Gulvain South Top - 961m
Gulvain - 987m

Monday 10th December 2018

Weather/Conditions: Great morning, sunny with inversion conditions. Clouded over in the evening to light mist on the tops, dusk on the way down and a headtorch bike back to the road. Dry all day, for once!
Distance/Ascent/Time: 22.2km / 1250m / 6h 55m
Accompanying: James and Merelle

This was my third time up Gulvain and James' 200th Munro. I'd always meant to do Gulvain from the north as a way of changing it up a bit, but there was no way I was missing a day with James and the standard route from the south seemed the logical way to do it in that case. The Arkaig approach is a bit mental, very trackless, obscure and very wet...

The morning dawned with blue skies in Fort William, which made a change from the last couple of days. Merelle was coming up from Edinburgh to meet us, and after some travel delays on her part, we met mid-morning. We stopped by Costa for drinks, then drove out west in James' car to Kinloch Iall where you can park up at the foot of the glen leading into Gulvain; Gleann Fionn Lighe.

What a great morning; crisp and cool, with a weak blue sky and sun filtering through mist. We took the bikes up the glen: the track is good all the way into the base of the hill. Ahead Gulvain pulled into view, still looming large and a long distance off. But this was the advantage of the bikes. I'd walked in on my previous two times here, and it had always turned into a slog on the return out. I was hopeful the bike would save a bit of pain and in the end it saved a lot! It went from being a drag to a lot of fun.

A thundering roar from around the hillside signalled a four-jet flyby at the top of the glen. We headed up the long southern slopes. We met a guy who was on his way down; "I'd love to say that the top is close... but it really isn't!". Aye, another thing this mountain is known for... Gulvain sometimes gets a bad write up - wrongly. It's a bald twin peak rising steep and boldly from the area. You're out-there on the summit, but boring is in the eye of the beholder.

Once on the south top, the skies were clouding over and the summits developed caps of mist. But it broke up to reveal views through to other ranges. We wandered over to the main summit, arriving in the late afternoon with a distinct feeling the sun was to disappear. To the east, Ben Nevis and surrounding hills were snow capped and glowing in the last light of sun: a world far distant from the lights of Fort William. We resisted headtorches almost all the way to the bikes, and in darkness began the freewheel back out the car. Ok; it wasn't freeweehling all the way, but the bike makes this final stretch so much easier. Car headlights on the main road showed when we were almost back - we pedalled back to the car; bikes in the back, James dropped me at my car in Caol and we headed home.

Photos: Gleann Fionn Lighe & South Top

Photos: Gulvain

Photos: South Top & Return

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.28am Ceann Lochiall
(1.02) 12.30pm Bike drop, 120m asl.
(2.57) 2.25pm Gulvain South Top
(3.42) 3.10pm Gulvain
(4.20) 3.48pm Gulvain South Top
(5.52) 5.20pm Bike pick up, 120m asl.
(6.55) 6.23pm Ceann Lochiall
Written: 2018-12/2019-01-02