1976 North – South Walk – Glen Affric – Food and boots drop off by Seaking helicopter. Greenfields and the Big 4 On Ben Nevis.


Day 11  May 19 –  The bIg Hills of Kintail  – It was a great start from  Altbeithe Youth Hostel and another big day ahead. We had a look at the crash nearby of a Vickers Wellington that crashed in the war.At ten o’clock on the night of 13 February 1942, a Vickers Wellington Type 1c bomber crashed into a hillside in Glen Affric. The crew of six all survived. It was their last training exercise before going to fight in the Second World War in the Middle East.

We were glad  it was another good day with no wind  and great weather we crossed the river and said good bye to the amazing Aultbeithe Youth Hostel.  It is a long pull up the North West Ridge to the first Munro Mullach Froach choire 1102 metres another massive hill with its huge wild corries and more herds of deer. This is another remote Munro and one that many chase in winter the scramble along the summit ridge can be interesting scramble along the towers and intimidating in a wind, you are a long way out from here if anything happens. The one inch to the mile hardly shows the ground that you crass very different from today.  I had been on these hills before in a wild winter’s day and had used a rope on the tricky wind and cornices, not today just bits of neve in places and great walking.  The ridge along to the next Munro A’ Chraileag 1120 metres and then along a broad ridge with huge open Corries to Sgurr nan Conbhairean 1109 metres and then Carn Ghulsaid 957 metres.  Great views and we were half way into our walk and going well, my knee was stiffening up on the descents it felt like cartilage but just kept going a bit behind the boys but no problem in such weather.  Then it started to rain and we got wet  and had  a long road walk along the road to Greenfields near Loch Garry.  As we hit the main Kintail Road a Yellow Sea King stops by the road and out jumps Mick Anderson RIP the wincheman with some food for us , they are soon gone and we are so pleased. Paul had new boots waiting at Greenfields  THE SEA kING DROPPED THEM OFF! how he coped I will never know.

The Late Mick Anderson RIP – Helicopter winchy and Mountain Rescuer

We also had trouble finding the bothy as we had never been there before far less in the dark. This is an new area for me and it will be a huge day again tomorrow.. These hills and the road walks are very hard, body aching, gear very wet, great to have dry gear on after a day being wet. This is the best part of the day along with the soup and tea; I crave for bread, Looking at the map and reading my battered book before I fall asleep. This was a big day and again we see no one but lots of Deer and many are now down very low and many are now down very low a sign of wild weather coming. I hate the roads not easy on my knee; we wear our RAF sand shoes on the road and look like tramps now with our stubbly beards. The Great Glens were over


Day 12 May 20   

The day of no bothy Green fields – jIM ADDS Ben Tee –  Sron A’Choire Chairb, Meall na Teanga – Spean Bridge . Greenfields is a beautiful place at the back of the Glengarry Forest and the plan is the Corbett Ben Tee and the Loch Lochy Munros Sron A Choire Garbh and Meall Na Teanga. It is great to be out of the forest and a new way up old favourite hills. This is big country and great to see a new aspect to these popular hills, I wonder how many come this way? The normal route from the A82 from the Laggan Locks takes you through some forestry but not today we are at the other side of the hill today. There are few paths coming from this side until we reach the hills. It is a very steep but great ridge walking and I enjoyed the views along the Meal Na Teanga ridge and the wild descent to Clunes battering on the knees and all more new ground. High winds and more snow we are battered and nearly drop off at the beleach due to the weather but push on.

We sign the wee book hidden under snow on the summit hidden in a tin. The ridge walk was great and these hidden Corries are full of deer and we see many hares, we have yet to meet anyone on the hill!  We are rewarded with a great view in the clearing of the big hills ahead and Loch Lochy.  We have no bothy planned today the bothy has fallen through so we will have to bivy at Spean Bridge and after a long walk and a stop at the Commando Memorial to reflect and see the day ahead on Ben Nevis and the big Four. We manage a pint and some food in the pub but cannot get a bothy for the night. In the end we sleep at the railway station at Spean Bridge and are sleepless all night bivy as the trains arrive early. It was just what we needed an early start and the Station Master was kind to us he opened the toilets and must have thought we were strange. It was 

Looking into the wilds of Meall na Teanga

Distance 19 miles and 5000 feet of ascent. Munro Total 2   

Day 13 May 21 1976 –

Spean Bridge – Fort William Via The Big 4 (Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis.)  

