Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Ben Nevis 11 June 2009.

Ben Nevis
Distance 17km Climb 1352m
Thursday 11 June 2009

This was the first time we had stayed at The Goirtean on the West coast of Scotland at Smirisary near Glenuig, in the summer months. Normally we come in November and miss out on the midgies. It is such a restful, peaceful place. From The Goirtean there is a good half mile walk to the car park and this is a mini adventure in itself. 

This was my second time up Ben Nevis this year and Anne's first. I walked up Ben Nevis following my WHW. We had left the Croft early to travel to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. We would be walking the Tourist Trail, although I now believe it is called the Mountain Trail.  On our way up we passed very few people until we neared the Loch.

We took our time and were going at a steady pace. Near the loch we had seen the helicopter ferrying stones up the mountain side. It was as we reached the zig zags we were stopped with a group of other people as a helicopter flew overhead making a delivery of stones.

Large groups of Army Cadets started passing us as we neared the top, apparently they were all part of an Army Cadet challenge doing the Three Peaks.

Although there was still snow on the top it was not as covered as it had been in March, and as we circulated around to the top I was sure I had not taken this path in March, which made me a little concerned as to how safe I had been.

Too late to worry about it now. We soon reached the top and the views were stunning of hill tops peaking through the clouds. After a couple of photos it was time to head back down.

On our way down we started meeting more groups and people walking up.

It had been a good walk and we had a well deserved meal in Fort William before returning to The Goirtean.
We had walked 17km with 1352m climb.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow links to other walks from The Goirtean. Meall nan Each and South of Loch Shiel.

Meall nan Each, Ardnamurchan - Highlands 11 Nov 2016.

Meall nan Each
Distance 16km Climb 520m
Friday 11 November 2016

We had a great week staying at The Goirtean on the West coast of Scotland at Smirisary near Glenuig. It has been a few years since we had last stayed at the croft. With it being such a restful, peaceful place and taking part in the two minutes silence our walk today started a little later than yesterday. Beautiful, the colours of the countryside at this time of year are amazing. From The Goirtean there is a good half mile walk to the car park and is a mini adventure in itself. 

Today we started our walk at the car park just up from the school at Acharacle 20m. The weather was a lot more breezy and low cloud threatened rain. 

We followed the forest road that ran west, next to the car park. On the deer gate there was a notice about deer hunting at certain times of the year and the advice was to stay to the paths. For us today the season was over.

Passed the trees the track turns southwards and the countryside opens up. A strong cold wind was blowing directly into our faces from the south.

We followed the track round to the right, west by the Dig Bhan. My map shows after approx 200m a footpath turns left over Dig Bhan and heads south. This is now an established stone track, which we took. There is a gentle climb and in places although a few rises provided a little shelter from the wind, it was still strong and in our faces.

After climbing a short rise we passed by a gate and the stone track starts to turn into a grass track. This was where Anne decided to return to the car, leaving me to continue on my own.

The grass track continued south, dropping down to a footbridge over the Allt Beithe, with a climb up the rise on the other side.

It is an easy path to follow as it twists, turns, drops and climbs gently up to Loch Laga. Although cold the colours around me where so beautiful and vivid, the browns, reds, golds with all the shades of green. Then the pale blue of the water as the wind whipped it into small white crests.

I arrived at what appears to be a small boat hut on the loch and took a bearing north west following a stream that lead me up hill.

Although the climb had become steeper it was still not as steep as yesterday, I say that, I mean in most parts. I followed the south side of the stream up between two massive buttresses of rock. Which lead to a wide open area, boggy with streams running across it. The wind was blowing my pack around me along with the map case and camera. The bag straps where being whipped up and slapping me in the face.

I took a deep breath, checked my bearing and continued north west up a steep rise. Which opened up on a smaller open area. Another map and bearing check and I continued up to where I saw the trig point. Where it was very exposed. I walked carefully with heavy gusts of wind blowing me all over, up the trig point 490m on Meall nan Each.  The views were stunning north west and west to the sea, east I could see Loch Shiel. Due to the conditions I did not stay as long as I would have liked, so I turned and headed back down hill. With the wind in my face, making my eyes run.

The wind had been no help with the climb up and was certainly no help with the climb down, but it was easier. I reached the lower opening and could see Loch Sunart through watery eyes to the south, I was clinging to my camera.

I reached the lower opening and took a few more photos again being badly buffeted by the wind.

The massive rock buttresses acted more as a funnel for the wind than providing any kind of shelter.

When I reached the west side of Loch Laga again, I found a small place in the shelter of the bank of the stream to get a drink of water before moving off again.

