The Highlands of Scotland: hundreds and hundreds of miles of open, free-to-roam, wilderness peppered with fresh and salt water lochs, lush glens and rocky mountains as far as the eye can see! We recently took a trip to the North of Scotland, to try and capture this magnificent untouched landscape and the lives of the animals that call it home.
In a series of photos we reveal our adventures through the home of British mountaineering. Our base was Fort William, featured in ‘The Best Places for Adventure in Europe’. Situated at the foot of Ben Nevis (the highest peak in Britain) and a stone’s-through from the world famous downhill mountain bike track, this was the perfect summer hideout.
We started the trip with an ascent of Aonach Mòr. At 1,221 m (4,006 ft), it forms part of the Glen Nevis Range. The mountain turns into a winter wonderland when the snow comes, becoming a ski resort. A gondola takes you from sea-level to around 600 m and the start of the downhill mountain bike track. It’s not advised to climb from the base station as the only way up is along the mountain bike track itself. From my experience riding alpine DH tracks (in mainland Europe), the track was unusually quiet however, with only a few bikes being taken up on the lift.
From here, the ascent is completely free—climbing up through the labyrinth of ski runs, though using some of the snow fencing as a guide it’s possible to spot a boot print or two. Half way up, the steepness increases and with large patches of scree, the hike becomes more varied. At the top there is a steep drop-off along the ridge-line. From here it’s possible to follow the ridge towards Ben Nevis. However this can be dangerous and sadly while we were still in Scotland, news broke that a hiker had fallen around 600 m on a similar route.
Glencoe and the Lost Valley
A rainy day in Glencoe followed, giving me a chance to test out my Berghaus Antelao. Returning for a hike up between the ‘Three Sisters’ towards the ‘Lost Valley’ was a great shout when the weather improved.
The track up towards the ‘Lost Valley’ is really fun with some rocky, scrambling sections to keep things varied.
Steall Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the UK; the water cascades over 100 m (328 ft) down the rockface. There is a car park at the top of the Glen Nevis valley, where you can pick up the trail. We decided to add some miles and start further down the valley reaching the car park on foot and then picking up the trail. The route from here is a blast with numerous rocky sections, water crossings and some mild scrambling along the Nevis Gorge. However due to the severe drop towards the river and the wet trails, turned stream in some places, it’s important to have the right gear. The path opens up into a gorgeous meadow where the falls can be admired in spectacular fashion.
As mentioned in a recent article, high on the to-do-list was an ascent of Ben Nevis at 1,344 m (4,409 ft). Taking the mountain track towards the summit provided amazing views and scenery of the surrounding landscape, with a few great photographic opportunities along the way. The mountain route begins at Achintee on the east side of Glen Nevis, at around 20 metres above sea level. Taking the bridge across the river gave us access from the west side. The track climbs steeply via several small zig-zags to the saddle by Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe (known as the halfway lochan) at 570m, then ascends the remaining 700 metres up the rocky west flank of Ben Nevis in a series of larger zig-zags.
Click on ‘Page 2’ for wildlife and landscape photos from the trip…