Saturday 6 May 2017

The Nevis Gorge

Lochaber is one of the roughest parts of the country. It contains many of the best, biggest (and wettest) hills, from rough and inaccessible Knoydart to the long-multi Munroed ridges of Glen Nevis or the rhyolite cliffs of Glencoe. But not every route is a hairy-chested hillwalk.

Take the Nevis Gorge for example. At the end of the dead-end road up Glen Nevis, a mile-long path squeezes through a tree-lined gorge, to debouch suddenly onto a meadow surrounded by steep mountains and with an impressive waterfall set picture-perfectly at its head.

The Steall meadow, Glen Nevis:

The start of the gorge is a widening of the road (it seems over-grand to call it a car park) that these days, is usually overflowing. Twenty years ago this was a hillwalker's secret: not today. It is a perfect length of walk for a small family (hold onto the little ones above the drops) or the tourist who wants to see a bit of wild scenery without climbing a hill.

Below the path the river twists down a steep constriction. Pebbles and boulders rumble in the current and the striking effects of their erosive power can be seen on the rocks lining the river, smooth holes bored out by their action.

Rock bored out through the power of water:

And suddenly, the tumult is over. The Steall Falls appear at the far side of the Steall meadows. A perfect picnic spot. It looks like a dead-end, but isn't: the glen twists to the left and continues on for many more, increasingly bleak miles.

Steall Falls:

The Nevis Gorge walk is over, but there's an optional extra. To access the foot of the waterfall necessitates traversing a wire bridge over the River Nevis. This makes a great highlight to the walk for adventurous eleven-year olds. (Children who are too small won't be able to reach the wires.)

On the path in the Nevis Gorge:

The walk up the Nevis Gorge is the first part of my favourite route up Ben Nevis. But that's is for another time...