We remained at the summit for some time enjoying the views and the weather before setting off down the mountain path to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, commonly known as the ‘Half-Way Lochan’.

At Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe a new path took us to its north end before it came to an end. From here we descended some heather and bog, crossed the Allt a’Mhuilinn and followed the path we used in the morning back to the North Face Car Park.

Jodi and David were very lucky to have such ideal weather to climb Ben Nevis especially in October and I think they enjoyed the experience despite it being their first adventure onto the high mountains of Scotland. Fortunately they were fit which made things a lot easier for them and me.

previous ascent

Carn Mor Dearg Munro eighth ascent 1220 metres
Ben Nevis Munro twelfth ascent 1344 metres

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Ring of Steall

10 September 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken: 9.5 hours. Distance: 13 kilometres. Ascent: 1620 metres.

I met my clients at the Scottish Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis and we drove to the car park at Achriabhach where we left a car and continued in the other vehicle to the car park at the head of Glen Nevis.

We walked through the Nevis Gorge, where tragically a young lass lost her life recently in a fall. Extreme care is required here especially when the rocks are wet and slippery. Once beyond the gorge we headed for the Steall Bridge, which consists of three wires. The crossing by the bridge was optional as the Water of Nevis was quite low, so Sue used the protruding stones to cross the river while the rest of us used the bridge.

We then headed to below the Steall Waterfall where the crossing of the Allt Coire a'Mhail was difficult as the boulders were very slippery with slime. The next problem was crossing a wet and boggy section of ground. Once beyond the bog the ascent of the north ridge of An Gearanach commenced. It was a steady climb on a good path but was war work as it was a fine day. We eventually reached the summit where there was a bit of a breeze with views of the Mamores, Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag and the Grey Corries.

From An Gearanach we followed a narrow and in places rocky ridge to the Munro Top, An Garbhanach and then onto the second Munro of the day Stob Coire a'Chairn with views of the Glencoe mountains. The next Munro on the ridge was Am Bodach which involved another fairly steep climb on a path that was a bit worn with some loose rocks. There were two cairns marking the summit so we visited both as the easterly one gave a better view.

We descended from Am Bodach and were now midway round the Ring of Steall. The walk continued over the Munro Tops Sgurr an Iubhair and Stob Coire a'Mhail before reaching the Devil's Ridge. This ridge narrowed significantly and there was some rocks to scramble across but over the years paths below the rocks on either side have been created making things easier. We opted for the easterly bypass and thereafter it was a steady pull onto the summit of the final Munro of the day, Sgurr a'Mhaim.

The descent from Sgurr a'Mhaim involved following a path down its north-west ridge, initially over scree but later on it was just an eroded walker's path. We eventually reached the car park at Achriabhach and the short drive to the head of Glen Nevis to retrieve the other car.

previous ascent

An Gearanach Munro fifth ascent 982 metres
Stob Coire a'Chairn Munro fifth ascent 981 metres
Am Bodach Munro fifth ascent 1032 metres
Sgurr a'Mhaim Munro fifth ascent 1099 metres

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Ben Alder Group

11 - 13 August 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day One - 3 hours.
Day Two - 11 hours.
Day Three - 3 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 15 kilometres.
Day Two - 25 kilometres.
Day Three: 15 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 150 metres.
Day Two - 2020 metres.
Day Three - 60 metres.

The walk commenced in Dalwhinnie, just south of the railway station, where we crossed the railway line and set off for the long walk down the west shore of Loch Ericht eventually reaching Ben Alder Lodge. Here the track left the shores of Loch Ericht and headed towards Loch Pattack.

Before reaching Loch Pattack we left the vehicle track and followed a path to Culra Bothy. It is quite possible to cycle this route, either using the route described above or continuing on the vehicle track to Loch Pattack and then onto Culra Bothy. However my client had decided that she wished to walk in and out.

The bothy wasn't busy and my client found a room to herself while I camped nearby and used the bothy to cook in to get away from the midges.

The next morning the mountain tops were cloud covered and it was windy. We set off from the bothy, passed the building at Culra which was under renovation, and climbed onto the north-east ridge of Carn Dearg and to its summit. The cloud had cleared the tops by this time so we had some reasonable views.

The route to the next Munro took us east to Diollaid a' Chairn with Loch an Sgoir below us. This was followed by a climb onto the plateau of Geal-charn by a narrowing ridge on the north side of a waterfall. The actual summit of Geal-charn is not visible until you are almost at the cairn and from experience it is difficult to locate in bad weather.

From Geal-charn we descended to the bealach with Aonach Beag which was followed by a relatively easy climb to its summit. The descent to the Aonach Beag/Beinn Eibhinn bealach was a bit steeper as was the path on the ascent to Beinn Eibhinn which had some loose stones to be aware of.

We reached the summit of Beinn Eibhinn just over four hours after we set off from Culra Bothy so it was decided that we should continue and climb Ben Alder as well, which was actually on the cards for the next day.

The descent from Beinn Eibhinn was pathless as we cut across to the stream coming out of Coire a'Charra Bhig and down to the Uisge Labhair. On this descent there were lots of frogs and a couple of lizards. We also spotted deer which soon disappeared.

From the Uisge Labhair the ascent of Ben Alder commenced over some rough and heathery ground crossing the path from Bealach Dubh to Ben Alder Cottage and continuing uphill as it started to rain and the mountain was engulfed by cloud.

We headed for the east face of Ben Alder and used it to reach the summit cairn and trig point in mist and rain. There was no point in remaining at the summit so we navigated round the south side of Ben Alder and descended to the Bealach Breabag as the rain ceased and the cloud started to break up. However it was only a short respite as the rain and low cloud returned as we ascended Beinn Bheoil where it was wet and misty.

On the descent of the north ridge of Beinn Bheoil the rain ceased and the low cloud started to break up. This allowed us to see a herd of stags in front of us (see photo). We soon reached the path from Culra to the Bealach Beithe and followed it back to Culra Bothy.

The following day we returned to Dalwhinnie by the route we had used two days before. The mountain tops were covered in cloud but it was dry.

previous ascent of Carn Dearg, Geal-charn, Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil

Carn Dearg Munro fifth ascent 1034 metres
Geal-charn Munro fifth ascent 1132 metres
Aonach Beag Munro fourth ascent 1116 metres
Beinn Eibhinn Munro fourth ascent 1102 metres
Ben Alder Munro fifth ascent 1148 metres
Beinn Bheoil Munro sixth ascent 1019 metres

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Ben Nevis via The Arête

28 July 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1490 metres.

I met my clients, Mark and Emma, at the Visitor Centre Car Park in Glen Nevis where there is now a Pay and Display machine, although at the moment it appears voluntary whether or not you pay.

We left a car there and drove round to the North Face Car Park at Torlundy, north of Fort William. From this parking area we walked through the forest to the Allt a'Mhuilinn and followed it out onto the open hillside. It was very humid in the forest but once out on the open it started to rain which was rather refreshing.

Higher up we left the path and commenced the climb of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. The rain had stopped and there was lots of low cloud with occasional breaks to give some atmospheric views of the North Face of Ben Nevis.

We reached the summit of Carn Dearg Meadhonach followed by a short descent before the final climb to Mark and Emma's first Munro, Carn Mor Dearg.

The next section of the walk was the most difficult of the day as we descended to the arête. However my clients had no problems on this narrow ridge which took about 75 minutes to cross. It was mainly cloudy but we did get the occasional view into Coire Leis. This was followed by a steep and rocky ascent to the summit plateau of Ben Nevis where there were lots of people sitting and walking about in the cloud despite the fact that it was a week day. This was the first time we had seen anyone on the mountains, other than a couple who were lower down on Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

We had lunch on the summit before Mark and Emma had a walk round looking at the small shelter and the remains of the observatory. Unfortunately the summit was a mess of litter, including the usual banana skins and even a whole banana so no wonder the local gull was going about. We also spotted a snow bunting searching between the rocks.

After around three quarters of an hour on the summit we set off down the mountain path passing numerous walkers headed for the summit. Once below 550 metres the cloud broke and we had views into Glen Nevis.

The path along the east side of Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe was under repair but I had already decided that we would continue down the mountain path so that my clients could have a view of the Glen Nevis camp site where they had stayed overnight. We eventually reached the Visitor Centre Car Park, and despite the mainly cloudy day, Mark and Emma appeared to enjoy their visit. Their next challenge was the drive home to England that evening.

previous ascent of Carn Mor Dearg

previous ascent of Ben Nevis

Carn Mor Dearg Munro seventh ascent 1220 metres
Ben Nevis Munro eleventh ascent 1344 metres

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Laggan Munros

23 June 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 25 kilometres. Ascent - 1275 metres.

It was an early start from the lay-by on the A86 Newtonmore to Spean Bridge Road just west of the west end of Loch Laggan where a bridge crosses the River Spean. I crossed this bridge and walked along Estate roads to Lochan na h-Earba. It was dry but the mountains were shrouded in cloud.

