Following Steve, Alison, Kathryn and Alan's visit to Kinlochleven in July a club weekend was arranged for the last weekend in September. Thirteen members attended in total, most of us arriving on Friday evening although Alan and Kathryn had driven up in the morning in order to go across to Ardgour to tackle the Corbett, Garbh Bheinn (Alan unfortunately had to be back at work on Saturday afternoon).
The main aim of the weekend was to do the Ring of Steall from Glen Nevis following July's aborted attempt after we got caught up in traffic after a car accident near Corran ferry that prevented us from travelling to Fort William.
As ever we all promised to have an early night on Friday in order to get up early on Saturday. As ever this was forgotten as soon as we got to the pub! And so on Saturday morning all the plans to leave Kinlochleven at 8.15 were well and truly scuppered - we left just before 9am arriving at the Polldubh car park at around 9.45 to meet a much relieved Shirley who was joining us for the walk. Leaving Shirley's car at Polldubh, where we would finish our day, we then drove to the upper car park. By this time it was almost 10am.
We set off through the gorge to the wire bridge at Steall. Most of us crossed the river by the bridge although the water levels were low enough to allow Jacqui and Carol-Anne to paddle across. The next task was the crossing of the Allt Coire a' Mhail below the spectacular Steall waterfall. This proved to be a time consuming affair and by the time we had all tackled these two river crossings it was 11am.
It was then a long hard climb up the first Munro, An Gearanach reaching the summit at 1pm. At least the superb views of Ben Nevis, the Aonachs and the Grey Corries to the north made it worthwhile. To the south and west we could see the rest of our route laid out before us. At this point Gillian and Pat decided to return to Steall while the remaining seven (Steve, Alison, Kathryn, Jacqui, Michael, Carol-Anne and Shirley) pressed onwards towards the second Munro, Stob Coire a' Cairn via the rocky top of An Garbhanach. With fairly high cloud and little sign of the showers that were forecast we continued on to the steep slopes of the third Munro of the day, Am Bodach the summit of which gave us excellent views down Loch Leven and across to the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe.
With time pressing on we proceeded on to Sgorr an Iubhair and then the fourth and final Munro, Sgurr a' Mhaim via some scrambling over the Devil's Ridge. By this time some low cloud had started to descend although this soon lifted. We then just had the long descent down the quartz covered north-east slopes of Sgurr a' Mhaim to negotiate - it seemed to take forever - we could see the car park all the way from the top and it didn't seem to get any nearer.
By the time we all finished it was 7.30pm and nearly dark, although we did save some time by sending Steve and Kathryn ahead in order to retrieve the car from the upper car park. It was just as well we did this as it was after 8pm by the time we arrived back at the bunkhouse and dinner was booked at the MacDonald Hotel for 8.30. It is remarkable how quickly five members of the fairer sex can really get ready for a night out, although they did requisition the use of the male showers (not it should be pointed out while Steve or Michael were using them!)
It should also be mentioned that Ann walked up Beinn a' Chrulaiste on Saturday followed by a walk up to Blackwater Reservoir on Sunday, Fraser tackled the Aonachs and Brian undertook his usual cycling exploits covering 107 miles over on the Corran ferry and around Sunart and Moidart.
Special thanks to Michael for cooking breakfast (both mornings!), Alan for washing up before he went home on Saturday morning (otherwise we would have been even later setting off) and Callum of Blackwater Bunkhouse for excellent accommodation.
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