Just thought I'd share a few pictures from a loop I did round Ben Nevis last weekend. The aim was to start at Fort William and have an easy afternoon's ride to the bothy, followed by a good ride back to the car on Sunday.
I did my standard approach of not leaving early enough and found myself ready to go some time after lunch on Saturday.
I'd driven further out of Fort William than intended, so was onto the West Highland Way almost immediately.
It was pretty quiet out and there was a disappointing lack of snow due to the thaw in the last few days.
Still, I remember a picture of this stretch of path in a book being one of the things that got me hooked on this sort of riding.
Before long I was dropping down above Kinlochleven towards Mamore Lodge.
Next up was a steady climb towards Loch Eilde Mor.
It wasn't a bad view back from up near the top.
Next up was easy going along the loch, with a hint of some possible snowy terrain to come.
Realising I had tons of time to spare, I dawdled along, but was still looking across at Meanach bothy with plenty of daylight left for a change. Tomorrow's pass looked invitingly white behind it.
Next up was a crossing of the Abhainn Rath, which was determined not to let me cross with dry feet, so I went for the stripped to the undies approach. I'm expecting my man parts to re-emerge any day now.
The pain was brief and I had a comfy night's sleep to look forward to. The bothy's other occupant was a nice chap called John, who was planning a very early start to go and do some night nav up in the Grey Corries. I was planning to wake when I woke.
When I eventually got myself up, the wind was blowing a gale outside. The prediction had been for warmer temperatures and rain, but it was looking dry for the time being. I got a brew on and lethargically started to pack up.
Of course, as soon as I left the indoors, a driving rain piled into me as I climbed away from the bothy.
The rise in temperature overnight had caused a considerable thaw lower down.
Though there were still stretches where the path was basically guesswork.
As I hit the top of the pass, the rain died off and I could take in some views. Unfortunately, the snow was so soft that the bike sank through it on its own, giving a sensation of pushing uphill through treacle.
I'd still ride whatever I could though.
Had the temperatures been low enough, it could have been an amazing ride - as it were, it was great to be out in it anyway, no matter how many burns I fell into!
Eventually, the path widened and I descended to Lairig Leacach bothy, which was occupied by several walkers.
I left them to it and pushed on towards Leanachan Forest, with the track conditions improving all the time.
I got up a fair speed on the way down, only stopping to say hello to the wee minister, who I imagine has been responsible for many passers by filling their pants on a dark night.
All that was left now was to work my way through to the opposite end of Leanachan Forest.
I managed to avoid ending up on the road, eventually popping out at the distillery in Fort William.
After a quick pitstop at a petrol station to get out of the rain and top myself up with Irn Bru, I just had to climb the endless hill out of town to regain the car, which was somewhere in the distance...