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Scotland picture Photographs from Hiking Holiday - Scotland, 2007

This year I wasn't able to go to France to watch the Tour. All was not lost though because I did manage to get my summer "mountain fix" walking in the Scottish hills.

    Ben Nevis and The Mamores
    Loch Tay and Ben Lawers

Ben Nevis and The Mamores
Inverlochy Castle I started off from the town of Fort William, named after the military fort built at Inverlochy (now a suburb of Fort William) by General George Monk to accommodate his 250 troops for Oliver Cromwell's invasion during the English Civil War. It was originally called "The Fort of Inverlochy", built in 1654, and was renamed Fort William in 1690 after William Of Orange, a Dutch aristocrat who was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 1689 until his death in 1702. Its history goes back much further, to at least 1270, when the original Inverlochy Castle was built, the ruins of which still remain today.

I started by climbing up to Ben Nevis (1344 m), something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. The weather was OK as I set off at about 8am, although quite humid and sweaty, especially on the lower slopes. There was some low cloud on the hill tops which I hoped would clear by the time I reached the summit. It wasn't to be though and visibility was fairly poor at the top as you'll see from the photos. It was also quite windy and cold which I'm told is "par for the course".

Ben Nevis memorial I should add that the stories I've often heard about the Ben Nevis path being an easy walk that anybody can do and barely raise a sweat are greatly exaggerated. It's not the most strenuous hike in the world and I'm sure that most healthy people with a reasonable level of fitness can get to the top and back down but I'm also sure very few find it easy. The thing that could be said to be easy is that the track is very clearly defined and it would be almost impossible to get lost except in exceptionally bad weather. It took me around 3 hours from bottom to the summit, but then I was the only person I saw silly enough to lug a 50 litre, 12 kg rucksack up there!

After Ben Nevis I spent a few nights camping in the Mamores. Wild camping is legal in most of Scotland and it really is the best way to see the hills - to wake up amongst them (or better still, on top of one, weather permitting) early in the morning. And if you're lucky enough to get a clear night, the complete absence of any stray lighting for miles around makes for a spectacular sky, covered in stars. When you live in central London with so much light pollution you just don't see that sort of thing too often!

I was very lucky with the weather which was warm and sunny for almost the entire time, the summit of Ben Nevis being the only exception. I spent most of the time exploring the area known as the Ring of Steall. The Munros in "bagged" in the area were Sgurr a' Mhaim (1099 m), Stob Ban (999 m), Am Bodach (1032 m), Stob Coire a' Chairn (981 m), and Na Gruagaichean (1056 m).

Photos here...

Loch Tay and Ben Lawers
Loch Tay I left Glencoe by bus and headed east to meet up with a group at the Cruachan Farm camping ground on the shores of Loch Tay. Two buses took me as far as Lix Toll at the turn-off to Killin. I then caught the Post Bus for the last few kilometres to Killin, which I thought was very near the camping ground. It turned out to be another 5 km up the road, so much more of a walk than I'd planned. I was beginning to realise that public transport to the less heavily populated parts of Scotland can be a bit more difficult than in and around Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I was able to do two days of walking, both days in the Ben Lawers and Tarmachan area. The first day a group of around 12 of us did a 16 km loop starting and finishing at the Ben Lawers Hotel. There were 4 Munros in the loop - Meall Greigh (1001 m), Meall Garbh (1118 m), An Stuc (1118 m), and the highest peak of the day, Ben Lawers (1214 m). The weather was a little changeable and we saw 3 seasons that day, getting rained on for a short time on top of Meall Greigh, the first Munro, but by the time we were half way around the weather had become quite pleasant, but windy and chilly on the tops and exposed areas as always.

On day two, three of us (Sam, Yael, and myself) decided to do the Tarmachan Ridge, another loop starting and finishing at the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre near Ben Lawers. The walk was about the same distance as the previous day, but just the one Munro to be "bagged", Meall nan Tarmachan (1044 m). The weather was better than the previous day, still windy on the tops and chilly when stopped but nice and clear with some great views, especially later in the day when enhanced by a combination of scattered cloud and the setting sun casting shadows on the hill faces.

Photos here...

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This page first created by Craig Porter: 02/09/2007.