Scot­land’s great­est hits

Be­tween the Cen­tral Belt and the Great Glen lie the vast hills of the Grampians.

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

The best bits in the bulging mid­dle, in­clud­ing Glen Coe and Ben Ne­vis.

Top of the world

This great swathe of Scot­land is where the rocks start to reach for the sky, a moun­tain­ous re­gion known – to some – as the Grampians. Con­fus­ingly, the OS has ap­plied the name to var­i­ous groups of peaks over the years, but here we mean all the coun­try from east coast to west, from the High­land Bound­ary Fault north to the wa­ter-pooled di­ag­o­nal of the Great Glen. For walk­ers it’s a Shangri-La, home to both of Scot­land’s na­tional parks, the Cairngorms, and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the na­tion’s deep­est glens, big­gest lochs, and high­est sum­mits, in­clud­ing the king of them all.

Ben Ne­vis is one busy spot in sum­mer (in win­ter it’s all ice and dan­ger­ous cor­nice and best ad­mired from lower al­ti­tudes) and June days see a rib­bon of walk­ers work­ing up from Glen Ne­vis to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, then zig-zag­ging up to cross the boul­dery plateau to the sum­mit. This Moun­tain Path (AKA Pony Track)* starts close to sea-level mak­ing it a proper haul to the top, and the rub­bly up­per reaches take very care­ful nav­i­ga­tion. But to stand at 4411 feet (1345m) on a sunny day, with those Grampians, and in fact the whole of Bri­tain, be­low your boots, is mes­meris­ing.

For ex­pe­ri­enced hill­walk­ers, there’s an al­ter­na­tive as­cent: the long scythe of the Carn Mor Dearg* arête. “This is as ex­cit­ing as walk­ing gets be­fore you have to hang on to rock and scram­ble,” says CW pho­tog­ra­pher, Tom Bailey. “It’s a great tour of the Ben with views into the shat­tered cliffs of its north-east face, and the ridge it­self is spectacular. The de­scent loops down by the Moun­tain Path for a big, chunky moun­tain day.”

The Carn Mor Dearg arête curls to the top of Ben Ne­vis, an al­ter­na­tive as­cent for the ad­ven­tur­ous. The views fly far across this Na­tional Scenic Area, Scot­land’s equiv­a­lent to an AONB. OUT­STAND­ING Find a full route guide and map for every walk marked...

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