Saturday, 21 January 2012

Steall Falls

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 21 January 2012
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith
Accommodation - Laurel Bank Lodge, Fort William
Start Point - Polldubh Lower Falls Car Park, (GR NN14516 68326)
Start Time - 10:45
Finish Point - Laural Bank Lodge, Fort William (GR NN09418 73057)
Finish Time - 17:05
Duration - 6hrs 20mins
Average pace - 1.83mph
Distance Walked - 11.59miles
Height Ascended - 711.61metres

Peaks visited

Walk Summary

Walk Description

More Photographs

Steall Falls with An Gearanach behind 
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Druim na h-Earba

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 18 January 2012
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith
Accommodation - Laurel Bank Lodge, Fort William
Start Point - Laurel Bank Lodge, Fort William (GR NN09418 73057)
Start Time - 13:25
Finish Point - Laurel Bank Lodge, Fort William (GR NN09418 73057)
Finish Time - 16:30
Duration - 3hrs 05mins
Average pace - 1.47mph
Distance Walked - 4.54miles
Height Ascended - 391.3metres

Peaks visited
Marilyns (1216)
Druim na h-Earba (1)

Walk Summary
One of 3 minor Marilyns well within walking distance of our lodgings at Laurel Bank Lodge. A more significant peak slightly further east on the other side of Glen Nevis could also fit in to the 2nd and 3rd description but definitely not the 1st.
Apart from this being our very first walk, "up hill" or "down glen" in Scotland this was a very special walk for me. It was Gina's first hill walk without fear of aggravating symptoms of here long term back injury incurred nearly 3 years earlier, so although it is only small in ascent & distance it is significant in so many other ways.. I really am hoping we will look back on this walk when our Munro count is well and truly up and running and say "... who would have thought it possible."
A very decent alternative walk of about 10 miles for anyone wanting a more challenging walk which would include Bidean Bad na h-lolaire is also an option  However, I deliberately planned this as a short walk, with an easy return to the start point if there were any signs of re-occurrence of symptoms. Leaving Bidean Bad na h-lolaire for a later walk to enjoy and share with friends on a later trip.

Walk Description
1.) Turn right on to Achintore Road towards Fort William out of drive at Laural Bank Lodge B&B.
2.)  Take the first right on to Ashburn Lane and at the top of the hill look for the footpath sign on the other side of Grange Road. Do not turn right in to Grange Terrace as we did.
3.) Cross Grange Road and head up the footpath up the steps and pass the bungalow on the left with the waterfall in the garden until you reach Lundavra Road.
4.) Turn right and follow Lundavra Road up the gentle hill heading out of Fort William.
5.) At the cattle grid continue along Lundavra road until you reach the viewing point and picnic area on your left.
6.) Opposite the viewing area take the footpath to the left of the fence and follow it up hill.
7.) This footpath basically follows the easiest route up the ridge to Druim na h-Earba trig point.
8.) The top is slightly to the south east of the trig point.
9.) To make this a circular walk we continued past the trig point and headed down hill.
10.) When you reach the fence do not cross to the other side but turn right and head down hill. The going is easier this side of the fence.
11.) As you get level with Leacavoichten look fopr a route to your left to cut off the corner and reach the fence to the north of Abhainn Bheag. We had planned to cross Abhainn Bheag and join the Lundavra Road but the crossing was too awkward.
12.) As it turned out the route we ended up taking along the fence was probably best anyway.
13.) We joined the Lundavra road at the road bridge over Abhainn Bheag and turned left following the road to the viewing point and picnic area.
14.) From here head home on the reverse route of 4.) - 1.) above.

More Photographs
Druim na h-Earba trig point towards Fort William
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Lessons learned

Lessons Learned

This was one of the aims of my English Nuttalls Peak Bagging Blog that somehow never got included.

Starting off as a novice walker back in October 2008, I knew very little apart from map reading from Geography O-level (40 years ago) and outward bound with the CCF (again about 40 years ago). 

All I knew was that I wanted to go to the top of some hills. I knew they could be dangerous places if you did not prepare properly and respect the dangers. Little did I realise though, that once you got up in the hills the satisfaction, pleasure and sense of achievement you felt.

So here are a few pearls of wisdom that occurred to me that may have been useful if I had known them before I set out. While some of these points may be of use to someone they are not intended in any way as a source of reference, more like a diary of the order in which they dawned on me or realised were relevant  Some will seem obvious, but don't seem worth mentioning until they occur to you. Best of all some you learn again because you forgot or was in too much of rush. But whatever way you learn them or acquire the skills they all add to the knowledge bank that hopefully individually or combined give you the skills to enjoy the hills without doing them any damage or endangering anybody else.

I am starting this list at the start of my Scottish Hill walking adventure with the intention to add these lessons as they occur during walks in the Scottish Hills and as I draw on lessons from my English Hill walking will only include them at that point. However the first two are so important I am including them now before I have even bagged my first Munro or got very far in to my Scottish Hill walking experience.

