Path2Peaks Recommended Walk – Steall Gorge and Waterfall

Walk of the Month March 2018

This is an absolutely stunning short walk through an ancient woodland which opens up onto a beautiful meadow where the Steall Waterfall can be seen cascading rapidly down the mountain. The waterfall was featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It is a great way to stretch your legs the day after walking up Ben Nevis.

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Essentials – Map, compass, walking boots, gaiters, waterproofs, hat, gloves, buff, warm layers, camera, plenty of water, packed lunch and snacks. The walk is short and you could carry a picnic from the car park to the waterfall and make a lovely day out of such a fantastic location.

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Wildlife – look out for rowan, hazel, and ash trees, listen out for the calls of tree pipits, willow warblers and chaffinches.

The Glen Nevis Rope bridge – for the very brave only! The other way across is via two fast moving river crossings,  which are not recommended unless you know what you are doing. The water is rapid and extremely cold. If you cross the bridge remember you have to get back over it again.

Start Point – Grid reference: NN168691.

Map – Map of Ben Nevis & Fort William The Mamores & The Grey Corries Kinlochleven & Spean Bridge, 392 – Explorer  1:25 000 scale

Distance – 2.7 miles (4.4 km)

Highest Point – 292 m

Total Ascent – 139.50m

2 hours – Moderate – The path through the gorge is rocky, uneven, slippery, with a steep drop on one side. Take extreme care as fatal accidents have happened here. Wear appropriate footwear and keep children and dogs from the steep edges.

Parking –  Park at the car park at the very end of the road up Glen Nevis, Old Military Rd, Fort William PH33 6SY.

Public Transport – Bus service between May and September as far as the bridge at the Lower Falls.

 

Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

What can I say other than I absolutely loved it!

It was remote – we were the only people to walk on Beinn Odhar that day – even though I got a little excited on the way down to find footprints going up, I quickly realised that they were ours.

Scotland in late February gave me what everyone had promised – lots and lots of the white stuff I was so desperately looking for.

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The complete white out came from nowhere and forced us to focus completely and to trust the compass bearing we had taken at the bottom which would get us to the top. It was literally all we had – both iphones were dead due to the cold – so no reassuring sneaky checks on the OS app. My walking partner disappeared out of sight after taking 20 steps. It was too steep to retrace our way back down safely, so the only way was up. Get to the summit and take a bearing from the top was the plan, looking at the map we knew there was a less steep spur we could take down to the valley we just had to get an accurate bearing from the top to  it.   We knew we could do it and stayed positive.

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Stay Calm and Focus in the White Room!

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being afraid – I was scared.  If I had closed my eyes and been spun around I wouldn’t have had a clue where I was. At that point I was clinging on to my sense of direction and memory of where I had been and relating that to the map.  I stayed calm and focused on the accuracy of the bearing we were leapfrogging on 20 pace legs. It was a slow process but it felt like the safest thing to do. We were overjoyed when we hit the summit just 2 meters to the left of the cairn. We were so proud that we had trusted the map and compass and our pacing, it had certainly paid off.

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On the way down we were able to relate what the land was doing to the map, in conjunction with pacing and timings –  which helped reassure us that we were on the right track. This was invaluable in featureless terrain.

Being prepared -planing well helped us know what we expected to see and when –visualising the route before we set off really helped. Trust in our abilities and faith in the map and compass is what kept us calm and positive.

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It was an amazing and invigorating experience one which has left me hankering for more Scottish winter days.  Watch this space…..

 

What I packed in my rucksack for a day of winter walking in Scotland.