The aim – This was a mountaineering expedition from the most Northerly Mountain in Scotland Ben Hope to the most Southerly Ben Lomond. The route was planned to cover 270 miles. Climb 42 Munros and ascend a total of 70,000 feet. The tradition for these walks was historically a RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Tradition and was a wonderful but very tough way to get to know some special places in Scotland’s high mountains.
Day 14 May 22 – A well-deserved day off what a relief shower in the swimming pool and some great food in Fort William, sort the kit and dry the boots and a trip to the launderette to wash the smelly gear, bliss. We had lots of space in the ATC Hut to sort the gear out air the sleeping bags and patch our kit. I went and saw the doctor about my knee and he told me that my cartilage was gone and I should stop my walk. I never told Jim and Paul the result of my decision.
It was great to phone home and update the family, no mobile phones in these days. The RAF Kinloss MR team would arrive that night for the weekend and we planned the biggest day of the trip the entire Mamore Ridge and its 10 Munros next. My knee was pretty sore and swollen but the day off was badly needed for me. Jim and Paul were going well. We had an early night, the bothy was nosiy with the troops enjoying Fort William and the Friday night dance, we had a big day planned and an early start. The weather forecast was good so we would have a good day for the adventure.
Day 15 May 23 1976
Jim and Paul were going very well and as I worried about my knee I asked two of the Kinloss team to accompany me and let Jim and Paul go as fast as they wanted without having to wait for me. John Cosgrove and Dave Wood said they would come it was a big day planned the Ten Munros of the Mamores to Kinlochleven and another ATC Hut for the night. I had completed the Mamores on several occasions so knew despite my knee I could do it but would take it easy on the descents. It is a classic Scottish ridge with so many summits radiating off the main ridge. In a good day with the right weather and visibility you can move well on these hills. It is also great to leave the hill bags as you sneak out and climb some of the outlying Munros on the ridge. A few have been caught out by weather and had an adventure finding the rucksack when the mist comes in but not today. The day begins with a walk from Fort William along the West High Highland Way to the first of the 10 ten Munros Mullach nan Coirean 939 metres for the summit the views of the back of Ben Nevis are breath-taking. Jim and Paul were already well ahead and moving fast I was taking it easy and protecting the knee but what an airy walk to enjoy. The next Munro is the shapely Stob Ban(999 and then out on the Devils Ridge to Sgurr a Mhain (1099 m)in winter these 3 hills are a wonderful walk with Devils ridge an Alpine knife edge in a heavy winter. We met Jim and Paul heading back to the bags after Devils Ridge. They were already 1 Munro ahead but this was no race today. The big wild Corries and the views OF Ben Nevis Glencoe and the West Coast are superb and today were exceptional. There was little snow about it was a summer traverse but the new company was great John and Dave adding to the day and poor John was not a Munro bagger and was missing out on a perfect days climbing. The next Munro Am Bodach(1032 m) all great hills the knee was sore but manageable and I was a bit behind the boys but coping, occasionally we could see Jim and Paul moving well ahead but by Stob Coire a’ Chairn(981 m) I was in the grove and Dave was struggling .
I enjoyed the next bit of the ridge An Gearanach 982 metres where two year later we were caught in the big blizzards and on a ridge double corniced and n a blizzard it was a real epic! We were avalanched in the Glen as the whole ridge shook its snow off and we were lucky to miss the biggest avalanche I was ever to see for about 20 years. The next part of the ridge is where the tiredness kicks in Na Gruagaichean (1056 m) and Binnein Mor(1130 m) but the fitness and stamina was kicking in and I was moving well Dave was struggling by Binnein Beag (943 m) and we enjoyed a wee adventure on a ridge back onto the main ridge, the knee was holding up and it was enjoyable despite the pain.
I have said before after 14 days on the hill I was at one with the mountains. I never wondered where to go I felt as part of the hill after being out so long, the best lines up and down were so natural to me. It is an incredible feeling and one I was to experience on a few big expeditions in the future. The final Munro was Sgurr Eilde Mor (1010 m) and by now poor Dave was in a bad way he really struggled on the last Munro and it was a fair wander back into Kinlochleven to the ATC hut but we managed it stopping regularly for Dave and that helped my knee. Jim and Paul had blasted round the 10 Munros in 8 hours we took 12 hours but what a great day in marvellous walking weather. John and Dave got a lift back at Kinlochleven and we were back on our own again with all our food for the final few days. The weather was going to change dramatically tomorrow and we had planned the Aonach Eagach . It was sort out the gear wash and early night. The Mamores is one of the best days in Scotland I was to climb in over 10 times in its entirety usually with new young team member’s testing their stamina and fitness at the end of a 3 weekend trial for Mountain rescue. I also did a winter traverse that tested me to the full. It is a ridge of great beauty and the hills all different make this a high ridge was to savour however you climb these big Munros. Every Corrie holds a secret and over the years I was involved in many Mountain Rescue call –outs in this wild area. I love the Mamores!
Distance 20 miles 10 Munros today
Height 12000 feet of ascent a big day A high level traverse par excellence the Mamores.