The Loch Quoich Munros had eluded us for several years. Described in many guides as having fine views across Kintail, Knoydart and beyond they had eventually moved to the top of our hit list. But then the landslide in 2018 closed the road and in 2020 covid lockdowns took over the country. So in June 2021 we were excited to be able to tackle them at last.
Filled with anticipation we set off to ascend Gairich, the forecast was for the weather to improve as the day went on which was a good thing as it was raining on the long drive down the twisty road. We set off around the loch across the boggy ground and started the uphill grind. The rain poured down and just got worse and worse as the day went on. We arrived at the summit barely able to see 2 foot in front of us, so much for the fine views. The descent was like walking / sliding down a river all the way back to the car.
A few days later we decided to try again and set off for Sgùrr a' Mhaoraich. This time the day was better, cloudy on the summits but at least it was dry. As the day went on the cloud persisted and the summit provided no views whatsoever, the only interesting thing we saw that day was a wild boar running alongside the road. We later learnt that the digging on the roadside was caused by the wild boars and not trucks churning up the verges as we had initially thought.
Unfortunately that was the end of our Scottish trip so we had to wait again until October 2021 to try again. We headed for Spidean Mialach on another dry but cloudy day with glimpses of more distant views beckoning us on hoping for third time lucky. There had been very heavy rain in the days leading up to this trip and all the streams and rivers were in spate. One stream successfully crossed we came upon another fairly small river (Allt a'Mheil) but which had turned into a fast flowing torrent. I took a couple of steps and the stone I was on rolled over. With a gasp of shock and horror I was in the stream, feeling the icy water rush down the back of my trousers and down into my boots. A bit of a struggle to get up I eventually got upright and found I was a little bruised but no major damage. I felt quite warm and actually quite exhilarated. Planning to change my socks and continue the walk I delved into my rucksack - no spare socks in my bag, so I wrung out my soggy socks got my boots back on and carried on up the hill.
The walk up to the summit was steady and fairly easy ground after that and I kept warm which was great. Arriving at the summit it was still clouded in so no amazing views but the wind was extremely strong and the wind chill must have been well below zero. A quick bite to eat and assessment of the situation. By now I was getting cold and continuing the walk along the ridge to Gleouraich would have meant walking into the strong cold wind, not good when I was already cold and wet. So we took the decision to return back down the way we had come up.
Descending to the Allt a'Mheil river we went off route and stayed along the east side of the river to reach a small hydro scheme and a landrover track which headed helpfully down to the road only a short distance from the original route and which turned out to be much easier going underfoot.
A few days later we set off with optimism to walk up the last Loch Quoich Munro, Gleouraich. A promising day with sunshine and the possibility of clear summits we followed the terrific stalkers path up to the top.
And there were the views, extensive in all directions, just for a few minutes until the clouds rolled in and the rain started. .
Heading back down the stalkers path the rain stopped and the sun returned and we were very satisfied that the guides had been right about the views.
These expeditions reminded me of some helpful hints for hillwalking:
1. Don't believe the weather forecast as it could turn out very different - either much worse than expected or sometimes much better.
2. Don't take out the spare socks that you carry round for months on end as one day they may be a very welcome thing in your rucksack.
3. Don't be afraid to turn back if the conditions are not in your favour as the mountains will be there another day and so will the views!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.