An instagram Meetup
[Apologies for this post being posted late. Been tied up at the day job]
Arranged by the Highland Collective, the Nevis Gorge Instagram meet up would bring together a bunch of like minded folk, who like to make pictures and get their fix of the great outdoors.
I had been busy at work, even my last trip up Beinn a’Chrulaist was a location scouting mission for an upcoming project. The meet up was on Saturday and I’d initially thought of driving up on the Friday night and camping so I could explore a bit more and be ready first thing. However, I ended up working late on Friday night and decided last minute that i’d make the drive in the early morning.
The journey started off rainy. I sat in the car at the outset watching fat blobs of rain distort the view through the windscreen. I departed and as I drove further north, things started to improve. The scenery was on top form and it was difficult resisting the urge to stop and take photos.
Through Glencoe and Lochaber, I passed Fort William and down toward Glen Nevis. I stopped at the visitor centre and toilets which didn’t exist the last time I had come down this far. There had been quite a bit of development in what must have been 15-20 years.
I carried on an undulating and interesting road to the last possible parking spot where I saw a few familiar faces. This is where Instagram is so different tech platforms. It really does bring people together. It was great catching up on what we had done over winter, previous insta meets, talking with friends and making new ones.
Just over half an hour later, with plenty of time given for the odd straggler, we made our way up the footpath into the gorge itself. The walk had been chosen so that all abilities could take part. A great choice it was too. The trail passes amazing rock formations that have been scoured into scalloped formations by the river over millennia. Some parts almost rambling Swiss cheese with holes worse through walls of stone.
The view soon widens into a floodplain with mountains rising up either side. Directly ahead were the Steall Falls or An Steall Bàn, purportedly the second highest waterfall in Scotland with a drop of 120 meters.
As the sun was out and there was no hurry, the train of Instagrammers had stretched out and dispersed. Some claimed higher to get a face to face with the distant waterfall, while other, me included, wandered towards the rope bridge crossing. It had turned into a glorious day, so this area of flat ground was the perfect place to relax, chat, fly drones and regroup before attempting the precarious wire rope crossing of the river.
There was quite a queue of hikers waiting to cross the bridge, and I was one of the last to cross. The crossing consisted of a twisted heavy duty wire cable that you stand on with 2 lighter wire cables out to each side that you can stabilise yourself with. At the start its pretty straight forward, but by the time you are in the middle, the frequency of your natural wobble intensifies. You have to check yourself before it gets out of hand. It soon settles down as you reach the far side and the tension of the cable increases. Luckily no-one went in the drink!
Soon after crossing, we were in the shade of the mountains and crossing at the Steall Falls themselves. This time getting wet was a bit harder to avoid. One wet foot later and I had made it across the boulders and rivulets at the foot of the falls. Not before getting a few shots off, of course.
We grabbed a bit to eat and waited till everyone had crossed, before taking a large group photo, including one from the air from a drone (I seriously think I should get myself one of those).
The group once again spread out as we meandered up the riverside. The ground was boggy, but the sun was getting stronger. We kept wandering and the group thinned out further. We were looking for a shallow crossing point or preferably another bridge. Neither of these materialised. A small group of us stopped by the river while others went ahead. It wasn’t too long before a couple of us decided to remove socks and shoes then wade across a rather slimy river bed almost coming a cropper in the process. Safely across, two of us walked through the soft warm grass in our bare feet towards another waterfall choosing to explore this while the others regrouped.
The views up and down this Glen were spectacular with snow capped mountains surrounding us, including great views of Ben Nevis itself. The hazy sunshine and blue skies may not be the best ingredients for landscape photography, but it made for a perfect walk.
We all eventually regrouped and walked the path back to the car park, snaking through the gorge in a huge line.. On coming walkers must have wondered just what was going on!
The day was glorious and it was great to see familiar faces and out names to new ones.
We finished off in Fort William where we stopped for a drink before saying our goodbyes. Looking forward to the next one already.
Search Instagram for photos of the event using #nevisgorgemeet.