From this lochan I followed the path along the east side of the Allt Coire Pitridh. This path has recently been upgraded as far as the junction of streams. I crossed the east most stream and continued along the path which was now rather wet and bogy in places. Further on, in low cloud, I commenced the ascent onto the east ridge of Beinn a'Chlachair. This route was pathless and involved crossing deep heather as well as going round some peat hags. I came across what I thought was a dead deer but the hind, which was obviously resting, became aware of my presence and ran off rather sharply. Unfortunately I missed a photo opportunity as I didn't think it was alive.

This livened up my climb onto the ridge which is rather stony in places but I eventually reached the summit, took a few bearings and headed back along the east ridge. At the end of the ridge a steep descent took me towards the path that leads from Lochan na h-Earba to Loch Pattack.

On approaching this stalker's path I came out of the cloud and had a view of Loch a'Bhealaich Leamhain and east to Lochs Pattack and Ericht where I had been the previous week. Now that I was out of the cloud and sheltered from the cold wind I stopped for a snack before continuing the descent to the stalker's path. Here I headed west for a short distance before using another stalker's path that took me to the bealach between Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh.

I climbed Geal Charn engulfed by low cloud and on my return I disturbed a family of seven ptarmigan, twice.

Once back at the bealach I climbed Creag Pitridh which just had a thin blanket of cloud covering the summit although it was threatening to rain. From the summit of Creag Pitridh I descended to the upgraded track beside the Allt Coire Pitridh and returned to the start. Unfortunately it rained for the last hour.

On returning to the lay by there were a further five vehicles parked there but I only met one couple ascending Creag Pitridh from the Allt Coire Pitridh.

Beinn a'Chlachair Munro fourth ascent 1087 metres
Geal Charn Munro fourth ascent 1049 metres
Creag Pitridh Munro fourth ascent 924 metres

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Ben Alder weekend

16 - 18 June 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day One - 2 hours.
Day Two - 11.75 hours.
Day Three - 2 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 15 kilometres.
Day Two - 24 kilometres.
Day Three - 15.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 150 metres.
Day Two - 1890 metres.
Day Three - 100 metres.

On the Friday night I met Frances and Noreen in Dalwhinnie and we parked our cars at the south end of the village as there was a route that I wanted to try that avoided the level crossing further north. We had to don our midge nets as the little beasties were out and biting.

Once organised we used the bridge under the railway line and headed onto the vehicle track. A lot easier than using the level crossing with its two gates to go through. The cycle down the side of Loch Ericht was fairly pleasant but if we stopped for a breather the midges would attack. At inclines we tended to walk as it gave us a break from cycling although Noreen tried to keep going, well on the initial stages anyway.

At Ben Alder Lodge we headed along the vehicle track towards Loch Pattack but prior to reaching the Loch we cut across a peaty path, which had been repaired since my last visit, towards Culra. Here on the level plains there were hundreds of deer feeding. They soon spotted our presence and headed for higher ground.

We eventually reached Culra bothy after crossing a narrow unstable footbridge. The bothy was fairly quiet although other walkers arrived later that evening. We had taken our tents so we pitched them further upstream before retiring for the night. This was Noreen's first experience of rough camping so there was a lot of giggling coming from the ladies' tent before I fell asleep.

Frances was up early on the Saturday morning and at that time it was dry, although cloudy. Once breakfast was over we crossed the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe to the path on the opposite side of the stream and followed this path as it climbed towards Bealach Beithe. On reaching the Allt a'Bhealaich Bheithe we crossed this stream and some heathery and peaty ground to the Long Leaches.

It was raining fairly heavily by this time and it was rather windy as we climbed the Long Leaches. The ridge was reasonably easy lower down but a bit more awkward higher up where it narrowed. The rock was a bit wet and slippery in places so care was needed. The cloud base, which had been above the summit, now engulfed us and once we reached the top of the ridge we headed to the small knoll and then towards the summit of Ben Alder. It was now very wet and windy with some hail to add to our misery but occasionally the cloud broke to give some brief views of our route.

The summit trig point was reached but it was too cold and windy to hang about so we headed along the top of the corrie so find some shelter as Frances and Noreen needed something to eat. The shelter I found wasn't much better than at the summit but at least they managed something to eat in the rain, wind and hail.

After our brief stop we continued to the end of the ridge before heading south, to avoid the rock face, and descended to the Bealach Breabag which was in cloud. This was followed by an ascent of the Munro Top Sron Coire na h-Iolaire. This summit is slightly off the direct route to Beinn Bheoil so we returned to the main ridge, lost some height for a bealach, before the final climb to the summit of Beinn Bheoil, which was in cloud and windy.

We continued over the summit of Beinn Bheoil and descended its south ridge as the cloud started to break up and we again had some views. We found some shelter from the wind and took another refreshment break and contemplated a plan for the afternoon, now that the weather appeared to be improving.

We continued along Beinn Bheoil's south ridge and descended to the path we used earlier that day which led us back to near Culra bothy. From here we walked up the path towards Bealach Dubh and then ascended the east ridge of Sgor Iutharn, known as the Lancet Edge. This ridge is well named. It is fairly steep and higher up becomes rather narrow and involved some careful scrambling before we reached the Munro Top.

A gradual descent of the west ridge of Sgor Iutharn took us to a col before a steeper climb onto the summit plateau of Geal-charn and an easy walk on short grasses to the summit cairn. I spotted two walkers on nearby Aonach Beag and these were the only walkers we saw all day.

The descent from Geal-charn took us to the ridge to the north of the waterfall flowing into Loch an Sgoir and a steep descent to another col before a climb to out third Munro Top of the day, Diollaid a'Chairn. A short descent and an easy climb took us to the summit of our final Munro, Carn Dearg.

The weather was starting to deteriorate in the west so we made a quick descent down to Culra bothy and a well earned rest. The bothy was a lot busier now but we managed to find space to cook our evening meal and to chat to some of the occupants. Thereafter it was time to retire to our tents in the rain.

On the Sunday morning we were again up fairly early and after breakfast we packed our gear and commenced the cycle back to Dalwhinnie. The cloud was lowering on the mountains so the rain wasn't far away. Frances and Noreen thought that the vehicle track back to Loch Pattack and then onto Loch Ericht would be better than the peaty path we used coming across to Culra but I am not so sure. However it did let me visit Loch Pattack, the shores of which I hadn't visited before and we also spotted a Dunlin (see photograph).

The cycle back to Dalwhinnie was uneventful and good progress was made especially on the downhill sections. and we managed to stay dry. Fortunately there was a slight breeze when we arrived back at our vehicles and that kept the midges away.

Ben Alder Munro fourth ascent 1148 metres
Beinn Bheoil Munro fifth ascent 1019 metres
Geal-charn Munro fourth ascent 1132 metres
Carn Dearg Munro fourth ascent 1034 metres

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Ben Nevis by Mountain Path

3 June 2006

Time taken - 8.75 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 1335 metres.

My clients for this ascent of Ben Nevis were from the Cheshire area and were doing their own 'Three Peaks' Challenge, to climb the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales. They had already climbed Scafell in England and Snowdon in Wales so their final challenge was the ascent of Scotland's and the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

We met outside the Ben Nevis Inn and headed up the mountain path along with hundreds of other walkers including those doing a sponsored ascent of 'The Ben' for the Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The mountain was shrouded in low cloud and once above 500 metres visibility was poor. We just followed the crowds up the mountain path. Those climbing the mountain all appeared to be in good spirits despite the poor weather.

Near the summit we reached the snow line and the path to the top had been marked out for the sponsored walkers to prevent them going too close to the cliffs. We eventually reached the summit where numerous walkers were taking photographs of the cloud covered summit and having a snack. We did likewise before commencing the descent.

We returned by the mountain path and once around the 1000 metre mark the cloud broke and we had views down into Glen Nevis and out over Fort William. During the descent we met numerous walkers who were involved in a 'Three Peaks Challenge' ascending the mountain, some of whom were finding it hard going.

Eventually we reached the car park at the Ben Nevis Inn and despite the poor weather my lady clients appeared to have enjoyed the experience, although one found it fairly hard going.

previous ascent

Ben Nevis Munro tenth ascent 1344 metres

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Mamores

7 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1170 metres.

It was damp, cold and windy when my client and I set off from Achriabhach in Glen Nevis and followed the path up the east side of the Allt Coire a'Mhusgain. The track was icy in places and the surrounding mountains were covered in cloud and snow.

Once we reached the snow level a few streams required crossing but they were full of drifting snow and the path up to the bealach was difficult to follow as it was hidden under the snow.

We eventually reached the ridge, where there was some drifting snow and cornices with poor visibility, and commenced the climb by the east ridge of Stob Ban reaching the summit in light drizzle and no views.

I used the edge of the corniced ridge of the corrie as a navigation tool as we headed west to the South-East Top of Mullach nan Coirean and onto its summit which involved a steady climb through some soft snow. From this summit we descended its North-East Ridge which was narrow at the start and was covered in deep drifting snow. Lower down the ridge was broader and the drizzle became heavier as we emerged from the cloud with views across to the cloud and snow covered Ben Nevis.

