Date: Saturday 5th May 2012
A reasonably nice Saturday forecast saw us considering the options from Fort William. We’d been looking at a traverse of Druim Fada – the long ridge on the N shore of Loch Eil – using the train for one leg. A combination of unhelpful train times and roadworks lead to a decision to do an out and back.
We got a taxi out to Muirshearlich NN 140 808 on the B8004 Banavie to Gairlochy road. Open fields allow access to the hill just south of the forestry (with a few sheep fences to cross).
Rather irritated at this point to be honest – the forecast had been strongly in favour of a clear start and then clouding. Instead it was snowing on and off. Could’ve had a couple more hours in bed and taken the train.
Plodded our way upslope to Sron Liath – fairly decent terrain up this slope.
From Sron Liath to the summit there’s an arcing ridge of little steepness. The terrain was slightly peaty but remained reasonable.
To our right we saw a large raptor skimming some steep ground. An adult Golden Eagle – seemed to be using the day’s new thermals to get some height. It circled round a few times then headed off west. 8)
The final approach to the summit sees a slight steepening of the ridge for the last 100m, but again just a stroll.
The summit vista was superb. The views of the Ben and Aonachs dominate, but we were identifying peaks from Ardgour through to Kintail and Affric in the other directions. The Saddle in the sun provided the expectations that the Shills Meet was getting good conditions. 🙂
The air was Baltic however. We donned our Primaloft jackets and trews and sat down for a while. Direct sun warmth and insulation was quite toasty.
Lounged around for an hour enjoying the views and identifying distant hills.
Considered the traverse but the first train back from Locheil is 1700 which would have meant waiting around at the far end. Compromised by walking along the ridge a little way.
Returned to the summit visiting a rather conical top to the S of the summit. One eagle pellet at this one – no surprise as it has a large view of the buffet.
Nipped down to the little lochan on the summit area – a beautiful spot. Lots of tadpoles and one newt visible. There were bird pellets on many of the little bumps around the pool with tiny bones in – presumably heron visiting the frog pool.
This spot is in the diary for a winter wild camp.
So – 2hours after arriving at the summit we turned for home. Initially reversed route then turned south to follow the E edge of the forestry in Glen Larigain. Allowed us to appreciate the views to the big ones.
Continued on the forestry edge and then turned E to ascend Meall Bhanabhie. The terrain over all this ground turned a bit more tussocky, a bit irritating now, worse come the long grass.
Meall Bhanabhie is, however, an excellent viewpoint. Sits out in the Great Glen with views of Lochs Linnhe and Lochy and also Glen Spean. Well worth a visit.
From here we turned downhill to Banavie. I’d planned to use the transmitter road which runs round Banavie Quarry (on my map) to drop to the road. A word of warning – the quarry has eaten the road. The quarry was completely empty so went through the unlocked gate at the top and followed the track down into the quarry and out the front. No activity today but I don’t think this route is a good idea normally (There does however seem to be a gap at a memorial directly under the transmitter – NN 107 770 – which would let you up onto the hill.)
From Banavie we walked along the Great Glen Way back into Fort William. Quite a nice wander – along the Caledonian Canal and then round the beach at Caol.
A rather nice return to lazy meanderings for us – a very enjoyable hill with stunning views. I think a winter traverse from Fassfern with a camp at the lochan would be a cracker.