Petestack Blog

17 July 2018

While the van’s at the garage…

Filed under: Climbing,Walking — admin @ 9:54 pm

I took a walk up Beinn a’ Bheithir yesterday, linking the three main peaks by the scrambling routes of Sgorr Bhan’s ENE Ridge (aka the Schoolhouse Ridge) and Sgorr a’ Chaolais. It’s the first time I’ve descended by Sgorr a’ Chaolais (the so-called Dragon’s Tooth) although I’d done it in ascent twice before. The steep face of the big rounded pinnacle (taken this time in ascent, but normally a down-climb with abseil slings at the top) was quite intimidating on dank rock though I could have bailed down the slopes just above it, and I came down a narrow scree gully followed by much ground just awkward enough to be annoying to reach the track, but probably missed the best way there.

While I was technically on my way down in still-brightening conditions when I received a text from Lochside Garage to say the van (in for service and MOT) was ready, I still had the big pinnacle to climb and some way to go to get back for it.

8 July 2016

East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust

Filed under: Climbing,Cycling,Kinlochleven,Running,Walking — admin @ 10:55 am

Something potentially huge for this area, so please try to get to one of the meetings, folks!

From Andrew Baxter on Facebook:

Some really important meetings coming up next week to discuss how local residents can get involved in a bid for the community to own the Rio Tinto estates, so that the land is owned by the people who live here, not by a multinational company with remote shareholders.

The new East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust has been set up in response to Rio Tinto Aluminium’s announcement that they would review the Lochaber smelter. The Trust is very keen to see the smelter continuing, if at all possible, and sees an opportunity to work with parties that might run the power stations in Kinlochleven and Fort William, and others that could operate the smelter and/or develop other employment options in the area.

The role of the community trust would be to own the estate, stretching from Kinlochleven across to Laggan. The Trust will be community led, appointing unpaid voluntary directors. We need to demonstrate widespread community support, so please come along to one of our meetings to find out more:

Monday 11th July 7 p.m. Inverlochy Village Hall
Tuesday 12th July 7 p.m. The Leven Centre, Kinlochleven
Wednesday 13th July 7 p.m Caol Community Centre
Wednesday 13th July 8 p.m Kilmallie Hall
Thursday 14th July 7 p.m. Spean Bridge Community Hall

Please share.

8 May 2016

Short Trail Routes from Kinlochleven

Filed under: Running,Walking — admin @ 11:21 pm

See maps and text at

Something I got absorbed in making for outdoor education and thought might sit well on my website!

7 March 2016

Wrong side of Resipol

Filed under: Walking — admin @ 9:29 pm

Seduced by a fine forecast on Sunday, I headed for Beinn Resipol above Loch Sunart anticipating (to quote the SMC Corbetts guide) ‘one of the finest views along the West Highland Coastline’. And the hills certainly looked great as I left the house, but things were already changing as I hit the Corran Ferry with my peak subsequently disappearing almost as I left the van to leave a day of clag and intermittent drizzle/snow showers. So I never even saw the mountain properly, let alone the famous views…

Now, you might wonder why I’ve chopped part of my GPS track and I suppose I’d better fess up. Having ascended via the Graham Top of Beinn an Albannaich and stopped to talk to a guy called Ben (who lives in Fife and works as a ranger in West Lothian) atop Resipol, I thought to vary my descent (to ‘make a nicer shape on the map’) by descending the attractive-looking eastern ridge a short way and swinging back round west past the northerly lochan somewhere. But afraid I neither really gave the map more than a cursory glance nor really thought that through, so followed my nose way too far east creating a horrible shape as I contoured and climbed my way back from where I’d never have gone with better visibility! So I’ve, um, ‘censored’ my track round the ‘wrong’ side where it stays between me and the mountain, but am happy to tell you the silver lining of this particular cloud was meeting Ben (who’d lingered some considerable time on the summit hoping things might clear) again just where my ascent and descent tracks converge for a sociable descent with much interesting discussion on the way.


