Sunday 24 July 2011

Homeward Bound - Holiday in the Far North and West of Scotland - Day 17.

Beinn Eighe from near Kinlochewe

A final walk from the campsite at Kinlochewe to the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre.

Meall a Ghiubhais

Beinn Eighe from Kinlochewe campsite

Its only a 450 mile drive home. We'll be back soon.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Bad an Sgalaig - Holiday in the Far North and West of Scotland - Day 16.

Bad an Sgalaig Walk
Stalkers path south from Am Feur-loch
We set off from the little car park opposite Am Feur-loch on the A832 (NG856721). There is a little information shed, which, although we had a look around, we only vaguely registered that the footbridge further up the glen had been washed away. We set off with bright, but grey skies and good views into the hills.

Lochan a Chlerich and Slioch from NG872703
The walk initially followed a good stalkers path, with occasional information boards about the history of land use hearabouts. There were great views of Baosbheinn, Beinn an Eoin and Flowerdale ahead, and Slioch, over the hills to the east. A gradual ascent to a bealach at  NG873700, then we followed a fast diminishing path into Garbh Choire. There were waymarks through the bog, which helped to keep us out of the worst of the mud, but I would hate to have walked along this path after heavy rain.
Baosbheinn from descent into Garbh Choire - Rafe, Jim and Hal
We descended alongside wonderful waterfalls on the Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire, before following the river down towards Bad an Sgalaig.

Waterfalls on Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire
It was at this point, where the river passed through a bit of a gorge, that we came across the washed away bridge, which lay diagonally across the river. We walked a little further along the river, but soon realised that we would not be able to walk along the side of the gorge at this (east) side of the river (not without scrambling way up the side of the hill above, anyway!).

Washed away bridge on Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire
So with much grumbling and messing about, we set about finding a safe place to cross. If the river had been flowing any higher we really would have had problems (without getting seriously wet, or trecking upstream to another footbridge), but we managed to get across without mishap and without getting wet. Except for the dogs of couse, who enjoyed a swim and a splash about.

Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire and Loch Ban an Sgalaig

On the western bank, we follwed the river down, past more waterfalls, to Bad an Sgalaig.

Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire

The route took us around the side of the loch, through Scot's pine woods and varied wildflowers, over the hills and back to our start.

Waterfalls where Abhainn a'Gharbh Choire reaches Loch Ban an Sgalaig

Route:  Car park on A832 by Am Feur-loch (NG857722), south east along footpath to NG873700, south west into Garbh Choire to Loch Bad an Sgalaig, north east to start.

Statistics:  Distance:  7.5km  Ascent:  250m  Time:  2:30 hours

It was about lunchtime by the end of the walk, so we drove on to Gairloch for supplies, and had a picnic at Slatterdale, where we had intended to launch the canoe.

Unfortunately the wind had got up again, and Loch Maree was running high, with white horses over the entire surface. Canoeing was out for the day.

We had another walk from the campsite, around Kinlochewe, and to the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre via the Ridge Trail, before an early night, ready for a long drive tomorrow.

Friday 22 July 2011

Around Gairloch and Loch Maree - Holiday in the Far North and West of Scotland - Day 15.

Getting a bit close to the dreaded going home day. So we had a walk on to the Beinn Eighe visitor centre and made a few purchases, mainly cuddly versions of the wonderful wildlife we have been privileged to see whilst in the Far North and in Torridon.

The weather was absolutely glorious, warm and sunny, but with a cooling north westerly.

We had a drive to Big Sand and had a walk around the Sand Archaeological Trail, another walk we had seen on the Walk Highlands website.

An Teallach from Big Sand Archaeological Trail

 The walk starts at a small car park (NG762802), just beyond Big Sand, and is waymarked. Following the waymarks wasn't all that easy, nor was seeing much of the monuments on the sight, due to deep bracken over parts of the area. The walk was pleasant and gentle, after our exertions yesterday, and the views were amazing. 

Gairloch and Raasay from Big Sand Archaeological Trail

An Teallach from Big Sand Archaeological Trail - Rafe, Hal and Jim

Cake and coffee
at Gairloch Mountain Cafe

After a picnic on the beach at Gairloch, we went for a wander around the town. This was followed up by coffee and the biggest portions of cake ever, at the Gairloch Mountain Cafe. We sat on the balcony in the sun (hot, hot, hot) with views to die for, to Torridon and over the Western Ocean - Tir na nog comes to mind. 

