When it comes to the British landscape, the Scottish highlands are one of the most beautiful areas on this little island. The mountains, the lochs, the moors – all of it together is just so picturesque, its hard to believe. It amazes me that there are people from this country, that strive to travel the world looking for beautiful places yet haven’t really experienced whats right on their doorstep!
It was back in May i believe, when 4 humans and a dog decided it would be a nice idea to travel half way up the country for a week long camping trip in Scotland. The idea was much like that of my trip with Bo last year, we would travel up to Fort William, spend a couple of days there exploring, before making our way up to Skye for the remainder.
Our first camping spot was on a site on the banks of Loch Linnhe. The setting there is wonderful, as the Loch is tidal, in the evenings as you can sit on the shore with a bonfire and watch as the water makes its way back in from the ocean. Its so peaceful, all you really hear is the sound of a pair of Shellcatchers calling, or the cattlegrid as the occasional local passes by on the far side, so after a long days driving, it was a lovely way to relax.
The next day we had planned to go into Glencoe, but we woke to depressing sights of rain, and low cloud cover, regardless we made our way with the intention of sumitting Stob Dearg only to turn back about three quarters of the way up. Visibility at the top was non-existent, and with the amount of snow still up there, and not knowing the terrain we decided to call it a day, instead we went to visit the shipwrecked fishing trawler back on the Loch.
Whilst at the campsite we had heard of a place worth visiting in Glen Nevis named Steall Falls. Once again we woke up to grim weather, but unperturbed we set off. The route follows the Water of Nevis river upstream, the water is fast flowing and there is numerous places where the water forks all around large segments of hard rock, and crashes down from heights to create plunge pools below, the area is also surrounded by ferns and covered in moss, and you feel like you’ve stepped back into prehistoric times. The route takes you up and along rocky edges, following the path of the river before opening out into this seemingly untouched valley, besides the footpath and wire bridge crossing there is barely any sign of human existence, and at the back of this view are the falls themselves, a white chaotic tower of water crashing down from the misty heights above.. This for me was truly one of the highlights of the trip, the hike was only about 3 miles each way, but its such a beautiful walk, I highly recommend anyone in the area to visit it!
Of course it would have been rude to stay in Fort William, and not visit the main attraction, Britains highest peak – Ben Nevis! Much like my trips up Snowdon, I try to avoid the main tourist routes, the last thing i want when going places like this is to be surrounded by people, so we decided on a loop known as the ‘CMD route’ that began in the forests below and followed the Allt a’ Mhuilinn river before forking to the left up Carn Beag Dearg, along the Carn Mor Dearg arete and up to the summit of Ben itself. As to be expected the cloud cover had been threatening all day, and as we reached the arete the visibility of course dropped dramatically! thankfully there was the occasional break in the clouds to tease you with brief glimpses of the views below, Hasselblad in hand, I caught a couple of frames, but it wasn’t until we made our way half way back down before visibility returned! overall our hike was just under 12 miles, with about 5000ft of elevation both me and Bo were suitably hungry and tired! a great days hiking despite not seeing anything from the top!
The following day we set off from Fort William, heading towards Skye – to be concluded in part 2..