Archive for Kinlochleven

Swedish Girls, Sausages and Pirates!

Posted in Glencoe, Richard Happer with tags , , , on September 21, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Had a great time at the weekend meeting up with Richard Happer, author of “The hills are stuffed with Swedish girls” at the top of the Devil’s Staircase on the West Highland Way for his book signing to celebrate the second edition of his now Ordnance Survey friendly novel.

Richard, Milly, Kirstin, Elaina and Maria

Richard, Milly, Kirstin, Elaina and Maria

Richard even provided rolls and sausages and we spent an entertaining hour and a half persuading unsuspecting West Highland Wayers to buy the book. We then wandered across country to Blackwater Dam and back to Kinlochleven via the conduit at one point re-enacting the train scene from the film Stand By Me!

Milly and Maria looking over to Blackwater Dam

Milly and Maria looking over to Blackwater Dam

There followed an excellent night as ever in the Clachaig Inn! The weather deteriorated somewhat for the rest of the weekend so much of Sunday was spent in the Ice Factor drinking coffee and making the most of International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Iain the Pirate!

Iain the Pirate!

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“The best weekend ever…”

Posted in Munros with tags , , , on April 12, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

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.

Craig outside tent at Macdonald Hotel Campsite

Craig outside tent at Macdonald Hotel Campsite

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.

Craig on Am Bodach with Ben Nevis behind

Craig on Am Bodach with Ben Nevis behind

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.

Craig on the high level rope course

Craig 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.

Loch Achtriochtan and the Aonach Eagach

Loch Achtriochtan and the Aonach Eagach

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!

Glencoe OutdoorsMagic Meet

Posted in Glencoe, Munros, outdoorsmagic.com with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by ayrshiretiger

Had a great weekend up in Glencoe meeting up with old and new faces from OutdoorsMagic.com.  We had Friday off so decided to head up and do Meall a’ Bhuiridh and Criese, two Munros that Elaina hadn’t done.  In the event we only did Meall a’ Bhuiridh as we spent so much time chatting to a couple of other walkers.  Not a particularly exciting hill  what with all the skiing infrastructure about but there were some interesting bits…

Elaina attempts a bridge crossing!

Elaina attempts a bridge crossing!

We arrived at Signal Rock Cottage just after 4pm.  We’ve stayed here before and after a chat with Slawek and Luiza we had a quick shower before heading for the Clachaig Inn for dinner.  Eventually the rest of the crowd arrived although we did have to bring Polly the Parrot out to attract some of the OM folk who were on their first meet!  Highlight of the night had to be the arrival of Sir Jimmy Savile!  Have to say he’s looking well for someone who’s going to be 83 in a few weeks time!

Saturday morning saw reasonable weather to start with as some of us met at Mamore Lodge.

OMers meet at Mamore Lodge

OMers meet at Mamore Lodge

We set off along the landrover track with the aim of doing Binnein Beag.  It’s a long walk in to the remotest of the Mamore Munros and it wasn’t long until we realised as we approached Loch Eilde Mor that we had walked past the turn off that takes you around the shoulder of Sgurr Eilde Beag.  A quick re-assessment saw us take the path up the east side of the Allt Coire nan Laogh (a route we had taken in reverse last winter when the stream was in spate!).  We eventually got back on the planned route and carried on towards Coire an Lochain below Sgurr Eilde Mor.  The weather had deteriorated by this time and Sandy and Louise decided to make Louise’s first Munro Sgurr Eilde Mor rather than Binnein Beag.

Sgurr Eilde Mor

Sgurr Eilde Mor

The rest of us carried on hoping for the weather to clear and with immaculate timing it did as we approached Binnein Beag.

The summit party contemplate the final ascent!

The summit party contemplate the final ascent!

Looking towards Buachaille Etive Mor

Looking towards Buachaille Etive Mor

We did have discussions about going on to do Binnein Mor but the weather was still being temperamental and the realisation that it would probably add a good couple of hours to the day made it an easy decision to take the long path back to Kinlochleven for Haggis Fritters and Steak and Chips at the MacDonald Hotel!

Loch Leven Sunset from MacDonald Hotel

Loch Leven Sunset from MacDonald Hotel

It was late by the time we got back to Glencoe and the campers decided to stay at the camp site.  Elaina and I headed for the Clachaig planning to meet Ian Gallagher of Kendall Mountaineering Services who had taken three OMers scrambling on Ben Nevis.  Unfortunately the pub was mobbed and we didn’t realise that they had decided to go through to the Lounge Bar.  So we just had the one pint before heading back to the B&B.

Sunday saw ourselves, Sandy and Louise heading for Glen Nevis and a walk up to Steall Falls and a play on the wire bridge!

