Shovels to the rescue

Just last week I posted an article about us urgently needing to consider purchasing snow chains for the ‘van. Well, we could really have used them today to get the ‘van out of the Ardgartan site.

'Van parked just north of Bridge of Orchy

Whilst the roads were relatively snow-free on the west coast, our aim was to take the opportunity to head back up to Fort William for a while. The problem was that although the main roads were clear, the site was snow and ice bound and there was a bit of an incline at the site exit.  The first obstacle was a gate that we had to go through before reaching the main driveway. Negotiating the gate wasn’t a problem, but we should have anticipated that the “run up” to the gate was on a slope and that we would need to stop to open it.

Basically, we should have opened the gate in advance so we didn’t have to stop. As such I had to stop the ‘van part of the way so Elaine could jump out to open the gate. It took a few goes to get some traction for the ‘van wheels but thankfully we managed.

Looking NW from Bridge of Orchy

The next, and slightly more challenging obstacle was exiting the site. The exit road was a bit steeper and the snow had been well compacted. I tried to gain as much speed as possible on the flat sections before “hitting” the slope in order to gain enough momentum to carry me to the top and onto the main road. I got to within a couple of feet of the roadside before all grip was lost. After a few attempts it was obvious that we weren’t going to be able to “force” our way out.

There was nothing else for it but to try to clear enough of the exit road for the tyres to get some grip. Luckily one of the site wardens came to lend a hand and between us we shoveled enough snow to reveal two tyre-width tracks of asphalt. I then reversed the ‘van back down the road to take another run towards the exit: this time getting just enough traction to break free.

Winter scene just north of the Blackmount

From Ardgartan we then headed north up the banks of Loch Lomond towards Crianlarich en route to Fort William. The scenery, particularly around Crianlarich was particularly stunning, with very deep snow covering everything. It was like a scene from the Alps.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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