Loch Shiel 1979
LEADERS: Judith Smith, Tim Gilbert, Ben Buxton, Mike Hayward
MEMBERS: Collette Armitage, Janet Simpson, Sue Irons, Penny
Ward, Judith Pielou, Katherine Parker, Fiona Nicholson, Debra Harrison, Julie
Mark (Bionic) Bankes, Hubert (Rudolph, Incredible Hulk, Mr.
Universe) Lelijveld, Graham Tarling, Brian Barnes, Simon Lord, Martin Belderson,
Ian McLeod, Ian Gartside, John Ringrow, Chris Young, Michael
Johnson, Peter (Hermann) Sebire.
The site we used
at Glenaladale is in a magnificent setting, with steep hillsides to the north
and south. We used a site higher up the valley than the previous expedition, as
the area at the Loch side was a bit wet! The area we used involved a walk
of around a mile through a pine plantation to a clearing near a bend in the
river. It was here that Glenaladale House used to stand until the '45 rebellion,
when it was demolished by the Red Coats as retribution against the McDonald and
Clan Ranald clans, for their part in the uprising.
One of the most
interesting places on Loch Shiel was the Clan Burial Isle which most people
visited either in canoes or inflatables. Unfortunately, civilization is reaching
the more remote points of the Highlands, and the Chapel Bell is now chained to
the wall, since it was recently stolen, but luckily was recovered.
The steep sided
rugged mountains and deep gullies around the site filled with rushing torrents -
especially when it rains, which it did almost every day. In fact, we had only
three days when it did not rain!
The wild life is
quite varied. In addition to the deer, some of us sighted a badger in daylight -
a fox was seen - and ptarmigan -whilst the highlight of the trip for me was
watching a Golden Eagle sat on a ledge about twenty yards away.
activities seemed to be canoeing and walking, as climbing was not possible most
of the time because of the wet weather. Brian Barnes organised an Orienteering
Event which most people enjoyed. Brian also organised the Sports Day.
Unfortunately, during the practice for this event, we had our only casualty.
Mike, putting the shot, was interrupted by Ian heading it! However, he survived
my First Aid treatment and managed to reach Fort William for stitches, with the
timely help of Bob Crockett and his tracked vehicles and boat.
The marquee was
rather a puzzle, as the two ends and the centre section seemed to be quite
different - however, it only collapsed once - at 2.00 am in pouring rain - only
the poor leader heard collapse of course! Rousing the whole camp at 7.00 am
proved quite enjoyable, and after realising that breakfast could not be prepared
until the marquee was re-erected, everyone threw themselves into the task at
full strength, and breakfast was served at the usual time of 8.30 am!
went on at least one bivvy trip, even though some of the destinations were a
enjoyed the expedition, and feel sure that the members and assistant leaders did
The campsite is
in Glenaladale at ~NM824750 on the OS map.
were on this expedition and have any information I'd be pleased to hear from you
and add it to the site, but for now here is a brief description copied from the
The Loch Shiel 1979 expedition members. Photo and some
to Ben Buxton. Other help with names John Ringrow.
Left to Right
Standing:- 1)Graham Tarling 2) Penny Ward? 3)Judith
Pielou 4)Alan Smith 5)Mike
Hayward 6)Chris Young? 7)Simon Lord 8)Martin Belderson? 9)Michael
Johnson? 10)Brian Barnes?
11)Janet Simpson 12) John Ringrow
McLeod? 14)Fiona Nicholson 15)Pete Sebire?[behind 14] 16)Sue Irons? 17)Ian
Harrison 20)Julie Tinsley[behind 19] 21)Hubert Lelijveld 22)?
Can anyone add
Glenaladale - viewed from the boat which
cruises Loch Shiel, 2002
Glenaladale River as it enters Loch Sheil. 2004. This it the main
arm of Glenaladale River as it enters Loch Sheil in a small delta
|| Jetty for
Glenaladale estate, North side of Loch Shiel, 2009. At Camas Cròm.
'Loch Shiel is a long, narrow, freshwater loch in the
Locharber region of the Highlands on the west coast of Scotland. The
landward end is near to Fort William and well known for both the
Glenfinnan Monument and Glenfinnan Viaduct, both local tourist
Loch Shiel is about 17 miles long and about 120m
deep. It is fed by the Finnan River at the northern end, where it is
surrounded by tall hills. None of these quite reach high enough to be
classified as a Munro, and are therefore rarely walked even though
they are very picturesque. At the southern end, Loch Shiel drains into
River Shiel which runs for 3 miles before draining into Loch Moidart,
a sea loch near Castle Tioram.
Loch Shiel is quite isolated, there are no roads
down either side of it and only the small settlements of Glenfinnan
near the northern end and Dalelia, Moss and Acharacle at the southern
end. It is only recently that boat tours along the loch have been
started, which may lead to more tourists visiting the area.'
Summit of Croit Bheinn
This superb conical hill is a long walk
from whichever way it is approached.
The only short way would be a boat up Loch
Sheil and then walk up Glen Aladale,
both of which can be seen in the photo.
Copyright Andrew Spenceley
The following '2nd' circular was also from Ben
SHIEL EXPEDITION - 1979 - CIRCULAR II
5th July 1979
week I paid a visit to Loch Shiel and Glenaladale. The camp site is a
truly magnificent place, with the Loch only a few strides away. A wide
valley is at the rear of the site: this valley contains a river, and is
tree lined. The valley walls are steep, and lead to a very rugged
mountain top. In the hills are herds of deer, amongst which at this time
of the year are many young deer.
population seems to be very high and includes eagles. Transport is
organised: we will travel from Glenfinnan to Glenaladale by boat, which
will depart from the old McBraync's Pier at Glenfinnan after it has
completed its daily cruise on the loch. This will be around 3 p.m. After
loading all our equipment and ourselves, we should reach the campsite at
Glenaladale by 4 p.m. This ought to give us enough time to erect the tents
and prepare a meal before dark.
Assistant Leaders are now –
Hayward - has stepped into the gap left by the withdrawal of Richard
still one leader short, but hope to fill the vacancy in time. I suggest we
split ourselves into 5 Duty Groups for cooking, fetching water etc., as
These groupings can be traded for days off to go on Bivvies etc.
this Circular you will find a copy of the Safety Leaflet
read this carefully. You will also find some address forms which you
should complete and return to me immediately.
be joining the train at Preston and hope to see most of you then I am
looking forward to the Expedition, which should prove to be thoroughly