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Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby snodland » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:41 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Conbhairean, Carn Ghluasaid and Sail Chaorainn

Munros included on this walk: Carn Ghluasaid, Sail Chaorainn, Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Date walked: 23/09/2011

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(Day 2 : Thursday (.......would like to meet someone)
The one day of the week that fine weather was forecast, and the weather man was not wrong. After breakfast...to give an idea how great the B&B is let me tell you, I had casually mentioned that I quite liked Fruit Pudding and the lady had made a trip into Kyles to the butcher, before going around 3 of her friends to see if any of them had any. I shouldn’t be so surprised. 2 years ago when I stayed there, some Belgian Bikers were staying with her and on one day of torrential rain she had given them the keys of her car to do a tour of Skye rather than seeing them get soaked on their bikes. The day after it was a bit of shock when one of the lads said he had enjoyed the trip around Skye and that it had been the first time he had ever driven a car!!!!

I had opted to take advantage of the fine forecast weather and go up Carn Ghluasaid, Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Sail Chaorainn. This was to be a day of meeting people.
First up – at the bus stop. The jolly nice lady who parked up in her car, got out and then her neighbour took it and drove off. She was on her way to Glasgow to see her dad, and had been in such a rush that she couldn’t find any cash to buy her ticket. This is the Highlands and I had no compunction in saying, “ I can offer you cash” (a little while later I pondered how sleazy that might have sounded), though in the event the driver allowed her on. I hope she got on OK seeing her father in a nursing home in Glasgow.
On the bus itself I had a seat beside a lady from Skye. We were talking about the hazards of the A87 as the coach slammed along it just like the lorries I had experienced the day before. This was something she agreed with. Apparently many people in Skye and Lochalsh had been lobbying for a Sustrans route. The councils – she said – had been offered the money but didn’t do anything about it.By now we were going through Glen Shiel and walkers were being picked up and set down at various lay bys – Big Credit to Citylink as these are not necessarily scheduled stops. And a big thank you to the driver who seemed to know exactly which lay-by to put people off at (there are so many in Glen Shiel they ought to be numbered). He would say “I know the one you mean, for the start of the five sisters walk” or for me “opposite the big parking area at Lundie”. My new found friend from Skye knew where I was going, up Carn Ghluasaid. Rather cheerily she said how she had very nearly lost 3 generations of her family on it, when some Cornice at the summit had given way.
At 9.50, I was setting off up the marvellous path to Carn Ghluasaid. Stopping briefly to set my stopwatch and altimeter, another walker came up and started asking about the gadget. He started talking about where was I going and I started to wince as I began to surmise he wanted to walk along with me. In normal circumstances, unless I am out with the group I go walking with, I do like to walk and trek alone. BUT, I ended up walking with Dave for the rest of the day and he was very, very good company, especially after we decided on a treacherous descent through heather and bog strewn Coirie Lair. The walk itself was excellent in such good weather. The path up mountain number 1 is brilliant. Very soon some old favourites came into view, like Ben Nevis.
Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis from the Carn Ghluasaid track (4) (1024x768).jpg
At the summit we did a round trip of all 3 cairns, just to make sure we could claim it as conquered. Saw the precipitous drop at the back of the actual summit cairn – I imagine that was where 3 generations of family had come close to their end!
A worn track leads to the second summit, the very shapely and sharp Sgurr nan Conbhairean. From here the views were astoundingly good. Beside Ben Nevis, to the east there was the distinctive double headed, upturned “B” of the Easains above Loch Treig, and even further in the distance the pyramid like shape of Schiehallion (wasn’t sure if it was Ben Lawers as the left leaning, dome of An Stuc was just to its left but have settled on Schiehallion – a mighty great distance away).
Stob Choire Meadhoin and Easain from Sgurr nan Conbhairean, likely Ben Lawers or Schiehallion to the left (1024x768).jpg
Having walked the South Cluanie ridge 2 years ago I remember some of the hills of Knoydart and Glenfinnan are also quite distinctive shapes.
Five Sisters ridge, with Skye Cuillin in background from Sail Chaorainn (2) (1024x768).jpg
Garbh Chioch Mor and Sgorr na Ciche from Sgurr nan Conhairean (1024x768).jpg
South West from Sgurr nan Conbhairean,think that Luinne Bheinn prominent shape right of centre (1024x768).jpg
South west from Sail Chaorainn. Streap at left in distance. Sgurr Thuilm prominent to its right (1024x768).jpg

