Monthly Archives: October 2017

North and South of Glen Nevis, May 2017.

My next couple of days in papier-mâché and a sign that indicates the start of adventures. I like signs like that.

Day 1 – Ring of Steall
Day 2 – The Aonachs
Day 3 – Back to Billy


Day 1 – Ring of Steall.

Morning view at Nevis-side campsite. When I arrived last night it had been tipping it down all day, thankfully the weather had cleared up a bit but the river was at least a good six inches lower and An Steall half the size it was. Just as I was setting off I found the remains of a Tunnocks wafer that something had carefully dragged away leaving the intact wrapper in my rucksack.

The fun began shortly after setting off with the (in)famous Nevis wire bridge – which the hardest thing about was getting on it! Not to say the rest was easy. Falling off isn’t going to kill you, but will probably spoil the rest of your day. I’ve never held on to something so firmly since my favourite hat in a gale. Anyways, I made it you be pleased to know, albeit gingerly.

As I arrived at the waterfall I met a couple there who were plotting their route across. “Made it across the wire bridge ok then?!” I enquired. “Yes, no problems!” they replied, “We perform in a circus…!”. Alright for some I thought as I imagined them juggling chain-saws on a unicycle as they crossed. As they scampered over the falls with agility that Barnum & Bailey would have approved of, I followed… my scampering skills not quite matching up to say the least. But with only one slightly wet foot we were all across and photos of each other were taken. They went down and I went up.

Starting up the Chad Chaoruinn dodging collapsed paths and checking I hadn’t lost my map.

The views to the west and the east.

The Big Ben with his head in the clouds – I was toying with the idea of heading up it via the All Coire Eoghainn tomorrow and it didn’t look too bad from this distance. Meanwhile, the walk ahead was looking fine and ridgy.

After a couple of hours the first summit of the day was conquered – An Gearanach, and the ridge over An Garbnanach after it looked lovely.

A different view of the pipes to the aluminium works at Kinlochleven from the one on the West Highland Way a few years back, when we walked down alongside them. Knees in agony, but being kept amused by the leaky gaskets.

The ridge heading north above Coire nan Cnamh was a tempting looking alternative way down for later. Perhaps. But for now a quick selfie on top of Stop Coire a’ Chain.

After a pleasant stretch Am Bodach was next, and the views down the Core a’ Mhail and the Mamore Forest were grand.

The ridge to Sgurr a’ Mhaim is what they the call the Devil’s Ridge but it wasn’t too bad at all I thought – unless I’d missed it. I did come across some walking poles though on the path, I wondered what I should do. Surely someone had dropped them and not realised as for most people the blasted things are quite unnecessary. I thought I’d be helpful and take them with me back to the car-park. Shortly after I met the chap whom they belonged to, and it turned out he left them on purpose as he didn’t think he’d need them on this stretch. Which I didn’t think he did but just after returning them he was using them straight away. Now with hindsight I should’ve just left them be, but surely he should’ve left it out of the way or put a stone on top to indicate they’d be left intentionally? I sometimes leave a bad en route to collect later and always make sure it’s well out of view, but there again a bag a large rucksack is unlikely to be dropped by accident. Anyways, that’ll teach me to be helpful! Next I might just chuck them down the glen or bury them to amuse myself as unnecessary use of poles is the epitome of “All the gear, no idea” IMHO.

Taking the obvious easy way round the chip, the trickiest part of the day (that wasn’t made of steel wire!) was sliding down this steep rocky bit. Not a fun few minutes but made it with minimal bum chafing.

At Sgurr a’ Mhaim the mist briefly surrounded me, making for not much to see. But I got the summit-selfie, which is the main thing.

I opted to head down the simple way rather than northerly ridge, and what a boring two-hour long slog down it was!
Down at the bottom again looking up at the Eoghainn… shall I go for it tomorrow?!

Back home now and the midges were out in force but with the right protection I avoided getting bitten – apart from when I took my trowel and went to the toilet where the little blighters spotted some prime un-Deeted prime rump and went straight in. So I felt no guilt when I noticed I was killing many of them as I brewed up.


Day 2 – The Aonachs.

I decided to leave the Ben to the end of the day as an optional extra and set off down the glen. After a little height was gained and clouds set in and wouldn’t leave me alone for most of the day.

Move along – nothing to see here! At least I couldn’t see how far down I could fall nor indeed how far up I still had to go!

So after maybe four hours of nothing to look at Aonach Beag was bagged – and the magnificent views behind can only be imagined. I managed to get a little lost, or rather went the wrong way, on the way by annoyingly instinctively following the contour rather than just heading up, but with visibility like this I guess getting lost isn’t too hard to do!

An hour’s fairly simple walk later and we were on Aonach Mor. Now… how about Munro numero uno via the Card Mor Dearg and its spectacular aerate…?

The way down from Aonach More via Benang Aonach More was horrible. Steep and pathless – at some points very tricky and a tad worrying. The half mile or so took me about an hour and the way up to CMD on the other side would be very similar.

So sod that I thought, CMD and the arete can wait for another day – perhaps even a day when I could see something! So, home time!
On the way down as it briefly cleared I bumped into a chap coming up wearing a paper suit as if he’d just come from a scene of crime. He and his bedraggled but unphased little dog were camping out for the next three of four nights. His tiny bag looked as if there wasn’t room for his doggie biscuits never mind tent & sleeping bag & food and what-have-you. I should have taken some tips from on travelling light!

The 1500-feet up meandering Alt Coire Giubsachan was an interesting sight and a nice chance for a breather before the drop back down to the glen and home.

As I prepared my tea a spotted a young couple on the path keeping pausing a looking up. Had they spotted an eagle?! Nope, they were taking drone-selfies. Selfies are for summits kids!!


Day 3 – Back to Billy.

With my 34th Munro bagged it was time to head off, and of course now the weather was glorious!

The walk along the Nevis would surely match an alpine valley for beauty. But although the path was very busy, hardly anyone said hello. You can tell when you’re near a car-park.

The other thing of beauty I kept stopping to marvel at was the erosion in the granite which reminds you just how long this river has been doing its thing.

As I passed I just had to stop off at the Glen Nevis holiday park or whatever it’s called. This is where we used to come on family holidays in the dim and distant past. The rocky river beach and glacial erratic were regular summer holiday fixtures for us nearly 40-odd years ago. And as I recall, the weather was always like this!
But again, as when I on the WHW, an attempt to find the “rocking stone” marked on the map ended in failure.

As I approached Fort Billy I thought I’d reward myself with a nice cooling half of something so popped in to the Glen Nevis Restaurant & Bar. After a mouthful or two I went to get a paper to see how Manchester United had got in the Europa Cup Final the night before. But it was the front pages that were about Manchester, as well as back. They were of course reporting the Manchester Arena bombing four days earlier, of which I’d heard nothing. Could I have been one of the few people in the country not to have heard of this horror at a place I knew well?! I needed another drink.

On the Cally Sleeper I took what could be my last chance to hang out of window, and marvelled again, as ever, at the Highlands of Scotland.