The weekend forecast was promising and people made their way
to the hotel. Some came via Callander and others by Loch Lomond. Neil and Christine
picked up Mary and Marjory and had an uneventful trip over Rannoch Moor and through
Glencoe to the hotel at the side of the loch. Most people had rooms with
spectacular views over Loch Leven looking up the glen to the Pap of Glencoe and
the tail end of Aonach Eagach, one of the major high ridges on the mountaineering
scene in the country.
Picturesque boats bobbed on the loch with swans gliding and herons
fishing.in the mirror calm surface of the water. The hotel also offered a
swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna which was well utilised by members of the
group, especially after the walks. The menu was very varied and the venison in
wine sauce was a real favourite. The choice for breakfast was great, the cooked
breakfasts were the downfall of many a dieter and the porridge was cooked
properly. Lisa arrived and shared her experiences from the leadership training
in Mugdock which she had just finished. She gave us tips for future use and
recommended the course for members. Also staying in the hotel was an
international party of train spotters who were doing the great rail journeys of
the world. They were looking forward to the “Jacobite” steam train ride from Fort
William to Mallaig which is commonly called the “Harry Potter Line” as it was one
of the highlights of the films.
afternoon we explored the village and it’s surroundings, walking along the edge
of the loch around the hotel before exploring the old slate quarry. Notice
boards along the walk gave information about the quarry, its importance in the
last century and touched upon the hard life of those who toiled in dangerous
conditions to produce slates. The slate was a unique colour and had been
exported all over the world. The quarry is now filled in as a loch in tranquil
surroundings. The ghosts of the slaters the only memories of the hard work
loading ships to carry the slates to the roofs of buildings far away. The
ramblers then followed a walk along the Breaclet Trail which climbed up through
the beautiful moss and lichen covered woods above the quarry to an old
settlement before returning to the village. Ballachulish is a relatively quiet,
tourist free village off the side of the main road. There used to be a railway
line connecting it through Kentallan to Oban but times and Mr Beeching move on
and it is now a very picturesque cycle track skirting the loch edge and winding
started with the inevitable rain shower and the main walk was led by Christine around
the base of Sgorr Dhearg from Duror back to the hotel .This was a new one to
the club, such events are rare and most walkers took advantage of the
opportunity to participate, the high walkers due to injuries opted for this
This new walk, geographically in two parts, was 9 miles long
with an ascent of 400m, the first part was along forest trails and the second through
open moorland before descending into Ballachulish The start of the walk climbed
gradually following signs to James Stewart’s birthplace. For the literary
minded, James Stewart was made famous in “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
In summary, a few years after Culloden, a member of the Campbell clan known as “The
Red Fox” was shot and killed on the hills above Duror. James Stewart was blamed
for the crime. Although he was innocent, he was convicted by the jury comprised
mostly of Campbells and hanged at the rocky outcrop overlooking Ballachulish Bridge.
The culprit’s name was known by the clan chief but has not been revealed to
The group slowly made its way at a leisurely pace through
the forestry tracks, admiring the views and watching the trees beginning to portray
their autumnal colours. As we slowly climbed up there was a spiral of smoke in
the distance, a sign that the Duror Bothy 1994 was inhabited. We stopped to
talk to a couple leaving the bothy who were making their way to Easdale for the
annual world stone skimming championship, hoping to improve on their 80th
position in last year’s competition. We wished them all the best and continued
to the hut.
The well-appointed bothy was still occupied by another couple and the
fire was alight so we stopped for a cup of tea and some took the opportunity to
read the information leaflets on the events leading up to and the consequences
from the murder as well as a biography of James and his family. His life and
the events need to be set in the historical time. The Jacobites were on the
losing side and history is usually written by the victors.
The party then moved on along a grassy path and timber
boardwalk. A fallen tree blocking the path had to be negotiated. It was
interesting to watch the differing techniques. First prize goes to Mary for her
graceful acrobatics helped by 2 other members. Marjory described it as a golden
The trees were covered in lichen and mosses with different shades of
green. Anyway, back on track and we climbed slowly to the highest point of the
trail before descending and following a track through the woods to the open
country where we stopped for lunch in the open area beyond the wood.
The path changed to a narrow sheep track, contouring and
meandering down the valley. When the mists cleared from the tops, we were
blessed with amazing views of the back of the hills and the ridges down Glencoe.
