On Sunday we headed south to Fort William to meet up with a friend, Freddie who was staying at the Fort bill to attend the Mountain Festival. We, too, had booked tickets for the festival event that evening – a showing of some of the films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival, so selected a short day walk that would allow us to be back in town in time for that without constantly ‘clock-watching’.
We chose to climb a Corbett and a Graham in Glen Roy, Leana Mhor and Beinne Iaruinn working on the principle that ‘you often get the best views of the big hills from the smaller neighbouring hills’.
This walk in lovely Glen Roy also provided the opportunity to view this glen’s renowned parallel roads. These three sets of horizontal parallel lines running either side of the glen. The ‘roads, represent the shorelines of ice-dammed lakes created during the last ice age when the glen was blocked by a glacier. Typically they are narrow benches (several metres wide) cut into the bedrock of the hillsides and in places covered by remnants of lake beach gravel. It is thought they probably were formed through a combination of intense frost weathering and wave action along the lake shore zone. These lines can be seen clearly from the roadside viewpoint part way along the glen and we stopped here briefly to catch a picture or two. More information about the geology of the area can be found on this
We began the ascent of the two hills from a bridge crossing the burn running between the two hills at NN300281. From here we ascended the SE shoulder of Leana Mhor, crossing the three parallel roads in the first 150 metres of ascent. This broad ridge gave an easy, steady plod up through heather and short grass with increasingly better views of the upper glen below.
As we gained height we got views south to Loch Linnhe and west Loch Arkaig.
From the rounded summit of Leana Mhor we dropped down about 150m to the saddle between the two hills. We found a little shelter from the cold northerly wind for a bite to eat before setting off up the long slog of Meall Bruic. From this point we spotted a couple of other walkers here the top of Leana Mhor, but they disappeared from sight and we didn’t see them again.
As we approached Coire nan Eun we had dramatic views down into the head of Glen Roy and the parallel roads. We spotted the snow on the cornice above the corrie rim breaking off so chose a line well back from the edge.
The summit cairn on Beinn Iaruinn was certainly a much bigger structure than the puckle pile of stones on Leana Mhor. Again we had a 360° panorama of hills and with varying depths of snow. Heading back to the saddle we could see the snow cornice line better, so Freddie and I enjoyed plodding along in the crunchy snow.
From the saddle we picked up a faint path that followed the burn that runs between the two hills down to the glen. The low afternoon sun gave more interesting views of the parallel roads in the upper glen – an area we must return to visit some day.
More photos on Flickr
Some of you may be able to see the embedded video from the BBC featuring geologist, Iain Stewart sharing information about the parrallel roads in Glen Roy.