Tuesday 24 June 2014

Sort of the Affric Kintail Way - Day Four - Shiel Bridge to Moyle

Allt Undalain by Shiel Bridge campsite

We were up and about, packed, breakfasted and ready to go by about 9;30am. No rush today, just a short walk over the hills and down into Glen More by Glenelg.

I'd been chatting the day before to a couple of caravanners, also staying in the campsite, about walking in the Scottish hills. Steve, from West Yorkshire, seemed interested in the route I was taking today and had asked me to show him on the map. He said that he might try the route sometime during his stay at Shiel Bridge.

North west along Loch Duich from Blar Salachaidh

Rafe and I headed south initially, back along the path beside Allt Undalain. Rafe couldn't resist getting his feet wet yet again. The path zigzagged steeply up diminutive Blar Salachaidh before descending to the footbridge over the gorge on the burn. The water was churning about through the narrow chute - it would be most impressive in spate!

Allt Undalain gorge (NG937180)

The path through Gleann Undalain feels wonderfully remote, untouched by man. Well known hills, famous hills even, seen from a different angle - the South Glen Shiel Ridge, The Saddle, Beinn Sgritheall...

Golden Ringed Dragonfly in Gleann Undalain

The going was easy...

Rafe - Gleann Undalain with views south to The Saddle

As we turned west and started to ascend towards the bealach that would take us over the top into Glen More, we spied Steve from West Yorkshire, with his little collie, Jess, coming along the path a little way back...

Gleann Undalain views south east along Coire Caol to
Meallan Odhar and Sgurr na Forcan

As we climbed slowly (big pack, you know!), Steve gradually caught up and soon Rafe and Jess were gambolling about amongst the tussocks.

Gleann Undalain to Coire Uaine

It seemed they were joining us for our walk today.

Looking back (north) into Gleann Undalain and Coire Caol over Meallan Odhar to Five Sisters ridge

As we ascended, Steve explained that, although he and his wife do quite a lot of low level walking, they haven't any experience in wilder country, far from roads, phone signal and potential help. He also admitted not being very handy with map and compass! So I had been volunteered to be guide for the day!! Steve was going to ring his wife to come and get him in the car, from Glen More - he was hoping for a phone signal...

Steve, Jess and Rafe  at bealach above Gleann Undalain between Sgurr a'Gharg Gharaidh and Sgurr Mhic Bharraich (NG921162) 

As we ascended to the bealach, the views opened up - it was nice to see the reaction of someone new to the hills.

Rafe and Jess had a swim and a stick fetching competition in Loch Coire nan Crogachan at the bealach between Sgurr a'Gharg Gharaidh and Sgurr Mhic Bharraich, whilst Steve and I had a bite to eat.

Decent towards Glen More (Glenelg) from near Loch Coire nan Crogachan

Before we headed down towards Glen More.

Steve was overwhelmed by the vastness, openness and wildness.

Waterfalls on Allt a'Ghleannain (NG916165)

He was a bit less impressed by the deteriorating state of the path. Once over the bealach, as the terrain changed and, it would appear less people take the route, the path became intermittent and boggy. Steve was concerned that we had somehow got off the path and were heading for a slow death in a peat bog. (Good job he wasn't with us in Gleann Gniomhaidh on Day Three!). But, he accepted that we were right when I showed him the map and pointed out several landmarks.

Views back (east) to bealach
between Sgurr Mhic Bharraich and Sgurr a'Gharg Gharaidh  

Rafe, Steve and Jess - views south west from our descent to Glen More (Glenelg)

It really did feel quite remote... Wonderful.

Ruins at Bealachassan on our descent into Glen More (NG897174)

As we reached Moyle Wood, the heavens opened and we had the first real rain of our trip. The trees offered some shelter, but it really pelted down.

Views south west from near Lionachan to Beinn Sgritheall

The walking was easier now, on forestry tracks, the road improved and the countryside became more pastoral.

We passed the couple of houses that make up Lionachan and then Moyle, before coming out of the trees, into sudden sunshine and the campsite.

Campsite at Moyle (NG879191)

Steve had no phone signal!

On checking the map, we found that there was a phone box marked about 1km down the road at a farm. Steve decided to go for that - and if it wasn't there anymore, or out of order, he would just have to walk up the road to Mam Ratagan and over the top into Kintail until he got a signal (or possibly walk all the way back to Shiel Bridge!).

So, we said goodbye to Steve and Jess (and hopefully haven't put them off walking in the hills completely!) and they headed off along the road, never to be seen again.

Foxgloves in Moyle Wood

Rafe and I left the rucksack at the campsite and trotted up the hill to the farm to pay our dues. Rafe was happy to find that they had two collies - quite ready to play in the garden for a few minutes.

The tent went up, the stove went on and tea was served. The sun was out and all our wet stuff was drying on the fence. It felt like home already.

The campsite had new facilities - a ready made module, especially for small campsites, delivered, plugged into electricity and water and ready to go - it looked like a small shipping container! One loo - perfectly adequate. And a shower room - the shower itself was fine, clean and hot, but there was only about 8 inches to spare around two sides of the shower cubicle - it would be a squeeze if you were of a slightly larger build! I didn't care at this point. The shower did its job.

Views south east to bealach between Sgurr Mhic Bharraich and Sgurr a'Gharg Gharaid
from Moyle Wood 

We had a bit of an explore around Moyle Wood - full of foxgloves.

West from Moyle campsite to the hills above Kylerhea on Skye

Before retiring to the campsite for a lounge about - the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

West from Moyle campsite to the hills above Kylerhea on Skye

As were the surroundings.

Sleepy Rafe at Moyle campsite

After tea, we had another walk, before Rafe became further acquainted with the farm dogs.

Rafe makes friends with the locals at Moyle campsite

A beautiful evening, we watched the gloaming over the hills of Skye to the west...

Evening -  Moyle campsite to the hills above Kylerhea on Skye

Read on - Sort of the Affric Kintail Way - Day Five - Moyle to Glenelg

Route: Campsite at Shiel Bridge (NG938187), path running S from campsite entrance through Gleann Undalain, turning W zigzaging beside Allt na h-innse Garbhe, running S of Loch Coire nan Cregachan, continue on path to ruin at Bealachassan (NG896174) continue NW through clear fell site and on to Lionachan and Moyle, continue NW on minor road to campsite at NG879191.

Statistics:  Distance: 15.6km  Ascent: 680m  Time: 5 hours

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