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Scotland's bonniest glen? 3 days on the Affric Kintail Way

Scotland's bonniest glen? 3 days on the Affric Kintail Way


Postby nitamiriam » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:53 pm

Route description: Affric Kintail Way

Date walked: 04/07/2019

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 71 km

Ascent: 598m

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Apparently Glen Affric is the most beautiful glen in Scotland. Naturally, I need to go and see this for myself, and what better way to do it than walk the Affric Kintail Way?

A lot of wise people here on walkhighlands have recommended skipping the first part of the AKW, but me being me, I feel like I can’t say I’ve done the AKW if I haven’t walked the first third of it. :lol:

(A note for those who specifically want to avoid the road section – according to the AKW facebook page, a reroute of this part of the way is currently in the works!)

DAY 1: Drumnadrochit to Dog Falls (aka Road Walking Achievement Unlocked!)

~ 19 mi / 30.5 km

After filling myself up with porridge in the village, I head off just after 10 am. I’ve prepared myself mentally for cold and rain, but the sun comes out and I end up stuffing my extra layers back into my bag as soon as I start walking.

There’s a route diversion in the woods due to forestry work. A local couple spots me staring at the notice looking confused and kindly saves me from wondering in the woods for the rest of the morning by showing me a way through (apparently I wasn’t the first person they’ve helped recently)!

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Looking back towards Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness.

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On a forestry road.

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Afterwards, the route follows forestry roads for a fairly long stretch, and I get to A831 around 2 pm. Walking on the road is surprisingly tolerable, and that part seems to go by quickly. It helps that the traffic’s not too busy, and the weather’s dry with a nice brisk breeze keeping me cool. (Though I do hear from others later that they found this section particularly awful.)

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On the A831

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River Affric


I get to Cannich around 4 pm and keep on going without stopping and soon join another forestry road in the Comar Wood. I make a tiny detour to see the ruins of an Iron Age dun – I wouldn't call them impressive, but the views are lovely.

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Comar dun

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Around 7 pm I begin to play the game of ‘will I find somewhere to camp before I collapse?’ I win this time: I come across a flattened bit of ground off the road (which is so overgrown that I’m moderately confident that no trucks ever use it as a turning place). I pitch my tent as far from the road as possible, and set my alarm for 7 am, just in case.

In my tent, I read my book and listen to the evening concert of the birds, until one by one they go quiet, and the only thing I can hear is the low hum of the River Affric.

DAY2: Dog Falls to Camban bothy (aka A Race for the Bothy!)

~ 19 mi / 30.5 km

In the morning midges are waiting for me outside my tent like a horde of eager children gathered around a piñata. I put on my head net (take that midges!), pack up quickly and start walking around 8 am.

I soon realise that I camped really close to the Dog Falls car park. Less than 5 minutes along the way, the path takes a left turn and zigzags down towards the river. I make use of the facilities there (a composting toilet! picnic tables!) before I carry on. At the viewpoint up the hill I briefly enjoy the views over Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin in the company of some more overly friendly midges.

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At Dog Falls

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The Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin viewpoint


A looong stretch in the Glen Affric Forest follows. Looking at the map, I had imagined that I’d get to enjoy wonderful views of the loch, but I barely see a glimpse of water through the trees. Never mind, the weather is still nice and (mostly) sunny, and I even find a handful of chantarelles to chuck into my lunch! :D

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Chantarelles!

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My lunch spot. :D

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An Oak Eggar moth caterpillar? Saw a lot of these in any case!

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A little cottage by Loch Affric


Around 5 pm I’ve left the forest, the track and Loch Affric behind. The sky is overcast but suddenly a bright blade of light pierces the clouds and turns the surface of River Affric briefly golden. Ah, this is why I hike!

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I decide to sing a little, and a cyclist immediately appears though I’ve barely seen another soul for hours. Of course, I've completely forgotten that singing to yourself instantly summons other people no matter how remote your location (the more embarrassing the song, the stronger the magic). :lol:

...or perhaps it’s because I’m near the youth hostel. I stop by to have a cuppa and fill up my water bottles and learn all about the history of the place from the guy who’s looking after the hostel for the week.

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Glen Affric Youth Hostel


After my wee rest at the hostel, I feel energised again and even though it’s around 7.30 pm, I decide that I am going to make it to the bothy tonight. I arrive at 9 pm, after almost 13 hours of walking. I’m not sure if my legs will function tomorrow but I’m so pleased to have made it, especially as the wind picks up and I hear it howling outside while I try to fall asleep.

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Camban bothy! ♥


DAY 3: Camban bothy to Morvich (aka Here Comes the Rain)

~ 6 mi / 10 km

I’ve not that long to walk today, so I have a super lazy morning and stay in my sleeping bag until 9 am. While I eat my breakfast, I chat with a Dutch couple who also stayed at the bothy.

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It’s going to be a rainy day, so I set off around 10 am with my waterproof layers already on. My poor legs shake a little as I start walking, but soon I get into a blissful state where my legs and feet are fine and even my rucksack ceases to feel as heavy as a small house.

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It’s so very beautiful and I’m walking slowly to savour the day – I sit on almost every ‘bumrock’ I come across (bumrock = a rock that has a nice, smooth surface, is right by the path and a perfect sitting height) to just sit and look around. I want to remember all the little details when I get home: the wind making ripples in the grass, all the different shades of green on the hills, the wildflowers and the little birds, the colourful patches of lichen on the rocks, the water rushing down white in the little mountain streams.

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A lot more dramatic in real life!

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The last 3 or so hours, the rain is pretty heavy. I get to Morvich around 4 pm, walk on to Ault a' Chruinn and check the bus timetable. The next one is in 3 hours. :lol: Fortunately I have someone who's able to come pick me up and a bus shelter to wait in! Also, I end my hike very impressed with my new pair of hiking boots - I got fewer blisters than usual and my feet stayed dry to the end. :)

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But is Glen Affric Scotland's bonniest glen? It is gorgeous - but I must suspend final judgement until I've seen all the rest of them first. :wink:
User avatar
nitamiriam
Walker
 
Posts: 16
Munros:1   Corbetts:1
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
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Joined: Apr 11, 2016
Location: Edinburgh

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