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If Columbus can get lost so can i

If Columbus can get lost so can i

Postby Verylatestarter » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:58 pm

Route description: Gruinard Bay and the Eas Dubh falls

Date walked: 08/09/2021

Time taken: 3 hours

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It's a well known fact that Columbus was lost when he discovered the American Continent. Mind you he was thousands of miles from home and didn't have a map - we weren't and we had an excellent map based upon jeffers 25/9/16 walk report. We did, however, have an excellent walk.

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The plan was to park at the beach car park at Gruinard and walk up the Invarianvie River, past the falls to the end of the valley, then over the moorland and back down the Gruinard river to the beach, at which time the tide would be out so we could avoid walking along the busy road.

The walk was somewhat different.

The access gate next to the river bridge

Debbie sets off along the river bank

The undergrowth thickens

The alternate (easier) path over the moraine away from the river

along the river bank

We started out at the bridge over the river, through the nice new gate and stayed close to the river; the banks were a mass of very high ferns, with hidden brambles and bracken; it looked difficult and dangerous so I hung back to let Debbie go first. Within 50m we hit the bracken which was awkward to pass and there was no obvious route, we turned back passing another couple who seemed determined to press on. The man said they would press on through the undergrowth as that was the route in the guidebook; we never saw them again. Back at the start gate we set off at about 45 degrees from the road and hit a small trackway going up the moraine; this turned into the main path and sloped back to the river.

the path gets rockier

approaching the falls

the lower falls

the path between the falls

the upper falls

the upper falls

The going was good, the path slightly rocky but fairly dry (it being a dry Summer). The river was beautiful, the little valley rocky and after about a mile we were at the Eas Dubh falls. The path is on a ledge over the pool and the way past the cliffs alongside and over the falls was not clear, but there was a likely ledge at high level. We continued along the ledge path and came to a steep section where there has been a rockfall, i eased my way across the gap, (about 1m) and kicked some steps in the loose earth to give Debbie something to step onto. The steep path required some hands on scrambling, nothing too difficult and we arrived at a rocky ledge formed by a fault, this provided a sort of rocky gully which was safe to move along. The gulley then opened out to a very narrow path with a drop to the stream below. This lead to the upper (smaller) falls and a similar rocky gully. Above the second falls the ground levelled out and the valley became flat, the river sluggish.

the river above the upper falls

the bend above the falls

looking the other way the valley flattens out

Past the flat area, back along the river bank

the small cliff before the river turns South

the bend in the river with cascade above, the river flows from the South here

the path leaves the river, still heading East

looking Northeastwards towards the end of the valley

the Northwards incline up to the bealach

We made our way across the flat area, the path keeping to the left (North) side of the valley, the path was less distinct and would have been boggy in wet weather. We veered off in the wrong direction following a small stream along the side of the valley (this proved to be fortuitous later) but rejoined the main path by following a low moss covered wall back to the river bank. The path kept to the left and the river made a sharp right turn, tumbling down a cascade from the South.

over the moorland to Creag mheall-Beag

Beinn Dearg Bhearg to the East

the path contours round the hill

We followed the path along the contours of the last rocky outcrop in the valley, as it curved North and then stepped up a steep incline to a bealach. The map indicated a branch path heading East but we didn't see one; our path continued round the curve of the hill but got less distinct as we proceeded. We were aiming for a Lochan which we should have passed to the West of; just as we were losing the path I spied a body of water through a gap between two rocky outcrops, clearly that was our route - it wasn't, the actual path should have veered off the hill before the point we were at.

a glimpse of a Loch and the faint path led me to believe this was the route whereas we should have turned right here

Loch Dubh Braigh a Ghlinne, we passed to the left (South side), note no island

The small valley between the rocky outcrops had a few small paths which were probably animal in origin, but the going was not too difficult and we came out on a stony slab above a rounded loch, set in a stone amphitheater, all stark and barren as Debbie reminded me she dislike so much. We debated whether we should have lunch on the rocky area but decided to push on. The paths were even more indistinct but we came up onto a small knoll with views down to a river valley, the outflow of the Lock trickled down a small stream towards the river. However this was not the river I expected to see as there was a wide strong flow from the left, whereas I expected a small stream as indicated on the map. Over to the right we could see the sea, also unexpected; Debbie asked (in a tone that clearly indicated that I didn't) if I knew where we were. Checking the map the Loch, behind us, should have had an island in the middle of it, ours didn't.

the view down into the valley which convinced us we were on the wrong track

we recognised where we were when we got to this point, note small stream on right

Working through what we had done it became obvious i had spotted the wrong loch(Loch Dubh Braigh a Ghlinne instead of Lochan Dubh nam Breac) and continued too far around the last hill. The river we were looking down on was the one we had walked up and there to the right was the small stream we had mistakenly walked along. Problem solved - we decided to return down the Invarianvie instead of backtracking and searching out the Gruniard river. The only issue was this would require down scrambling the awkward bits alongside the falls.

the ledge path between the falls

Debbie negotiates the path

the path below the lower falls, there were at least three routes at this point

It turned out the scrambling wasn't too bad, Debbie coped really well with the awkward areas, taken slowly. The worst section below the main falls had about three options which could be seen from above but not from below, and we avoided the rockfall area which would have been difficult on the way down. Once below the falls the route our was straightforward. We went down to the near empty beach to eat our packed lunch.

looking back East along the lower valley

back to the overgrown area at the moraine

If you love this landscape and are not too fussed about getting lost, this is a great walk. I'm looking forward to doing it again next time i'm on the West Coast.
Last edited by Verylatestarter on Thu Nov 11, 2021 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: If Columbus can get lost so can i

Postby snodland » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:34 pm

Gruinrd Bay is fascinating too. That looks a good walk
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Re: If Columbus can get lost so can i

Postby Verylatestarter » Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:57 am

I would love to have walked down the Gruinard river; the hills on the North side, when viewed from the road look more like Vietnam than Scotland. Still it gives me another reason to go back.

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