Once below the snow line, near to a deer fence, the ground was hard and in places slippery before we reached the style. Once across the style the path through the forest was both icy and boggy so care was required but deeper into the forest it wasn't too bad. However where it joined the vehicle track there has been a minor landslide so a wee bit of scrambling is required to reach the track.

The last section of the walk was along the track and down a maintained path back to the car park at Achriabhach.

previous ascent

Stob Ban Munro fifth ascent 999 metres
Mullach nan Coirean Munro fifth ascent 939 metres

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Binnein Mor

6 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.75 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1015 metres.

The start of this walk was Mamore Lodge just above Kinlochleven where a small fee is charged for parking. From here we walked east along a vehicle track to just before it started to descend to Loch Eilde Mor. It was a superb winter's morning with snow higher up, bright sunshine and very clear air which gave great views and good photographic opportunities.

We left the track and followed a path, that is a bit eroded in places, to below the south ridge of Sgurr Eilde Beag, where the deeper snow started. I tried to follow the zig zag path, that climbs this ridge, but lost it in places due to the deep snow. It was hard work making a path through the snow and two groups behind started to catch up with us but later dropped back obviously happy for me to break trail.

It was like being in the Alps as we were surrounded by snow clad mountains and the sun was shinning.

We stopped for a short break at the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor, a Munro Top. The group of two caught up with us but they also decided to take a break so once we started off up the South Top of Binnein Mor I was again breaking trail although the snow wasn't as deep here as the ridge had been wind swept.

From the South Top there is a ridge leading to the summit of Binnein Mor. The ridge had sections of contorted snowdrifts and some cornices so care was needed as the snow's top surface broke away sliding down the hillside. However with care we made it across the ridge and to the final ascent of Binnein Mor. A few minutes later we were joined on the summit by a party of three, it had been four but one decided not to come to the Tops, and they were grateful for the trail breaking.

We returned along the ridge to the South Top passing the other two walkers we had met earlier. The descent was by the upward route but it was disappointing to leave the sunny and snow covered tops and head back to the car but it had been a great day despite the hard work.

Binnein Mor Munro fourth ascent 1130 metres

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Ben Nevis

8 October 2005

photos taken on walk

I met my two clients, Ricky and Dave, at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis. They had driven up from Liverpool the previous day solely with the intention of climbing Ben Nevis.

On my arrival at the Visitor Centre Car Park I noted that the footbridge over the River Nevis was closed for repairs so we drove a further kilometre up the Glen to the Youth Hostel where there is another bridge over the river, which had recently been repaired.

Once across the bridge the path climbed steeply to join the path from the Visitor Centre. It was dry and the initial steep climb warmed us up. The overnight heavy rain had dispersed and the previous day's gales had subsided. However it wasn't long before we encountered the first rain shower of the day and they became more frequent as the morning progressed. In saying that my clients were fortunate as the forecast was for the gale force winds to return the following day.

There were a few other early morning walkers out on the mountain path including a group of three, two of whom were carrying guitars to play at the summit, although the specific reason for that was unknown to us at this time.

On approaching Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe we could see above us a large group of walkers slowly making their way up the mountain path so we took a break in the hope that the gap between us would open up. We put on waterproof jackets as the showers were by now more frequent before continuing up the path.

The gap between us and the group in front had not increased as they had also stopped to put on waterproof gear. They maybe weren't hill fit but at least they had the proper equipment, which I would expect if the Mountain Rescue Team was involved. We later learned that there were 110 of them and they were climbing The Ben for charity. They were been chaperoned by around eight Mountain Rescue Team members and being kept in close formation obviously for safety reasons. It appears from a 'Google' search that this event was promoted by an outdoor pursuits company and that as well as a charity event it was a business venture.

We caught up with this group but they were difficult to overtake as they didn't have any hill etiquette and blocked the path, which is reasonably wide. The front walkers had been stopped again and as we passed them one lady was sitting on the ground smoking. I thought she would have needed all the lung capacity possible to climb to the summit.

Higher up the path it was a less busy but by this time we couldn't see very far as we were engulfed in cloud. The rain showers turned to snow and one member of a group that was descending from the summit was wearing shorts and his legs were encased in snow. He hadn't been the first we had seen in shorts and we also spotted several in wet jeans. They must all have been regretting these decisions as there was a cold wind blowing higher up giving a wind chill factor.

Dave and Ricky had made good progress uphill although one of them was beginning to flag as we got neared the summit. We stopped and had a look at Tower and Gardyloo Gully although we couldn't see very much but it did give them an idea of the dangers of The Ben for walkers in poor visibility.

We then crossed over to the cairn, where there are now so many memorials that the place now looks like a dumping ground. The trig point was reached where photos were taken before some shelter was found, behind a wall of the old hotel/observatory, for some lunch.

Within the confines of these walls were the three men who passed us earlier. Two of them were now dressed in white shirts, bow ties, dress jackets and waterproof trousers and were playing their guitars and singing. They even had a stand for their sheet music. It was ascertained that they were playing for charity in connection with supporting the children of Nepal in 2006. In all my years hill walking this was a first for me. A very unusual sight. However their hands were freezing as it was very cold on the summit so I don't know how long they could keep the guitar playing going.

The descent was by the upward route and there were lots of people still heading uphill. We came across the large group and once again they were difficult to pass as they walked 2-3 abreast and weren't prepared to give way to anyone else. However it was a surprise that most of them had made it so high. In fact we learned that only five had dropped out.

The snow showers turned back to rain as we descended but the rain showers were more frequent and the cloud was lower. However this did not deter ill equipped walkers from heading uphill. One attractive young lady, who appeared to be on her own, was smartly dressed in matching scarf and hat, dress jeans, jumper and a pair of mauve coloured designer boots. She had no waterproofs and was well dressed for a walk in the park in a winter's day but definitely not for climbing Ben Nevis. Another lady, who told us she was from Brazil, asked us how long it would take her to get to the summit. She was still around two hours away. She was wearing waterproofs but there was no evidence of a map and compass.

We also came across walkers who were climbing The Ben for Kidney Research but at least they were walking at their own pace and weren't blocking the path. A Royal Navy Rescue helicopter was later seen in the area of the Red Burn but it appeared that the crew were on a training mission as they hovered around before heading off. Mountain Rescue Team Members were positioned at different points on the descent waiting for the large group to descend. Some would have a few hours to wait.

On our return to the River Nevis we were offered a dram by a member of the Kidney Research Team. Dave accepted this offer and it cheered him up as his knees were sore on the last section of the descent. Other members were asking if we had made the summit and offering congratulations despite being advised that we were not part of their Team.

Dave and Ricky were intending celebrating their achievement in Fort William that evening before returning to Liverpool the following morning. I don't think they will be the only ones as I am sure the charity walkers will be doing likewise.

Despite the publicity and warnings it appears that ill-clad individuals are still intent on climbing Britain's highest mountain. I just hope they all made it down safely.

previous ascent

Ben Nevis Munro ninth ascent 1344 metres

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Mamores and Aonachs Weekend

30 September - 2 October 2005

photos taken on walk

The forecast for the weekend wasn't good with wet and windy weather and snow on the higher tops predicted so it didn't look very good for my clients, several of whom were new to my business although experienced trekkers.

I was staying the weekend at the Bunkhouse at Station Lodge, Tulloch, where a lady, working in Aberdeen, joined me and together we set off on this Friday morning to Mamore Lodge, Kinlochleven to meet up with two regular clients. At Mamore Lodge a parking fee of £3 is charged but ask for a receipt as I was subsequently requested to pay a second time, but fortunately I had obtained a receipt.

On the arrival of my other clients we set off along a track in wet and windy weather. A new deer fence has been erected in this area with wicket gates in appropriate places. After about two kilometres we reached the path that took us below Sgor Eilde Beag. The path was muddy in places with some sections like a small stream.

The burns coming off the hillside were in spate. The first stream we came to wasn't too difficult to cross but the second one was a bit more awkward with rushing water covering the boulders normally used to assist a crossing. We subsequently negotiated this stream and followed the path uphill for a short section before heading over to Coire an Lochain. Fortunately the wind and rain were on our backs and on reaching the loch we were a bit more sheltered and were able to take a short refreshment break.

The path headed north and descended for around 100 metres before we had another swollen stream to cross. Once this was forded we climbed towards the lochan just below the bealach between Binnein Mor and Binnein Beag where the wind was very strong. From here we only had 200 metres of climbing left to gain the summit of Binnein Beag which should have taken around 25 minutes.

The climbing to the summit developed into a real problem, in particular with one of my clients. We initially tried to climb on the lee side of the hill but it was a bit slippery in the wet vegetation and she was very unhappy in this location so we headed onto the rocky ridge where we were battered by the wind. Walking upright was virtually impossible so we had to keep as low as possible and during the prolonged gusts we were forced to lie down. Two of the ladies made it onto the summit and were returning as the third lady and I approached the final short climb but eventually we reached the summit, which must have taken well over an hour.

The descent was also troublesome. Two ladies managed the descent with only a few problems to overcome but the third lady had great difficulty in descending in the wind as she was unable to stay upright and spent a lot of time on her rear. However after some considerable time we returned to the lochan where the other two ladies were sheltering and were by now a bit cold.

