Walk 3303 - printer friendly version
Mamores Ridge - Stob Ban, Am Bodach and Sgurr an Iubhair Walk
Author - John Turner
Length - 9.0 miles / 14.6 km
Ascent - 4800 feet / 1455 metres
Grade - hard
Start - OS grid reference NN145683
Lat 56.76924 + Long -5.0369395
Postcode PH33 6SY (approx. location only)
After a superb Scottish breakfast, we scraped the cars windows of ice before setting off to the start of our walk. The freezing fog that was clamped over Fort William was not widespread, and by the time we were travelling down Glen Nevis it had cleared to blue skies and the promise of a sunny day. Using the parking area at grid ref. NN145683 we donned boots and rucksacks while admiring the pristine views. The car-park has a 'donation' machine that was out of order so we made mental note to put some money into the Mountain Rescue box at the pub that night.
Leave the car-park via the kissing gate out onto the road leading towards the bridge over the falls. Before you get to the bridge however, you will see a farmer's gate and stile to your right and over this is the path following the stream up Coire a' Mhusgain. The crisp frozen underfoot conditions made for good walking and our breath was clearly visible, although the day was bright, the sun had not yet reached over the distant ridge where we were headed.
The path was obvious enough, and we settled into our own comfortable pace, with the faster walker occasionally sitting to admire the views allowing the group to stay together. As we gained height up the coire, we were sandwiched between the imposing northerly ridge between Stob Ban and Sron Dearg to our right - with the impressive Devils Ridge to our left. As we ascended further, we started to encounter large patches of snow. We had some fun crossing these as the cold and as yet sunless day ensured the snow was as hard packed as ice. Eventually we were able to walk around and avoid the patches.
Arriving at the bealach of the ridge between Sgurr an lubhair and Stob Ban (grid ref. NN159653), we were now blessed with extensive views to the south and bathed in beautiful sunshine. The effort of the final uphill stages combined with the heat of the sun ensured items of clothing were quickly discarded to our packs. After a brief drinks and snack stop, and the inevitable photo session, we started our way westerly to gain the slopes up to Stob Ban. The final push seemed relentless, but the approach to the summit opened up new vista's that caused more out of breath ooh's and aagh's. Fabulous views in all directions and the clear blue winter conditions gave crystal clear unlimited views of white topped mountain ranges out to the horizon. We reversed the route back down to the bealach and continued along the ridge to ascend Sgurr an lubhair, a short walk NW from the cairned summit gave us stunning views along The Devils Ridge to Sgurr a' Mhaim. Leaving the summit of Sgurr an lubhair, we descended the deceptively steep section of ridge before again ascending up towards the summit of Am Bodach. Apparently it's gaelic translation means 'Old Man' but it was me that felt like an old man at the top.
The descent was a straightforward affair, returning via the flanks but not the summit of Sgurr an lubhair. Descending again to the bealach and dropping back down into the shade of Coire a' Mhusgain, temperature immediately fell by a few degrees so it was fleeces on again. The route is now a reversal of the ascent and allowed the distant peaks of Knoydart and beyond to be studied. Something was attracting our attention on the opposite side of the valley. Across Glen Nevis to the west of Ben Nevis's summit area, we watched a mountain rescue helicopter performing what looked like tricky manoeuvres. Something was certainly going on as it was up there for quite a long time.
Arriving again at the lower reaches of the walk, it was evident that the sun had not kissed anything down this side. The ground, grass and vegetation was still white and frosted. We finished the walk at the car-park and although leg muscles might have been glad the walk was over, we took a final look up the Coire to where we had been and reflected on the sights and views we had seen.
That night after dinner, we went out for a few 're-hydration' drinks in a few of the local pubs. Our first call was the Nevisport Bar, where we dutifully donated generously to the local mountain rescue box. Oh and as an afterthought - the helicopter had earlier participated in two separate but nearly simultaneous climbing accidents on Tower Ridge. One guy with head injuries and another with broken pelvis.