Saturday, June 05, 2021


Gulvain is a mountain which sits between the Fort William to Mallaig Road, and Loch Arkaig to the North. Cameron McNeish describes Gulvain as a 'shy' hill, as it is not visible from any major road - but lurks in the background. That is an apt description, and that shyness was compounded yesterday by the fact that whilst the glen and ridges enjoyed good weather throughout the day, Gulvain's two summits hid themselves in cloud for the entire duration of my visit.

I parked at the head of Loch Eil, where the A861 leaves the Mallaig route and heads down the Ardgour peninsular, eventually running past the Coran ferry. There's a layby before the railway bridge which seems to be the preferred parking place for hillwalkers heading up Gleann Fionnlighe. I jumped on my mountain bike, crossed back over the main Mallaig road, and headed up the glen via broken gate leading to a decent landrover track.

The track winds, climbs and drops all the way up the glen until the massive bulk of Gulvain's great northern ridge blocks the way. Dumping the bike here, I followed the scratchy and eroded rack up the grass to the first top at 855 metres. Behind me the view stretch out back to the car and across to Ardgour and Morven - whilst the ridge in front of me climbed into the clouds.

A quick compass check confirmed the route, which was a straightforward, stiff climb up to a circular trig-point. Again in cloud the compass pointed the way down to a high bealach between Gulvain's two summits. The map suggested that the ridge would be easy - but it was deceptive as the pull up to the munro itself was harf work! Thankfully, the clouds parted when I was on the bealach and I got a view of the lovely ridge ahead before ascending once again into the fog.

The return is via the ascent route, back over the first top and back down to the glen. It was only then that I say three other walkers - the only people I saw all day. Once back on my bike it was a simple spin back down the glen to the car and home. I had planned to brew up some coffee before I drove, but summer must be here because for the first time this year I was defeated by a cloud of midgies. A more open and exposed car park near Loch Laggan did the job instead.

In terms of Munro days this was a pretty straightforward one - and would have been great of I had been able to see a bit more. Given it's location, it's one I'd love to do again in better conditions.

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