Posted by Frank Broughton on 2018-03-12


A total of seven people travelled north to stay at the comfortable SYHA hostel in Glencoe, four of us (myself, my nephew John, Yvonne and Graham Banks) arriving on Monday and three more (Ed Chicken, John and Judith Hallet) on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday low cloud and rain discouraged any thoughts of Munros. Instead we opted for a glen walk from Kinlochleven to the Blackwater Reservoir dam. A pleasant path on the north bank of the River Leven led us up to the wild landscape around the (frozen) reservoir and an icy traverse along the top of the dam before we headed back to KInlochleven past a lonely graveyard where twenty or so workers killed during the dam construction are buried.

While Graham tried his luck skiing on Wednesday, the rest of us drove to Glen Etive to climb Beinn Maol Chaluim, a Corbett that, at 907 metres, was only just short of being a Munro. Although drier and less windy than on the previous day, cloud was still thick on the tops and the ascent in soft snow with occasional icy patches, proved more challenging than expected, especially as most of us were equipped only with Katchoula spikes rather than full crampons. John and Judith, being less experienced in Scottish conditions than the rest of us made the sensible decision to turn back and Ed kindly agreed to accompany them while John, Yvonne and I pressed on.

We reached the summit in white-out conditions and set off back after a hasty (and chilly) snack, eventually gaining our reward in the shape of some great views of Loch Etive from the south summit of the Beinn. Back in the glen we found that Ed, John and Judith had got down safely and spent the intervening time watching a pair of eagles and feeding a very tame group of Red Deer.

After a tough mountain day and a forecast of more rain we decided to stay low on Thursday. We said  goodbye to Graham, who had to leave for home that morning then headed towards the coast and first leaving a vehicle at each end of the route, we walked a path from Ballachulish to Glen Duror, partly through open moorland and partly through forestry plantations. Once we’d completed a sheltered and not too strenuous walk we drove the short distance to Cuil beach where we spent a happy half hour re-living childhood pleasures in beachcombing and water-skimming any flat stones we could lay our hands on.

Another cloudy and damp day on Friday again encouraged another glen walk, particularly as four of us needed to be heading south by early afternoon. We chose the Hidden Valley on the north side of Glencoe, a spectacular example of a glacial hanging valley where in former times the local Macdonald clan used to conceal the cattle they stole from their neighbours. The upper part of the Valley was deep in snow and when the clouds momentarily cleared we had gorgeous views of the surrounding peaks, a satisfying end to an enjoyable (if damp) visit to the Highlands. Naturally as we drove south the clouds parted to give the stunning sight of a snowy Buchaille Etive Mor and the Blackmount tops bathed in sunshine!

PS Graham took a pair of the Club’s snowshoes to Glencoe ski centre and found them very easy and enjoyable to use.

Frank Broughton

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