Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Wandering around lochs among white-capped hills

24th April 2008

This past weekend saw me head up to Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands after seeing a favourable weather forecast up there; the prospects for south of the border weren’t as good. A spot of overnight travel saw me reach Glasgow, from where a Scottish Citylink coach service carried me through the usually glorious countryside with it looking resplendent in the sunshine. The slopes may have been brown, but many of the tops were still white, a reminder of the bumper crops of snow that fell over the past winter and spring. It seemed a pity to merely be passing through all of this wonderful stuff without stopping but it just isn’t physically possible to explore it all at once.

Appropriately enough for a day that was to be spent in its vicinity, my coach journey was completed on the shores of Loch Leven next to Glencoe village. My eventual destination was to be Kinlochleven, but the next bus there was nearly two hours away and a short stroll along the lower slopes of Sgurr na Cìche (also known as the Pap of Glencoe) was more than a way to spend the time. I found my way onto Forestry Commission land originally landscaped to mimic Canada for Lord Strathcona’s wife. Unfortunately, the creation of an artificial lochan and planting of Canadian flora failed to stall a return to British Columbia and the big house that he built is now Glencoe Hospital. I walked around the lochan, taking in the views of mountains, some with snowy caps, above and through gaps in the trees. At one point, I took a path that gave my legs a good workout, a prelude to what was to come later.

Hospital Lochan, Glencoe, Lochaber, Scotland

My time well spent, I caught my bus for the short hop to Kinlochleven where a trek to and from Loch Eilde Mor was in my mind. I was retracing my steps from a visit in damper, clammier weather last August. Kinlochleven seemed more alive with people when I got there this time around and there were no midges to plague those who were out and about. When I set to ascending the steep slopes by Allt a’ Chumhann and Allt nan Slatan, it didn’t take long for me to find myself away from humanity. Views down along Loch Leven caused me to dally; I saw the potential in August but I knew that better weather would improve the views and I wasn’t wrong. The Mamores and their others were the mountainous wall on the right as I looked west while, on the left, the view towards Sgurr na Cìche took in what divides Glen Coe from Loch Leven.

Loch Leven, Kinlochleven, Lochaber, Scotland

By the time that I reached more level ground, banks of cloud had bubbled up and were limiting the sun but not that much. It meant a spot of patience was in order when it came to photographic activity, a very minor problem. By now, I had made my way from a well-made path onto a good vehicle track and it didn’t take that long for me to reach Loch Eilde Mor from that point. I would have walked its entire length were it not for doubts regarding my catching a bus to Fort William in time to reach my accommodation for the night. Thus, I turned back with Locheilt Lodge appearing tantalisingly close. In the event, I could have continued on a bit more since I was left with an hour to spare before the said bus arrived. However, it’s best to be safer than sorry sometimes and I was getting tired anyway. On the way back, rather than following the path that I used on the way up, I stayed on the vehicle track and followed it until Mamore Lodge, after which I dropped down to the road on the West Highland Way.

Loch Eilde Mor, Kinlochleven, Lochaber, Scotland

Fort William was reached in good time and I spent a quiet night there before starting my journey home after enjoying the early morning sunshine. I was wondering if I left the area prematurely and whether a little more planning would have made a longer break of it. The views from the coach were as good on the way down as they were on the way up, even if a strange sense of fatigue with all things brown came over me. Even so, I might have been visiting Lochaber for next to ten years but I keep finding something new that always seems to convince me that I’ll only ever scratch the surface of all that it has to offer. I have left hoping to return and a trek from Corrour to Kinlochleven might be a plausible proposition that returns me to the shores of Loch Eilde Mor and Loch Leven again.

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