A walk last March

Approaching A'Chailleach

Approaching A'Chailleach

It’s amazing just how quickly a year passes. Earlier today I was thinking about where we could go for a walk later this week. I decided to see where we went this time last year and found that we’d been up on the ridge above Glen Coe. My old friend from college days, the sculptor Keith Barrett was over from North Shields for a brief visit and so we decided to have a day on the hills.

The walk we took him on is not a difficult one, but it is in one of the most spectacular regions of Scotland. After an early start we arrived at the base of the Devils Staircase (the point where the West Highland Way climbs up away from Glen Coe and over to Kinlochleven. I had hoped for beautiful weather so that Keith could see the amazing scenery around …but alas we found thick heavy low cloud shrouding all the hills and there was rain in the air.

Breaking weather, above Glen Coe

Breaking weather, above Glen Coe

We headed off all the same, following the well built path of the West Highland Way as it gained height and zigzagged its way onto the shoulder of the hill. At the high point we turned left, leaving the popular and well used path and headed off up along the broad grassy and very wet ridge. The weather hadn’t improved at all and we were into the cloud … not even the slightest of views …so infuriating after travelling for almost two and a half hours to get there! It was looking like being a bit of a miserable day but as we gained height we got into some big patches of snow and even in the cloud this makes things look so much better.

After a while the ridge narrows somewhat and you follow the edge of a fine escarpment …which if we wanted to could be followed all the way to the start of the famous Aonach Eagach ridge. To our amazement as we gained height the cloud started to break and brightness started to appear. The escarpment had the remains of a cornice all the way along …in places you could see where it was breaking away, creating deep cracks in the snow that were a deep blue colour.

The Glen Coe mountains

The Glen Coe mountains

A strong bitterly cold wind was blowing now and clearing the cloud…all around us appeared snow capped peaks …it really was an amazing sight. We sat near the top of A’Chailleach ( just over 900m), sheltered from the wind by a large crag and just enjoyed the wildness and splendour of Glen Coe. We hadn’t seen a soul since leaving the WHW and it remained like this as we wandered our way back in bright sunshine. A classic little day in the Scottish Highlands …we had a bit of nearly everything.

Hopefully we’ll get something equally good later this week when we head out with another old friend from Falmouth School of Art. The last time I walked with him it rained heavily for six hours; better luck this time!

Photos by Anita Groves

114 'Towards Am Bodach, Glen Coe', Acrylic & Pastel, 2009, 30 x 30 cm

'Towards Am Bodach, Glen Coe'

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