The view from my window of snow on Ben Wyvis on Friday morning had me excitedly scrabbling around to find my ice axe as I packed for the Kinlochleven meet. Alas, it was a false promise of early season soft, unconsolidated snow, but hopefully an early portent of good things to come.
Kinlochleven, since the closure of the Alcan plant twenty years ago, has been transforming itself from a factory town into a tourist destination and centre for mountain pursuits. The town is surrounded on three sides by mountains with networks of walking and biking trails, it is an important staging point on the West Highland Way and hosts the Ice Factor which contains the world’s biggest indoor ice climbing wall. In the last few years the surrounding mountains have been the venue for the series of extreme Scottish Skyline races – the Mamores Vertical Kilometre, the Ben Nevis Ultra, The Ring of Steall Skyline and the Glen Coe Skyline – all of which start or finish, or start and finish, at Kinlochleven.
The assiduous reader will have noted that little has been said, so far, of the towering peaks ascended or the feats of derring do undertaken by your correspondent and his companions, however, the photo at the top of this report demonstrates otherwise; it shows Garbh Beinn, Kinlochleven and Beinn na Caillich, with Mam na Gualainn behind.
Saturday saw two parties ascend, in squally weather, a quite unprepossessing Corbett – Glas Bheinn – which lies between Loch Eilde Mor and the Blackwater Reservoir. Despite the modest size of the hill itself, its position – with the Mamores to the North, Glencoe to the South and Ben Alder to the east – gave superb mountain views. One party descended below the dam of the Reservoir to visit the small graveyard for men who were killed in the construction of the Reservoir. Some of them perished in winter weather walking back to camp from the Kingshouse, others in the construction of the dam which is nearly one kilometre long and was the last major dam built without mechanised help, with 3000 navvies employed in its construction.
Your correspondent also summitted Garbh Bheinn to the South of Loch Leven in fairly windy conditions on Friday and, on Sunday with Robin, traversed Beinn na Caillich and Mam na Gualainn, on the north side of Loch Leven. Dougie and Michael were thwarted in their ascent of Fraochaidh from Glen Duror by a missing bridge over the River Duror, and by forestry plantations. Other lesser hills were ascended en route home.
Participants: Arthur, Steve, Michael, Dougie, Kirsty R., Jim, Ewen, Ian (guest), Peter, Marion, Robin.