‘Idiot, idiot, you stupid imbecilic idiot ‘ or words to that effect escaped my mouth at 05:10 on a Sunday morning while standing under the commando statue above Spean bridge over looking a crisp sunrise full of a promising warm day as its light revealed not a cloud in sight. A day that revealed deep blue skies reigning over the Ben Nevis range and my destination; the grey corries, while I looked on at my expensive camera, which was perched on an expensive tripod. At present both were nothing more than useless lumps of metal and techno wizardry, at least without one small battery which I could now visualize sitting snug in its recharger at home beside the sofa.
Took this photo quite a few years ago
I could not believe it, got up at a stupid time, and drove like a banshee chasing the sunrise and all for nothing.
But……..as I reminded myself of the growing fantastic view to my front, of the glowing and rolling peaks looking like icing toppings on a dark chocolate gateau with odd colourful spring pines for decoration……I still had a walk ahead of me over one of the grandest ridges this fair land offers to the dizzy heights of over 1,100m and during a day that was sure to offer clear views throughout the day (a miracle surly!)……and not a single photo to show off about it……ahh well no worries eh!
Turned out that the camera battery was not the only mistake I made this day: after parking beside the gate above the corriehoille lodge. I had a pleasant walk up the track until I discovered the ample parking spots beside the track junction about ¾ mile up and even more just above them….damn damn…’Oh well more exercise is good for you’ I unwillingly tried to convince myself as I wandered towards the vicar statue, or whatever its supposed to be. One thing was for sure and that was just how real it looked, or perhaps it was just the early light playing on it, but even the dog gave it a few nervous sniffs and as we passed it, I could not help dreading and getting into the early stages of ‘shiteing in my pants’ mode in case it bellowed at us because I did not have any change to put in its pot.
After a few more twist and turns through the woods, I turned right up hill between them and a cliff over a broad slope that in places made me feel like I was ascending an obese backside as it just went on and on with each top revealing another slope over grass. until I reached the first top of stob coire gaibhre when at last the views I’d had thus far behind me were now supplement by those to my front of the grey corries. Or the white corries, as they were today with sprinklings snow whose colour ranged from white to odd faded patches of orange where the sun cast its low sharp rays onto it. Definitely a camera moment….damn!
From here the mountain zone got into full swing: came off the swaying grasses of the slopes onto the rocks and snow (about 800m). The snow being quite firm along the entire ridge, the rocks a mixture of immense white crystal boulders and shiny grayish from which I gather these peaks got their name from.
From here to stob choire claurigh the way was blatantly obvious as foot tracks ranged along the spine of the ridge like migratory gazelles tracks, showing the way as well as providing handy foot holds especially along the airier, narrower parts of the ridge where they condensed into single tracks. Everywhere else, they branched out looking like some tea going coach party had roamed this way before me.
From there to stob choire leith to stob coire an laoigh the walk eased to a gentle rolling delight, with the heart pumping ascent over, the ridge walk passed as if I was walking on the crest of a glorious wave with clear awesome views to all four points of the compass……damn! I am sure that I saw an teallach in all its winter glory off in a northish direction. I did see obviously the slopes leading upto the mamores whose lower height ensured they had a lot less snow then here. However, the most prominent view of the day was (apart from the corries) the ridge of aonach mor, which I spent most of walking gazing at trying to pin point where it was that I fell through a cornice many years ago. That was fun I can tell you, but it was planned as part of mountaineering training, except the cornice was’nt supposed to have a 4 to 5 foot over hang…….arh yes the memories, it was fun getting up I can tell you. Unfortunately I was in the cloud that day as I dug a avalanche test thing but viewing today, I recon it happened just above and to the right of the chair lift.
The only cloud I saw today was to the south, far, far to the south, which bloated like rippled candy floss in a long line upon the tops of those far off hills. Above me the deep blue, the type of deep blue, you see from a plane reigned the day along with the sun, hot and radiant most, no, all of the day playing with its light creating wonderful colourful tones onto the snow corries……damn!, as in no camera but wow, as in hills were made to be experienced during days like this and I felt just cherpy.
All to soon the end was reached and I had to rip myself away from this high paradise and bade cheerio to these hills but with a promise that ‘I’ll be back’ with a camera……
Once again snow turned to rock, then to grass where the new born lambs and the ewe’s played under this fine days weather as I descended to the dam at 240765NN. The waters of the river before the dam came gushing out of a deep narrow cleft with a peaceful grace that can only be appreciated after long walks as I soothed feet and soul within its shining surface and clear depths of her refreshing waters…..definitely the best mineral water around but without the crazy price and designer bottle.
The day was over, and what a day, but as I sprawled upon a boulder and the dog immersed herself into the river, I had to wonder just who else may have savored this rivers sweetness. That is, hundreds of years ago, a pict perhaps knelt here, or a highlander hiding out with a few cowes, or perhaps aliens – OK now I know enough is enough and I’m now officially drunk on too much of a good time. So its off home doggy…….till next time with camera.
route distance - definitly over 8 miles
height gain - had to be over 1000m
duration - far to short whatever it was or about 5 hours.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.