Today we searched for a mountain. To be more exact, we searched for a specific part of the path near the Am Bodach peak on the Aonach Eagach ridge. This was one of our first views of Scotland growing up. It was home to the scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson runs across the mountain and looks all around him. Ambitious, we knew, but others had done it, so we wanted to try.
At the end, I will give you my tips for finding it yourself.
“Hill walking” in Scotland is very different than hiking in the US. For his particular walk, no signage at the bottom of the trail, no trail really even at some points. It truly was so many people just picked this way to get up to the top that is was worn down. In some places there was more than one branch of the path.
If you want to do any hiking at all, this website is essential. This is the direct link to this particular hike.
We somehow ended up on the very direct path, which was straight up the side of the mountain in some places, straight up rock faces in others and blessed flatter places that zig zagged their way up.
We took our time and stopped often, taking in views of the famous Three sisters of Glencoe. We were also rewarded with views of herds of deer and family groups of mountain goats trying their best to avoid groups of hikers. We pretty much had the hike to ourselves. We only encountered two groups on our path. It was a tough hike for us, being in the shape that we are in, but I would say it was a pretty difficult ascent for anyone based on the websit rating, especially for those not used to “scrambling” (climbing up and down rock).
Many times we thought about stopping, but we pressed on to summit. Even if we didn’t make it to Braveheart parts, we were so close to bagging a munro.
When we got to the end of our path, we scrambled up the rock and over the top.
Words can’t describe the beauty on the top. Pictures can’t really either. You are just surrounded by mountain peaks and lochs as far as the eye can see in good weather.
Worn out as we were, we didn’t want to venture very far. We sang Flower of Scotland at the cairn on the summit. As I took in the views, Ben decided to walk to the next little peak. From there he saw the point where Mel Gibson stands and the helicopter does a 360 view around him.
The conversation went something like this (and sound carried really far up there). “You can stay and take my picture, but I am going a little further. *hums Braveheart music*” “Ok.” “I found it!” “Really?! Are you sure?!” “Yes, come look!”
Without a doubt, we knew where we were. It was epic enough that I overcame a very narrow path (see below) and a terrible sense of “the wind is going to blow me off this mountain” to also stand in the same place.
The journey down was easier and much much quicker. At this point our bodies were already trying to go into recovery, so big quick steps helped lesson the aches and pains. In some places we were actually jogging. The direct path is kinder to your body going down. It was harrowing going up, but pretty fun going down.
Being in a celebratory mood, we continued to sing our way down the mountain. We were never happier to crawl into our car once we made it to the small car park in the side of the busy tourist route. The stairs at the hotel were brutal, but dinner was delicious and worth the trip up to shower and down for the yummy local fare that our hotel restaurant prepared for us. We had local muscles and salmon from the loch we could see out of the dining room windows as starters, Ben had lamb and I had beef. Dinner was followed by traditional pudding and an ice cream sundae. It was a pretty epic day, we think Mel Gibson would approve.
- Do your research. YouTube is your friend.
- Use https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/aonacheagach.shtml to get you started. Am Bodach is at the end of Stage Two.
- Once you make it to the top of the ridge, turn left and walk across the top towards the end of the Glen (towards the town of Glencoe and in the direction of Ben Nevis), away from the hills your can see to your right during the ascent. You should come to a cairn (pile of rocks) to mark the summit.
- From the cairn, there are little paths all over the top. You want to continue left as if you are going to continue along the Aonach Eagach ridge. The peak you are looking for is just beyond and to the right of the one pictured below.
- If Ben Nevis is to your right, the paths in front of you show one path split by a rock. This should be familiar to you! You are going down them to get to point where he stands whereas the video shows him going up it. This is the view going back up to the cairn. Film your way up on the way back.(Hint, Mel Gibson goes left.)
- Keep going down and up these paths until you see one off to your right. It is a very narrow flat crossing to a rocky top in between going down then up again.
- You should be able to see the rock with a split in it (in the video clip, there is a vertical split in the rock that Mel Gibson stands on) to know you are in the right place!
- Enjoy the spectacular views! Either go back the way you came out continue off the ridge to bag another Munro along the way.