Last week I had a day off but was on call during the evening. I spent most of the day getting to work taking in a few hills on the way. The weather was very good and I had great views throughout. I went from the Nevis Range up Aonach Mor .From the summit I went south towards Aonach Beag , dropped down the steep path to the valley then climbed Carn Mor Dearg . From there a delightfully airy arrete leads on to Ben Nevis itself . The great thing about the arrete is that there is plenty of exposure but no real danger . In good weather one can hop from rock to rock and feel like a real mountaineer, if it is wet or windy one can take one of the little side paths avoiding any scrambling.
Once on the slope of Ben Nevis itself there is a steep rocky climb to the summit.It is good to stop and catch ones breath and take in the amazing view of row upon row of mountains with no sign of civilization - looking towards the south east there are no roads or buildings visible.
In contrast once over the lip of the plateau any sense of mountain seclusion and wilderness is sadly wiped out by the crowds of people .It always seems that come rain or shine every man,woman, child and their dog are on the top of Ben Nevis and that the streets of Fort William must be empty. Of course it is really good that so many people make the effort to climb Britain's highest mountain, but it is always a shock after enjoying hours of isolation.
I'm not a great fan of the tourist path . The panorama is spectacular, (if it is clear) Loch Linnhe , Loch Eil shining like mirrors to the west. However one has to spend a lot of time dodging people coming up or slowly descending. It always seems to take an inordinate amount of time to get down, but it is the biggest descent in Britain - from the highest peak down to just above sea level.
Once in the glen it was only a short trot to the office where I had a quick shower and changed. I had a busy evening/ night at work but my 6 hour commute was great !
|Looking back along the Carn Mor Dearg Arrete (painted from a photo)|