Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A fitting farewell - posted by Alex

Back in June 2010, I said au revoir to the mountains of Glencoe prior to my temporary departure for other mountain ranges. This time, it is good bye. I have handed in my notice at the Clachaig Inn and will be leaving next week, never to return as a member of staff.

For my final outing, and also a last chance to have a hill day with Maz before I leave, we decided to go for the classic circuit of Creise and Meall a'Bhuiridh. Accompanied by Darren, we left the ski centre in gorgeous warm sunshine, and even the traverse of the bog around to Creise was bone-dry. Then we climbed up onto the crest of the ridge and began the scrambling.

The first tricky step is a corner-crack climbing up onto a section of rough slabs. Maz and Darren went this way, while I scouted out an alternative line to the left. Delightful romping up Rholyte slabs soon led to the second steep section. It was all much easier and more pleasant than I remembered from my first ascent of this route, almost exactly one year ago: steep rock, but excellent sun-warmed holds and nothing that felt remotely serious.

We scrambled to the summit of the mountain where we enjoyed a lie down on the warm grass for a while, and chatted to some Swiss Alpinists who were on a Munro-bagging holiday. After climbing Meall a'Bhuiridh and descending to the ski centre, it was back to the Clachaig for pints of Red Cuillin and vast quantities of food--then farewell to my friends until an unspecified point in the future when I next come up to visit Scotland!

I think today sums up what I like best about living in Glencoe: good company, glorious weather, easy climbing and the knowledge that food and drink is well-earned at the end of a hard day. I'm glad I have ended my most intensive period of activity in Glencoe on a high note, in the same way that I ended the winter season with my successful ascent of Bidean's Central Gully.

Living here since September 2008 has been a privilege, one I am lucky to have experienced. It has enriched my life beyond measure, and to paraphrase Whymper, the lessons we take away from the mountains make us better equipped to face the trials of life. Now I move on to adventures that have nothing to do with mountains! Glencoe will always feel like a home to me regardless of where I may travel, and I'm sure I will continue to visit the "lonely inn, and the high rocky hill" for many years to come.

Photo album from today

A note on the future of this blog

When I first set up this blog in 2009, it was run exclusively by myself, but last year I added my brother James as a 'guest' blogger. Since then he has contributed some remarkable articles, not to mention the wealth of his photographic talent; and given his current enthusiasm for mountaineering which eclipses my own, he has come to post more stuff than I have. Therefore, it is with no hesitation that I now pass full control of the blog to him in future. Now it's my turn to be the guest blogger!


  1. Here's to being an 'ex-Clachaiger' Alex. Seems a long time since that evening in the Schonbiel Hutte, huh...? Take it easy and see you in the glen again soon. x

  2. Good luck and best wishes for your future endeavours. Glen Coe will always be there waiting for your return, and I'm sure with the NTS taking care, it's beauty should still be as you remember it. ;)

    Strangely Shona and I were almost set to head up Creise and Meall a'Bhuiridh too yesterday but after doing Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian on Monday, Bracken our new Springer Spaniel was feeling a bit stiff. (so were we!)

    All the Best again, Eric. :)

  3. The best of luck with your new adventures! It was a pleasure to be with you on your last outing and I am looking forward to (hopefully) bringing in another crazy new year with you and Hannah!

  4. Good luck Alex with the new adventures. Hope it goes well.

  5. Good luck with your new venture, I have really enjoyed reading your blog over the last couple of years.

    I used to go winter climbing regularly in Scotland in the 1980's and reading your posts brings back many fond memories.