I’m sitting by the window in a bothy in Glensulaig, north of Loch Eil in Lochaber, and the peace of the place has settled on me like an old quilt.
The two Corbetts of Meall a’ Phubuill and Beinn Bhan can be combined into a long summer outing and although I’ve never linked them into one walk I am assured by no less an authority than the Scottish Mountaineering Club guidebook that the ridge between the hills is long and somewhat tedious.
I’ve climbed both hills individually and have happy memories of both so, with a dark, grey day dawning, I decided to have a wander up Meall a’ Phubuill again – from Fassfern on the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road.
A good track used to run all the way up the east side of Gleann Suileag and eventually emerge from its cloak of conifers into the open glen with the rounded breasts of Meall Onfhaidh and Meall a’ Phubuill dominating the northern horizon. Ahead, slinking its way up into the cleavage formed by the two hills, another track now climbs up to meet the waters of the Allt Fionn Doire from where you take to the heather, or in this case the steep, grassy slopes of Meall a’ Phubuill.
Once I left the track it was a simple case of taking a bearing on the summit and following the compass needle. I reckoned it would take me about 50 minutes to reach the 774m/2520ft summit and I was spot-on. However, I have to admit the accuracy of my navigation wasn’t as good – I was about 20 metres too far east of the summit cairn. Fortunately the visibility was more than that.
It was cold and wet on the summit plateau so I simply turned round, reversed the compass needle and followed it back down to the track where the cloud had lifted slightly, enough to see the welcome outline of the Glensulaig bothy across the river, set in its little stand of pine, birch and holly.
What a marvellous spot this is. Despite the views of glowering cloud and drizzly rain through the bothy window it was good to sit awhile, eat the remains of my lunch and read the bothy book. Someone else had obviously enjoyed the peace and solitude of this place and had waxed lyrical about the beauty of the glen and the tangible sensations of tranquillity. She summed up her thoughts by quoting an old prayer from the Carmina Gadelica, a benediction that stayed with me as I followed the gleaming river back to Fassfern and the car. Thou chief of chiefs, Child of the needy, Be with us in the journey, And in the gleam of the river. Be with us in the journey, And in the gleam of the river.
Glensulaig bothy with Meall a’ Phubuill behind