Elaina crossing Steall wire bridge

Elaina crossing Steall wire bridge

On the way back we were interviewed by someone from the John Muir Trust who were doing a survey to find out if people thought the path to Steall was appropriate.  There have been several accidents, some fatal, and the Trust are looking to be able to justify not making changes to the path.  Hopefully our response will assist in that aim as it would be crazy if health and safety concerns led to “improvements” being imposed!

Sunday night saw us back in the Clachaig for a really excellent night with a dozen of us staying on to the bitter end of a cracking weekend.  It’s a good sign when you are having to be chucked out of the Clachaig at closing time on Sunday night!

On Monday we all headed home but not before we introduced Iain to the joys of the Real Food Cafe!  Two egg and bacon rolls, a very large coffee and a large hot chocolate later (and that was just for Iain!) we parted company with plans already in hand for the next OM meet in Great Langdale in the Lakes.

Got home and watched a recording of Sunday night’s “Munro – Mountain Man” programme in which I made a fleeting out of focus appearance in the background of the Clachaig Inn as Nick Crane was interviewing folk for the programme – you’d think I was never out of the place!

Kinlochleven Adventures

Posted in Munros with tags , , on September 8, 2009 by ayrshiretiger

The last time we stayed at Bob and Chris’s B&B they told us that they were going to visit friends in San Francisco in September and very kindly said we could “house sit” for a few days if we wanted to.  We jumped at the chance!

We didn’t get away from Glasgow until about 6.30pm on Friday but we made good progress up the A82 and of course we had a break at The Real Food Cafe for the customary fish supper.  We eventually arrived at Kinlochleven just after 10pm.  Kate was also joining us and arrived not much later.

We knew the forecast for Saturday was bad so didn’t even attempt to do anything so just had a lazy day watching the rain pour off the hills!  And watching Scotland maintain their slim chances of World Cup qualification by beating Macedonia 2-0.  We did eventually leave the house…to go to the Clachaig Inn for dinner!  In there we met up with Seona who was celebrating compleating her round of the Munros with friends from the Jacobites Mountaineering Club and scottishhills.com.  Given the weather conditions that day that really was an impressive effort!  We also won 2nd and 3rd prizes in a raffle the prizes being 4 and then 2 bottle of AnTeallach ale!

Sunday saw much better conditions so we decided to do Mullach nan Coirean and Stob Ban at the western end of the Mamores.   We parked at the lower falls car park in Glen Nevis and took the forest track before eventually hitting the open hillside via a very dodgy stile.

Stile on way to Mullach nan Coiean

Stile on way to Mullach nan Coiean

We were soon on the summit which was Elaina’s 100th Munro so a celebratory drink of last night’s winnings was enjoyed!

Elaina celebrating 100 Munros!

Elaina celebrating 100 Munros!

Elaina celebrates 100 Munros

Elaina celebrates 100 Munros

As can be seen from the photos it was a bit clagged in so we sensibly took a bearing and headed on towards Stob Ban.

Towards Stob Ban

Towards Stob Ban

We then wandered off Stob Ban on a good path but it was only when we were half way down the ridge and saw a very well defined path below us that we realised it was the West Highland Way!  Oops!  We could have gone back up to Stob Ban but we decided that we might as well walk back to Kinlochleven then take Kate’s car back round to Glen Nevis to pick up mine.  So off we went down a bit further until Kate asked where the house key was as her car keys were in the house.  Oops again!  It was in my car (in Glen Nevis)!  We really were too far down now to go back up especially as the weather wasn’t great back on the summit.  So we resigned ourselves to somehow getting back to Fort William.  We did consider walking back along the West Highland Way but realised it was a bit too far so just headed back to the MacDonald Hotel in Kinlochleven which we arrived at at 6.30pm.  Daft question time…is there a bus to Fort William on a Sunday night?  Yes there was…at 6.05pm!  So there was only one thing for it, a taxi!  So thanks to Ali’s Taxis from Ballachulish we eventually got back to the car at 7.45pm.  Thankfully the MacDonald Hotel do meals until 9.30pm so at just before 9pm we sat down to steak and chips times 3!  Lesson of the day…take a bearing on every summit!

We decided to have an easier day on Sunday and headed up Glenoce to the Lost Valley with the aim of possibly doing Stob Coire Sgreamhach.  We made good progress up the narrowing gorge until we got to the point where you have to cross the Allt Coire Gabhail.  We decided to avoid this crossing and take an alternative route by heading up hill on the southern slopes of Gearr Aonach.  I took a route through some large solid rocks while Elaina and Kate took a more tortuous route up a scree slope.  Now there was a path of sorts and others had definitely used the route before us but I don’t think any of us realised just how high we had climbed until we found ourselves looking down on the Lost Valley from a height of about 450m.  Still, it made a lovely high perch for lunch!

Lunch above the Lost Valley

Lunch above the Lost Valley

Having spent so much time we decided to call it a day and leave Stob Coire Sgreamhach for another day.  We took the normal route out and of course had to cross the burn that we had avoided on the way up!

