Monday, 5 October 2015

Bespoke guiding in Lochaber, Sep'15

Al Ewen was leading a bespoke 3 day event in the Lochaber area for a group of 4 friends. They'd flown up from London and hired a campervan for a 'boys weekend'. Here's Al's tale of the days....

I have been up Ben Nevis about 10 times and by various routes but never, ever have I had a view from the summit. But fortunately, in this wonderful period of settled high pressure in late September I got my chance. 

On Monday me and group of four guys from Sussex set out to do Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. Just some high cloud and moderate winds forecast. The hills at this time of year have a reddish hue when the deer grass and purple moor grass take on their autumn colour. And the birch leaves were just starting to turn golden too. I think it makes for some of the most beautiful views Scotland can offer. Progress up the long gently inclined slope of Carn Mor Dearg was steady and the wind picked up to 30 to 40mph as we got high, making it pretty chilly. 

Pleasantly however, upon reaching the summit the wind died down altogether and we enjoyed a fantastic traverse of the arete with stunning views of the cliffs of Ben Nevis and Glencoe to the North. The bouldery eastern slopes of the Ben were hard work as ever but before long, after about 5 hours we were at the summit of Ben Nevis....and views. We could see all the way to Rum and Skye....well worth waiting for!! The descent was comfortable and quick, down the tourist path and then north to Allt a'Mhuillin and the North Face car park.

I have got into hammock camping recently...I've got the bug and hammock whenever I can. So while my group, delighted with their first Munro and tremendous views headed to their motorhome in Glen Nevis, I headed off to the woods and set up my tarp and hammock. The good thing about a hammock is both the comfort and the feeling of being more connected to your surroundings. You can't beat having your morning coffee, swinging in your hammock looking out onto the woods! 

Day two took us the the Mamores and the Ring of Steall circuit. Four Munros altogether. I think this is one of the best hill days in Scotland, with a really Alpine feel. I think its the combination of the flat valley floor, the big waterfall and the steep steep slopes of the mountains that make you feel you are in France or Norway. The weather was even better than Monday, sunnier and less wind and really pretty hot at times. Again the views were superb. From the summits we could hear stags bellowing in the corries below. 

We moved pretty quick getting to the top of An Gearanach in two hours and the summit of the last Munro, Sgurr a'Mhaim, in 5hours. Having got to the valley floor we just had the last road section to do, back up the Glen to the car park.... 2.5km away. Having been on the go for 6hrs and 40 min, the guys in my group felt the urge to run and get the Ring of Steall done in under 7 hours. So we ran, rucksacks and boots, uphill, up the Glen and made it with minutes to spare. Pretty good going for guys on their first ever trip hillwalking in Scotland. 

Day three, was to be a short day so we made a visit to the Lost Valley. The weather was even better again. No wind or cloud at all and, in the sun, really really warm. After two hard days on the hill the walk to the Lost Valley was welcomed by all and with such good weather it was a delightful end to three days hillwalking in Scotland.