A Burning Ring of Steal … and other stories

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Endorsements by participants are always illuminating; and I’ll take the following in the positive spirit that was intended …

‘Thanks again for great weekend of terror and pain’ – Anon, Employment Support Worker, ELVOS

The weekend was a two day Staff Development course, based in Glencoe; the weekend was billed as Rambler to Scrambler. Scrambling, where you are often un-roped on terrain that requires hands and feet, is actually about the riskiest think you can do in the mountains. It accounts for far greater number of serious mountain mishaps than rock-climbing. The weekend’s aim was therefore not to take the group scrambling but to progress participant’s hill walking skills to become more confident on steeper terrain, off the beaten track, and to negotiate some trickier ground.

Saturday’s objective was the Ring of Steal, a circular ridge walk in the mountains to the south of Glen Nevis. The day’s weather was wet and wind-less allowing the midges to feast on us whenever we stopped. A welcome reminder of why it’s great to work on the east coast! We parked at the upper car-park and walked up through the gorge. The day’s first bit of excitement was the wire bridge over the river Nevis. All made it across dry, with maybe just a few nervous wobbles and one almost early bath.

Next challenge was the river crossing below the Steal waterfall required to gain access to the main path to the tops. The recent rain had swollen this and made it impassable. We tried alternative messy scrabbles up a faint path up through step ground in the woods – but soon this ran out at some decidedly unpleasant ground and again we had to retreat. In the end we salvaged the day by walking back to the bus on the other side of the river, picking our way down through Polldubh crags. While we didn’t make the tops there was lots of opportunity to practice in route finding over some rough terrain.

On Sunday we drove south to the sunnier and much drier climes of Ben Lawers. Our target was the Tarmachan Ridge, a classic walk on the west side of the Lawers group. By contrast to the previous day the views and weather was excellent; bright with only the odd light smir. The airy-ness of the ridge main ridge was easily negotiated, although the ‘bad step’ at the end permitted an opportunity for a quick rope deployment to help the descent.

The group said they enjoyed the weekend and have all gained experiences that they can call on when next in the hills with a group.

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