The plan had been to continue to Binnein Mor but I had already ruled this out due to the wind and the narrow ridge and in any case we were well behind on the time schedule due to the adverse conditions so we commenced the return to Mamore Lodge by the ascent route.

The streams were slightly lower by this time but the head wind on the path at the side of Sgor Eilde Beag slowed us down a bit. We did get a glimpse of the sun over Loch Leven just before we were hit by the next squally shower.

Everyone was glad to get back to the car park and I was advised by the lady with all the problems that it had been her worse ever hill walk. However she has already booked another Munro bagging expedition as long as it isn't too windy.

The next day I was doing the Aonachs. I had been joined at Station Lodge by two other regular clients and two new clients. I was in safe hands as two of my clients were doctors. However during the weekend I was warned not to mention the fact that one of these ladies was once "Miss Braemar", so I wont.

We set off from the car park at the head of Glen Nevis and walked through the Nevis Gorge with the water rushing between the large boulders. The waterfall at the meadows was also impressive due to the volume of water. Path improvements have commenced here as it is very muddy at times, as was the case today, with numerous paths being created to avoid the muddy sections.

The path was followed to the Steall ruin then another path up the right hand side of a stream which was also in spate so the plan to cross this stream was abandoned until we were higher up. We were fairly high before a suitable point was found to ford the stream and even then it meant wet feet for some.

It was necessary thereafter to traverse the side of the mountain to join the planned route of ascent which subsequently led us onto the south-west ridge of Aonach Beag and a steady walk to its summit.

It was a windy day with heavy squally showers and we were in the cloud. There was no point in hanging about at the summit so we headed to the bealach with Aonach Mor. After a short steep descent we found a reasonably sheltered area for some lunch and were fortunate that the rain stayed off till we had eaten.

The path to the summit of Aonach Mor was thereafter followed and again we did not linger at the cairn as it started to snow so we headed along the west ridge of Aonach Mor to pick up a small spur. The descent of this spur was rather steep with lots of loose stones so care and patience was needed on this descent which eventually took us to the bealach with Carn Mor Dearg and out of the cloud.

The path, very wet and boggy in sections, was followed down the side of the Allt Coire Giubhsachan to the Steall ruin and the outward route was followed back to the start.

The final day we were joined by another of my regular clients and I now had two doctors and a nursing sister to care for my needs. It was wet when we set off from Achriabhach in Glen Nevis and climbed up through the forest and followed a path up the side of a stream. The path was steep and overgrown in places and it was warm in the forest. Although this path was obviously used there may be another route through the forest. I will have to return sometime and see if that is the case.

At the end of the forest we crossed a style and followed a path up the side of a deer fence. The path was muddy in places and as we gained height it started to rain, the wind picked up and we entered the cloud base.

Higher up we left the fence and continued up the ridge which started to narrow before we reached the summit cairn of Mullach nan Coirean where it was wet and windy. We continued round the corrie and the next ascent was the South-East Top of Mullach nan Coirean before heading out to Stob Ban. Here we had a steep ascent through rocks before reaching its summit.

The descent involved going south-west for a few metres before finding a break in the rocks and descending the narrower and rocky east ridge. This led to a more grassy area before reaching the bealach with Sgurr an Iubhair. From here we followed the stalkers path down the side of the Allt Coire Mhusagain back to the start as the cloud lifted to almost being clear of Stob Ban's summit.

This was the end of 3 days walking in wind and rain. In fact this was my tenth day out of eleven that I had encountered wind and rain. On the eleventh it had just been a cold wind so things aren't looking too good for the winter months ahead.

previous ascent Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor

Binnein Beag Munro fourth ascent 943 metres
Aonach Beag Munro sixth ascent 1234 metres
Aonach Mor Munro seventh ascent 1221 metres
Mullach nan Coirean Munro fourth ascent 939 metres
Stob Ban Munro fourth ascent 999 metres

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The Fara

22 September 2005

photos taken on walk

On the way south from Inverness we stopped off at Dalwhinnie to climb this Corbett. We parked beside the railway crossing where once gain we had to put on waterproofs as it was raining.

Small wicket type gates assist crossing the track to the west side of the railway where workmen were putting the finishing touches to a replacement dam.

Initially the walk took us down the north-west shore of Loch Ericht passed the Estate Office with its electrically controlled gates and turret, totally out of character with its location, as are the other buildings on this side of the Loch.

Further down the track we passed a second similar building before climbing steeply up through a fire break in the forest. The vegetation was knee high at the start and very wet but higher up it became shorter and the walking became easier.

The rain did go off and it was fairly humid walking up this gap in the forest but on reaching the edge of the forest it was cooler with a breeze which made walking more pleasant. However this was short livid as the wind picked up and it started to rain again.

The route follows old fence posts across some wet and boggy ground and as we climbed we disturbed around eight grouse. Higher up the fence posts were replaced by an old stane dyke, still standing after many years. At the end of this dyke, after a short steep climb, was the large summit cairn.

As was the case with several walks I have done recently there was no view and as it was wet and windy we turned about and retraced our steps back to Loch Ericht and the start.

The Fara Corbett second ascent 911 metres

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Grey Corries

5 - 7 September 2005

photos taken on walk

I was booked for three days to take clients to the Grey Corries and as it was the stag stalking season I contacted the gamekeeper but he suggested to me that I return after 20 October, the end of the season for shooting stags. He also told me that I needed to be reasonable. I pointed out to him that we both had to be reasonable. It was obvious that despite the fact that I could be flexible on my plan to bag the Munros he didn't want walkers on the hills disturbing the deer. However the Land Reform (Scotland) Act allows for reasonable access and I had been prepared to be reasonable but I am afraid the gamekepper wasn't.

We set off from Station Lodge, Tulloch, where we were staying, for the short drive to Corriechoille in Glean Spean. I was aware from previous visits that we were permitted to drive south for around 2km to the edge of the forest and park there, which is what we did.

The walk commenced with a stroll through the forest which is presently being felled. Here we passed the gamekeeper as his vehicle was held up by a lorry loading timber. He later passed us but we ignored each other as I did not want a confrontation and in any case we were on a 'Right of Way'. Just after leaving the forest we observed the stalker heading off uphill on his quad vehicle, which was ideal as that was the area we were proposing to visit the following day.

We continued along the track of the Lairig Leacach, beyond the watershed to reach the bothy before crossing the Allt a'Chuil Choirean. Once on the other side of the stream we commenced the climb of Stob Ban. It was a steady climb but reasonably easy as there was a path to follow.

The summit views from Stob Ban were a bit hazy but it was dry and reasonably warm. We had lunch before commencing the descent back to the bothy. During the descent we were pestered by flies.

On reaching the bothy we just retraced our steps back along the Lairig Leacach to the car. The gamekeeper was obviously still out stalking but we never spotted any deer all day.

The following day we returned to the same starting point and again walked through the forest. It was misty and humid and there was no sign of the gamekeeper this morning.

Once beyond the forest we headed uphill to the north of Ruigh na Gualainn. It was initially a steep climb and was fairly tough in the humid conditions. Stopping wasn't an option as the midges were out in their thousands.

Higher up we changed direction and headed for the Munro Top, Stob Coire Gaibhre. Here the low cloud started to break up and with a slight breeze the midges disappeared. From this Munro Top we had good views of the Grey Corries and of the day's route.

A slight descent followed before the easy climb to the 1121 point. Here the ridge becomes narrow and rocky but any difficulties were avoided by using the path. Once this rocky section was over we reached the first of today's two Munros, Stob Choire Claurigh. Here we changed direction and headed west over the Munro Tops, Stob a'Choire Leith, Stob Coire Cath na Sine and Caisteal before reaching the final Munro Stob Coire an Laoigh. This route took us over and along some interesting rock formations.

On leaving Stob Coire an Laoigh we headed over another Munro Top, Stob Coire Easain. Here we had views of tomorrow's Munro Sgurr Choinnich Mor. Although it was close it would probably have added another couple of hours to what was already a long day.

The final Munro Top Beinn na Socaich was climbed before we commenced the long descent to the Allt Choimhlidh. Lower down the grass was fairly long slowing progress and the final drop to the stream is quite steep. Fortunately the stream was low and easy to cross as the nearby dam has a large drop on one side and it would be unwise to walk across it.

We then followed a track through the forest before using the dismantled tramway to take us back to the start. This route was very boggy in places with lots of ups and downs where the bridges had been demolished and we were all pleased to reach the car and the end of the second day in the Grey Corries.

The final day involved heading for Fort William and driving up Glen Nevis to the top car park. The weather had changed and it was cloudy with rain threatening when we set off in waterproofs.

We walked through the gorge to a meadow area. The Steall waterfall was more impressive on this occasion as more water was shooting over the top. From the meadow we followed the Water of Nevis passed the Steall ruin and gradually climbed east. Here we spotted an Eagle which was hovering around Sgurr a'Bhuic.

