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.
The Team was all from RAF Kinloss MRT Heavy Whalley , Jim Morning , Paul Burns all were young SAC ‘s (a very low rank in the RAF) and only allowed to go after great arguing with the powers that be and gaining authorisation by the RAF Kinloss Team Leader Pete Mac Gowan. (Normally military expeditions were led by an officer or SNCO ) The three of us were very different Jim Morning (JM) extremely fit and powerful a talented mountaineer very organised and efficient. Paul Burns (PB) a man who felt no pain has huge powers to shut out what was going on and just get out and do it. He was a bit of a nightmare with his gear but could cope with any discomfort and pain. Heavy Whalley (HW) I had to work so hard every day at fitness and in the end got there most days a battle, I was my own man and at times a bit unorganised! The planning was done an orgy of maps joining and tracing other walks in the past and done in the dark winter nights or at weekends. Food was planned and food caches set up with the help of Keepers and Village Halls and friends of the team. The RAF Team would meet us at weekend training Exercises and re supply us, well that was the plan.
Day 17 Blackrock Cottage Glencoe – Meall a’ Bhuiridh, , Clach Leathad, Stob A’Choire Odhair, Stob Ghabhar – Bridge of Orchy Station!
It was hard to leave such a comfortable bothy as Blackrock Cottage in Glencoe and even worse as the day started with heavy rain. We walked up the deserted White Corries Ski lift a depressing place on a wet day yet in the winter sun a wonderful place to be. The bags were heavy and the 1976 waterproofs were very basic and we were soon soaked. The ski tows were soaked and with the wind and rain it was a plod going onto the hill. The industrialization of the place at the end of a busy winter season in the rain is to me depressing but so many enjoy the skiing in winter it is a small price to pay for the sport. The summit of Meall a’ Bhuird 3661 feet a big hill was gained and then the weather broke and the rain went off. These are big hills complex ridges and some of the peaks are remote. I enjoyed a two-day walk with a bivouac a few years before in the summer and these are impressive peaks I climbed them all in a wonderful weekend walk camping high during a great spell of weather..
The views of Rannoch Moor and its lochans sparkling in the sun are a great sight but we got the waterproof’s off and set of along the ridge to Clach Leathad and then the big descent and pull to Stob a ‘Choire Odhair and then out onto Stob the Ghabar at 3565 feet. This hill has a history of winter climbing with the Upper Couloir first climbed in 1897 an early foray by the pioneers of winter climbing . I had a wander and looked at the cliffs for winter adventures in the years to come. This is another great pair of hills and again the views of tomorrow’s hills at Bridge Of Orchy were excellent, we had dried off by now and had no bothy for tonight so after a good look at the winter crags we descended steeply down to Forest Lodge at Victoria Bridge. From here it was a long road walk to Bridge of Orchy and the pub and then with no bothy we stayed at the railway station! Not the way to end a long day but it was all we could get and the photo sums it all up!
Distance 19 miles and 5886 feet of ascent.