S: My Favourite Scottish Mountains
BC: The Gang in the Hidden Valley.
FC: My Favourite Scottish Mountains by Les Miller
1: How it qll began... My interest in mountains started when I came to Galashiels to attend a three year course in Textile Design at the local college. The year was 1950 and at that time Sundays were 'days of rest' and nothing was open. Having had a fairly active time in the RAF in the previous two years, I was not accustomed to sitting around with the Sunday papers, so I suggested to Keith, my room-mate, a walk up the local Eildon Hills, and having done that we decided to continue the concept by climbing all the hills within bus-range which were over two-thousand feet in height. Keith then invited me down to his home in Carlisle for a weekend so that we could do some Lake District hills (Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Helvellyn). I reciprocated the offer by bringing him up to Stornoway for a week, during which we climbed the Clisham, highest hill in the Western Isles. And so a passion was born. Les. | The Eildon Hills on a frosty day.
2: So what is it all about? I have picked twenty of my favourite Scottish mountains. Why are these my favourites? There are multiple reasons, but primarily they are the ones that provided the most fun, or in the case of Liathach - the most tension (not between me and my companions - I did it solo - but between me and the mountain). There are comparatively few peaks from the Northern highlands as most of our outings were one-day events from the Borders; ie:keeping south of Fort William. It may be assumed that peaks with most ascents were the most popular, but other factors kick in as well, such as the 'quality' of the peak. So, although Suilven and Stac Polly were each only done once, although less than 3000ft in height, they have the bonus of easy scrambling among superb scenery. | Lichen patterns on a boulder. | My Favourite Scottish Mountains by Les Miller
3: BEN NEVIS and CARN MOR DEARG | 23rd July 1952 24th May 1954 13th July 1958 16th July 1968 5th June 1976 5th June 1983 14th May 1989 13th Oct 2000 | Dave McCaig John Mallinson Dickson's Trio Alan and Corrie (our dog) Dave and Hugh George and Hugh Bryan Dave | Ben Nevis, seen from Carn Mor Dearg | 4410ft 1344m
4: Me, in mist, on summit, age 70 | The N. face of Nevis from Carn Mor Dearg. | The Arete to Nevis, from Carn Mor Dearg
6: Carn Mor Dearg summit with Bryan | Ben Nevis summit in June | Cornice on summit of Nevis, in June | John Mallinson and Alex in Glen Nevis (1954)
7: Summit of Ben Nevis, 5th June 1976, with Dave on left, Hugh on right
8: Ben Nevis, seen from the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge | The summit dome, seen on approach from the top of Glen Nevis.
9: Variations in dress code on the summit plateau, May 1989
10: Buachaille Etive Mor | 15th May 1955 4th Oct 1955 15th May 1955 25th Oct 1980 19th Nov 1983 9th Sept 1990 | Alex Alex and Russell Dickson's Trio Dave, Hugh and Tom Hugh, Tom, Bryan and Heidi (dog) Solo ascent, Bryan and Tom on descent | 3354ft 1022m
11: The Buachaille, Glencoe's big mountain, guarding the entrance to the Glen. The north-facing end of the mountain is solid rock, a heaven for rock-climbers, and the easiest route on the face is the Curved Ridge. Four of our six ascents were by Curved Ridge, the fifth and sixth by the buttress to the right of the big corrie. On my first ascent with Alex, he led me on a climb on the E face of the Crowberry Tower, a rock tower that dominates the top of the Crowberry ridge. The Buachaille is a mountain that demands your full attention, and gives no time for amusement.
12: The Buachaille seen from NE on A82, Glencoe behind it.
13: Climbers on the Crowberry ridge, seen from the Curved Ridge.
14: Hugh brings Dave up at start of Curved Ridge | Tom and Hugh on top of the Crowberry Tower
15: Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg, from Curved Ridge.
16: BIDEAN nam BIAN 3773ft 1150m | 8th Jan 1955 Alex, Russell, and Cameron 18th June 1965 Les Pirie 10th Sept 1983 Tom, Bryan and Val 15th Aug 1986 Hugh and Heidi (dog) 12th July 1992 Sandra and Rod
17: The frozen, eerily silent waterfall below the corrie. | Stob Coire nan Lochan 1954 | Alex followed by Russell on the summit ridge | Russell at the foot of the waterfall | and it's silent waterfall
18: Hugh trips on the ridge, and hurts his bleeding head. Tom applies first-aid. | Views from the summit of Bidean - over Aonach Eagach (L) and to Beinn a' Chrulaiste (R).
