Knoydart Walk - Day Three

There’s no doubt about the beauty of Barrisdale and the solitude. I could have stayed here a week. But I was conscious of the need to keep moving, to edge a little closer back towards civilisation, so that I was at least within easy distance of Fort William and my train back home.


Loch Hourn


Ladhar Bheinn


Ladhar Bheinn


Ladhar Bheinn

An early start saw me on the long path up to Kinloch Hourn. Ladhar Bheinn was at last standing in all it’s glory across the loch and I slightly wished I’d been a little more flexible in my plans and waited for a day like to today to climb it. Still the walk alongside the loch was superb. Didn’t see a soul for the first couple of hours then when I did meet someone going in the opposite direction he kindly pointed out a pair of Otters who were fishing languorously out in the loch. I’ve always wanted to see an Otter in the wild and although they were some distance from shore I spend quite a while watching them.


Loch Hourn

At Kinloch Hourn the temptations of the cafe proved too much and a pot of tea and cake for just £2 was a real pick me up and set me up for the afternoon. I wanted to get over to Glen Shiel, or at least close to it, as i figured that that would be my best route home. Leaving Kinloch Hourn in a northerly direction I set of up the remote Allt Choire Sgoireadail on a mostly excellent path. This really came into it’s own higher up as it approached the Bealach and although not well used was simply a delight to walk on.


Allt Choire Sgoireadail


Glen Quoich

As the day had been warm and sunny I planned a night camp in the mountains but really wanted to get over the watershed and into Glen Sheil before stopping. I dropped into Glen Quoich then up again, this time without the assistance of a path to the top of Bealach Dubh Leac. Slowing down all the while I put on a brew whilst deciding on the next move. There was a small lochan between Sgurr na Sgine and The Saddle which on the map at least offered interesting possibilities. This also had the advantage of taking me across the top of Sgurr na Sgine which would add a further Munro to the tally.


Sgurr na Sgine

The weather, and my stamina were deteriorating as I finally reached the top of Sgurr na Sgine, only to be overtaken by a posse of runners, one who was making an attempt on the Munros 24 hour record. I wished them well and turned my attention to a campsite. From above it did not look at all promising but by this time I was too knackered to descend to Glen Shiel and soon found a little niche between the boulders on the sheltered side of the Bealach.


Campsite

No sooner had I settled in than the weather, which had been deteriorating since about 5:00pm took a turn for the worse and the wind and rain started. Thankfully I was fairly sheltered but soon realised my ancient 3 season sleeping bag was no longer up to the job. Oh how I wished for a fleece hat and spent a cold miserable night, sleeping fitfully.

Knoydart Walk - Day Two

20th June
After a decent kip in the bothy we awoke to find that the rain had almost cleared overnight and it was now merely showery. I resolved to continue where I had left off and made an early start for Luinne Bheinn, minus all the camping paraphernalia which I’d left in the bothy.


Barrisdale


The approach to Luinne Bheinn

Not being too impressed with the state of the path coming down from Mam Barrisdale I thought I’d try the other side up Gleann Unndalain and a few minutes after leaving the bothy came almost face to face with this magnificent beast.



I was walking quietly up beside the burn which was in full flow and as I came out from behind a tree there he was. I have a feeling that he might have been slightly domesticated as there were a few deer hanging around the bothy the night before and he might have been one of those. Nevertheless, once the scent of sweat and midge spray reached him across the burn, he was off.

The path is really good up as far as the bealach then it’s make it up as you go for a while till things improve a the ridge narrows. The showers returned, this time hail, in June, I ask you. I sat one out then made a push for the top. Once there the mist came down again and I was just about to descent when I realised the the top might be a little further on.


Loch Hourn from the top of Luinne Bheinn

Two more ‘tops’ were surmounted in due course and at last the cloud lifted sufficiently to give a decent view of the source of yesterdays’ tribulations, Ladhar Bheinn.


Ladhar Bheinn

Another shower hurried me on my way to Meall Bhuide. I could not believe how cold it was for June. Every spare bit of clothing was put on but as I was travelling light, items such as warm hats and gloves were left at home. Need a rethink if I do this again.


Meall Bhuide from Luinne Bheinn

The summit of Meall Bhuide was just as bad as Luinne Bheinn. Freezing winds and intermittent showers, so seven minutes after arriving, I was off again, retracing my steps back to Luinne Bheinn and on to Barrisdale, knowing that at least this night was going to be dry.

About 10:45, three of us left the bothy for a short walk along the foreshore. A shower had just passed over leaving a magnificent rainbow and clear evening light. We didn’t return till nearly midnight and it was still light enough to read by. Summer in Scotland just does not get any better than this.







Knoydart Walk - Day One

Just got back from a week in Knoydart. My plan was to wild camp where possible but deteriorating weather conditions influenced a change to the overall plan.

Day One
As the overall plan was to walk across Knoydart, taking the car, just to leave it parked for a week seemed a little extreme so I did my bit for global warming and took the train, saving about fifty quid in fuel costs along he way. Left Windermere on the 8:10 train, then after changes at Oxenholme and Glasgow, arrived Mallaig late afternoon. Finding absolutely nowhere to stay I got back on the train and returned as far as Arisaig where there's a superbly situated campsite, right on the beach at Invercaimbe that I visited many years ago.


Invercaimbe Beach

Back in Mallaig the following morning, I boarded the Western Isles for the trip across to Inverie.


The Western Isles

Resisting the temptations of the Old Forge Pub I set off for Ladhar Bheinn. The first part is on easy land rover tracks but once these end, the climb begins in earnest over featureless saturated bog. All the guide books suggest climbing Ladhar Bheinn from the opposite site and I have to agree, there’s not too much of interest on the west. If I’d known what the weather had in store for that afternoon I would probably have changed my plans and approached this one later. As it was I arrived on top in a buffeting wind, low cloud and rain which just increased as I progressed along the ridge.


Ladhar Bheinn Summit

Abandoning all thoughts of a high camp for the night, all I wanted to do was get off the mountain and out of the appalling weather. I dropped down to Barrisdale and sought refuge in the bothy. Never having stayed in a bothy before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was met at the door and welcomed in by a Swedish guy who was staying there with his wife. They were walking from Fort William to Cape Wrath and staying in bothies were possible and had arrived earlier from Sourlies.



Barrisdale Bothy

Being adjacent to a small croft, the bothy was well maintained with running water and surprise, surprise, electricity courtesy of a small hydro generator that produced power for the croft. Luxury indeed. Later that evening we were joined by three guys who had motored up from London, then walked in from Kinloch Hourn and were drenched.