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Affric Kintail way - autumn glory

Affric Kintail way - autumn glory


Postby petert847 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:11 am

Route description: Affric Kintail Way

Date walked: 26/10/2015

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 55 km

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Depressed by having lost quite a lot of hard earned money through an online hack/fraud, but encouraged by a reasonable weather forecast and some recent posts on the affric kintail way - I squeezed 5 days at the end of October to do the stretch from Cannich to Morvich. I skipped the first stage from Drumnadrochit as it looked dull, the kind of walking I don't enjoy - tarmac, managed forest, enclosed land.

Day1. Cannich to the western end of Loch Affric.

It was fairly easy to get to Cannich on the bus even out of season, at least 3 buses a day out of school term. Id stayed overnight in Inverness and got the brutally early (for me) 6.28 to Cannich. The bus had no other passengers and the driver zoned out and had blasted through cannich before I reminded him I was supposed to be getting off there.
Very easy to find the path - rarely needed a map at all.

Pleasant if bland start through partially felled woods - autumn colours making it more interesting than it would be otherwise. Stopped at Dog Falls car park for breakfast and ground on.

IMG_4763.JPG
The forest track after Dog Falls


Some good views of loch helped by leaf fall, but didn't really get interesting until I got past Affric Lodge (looked great) amongst the more interesting caldonian pine bit of the forest (although seemed rather too sparse to call it a forest).

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breaking out of the woods

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Begins to get interesting - a proper tree


Other posts have rightly said there was little wild camping opportunity until this point - there were 3 or 4 grass bits - essentially passing points on the track - but they weren't really what I was looking for. Given it gets dark early I didn't really want to spend 15 hours on the side of the track which was almost a road. Instead I carried on hoping for something better. After about 5.5 hours and 25km (it really is very easy going, fine track, no ups and downs) I saw a grassy spit at the end of Loch Affric, with a nice beach and fairly short grass - its obvious you can't miss it - the perfect place to camp.

IMG_4772.JPG
the west end of loch affric



Not really that cold so I could enjoy a stunning full moon over the loch at night.

Day 2. Loch Affric to Camban Both.

Sun takes for ever to hit the tent in the morning - still hadn't managed it at 11am when I started off. It is a beautiful spot in the morning with the mountains though - low hanging cloud, and weak winter sun.

Crossed over the river and you get straight into glen affric, yet another beautiful scottish valley.

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IMG_4775.JPG
Entering the glen


Almost warm with the sun on me. Path still firm, easy, no climbs or bogs. Only saw two people all day - a couple of cyclists who seemed to abandon the route after the hostel - and were going slower than me. Hostel closed this time of year but a wonderful location.

IMG_4778.JPG
great spot for the hostel


My plan was to stay at the bothy as it is a bit boring retreating into the tent at 4.30 and staying there until 10am.

The bothy is a fantastic spot and - joy of joys - previous occupants had left coal and kindling - I resolved to be that person in the future. My first ever bothy fire in the evening - makes such a difference to the experience. No-one else there - good clean, comfortable - such a brilliant facility in the winter much as I love camping.

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awesome spot for the bothy

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bothy

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fireside


Not many obvious spots for wild camping today - there are a few by the river after the hostel, possibly a few down the slope from the Bothy.

Really short but lovely day walking - probably no more than 12 km - just took 3 and a bit hours taking plenty of time to enjoy the landscape. The colour of the hills is stunning - the grass has turned golden brown. I've never been in Scotland at this time of year before and in the weak winter sun the landscape is transformed. Awesome.

Bronzescape
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bronzescape


Day 3. Camban Bothy to Morvich.

The reasonable sounding weather forecast when I set off from Inverness was foiled in practice. Moderate rain showers on and off most of the day. I had upgraded from my rubbish montane lightweight 'waterproof' trousers to a more robust Event model. So I was completely dry and it was not cold anyway.

Wonderful scenery - even in cloud and rain the golden/bronze grass looked good.

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glittering in the rain

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The path continued to be very good, to the falls. And whilst quite a steep drop at that point - it was not of the sort to make me turn back - I am a bit queasy about steep drops, and previously avoided the path by Glomach falls as I didn't like the sound of it - but this path was wide, firm, and only about 100 metres of it had the sort of drop that makes me worry.

IMG_4825.JPG
good path past the waterfall


Lovely valley into Morvich - the first obvious places to camp since the bothy - but it wasn't the weather for that, so I continued into Morvich and booked into the Kintail Lodge to spoil myself.

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descending to glen lichd


I had a bus booked the next morning from Shiel Bridge to Inverness - there are about 4 a day this time of year.

Another short day - about 4.5 hours I think. Couldn't have been more than 12-14km even to Kintail Lodge.

Conclusions

A lovely short walk. Worth doing more on the first day to end up staying somewhere really beautiful. The rest was glorious, easy walking, and if it had been warmer, i'd have really dawdled my way through.

IMG_4803.JPG
glorious colours


Short distances and good path makes it ideal for kids - might bring my own through here next year.

No phone signal at all for me (vodafone) on the entire route.

A great way to get into some lovely open country - with just enough buses to make it practical out of season.

Surprisingly few good spots to camp. Wonderful bothy - and the hostel looked great.
petert847
 
Posts: 29
Joined: Jan 13, 2013

Re: Affric Kintail way - autumn glory

Postby FiferStu » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:17 pm

Fabulous photos - thanks for sharing. This route is now on my list of must-dos!
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FiferStu
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Re: Affric Kintail way - autumn glory

Postby heelan-coo » Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:51 pm

Great report and amazing pictures! Thanks!!
So you actually don't need the navigational skills they write about in the description? Although I can read a map, I don't know if I could handle a compass to navigate... :(
And it seems like you've been incredibly lucky with the weather in end of October, that would be the time I'd like to do the walk and I hope fortune smiles at me as well. :wink:
heelan-coo
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Re: Affric Kintail way - autumn glory

Postby petert847 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:00 am

heelan-coo wrote:Great report and amazing pictures! Thanks!!
So you actually don't need the navigational skills they write about in the description? Although I can read a map, I don't know if I could handle a compass to navigate... :(
And it seems like you've been incredibly lucky with the weather in end of October, that would be the time I'd like to do the walk and I hope fortune smiles at me as well. :wink:


On navigation well I wouldn't go as far as that - if the weather turns foul and visibility is poor it is always wise to have a compass and to have worked out how to use it. So bring that capability and preparedness as a basic bit of safety for going out in the highlands. There are some very good navigation tips in the navigators dozen elsewhere on this site which is what I have used.

But compared to other walks there is always a clear path, and it is pretty straightforward to follow. I rarely took my map out let alone a compass.

Weather - well who knows - I did decide to do it at the last minute and I knew it was not going to be cold which would be my main worry on this one - as the section on the final day going to the coast would not be fun in ice given there are some drops to the left hand side at one point. I would have a gone a bit earlier ideally as the days get quite short for camping in October so the evenings are boring if the weather is poor.

Do go it is beautiful.
petert847
 
Posts: 29
Joined: Jan 13, 2013

Re: Affric Kintail way - autumn glory

Postby cowsie » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:53 pm

Great review and photos ,on my to do list also .Cheers for posting :clap:
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Location: Perth Scotland

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