Elaina crossing the Allt Coire Gabhail

Elaina crossing the Allt Coire Gabhail

That night we enjoyed an excellent meal at the Loch Leven Seafood Cafe before waking to anther very wet day.  Kate and Elaina were staying for another couple of days but I had to head back so left at about 12 for a very wet drive home.  I don’t think I have ever seen as much water coming off the hills especially in Glencoe!  I just hope it has subsided a bit for Elaina and Kate tomorrow!

Mamores in a day, maybe…

Posted in Munros with tags , , , , on September 2, 2009 by ayrshiretiger

After I left school I spent a couple of years working at the Onich Hotel and spent a lot of time doing low level walks around Glencoe and Glen Nevis. Although I did do Ben Nevis by the ” so called tourist” path I didn’t really have the confidence or experience to do other hills such as those in Glencoe or the Mamores – most of my walking had been done on the North York Moors.   I remember visiting Kinlochleven many times and looking up at what I now know to be Na Gruagaichean and thinking that they were well beyond my capability.

However since I got back into hillwalking some seven years ago I’ve really got to know the Lochaber hills quite well and in particular the Mamores which are probably now my favourite hills.

Anyway I’ve had a notion of doing all the Munros in the Mamores in a day.  I did plan to attempt this a few years ago on an OM meet but was distracted by friends who wanted to do the Aonach Eagach in a nun’s outfit (more of that another day!).

I know it’s not the same as Tranters Round or Ramsay Round but still enough of a test for a nearly fifty year old!  So that’s the challenge I’ve set myself for next summer.  Better keep up the gym membership!

Aonachs Revisited

Posted in Munros with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by ayrshiretiger

We’d planned a few days up in Kinlochleven at our favourite B&B run by Bob and Chris, the only decision being which hills to do. I’d done the Aonachs a few years ago in glorious winter conditions but Elaina hadn’t so it seemed a good opportunity to revisit them.

We had great intentions of being on the hill by 9am but it finished up being 10am by the time we got to the car park at the end of Glen Nevis.   The weather was glorious as we wandered up to Steall falls, not as impressive as they can be but still a fine sight.

Elaina looking towards Steall falls
Elaina looking towards Steall falls

Just before the bridge at the Steall ruin we headed north beside the Allt Coire Giubhsachan to the bealach between Carn Mor Dearg and Aonach Mor.

Looking back to the Mamores
Looking back to the Mamores

A quick stop for a bite and to replenish our water supplies as well refresh ourselves by dunking our heads under the mini waterfall!

Cooling down!
Cooling down!

It was hard work scrambling first over boulders then a steep grassy slope to the col bewtween the two Aonachs. A gradual incline then took us to the flat summit of Aonach Mor at which point one of the forecast heavy showers blew in.

Some bloke on summit of Aonach Mor!
Some bloke on summit of Aonach Mor!

The rain quickly cleared and we were soon on our way towards Aonach Beag. From there we took the south-west ridge back towards the bridge at Steall ruin. We quickly picked up, and then lost a good path! Eventually, after some meandering we found ourselves just 50 metres from the bridge. Just one minor problem…fast running streams on either side of us joining to block our route! Fortunately a bit of backtracking up stream led to an easyish crossing point! At this point another shower came in along with accompanying rainbow.

Rainbow over Binnein Beag
Rainbow over Binnein Beag

The rain was actually quite pleasant as it kept the midges away as we strolled back to the car. A very different day from the last time in the snow but still a cracking circuit.

Ballachulish Sunshine!

Posted in Munros with tags , , , on September 9, 2008 by ayrshiretiger

Yes, I’m back, mainly due to ptc* pestering me! 😉

Apparently it’s been raining a bit down south but the forecast for the West Highlands was dry and sunny so we headed for Ballachulish to do the Beinn a’ Bheithir Horseshoe.  And a cracking weekend it was too!

Sgorr Dhearg from Sgor Bhan

Sgorr Dhearg from Sgor Bhan

Looking down on Ballachulish and Loch Leven

Looking down on Ballachulish and Loch Leven

We parked the car at the church on the A82 and walked back to the village, past the school and on towards Sgor Bhan.  Some fine scrambling quickly saw us gain height giving a fantastic panoramic view from Mull in the west, across to Ardgour with Eigg and Rum beyond, the Mamores and Nevis to the north and of course Glencoe in the east. Could also pick out Ben Lui and Ben Cruachan to the south.

Looking over to Ardgour

Looking over to Ardgour

Stayed at Bob and Chris’s excellent B&B in Kinlochleven on Saturday night.  More fine weather on Sunday saw us head for a lovely woodland walk up to Blackwater Reservoir.  Returned via the conduit before hitting the West Highland Way back to Kinlochleven and then bumped into the aforementioned ptc* and family.

Looking forward to a trip to Rum in a couple of weeks – I will post a report – honest!