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Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!


Postby Graeme D » Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:38 pm

Munros included on this walk: Luinne Bheinn, Meall Buidhe (Knoydart)

Date walked: 09/07/2021

Time taken: 9.6 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1710m

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13 years of posting reports on this site and I'd never posted one from Knoydart. Never even been to Knoydart, let alone done a trip report on it. Even my brother, who is absolutely not a hill walker, had been to Knoydart, had eaten and drank in the Old Forge and had the t-shirt to prove it.

The summer 2020 meet was to have been in Knoydart until the pandemic put the kybosh on that. Like the Euros and the Olympics it was pushed back to the summer of 2021 but unlike these two minor events, the main deal again fell foul of COVID and was put back until 2022. I coudn't wait that long though. Kev and I had been seriously talking about a Knoydart trip for some time. It probably went a long way to sustaining us through two lockdowns and when it became clear in the spring of this year that travel (at least domestically) would open up in time for the summer, we went into full planning mode. A quick hors d'oeuvre was ordered up in May in the shape of the Corbett Mam na Gualainn near Kinlochleven and plans were finalised for Knoydart in July. After some initial wrangling over exact dates, we booked ouselves onto the first boat from Mallaig to Inverie on Friday 9th July. I had a 5 day pass, Kev was more limited and intended to be back home by the following evening.

I happened to mention a day or two out on the ML Department Whatsapp group that I would be heading to Knoydart and would be off the radar for a few days and one of my colleagues asked if that was anywhere near Knotty Ash where the Diddy Men came from! :shock: :lol:

I dropped my daughter off with my parents in Auchterarder on the Thursday early evening and headed across to Crieff where I picked up the old familiar A85 that would take me along the side of Loch Earn, up Glen Ogle and through Glen Dochart, onto Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe, across the coat hanger bridge at Ballachuilish and on up to Fort William before hanging a left through Corpach, past Glenfinnan and on into Mallaig. The plan was to find a camping spot near to Mallaig but having dallied a bit at my mum and dad's house, I was later than I had hoped so nipped into the parking area at Callop to see if I could find a camping spot. It looked pretty rammed so I carried on my way. Past Glenfinnan, I was on new territory and so less certain about where the possible camping spots might be. I nipped off the main A830 road at Arisaig, confident that I would find somewhere along the minor B8008 road that hugs the beach and coastline as it runs north before emerging back out onto the main road at Morar. Not a chance - pretty much every conceivable parking space had a vehicle of some description abandoned in it and the beaches and roadside verges were a long ragged line of tents, awnings, smoking barbecues and firepits and screaming kids. Eventually I parked up in an empty space on the verge just before the beach car park at Toigal, a short distance before the road emerged back out onto the A830. There was a flattish looking but rather cow pat spattered spot in the field and a sandy path leading down to a lower field next to the sandy beaches around the mouth of the River Morar. The beaches themselves looked to be pretty busy but I had the field to myself and without standing on too much ceremony, I got the tent up, a can of beer open and the dinner on before setting an early alarm and hitting the hay. Luna seemed less keen to turn in for the night, apparently more intent on getting me to open the gate in the fence that led to the beach and the water.

The midge were still out in force in the morning so I quickly packed up, passing on breakfast, and hit the road for Mallaig, texting Kev when I got there as agreed. He had beaten me to it though - he had been unable to sleep so hadn't bothered waiting for the middle of the night alarm before just getting up and heading north around 2am. After Kev had a protracted and ultimately victorious battle with the automated public toilet facility we headed off for the boat, via the Co-op where I grabbed some breakfast before boarding for the 30 minute trip across the mouth of Loch Nevis and into Inverie Bay.

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Early morning view of Eigg and Rum from the long stay car park in Mallaig


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Sgurr Coire Choinnichean rising above Inverie Bay as the boat enters Loch Nevis

We didn't hang around in Inverie before heading off past the pub and the shop and the scattering of houses amongst the trees that led us onto the track that would take us up into Gleann an Dubh-Lochain and our identified camping spot on Cnuc nan Eildean. Despite the heavy overnight packs we made decent time past the twin eyesores of the massive, fresh scar-like track being bulldozed up the Allt Dubh towards Loch Bhraomisaig and the monument to the Nazi sympathiser on the other side of the glen. After a quick stop by the boathouse at the western end of Loch an Dubh-Lochain to let Luna have a swim, it was back to sweating our way up the increasingly steep path towards the Mam Barrisdale.

