The last three days were spent in the saddle for Doug, me and six students on the Certificate in Outdoor Leadership Course at West Highland College. We've been riding with these guys for a few weeks now and they show a lot of talent and experience on bikes. Much of this is more tuned in to hucking dirt jumps and flowing down built bike trails. So three days of expeditioning with trailers, all the kit for two nights out and some of the wettest weather all year was quite different.
We started from Aberarder Lodge on the way to Laggan from Fort William. New tracks under the new line of pylons made easy work over to The Spey where we turned west and followed the river all the way to its source at Loch Spey. From here a nice section of wild single track took us through to Luib Chonnal, a fantastic bothy right in the back of beyond.
The ride down Glen Roy right from the top is majestic. Very impressive geography and unique geographical features make this a special place which was studied by Darwin and has ever since drawn scientists from around the world. A quick stop in Spean Bridge boosted energy levels for the huge climb past the Wee Minister to Lairig Leacach. The wind was picking up by this time with the arrival of the storm. The trailers lighten the front wheel of the bikes and make it easier to be blown around by the wind. We all got blown off sideways a couple of times but we soldiered on and made the sanctuary of the bothy before the storm really got started.
When the rain came on it was intense and continuous. Trips out of the bothy to fetch water were kept to a minimum so we could stay inside and stay dry. Ferocious winds tore at the sides of the bothy too and we were very glad not to be in tents. This morning, the puddles were deep and the wee streams that cross the track were way above the cranks. We made it back down to Leanachan Forest for a wet run along the puggy line to Nevis Range and back in to Fort William to hear of landslides blocking roads and to see the Lochy just scraping under the bridge. The students did well just to keep going for three days in such testing weather let along complete a great journey. Well done!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.