20: A stranded sheep that demanded that we rescue it, which we did. | The Corrie that makes Stob Coire nan Lochan (the peak of the corrie with a small loch)
21: Having moved on from Bidean to its secondary peak, Bidean nam Beith, Hugh led the way down into the corrie leading to Glencoe (in the background)
22: Aonach Eagach 3126ft 953m | 14th Sept 1954 Russell and CameronPhin, Colin Morrison 11th Oct 1955 Colin and John Mallinson 22nd July 1958 Scott and Cubbie 14th June 1977 Dave, Hugh and Alex 18th Aug 1984 Hugh, Tom and Bryan
24: Russell and Colin 1954 | Dave and Hugh 1977
25: Aonach Eagach, the notched ridge, lies along the north side of Glencoe, rather like an upside-down saw-blade, with its series of pinnacles. The actual rock-climbing involved is fairly easy, it's just the drops on either side that are a bit distracting.
26: Hugh and Dave on top of one of the pinnacles, pondering "Which way now?"
27: The Aonach Eagach ridge, seen from west, in Glencoe | The ridge was fun, easy enough but calling for care with quite a lot of unsound rock. Most of its length it is broad enough to walk in comfort, even two a-breast. Periodically it shatters and falls away to a narrow neck with steep gullies on each side, and steep-sided pinnacles in between.
28: The COBBLER 2891ft | 2nd Jan 1954 Louis (my brother) 6th April 1956 Norma, her first hill 20th Feb 1977 Dave, Hugh and Alex 29th Sep 1979 Hugh 26th June 1983 Tom, Bryan and Val
32: Hugh and Tom on South Peak | On the main summit (me and Hugh) | The Cobbler is a great hill in summer, and brilliant on a fine sunny winter's day. The sloping, exposed ledge and the scramble on to the summit block, give a small glow of achievement at the end of the day.
34: Tarmachan 3421ft 1042m | 28th Feb 1976 Dave and Hugh 7th Nov 1976 Dave, Hugh and Alex 15th Mar 1981 Hugh and Tom 12th Feb 1983 Hugh, Tom and Heidi (dog) 18th Aug 1985 Bryan and George 14th Feb 1988 Bryan and Tom | All this snow, so Heidi wants to play.
35: Heidi challenges Tom - "Race you to the summit!" | Tarmachan lies to the west of Ben Lawers, near the head of Loch Tay, and became one of our favourite repeat mountains, especially in winter. Our four winter ascents were all brilliant sunny days, giving plenty of scope for pure enjoyment, and to add to the pleasure the views were superb. It is a leisurely sort of mountain, that begs you to stay with it, and on several occasions we descended as the sun sank.
36: Hugh refills his juice bottle with snow.... | and then congratulates Heidi for leading us to the top. | Heading for the summit.
37: Stob Garbh, secondary top of Tarmachan.
38: It's fun (and perhaps a bit silly), to chuck stones on to a frozen pond, then walk over it to pick them up for re-use, but that's Dave! | It was damn cold, everything was frozen solid...! | Let's just wait a bit, and watch the sun set.
39: View to the North with Ben Nevis on right.
40: BEN LUI 3708ft 1130m | 25th May 1953 Solo 10th March 1959 Russell, Hamish and Cubbie 9th July 1978 Hugh and Dave 25th May 1989 Tom and Bryan
41: Ben Lui, seen from SE on Ben Oss | The summit in hailstones, Msrch 59
42: Digging out the wartime wreck of an RAF Hudson aircraft (at least that's what I was led to understand) | 19 years later... Honest, Air Marshall, it was like this when we found it. It wasnae us! | 1959 | 1978
43: On my first visit to Ben Lui, I forded the river by car, and drove on up the road (below) to the foot of the hill. Unfortunately the resumption of mining near the top of the road has put a stop to that, and you need to walk the four miles, adding eight miles to your day.
44: Ben Vorlich 3231ft 985m | 4th April 1953 Solo 19th April 1969 Alan 12th Dec 1976 Dave, Hugh, Alex 8th Oct 1983 Tom, Hugh, Bryan
45: In line astern, we start up the ridge. | At summit we find a cosy corner to munch our sandwiches.
46: In whiteout conditions, finding the right spot to leave the ridge and strike down was a bit hit and miss, but we made it. | To celebrate his safe descent, Dave tries a bum-slide, but he seems to have misplaced his bum!
47: Back at ground-zero, we celebrate with a rather magnificent snowman. (He's the one in the middle)
48: BEN CRUACHAN 1126m 3694ft | 5th April 1958 Dickson's quartet 20th Aug 1977 Dave and Hugh 17th May 1980 Dave, Hugh and Tom 13th Nov 1988 Tom and Bryan
49: Heading for the summit of Cruachan (left) On Cruachan's East ridge, summit at back (above)
50: Spring (April) on Ben Cruachan, 1958 with three eager climbers from Dickson's.
51: View down Loch Etive from top of Taynuilt Peak. | Three happy bunnies on top of Cruachan.
