This trip was pretty much a year in the making. Due to adverse weather conditions and other for reasons we had to cancel this trip on three previous occasions. Finally fourth time lucky we would get to Oban bothy via boat to do the remote Grahams; Meith Bheinn and An Stac. This was more a jolly for me but Anne and Norman had some serious hill-bagging business to do!
I met Anne in Roybridge where I would leave my car for the night. We then nipped into McDonald’s in Fort William for some breakfast before driving along to Morar to meet Norman. We met both Norman and the boatman, Viv at the jetty (NM696932). The sailing was smooth at first but once we were out into the open loch and passed the first two islands we were met by the stiff easterly breeze, making for a choppy sailing.
The islands in Loch Morar are totally tree-clad with Scots pine and what I would imagine are remnants of what Scotland was once like. White tailed eagles are also nesting in one of the two islands, but no sightings to report on this occasion.
With a maximum depth of 310 metres, Loch Morar is the deepest freshwater body in the whole of the Britain Isles. As we passed the islands, Viv pointed out roughly where the deepest part of the loch was.
It took around 40 minutes to reach the jetty by Oban bothy, we dumped most of our gear at the bothy and set of for Meith Bheinn with lighter day packs.
From the bothy we followed the path around into Gleann Taodhail, we crossed the Allt, and headed up towards Lochan a’ Bhrodainn. We were chatting too much to notice that we missed the NE spur of Meith Bheinn, meaning we had to do a bit cross country walking before gaining the ridge. We weren’t too bothered, we had all day and the weather was good.
We reached the summit and the vista west towards Rum and Skye was fantastic. Norman didn’t hang around to enjoy the views, instead he had his sights firmly fixed on the Marilyn; Druim a’ Chuirn. Meanwhile Anne and I just stuck around for a while longer as we watched Norman disappear.
After around 20 minutes of loafing around we decided to head back to the bothy and enjoy the rest of the evening sunshine. Norman managed to catch up with us on the path in Gleann Taodhail.
Back at the bothy we sorted ourselves out with dinner and rather embarrassingly I had a bit of a battle to get the fire going. With the fire finally roaring, we listened to some Scottish music and enjoyed a couple drams. No one else turned up that night and we retired to bed fairly early upstairs in the spacious loft.
The next again day was going to be another fine sunny day, albeit with the persistent easterly wind. This time we set off for An Stac. I really didn’t want to ascend by the same path as Meith Bheinn so we agreed to do a circuit of An Stac, this time we would head east along the path towards Glen Pean. We followed this path all the way until around NM889890, where we branched off and ascended west up the ridge over the minor top, Cnoc Gorm.
The Glen made for a rather nice walk, it was almost like a narrow gorge with large crags towering above us from both sides. With getting the boat in, I genuinely did not appreciate the remoteness of these hills.
As we gained height it was good to finally be back in the warmth of the sun. We plodded along the ridge and stopped for a break on Cnoc Gorm. Norman pushed on ahead.
After a steady plod up An Stac from Cnoc Gorm; Anne, Ralph and I reached the summit but Norman had already left to bag An Stac’s north top, which I was made to believe is a Simm (a hill over 600 metres high with at least 30 metres prominence). I had the Lochaber Traverse lined up for the day after so I wasn’t investing any more effort, although I imagine that the view of Loch Morar may be uninterrupted from the north top.
A coastguard helicopter had arrived and was hovering over the loch, before shifting around to the east of An Stac and hovered for short time before disappearing. Thankfully they were not looking for Norman or hopefully anyone else!
An Stac has a complex summit plateau, lots of undulations, little lochans and places to hide or get lost in if the cloud was down. It would make a fine summit camp too with lots of pitching options with shelter if needed.
We aimed for An Stac’s west spur back to Gleann Taidhail. We tried to get off An Stac a little bit earlier, but with steep terrain and bands of broken crags, we opted to pick up the ridge again. Plus we had Ralph the collie with us.
We met another chap with two dogs, he had walked in from Arieniskill and was bagging both Grahams on the same day. We then spied a grassy gully to head down, cutting a bit of an angle to save some distance.
Back on the path we headed back to the bothy, with plenty of time left to back up and hang around and enjoy the sun. The boatman arrived just after 4pm to take us back to Morar.
With the wind behind us, Viv used a bit more throttle and we arrived back in Morar in no time at all. We paid him for his services. Frank was heading Arisaig. Anne and I headed back to Inverlochy in Fort William for a chippie. I was staying at Bunroy campsite in Roybridge, where I would get myself ready for the Lochaber Traverse.
A tour of Oban bothy, can be viewed here.