View to Baosbheinn and Ben Alligin Gairloch Mountain Cafe

We had another canoe trip on Loch Maree later in the afternoon.
Slioch and Beinn a'Mhuinidh, Loch Maree

This time, setting off from Glas Leitre (NH001650) and south east down the loch to Kinlochewe River

Beinn a'Mhuinidh, Loch Maree

where we had a little paddle upstream, until it became too shallow to continue, and then back to the mouth of the river. We stopped for a little explore and a photo session.

Slioch from the end of Kinlochewe River

The wind had got up again and the water was pretty choppy, so we went north and west up the northern shore to a little beach below the old burial grounds of Cladh nan Sasunnach.

We stopped here for a rest, an explore and to give the dogs a swim.

Loch Maree from below Cladh nan Sasunnach

Then a bit further north west to the waterfall of the Allt Smiorasair. This can be seen from the car park at Glas Leitre, but it would be very hard to get to on foot.

Waterfall of the Allt Smiorasair, Loch Maree

We were forced to paddle further north and west, due to the high water, before turning south east and back along the south west shore (watching buzzards in the evening sun) back to the car park.

Slioch, Loch Maree

The dogs still wanted their evening walk along to the Beinn Eighe visitor centre again, of course.

Thursday 21 July 2011

An Teallach - Holiday in the Far North and West of Scotland - Day 14.

An Teallach

The drive around to Dundonnell took about an hour, the clouds didn't look promising, over the mountains of Fisherfield. But the sun was shining as we parked up at Corriehallie (NH115849), one or two other cars there before us, with other walkers fastening boot laces and adjusting pack straps.

Sail Laith from above Corriehallie

We set off at about half past eight, along the good path up Allt Glean Chaorachain, the views steadily improving and the cloud rising as we ascended by the burn, gorges and waterfalls, wildflowers and interesting strata all around.

Natural rock gardens

We soon started to get some real views of the Corrag Bhuidhe ridge

An Teallach

We caught up with a backpacker, who was making his way to the Shenavall Bothy and then to Poolewe. We walked together, and with another walker who had caught us up. He was from Ambleside and was in Torridon for only a few days, bagging as many peaks as he could.

An Teallach  and the Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress.

The gentle ascent passed quicky with lots of hill stories, so well that we actually missed the "path" and were happily descending towards Shenavall before we noticed. We took a sharp right, leaving our backpacking friend to Fisherfield, and headed off up the open hillside towards the distant (or so it seemed) summit of Sail Liath.

Views of the Fisherfield Forest from the ascent of Sail Liath

The chap from Ambleside yomped on ahead, leaving us to take in the views, and the local flora and fauna.

Wild goats on Sail Liath

A herd of wild goats were gamboling about, until they saw the dogs.

Beinn Dearg Mhor and wild goats from Sail Liath

They stood, all facing us in a menacing line, horns raised.

Wild goats on Sail Liath

The ascent to the summit of Sail Liath was a boulder hopping slog! Big scree and moss! But the views were great and identifying peaks kept us occupied - including Slioch, Beinn Eighe and Liathach.

Strath na Sheallag and Beinn Dearg Mhor from the ascent of Sail Liath

On the summit of Sail Liath (954m) we met up with the Ambleside walker again, eating his lunch, and a couple of other scramblers. They had moved up to Perth from Kent, because they wanted to spend more time in the mountains of Scotland. They were a little concerned that the dogs wouldn't be able to manage the famous ridge on An Teallach. We explained that if the going got too tough (and we knew it would on An Teallach!) then I would take the dogs around the wimps path and Jim and Freddie would go over the pinnacles.

Stob Cadha Gobhlach from descent from Sail Liath

After lunch we set off again, anticipating great scrambling.

Loch Toll an Lochain from Stob Cadha Gobhlach

Initially the paths were good with some scrambling, easy or as hard as we liked. The dogs picked their own route, bounding from rock to rock through outstanding mountain scenery.

Loch Toll an Lochain and Corrag Bhuidhe

Corrag Bhuidhe and beyond

Views east from Stob Cadha Gobhlach

Torridonian sandstone on An Teallach
Sail Liath and Stob Cadha Gobhlach

Beinn Dearg Mhor from An Teallach

But the scrambling started to get a bit harder for our four legged friends, so I headed off around the Pinnacles of the Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress with the dogs, arranging to meet Jim and Freddie at the Bealach before Sgurr Fiona. Jim and Freddie went up.

Jim and Freddie at the start of the
Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress.

I managed to get a few photo's of them as they scrambled about, before they went out of my sight.

