Leader – John Kottos
Co-Leader – Janet Mercier
Participants – Robert Buchholz, Rhonda Stacy-Coyle, Helen Gingras, Paul Stinson, Kim Salathe
Day 1, (Saturday July 30):
Flying into Glasgow on different flights we managed to achieve our objective of meeting at the airport at 11:30AM. The transportation vans picked us up as arranged for the transfer to Rowardennan Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond. We arrived at the hotel shortly before 2:00PM, checked into our rooms and decided to enjoy few beverages in a great outdoor setting with Ben Lomond towering nearby. It was a beautiful sunny day.
Day 2, (Sunday July 31):
Today’s objective was ascending Ben Lomond. This southerly Munro is a relatively high mountain (3,195ft ) with spectacular views, looking out over Loch Lomond and to the many mountains further north. We started with sunny skies at 9:00AM and summited at noon time in the midst of a heavy overcast with spotty visibility. Our ascent was on the eastern (popular) route. At the summit we encountered strong winds and found a spot on the lee side to have lunch. We decided to descend on the much steeper but less traveled westerly trail, which we enjoyed thoroughly. The wind and rain were intermittent with welcomed sunny breaks allowing us to enjoy the breathtaking views of Ptarmigan and Loch Lomond below. Additionally the slopes on this side were blanketed with purple heather flowers. We were back at our hotel at 4:30PM. A great dinner followed by live entertainment were the crowning touch of the day with some of us even getting carried away singing “Purple Rain” along with the performer. You had to be there…..
Day 3, (Monday August 1):
Today we started at 8:15AM hiking a 15-mile section of the famed West Highland Way from Rowardennan to Inverarnan hugging the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The weather conditions were perfect. The trail conditions were mostly even-terrain with some challenging sections at times. Half way through we stopped at Inversnaid Hotel for lunch and a 30 minute rest. This was a welcomed treat. After lunch and within a 30 minute walk we came upon the Rob Roy (MacGregor) cave, where the famed outlaw clansman and Scottish hero hid from the ruling British. We ultimately arrived at our pre-arranged pick up spot 30 minutes late (5:30PM) but Kenny the van driver patiently waited there for our arrival. The one hour’s drive to Clachaig Inn outside Glencoe brought us in time for few beverages and a good dinner.
Day 4, (Tuesday August 2):
Today we hiked a 7 mile section of the West Highland Highway from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven starting at 9:30AM in perfect weather conditions. Opposite to our starting point the presence of Buachaille Etive Mhor gave us a pretty good idea as to what we had to deal with on our ascent there two days later. We reached the famed Devil’s Staircase within the hour and followed the ridge toward Kinlochleven. Couple miles before Kinlochleven we came upon an interesting Penstock and soon thereafter the Hydroelectric plant, the entire system fed by Blackwater Reservoir higher up. We reached our destination at 2:00PM and had light lunch before being transferred by Kenny to Clachaig Inn. Later we enjoyed another fun evening tasting the local beer and delicious food.
Day 5, (Wednesday August 3):
Today was rest day and we ventured into the town of Glencoe. Among other places we visited the site of the massacre of Clan Macdonald. Later in the day we continued our tradition of tasting the local beer and good food at dinner time at Clachaig Inn.
Day 6, (Thursday August 4):
Today’s objective was the ascent on Buachaille Etive Mhor (3,353ft) the most challenging of our three Munros. This is reportedly Scotland’s most photographed mountain. We started at 9:30AM with some overcast and cool temperatures. Our ascent and descent route was the most challenging eastern trail. We encountered scree and steep sections reminiscent of the Tripyramids or the Greeley Pond Trail of the Osceolas. We were impressed with the trail work in some of the scree sections contributing to a securer footing. We reached the windy Summit of “Stob Dearg” by noon time and enjoyed breathtaking views. We hiked along the windy ridge for a while picture taking before heading down to catch our ride home. Kenny picked us up at 4:00PM for another relaxing evening at Claichaig Inn.
Day 7, (Friday August 5):
Today’s objective was hiking the final 14-mile section of West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to Fort William. Leg injuries forced some of the participants to take a break and ride Kenny’s van to Ft William while the determined others went on as planned starting the trek at 9:30AM in cloudy skies and cool temps. Everyone finally met at our new home (Rhu Mhor Guest House) at Ft William around 3:30PM. Ian, our charming Scottish host sporting the traditional kilt greeted us warmly and made sure we were taken care of throughout our stay at his cozy Inn. Most of all we enjoyed his sense of humor. After settling in we visited the town and found a good restaurant for dinner.
Day 8, (Saturday August 6):
Today’s objective was to climb our final Munroe, Ben Nevis. This is the highest UK mountain (4,413ft) and the most visited one in the country. We had a two day window to do it depending on the weather and Sunday’s forecast was awful, so the decision was made to do it on Saturday. We started walking at 7:30AM on a cloudy morning. Ian had prepared a plentiful early breakfast for us. The weather turned for the worse a third of the way up with steady rain. We continued on, finally reaching the summit around 11:30AM under continuous rain and wind with very poor visibility. We munched on power bars before heading down. Half way down we were rewarded with the opening of the skies for a while before the rain giving us the opportunity to take some good pictures. Back at our hotel around 3:00PM and a night out at a nearby restaurant kept us out of the continuous rain.
Day 9, (Sunday August 7):
This was our final day and a rest day at Fort William. We explored the town. Some took a train ride to points of interest. We celebrated the ending of our adventure at a restaurant later in the evening grateful of the overall good weather considering this is Scotland. This group was very cohesive and fun loving. The humor seemed endless. Everyone seemed to be pleased with our small adventure.
Day 10, (Monday August 8): After an early breakfast we were driven to Glasgow Airport for our return flights.