29 May 2011

Glencoe, Scotland - May 2011

A short visit to the Western Highlands of Scotland, based at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe.
Accompanied by my regular walking companions Hayden Measham and Richard Pratt, a week of poor weather, and some very poor real ale at the Clachaig, but we still managed to climb
1. The Pap of Glencoe, Sgorr na Ciche 742m (under 4 hours up & down, easy walking, but steeper loose ground near the summit). Great views as far north as Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries, of Loch Leven, and the nearby ridge of Aonach Eagach and Bidean nam Bian.

On the Pap of Glencoe
2. Ben Nevis. The highest mountain in the UK at 1344m. Due to blustery weather we climbed this hill via the popular 'Tourist Route', rather than the more exposed Carn Mor Dearg ridge route. A lot of people on the path, and a very well made track all the way to the summit. 
Easy walking, but care required in snow and mist if you should do this route, given some very steep gullies adjacent to the path as you approach the summit. Predictably, the cloud came in as we approached the top, and the temperature plummeted with wind chill.
Some good views to Loch Linnhe and Glen Nevis on the descent. Three hours up, and three hours down.

'Tourist Route' up to Ben Nevis
On Ben Nevis
Colin and Richard in a gale, approaching summit of Ben Nevis
Cold lunch on summit of the 'Ben'
3. Beinn na Caillich 764m and Mam na Gualainn 796m. A walk selected because of very unstable weather outlook, but a good yomp over 11 miles nevertheless. Starting up the West Highland Way from Kinlochmore, before a steep ascent on to Beinn na Caillach and a broad ridge route to Mam na Gualainn. Some wild weather on top in strong wind-driven showers, but generally good views to the Mamores and south towards Glencoe. Indistinct route across boggy ground off Mam na Gualainn, so we missed the path which accesses fords across Allt na Lairige Moire. Wet feet for some! About 6 hours solid walking at a strong pace.

Colin and Richard on summit of Beinn na Caillach
Aonach Eagach ridge from summit of Mam na Gualainn
Summit of Mam na Gualainn
Despite a fancy website and historic reputation, we didn't enjoy our stay at the Clachaig Inn: not very clean, food OK, bar service often woeful, and some really strange-tasting cask ales. Not recommended (although the ladies serving breakfast were delightful).

Bidean nam Bian from the Clachaig Inn
On a positive note, to fill a wet weather day we took two minor ferries to the Isle of Mull and had an absolutely splendid lunch at the Cafe Fish in Tobermory. Great service and food, nice atmosphere and a good Sancerre. Happy days.


Guidebook: Ben Nevis & Glen Coe by Chris Townsend (Collins)

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