There’s a baker’s dozen of great walks still on offer in the summer programme of the Nevis Hillwalkers. This is my local hillwalking club and although I am unable to go out with them every weekend, whenever I am free I  try and spend a day on the hills with them .

My highlights during the summer programme are:

  • Through route from Glen Nevis over the two Aonach summits and down to the Nevis Ski Centre (not using the gondola!)
  • The Five Sisters of Kintail – one of the classic ridge walks in Scotland.
  • Ben Nevis – no tourist track for us, up the Ledge route and descend via the CMD arete.
  • A full traverse of Buachaille Etive Beag from Glen Etive through to Glencoe.
  • Sgurr nan Gillean, Skye – let’s hope the great weather we are having now stretches all the way through to September.

I know that walking with a group of people is not to everyone’s taste but this club is a bit different. Even when there is a largish group (say 12) of us out on the hills, you can still get a feeling of solitude. If you want to walk slowly or fast you can do, no one is going to make you walk with the herd. Collectively we will all keep an eye out for each other but we all take individual responsibility.

This last weekend whilst out on Gulvain I opted out of joining the rest of the group for the “interesting” steep descent from the summit in to Gleann Fionnlighe and the cleg and midge delights that would greet them there. Instead, wanting to stay high, I walked back in the sunshine along the main ridge. That’s the ethos of the club, the programme is there as a guide but with enough flexibility for us to try different routes if we chose.

If you are visiting the Lochaber area over the summer and fancy walking with some local people take a look at our programme. Visitors can join us on three club walks a year before having to join. You’ll be assured of a warm welcome. .

You can download our programme here. Or find out more about the club here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


The two books I am reviewing for the November edition of The Scottish Mountaineer have arrived extremely quickly. This is good news as I wish to read them long before the copy deadline in mid-September.

They are:

  • The High Places: Leaves from a Lakeland Notebook;                     A. Harry Griffen, Frances Lincoln Publishers
  • A year in the life of the Isle of Skye;                                               Bill Birkett, Frances Lincoln Publishers

Both books look interesting but are completely different in style and format. Bill Birkett will be familiar to anyone who has seen his wonderfully evocative photographs of the Lake District or more recently Glencoe. This latest book is the next instalment of his, “A year in the life” series.  I had never come across A.H.Griffin before but he had written the country diary column in the Guardian for over 50 years. I am slightly sceptical about this book as it is prominently billed as including illustrations by A. Wainwright. Is this more cynical cashing in of the Wainwright franchise by developing a tenuous link to fill the coffers of greedy publishers? At a glance my initial reaction may be wrong and the illustrations do illuminate the words.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

You have lot of time to think about the Inaccesible Pinnacle on the walk up from the Glen Brittle Mountain Rescue Post. As you leave the car behind you and wander alongside the Allt Coire na Banachdich you ask yourself whether what lays ahead can’t be as bad as some people make out.


Beyond the waterfalls the path begins to rise over the moorland with views across to Coire Lagan with the jawbone of Sgur Mhic Choinnich and Sgurr Alasdair thrusting upwards. Surely the route can’t be as bad as those precipitous crags? Above a grassy slope the path steepens winding through scree and small crags. Suddenly the scrambling begins, nothing challenging at first, but once on the shoulder of Sgurr Dearg the path narrows and you are exposed to the sheer drop into the coire below with a lochan ready to catch an unfortunate walker. At this stage you contemplate whether your will is up to date. However, soon you are concentrating on negotiating the minor bumps as you follow the ridge further upwards.


Catching your first glimpse of the Inaccessible Pinnacle in the distance you feel a sense of disappointment, a diminutive jag on an extremely jagged skyline. It is not until you reach the crest of Sgurr Dearg that the full effect of the pinnacle hits you, the imposing obelisk a pointing finger into the sky. Sitting looking at the vertical west ridge you linger on your lunch preparing for the final ascent. Watching a mountain rescue team practice does little to boost your confidence, although their presence at the summit is somehow comforting. I still have no doubts, I have come this far I am going to get to the top.


We gingerly slide down the steep scree and slabs at times grasping at the rocks by our side, to prevent us slipping uncontrollably, until we reach the stability of the plateau below the east ridge. A more experienced member of the team continues up the ridge and then we are ready to climb. There is a short steep easy climb to a small platform where we rope up. The rocks tower above us as we make slow and steady progress to the half way point. Here I glance down to my right to see the mountainside plummet down to the valley floor below me. The exposure is significant but I do not feel overwhelmed or nervous, it is an odd mixture of satisfaction and determination that I feel instead.


We linger for a long time here as those ahead make sure all is safe, the wind whips around us and it is difficult to find shelter out of the cold. Then it is off again, a few tricky steps at first and then a more obvious route appears before you. At times you think this is no different from crawling up some stairs and then you realise there is a 3000ft drop on one side. Then we are there climbing on to the small flat platform at the top. There is plenty of time to contemplate your achievement whilst sitting waiting for your fellow walkers to make the short and quicker descent from the pinnacle by abseiling down. You also get an opportunity to take in the grandeur of the Skye Cuillins around you, promising many days of challenging hillwalking in years to come.


Then it is over, you are down on the main ridge taking off your climbing harness, with more experienced club members congratulating on making it to the top of what must be the most spectacular Munro.


Now for the steep descent back to the cars. You have a lot of time to think about the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the walk down…..