Meall Cumhann - 698m
Monday 7th April 2014

Weather/Conditions: Winter finally released - brown spring hills, extensive snow patches, some full-depth debris here and there. Cloud base just covering the hills but well broken up. A very pretty day.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 21.4km / 1300m / 5h 50m
Accompanying: Alone

Meall Cumhainn is a stunning little summit, set in Glen Nevis and surrounded by higher mountains on all sides. That spiked outline of Meall Cumhainn as seen from the road is one of the defining features of Glen Nevis for me, and it breaks the glen in two, rising out and thrusting a barrier between the upper and lower glen. Nestled among the foot of this hill is a place that is nothing short of fantasy land. The hill, crossing Glen Nevis as it does, squeezes the Water of Nevis into a narrowing, a gorge choked with boulders, with pines and birches flowing down the hillsides. It's an absolutely stunning place.

In the past I'd already climbed everything in the area, and today might be a good day for a new summit. In reality, I wasn't in the best of moods. I still still on post-Munros rebound and trying to cobble together the motivation to get that second round finished. I'd thought about going to Loch Lochy, but felt the effort too great to bother. I'd aimlessly driven up Glen Roy for a look at the Parallel Roads, but without an aim, I was wandering and a bit lost.

I drove down Glen Nevis, simultaneously enchanted by the beauty of this place but also wondering what happened to the motivation? Where did that go? And would it return? I didn't especially feel a compulsion to get out. I sat in the car at the road end, staring across at the steep walls of Glen Nevis. I knew that if I escaped off home, I would go all the way accompanied by a bitter taste in my mouth. I'd have copped out. So with a half-plan, I packed some stuff and set off up the gorge path.

Having not gone so far, I cut off the path on a whim, and up the steep burn heading to the Cumhainn-Nevis saddle. I didn't especially have any reason to do so, but reckoned that might take me to where I wished to go... Shortly after, I seemed to be picking up a path, which surprisingly cut sharply rightward. I thought I'd follow it, and it took me out onto a rightward traverse along the flank of the hill. I came out into the open, and ended up traversing under rocky buttresses, then found something that looked familiar: a dark slabby buttress of schist with a shapely right arête on it's side. I knew right away that this was Edgehog, and it was a pleasant surprise to have stumbled upon it.

From there, I continued up and rightward, aiming for the crest of Meall Cumhainn, underneath rock buttresses. At one point I found myself at a well-scratched corner - folk had obviously been here with spikes. A short pull up this brought me out onto the crest of the hill then I started up toward the top. Below me, folk were milling around the gorge and waterfall. It was sure a novel way to see the Steall Falls, which shrunk as I got higher.

In fact, the views from this little hill are astounding (I say little - it's nearly 700m!!). If you ever need a reminder of the beauty of the area, come here. Meall Cumhainn is sandwiched between the busy and gorgeous lower Glen Nevis, and the bare and wild upper Glen. In the far eastern distance I could see to the snowy lumps of Corrour, where the land relinquishes it's crumpled forms to the smoother Central Highlands. All around were great mountains and high mountain walls. The Mamores of Steall were clean cut shapes in the spring snows and on the other side, Nevis itself loomed large - at once looking massive but simultaneously appearing to be right there. I got a buzz out of knowing that I could nip up Ben Nevis right now if I so wished. But I was happy enough with Meall Cumhainn, and still tired from Gulvain. Of particular note was the bulk of Aonach Beag, a mountain that always really impressed me, on one hand a big rounded mountain, but seemingly hiding a threatening and dangerous side. Its as though it has a split personality, with the mountains colossal bulk offering the final word.

I spent time on top of Meall Cumhainn, then continued over to the Nevis saddle for a final descent down the right-angled gully I'd originally started up. From there, I headed straight back to the car park, much happier. The day had been saved. Despite the hill's tiny stats, I felt like I'd been on a bigger day. Faith was restored. I can tell I headed home happy, because while I remember sulking in the car at the beginning well, I remember little of the drive home! I did, however, stop by for a quick look and photograph of Creag Ashlan... (I visited Creag Ashlan and abseiled down in autumn 2015 to find crumbly, sandy schist - oh well, it had sure looked good from the A82...)

360° Panorama

Meall Cumhann
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.55am Glen Nevis road end
(1.20) 1.15pm Meall Cumhann
(2.15) c. 2.10pm Glen Nevis road end

Written: 2015-11-30