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Luinne Bheinn reflected in Loch an Dubh-Lochain

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Approaching the eastern end of the loch and the craggy knoll of Cnuic nan Eildean - our home for the night

Just after the crossing of the Abhainn Ghrugaig, we left the path and bush whacked our way through the most probably tick infested high summer bracken and up onto the flattish area just below the western most crags of Cnuic nan Eildean where we made camp. With the tents set up we grabbed a quick bite to eat and packed the bare necessities into small day packs before taking to the forbidding looking western flanks of Druim Torc-choire. Time would tell if our chosen camping spot at almost 250 metres was sufficiently high and airy to mitigate the midge issue but for the time being it was the dreaded clegs that were of more concern. Quite a few were dispatched on the long, hot pull up onto Meall Buidhe but alas, this was a mere drop in the cleg ocean.

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The northern slopes of Meall Buidhe across Cnuic nan Eildean

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Ladhar Bheinn and the Aonach Sgoilte ridge across Gleann an Dubh-Lochain

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An t-Uiriollach and Sgurr Coire Choinnichean across Torc-choire and out over Inverie Bay to Rum

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Luinne Bheinn from high on Meall Buidhe with Barrisdale Bay and Loch Hourn just visible

I was high on the excitement and adrenaline of walking in Knoydart for the first time and enjoying views opening up on parts of the country that I was less familiar with than those that I gaze upon from many other ascents. The heaven and hell of hill walking in the Scottish high summer was right there all around me - wonderful views of the tortuous west highland coastline combined with full on aerial insect bombardment! :shock: :roll: :lol:

Eventually the summit was reached - Luna's first Munro after a few months of easing herself in on Grahams and Corbetts and my first Munro in 10 months. The views were now epic in all directions - out across Inverie Bay and the Sound of Sleat towards Eigg, Rum and Skye to the west, to the majestic looking Ladhar Bhein rising above Coire Dhorcaill to the north with Loch Hourn and Beinn Sgritheall beyond, south to Beinn Buidhe and Loch Nevis, and east into the Knoydart hinterland with the Dessarry and Quoich hills all jostling for position. Uppermost in our minds though was our onward route across to Luinne Bheinn - a majestic looking route winding down over rocky outcrops and past remote little lochans before beginning its climb up onto the second Munro of the day. Looking ever so near yet ever so far away, depending on your perspective!

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Kev and Luna going for a wander west from the summit of Meall Buidhe

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West from the summit of Meall Buidhe to Inverie Bay and across the Sound to Eigg, Rum and the Point of Sleat

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The road ahead to Luinne Bheinn

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Meall Buidhe - my first Munro summit in 10 months and Luna's first ever (although she didn't hang around and wait for the self timer to expire)

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The eastern top of Meall Buidhe and further east towards some of the Dessarry and Quoich hills

After a spot of lunch it was avanti towards the Loony Bin. Luna (quite aptly named for the circumstances really!) struggled a bit on some of the trickier down climb sections and needed to be coaxed down via some circuitous bypass routes but she soon seemed to get the hang of it and grow in confidence, so much so that she was soon showing us how it was done. I guess despite having done a few Grahams and Corbetts over the last few months, this was a step up in terms of the ruggedness of the terrain and she just needed to find her paws.

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Beinn Buidhe

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Back to the summit of Meall Buidhe from the eastern top

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Luna going the wrong way and Kev's baldy heid just dipping out of view

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Roccioso!

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Ben Aden and Sgurr na Ciche

We were now becoming quite familiar with the views around us which, both being new to Knoydart, had been a bit alien and confusing earlier on in the walk. With the forecast for tomorrow looking a bit iffy and this walk taking a fair chunk out of us, Kev wasn't sure about hills plans for the next day, thinking he would possibly just wander back out to Inverie and spend a few hours at the Old Forge before his 3pm return sailing. I was in two minds. With a pass until Tuesday, I could stick around in Knoydart and clear up a bit more or head back to Mallaig and take care of some of my other identified targets, namely some of the Corbetts and Grahams on either side of the A830 around Glenfinnan. Talk was predominantly about a possible return to Knoydart later in the year or the early part of next year when the bracken would be less fierce and hopefully the midge, ticks and clegs likewise. That and how the hell we were going to go about tackling the beast that is Ben Aden! :shock:

