Adventure Weekend: Climbing Ladhar Bienn in Knoydart

By Martin Davies

I have been climbing in the Scottish Highlands since I was a young boy. I was first introduced to the Scottish highlands by my Grandfather. He would take me North in his old beaten up Skoda, from Glasgow and we would camp out by a Loch. The following day we would and climb the nearest Mountain (Ben) and I would be told amazing stories of the history of my country.

I learned my skills and love of the mountains from him and that has never wavered. When I am stressed, overwhelmed with day to day life and need some head space I head to the mountains. I am blessed as I live in a village called Balloch, about a half mile from Loch Lomond. This is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Ben Lomond, the most southerly of the Munro’s is a 20 minute drive from my house. 20 minutes in the other direction are the Arrochar Alps. An absolute playground.

I regularly climb with my son Gabriel and my brother Russell. I have passed on my skills and passion to my son Gabriel, who is every bit the climber I am. I have watched him grow into a young man and I am immensely proud of how he has taken my love of the mountains and made it his own.  I have an adventurous spirit and love to explore untamed and remote areas. I enjoy tackling mountains that are overlooked, or in the ‘too hard box’.

Such a Mountain is ‘Ladhar Bienn’ in Knoydart, located in the North West Peninsula of Scotland. This is one of the most remote Mountains (Mountain over 3000 feet) in the UK.  My brother Russell and I decided we wanted to tackle it. In April this year we made our way to Mallaig on the North west coast of Scotland and caught and amazing ‘wee’ ferry, which took us to the village of Inverie. Inverie is still on the Scottish mainland, however there are no roads or rail to reach it. Its a 3 day walk from Glenfinnan or an hour ferry sail. Due to time constraints we took the ferry. During the sail we passed the islands of Skye, Rum and Eigg. We were blessed with the local wildlife coming out say hello. Its amazing how seals have the face of a cute puppy.

An hour later we arrived at Inverie. We were greeted by a piper on the docks and immediately made our way the ‘Forge’ pub, the remotest pub on the British mainland.

That night we made a camp on the shores of the sea, just outside the village and made a Viking style fire.

After a good nights sleep and breakfast we made our way inland to the foot of Ladhar Bienn. I was initially taken aback bits size and the task ahead, but as always I was up for the challenge. My brother and I climbed for six hours and only met one other hiker.

The mountain offered many challenges, including rock climbing, pockets of deep snow and 60 MPH winds.. Eventually we made it to the summit and were blessed with amazing views.

We hung out for as long as we could, but eventually decided it was time to descend. Getting to the top is only halfway there. It took us a further 4 hours to get back to Inverie, where a pint of beer was waiting at the ‘Forge ‘pub. We stayed our final night within a bunkhouse in Inverie. I have stayed in many bunkhouses, bothies and hostels in Scotland and have never been disappointed. This one was no acceptation. We met other climbers and adventurer’s and shared stories around a warm fire. After a solid sleep my brother and I made our way back to the Dock and the ferry back to Mallaig. From there it was a 4 hour drive home.

For me this was an amazing (mini) adventure and great bonding between my brother and I. I believe in the modern world, as humans, we have lost our connection to nature. We are too happy to sit in front of the TV and watch nature programmes, when we should be out there seeing, feeling and smelling nature first hand. I believe in handing the mountains, the rivers, lochs and lakes to the next generation as unspoiled as it was handed to us. Knoydart is one of the last few places remaining in the UK that is unspoiled by human intervention. GET OUT THERE! The best things in life are free.


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