We later spotted a lone female who appeared to be having a bit of difficulty finding the correct path going eastwards as there were numerous tracks. However we needed to start climbing up towards Sgurr Choinnich Beag and lost sight of this walker.

A steady climb took us to the ridge just below Sgurr Choinnich Beag. Here the rain, which had been showery, became more persistent and the wind picked up. We had views of the cloud shrouded Aonachs and Grey Corries. It was a steady plod to the summit of this Munro Top before descending to a bealach.

From the bealach we commenced the final climb to the summit of Sgurr Choinnich Mor where it was very windy but with no views. We had been fortunate as the wind and rain had been on our backs so the initial descent from the Munro was straight into the weather. On returning to the bealach the rain had stopped for a while so we sought shelter for some food.

After lunch we traversed below Sgurr Choinnich Beag and headed downhill into Glen Nevis where again we were annoyed by the midges and I was forced to wear my midge net.

The return down Glen Nevis was uneventful other than those without a midge net having a smile at my head gear.

previous ascent of Stob Ban

Stob Ban Munro fifth ascent 977 metres
Stob Choire Claurigh Munro fourth ascent 1177 metres
Stob Coire an Laoigh Munro fourth ascent 1116 metres
Sgurr Choinnich Mor Munro fourth ascent 1094 metres

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Carn Mor Dearg Arête and The Ben

4 September 2005

photos taken on walk

At short notice I took a booking from Dr Mike Baird and his son Jonathan, who wanted to climb Ben Nevis but not by the tourist route. After a few e-mails the Carn Mor Dearg arête route was decided upon and arrangements made to meet up at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis.

We met as arranged and set off up the mountain path along with several other early morning walkers. A steady climb took us to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, commonly known as the half way lochan. However this is a misconception as it is barely a quarter of the way up the mountain path. The section of path above the lochan has recently been repaired so walking on this section was a lot easier than on previous visits.

From the lochan we left the mountain path and headed over towards the North Face of Ben Nevis where we had some good views of the climbing areas. It was clear and sunny albeit a bit hazy, but one of the better days to be climbing Ben Nevis.

We left the path and descended over heather to the Allt a'Mhuilinn, which was was easily crossed, as the water level was fairly low. From this point it was a steady climb of the western slopes of Carn Dearg Meadhonach, a Munro Top. Higher up we joined another path before reaching the summit of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. From this point we had views over to the Aonachs, of Carn Mor Dearg, the arête and of course out final destination the Ben itself. Several figures could be seen above Zero Gully. I don't recall having such good views of Ben Nevis so Mike and Jonathan were very fortunate.

We continued to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg where we had lunch while taking in the views described above.

The next section of the walk was the most challenging. We descended to the start of the arête and commenced the long crossing of it as it swings round to below Ben Nevis. My clients appeared to enjoy this challenge despite the steep drops on either side. However the final climb up though the rocks wasn't enjoyable and very taxing on tired legs.

The summit of the Ben was subsequently reached and was fairly busy with those that had arrived via the mountain path. A summit photo session took place at the trig point before commencing the descent. This is not particularly pleasant due to loose stones and scree and the higher areas of Ben Nevis are barren and rocky. Lower down more vegetation is found.

We followed the zig zags down to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe and retraced our steps back to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. My clients appeared to enjoy themselves and this was subsequently confirmed by the e-mail Mike sent me.

previous ascent

Carn Mor Dearg Munro sixth ascent 1220 metres
Ben Nevis Munro eighth ascent 1344 metres

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The Aonachs

3 - 4 August 2005

photos taken on walk

The weather forecast for these two days wasn't very promising with strong winds and rain predicted so unfortunately it looked like my clients were in for a couple of unpleasant days in the mountains.

We set off from the car park at the head of Glen Nevis and walked up through the gorge where the path was slippery in the wet conditions, so care was required. Once beyond the gorge we walked along the side of the Water of Nevis to the Steall ruin.

At the Steall ruin we followed the path up the side of the stream coming down from Stob Coire Bhealaich. Higher up we crossed this stream and climbed through rocks onto the south-west ridge of Aonach Beag. The cloud base was very variable sometimes engulfing us and at other times giving us glimpses of the ridge. We also had to cope with frequent showers and a strong gusting wind.

Once on the ridge the gradient eased as we headed to the summit. Here we had brief views of the ridges of Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg and Aonach Mor. As we approached the summit of Aonach Beag the cloud lifted slightly to give us a view of the ridge ahead.

We reached the summit and had a brief glimpse into Coire Choire before commencing our descent. Lower down we headed over towards the Allt Coire Giubhaschan, crossed this stream and followed the path on its west side back to the Steall ruin before the walk back along the Water on Nevis and through the gorge to the start.

The following day was at least dry although it was windy when we set off from the lower gondola station and followed tracks through the Leanachan Forest to the top station. One of my clients did consider taking the gondola but as it did not open till later in the morning she took the tougher option.

Beyond the top gondola station we headed west along a track before climbing the north-west ridge of Aonach Mor. The higher we got the cloudier and windier the conditions were so it was an uninteresting walk following ski fences and skiing structures.

It was very windy on the top ridge and visibility was poor as we walked the kilometre or so to the summit cairn. We did have a couple of glimpses of the Grey Corries but they were very short lived.

There was no point in remaining at the summit of Aonach Mor so we returned by our route of ascent and lower down took some shelter behind one of the ski buildings for lunch. However during lunch the wind speed increased and the rain commenced so we headed off down the mountainside to the top gondola station where one of my clients bought us all hot chocolate. It was very enjoyable especially getting out of the wind and rain.

On leaving the gondola station we met some residents of Station Lodge Bunkhouse who had abandoned the walk due to the dismal weather and as one of the youngsters was feeling the cold.

Once again one of my clients thought about returning to the start by using the gondola but changed her mind and we returned to the lower gondola station by the paths through the forest used on the ascent route.

previous ascent

Aonach Beag Munro fifth ascent 1234 metres
Aonach Mor Munro sixth ascent 1221 metres

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Laggan Grahams

2 August 2005

photos taken on walk

I had another day off so I drove the short distance along the road from Station Lodge, Tulloch to just west of Moy on the north shore of Loch Lagan.

I walked from the lay-by over the bridge and along a track that took me to the west end of Binnein Shuas. A steady climb followed through sometimes knee deep grass which slowed me down due to the hidden hollows and boulders.

I reached the rocky summit of this Graham, where it was fairly windy. This was followed by an interesting descent on the east side of Binnein Shuas which is an area used by climbers. Care was required to find a suitable route working my way down through gaps in the rocks.

I continued to the bealach and the gradual climb to the summit of my second Graham, Binnein Shios. Just before the summit it started to rain so I was required to put on my rain gear.

As the weather was deteriorating there was no point in remaining on the summit so I returned down the west ridge before dropping to the forest disturbing some deer en-route. Once again getting through the forest was a problem with the long grass, fallen trees and some bog, but at least on this occasion I could see Loch Laggan through the trees.

I eventually reached the track on the south side of the Loch and headed west back towards the start. As I progressed along this track I heard a faint squealing noise and saw a frog leap onto the path in front of me pursued by some type of vole, which on seeing me returned to the undergrowth. The frog remained still and I observed that one of its legs was partly missing. It looked liked the vole was attacking and eating the frog alive. I had never seen or heard of this before and with so many frogs about this year I was wondering what predators they had. Obviously it appears that a vole is one.

This attack gave me something to think about as I continued along the Loch side and returned to the start of the walk.

Binnein Shuas Graham first ascent 746 metres
Binnein Shios Graham first ascent 667 metres

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Ring of Steall

30 July 2005

photos taken on walk

I was staying for several nights at Station Lodge, Tulloch where I met another resident Fraullein Moller who comes from Northern Germany. Silke is an English and History teacher in Hamburg and was on holiday in Scotland for some hiking, but not the serious walk that she ended up doing.

During our conversation it was suggested, or was she coerced, into joining us to do the Ring of Steall. She was delighted at the thought of climbing her first Munro and was even more enthusiastic when she learned that it was to be four Munros and two Munro Tops. (In fact it was three Munro Tops).

Silke was later introduced to my other clients so the next morning we drove to the head of Glen Nevis, the starting point for the walk.

The walk commenced with a climb through a narrow gorge where several fatalities have occurred due to the slippery nature of the path and the steep drop to the boulder strewn Water of Nevis. The river level was fairly low so there was no significant rush of water. However from the gouge marks on the cliff wall and on the large boulders my clients got an idea how high and strong the river could get in spate conditions.

Once out of the gorge and onto a level grassy area the next obstacle was reached. The crossing of the Water of Nevis. However with the river low it was easily crossed by the use of some stones. A couple of my clients opted for the more difficult mode of crossing the river, the Steall Bridge. It consists of three wire strands and once you haul yourself up it is initially relatively easy as the wire doesn't swing much and there is gravel below if you fall. Once further out the wires tend to swing and the water is reasonably deep, well enough to give you a good soaking. In spate conditions you could be washed down stream and into the gorge, so be warned.

