On a Scottish mountain, retreat isn’t always an option

Tracking Back: In the latest in his series of reflections on memorable walks, Will Gore recalls a near misstep on the grand Ben Lui

Saturday 10 August 2019 18:47
The Scottish highlands are majestic, but potentially dangerous
The Scottish highlands are majestic, but potentially dangerous

Pick a major Scottish peak and you will almost certainly find it described in the superlative somewhere: most striking, most elegant, most challenging, or whatever. Anyone who has walked in this most majestic part of the British Isles will have a favourite.

Ben Lui, in the Grampians, is not my favourite as it happens. It is nonetheless a magnificent mountain; “one of the grandest” is a phrase that pops up in a quick Google search.

A favoured approach for walkers – and the one I took when climbing it back in 2006 – is from the northeast, which allows a perfect view of the great Coire Gaothach. This deep amphitheatre, carved out of the terrain by ancient glaciation, is the mountain’s calling card, drawing hikers into a shadowy embrace between high ridges to the left and right.

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