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Across the Mam Barrisdale to Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheall across Loch Hourn

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Sgurr a,Choire-bheithe and Ben Aden with Sgurr Mor and Gairich across a rather dried up looking western end of Loch Quoich

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Ladhar Bheinn

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Gairich, Sgurr Mor, Ben Aden and Sgurr na Ciche

The prospect of getting back to the tents to set about the 8 cans of beer and hip flask of Highland Park (memories of the Tarf Hotel gig in 2009 coming flooding back there! :lol:) that we had carried in between us proved to be a great motivator and fair spurred us on up the southern nose of Luinne Bheinn and over the 937m spot height to the Munro summit a short descent and reascent to the west.

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Loony Bin looming large

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Lochan nam Breac looks like it has been squeezed in there by hand!

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Back to Meall Buidhe

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West from the 937m east top to the 939m summit

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Luinne Bheinn and Ladhar Bheinn

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Kev and Luna almost there!

As we took a well earned breather at the summit, the unmistakable hum of helicopter blades began to fill the skies above us and before long we spotted it coming in from the east and heading over our heads and out to sea. Here's hoping it was just on a wee recce and not attending anything serious!

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Meall Buidhe from Luinne Bheinn

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Look at the camera you two!

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The Ladhar Bheinn money shot!

When the hum of the chopper faded away to nothing it was the sound of the beer calling that we could hear so we headed down towards Bachd Mhic an Tosaich and then picked up a direct line back towards the long line of craggy, grassy knolls that would terminate just above our tents and their view back down over Loch an Dubh-Lochain.

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Start of the descent west off Luinne Bheinn

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Meall Buidhe - that one takes no prisoners!

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Descending into Glenn an Dubh-Lochain

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Barrisdale, Loch Hourn and Beinn Sgritheall

After a quick stop for Kev to dip his smoking feet into a burn, it was back to the tents where an initial light breeze was doing a grand job of keeping the midge down but sadly it died away after an hour or two and required the donning of midge nets and that awkward performance of trying to eat your dinner and drink your beer through them while keeping the little buggers out!

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Almost back at the long line of craggy knolls above our camping spot


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby kevsbald » Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:47 pm

I’m a Skye aficionado but for me, Knoydart might just be the best place for hills and the wildness we all crave. Great to share it with you. Let’s get planning!
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby gammy leg walker » Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:20 pm

I’ve been waiting on this TR since I I saw you’re post on FB, Knoydart is an awesome place and lives up to the ruggedness and famed views it’s renowned for, cracking TR G man
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:47 pm

That did look enjoyable - good to see you eventually making it out to Knoydart - cheers :)
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby past my sell by date » Fri Jul 23, 2021 11:19 am

Hi Graeme
Great to see a report on these two wild hills. i did them in March 2002 with the late great Chris Brasher on the third anniversary of the Knoydart buyout in which we were both heavily involved (thru the JMT)
Chris said we had to find an interesting way to walk in, so I picked him up at the Wasdale head (after an OBOEs meet): We drove to Kinloch Hourn and stayed at the wonderful (but expensive)Skiary B&B - now sadly no more.
The next morning they took us by boat to Barrisdale and we walked up tp the Mam.
KN05---Climbing-to-the-Mam-Barrisdale.jpg
Chris on the way to the Mam Barrisdale
KN06---On-the-way-to-the-Mam-Barrisdale.jpg
Looking up Glen Barrisdale - Sgurr a Choire Beith on the R
knoy07.jpg
Looking down to Inverie from the Mam
from the Mam we climbed SE to Luinne Bhein, but I took no more photos as I remember the weather being poor. Chris was in charge (as he always was) and instead of following your route,we descended into the corrie with the two lochans and proceeded SW in thick mist eventually climbing to the summit of Meall Buidhe. From there we descended to the Mam Meadail where we camped.
Chris was testing an ultra light Tarp tent (he'd persuaded Saunders to make a ground sheet to fit), and while I was sent off to find water, he pitched it and decided which side he was having. While I had a fairly comfortable night, Chris spent most of it reaching under the groundsheet with a huge Bowie knife that the carried, to hack away at the tussock underneath :lol: :lol: :lol:
I was also not in good odour as I'd left behind a small bottle of some alcoholic mix that was "essential" to the meal he cooked - though It tasted fine to me without. I found it about eighteen months later in my car under the drivers seat, but sadly, by then Chris had died of pancreatic cancer :( :( :( . so we drank as a toast to him
In the morning we descended the not very good path down Gleann Meadail , joined in the celebrations and spent a rather more comfortable night in one of Inverie's guest houses. I managed to scrounge a boart trip back to Kinloch Hourn , while Chris went back to Mallaig on the ferry
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby Sunset tripper » Sun Jul 25, 2021 9:51 pm

Always good to see reports from that area and the different routes and camp spots folk use. I have been in there twice myself recently.

