400 miles and 9 hours later eventually arrived at Glen Nevis, only to have to put on our boots and rucksacks and walk a couple of miles up a river valley to the hut... Was a pretty exciting walk, a narrow path traversing up the side of the valley, with a river crossing at the end over a postmans bridge (a wire for your feet, and one for each hand, like the things in adventure parks, apart from if you fell, you'd get a bit wet), not easy when carrying a pumpkin! Oh did I mention it's 4am and pitch black? Collapsed into the surprisingly comfy mattresses of the magnificently located Steall Hut and passed out instantly.
Didn't get up till 9 on Friday, lie in!! Took a while to get the generator going, although we only had electricity for long enough to boil a kettle and then it gave up, but luckily the gas for the stove worked, so we could still cook! Not having electricity just added to the atmosphere of the place, making it feel even more wild and remote. The horrendous weather and late start meant we picked two relatively short walks, both pretty similar just on opposite sides of the valley. I was in the group that went up Anoach Beag, which was a steep 900m climb in the wind, rain and mist up to the top, all good fun. The descent was great, picking our way down a very steep mountainside, navigating the rivers and cliffs.. Didn't realise how steep it was until we looked up from below and wondered how/ where we'd just come down! The other group went up Binnean Beag.
Cooked a massive spaghetti bolognaise in the evening, and was amazed at how quickly all the spaghetti got eaten, until the third packet was discovered uncooked hidden under some bags the next day.. Oops! Usual fun evening full of banter, the murder game and beer. New addition this trip of articulate which provided lots of entertainment, ex-president of Iraq Ben? The pumpkin was carved and stood watching from the end of the table.
With an improved forecast for Saturday, we got up early and set off to do the 'ring of steall' a traverse of the mamores conveniently located right above the hut. After the initial gruelling 700m climb up An Gearanach (and people say welsh names are impossible..) we stayed up on the ridge for the rest of the day, crossing 6 peaks, four of them munros. Luckily the rain held off for most of the day, giving us some views of the area and letting our soaking clothes dry off in the wind! Entertainment of the day was provided by Ben, Matt, Chris and Ed having a race back to the hut through the bog! Arrived back at the hut in good time and sat around waiting (attempted to work-never happens.) until it was a decent time to cook! The menu for Saturday was butternut squash curry, which most people declared was the best they'd even had (because it was the only one they'd ever had). Ben tried to sabotage it when my back was turned by adding a bag of 9p gravy, but luckily you couldn't taste it and no one got ill. Another fun evening full of jokes and games and desperately failing at the 'people' category of articulate.
The weather got worse again on Sunday, but being so near Ben Nevis, we couldn't not go up it.. A few people were tired and went for a short walk in the valley and kindly tidied the hut up, but the rest of us braved the weather and headed up the Ben via the CMD arête- where it snowed! Was great until the wind picked up and it turned into a stinging hail.. Fun scramble for a few kilometres along the ridge, then up the snowy rocks to the summit. Was so cold up there, we didn't hang around, just headed straight back down! Nice steep, quick way down, along a very impressive waterfall.
The journey home went very quickly, all of us high on mountain air and haggis, singing along to Queen.
Can easily say this is the best trip I've been on so far, had a great time!
Summit of Ben Nevis
Crossing the postman's bridge to the hut
Ben and Matt enjoying a romantic moment
The magnificently located Steall Hut
Glen Nevis, 30th October- 2nd November
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