52: Suilven or The Sugarloaf 731m 2398ft 6th Sept 1991 Dave and hugh, Tom and Bryan
53: Suilven seen end-on, behind Lochinver. | At the saddle, looking to summit. | As a native of the Western Isles, brought up in Stornoway, I was familiar with the distant 'sugarloaf" shape I could see from Stornoway on a clear evening. It was the only UK mountain I could name, apart from the Clisham, the highest in the Western Isles' but I didn't know its real name - to me and my friends it was the Sugarloaf. It was 40 years after my first real hill (Scafell Pike in 1951) before I climbed Suilven - yes, "could have done better!" We had a good day on Suilven and I was delighted to see the familiar shape of the Clisham from its summit.
54: Sgurr Fhuaran and the Five Sisters of Kintail 3rd Oct.1954 Bert Hood 16th Sept 1077 Dave and Hugh
55: Summit view to Sgurr nan Saighead | From Moraich, the last Sister, looking back to Saighead and Sg. Fhuaran
56: and of course, the FALLS OF GLOMACH | Dave entertains at the Falls, and, of course, gets down to photographing them.
57: The Falls fully deserve a page to itself. | To fully appreciate the scale of the Falls (twice the height of Niagra) just look at the figure at the top.
58: The SADDLE 1010m 3313ft | 12th Oct 1954 Bert Hood 10th Aug 1957 Norma and Corrie (dog) 12th Sept 1977 Dave, Hugh and George
59: N | N | Norma and Corrie at the summit cairn | Norma on the bit she enjoyed, coming down the rocks. (1957)
60: Starting up the zig-zag track - the Saddle is off to right.
61: On the Forcan Ridge
62: Ben Starav 1078m 3537ft 6th Feb 1977 Dave, Hugh and Alex 15th July 1979 Dave and Hugh
63: He's going back for his Kendal Mint cake! | This is a fine mess you've got us into, Stanley! | From Spring below to Winter above.
64: Alex coming down from summit | Hugh has his eyes on Alex.s sandwich, but what is Dave doing behind the pillar?
65: On thr ridge to Ghlas Bheinn Mhor.
66: BEN ALDER 1148m 3767ft 2nd June 1979 Dave, Hugh and Alex.
67: In the cottage, Dave waits anxiously for the ghost, but is disappointed. | Alder cottage, comfy but bring your own bed.
68: The cottage in the bay. Dave climbing a snow-slope on his way up, Loch Ericht behind... ...and going down from top, via the Short Leacas ridge.
69: Dave to Hugh: "Now, when you get to Dalwhinnie, you'll see the chip shop in the main street. But hurry, I really cannot stand cold chips!" | Summit of Ben Alder.
70: Wee BUACHAILLE 958m 3143ft 13th Nov 1977 Dave, Hugh and Al;ex 20th Sept 1987 Hugh, Tom and Bryan
71: A short pause while Hugh gets his Cagoule out of his sack. | Lunch is in a room with a view, the view of the inside of a cloud.
72: Dave finds a cosy spot for lunch | Battling against a strong wind to reach the col.
74: Stac Polly 612m 2009ft 25th Aug 1982 Hugh, Tom and George
75: Hugh on the rocks of Stac Polly, with Cul Beag and Loch Luirgainn behind
76: LOCHNAGAR 1155m 3790ft 30th Apr 1977 Dave and Hugh 11th July 1987 Hugh and Bryan
78: Summit plateau of Lochnagar on 30th April 1977
80: LIATHACH 1055m 3462ft 5th Feb 1955 Solo
81: Russell on the west flank of Liathach, with Loch Torridon beyond. | East flank of Liathach, covered in icy snow, my descent route on my solo ascent in Feb 1955
82: East face of Liathach, from Glen Torridon. | The pinnacles of Liathach, seen from summit.
84: Stobinian 1165m 3822ft | 7th Apr 1973 Alan and Gypsy (dog) 13th Mar 1977 Dave and Hugh 25th Oct 1981 Hugh and Tom | Dave to Hugh: "Where's your reindeer?".
85: Seconds after this photo, Dave almost vanished into the hidden stream below the snow.
86: Fun on Stobinian... Dave ties to get over a cornice, Hugh does a squat-glissade Alan takes it carefully... until Gypsy growls at him and says "Come on slow-coach, let's take the fast bus!"
88: BEN ALLIGIN | 986m 3235ft 29th Aug 1978 Dave, Hugh and George | Ben Alligin - the peak of Sgurr Mhor on left, the three Horns on right.
89: The main peak of Alligin from 3rd Horn | Top: The Cleft of Alligin. Above: Dave plays pixies
90: On the Horns of Alligin
91: A celebration on the top of Ben Alligin for Dave's 150th, my 100th , and Hugh's 75th. and I thought we'd stopped counting!