We are in  Spean Bridge was where we were let down with the bothy and could not get hold of the owner and  had to sleep in the Railway station. The trains were going through all night and a railway worker spotted us and said we could stay he opened the waiting room but said be gone by 0600, good man. It was an interesting wander early from the huge Leanachan Forest. I wonder what my Mum and  Dad would have said if they had known we slept in the Station? How we needed a wash the last on was at Strath Connon a few days ago, we look fairly battered like tramps!  We passed the old dismantled railway in the forest and then onto the open slopes of Aonach Mor no Ski are in these days but just a huge plod up open cliffs which were to became a favourite climbing area in the years to come. It was a big day these 4 hills and a must as they are all over 4000 feet. The summit was easy to find but huge snow fields still remained and we wandered along the ridge  Aonach Beag is a better looking peak guarded by crags and a place where only a few venture to climb in winter . The North East ridge is a great day in summer or winter but defended by the long walk in. We were going well we had a day off coming in Fort William with showers etc. From here you can see the huge North East Face of Ben Nevis and the next hill Carn Mor Dearg. As we dropped back down to the huge beleach the views of The Grey Corries  and the wild hills in a 360 degree panorama and many hills that we were to climb on our way to Ben Lomond. The weather was great and the descent to the Beleach to Carn Mor Dearg was easy on huge fingers of snow. This is a tricky area in bad weather but not today. It is very steep onto Carn Mor Dearg and the views of the huge North Face of Ben Nevis is incredible. There was still plenty of snow and after the grind up onto the ridge the summit was an airy walk. This is a favourite day The Carn Mor Dearg Arete to Ben Nevis an airy scramble in winter and a place to concentrate as the great North East Buttress and Brenva Face dominate the walk.

On Carn Mor Dearg Arete

I love this area and was to climb so many routes on this huge Alpine Face on winter Courses in the future. Bob Run, Cresta, Frostbite, and of course the North East Buttress great days and wonderful adventures,and rarely meet any other climbers.  The ridge drops to the beleach and the old Abseil post ( now removed) gave a steep descent into the huge Coir Leis in winter a place to take care as the snow can be alpine hard. The Abseil post were built by the RAF Kinloss Team  under John Hinde  after a spate of terrible accidents to walkers descending into the Corrie. From here it is about 1000 feet ( 300 metres) through the summit screes and boulders to the summit Here we met out first people since we started the walk on the hill. We were very unsociable which I apologise for and had a great break  on the summit. The Mamores our next hill looked snowless and this great ridge with it summits radiating from the summits looked incredible as did Glencoe and beyond but the view to the west were wild. Jim and Paul followed me along the edge of the great cliffs, huge cornices still defended the climbs and as the weather was good we just followed the well-worn path down to the Red Burn. In these days there were many accidents on the Ben and the famous 5 finger gully took a toll every winter. Even nowadays the summit plateau should not be underestimated it is wild place in bad weather and in the years to come I was to learn that on many occasions. I tripped on the way down and wrenched my knee it was very sore and swollen and the constant descent is hard on the knees no walking poles in these days to take the brunt of the weight. We wandered to our bothy and a day off we were staying at the ATC hut in the town and made ourselves at home and then down to the swimming pool for a shower and a swim. My knee was really swollen by now especially after the bolt off the Ben but  we stopped at the wee shop and gorged our selfs we were very hungry. We had a day off tomorrow so hopefully it would calm down. It was then change and out for a meal and the famous Jacobite pub with its constant bell to announce closing time. We were exhausted but would enjoy this day off and try to recover for a huge day on the Mamores the next day. 

Distance 16.5 miles and 7500 feet of ascent – going very well magic day with light bags and the chance of a shower.   Munros 4   





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 Aircraft incidents, Articles, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, SAR, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.