29 February 2016

Circling with Lucy

Filed under: Walking — admin @ 9:16 pm

Stob Coire a’ Chearcaill is a curiously-named peak because the corrie from which it takes its name is not especially circular. But then we never saw a yew on the subsidiary top of Sgurr an Iubhair either…


I’ve known Lucy and Wally Wallace since we did Winter Mountain Leader Training together six years ago, and we’ve remained good friends. They’ve been escaping Arran for a few weeks to walk, climb, work etc. from Achaphubuil, so we had to do something together while they were up. Except that Wally further escaped to go climbing on the Ben the day Lucy and I set out to climb their new pet mountain (and my second-last Ardgour Corbett) Stob Coire a’ Chearcaill! So we just had to do it for him… starting and finishing by Gleann Sron a’ Chreagain with a 2.5-mile detour to pick up the Graham Top of Sgurr an Iubhair (Lucy made me… and my nose is growing!) and gaze unimpeded at the Heart of Ardgour (fantastic views in all directions, but possibly most distant to the south-west with the Paps of Jura clear and the Mull Ben More having remarkable presence) before short-cutting a full return circuit by 558 and Meall Ruadh to dive back into the Glen. Where we found some rough/tussocky ground and the odd avoidable craglet on our descent through the woods before encountering the stags-that-don’t-run (some of which you see below) further down. Oh, and we saw the eagles the birdwatchers missed, so I guess you could say we had a good day!

2016-02-28lucy-1 2016-02-28coire-a-chearcaill-1

2016-02-28coire-a-chearcaill-2 2016-02-28lucy-2

2016-02-28lucy-3 2016-02-28lucy-4

2016-02-28coire-a-chearcaill-3 2016-02-28lucy-5

2016-02-28coire-a-chearcaill-4 2016-02-28gleann-sron-a-chreagain


So Lucy leaves raving about the area and I get to colour in one more star in my increasingly sunny-looking constellation of Ardgour/Morvern/Moidart Corbetts. But why have I left one ‘Corbett Top’ (diamond) in here? Because Druim Garbh (west of Sgurr Dhomhnuill) is one of the eight with drops of between 450 and 500ft suggested by Robin Campbell’s research to have been removed from the tables on the erroneous assumption that Corbett’s criterion for inclusion was a drop of 500ft, and therefore not just a Top in my book (and, mark my words, we’ll see the Corbetts officially defined by 450ft drop one day!)…


2 November 2015

Staggering on

Filed under: Running,Walking — admin @ 10:13 pm

It was Ian Beattie’s stag do at Tyndrum this weekend, so I was among friends runners and we had to run to the pub for lunch on Saturday. About seven miles to the pub in Bridge of Orchy. Where we watched New Zealand beat Australia at World Cup Rugby and I fell asleep because that’s what I do when I’m not doing anything else. And then we ran back to the pub for dinner. About seven miles to the pub in Tyndrum, in the dark with too few headtorches between too many (disclaimer: at least mine was a shining light!). Where I fell asleep because that’s what I do when I’m not doing anything else, but most of the others seemed to get mixed up in some kind of karaoke with the zombies of Tyndrum (apparently normal on 31 October!). After which Keith (perhaps scunnered by his team’s loss) and Dod made renewed attempts to wake the (un)dead with some colourful noise at 2:00am and I had to play whistles in the hostel because Ian made me start and Scott wouldn’t let me stop…

So that was that and then it was Sunday (or, to be technically correct, still Sunday) and time for everyone to go their separate ways again. Which, for me, meant two Corbetts and a Graham Top on the way home, with a splendid, staggeringly appropriate display of carefree non-nav (note the ‘Oops!’ on the map) on a stunning November day when you could see for miles around…


Now the rules for non-nav are very simple. It’s not like bad nav (where you actually look at maps and stuff but still get it wrong), but quite simply following your nose without checking the map because you thought you’d registered it all from one quick look before you set out but hadn’t (all-time classic: Not Fyne but Shira!). Which is the only rational explanation I can offer for maintaining that rising traverse for so long with no sign of the expected bealach despite being fully aware of lower ground to the right I just hadn’t associated with what I thought I was looking for. At which point I did consider just skipping Beinn Bheag (which turns out to be a splendid viewpoint!) and pretending the agenda was just the more ‘hilly’ hills of Beinn Bhreac-liath and Beinn Udlaidh, but why let such a sensible solution spoil a good story? ;-)

The question mark on the map, by the way, marks a possible alternative route to Beinn Bheag up a big forestry track where I took a small (ATV?) track up and came down a big, open cleft with a burn.