Rafe watches Jim and Freddie scarmbling above, from the "wimps path".
Views to Beinn Dearg Mhor and Fisherfield Forest.

Jim and Freddie above the abyss. Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress

No problems on the wimps path for the dogs, they bounched on ahead, not at all phased by the several hundred metres of almost vertical drop to Loch na Sheallag to our left.

Hal and Rafe lead the way on the An Teallach "wimps path"

A bit of hill mist came down as I made my way westward towards Sgurr Fiona. Once at the bealach I settled myself down for a wait, camera at the ready, hoping that the mist would clear in time for a photo of Jim and Freddie on Lord Berkeley's Seat.

Lord Berkeley's Seat
and Corrag Bhuidhe Pinnacles

Unfortunately the cloud didn't clear, but I think the photo is Freddie's proof that he got there, although there was no sitting with feet swinging over the edge (or pipe smoking in tweeds!)

Freddie on Lord Berkeley's Seat
with Jim just below

We all joined back up together for the ascent of Sgurr Fiona, Jim and Freddie ecstatic about the excellent scrambling over the Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress. The ascent was easy boulder hopping, rather than scrambling.

Ascent of Sgurr Fiona
Views to Lord Berkeley's Seat and Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress

The mist was clearing by the time we got to the summit of Sgurr Fiona (Munro 73, 1060m) and the views back along our route and all around were awesome.

Summit of Sgurr Fiona, looking back at our route.
Sail Liath, Stob Cadha Gobhlach and Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress

Summer Isles from An Teallach

We continued west towards Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill, the second of An Teallach's Munro's.

An Teallach - Sgurr Fiona and Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress

An Teallach - Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress and Lord Berkeley's Seat

Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill (Munro 72, 1062m) was ascended easily, on good paths. The views were just getting better and better.

Sail Liath, Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress and Sgurr Fiona from Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill summit

Just beyond the summit we stopped for a second lunch.

Second lunch near the summit of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill

Loch Broom, Ullapool and beyond

Although hazy, we could see for many miles, even to Ben Klibreck in the far North, climbed last week. We reckon it was about 40 miles away.

Ben Kilbreck in the distance

The couple from Perth caught up with us whilst we were eating our second lunch. We descended north with them, talking about scrambles and ridge walks we have done. Good company. We left them at the bealach, the last other walkers we would see before the car. They stayed on the ridge, we opted to turn right into Coire a'Ghlas Thuill, sad to be descending from the summits.

Coire a'Ghlas Thuill

Initially the path was a very steep scree scramble, more of a slide, and then a steep grassy track. We lost height quickly and soon found ourselves in a green, sheltered hanging valley.

Freddie and Jim in Coire a'Ghlas Thuill

The weather improved to bright sunshine as we descended and it was soon quite hot. We decided on another lunch (only our third) and a paddle in Garbh Allt. With the sudden warmth and the views it was hard to get the motivation to carry on. But the afternoon was quickly passing and we still had quite a way to go.

Views north east from Coire a'Ghlas Thuill

It was very boggy in places and the path occasionally disappeared into the marsh. But there were frequent waterfalls as we descended, adding to our enjoyment of the walk.

Waterfall in Coire a'Ghlas Thuill

Garbh Allt above Dundonnell

An Teallach and Garbh Allt

The vegetation was starting to grow up through the damage done in the wildfires of the spring.

Waterfalls near Dundonnell

There were more waterfalls just above Dundonnell, an entertaining rhodedendron tunnel and an unexpected deep and widespread bog, just before the road. So with slightly damp feet, we made our way along a few hundred metres of road, back to the car.

Waterfalls near Dundonnell

What a day!

Route: Parking beside the road at Corriehallie (NH114850), footpath along Allt Glean Chaorachain and south east of Sail Liath to NH086815, ascend Sail Liath (954m), Stob Cadha Gobhlach (960m), Borrag Bhuide (1049) Sgurr Fiona (Munro 73, 1060m), Bidean a'Ghlas Thuill (Munro 72, 1062m), descent to Choire a'Ghlas Thuill, follow Garbh Allt to road, south to start.

Statistics:  Distance:  16km  Ascent:  1410m  Time:  9.20 hours

Sgurr Fiona

Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill

We drove back along the coast and Loch Maree, a beautiful evening. The dogs still wanted an evening walk, so a quick trot along to the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre did the trick, with more great views of the Torridon mountains.

South Torridon mountains from Kinlochewe

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...