I spend a lot of time with hill walkers and inevitably, we talk about the various hills we have climbed The Munros at Glenfinnan regularly come up in conversation as recommended to climb as they are seen as proper mountains and not just like the upturned pudding bowls of hills such as the Monadh Liath. I had intended to climb the Glenfinnan Hills this summer but due to changed circumstances that seemed unlikely and I noticed that Scot-trek, a local walking company had them included in their programme for early March so I booked up. Fred Chatterton at Scot trek takes the effort out of Munro bagging by arranging everything from the transport and accomodation to leading the walks. Contact Fred at http://scot-trek.co.uk
We left Glasgow on a Friday evening with a poor weather forecast for the weekend. In Spring, the weather can be unpredictable and the previous week had been mild but there was a heavy snow fall on the day we travelled and I knew the walking would be in soft snow making the going very slow and tiring but hillwalking is not just about Munro bagging and is more about enjoying the days on the hills. We were booked into the Glenfinnan Lodge Hotel which was a pleasant surprise as I expected nothing more than B&B in Fort William. The hotel was very comfortable with log fires, views over Loch Eil and an old fashioned ambience. It was located adjacent to the Glenfinnan monument where Bonnie Prince Charlie gathered together the Jacobite Clans in 1745 for the Jacobite Rising. The location is about 30 miles from Fort William.
There are three Munros at Glenfinnan. On Saturday, we set out to climb Sgurr Thuilm and possibly walk the narrow ridge over to Sgurr nan Coireachan. It was a good flat private road for three miles until we reached a bothy where we had a tea stop after passing under the Glenfinnan Viaduct which is a very scenic point on the West Highland Railway line. The day was cold with mist coming and going over the top and a very cold north wind. The snow on the hill was soft and it was difficult to see the track so we just walked on the easiest contour of the hill. We stopped for lunch before the top where Fred found us a reasonable spot out of the wind but in thick snow. When we reached the top, it was a case of touching the cairn and leaving immediately as it was biting cold. I think it is the shortest time I have ever spent on a summit. Bonnie Prince Charlie spent a night out on Sgurr Thuilm after his defeat at Culloden. I wonder how many Munros he ticked off? With limited daylight and poor conditions, we did not follow the ridge but descended the way we had ascended. We were pleased to get back to the comfort and log fire in the hotel.
On Sunday, there had been a fresh dump of snow and around the hotel it was a winter wonderland. As we were returning to Glasgow in the evening, it seemed that we would not have sufficient time to complete Gulvain as it was a long walk in of six miles to the hill. We only ascended about 1,000 feet of the hill as it was slow going in soft snow and would be deeper snow higher up. The north wind was picking up and the wind chill factor would have been significant at higher levels.
Fred assures me that these hills will be on the programme as day walks later in the summer so I will have the opportunity to complete them in better weather although the walks in the snow were magical especially alongside the river surrounded by trees on the track to Gulvain.
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Coming attractions City walking in Poland, walking in Wales and whatever hills I do in the next few months.
Thanks to Frances Rickus and Glenfinnan Lodge Hotel for the photos