16 September 2015

Calloping Corbetts

Filed under: Walking — admin @ 4:48 pm

We all make mistakes. On Sunday, I made two: firstly (pretty minor) not realising that you can now park above the bridge at the bottom of the Callop track, and secondly (gruesomely major) getting the forest completely wrong! So perhaps I shouldn’t have made either when you’d think a previous sortie up that track for a run along Loch Shiel might have alerted me to the parking (which, to be fair, turns out to be marked on my GPS map but not my computer/printed ones) and the new SMC Grahams and Donalds book tells you the correct line through the forest (more or less as marked by my dashed line), but I was just vaguely remembering something I’d read online about that and belatedly discovered that the tracks spied from above just weren’t what I wanted at all. So I took an obvious opening between two posts in the obvious corner in the deer fence through to some barriers across a track I could see, found the dead end west of that, set off back east, took another branch north where the main track clearly continues east, found the dead end there too (all under construction!), persevered with a fire break west rather than retrace my steps again, lost one leg up to the thigh in bog (I was almost ‘swimming’!) heading through a gateless ‘gate’ in another fence and finally escaped north along the line of the fence for an unplanned trudge along the road to retrieve my van in torchless dark…


Apart from all that, it was another great and solitary hill day (my sixth in a row meeting no-one!) on ground I’ve missed getting to know for too many years. While Sgurr Ghiubhsachain forms the day’s literal and metaphorical high point and looks stunning from some angles (notably the north-east), it probably doesn’t quite topple Sgurr Dhomhnuill for me as Ardgour’s second peak (Garbh Bheinn remaining the clear first) when Dhomhnuill scores for both height and distant dominance as well as shape from every angle. But who needs to rank them at all when we’re talking three great peaks in this Munro-free land and they’re all free to anyone prepared to seek them out? Might also be worth mentioning the curious parallel fences traversing my loop’s south-most ridge and begging the simple question ‘why’? Some kind of territorial dispute with no man’s land between, or just two parallel fences?

2015-09-13three-corbetts 2015-09-13glen-finnan-hills-streap-and-gulvain-1

2015-09-13sgurr-ghiubhsachain-1 2015-09-13sgorr-craobh-a-chaorainn-retrospect

2015-09-13sgurr-ghiubhsachain-2 2015-09-13rois-bheinn-group

2015-09-13sgurr-ghiubhsachain-3 2015-09-13parallel-fences

2015-09-13meall-mor 2015-09-13garbh-bheinn-and-sgurr-dhomhnuill

2015-09-13cona-glen 2015-09-13glas-bheinn-and-meall-nan-damh


12 September 2015


Filed under: Running,Walking — admin @ 10:38 am

So a ‘new’ Munro Top just makes the height and an ‘old’ one gets demoted by four (?) inches, meaning 6-0-1 becomes 6-0-2 because I’d already done them both! And the news really shouldn’t affect many folk when you’d have to be trying pretty hard not to do Mullach Coire nan Cisteachan (aka Carn na Caim South Top) if ascending Carn na Caim by the track from Drumochter Pass, but could perhaps have been more interesting the other way round when Creag na Caillich might just have been omitted as a (now) ‘mere’ Corbett Top by someone going for a minimal ‘tick’ of the Tarmachan Ridge. Now of course any logical traverse of said ridge continues to the end, but imagine that… having to go back and reascend to 3,000ft for those four inches! Narrow margins, and to some extent a mug’s game, but you have to draw the line somewhere… rules are rules if you’re going to play it and it’s not the mountains that have changed but our perceptions of them. The moral (if there is one) perhaps being that you get what you deserve if ticking ‘just enough’!

