Hikin’ ’round Scotland: Fort William

For my next three days in Scotland, I headed down to Fort William, where the weather was even less cooperative than on Isle of Skye… weeee!

After our sad rain hike of sadness, David and I drove down to Fort William, hoping to climb Ben Nevis and perhaps Aonach Eagach over the next three days.  That did not come to pass…

DAY 1:  The forecast for day 1 said “rain all the livelong day”, while the forecast for day 2 just said “sad clouds all day” so we decided to hike Ben Nevis on day 2.  Our mountain guide airbnb host was puzzled as to why I wouldn’t do a 10-mile hike simply because I’d be rained on all day :).  Guess I’m just a whiny American!  So instead we took a wee boat along Loch Shiel in Glenfinnan and watched the Harry Potter Jacobite train travel across the Harry Potter viaduct, which is apparently a thing people like to do.

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pictured: Harry Potter choo choo.  not pictured: Harry Potter

DAY 2:  The “sad clouds all day” forecast turned into a “rain all the livelong day” forecast and we decided to just hike anyway.  I feel more Scottish already!  We headed to the north side of Ben Nevis, away from the tourist track on the west side.  Because if I’m going to be rained on all day I’d rather do it with fewer tourists around, AMIRITE?

From the north side one can climb Ben Nevis via several routes.  The “CMD” option takes a roundabout way to the summit, following a ridge and crossing over several Munros on the way to Ben Nevis.  This was our original plan, but it was quite obvious that I had 0% motivation to do this in the rain.  The second option is a bit shorter and more direct, in which one hikes to the hut at the base of the headwall on the north side and hangs a sharp right, scrambling over the steep terrain.  This is called the “ledge” route and our airbnb host warned us that it is a difficult route to follow even in the best conditions.

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gonna clear up any minute now…yup…

So uhmmm…. we made it to the hut.  Then I was #overit and wet and soggy and cold and wasn’t super interested in getting lost in the rain trying to find the ledge route to the summit, only to get rained on some more 🙂 🙂 :).  Guess I’m a whiner after all… sorry airbnb host!!!

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oh hey, a hut.  a locked hut. in the rain.

As a bonus, the hut was locked because Scottish people don’t believe in having huts open in the summer that serve cookies and lemonade a la the AMC White Mountain huts… C’MON, SCOTLAND.

So uhmmm… we didn’t climb Ben Nevis.  That was a big ol’ bummer but apparently Fort William anecdotally has the worst weather in Scotland, so next time I’ll have to book a 2-week vacation there in an attempt to climb the TALLEST PEAK IN THE UK

DAY 3:  BUCHAILLE ETIVE BEAG

Of course on our last day in Fort William, when we only had a few hours to hike before catching a flight to London, the weather improved markedly.  We decided on a short hike with stunning views in Glencoe.

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top of the first munro, looking at the second, and bidean nam bian to the right

After packing up and heading out, we drove south to Glencoe and could ACTUALLY SEE SOME STUFF.  Like… mountains!  And …valleys!  And …things besides clouds!  With a promising start, we made quick work of the easy trail up to the saddle between Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh.  We made a random decision to head up Stob Coire Raineach first, then back down to the saddle and back up to Stob Dubh.

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almost back down to the saddle to head up munro #2 (PC: David)

At various points along the trail we could see the jagged ridgeline of Aonach Eagach, the peak of Bidean nam Bian, Buchaille Etive Mor… oh and some sheep.  And it was real purty, y’all (I mean, the sheep were okay, maybe not purty).  Don’t worry, we still couldn’t see Ben Nevis.  As far as I’m concerned it’s made up, and there’s nothing above those low-hanging clouds except air and perhaps a distillery on a plateau.

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almost at the top of munro #2

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top of #2, looking back towards #1

After bagging both Munros we hiked back down and drove south through the Trossachs on our way to the Edinburgh airport.  They were real purty, too, y’all!  It’s almost like 7 days, 4 with rain, aren’t enough to explore this ballin’ country!  I’ll be back, Scotland!  Preferably in May or September/October!  And then I will still get rained on.

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andddd almost back to the saddle again, #1 starting to look real tall-like (PC: David)

After Scotland we spent 1.5 days in London, in which olde tyme things were stared at.

Also I found my new backup profession, which is the Platform 9 3/4 scarf attendant.  At the famous Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross station, there exists a long, long, line of tourists waiting to have their picture taken with the cart disappearing into the wall.  And at this cart is a special scarf attendant, who not only provides you with a scarf of your house choosing, but holds up the end of said scarf to make it look as if you are running into the wall.  It doesn’t end there, though!  The multi-talented scarf attendant also coaches you on the best possible poses in front of the disappearing cart with your faux-waving scarf.  It was an amazing sight to behold.

Oh, and we also saw a bunch of like, thousand-year old buildings or churches or whatever, #overit.

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scarf attendant, making her magic off-screen

I’m going to stop rambling and fill out my scarf attendant application now… kthnxbai!

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