The next section of the walk took us below the Steall waterfall before crossing a boggy section, which wasn't too difficult, due to the recent dry spell. This was followed by a steady climb up a stalker's path.

As we gained height we had some good views of the Mamores although Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag were covered in cloud. Silke, my first German client, was making good progress despite the fact that the highest hill in her home area was around 150 metres. There was also an international flavour to the group as we had an Englishman in our company so hopefully Silke didn't feel that was was the only foreigner in the group.

Higher up Silke was beginning to find the climb fairly tough but with a few breaks and her determination she reached the summit of An Gearanach, where we joined my other clients.

The next section of the Ring of Steall consists of a narrowing ridge out to the Munro Top An Garbhanach. The initial descent is through some boulders to the bealach before an awkward section is reached. The crest of the ridge, where the difficulties arise, were avoided by traces of a path to the east.

From this Munro Top the terrain is initially rocky before it improves and a relatively easy ascent follows to the second Munro of the day Stob Coire a'Chairn. The descent from Stob Coire a'Chairn to the bealach was fairly easy. Here we had views of the Aonach Eagach Ridge and the cloud covered Bidean nam Bian.

With the easy section over we climbed fairly steeply up an eroded stony path which the Fraullein found a bit tiring but we were now half way round the Ring of Steal. There are two cairns on the summit of Am Bodach. The westerly cairn appears to be the highest but we visited both just in case.

The next mountain on this route is Sgurr an Iubhair, another Munro Top. This was in fact a Munro until its status was changed in 1997. It was a fairly easy ascent, compared to others we had already climbed. The cloud base lowered and we were engulfed in cloud with some spots of rain blowing through in the wind.

At this Munro Top we changed direction and were now heading down the north ridge of Sgurr an Iubhair and over another Munro Top, Stob Choire a'Mhail. The descent took us to the Devil's Ridge and a narrow arête where the difficulties were avoided by using paths at either side.

We were back in low cloud with light drizzle blowing in the wind as we climbed to the fourth Munro and the final ascent of the day. Some of my clients were by this time tiring so it was a tough ascent to the highest mountain of the day. Silke kept asking where the summit was but she dug in and kept going and we joined the others who had reached the top before us.

It was cold and damp on the summit so we continued along the ridge before descending scree and subsequently alighting from the cloud. We then picked up a path that wound its way down the mountain but it was here that the exertions of the day took its toll on Silke as she slowed down.

We had left a car at Polldubh in Glen Nevis so a client and myself headed down to the car park to collect the other vehicle from the head of the Glen. On our return the remaining members of the party were gradually making there way down the last section of the path.

On reaching Polldubh we had a forty minute drive to our accommodation and a well earned meal prepared by the owners of the Hostel at Station Lodge.

Fraullein Muller did exceptionally well on her first venture into Munro Bagging but unfortunately paid the penalty of her exertions with sore thighs for several days thereafter. However she went home with some positive thoughts about the Scottish Mountains.

An Gearanach Munro fourth ascent 982 metres
Stob Coire a'Chairn Munro fourth ascent 981 metres
Am Bodach Munro fourth ascent 1032 metres
Sgurr a'Mhaim Munro fourth ascent 1099 metres

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Road To The Isles

31 May - 1 June 2005

My client for the next couple of days was a lady from Middlesex who wanted to do some low level walks in the vicinity of Glean Spean where she was on holiday. It is not often I get the opportunity to do this type of walk as most of my clients want to climb a Munro or several.

Earlier in the year I had forwarded her some options and she had decided on a walk from Rannoch to Spean Bridge returning to her accommodation overnight.

On the Tuesday morning we caught the morning train south from Tulloch Station and alighted at Rannoch Station about half an hour later. Rannoch Station was busy as the night train was waiting to head north on the single track line and several of the passengers were wandering about the small platform. This train is often used by hill walkers from the London area heading north for a few days walking.

A fellow walker also alighted from our train and joined us as we walked east along the tarred road. He was planning to climb the Corbett Meall na Meoig and the Munros Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg before catching the evening train back north.

Once beyond the bridge over the Allt Eigheach we took the vehicle track going north up the east side of the river listening to each others hill walking exploits.

On reaching the river crossing we parted company. The lone walker heading up the Leacann nan Giomach ridge while my client and I took the bridge over the river and continued to a small plantation. Here the vehicle track, which becomes a path, changes direction slightly as it climbs over the shoulder of Sron Leachd a'Chaorainn and becomes very boggy with ruts some caused by mountain bikes.

We stopped for a break with views of the Aonachs and Ben Nevis. The cloud was high and broken with some sunny periods and a few midges flying about. At least they weren't as prevalent as at Tulloch Station.

On continuing our walk on the path, known as The Road to The Isles, we reached the highest point at 550 metres before starting to descend passing the Old Corrour Lodge, which is now a ruin but had obviously been constructed of concrete blocks, so it wasn't that old. However it would be interesting to learn more about this building as there is no road access and the railway, which must have been the means of transport, is four kilometres away.

Beyond the Lodge it was gradually downhill to 'Peter's Rock, which has a plaque on a rock for a young man who died. Here we took the path going west, which was very boggy in places, to the end of Loch Ossain. Here there is a Youth Hostel which has recently been environmentally upgraded and I had a quick look at the improvements which included the removal of the old outside chemical loos.

We made use of the benches at the front of the Hostel for lunch in the sun and saw a heron perched on a tree on one of the nearby islands. We spoke briefly with the warden and a fellow walker before heading for Corrour Station and the afternoon train back north.

The next day we drove to Spean Bridge and waited there amongst the midge population for the morning train south. This time we alighted at Corrour where we finished the previous day.

The first section of the day's walk was to head for Loch Treig but the initial section of this path is impassable due to deep bog and several diversions had to be made to avoid disappearing. Once we reached the Allt Luib Ruairidh the path improved and became a vehicle track. It was now downhill with the wind at our backs and the occasional heavy shower.

The shores of Loch Treig were reached and we walked round to Creaguaineach Lodge where we were joined by a cyclist who had come off the morning sleeper from London and was cycling through Glen Nevis to Fort William to catch the sleeper back south.

Creaguaineach Lodge was open and we found a chap from Glasgow sleeping on the settee there. We had a coffee break here out of the wind and rain before leaving the resident to continue with his chain smoking.

We took the path up the west side of the Allt na Lairige through sheep and their lambs and several newly shorn sheep. They must have been cold in the low temperatures, wind and rain. The path went through a narrow gully before levelling out a bit and afforded reasonably easy walking. However higher up it became very boggy and it was easier for a while to walk close to the stream. The last section towards the Lairig Leacach Bothy was a quagmire and took ages to cross in the heavy rain.

On reaching the bothy we took shelter from the vile conditions for our lunch and discarded our jackets. However once lunch was over we had to put our wet gear back on and venture back into the wind and rain.

There was now a vehicle track going north so progress was a bit faster as we crossed the watershed and headed downhill towards Glen Spean. It was still a long walk but we reached the forest with its warning signs indicating forestry work and to find an alternative route. A bit late in the day to find this sign but another sign further on gave instructions on how to proceed through the forest.

Initially the only obvious work was the upgrading of the vehicle track but lower down we came across the forest operations which as usual was making a mess of the entire area, but what else can they do. Passing the operations wasn't a problem and as we left the forest the rain ceased and the cloud started to break up slightly.

The track joins a tarred road at Corriechoille and we had two miles to walk along the road to Spean Bridge not wanting to stop due to the midges.

The Railway Station was reached and the end of a two day trek from Rannoch Station to Spean Bridge Station which hopefully gave my client an experience of some of the remoter parts of Scotland.


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The Aonachs

4 - 5 April 2005

The plan was to climb Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor from Glen Nevis on the same day but things don't always work out.

We set off from the car park at the head of Glen Nevis and walked through the Nevis Gorge to the Steall ruin. It was a bit blustery with frequent rain showers.

From the Steall ruin we followed the path beside the stream that flowed down from the west side of Stob Coire Bhealaich. As we gained height the rain turned to hail and above 750 metres to snow.

We climbed up onto the south ridge of Aonach Beag where a path runs along the head of the corrie. The path was covered in drifting fresh snow. It was very windy with frequent snow showers and visibility was impaired due to low cloud.

We followed this path round the corrie and then started to climb to the summit of Aonach Beag. We had to fight against the wind and came to a halt as we couldn't see what was in front of us due to the horizontal snow, low cloud and lying snow blending together to give zero visibility. I was aware that we were close to the summit cairn which in turn is situated near the edge of the ridge of a sheer drop to our right.

The dangers of proceeding in this situation had to be assessed but visibility improved slightly to allow us to see the ground in front and to avoid any catastrophe in going too far right.

We soon reached the summit cairn and a bearing took us to the narrow ridge that separates Aonach Beag from Aonach Mor. Here I made a decision not to proceed in these adverse conditions and we returned to the summit cairn of Aonach Beag.

I tried to avoid the ice and snow near the summit by descending south-west but I just found that the snow and ice section was even larger here. In the end I had to cut steps in the ice with my axe while my client followed gingerly behind.

