Painting depicting colourful mountainous landscpaes with two black ravens in foreground.


uhi west highland

gaelic language and placenames, the natural world

Walking up Meall Mòr

"For me it’s like entering a magical world. The first time I tried to go up I didn’t make it to the top because the wind was too strong. For years the hill laughed at me. It wasn’t until 28 years later that I made it up Meall Mòr. When I did there was a raven croaking at me.

Meall Mòr is an insignificant looking hill in Glencoe. Walking up from Ballachulish, the ascent to the mast is steep. It’s a drop down a rough track to a boggy ride between the stumps of the old plantation before the climbing starts again. Through the gate in the deer fence there are lumpy stones with black spleenwort ferns hidden under them. The hillside is covered in mosses, blaeberries, low grasses and sedges. There are at least three false summits before the plateau is reached with views of the hills.

At the start of the plateau there is a tiny “lochan” surrounded by sphagnum moss. In spring the air is full of skylarks singing. The plateau is dry, covered with mat grass, the food of the mountain ringlet butterfly. At the end there are lines of quartz sticking out of the ground

The summit is on a ridge above a line of cliffs. Once I found a deer’s antler under the cliffs. The rocks on the summit are pinkish and angular, but smooth. Sometimes it’s too windy to go onto the ridge. Fortunately it was a calm day when I went up to celebrate my 70th birthday.

There are club mosses on the ridge and occasionally giant tachinid flies. The most magical thing happened when I was sitting beside the cairn admiring the views and listening to the skylarks was when one landed right beside me.

Everything looks different going down. It’s always sad to come off the hill and back to reality."

As told by Jan Hamilton, South Lochaber

Story and image submitted in collaboration with UHI West Highland Creative Arts program.

Image: Acrylic on board. Artist Jan Hamilton. Influenced by Rudi Hurzelmeiser.