True Highlands Blog
The clocks have sprung forwards and now the evenings are long once again. ‘The Outdoor Capital of the UK’ (Fort William and Lochaber) is currently bathed in welcome sun and warmth – and as I write, the snow is melting fast.
The shops are selling sunglasses, suncream, shorts and t-shirts. Tourists are flocking into the towns looking for fun things to do on the mountains – most people have put their winter equipment into summer hibernation, and are finding different wardrobes/equipment for the Spring and to misquote Game of Thrones – ‘Summer is coming’.
So what are some of the different ways to have fun on the mountains? – I’ve put together a top 10 countdown list below. Before I start that list, I’ve also put together a different top 10 list of Do’s and Do’s (remembering the wise words – ‘don’t say don’t’!) for ROAM’ing in the hills.
Do’s and Do’s for Responsible Outdoor Access to the Mountains
1. DO welcome and be friendly to locals and tourists in the Highlands and on the roads
2. DO take all your litter away with you, including the top 5 (1. Banana skins, 2. BBQ trays, 3. Tents, 4. Bottles, 5. Toilet paper)
3. DO know the Scottish Outdoor Access Code
4. DO Practice ‘Leave No Trace’. Follow the Seven Principles
5. DO tell somebody what you’re doing, where you’re going, and when you plan to be back
6. DO prepare for the possible ‘4 seasons in a single Scottish day’
7. DO hire a local Guide to help you enjoy the Scottish Highlands
8. DO look for a breeze to avoid midges, and check for ticks when you go home
9. DO drink from clean wild rivers/streams/burns
10. DO come back
Top 10 fun things to do in summer on the mountains
The Scottish Ski Resorts are still doing great business with their soft Spring snow for people who like to slide about on skis or boards, on or off piste. These resorts also boast some great cafes and restaurants with breathtaking views – go jump on the Gondola/Funicular/Uplifts. Spring snow-sports are here for those that know where to look.
The Mountain Bothies in the Scottish Highlands are an excellent way to explore the mountains. The Mountain Bothies Association has issued a ‘Bothy Code’. It’s a brilliant way to link many days together and have a long distance adventure – meeting some other like minded people along the way. Some people are even trying to ‘tick’ off the bothy list, as a fun way to explore new areas in Scotland.
I’ve always had robust ‘point and shoot’ cameras and have enjoyed recording my days out in the mountains. I, like many outdoor people write a blog, and these are great ways to see what people are up to as well as give you inspiration. A good blog compilation for the West Highlands is www.fortwilliamknowledge.blogspot.co.uk. There are many photography enthusiasts on the hills every day, with automatics, DSLR’s and SLR’s. A new trend in photography is the Go-Pro and now the Go-Pro is going air-born on drones!
Everybody loves a good picnic, and this is probably what got me into the outdoors in the first place – looking for the most extreme spot for lunch! Picnic’ing on the mountains with a great view is probably equal to a spot on a remote West Coast beach with a mountain backdrop on one side and lapping waves on the other. Where’s your favourite spot? Mine is on the CMD ridge on a clear day looking at the North face of Ben Nevis.
I’ve got through quite a few tents, expensive and cheap. Camping is a brilliant way to access the more remote areas in Scotland, and your adventure is only restricted by your imagination. We in Scotland are fortunate to be able to enjoy responsible ‘Wild Camping’, within the ‘Scottish Outdoor Access Code’. I used to live in England and Wales and I always had to think carefully about water sources, but here in the Highlands we are mostly blessed with clean drinking water from the streams.
How do you like it – Long distance? Remote? High on the mountains? Deep in the Glens? Circular? There is superb walking in the mountains to suit everybody. For people who want inspiration to explore the Highlands there are the mountain lists –
A) The Munros are the 282 Scottish mountains over 3000 feet high, as defined by Sir Hugh Munro. The list has recently been revised in 2012 by the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
B) The Corbetts are the 221 Scottish hills that are between 2500ft and 3000ft in height, with a drop of 500ft on all sides.
C) The Grahams are 224 Scottish Hills between 2000-2500ft in height and with a drop of 150m on all sides.
D) The Donalds are 89 Scottish hills of 2000ft or over.
E) The Marilyns are the 1218 hills in Scotland which is a hill with a drop of 150m on all sides.
4. Mountain Biking
‘Scotland is one of the best places on the planet for mountain biking’ . The Forestry Commission have a huge number of forests which have world class trails. In addition to this you can make up your own journey across the Highlands with your bike – and cargo trailers are becoming more and more popular, to avoid rucksacks or panniers.
There are some world famous mountaineering objectives in Scotland, and even some of the Munros are difficult to summit requiring various technical skills. Mountaineering is the grey area between walking and scrambling/climbing, or encompasses them all. There are challenges for everybody, from less than half a day, to multi-day adventures (e.g. on Skye)
The UK has a lot to boast when it comes to quality rock and scrambling, but the Scottish mountains have scrambles that have that BIG feel – Skye, Glencoe, Ben Nevis, An Teallach, Torridon to name just a few areas. For me, walking led on to scrambling, and scrambling led onto climbing. For years I have been coming to Scotland for the rock and the bigger challenge, until eventually I realised it would be easier just to move here. I now live in Fort William – in the heart of it all.
I’ve left climbing for the number 1 spot deliberately. I’ve climbed all over the UK, and in many places around the world, but my favourite place to climb is high in the mountains in Scotland. My favourite climb is not even that hard, but not much beats a sunny summer’s day going up Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis.
“The Mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir
Blog kindly written by Max Hunter of Hunter MountaineeringTags: Ben Nevis, climbing, corbetts, donalds, Fort William, grahams, hill walking, hunter mountaineering, marilyns, mountain biking, mountain guide, mountaineering, munro bagging, munros, nevis range, outdoor access code, outdoor activities, Scottish mountains, scrambling, snow sport, wild camping