This time moving north, the wind was at my back so helped push me on and in no time at all I had covered the 5 km back to the track junction.

The light was going a little as I turned left, east on the stone track. The angle of the surrounding hills provided shelter from the wind. Reaching the trees I followed the path east.

Then I crossed over a small rise and I was through the gate and the school was below me.

Anne was at the car waiting for me. Again it was timed to perfection, timed for the opening of the Highlander Cafe in Acharacle. Where we had a well deserved meal. I had walked 16km with 520m climb.

It was raining a little by the time we passed Glenuig and turned towards Smirisary. The rain was waiting for us and our last walk back to The Goirtean. Tomorrow we would be taking the long journey home, it was sad to leave such a beautiful place.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to previous walk in the area South of Loch Shiel.
Follow link to walk from The Goirtean in 2009. Ben Nevis

Monday, 14 November 2016

South of Loch Shiel, Lochaber - Highlands 10 Nov 2016.

South of Loch Shiel
Distance 11km Climb 510m
Thursday 10 Nov 2016

We had a great week staying at The Goirtean on the West coast of Scotland at Smirisary near Glenuig. It has been a few years since we had last stayed at the croft. Such a restful, peaceful place, beautiful, the colours of the countryside at this time of year are amazing. From The Goirtean there is a good half mile walk to the car park and is a mini adventure in itself. Anne saw a deer from the car park as we were getting ready to leave.

On arriving at the Glenfinnan visitor centre we left the car and crossed the road walking towards the Bonny Prince Charlie Monument. We had walked to the Monument earlier in the week and so today we took the path to our left towards Polloch. 

The path becomes a wooden walkway over a very damp and soggy area. Before crossing one of the bridges over the rivers, just to the left a little down the side of the river there is a cairn to Donald MacKellaig with a date 28 Nov 1910. I am always fascinated by the people these memorials are made for, they must have made such an impact.

Over the rivers we continued on the wooden walkway, passing the paths up to the viewing point, we had walked up and looked from the viewing point earlier in the week, so today continued up to the forest track.

We moved up to the forest track and saw a sign post showing right for Polloch 20km. We knew we would not get there today, but it was such a lovely day for a walk, lets see how far we will go.

The forest track is almost flat as it moves north east to south west on the south east side of Loch Shiel. The weather was cold but dry and snow was lying on the tops like a light dusting of icing sugar on cakes.

Views over the loch and back towards Glenfinnan, the monument and viaduct where stunning. The viaduct was shown in the Harry Potter film.

Just passed Guesachan, where there is a sign showing this is a marine area a fish farm. Anne decided that she was going to return to the car, I was going to continue with the walk.

However rather than walking on the flat by the loch I took out the map and decided to turn almost south. I could see a peak to my left and from looking at the ground I identified a route I could take to walk up it. This was the Meall a Choire Chruinn.

It was a steep climb, very steep in places, as I moved up the side of the hill and I could see a line I was going to follow. The ground was very soggy to start with patches of moss and heather. There were high steps of bracken I had to climb.

Looking back down the road I could see Anne, and I had a good view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The higher I climbed the more stunning the views.

I could see the top I was aiming for, under a dusting of snow. In the area the snow was hard with little give, slippery in places.

I was conscious of the time, with walking on the snow I was aware of how hard and slippery it was. In places the snow was deep as it had gathered around clumps of heather bracken and stones.

On reaching the top that I could see lower down the hill, I saw another higher peak behind. Looking at my watch, estimating time distance and how the snow was under foot I made a decision to return back to the glen below. Looking back I properly could have reached the top and may appear to be cautious but when walking alone in such a remote place I was not prepared to risk walking in the dark. I was still over 510m.

The view looking north east along Loch Shiel was stunning.

It was a steep decent and I followed a different line down. I followed a stream downhill, then started zig zagging across two streams finding the best route I could, travelling down. In places the steps I took where very steep.

On my way I startled three deer but they were gone before I could bring my camera round. How easily they glided around the hill.

On reaching the bottom I turned north east back along the forest road and headed towards Guesachan and then onto Glenfinnan.

I had motored along the path, and arrived in time to see the sun setting behind the Bonnie Prince Charlie Monument.

An interesting walk with amazing views topped off with such a magnificent sun set. Approx 11km with 510m climb.

Anne was waiting in the car.  I had timed it perfect so we could set off and arrive at the Lochailort Inn in time for our dinner and a well deserved couple of shandies.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to next walk in the area Meall nan Each.
Follow link to walk a few years ago from The Goirtean Ben Nevis.