Once below this snow and ice section we cut across to the path round the corrie, making use of the ice axe on a couple of other occasions. In hindsight I should of followed the ascent route off Aonach Beag but instead ended up with more work to do cutting numerous steps.

We followed the ridge round towards the col but it was very windy and at one point we both took a battering as the wind tried to put us over the edge.

On reaching the col we climbed to the summit of the Munro Top Stob Coire Bhealaich where we had some good views of the Grey Corries. However we couldn't stay there too long as the wind was still very strong. The descent was down the south-west ride over another Munro Top Sgurr Bhuic before joining the upward route.

The return included a visit to the Steall Bridge where my client had a go on the wire bridge before we returned to the car park at the head of Glen Nevis after an eventful day.

The next morning we set off from the Gondola Station to tackle Aonach Mor again. There had been fresh snow overnight and the snow level was down to about 250 metres.

We followed paths, used mainly by mountain bikers, up through the forest, across a style and to the Gondola Top Station. By this time the Gondola was in operation and tourists were out walking about in the snow.

From this point we crossed over to the west side of the ski tows and climbed up the north-west ridge of Aonach Mor. We frequently encountered blustery snow showers but the weather was slightly better than on the previous day when we climbed Aonach Beag.

Once on the summit ridge we headed to the summit cairn of Aonach Mor. Here we had views of the snow clad Carn Mor Dearg, the North Face of Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag, the Mamores and the Grey Corries.

Once we had taken in these wonderful views we followed the rim of the eastern corrie with some beautifully formed cornices which were obviously very unstable. We continued down Aonach Mor's north ridge and saw a chap who was obviously checking out the stability of the snow probably for the Avalanche update. It was a pleasant walk down this ridge made easy by the soft fresh snow.

Lower down we crossed over to the Gondola Station and followed our upward route back to the start. A lot of the snow at a lower level had melted by this time.

Aonach Beag Munro fourth ascent 1234 metres
Aonach Mor Munro fifth ascent 1221 metres

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Glen Nevis

6 June 2004

The plan for the final day was to climb some of the Mamores but as a couple of the Dutch party were suffering from knee injuries and they wanted to be together on their last day we settled for a walk in Glen Nevis.

From the car park at the head of the glen we walked up through the gorge with the Water of Nevis rushing down between the boulders. On reaching the 'meadow section' we had good views of the 'Steall waterfall' before continuing past the Steall ruin. We continued on this path as far as the Allt Coire na Gabhalach where we about turned and walked back to our cars. My Dutch guests then went sight seeing as they were returning home the next day.


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Ben Nevis via the Arête

5 June 2004

The plan was to climb Ben Nevis via the Arête. Piet hadn't recovered and Maarten felt he needed a rest day so it was Jurjen, Diederik and myself who headed for the Visitor's Car Park in Glen Nevis.

We set off up the mountain path which was fairly busy with walkers and those taking part in a Three Peaks Race. Once we reached Lochain Meall an t-Suidhe we crossed over and descended to the Allt a Mhuilinn. The cloud started to lift and we started to get glimpses of the North Face of Ben Nevis, which is the more scenic side of the mountain.

From the stream we climbed up onto Carn Dearg Meadhonach but the cloud came down and it started to drizzle so the views were lost. From this mountain top we continued to Car Mor Dearg before dropping to the Arête. Diederik was a bit concerned about this crossing but despite the heavy drizzle and breeze we successfully reached the foot of Ben Nevis.

At this point Diederik took off up the boulder covered approach to the 'Ben'. We reached the summit in wind and heavy drizzle but were not alone on the snow covered summit. It was fairly busy with walkers and runners.

After a quick bite to eat in the rain we descended the mountain path back to the start. There were still people heading up onto the mountain and despite the poor weather conditions a lot of them were inappropriately dressed.

previous ascent of Ben Nevis

Carn Mor Dearg Munro fifth ascent 1220 metres
Ben Nevis Munro seventh ascent 1344 metres

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The Easains

4 June 2004

On the evening of 3 June 2004 I met Jurjen, Piet, Diederik, and Maarten, who are from Holland. They had arrived for a weekend's hillwalking in the Highlands of Scotland. I had suggested that they reside at Station Lodge, Tulloch as I have used this accommodation on numerous occasions, as Alan and Belinda, the owners, look after you very well and supply meals on request.

The Dutch guys were a lot younger than me and appeared to be reasonably fit so it looked as if I was in for a tough weekend.

The following morning, after an early breakfast, we caught the morning train to Corrour Station. This is actually just a 'halt' as it consist of two buildings and is in very remote country.

On alighting from the train we commenced the walk back to Tulloch. The first section of the path is very boggy and Diederik soon learned what a 'peat bog' was when he stepped into one. We followed the path towards Loch Treig and Piet was amazed by the silence and scenery as he stays near the centre of Amsterdam and is used to constant noise. However the peace and tranquillity was broken momentarily as the driver of the London to Fort William sleeper train, sounded his horn and gave us a wave as he headed north.

On reaching the south side of Loch Treig we walked round to Creaguaineach Lodge which has been boarded up since my last visit in October when it was obvious that hillwalkers were vandalising the property. We walked up the side of the Allt na Lairige before crossing this river and ascending the south ridge of Stob Coire Easain. It was fairly windy on this ridge so we tried to keep to the lee side and as we got higher the cloud covering the summit started to break up.

We headed to the summit and descended to the bealach before climbing up onto Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin. From there it was a long descent of the north ridge to Fersit. At a steep rocky part of this descent I noted that Piet was having a problem. He was suffering from a recurring knee injury and was finding the descent very painful. Jurjen, Diederik, and Maarten were given instructions on how to get back to Tulloch so that they could collect their hired car and return to Fersit for Piet.

The descent was very slow but once Piet reached more even ground he was able to make better progress and we had almost reached the main road before Jurjen arrived to collect us and convey us to Station Lodge.

Stob Coire Easain Munro fourth ascent 1115 metres
Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin Munro fourth ascent 1105 metres

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Loch Leven Corbetts

21 - 23 May 2004

On the Friday afternoon, after pitching my tent at Invercoe, I drove round to Callert on the north side of Loch Leven. I located the starting point of the afternoon's stroll, which was the Right of Way to Lairigmor on the West Highland Way.

At the highest point on this path I climbed up the west ridge of Mam na Gualainn to its trig point which has a memorial plaque to a fallen marine. A new fence has been constructed near the summit but helpfully the fencers have inserted a gate to allow walkers direct access to the summit without the need to climb over the fence.

The weather for a change was clear with some sun and I had good views over Glen Coe and out to the Ardgour hills. However clouds were spreading over the Mamores to the north, so I made a quick exit back to the car.

The following day I drove to Kinlochleven and located the Grey Mare Waterfall Car Park. New paths have been constructed here, which are not on the map, nor signposted. Once I found my path I climbed steeply up to Loch Eilde Mor and onto Meall na Cruaidhe. This path has been badly eroded by what appears to be off road motor cycles churning up sections of the path into bogs and ruts full of water. I felt sorry for the stalkers who had laboured over the years to construct these paths for them to be ruined by irresponsible individuals.

From Meall na Cruaidhe I climbed up to the summit of Glas Bheinn with splendid views of the surrounding mountains. I had decided, if the weather was fine, to continue out to the Graham, Beinn na Cloiche and that is what I did by descending the east side of Glas Bheinn to near Lochan Tom Ailein where I disturbed a large herd of deer. I climbed up onto Beinn na Cloiche where the summit cairn is situated close to a tiny lochan.

After a short rest I descended down the south ridge of this hill and the long walk out along various tracks back to Kinlochleven.

The next day was my final Corbett in this area and I hadn't far to travel. A few miles east of Invercoe is another camp site at Caolasnacon. From there it is a steep climb up the north-west ridge of Garbh Bheinn. Although early in the morning it was already hot and once I reached the summit I was glad of the freshening cool breeze. Again I had good views of the surrounding mountains and a different perspective of the Aonach Eagach with some walkers already traversing the ridge.

Once I had rested and taken in the views I returned back down the ridge to my car and the start of the long journey home after a successful weekend Corbett bagging. Although the weather was fine and sunny at times I never met another sole on the hills, not even the guys who were wrecking the paths with their off road motor cycles.

Mam na Gualainn Corbett first ascent 796 metres
Glas Bheinn Corbett first ascent 789 metres
Beinn na Cloiche Graham first ascent 646 metres
Garbh Bheinn Corbett first ascent 867 metres

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Lairig Leacach Corbetts

30 November 2003

The day after Stob Ban (see below) Frances and Janice decided they wanted to climb the two Corbetts on the east side of the glen we walked up the previous day. Once again the forecast was poor and on looking out from the hostel it was obvious that it had snowed overnight in the mountains as the snow line was down to about 550 metres.

We drove to the same starting point as for Stob Ban and walked up the glen again. However after about three kilometres we left the track and headed up the hillside towards the summit of Cruach Innse. We soon reached the snow level and patches of drifting snow and higher up we had to protect our faces from spin drift. A steady climb found us on the summit with a thin crust of ice and no views due to low cloud.

