I spent yesterday afternoon showing a group of German university students around Kinlochleven to explain how the village has benefited from rural regeneration programmes over the last decade. For over 90 years, Kinlochleven was an important aluminium manufacturing base with the British Aluminium Company smelter and factory dominating the village, the local economy and community life. Its closure in the late 1990s could have resulted in disaster for the village without the company working in partnership with the Highland Council and Highland and Islands Enterprise to find ways of regenerating the village and pave the way for an alternative future.

The creation of the Ice Factor and what is now the Atlas Brewery, along with a small business complex in the centre of the village certainly made a difference in securing the villages future. However, they made lot of mistakes along the way, particularly with community involvement. That has changed in recent years with local residents being in the majority on the Kinlochleven Community Trust, of which I am now the Chairman. The Trust has also changed direction away from just economic development to encompass wider environmental and sustainability aspects as well. We want to regenerate some of the neglected areas of the village, transferring the land from Alcan to the community, so that we can attract more visitors and tourists to the area. We don’t do enough to "blow our own trumpet" and promote all the opportunities for visitors not just in the village but in the great countryside on our doorstep. One of my pet projects is to not only promote but upgrade and widen the path network in and around the village and also introduce elements of heritage interpretation as well.

It’s hardwork but immensely rewarding and slowly we are making a difference.

Starting point: Mamore Lodge Hotel (NN 186 629)

Mountains Climbed: An Garbhanach, An Gearanach, and Na Gruagaichean

Munro Count: 2

Corbett Count: 0

Purists may argue that driving your car to the Mamore Lodge Hotel and starting your walk at 200m is cheating. Instead they would advocate starting in the village and climbing through the woods beside the Grey Mares waterfall up to the land rover track heading for Loch Eilde Mor. Let the purists argue that if they wish, I however will continue to make use of the car park at the Mamore Lodge for my forays into the Mamore range of mountains. All of these mountains have a long approach and starting from the village needlessly extends these approaches.

So ignoring the purists I set off on a warm, sunny day along the land rover track skirting around the edge of the Stalkers Cottage before head up Coire na Ba. This is local territory for me, I can see the beginning of the coire from my living room window with the double summits of Na Gruagaichean towering above. The coire is a large bowl with the crags of Am Bodach on one side and the slopes of Na Gruagaichean on the other, at its head the pyramid of Stob Coire a’Chairn. Many days are spent looking out the window longing to be walking along the path that takes you all the way to the ridge line.

The path leading up Coire na Ba
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Am Bodach from Coire na Ba
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Once on the ridge you are treated with a panorama of some of greatest mountains starting with Ben Nevis and stretching across the Aonachs and then on to the fine ridge of the Grey Corries.

I skirted around the back of Stob Coire a’Chairn to a small col and the path that heads up the steep and rocky slope of An Garbhanach where the fun starts. Barely 400m long this airy, exposed ridge provides a fine scramble for hill walkers. For those of a gentler persuasion you are able to bypass the scrambling by following a path, but in one place I found this to be equally exposed with a tricky steep section on loose gravel and rock. On my return along the ridge I stuck to the scrambling with no particular problems. At the summit of An Gearanach you can savour the Glen Nevis vista before you over your sandwiches and flask of tea.

Ben Nevis from An Gearanach
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The path continues down the northern ridge into the glen and the wire bridge at Steall, this makes a fine through route from Kinlochleven. However, I returned to the main Mamore ridge and headed up the scree slopes towards Na Gruagaichean, on first ascent you are deceived by thinking you are nearing the summit only to find it is a minor top and you still have a small dip to negotiate before reaching the true summit. This small dip is indeed tricky, steep and loose gravel call for gravel but once past it is an easy clamber up and over large rocks to the summit. Here another panorama is before you, to the east the shimmering Loch Eilde Mor and Blackwater reservoir with the bleak Rannoch Moor. Then to the west Loch Leven stretches out bathed in early evening sunlight framed by the Pap of Glencoe and Man na Gualainn with the Morvern hills beyond.

You can backtrack to the col and the Coire na Ba path or continue down the southern ridge, as I did, to meet the land rover track that will lead you back to the Mamore Lodge much to the purists disgust!

Zemanta Pixie

I set out with the aim of writing not only about munro bagging but also about Kinlochleven and the surrounding Lochaber area on this blog. Since its creation I have failed to mention the latter in any detail, instead concentrating on recent munro walking.

To address the balance a bit I thought I would highlight some of the walking opportunities around the village by posting a local walking leaflet. This was produced by the village trust some time ago following the closure of the local Aluminium Smelter. I am the new Chairman of the community trust and one of our priorities is to review and regenerate the path network in and around the village. That is a mammoth task that will involve working with other landowners as well as applying for outside grants. We are determined to make a difference and attract more walkers to this great area.

An early task will be to update information about walks in the area and expand this to include some higher level walking guides as well. I am sure I will post more information on this project as it develops. In the meantime take a look at the leaflet, it is primarily aimed at casual walkers looking for undemanding lower level walks but it does give a flavour of what is on offer.

I set out with the aim of writing not only about munro bagging but also about Kinlochleven and the surrounding Lochaber area on this blog. Since its creation I have failed to mention the latter in any detail, instead concentrating on recent munro walking.

To address the balance a bit I thought I would highlight some of the walking opportunities around the village by posting a local walking leaflet. This was produced by the village trust some time ago following the closure of the local Aluminium Smelter. I am the new Chairman of the community trust and one of our priorities is to review and regenerate the path network in and around the village. That is a mammoth task that will involve working with other landowners as well as applying for outside grants. We are determined to make a difference and attract more walkers to this great area.

An early task will be to update information about walks in the area and expand this to include some higher level walking guides as well. I am sure I will post more information on this project as it develops. In the meantime take a look at the leaflet, it is primarily aimed at casual walkers looking for undemanding lower level walks but it does give a flavour of what is on offer.

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