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Walking in a Kintail wonderland (1)

Walking in a Kintail wonderland (1)

Postby snodland » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:44 pm

Date walked: 14/09/2011

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Skye Cuillin ridge from Dornie (3) (1024x768).jpg
Skye Cuillin ridge from Dornie (4) (768x1024).jpg
West along Loch Alsh from Eilean Donan toward Skye, Cuillin ridge (1024x768).jpg
My annual trip to Dornie was looking in danger.
Dornie (1024x768).jpg
The remnants of Hurricane Katia were apparently hitting the North West coast, and I was planning to go walking in it. I phoned up the finest Bed and Breakfast I know to see if it had survived the storm.
“Oh Andy, the devastation up here in Kintail. It is terrible”
“Goodness” I said. “So the storm was as bad as they forecast”
“Oh No” came the reply. “The storm hardly touched us.....but some mob called Walkhighlands had a weekend up here the last 2 days. The Kintail Lodge will never recover....their singing....their drinking...”
OK I made that bit up, but it seemed the forecast hurricane had not resulted in high winds, though the rain had been, and was tumbling down in Niagara-like proportions. Sure enough as the coach made its way through Glen Shiel mountain paths were hidden below raging streams. I made a mental, reluctant note to forego my planned trip up The Saddle. I want to see and enjoy the experience of the Forcan Ridge, not cross it in thick clag unaware of its drama.
DAY 1 : WEDNESDAY. (Not the saddle I had planned)
The last time I had ridden a bike in anger, 10 gears was the maximum available, drop handlebars were all the rage, and white plastic strapping on the handlebars was all the protection your hands got from blistering. Hiring a bike, I planned to ride from Dornie to Ratagan, then on to Glenelg. (End destination rapidly became Totaig and as we shall see eventually Ratagan). To minimise the amount of time on the A87 I thought I would take the Carr Brae road up the back of Dornie. Boldly ignoring the “steep gradient” symbol on my OS Map, I set off up the hill. This was a minor road surely t here wouldn’t be much traffic up here......well apart from the Lochs and Glens, Shearings and Kavanagh Coaches which suddenly appeared in my wake as I struggled up this single track death trap. If you were on a sightseeing tour of the West Highlands last Wednesday and wondered why the coach was struggling to get up the Carr Brae....it wasn’t, there just weren’t many spaces for me to safely pull over and let you by. And sadly my aching legs were turning as fast as they could to get up the hill. Sorry.
The reason why they use this road, latterly became apparent.
South East from Carr Brae down Loch Duich (A Mhuing prominent to left of Sgurr Mhic Barrich) (2) (1024x768).jpg
Letterfearn on South Side of Loch Duich from the Carr Brae (1024x768).jpg

The last part of the outward journey was along a slightly wider death trap called the A87.Unlike the coaches, the Fish Lorries and Skye Quarry trucks had no compunction in whizzing past me. Though the hairiest bit for me was crossing the causeway at Shiel Bridge with a nasty crosswind. By the time I got to Ratagan, all intent of getting to Glenelg or even Totaig had disappeared. I had been intermittently rained on and was so fed up I decided to make my way back via Morvich.
At the NTS Centre I liked these swallows perched on a Stags horns.
Swallows in NTS Centre Morvich (2) (1024x768).jpg

Going via the A87, I pretty soon got up the Carr Brae again. With most of the rain past, some of the wildlife came out. Apologies for quality of most of these, I saw a peregrine.
Peregrine above Carr Brae (3) (1024x768).jpg
Although I didn’t see it in a dive, I did see that lazy, downwards diagonal glide they make returning to the nest – and that was pretty speedy.

Also, think this is a Kestrel
Kestrel above Carr Brae (1024x768).jpg

And despite the very large wing span this clearly seems to be a buzzard.
Buzzard above Carr Brae (6) (1024x768).jpg
The birds were frustrating me as they seemed to disappear for long periods until I had given up and put the camera away....at which point they would reappear. Bit like that Kit Kat ad where the bloke at the zoo is trying to photograph the pandas. Then when he turns around and has his break the elusive pandas are doing a dance on roller-skates behind him. So when an eagle turned up, it took much fumbling and I only managed to snap it as it sped off towards Dornie (look above and slightly right of the castle – and zoom in).
Lower viewpoint on Carr Brae towards Dornie. (1024x768).jpg

Down in Dornie I recommenced my attempt to get perfect shot of the castle (will it ever not look glorious) and the Cuillins in the setting sun looking along Loch Alsh.
Eilean Donan Castle (6) (768x1024).jpg
Eilean Donan Castle (13) (1024x768).jpg
Loch Duich from Eilean Donan castle, Sgurr Mhic Barrich prominent at the right (2) (1024x768).jpg
Skye Cuillin ridge from Dornie (2).JPG

And then into “The Clachan” for an astonishingly good Haggis,Neeps and Tatties.
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Re: Walking in a Kintail wonderland (1)

Postby morag1 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:57 am

A great holiday and great report snodland :thumbup:

Loved the photos of the birds, Eillean Donan and the friendly puppy :D

Re: Walking in a Kintail wonderland (1)

Postby ChrisW » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:14 am

Great effort snodland, I remember those bikes you talk about....I think you forgot to mention the razor blade seat :lol: Good idea to wait for better weather before taking on the ridge anyway, a person should get some reward for their efforts and the views are generally it.....next time eh :D
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