There was no point in hanging about here as it was cold and windy so we descended down the rocky south ridge and found a small hollow in the snow for a break. Afterwards we then headed to the bealach and started the ascent of Sgurr Innse which was a lot steeper and rockier so great care was required in the snow. It was well worth the effort as the top was clear of cloud and we had some views of the surrounding hills, especially those to the north-west.

Once Frances had her usual photo shoot we set off back to the bealach and the track returning us to the start arriving there before dusk and on this occasion dry, contrary to the forecast.

Cruach Innse Corbett second ascent 857 metres
Sgurr Innse Corbett second ascent 808 metres

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Grey Corries

29 November 2003

Frances was on holiday and needed a stress break and was happy just to get out into the hills for a couple of days as long as I didn’t mention ‘work’. She made various suggestions but due to the time of year and the unpredictability of the weather we settled for the Grey Corries. She consulted Janice, who still had to climb Stob Ban, and together with Maria we all booked to stay at the Independent Hostel at Station Lodge, Tulloch.

This Hostel is located 20 miles from Fort William on the West Highland Railway. It is created from the old railway station buildings and the owners, Alan and Belinda, make you very welcome and do superb meals at a very reasonable price. For further details check out their web site at www.stationlodge.co.uk

The forecast was for heavy rain and high winds with gusts up to 80 miles per hour so it was with a bit of trepidation that we set out in the rain. I was firstly surprised that the estate permitted us to drive nearly two kilometres up a track before we had to park. Great, especially at the end of the day.

We walked up the Lairig Leacach in the rain to the bothy. Although it was windy it wasn’t as strong as forecast. On reaching the bothy we met a couple of chaps, one from Banchory and the other from Fife. They had been staying in the bothy for a couple of days and were now heading home. We had our coffee break in the bothy, sheltering from the weather.

The next obstacle was the Allt a’Chuil Choirean which was in spate due to the rain and snow melt. We met a group of eight walkers from Fraserburgh who had walked up the side of the swollen burn heading for Stob Ban but couldn’t get across it so had abandoned their plans. They were a bit perturbed when I didn’t take their recommendation to abort our walk and walk out with them.

We walked up the side of the burn as it rushed over small waterfalls and down narrow gorges and it looked like “The Broch Folk” were correct in their assessment. However we came across a slightly wider section of the burn where, after an assessment I considered it to be suitable to cross, although it was inevitable that my clients and I would get wet feet. I crossed first with only one foot wet and the others followed. Janice managed to cross and retained dry feet.

The next section was to climb up heathery slopes towards the summit of Stob Ban. Higher up we encountered wet snow which required care as it was slippery but we were also able to use some bare patches of ground. By the time we reached the summit the rain had stopped and the wind strength was probably only about 20 miles per hour. This was Janice’s 274th Munro and she has only 10 left to climb to be a Munroist.

The descent was by the upward route and I was hoping that the burn had not risen significantly with the rain and snow melt since our earlier crossing. The crossing presented no problems in the heavy rain that was now falling and we headed back to the bothy for lunch and some shelter.

It wasn’t very pleasant putting our wet gear back on before we headed out into the rain and down the glen but two of the clients were happy because they had bagged a new Munro. Maria has already completed her Munros.

It was dusk when we returned to the car for the short journey back to the hostel, a hot shower and a good meal.

Stob Ban Munro fourth ascent 977 metres

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West Highland Way

26 October 2003

The plan for the third day of the walk was up over the Mamores, down onto the West Highland Way and back to Fort William, but due to the state of Claire’s feet I amended this plan. In fact it was a surprise to me that Claire was prepared to walk again on Sunday after the pain she endured the previous day. So we set off from the ladies’ accommodation, crossed Glen Nevis and walked south on the West Highland Way. Claire was wearing her runners, Irish equivalent of trainers, and found the going a lot easier.

We climbed up the track and on negotiating a bend I saw spray rising from Gwen and the perfume perforated my nostrils. She told me that she had sprayed deodorant because she was sweating but I think she was hoping that today she would meet a “man in a skirt”. She had been searching for him since arriving in Scotland but without success. Unfortunately she wasn’t successful in her quest on the West Highland Way either, as all we saw were a few backpackers heading for Fort William, none of whom were dressed in kilts and none were good looking, according to Gwen. During our walk south Gwen’s phone kept ringing as she received text messages from home giving her the Irish Rugby score from the World Cup in Australia so she was very happy when she got the final result.

We continued south on undulating terrain passing through a lot of forest but we also crossed open hillside where sheep were grazing. Vera felt at home here as I was told that back home she can be seen rounding up the sheep for her father using her car.

OOn approaching Lairigmor we had reached the required distance and stopped for lunch. This was interrupted by the local farmer and his wife who stopped for a chat. Once fed we returned by the outward route and a pleasant stroll in a nice autumnal afternoon. We managed to get back to Achintee before dark, even with the clocks going back.


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Glen Nevis

25 October 2003

The day after the climb of Ben Nevis we needed an early start to catch the morning train to Glasgow as it was my intention to alight at Corrour and walk back to Fort William. Corrour is located in remote moor-land north of Rannoch Moor and access is either by train or on foot. You must be self-sufficient in this area as the only habitation is a couple of bunkhouses at the Station and a Youth Hostel about a mile away.

At 8.20am that day we alighted from the comfort of the train to our own devices some twenty miles from Fort William. It was raining at this time so we had to don our waterproofs and Claire treated blisters on her heels, sustained on the previous day’s hike on Ben Nevis. Vera was smartly dressed in pink and gave the impression she was going out for the evening. Little did she know how true that was.

We set off very slowly down a wet and boggy path towards Loch Treig. The ladies felt at home as these conditions were similar to those experienced back in Midland Ireland. However the slow pace concerned me as we had a long walk in front of us and I wasn’t sure if Claire would make it. There weren’t many options left once we left Corrour. As Claire got accustomed to the pain the pace increased and the path became less boggy.

On reaching Loch Treig we walked along the head of the Loch to Creaguaineach Lodge, which unfortunately has been vandalised. This can only have been perpetrated by hillwalkers as no one else visits this remote area so it is a disgrace that fellow walkers should carry out such wilful damage. No wonder some estates object to hillwalkers when their property is destroyed in this way. Rather than be found inside this vandalised Lodge we sheltered in an old barn, the floor of which was covered in sheep’s droppings. If my companions had been town girls rather than farmer’s daughters I am sure there would have been an outcry on my choice of shelter.

Once Claire had given further attention to her painful and blistered heels we set off up the side of the Abhainn Rath and around lunchtime reached Meanach, a mountain bothy. This was a fine place to take shelter from the rain showers and partake of lunch and the ladies found the accommodation very interesting as they had never seen this type of shelter before. With lots of food lying on the table it was obvious someone was staying at the bothy and three lots of sleeping gear were laid out in the loft. There was no sign of their owners.

Once lunch was over we headed on up the side of the Abhainn Rath which we crossed later on. We were fortunate that the water in the burn was quite low so crossing it didn’t cause too many problems. The weather was improving as we reached the watershed and crossed a wet stretch of grass before starting the descent into Glen Nevis. The path here was boggy in places but it was mainly downhill to the Steall Ruin, waterfall and bridge. Gwen was tempted to cross the wire bridge but as she couldn’t swim she decided against it, maybe also because one of the two chaps she saw crossing almost fell. We continued into the narrow gorge, which is very spectacular when the Water of Nevis is in spate, and down to the tarred road.

It was by this time getting dark and Claire was in a lot of pain from her blisters so she decided, against advice, to walk down the road in her socks. She found the walking on the road a lot easier and the pace picked up a bit before all three ladies started to weary a bit. In the evening the skies had cleared and were full of stars. One or two people were descending Ben Nevis in torch light.

Nearly twelve hours after we set off from Corrour we arrived back at Achintee where I left Claire, Gwen and Vera, the lady in pink, as I had to walk into Fort William to collect my car.


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Ben Nevis

24 October 2003

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a group of Irish lassies who wanted to come to Scotland to do the Gold Section of their President’s Award, which is similar to The Duke of Edinburgh Award. They needed to walk fifty miles in four days and wanted to include an ascent of Ben Nevis.

On a Friday morning in late October, having met Claire, Gwen and Vera the previous evening, I collected the ladies from their accommodation at Achintee and we set off up Ben Nevis. However not long after starting up the mountain path Claire’s heart rate started to race. This wasn’t due to my presence and I was a bit concerned as she advised me that she had never experienced this before. We had a lot of climbing in front of us, however after several rest stops her heart rate appeared to settle down.

The weather was good for the time of year but the summit was in the cloud so it wasn’t unexpected when, around 900 metres, snow started to fall and a short time later we entered the cloud. The snow showers continued as we headed to the summit past the vertical cliffs of the north face.

We had lunch within the small summit shelter before re-tracing our steps carefully past the vertical cliffs where numerous fatalities have occurred due to poor navigation. Once back out of the cloud we had good views of Fort William and the surrounding area as we returned to the start.

Ben Nevis Munro sixth ascent 1344 metres

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