I’ve been promising to take my son Craig camping for quite a while but have been waiting for a guaranteed good weather weekend (those that know me well know that I don’t really do wet weather camping anyway and I certainly didn’t want to put Craig off). So on seeing the forecast on Friday it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Picked him up from his mum’s on Friday night and headed to the new Go Outdoors at Clydebank to get him a decent pair of boots. Also picked up a pair of walking trousers for him with zip off legs to convert to shorts – in the event that turned out be a good move!
We set off at about 10am on Saturday morning to head for Kinlochleven where I knew there was a good campsite attached to the Macdonald Hotel. Arrived there at about 1pm, got the tent set up and were ready to go for a walk by 2pm.
Given the time I wasn’t sure how far Craig would be able to manage so I did consider the 764m Beinn na Caillich but then thought the steep initial ascent might not be the best of starts. So we decided to go for a walk up to the beallach (875m) below the Munro Am Bodach (1034m) where I knew we would get a fantastic view of Ben Nevis and the Ring of Steall. It’s also a much more gradual ascent and would, depending on time, give us a chance for Craig to bag his first Munro!
We drove up to Mamore Lodge and parked the car. Normally they charge £3 for the pleasure but it looks like it’s not open – a shame as it really is in a fantastic location but I know from the times I’ve been inside it that it’s not really been maintained. Anyway it’s a great place to park for doing the Mamores as it saves about 200m of climbing! Craig did really well on the ascent, my only worry being the river crossing I knew we would have to make. But he got over it with absolutely no problem and we continued on, with a few stops to get to the beallach just before 5pm. I’d said to Craig that we would need to turn back at 5.30pm at the latest but as we could see the summit I asked him if he wanted to carry on. Of course he did! So we left our rucksacks at the beallach and headed upwards. A few false summits left Craig a bit exasperated and few snow patches slowed us a bit but we got to the summit at about 5.20pm.
A few photos and then we headed down. I did warn Craig that although going down is easier than going up on your legs it can sometimes be easier to slip going downhill. And so it turned out as his enthusiasm got the better of him a couple of times. Nothing serious though thankfully although he did go for a paddle at the river crossing – not too bad although the water did go over his boots so that was the boots well and truly christened! Got back to the campsite at 7.25pm meaning we did the walk in 5 hours 15 minutes which I though was absolutely brilliant for his first real Scottish hill walk (we’ve done Conic Hill and Ben A’an before). Had a well deserved bar meal in the hotel and then crashed out in the tent.
We got up at the leisurely time of 9am and after packing up we headed for the Ice Factor for breakfast and then Craig went on the High level rope course.
We had a quick stop at the new layby at Loch Achtriochtan in Glencoe to take a photo of the Aonach Eagach ridge.
We were going to meet up at the Real Food Cafe with Elaina, Petesy, Sandy and Bobinson who had gone wild camping up at Loch Quoich but they were having so much fun in the good weather that they were still high up in the hills (it turned out they didn’t get down until 7.30pm!). But we couldn’t go home without introducing Craig to the best fish and chips this side of Whitby! After that it was the long drive home, made worse by the inevitable traffic jam on Lochlomondside as half of Glasgow had obviously been making the most of the excellent weather! Still we made it back to Ayrshire just after 6pm with Craig telling me several times on the road back that this had been “the best weekend ever!”. May it be the first of many!