Best looker of the day was Mullach Fraoch Choire. I love the triangular shape and particularly the pinnacles just to the left. That is my DEFINITE target for next year up in Kintail.
Mullach Fraoch Choire and pinnacles from Sgurr nan Conbhairean (1024x768).jpg

North over An Socach there was the Torridon hills, and North East to Loch Affric. What a glorious view.Sail Chaorainnn was the 3rd and final mountain for the day. A really short hop from mountain 2
A Chralaig from Sail Chaorainn (1024x768).jpg
Distance shot of Beinn Eighe from Sail Chaorainn (1024x768).jpg
and then it was a trek back down. We decided to go off track and try to cut off the trudge back to the main track. Possibly this was a mistake as it was horrible, steep, heather, tussock and full of hidden streams and holes. However eventually the two of us got down to the main road and set off in different directions, me towards the Cluanie, and Dave to his van parked in the lay by at Lundie. That took him to 98 munros and I think he was planning on the South Cluanie Ridge for number 100. I hope he managed that.
Big thanks again to Citylink and the driver of the 917 last Thursday. I wouldn’t have made it to the Cluanie in time for the bus, so as you can be picked up anywhere it is safe to stop by their buses, I waited by one of the big lay bys just short of Glen Shiels overpriced Walker’s Retreat and despite it being only a short hop to one of the scheduled stops he still stopped to pick me up.
Within an hour I was back in the Clachan, in Dornie enjoying Venison Lasagne! I was getting rather used to their marvellous food.

Day 3 : Friday (Never work with animals.....the children is up to you, but never animals)
Last day of a holiday is often sad. In the event I probably rate it as a day of mistakes, even though I had a good day, and some encounters with animals that didn’t go to plan.
Mistake number 1 was choosing not to go up in the hills again. The weather forecast had looked rather more like the Book of Revelations and so I opted for a low level walk over to Plockton. In the event the weather was far more benign and I should have gone for the Brothers Ridge above Glen Shiel.
I got the bus to Balmacara, walked up to the little closed village of Balmacara Square. The nearby peak of Sgurr Mor looked good.
Sgurr Mor above Balmacar Square (1024x768).jpg
The route to Plockton goes along a fine woodland track. To begin with there is a walk through a field. Some of the locals I met were a bit nervous of me as I walked through them...
Locals guarding the farm track up to Loch Achaidh na h-Inich (1024x768).jpg

I waited until I had passed through them, speaking to them (yes! Speaking to them. How daft are we humans) before taking their picture. Further on you cross a stream and the farm track heads in Coillie Mhor forest, via a choice of a gate or a stile. Obviously I opted for the stile. So Walk Aboot, remembering your plan for a book some year back, here is a picture for inclusion in “How to Get Your Leg Over, Country Sty(i)le”
Over the stile on track up to Loch Achaidh na h-Inich (1024x768).jpg
The track breaks out onto moorland above Loch Achaidh na h-Inich. Maol Chean Dearg and the Achnashellach hills are distinctive in the distance.
Maol Chin Dearg and An Ruadh Stac from moorland above Loch Achaidh na h-Inich (1024x768).jpg
Beinn Alligin, Liathach (triangular peak0 and Beinn Eighe from moorland above Loch Achaidh na h-Inich (1024x768).jpg
The path then drops down to the loch. At the end you have a choice to go Right, over the hill down into Plockton or left into Duirnish. Mistake 2 was going left, not because the coast, as we shall see is not beautiful, but it meant I had scant time in Plockton later on.
Through the tiny hamlet of Duirnish is the railway station – probably another of those built to appease the estate owner in the 19th century by giving him his own stop when his land was built upon.
Applecross seen from Duirnish railway station (1024x768).jpg
Duirnish Railway station with backdrop of Glamaig on Skye (2) (768x1024).jpg
A farm track leads down to the shore and several secluded bays. I sat for ages at one of them at Port an Eorna gazing north to Applecross and Torridon. Fantastic.
Dun Can on Raasay from above Port an Eorna near Duirnish (1024x768).jpg
North from Port an Eorna. Torridon mountains form main backdrop, Bheinn Bhan on Applecross at the left (2) (1024x768).jpg
North from Port an Eorna. Torridon mountains form main backdrop, Maol Chean Dearg prominent at the right (1024x768).jpg

