Skip to main content

A Mountain for All Tastes

Ben Nevis from the West
25 x 36 cm

I've mentioned before how Ben Nevis has two distinct characters, making it seem very different depending on which way it is approached. The southern side has a rounded profile with steep slopes. Most visitors climb the mountain from this side by a zigzag path called the "Pony Track". It was made at the end of the Nineteenth Century when a weather observatory was built at the summit. For a number of years men were stationed there permanently to make recordings. It must have been a tough assignment in bad weather. The building even had to be made taller so that it wasn't buried under the snow in winter.

Although the Pony Track is steep in some places, it is a fairly easy route and makes the mountain seem deceptively benign. However the approach from the north reveals a different prospect. A glacier, like a gigantic ice-cream scoop, has carved away the side of the mountain, leaving 600 metre high cliffs. They are popular with climbers and in the winter they provide some challenging ice-climbing routes. However there is also the risk of avalanches from the snow cornices which form at the top of the cliffs. The only walking route from the north is by a narrow, precipitous ridge. Such dramatic conditions are fitting for the highest mountain in Britain.


  1. Keith, a fantastic painting and loved the history .. I admire your ability to capture landscapes the way you do.. BJ
    ps just wish you didn't have that darn "captcha thing"

  2. Thanks Barbra Joan. Sorry about the captcha but I think it's going to have to stay like that. I tried without it for a while but I was getting spam comments on a daily basis. They were filtered out OK but it was a nuisance having to delete them from blogger.

  3. Wonderful painting Keith! Great tones, great majesty and well worth the captcha thingy to come in and comment! Makes me proud ... love it! :))

  4. Hi there Keith!... a BIG WOW!... for this exceedingly beautiful mountainscape! It rates as the "summit" for the numerous wonderfully educational visual and historic treks that I have enjoyed via your blog!

    I so look forward to my visits and our conversations! A gem in your treasury of gems Keith!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Thanks Ingrid, we've certainly got a landscape to be proud of.

  6. Hi Bruce, how fitting that your "summit" among my posts is the highest mountain!

    Hope your feeling refreshed after the rain!


  7. Wonderful watercolour - I've only ever been to Scotland twice and both those times were to climb Ben Nevis - I say climb - I mean walk! - one day I plan to do the CMD arrete (eeek!)

  8. I've never done it that way either Sharon. It must be the best way to climb the mountain.

  9. Hi Keith.
    Lovely painting. I like it. well done. also thanks for the Info` great.
    All the best keith.

  10. Hi Vic, glad you liked the painting and the narrative.


  11. I really like the colours and tones in this one Keith. It is incredibly good.

  12. I can imagine that it would be a wonderful place for walking. Who knows - perhaps it will happen some day... Like John before me, I must agree that the colours are remarkable.

  13. Hi Keith, when is your exhibition at Eden Court? lovely painting good to hear you are painting well inspite of the changing weather.

  14. It certainly is good walking country Diane. We have very good laws about access which means that you can walk more-or-less wherever you want.

  15. Hi Caroline, I was going to send you a link to the Eden Court site, so here it is -

    "Landscapes of the Far North" at Eden Court

    With exhibitions to prepare for I've been painting more from sketches recently - probably just as well with the weather we've had. When it hasn't been raining it's been midgey!

  16. Your access laws sound as though they could be similar to the ones in Sweden. Great idea; we need to get something like that happening here in Australia...

  17. Hi Keith we received the Eden Court pamphlet today through the post and I saw the details of when your exhibition is on, are you bringing the same exhibition to the Elgin museum in October? I am checking on emails and blogs whenever I visit the library!

  18. Hi Caroline, unfortunately (or fortunately!) the two exhibitions overlap, so I will have to show different paintings at Elgin.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Moorland Fire

Moorland Fire Watercolour 25 x 36 cm
There is a definite feeling of approaching autumn now, with some cooler days and more unsettled weather. It hardly seems any time at all since the spring, when there was a long spell of dry weather and the moors were tinder-dry. There were a number of serious fires at the time and several nature reserves were badly damaged. I think they were mostly caused by accident or carelessness this time, but unfortunately there are people who seem to get satisfaction from starting fires deliberately.

The fire in this painting is of a different kind. Every year between, autumn and spring, shooting estates burn off small patches of moorland to leave a patchwork of heather. This encourages the breeding of grouse, with the old growth providing cover and the new shoots providing food. The operation has to be done very carefully, because fires can easily get out of control, and once the underlying peat starts to burn it can burn for days and is very difficult to p…

Christmas Wishes

A couple of my latest watercolours and -

Best Wishes to all for Christmas

"The Fuel Bowser", Watercolour, 24 x 18 cm

"View at Skelbo", Watercolour, 16 x 26 cm

Trying Out a Pochade Box

I had an old box for storing photographic transparencies that wasn't being used any more. It was just the right size to make a good pochade box, so I thought I would see what I could do with it. I fitted out the lid to hold two 8 x 10 inch panels, with the base holding the paints and brushes and a palette holding everything in place.

For its first trial I took it out to the same location as the previous post. This time it was raining, so it was an ideal opportunity to see how I would get on painting with the pochade inside my vehicle. It worked very well in the cramped conditions and was very easy to use.

When I had finished I just closed the lid and went home. Later, when I opened the box again, I found a blob of Pthalo Green right in the middle of the painting! I think the wood that I used for the palette was too flexible, so it had got pushed up into the lid. I was using acrylics, so normally it would have been easy to wash the green off. Unfortunately, I was trying out Atelie…