Date: Saturday 6th January 2018
First weekend of 2018 – and it was looking good. Toyed with the idea of a high camp, but the combination of shifting cloud, brutal temps and the temptation of 2 winter walks in different areas saw us staying in Fort William.
Up early and on the 0710 Corran Ferry, driving round to Kingairloch in the dark.
There’s space for 2 cars at NM 872 524 (and an estate-built car park at NM 866 531).
We’d headed up Druim na Maodalach to Maol Odhar last year and turned around. Once again we had fluid plans, head up and see if we fancied the horseshoe or an up and down.
The forecast crisp, clear air didn’t play ball though – you should be able to see Jura down to the south, but it wasn’t visible.
More local views provided the distractions.
Once up at about 200m we spotted an immature Sea Eagle rounding Sron na Maodalach and head round the coast under us. It headed out a few hundred metres Loch Linnhe and then proceeded to attempt to drag something out of the water. Couldn’t see what it had found, but try as it might it couldn’t fully lift it (dead seal pup or porpoise calf perhaps?). After a few minutes it gave up and flew north….not seen that before. Sightings like that mean the day’s a winner before the hill has a chance to impress.
Transition to the snow line occurred at about 500m. The ridge was pretty well scoured, so there was no plowtering through drifts needed at any point. This is a fantastic ridge. Easy-angled with a clear view south down Loch Linnhe to the Firth of Lorne.
As we got to Meall nan Each we were exposed to the biting north-easterly – more layers were donned to repel the cold.
A nice layer of shallow snow presented no difficulty and we ambled onwards and upwards.
It was a fairly brisk wind – but much of the loose snow had been scoured. Occasionally there were a few whirligigs of spindrift.
After a drop from Meall nan Each to 500m there’s a 2km slope up to Maol Odhar. Followed hardened runs of snow, a nice walking surface.
As the ascent proceeds the view opens up north, and then NW. The Graham above the Corran Ferry was lit up by sun.
Once the shoulder of the NE ridge is gained the Ardgour hills come into view.
Maol Odhar has a craggy flank on its north-east.
Just a walk in the park really.
Spotted some raised tracks in the snow – possibly fox?
Carried on to the summit of Maol Odhar.
The views NW were a little grey – we could pick out Rum and Knoydart, but there was little sunlight that way.
Had a bite to eat and considered the plan. Like the last time we visited we fancied a return down the Loch Linnhe side, especially with the west and north-west views not being superb. Decided against heading up Creach Bheinn allowing a more relaxed amble down without time pressure.
In the meantime the big hills across Loch Linnhe – Glen Coe, Mamores and Nevis – were starting to clear a bit.
Turned and descended by the route of ascent.
Some familiar and shapely hills were starting to become visible.
The wind speeds very slowly began to slacken, but they remained pretty brisk and chilly. Wasn’t too sad not to be camping under the circumstances.
Had a very slow wander down the hill, eking out as much time as we had to sunset.
The sun began to lower and the light took on warmer hues again.
There was a fairly rapid transition from snow to grass at about 500m.
The sun setting cast pinker light on the big hills north and east.
…and with the setting sun, Jura came into view across the Firth of Lorne.
Finally dropped back to the car just a little after sunset.
An easy walk – no Corbetts or Grahams summited, but that wasn’t really the purpose. We do like this area and seeing many of the surrounding hills whetted the appetite for 2018.