I'm looking forward to part 2. Cheers :D
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby Graeme D » Mon Jul 26, 2021 7:46 pm

past my sell by date wrote:Hi Graeme
Great to see a report on these two wild hills. i did them in March 2002 with the late great Chris Brasher on the third anniversary of the Knoydart buyout in which we were both heavily involved (thru the JMT)
Chris said we had to find an interesting way to walk in, so I picked him up at the Wasdale head (after an OBOEs meet): We drove to Kinloch Hourn and stayed at the wonderful (but expensive)Skiary B&B - now sadly no more.
The next morning they took us by boat to Barrisdale and we walked up tp the Mam.
$matches[2]
Chris on the way to the Mam Barrisdale
$matches[2]
Looking up Glen Barrisdale - Sgurr a Choire Beith on the R
knoy07.jpg
Looking down to Inverie from the Mam
from the Mam we climbed SE to Luinne Bhein, but I took no more photos as I remember the weather being poor. Chris was in charge (as he always was) and instead of following your route,we descended into the corrie with the two lochans and proceeded SW in thick mist eventually climbing to the summit of Meall Buidhe. From there we descended to the Mam Meadail where we camped.
Chris was testing an ultra light Tarp tent (he'd persuaded Saunders to make a ground sheet to fit), and while I was sent off to find water, he pitched it and decided which side he was having. While I had a fairly comfortable night, Chris spent most of it reaching under the groundsheet with a huge Bowie knife that the carried, to hack away at the tussock underneath :lol: :lol: :lol:
I was also not in good odour as I'd left behind a small bottle of some alcoholic mix that was "essential" to the meal he cooked - though It tasted fine to me without. I found it about eighteen months later in my car under the drivers seat, but sadly, by then Chris had died of pancreatic cancer :( :( :( . so we drank as a toast to him
In the morning we descended the not very good path down Gleann Meadail , joined in the celebrations and spent a rather more comfortable night in one of Inverie's guest houses. I managed to scrounge a boart trip back to Kinloch Hourn , while Chris went back to Mallaig on the ferry


Sounds like a true epic and makes our little daunder seem quite dull in comparison! :lol:
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby Graeme D » Mon Jul 26, 2021 7:49 pm

Sunset tripper wrote:Always good to see reports from that area and the different routes and camp spots folk use. I have been in there twice myself recently.

I'm looking forward to part 2. Cheers :D


Ah, there may be a longer wait for Part 2 than you imagine! :shock: We headed back over to Mallaig the following day having hatched tentative plans to return via KLH to do Ladhar Bheinn from Barrisdale. Hopefully in the not too distant future, perhaps even before the year is out. I spent the next few days around Glenfinnan scooping up Corbetts.
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Re: Knoydart (Part 1) - like Knotty Ash but different!

Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:35 am

Graeme D wrote:
Sunset tripper wrote:Always good to see reports from that area and the different routes and camp spots folk use. I have been in there twice myself recently.

I'm looking forward to part 2. Cheers :D


Ah, there may be a longer wait for Part 2 than you imagine! :shock: We headed back over to Mallaig the following day having hatched tentative plans to return via KLH to do Ladhar Bheinn from Barrisdale. Hopefully in the not too distant future, perhaps even before the year is out. I spent the next few days around Glenfinnan scooping up Corbetts.


Aye, you had some cracking days there. I have wanted to do Ladhar Bheinn from Kinloch Hourn for years and years. Eventually got round to it a few weeks ago. The whole route is fantastic especially the coastal path. You work hard for every inch off it though, It took me close to 8 hours from the car park to the summit :shock: including about a hour stop at Barrisdale - One of my best days in the hills - pick a good day.

Ladhar Bheinn and Loch Hourn, July 2021 8)
20210701_102135 (2).jpg
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