Date: 26 July 1995
Length: 16 miles
Start at the northern end of the West Highland Way in Fort William. Go along this even
though it is somewhat tedious. Bear left of the Way as the military road starts and go
up Mullach via its side. This has been largely unrewarding effort so far; one nice
stretch of mixed woodland and the detour to visit the hill camp of Dun Deardail (a good early view of
Glen Nevis and the Ben) but a lot of boring track and a savage climb up Mullach. Now
you are on the ridge: sustained high level walking on over Stob Ban and then along the
Devil's Ridge to Sgurr a Mhaim. Back to Iubhair and down the glen to Kinlochleven
My first visit to the Scottish high country, a week's holiday with HF at Lochleven. Sunday was dire; we didn't complete the walk because of a serious downpour and we couldn't see a thing in the fog. Monday was better with my first Munro (Am Bodach in the Mamores, not the Aonach Eagach one). Tuesday, the Ben itself: strangely I look back on this with regret, mainly because we went via the CIC hut when it would have been little harder to go up Carn Mor Dearg and then tackle the arÍte route.
On to the Wednesday; officially the day off but I'd gone there to walk and walk I would do. I'd
gone by train so that there were limits on where I could walk, not having the
car available. But then a real stroke of luck:
someone in the group had to go into Fort William to meet the overnight sleeper and
offered me a lift. I was dropped off at the start at 8am with the task of getting to
Kinlochleven by 6pm to catch the last bus back to the house.
The forest part of the walk was fairly straight-forward, Dun Deardail being the best bit. On reaching the top of Mullach, things got really good. The ridge was easy walking for the most part and I just flowed along it, with pauses on Mullach and Stobhan. But the jewel in the crown was the Devil's Ridge.
I'd been told that HF had deleted it from their walks programme because it was considered above the grade even for A walks. However there was a feeling that HF were becoming too cautious in their grades and it wasn't that difficult. I have to say that I was been lucky in my walking; each time I have first done difficult routes the conditions have been very favourable (to the extent of making them into pussy cats).
The problem with the Devil's Ridge was more likely to be one of time and catching that last bus. But I made it well before my latest start time so it was on. A long ridge rather like Striding Edge but distinctly narrower, more like Sharp Edge. The wind also blew up a bit as I started to add to the edge of fear as I went on. But it was stunning and I knew that I would have to come back across it. That just added to the pleasure of anticipation.
Sgurr a Mhaim was a
delight too. Six people sharing a summit of 1099 metres. The view across to the Ben is
superb. The Ben might be higher but it is infinitely more crowded. I could see the crowds on
the tourist route and it looked a tedious slog. I felt that I'd got a far better deal where I
was. As I dropped down to the start of the ridge I met two guys who were obviously
English too. They were on a complete high from the ridge; they just had to stop to tell
me how wonderful it had been.