I made a little friend of this wee dog. Who couldn’t help but like this little face staring up at you.
little friend at Port na Eorna.JPG
He was only a puppy but was really friendly. Followed me over the rocks. Sat beside me. Trouble was, when I got up and started back along the road to get the train to Plockton....he kept following me. I couldn’t get rid of the little blighter. Last thing I recall was having to stop him going through a big gate to follow me, looking back and his tiny face, peering longingly through the lower bars of the gate, turned me back.....he must hate me now.
On the way to the station I noticed a sheep straddling the wire fencing of his field. I thought it was in trouble so intended going around to the station on the other side of the fence to see if it could be helped. When I did it had gone....but not for long...
Trouble brewing at Duirnish Railway station 5 mins before the train is due (1024x768).jpg

Oh Well perhaps it won’t actually stray onto the track......doh!
Trouble brewing at Duirnish Railway station 5 mins before the train is due (1024x768).jpg

In the event it shifted as soon as the train arrived, but as sheep often run off along roads and rails rather than jumping off to the side I had visions of this being the slowest train journey to Plockton ever.
Only 1 hour in Plockton before getting the train back. The station is about 10-15 walk from the town so only a handful of shots of the bay. After getting the train and bus back to Dornie, I went out near to Dusk for one more attempt to get some night time shots of the castle. I wasn’t alone, some 10 or so photographers had their tripods out on the loch side all presumably waiting for the light to be right. All I got was this one of the castle lit up.
Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie (7) (1024x768).jpg
Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie (1024x768).jpg
The lights on the bridge – although they look like the “Ava Maria” scene from Disney’s Fantasia are in fact a Wedding Party which had been going on in the castle. Sadly the light trail at the top of the picture is because they were releasing Chinese Lanterns, which I presume are now littering Loch Duich, if they haven’t yet been eaten by the poisoned wildlife in the Loch. I am sure they wouldn’t have done it if they had thought about it.(or maybe I am just being grumpy). I took a wander around the castle island. Saw the memorial to the Macraes lost in the First World War (sadly there are quite a few) and took a shot of Loch Duich at twilight looking towards Shiel Bridge.
The Clachan was quite full, so I ended up eating in the Dornie Hotel.....and that sadly turned out to be mistake Number 3. (I am sure they will have better nights)

Day 4 : Saturday ( Homeward bound...or...I bet Robert Burns would know how I feel)
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birthplace of valour, the country of worth!
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love
The trip through Glen Shiel must be the 30 greatest minutes you can spend in the passenger seat of a car or coach. The dull day that dawned changed entering Bun Loyne. The mist of the Cluanie hills didn’t look as though it would burn off. But turning the corner by the viewpoint where Loch Garry looks like the map of Scotland, Ben Tee and Sron a Choire Ghairbh starting to take sunlight, radiating through cloud and lighting their purple, green and brown slopes.
Loch Garry itself, still as a mill pond and autumnal forests reflected perfectly in its glassy sheen.
“My Hearts in the Highlands, my Heart is not here”
Loch Affric from Sail Chaorainn (3) (1024x768).jpg
Trouble brewing at Duirnish Railway station 5 mins before the train is due (2) (1024x768).jpg
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Re: Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby joenorris » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:43 pm

Looks like a great trip! Quality report bud.
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Re: Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby PeteR » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:19 am

Great report and pictures :D I did these three hills on Sunday in excelllent conditions, but with a bit more cloud than you, so some of the distant views weren't there for me. But it looks like you had a great trip. I'm like you, can't wait to get back up to Kintail and try my hand at a few more of these great hills :D
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Re: Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby pollyh33 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:36 pm

Totally brilliant report!!!

Never a dull moment on your adventures!!!

Loved it all!

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Re: Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby kevsbald » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:25 pm

Fantastic stuff snodland. :D
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Re: Walking in a Kintail Wonderland (2)

Postby milly » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:52 pm

Sounds like a fab trip, it's no wonder you are always raving about Kintail so much.

Wildlife, great views, a new pal, and venison lasange :eh:

It's what walking is all about!
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