Thursday, January 29, 2015

Keeping abreast of mountain names round Loch Leven.

From Poll an Dunain we enjoyed a view of the sun catching the high ridges of Creag Ghorm 758m which rises steeply behind the Ballachulish Hotel from where we had set off.

 Although we were still in deep cold shade the sun was beginning to...

 ...rise above the deep valleys on the south side of the loch.

We now enjoyed a view of one of the most iconic mountains that surround Loch Leven.

Sgorr na Ciche is only 742m high but it is a proper mountain with a fantastic view of the loch.

I was last on its summit in 1998. It was late in the day in summer. We had just traversed the Aonach Eagach ridge to its east and were in the coll below its summit. We just started to ascend the peak when a man came down the steep slope above. "It's a bit late in the day to be going up there, it's quite a challenge" says he. "Well, I think we are ready for a challenge" says I.. "Well you will need to be very careful the ground is much rougher up there, what way did you come up here?" says he. "Actually we came down to here, we have just come along the Anoach Eagach ridge." says I. "Oh" says he and he scurried off down the path.

 The English name is Pap of Glencoe and Ciche means a young woman's breast.

In contrast, Mam na Gualainn  796m on the other side of the loch is named after the rounded breast of a more mature woman.

There was little wind but what there was was straight into our teeth from the east and the cold heart of the high mountains beyond.

We had to paddle out in to the loch to get round a huge salmon fish farm. We had enjoyed delicious local salmon in the hotel the previous night so could not complain too much. In the far distance we could now see the steep south ridge of Am Bodach 1032m which rises steeply from our destination, Kinlochleven. It is part of the Mamore range, the big rounded breasts.

As we passed the mouth of Glen Coe we had a wonderful panorama of the mountains on both sides of the glen: Sgorr na Ciche 742m,  Sgorr nam Fiannaidh 967m, Stob Coire nan Lochain 1115m, and Bidean nam Bian 1150m.

It was at this point that the plastic body of my thermometer cracked in the cold. It would never again register above zero. We were getting colder by the second in the biting wind.

 At last we spotted what we were looking for...

 ...a little beach, out of the wind with some nice rocks... sit on and in full sun. It was a great location for first luncheon as we knew we would soon be entering the perpetual shade of the upper loch.

 It also enjoyed a great view across the loch to the...

 ,...snowy ridges and peaks of Beinn a' Bheithir 1024m.

Below Bidean nam Bian the sun was lighting the Fionn Ghleann, the fair glen.


  1. What lovely photos a most magical and memorable day.
    Your story about the chap on the Pap made me smile. I have always been active in the hills and mountains. I frequentley get asked by blokes if I know where I am going or they don't believe me when I tell them where I been. I have also been asked out for a drink a couple of times by total strangers. :) I guess this is all part of the mountain experience :) .

  2. Thank you Allison. Here is another anecdote of an encounter with a male on the hills. I remember climbing over Am Basteir from the west by going up Naismiths route on the tooth then up a wee vertical wall onto the summit. After a nice picnic on the top we were descending the easy east ridge when we came to the "new bad step" up caused by a then recent rockfall. It wasn't in the guidebooks but it was no bother to nip up but when I got to the top there was a very bossy man arguing with three women companions. They all wanted to turn back and when he saw me he immediately demanded that I confirm his location because the guidebook was wrong. I reached into my rucksack and pulled out a Calmac map of the Hebridean ferry routes. "Let me see..." I said, pondering the map carefully then I pointed. "I think we are here" and I stabbed my finger on Mull. One of the women sniggered but in that moment Nigel, for that was his name, spotted my rope inside the rucksack. He made a grab for it with his thickly gloved hands but fortunately my friend appeared over the edge and distracted him long enough to do my rucksack up. "If you let me have your rope I will get the girls down there in a jiffy" says he. I said but how will you get back up once we are gone as this is the easiest way on and off the summit?" "Nonsense there must be an easier way down on the other side, Cameron McNeish's book says so." I told him I did not want to take responsibility for roping them down and leaving them stuck. I noticed the women exchanging glances of relief. As a parting shot I also suggested he took the ridiculous gloves off as he would then be able to feel the rock better! I got the impression he would need to find some new companions for his next outing. It's funny that these "advice from strangers" anecdotes always involve blokes!

    Douglas :o)

  3. Haha yes I remember some bloke stopping me and say ' do you mind if I ask where you are going ' apparently according to him I was on the wrong path, we were going in opposite direction so goodness only knows why he came to this conclusion. To be polite I told him he then replied by saying there were no paths the way I was going and that I was lost !!!! I am 5 ft tall but I can make myself well understood when the need arises :) hehe

  4. For some reason It's only when I am out on my own I have these encounters. Mostly I meet really pleasant, happy and chatty folk who are all enjoying our beautiful and magnificent mountains and coasts :)

  5. Beautiful Photographs. Stunning day.