The next part of the path was long and winding. To break the solitude and
silence of the surroundings Marjory started humming a tune and we tried to
guess the song. This was followed by the group attempting to sing songs but
unfortunately, we could not remember all of the words and many Glasgow ditties
were sung out of key. It would have been appropriate to have sung “She’ll be
coming round the mountain when she comes”, but sadly, we resorted to
remembering the songs of the 60s. We followed the path down and were soon rewarded
with spectacular views of the Pap of Glencoe, further on we turned a corner and
looked down on Ballachulish and Loch Leven nestling below in the valley. There
was a 5 minute view and rest stop and some of the singers by this time had sore
throats, music lovers may have had sore ears for the same reason.
We continued to make our way slowly down, stopping to take a
photograph for Neil of the innocuous looking rock where he had slipped and
dislocated his elbow during the recce the previous weekend. As we walked down
the mist was swirling through the bealachs and corries above. Walking through
village, we stopped at the playing field to watch a shinty match between
Tyndrum and Ballachulish. The score in the fast-moving local derby was 1-1 and
it looked very skilful but highly dangerous. Then it was back to the hotel for
a sauna, lovely meal and sleep, to do the same again tomorrow, sweet dreams. Everyone
agreed the walk was a very good addition to the club’s repertoire.
Jim lead John and Elke around walks to Inchree waterfall and
General Wade’s Road near Onich where they enjoyed seeing the majestic falls in
dawned clear of rain and plans were made. Christine and Neil repeated the walk
undertaken yesterday by John and Elke, climbing up a well defined path to Inchcree
Waterfalls made up of three separate cascades. They stopped to watch people canyoning
down the falls and then dropping from ropes into the deep pools of water. The
views down Loch Linnhe were beautiful with ever changing skylines.
the track along General Wade’s Road they looked for red squirrels. Although
they were advertised on the posters they did not make an appearance. They then
went for lunch at the Corran ferry and watched the cars and ferries cross over to
Meanwhile, Bob’s group were walking up to Grey Mares Tail
waterfall which was in full spate after last night’s rain. No one was tempted
to try the Via Ferrata up the face of the old quarry. They continued up to Mamore
Lodge returning to Kinlochleven via the West Highland Way. Following a visit to
the ice house and climbing wall where there were no takers for either, Joan visited
the hostel nearby and was given a guided tour of the hobbit houses. They then
drove to Glencoe and explored the footpaths around the Lochans before returning
to the hotel after visiting the memorial to the Glencoe massacre.
Jim’s party climbed Signal Rock and Am Torr before also
exploring the Glencoe Lochans although they failed to make contact with Bob and
his merry band of walkers.
On return to the hotel the water babies luxuriated in the
sauna again before dinner. The meal was followed by an accordionist who played
many haunting Scottish tunes including the Black Island and a few in
celebration of Rabbie Burns. A demonstration of dancing by Ann and Robert and a
small girl who was clearly bemused by the event followed. The dance began as a
Zorba the Greek circular movement transforming into a highland jig. Ann and
Robert’s footwork could have graced the floor of Come Dancing.
Later, Elke and
John performed a variation of a Gay Gordon to much applause from the train
spotters. The manager informed us that Ballachulish had lost the shinty match but
enjoyed drowning their sorrows. Defeated but not downhearted the losers had
said “Well there is always next year”.
At the end of the evening, Aileen
gave a vote of thanks to all the leaders and rewarded them with bottles of
amber nectar. There was a special vote of thanks for Robert Bain for his very
valuable contribution to taking over arrangements at the last minute and
dealing with the accommodation changes.
dawned clear. Early morning swims completed, Marjory and Mary visited
the commemorative memorial cairn to the massacre of the McDonalds of Glencoe.
The trip home was uneventful. A short stop in Callander whilst Christine
visited the bakery for the tear and share dough bread and coffee, Neil then
retreated to the car while the ladies raided the charity shops. Before heading
home, Jim’s party toured around the quarry, Bob did a brief recce up the Hidden
Valley, Aileen and Joan visited the museum in Glencoe and Robert and Ann headed
Thank you to all who contributed to or participated in the weekend. Hopefully
the injuries sustained at the weekend or prior to that will lead to a speedy
recovery. Injuries included one dislocated elbow,(acquired on the recce) one
broken finger (acquired in the interest of domestic harmony), two scratches to
the head( one caused by a frisky branch) and one caused by a naughty car roof
and lastly a slip injuring the gluteal muscle. Perhaps at this juncture it might
be worth saying that the first aid training went well and might need to be
Glencoe lived up to it’s reputation
of being one of the most majestic and historical glens in Scotland. So now that
the weekend is over, we can turn our minds to future rambling adventures.