Park at the Glen Nevis Lower Falls car park, Glen Nevis Road (to shorten the walk to 2 miles continue along to the very end of Glen Nevis Road where there is another small car park). No public transport to start point.
WALK REPORT: 15th July 2017
We had planned this date months in advance, with the aim of bagging the Ring of Steall, one of Scotland’s classic and most esteemed mountain ridge walks. We had booked accommodation in the Glencoe area for the night to eliminate the need to face a 3 hour drive home after a long 11-12 hour day in the hills. As had been forecast, we arrived to heavy rain which was set to continue the entire day. I had suggested putting the walk off until the following day when conditions were to be more favourable but work commitments meant that wasn’t an option and so a day of heavy rain is what I geared up for (a good test for the waterproof Harvey maps – worked a treat by the way!) I will admit to being a little disappointed that the weather wasn’t better: an illustrious 4 munro adventure such as this one, so far away from home, should in my opinion preferably be done on a day with at least a sniff of a view, not one spent in the clouds.
Things didn’t get off to the best start…..
When planning our route we had decided to park at the Lower Falls car park and do the Ring in a clockwise direction, which meant that we would get the ‘road section’ out the way first and descend directly back to the car park at the end of our long tiring day. The road was much more pleasant than I had expected. In fact, much better suited to walking on than driving I would imagine! On the way back along it we even saved this little frog from being squished by an oncoming vehicle… We weren’t sure if it perhaps already had an injury because no amount of gentle prodding would encourage it to hop away to the side of the road. In the end I had to lift it. Now captured on GoPro footage, he might just be the most famous little frog in the Glen!
Once we got over the shock of someone being dropped off at the top car park in a taxi(!!), we got stuck into enjoying what the Steall Falls path and Nevis Gorge had to offer. Despite what the below photo would have you believe, the path was teeming with people even on this dreich soaking wet Saturday! It’s not difficult to see why though: it is truly a beautiful place.
The only way across the river to reach our first Munro – An Gearanach (982m/3221 ft) – was via this wire bridge (see image below). Since reading about it I had been super excited, if a little nervous, to cross it! Standing on the edge I suddenly had tons of questions: What way do I put my feet? Do I cross one over the other or slide them along? Will it be slippery because of the rain? Then I was on it, and I had even more questions! Am I going fast enough? (there was a queue behind me and I felt like I was moving at snail’s pace!); Why is it wobbling so much? (someone else had come on behind me, which answers the previous question!) I was surprised to find that I was shaking like a leaf when I reached the other side! “PHEW!” I thought, grateful that it was over. Little did I know, in about 20 minutes I would be heading over it for a second time!!
Owing to the huge volume of rainfall the area had been subjected to overnight and all day today, the river was in spate. I only appreciated exactly how swollen it had been when I came home and looked up other reviews of the walk to find that usually it can be forded with little trouble. This posed a problem for us, since one of our party was unable to cross using the wire bridge and therefore had no option but attempt to cross the old fashioned way (shoes off & in you go). The contents of his pack ended up soaked through, as did all of his clothes. Only to get to the other side and realise that there was another section to cross before he could reach where we needed to be.
We took stock of the situation and decided that it wouldn’t be sensible to continue with the hike: we still had 7 miles, 4 munros and at least 10 hours of hillwalking to come. A quick check of our watches told us that we were behind schedule and would be hard pushed to finish before sunset. Not to mention the fact that we could already wring our socks out only 2hrs in to the day. It just wasn’t meant to be and we knew that the the Ring of Steall would be there for us to conquer another (drier and sunnier!) day when the river would be easier to ford. So back across the wire bridge I edged. And no, it was not less frightening second time around!
As we headed back to the car early, in all honesty I didn’t feel disappointed to be cutting the day short. The walk, which would now be named “Steall Falls & The Wire Bridge” had been spectacular in it’s own right and very worthy of it’s own report. Had we been there in drier weather we would not have seen the falls in all their glory, and I can now proudly claim to have crossed the wire bridge with the Nevis in full spate 😉