6 September 2015

Heart of Ardgour

Filed under: Cycling,Walking — admin @ 10:14 am

This was a much-anticipated outing, delving into the very heart of some fantastic Munro-free mountain country I’ve barely touched beyond repeated visits to the great Garbh Bheinn. While ‘built’ round the reigning peak of Sgurr Dhomhnuill (one of these classic cones like Sgurr na Ciche and Binnein Beag that just looks great from everywhere), it was also fuelled by ‘greed’ in realising that that whole central group was up for grabs in a hefty day’s round accessed by bike up Glen Scaddle…


So what to say about such a great day out? It’s quite big, with c.22 miles of cycling (15 off-road on rough, but generally solid, track with some stretches of Land Rover tire ruts deep enough to make pedalling awkward) and 12 under foot on rugged hills with big ups and downs. Some of the easier-angled ridges (like the east ridge of Carn na Nathrach and west of Beinn na h-Uamha) seem absolutely endless in ascent whereas others are, well, more fun. You get some cracking distant views of familiar peaks including (on a day when I’d have been running my tenth and probably last Ben Nevis Race had my summer gone to plan) that distinctive east-west aspect of the Ben to remind you that (in its upper part at least) it’s actually quite a narrow mountain. And Sgurr Dhomhnuill would quite simply be the finest peak for miles around but for the presence of nearby Garbh Bheinn. But where was everyone? For the fifth hill day in a row (the last four on Saturdays or Sundays) I saw no-one, despite a total ‘bag’ in that time of ten Corbetts, eight Corbett Tops, four Grahams and three Graham Tops. The key seems to be the absence of the word ‘Munro’, with only the most popular Corbetts and Grahams seeing comparable traffic. Which seems both a pity when there’s such good, rough, remote walking to be had on a round like this, and a blessing when these lovely ridges have remained comparatively uneroded by the passing of feet.

2015-09-05glen-scaddle-1 2015-09-05glen-scaddle-2

2015-09-05bike 2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-1

2015-09-05ben-nevis-and-mamores 2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-2

2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-3 2015-09-05south-east

2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-4 2015-09-05sgurr-a-chaorainn

2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-5 2015-09-05glen-gour-1

2015-09-05glen-gour-2 2015-09-05garbh-bheinn

2015-09-05glen-gour-3 2015-09-05sgurr-dhomhnuill-6

23 August 2015


Filed under: Walking — admin @ 12:34 pm

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain or Streap? Two much-anticipated local(ish) peaks standing proudly south-west and north-east of Glenfinnan, so which to do first?

In the event Streap won as much because I’d spied a logical round taking in Braigh nan Uamhachan across Glen Dubh Lighe and all their tops with no doglegs whereas I might have to think what to include with Sgurr Ghiubhsachain! Which is why I headed west yesterday (on a day when the rest of the world seemed to be descending on Glen Coe for the new race) looking for two Corbetts, five Corbett Tops, two Graham Tops and a partridge in a pear tree…


So what can I tell you about this little jaunt? While I met one party of three preparing to set off and picked up a dropped A4 map (which I later speculatively left under a wiper on the only other car I saw after failing to find its owner) on the track, for the third walk in a row I saw no-one on the hill. To walk the track up Glen Dubh Lighe, you have to pass through (or climb over!) the tightest kissing gate I’ve ever seen. It would be just about worth taking a bike for the first couple of miles, but I never thought of it. Beinn an Tuim is well worth doing (with splendid views back to Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Viaduct) and really not as off-puttingly rough and rocky as WalkHighlands suggest. It’s great walking along the ridge from Beinn an Tuim to Streap on rough, but not awkward, ground, but I was a tad underwhelmed by the summit of Streap itself. It looked great, but somehow just didn’t quite deliver in being tamer and less airy than the descriptions I’d been reading! Also more, well, grassy… I’d kind of expect more rock on a proper knife-edge (which that much-lauded south-west ridge is not), so quite likely more satisfying under snow and ice? The camera got put away approaching Streap as wet cloud and rain began to compromise the middle part of the day, then never got taken out again as I saw nothing I particularly wanted to photograph once it started to brighten up (by which time I was descending Na h-Uamhachan with the higher tops still mostly obscured). And there’s a neat wee bothy about 300m above the bridge where my return track rejoins my outbound one… quite the ‘shiniest’ I’ve seen with immaculate gloss varnish on the bed platform and wood panelling, and two shelves of books to read in all!

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain (the obvious peak to the left of the first photo) and Sgurr Dhomhnuill (the prominent conical peak — and Ardgour’s highest — further left in the other ‘Loch Shiel’ shot) now very much on the imminent agenda, but not today…

2015-08-22lochshiel1 2015-08-22viaduct

2015-08-22streapandgulvain1 2015-08-22lochshiel2

2015-08-22streapandgulvain2 2015-08-22streap

Older Posts »

Blog powered by WordPress. Feedback to