Group expedition

King's On Tour! 2010 - Fort William, Scotland - July 2010

An advance party of Kate Borland, James Taylor and David Irons arrived at Glen Nevis Campsite on Friday 25th June with all of the kayaks, climbing gear and group tents. They set up the campsite and scouted the local river, River Nevis, and the climbing situation in the Polldubh hills on the Saturday and Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon they watched England get thrashed by Germany in the pub down the road.

The main group of 14 people arrived on the evening of Sunday 27th having driven across the country. This was to be a relaxed evening, as the activities were going to start the next day.

Monday: One group started a 2-day hike that would take them from Spean Bridge, via Meanoch bothy back to the campsite. The other half would kayak down the River Nevis (in 2 smaller groups) from the put in below the car pack by the lower falls. The journey included a few grade 3 drops at the start in the gorge, and then a scenic grade 1-2 paddle in the shadow of Ben Nevis back to the campsite.

Tuesday: The first group continued their hike across the highlands and around the top of the Mamores. The second group took an hour-hour and a half walk to the climbing pitches while the leaders set up the top ropes and tested the climbs. The group climbed all day, borrowing the rock shoes that were available for the harder routes. This was a great introduction to climbing outdoors with climbs suited for all levels.

Wednesday: The entire trip woke early for an assault on Ben Nevis, the ascent took 4-5 hours from the campsite, with everyone getting a chance to navigate the route in pairs. After a few photos and a spot of lunch at the old observatory, the proposed walk along tower ridge was scouted. It was decided to abort due to the skill level of participants and the rather blustery weather which could have been dodgy on the exposed ridge. The group walked back down the scree into the north of Fort William for post adventure fish and chips and a well earned pint(s) at the Grog and Gruel pub.

Thursday: The second group now set off on the same 2-day hike as before, although as one member of the group had trouble with her ankle on walks previously, she decided to opt for a trip to the Glennfinnan Viaduct instead. The first group now set out for a day of kayaking; while it was too dry to run the entire length of the river, everyone was able to have a good go at the grade 3 drops in the gorge, practicing both break outs and capsizes.

Friday: The first group followed a similar route out to the allotted mound by the climbing pitches, and sadly got just as lost as the second, missing the marker laid out entirely. However this didn’t reduce the quantity of climbing that everyone got to do that day, and neither did the showers that threatened to stop play in the afternoon.

Saturday: Everyone travelled up the coast to Morar Beach near Mallaig for what was meant to be a relaxing day with barbeques, swimming and sea kayaking. What it in fact turned into was a small group going to watch Germany triumph over Argentina in town, and the other half freezing to death on the beach, trying to get the improvised barbeque started and braving the sea. Never fear, burgers were had, and some very small waves were surfed by kayak.

Sunday: After the awards ceremony the night before, it was decided that the wingiest members of the trip had to take charge of clearing the campsite in preparation for the long drive home. Excess Morrissons value goods were distributed and it was agreed that the party would continue in King’s Bar that evening.

The cost of the trip was £150 and included decent food, all petrol costs for drivers, campsite fees and use of the college equipment. The leaders were:

James Taylor - 3rd year Engineer - Kayaking, Climbing & Walking

Max Hewkin Smith - 2nd year Engineer - Kayaking

Andrew Munro - 2nd year Medic - Climbing & Walking

David Irons - 2nd year Computer Scientist - Climbing & Walking

Kate Borland - 3rd year Geographer - Head Chef

Chris Logan - 1st year Medic - Climbing