1. Stay within your own limits.
So far I have had two attempts to properly bag Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. The first was when I turned back because I did not fancy the final ascent onto the summit plateau. I put this down to a healthy respect for heights. The second was when I made it to the summit plateau but did not go on to the trig point due to the strong wind and horizontal rain. Both these occurred on my first ever peak bagging trip and would not stop me now. However there will definitely be an ascent or ridge where I do not feel comfortable or weather conditions so severe that I will abandon the walk and return to camp without going on to complete the walk or bag the top as planned.

2. Respect the environment you are in
I am including this here from a safety point of view in as much as soon as you become complacent you can become careless. Even if you don't, as soon as you start thinking I have got this hill bagging lark cracked you may well find yourself having to deal with something quite unexpected.

However experience you may become always maintain a healthy respect for the environment you are in

It occurs to however as I am writing this that wherever there is a risk 

Blog Aims

As was the case for the English Nuttalls Peak Bagging Blog, the aim of the Scottish Munros Peak bagging blog is to provide a record of all my walks from a novice point of view in the form of a photo diary including our experiences and any lessons learned no matter how obvious.

After 241 of the 253 Nuttalls completed (at time of writing, Nov 2012), 4 years and over 90 separate walks in all four seasons and weather conditions, I think I can consider I have graduated from a novice to a hill walker. This does not leave room for complacency at any time, especially where Scottish hills are concerned. Even with my limited experience north of the border it is obvious to me that in terms of quantity, gradients, remoteness and most certainly weather, hill walking in Scotland is an entirely different proposition.

It therefore seems clear to me I have as much to learn at this stage going forward as I did four years ago starting as a novice.

The backlog caused by starting the English Nuttall blog two years after I started walking has diluted these aims resulting in many incomplete pages and a continual “job in progress” to catch up whilst at the same time going on additional walks and documenting these.

Furthermore other activities like planning, diary and hill logging where introduced resulting in even more work. In hindsight I find the activity of blogging is almost as hard as the actual walking, but in return provides nearly as much enjoyment.

After all when you live in the south 3 hours drive away from the nearest significant hill you need some way of satisfying the call of the hills.

With this in mind the structure of this blog is being designed to take all of these extras into account within the limited capabilities of Blogger. In addition to all this I found many aspects of my walking were excluded, including lower level walks and even walks to Non-Nuttall summits.

Accompanied by my wife, apart from the joy of her company and shared experience, I have already discovered the benefits of visiting lesser (for want of a better word) summits along with valley and other lower level walks. I am therefore going to expand the scope of this blog further to include ALL walks and trips in Scotland, not just those involving Munros.

It is for this reason I have started the blog now before the first Munro has been visited. Please be patient it will happen.

Finally it is not intended as a reference. I am nowhere near qualified enough and there are many excellent sources of reference both on-line and in books, many of which I will refer to in this blog.

If nothing else it will sit on a server somewhere and who knows one of my descendants may come across it on whatever medium information is accessed in the future and maybe say something like “Could they not find anything better to do than that?”

Well the answer to that is “No. Give it a try yourself - the mountains will still be there”


Back in October 2008, as I was approaching early retirement, I set myself a target to climb every  2000ft top in England, which is documented on my English Nuttalls Peak Bagging blog in the form of a photo diary.

Now, at time of writing (November 2012) I only have 12 left to complete and I am now starting to think more seriously about what I will do next.

After completing the English Nuttalls I had intended to complete the 190 Welsh Nuttalls, followed by the Scottish Munros. However after visiting Fort William twice with my wife in 2012, for our first ever visits to Scotland, I feel we have both fallen in love with the dramatic scenery you find around every corner. Not that there is likely to be anything wrong with Wales, we can discover there together as well.

Further more my obsessive approach to the English Nuttalls tended to alienate my wife against the prospect of going all the way to the Lake District to go out in all weathers just to see a pile of stones on a windswept hill.

By discarding this sequential approach to be more inclusive, my wife can share, enjoy and learn from our experiences without being dragged up the highest point in each area we visit. Taking account of other hill types and walks not involving the peaks to appreciate the hills from all aspects, not just the tops.

The hills provide the excuse to go to an area, get out in to the great outdoors, challenge your capabilities in many ways and last but not least - a great way to keep fit as well as a great excuse to get fit. But the area also has many other things to offer.

This focus on exclusively Nuttalls delayed my appreciation of what each area in England has to offer. It was not until I went to Northumberland and completed the Cheviots in one weekend how much I was going to miss out if I did not return. 

Our approach in Scotand & maybe Wales will be different. Yes I want to come up to Scotland as often as I can, and yes I want to go up every Munro, but not to the exclusion of everything there is to offer. There are other things to do and see including appreciation of the local areas, lower level hills and walks not to mention the secluded beaches, coach & rail journeys as well as many Scottish Heritage sights.

So although the blog is about the Scottish Munros other hills and walks will be included as well as a diary to show our progression from English hill walkers to Scottish mountain walkers.