The impressive Steall Falls – Glen Nevis end of a busy few days and a few thoughts.

Steall Falls Glen Nevis

Steall Falls Glen Nevis

It had been a busy few days and I was still in Onich near and Jannine wanted another walk before she returns South today. The previous day was amazing as I had taken Jannine to Glencoe where she had a huge fall in 2000 and despite life threatening injuries this was her first winter mountaineering  day for 16 years back on the mountains she loves. It had been a hard day for her but what an inspiration she is and I wrote about it my blog.

The wonderful walk up to Steall Falls one of the finest short walks in Scotland.

The wonderful walk up to Steall Falls one of the finest short walks in Scotland.

The weather previously was incredible but a change was forecast for today with heavy snow forecast and as I had a long drive home after being away for a 4 days a short walk was on the cards. The walk is  through the steep-sided Nevis Gorge to an impressive waterfall, An Steall, cascading from a hanging valley (Coire A’ Mhail). This is a very impressive short walk with much geological and botanical interest, as well as stunning mountain views of the slopes of Ben Nevis, and some of the mountains of The Mamores. The lower slopes are variously clad with woodland (dominated by birch at the higher altitudes) merging into heath and upland grassland and onto bare summit and scree slopes. All the time the river cascades below and the amazing boulders shaped by the power of the water make this a wild place. It is a short drive up Glen Nevis to the car park by the famous Waterslide that comes down from the back of Ben Nevis.

Jannine on the Bridge

Jannine on the Bridge across to the Falls.

There is a great path  but care is needed and it was quiet we were first up at the car park. We enjoyed a peaceful walk in and saw the damage done by a big landslide and the power of nature is all around us. The path opens into the Glen and the massive Waterfall is powering down it is an impressive sight and when frozen makes a great winter climb!



We had fun on the Wire Bridgethat crosses the river,Penny the dog had a swim and then the muddy path takes you to the falls cascading down.  Before this you pass the Steall hut just by the river and then on to the waterfall. It is slippy and muddy here and we sat and enjoyed wild nature in the raw and great views of Aonach Beag and the “backside of Ben Nevis” and Carn Mor Dearg a rare view from this side.

The Steall hut near the waterfall.

The Steall hut near the waterfall.

After a short break and trying to take the views in it was great to sit and enjoy this place. Normally I am rushing to some summit but what a joy to sit and stare and watch this incredible waterfall and its power just for a while. The walk gets even bogger here with some deep heavy peat in places and I found the deepest places along with Penny the dog who was loving her day.

Aonach Beag with fresh snow.

Aonach Beag with fresh snow. The hills still a dark orange snow capped stunning.

We wandered on and then re – crossed the river and headed to Steall Ruins and then a bit further on the weather was still holding and the forecasted snow was still a bit away. The path was great again and we enjoyed our views now of the Mamores great hills where Munros are a plenty. I have spent so much time here I did most of the huge days including 18 Munros in a long day and over 12 traverses of the Mamores ridge in one day. I have also been on many searches  over many years and sadly several people have never been located in this area and are still missing, It is a huge complex place to search and of course Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg and the Aonachs all are incredible mountains.

These hills are ingrained in my mind and memory.

The bridge at Steall Falls

Penny at the bridge at Steall ruin.

It was time to get back and we were soon walking along the path meeting several walkers all enjoying their day. The path is looked after by the John Muir Trust and we met two incredible people who were working on it, local legends  Martine and Allan and we caught up and thanked them for there great work keeping the paths safe. The paths are a huge assistance to allow many to share the secrets of this place and are now part of out heritage and what an effort it takes to keep them in a good state. “Blessed are the path – makers”

"Blessed are the path makers "Martine and Allan.

“Blessed are the path makers “Martine and Allan.

It was soon back to the car change out of the wet socks and the boots and then head of for some soup in Fort William. This is when I showed Jannine my blog from our day in Glencoe and some of the comments that so many pals had put up it was an emotional few minutes for her. It was then time  drop of Jannine and Penny at the Bed and Breakfast and head home before the snow hits the roads.

The gritters are out.

The gritters are out.

I was tired but the journey went well, all the hills were clear and fresh snow was on Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor.  The Cairngorms looked even more plastered  with snow as I passed them with fresh  snow and the gritters were out. I took it slowly it had been a busy few days and an emotional one. In life you meet so many characters but what a lassie Jannine is so strong despite what life has thrown at her. The last 16 years life has been so hard for her and the family, she has conquered them all but she goes home hopefully with some good thoughts for the future and surrounded by lots of love.

Rare views of the Back side of Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.

Rare views of the Back side of Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.

My friend Davy Gunn from Glencoe who was part of the Rescue team that saved Jannines life  so many years ago said  “Paul Farr Andy Nelson and all of us who worked at JSMTW(B) and were in the rescue team at that time and the Glencoe MRT members many of whom have now moved on or retired. A great story of courage and coming back when the odds are against you. It was our privilege to have played our part. What a big hearted gesture from David Whalley for taking her back and rescuing her from bad memories of the accident to the present.

To any MRT’s out there – this is why you are in MR as it makes a difference.”

That was an amazing few days and now I have a small lecture to do in my village this morning after doing starter for the golf club weather permitting. Later on it’s into Inverness to hear Clive Rowlands an old pal talk about the Ogre an epic in the mountains of Pakistan.

Thanks to all for the comments over the last few days, what great people there are amongst us despite the state of the world just now. I am so privileged to have been a small part of such an incredible group who love the mountains, wild places and their fellow-man and women. We have much to be proud and is great I feel to share a good news story and hopefully that the many Agencies involved with Jannine’s recovery like the helicopter, hospitals and those who worked on her long recovery over the years are pleased with the outcome.

When I unpacked the car I found a bottle of whisky that Jannine had left me and a lovely card, thanks and I will treasure it like the memories of the past few days, the wonderful part of the world we live in and more importantly the great people that make it so specail.





About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Bothies, Charity, Enviroment, Friends, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.