Glenfinnan to Inverie - the 2 Koreans and their naked buddy
by Mancunian » Tue May 15, 2012 11:52 am
Route description: Sgurr na Ciche: 3 Munros from Loch Arkaig
Munros included on this walk: Garbh Chioch Mhor, Meall Buidhe (Knoydart), Sgurr na Ciche, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glen Dessary), Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glenfinnan), Sgurr Thuilm
Date walked: 03/05/2012
Time taken: 80 hours
Distance: 67 km
Ascent: 3900m7 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The trip to Fort Williams via Callander, Crianlarich, Glencoe was wonderful and the weather fabulous. Although the road isn’t quite the Autobahn we were quick enough in Fort Williams where we bought the food stuff required for the days in the wild. Before we headed off to Glenfinnan, we had a large burger and a coke at the local McD. There we felt a bit like beings from another world with our hiking gear between all the kids and young mums.
In Glenfinnan we were greeted by a F-15 jet screaming overhead, flying a sharp turn. The jet appeared behind a hill and was so loud and so low that we almost dropped our ales. What a bad start that would have been! Dropping the ales is exactly what happened a year ago and the result was four days of rain during our walk in the Fisherfield and Fannich area. (see here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=12095)
We started on the nice tarmac road along River Finnan and where impressed to see the famous Harry Potter viaduct.
A little further up, close to the lodge we met a very nice man on a tractor and we had a wee chat about the newly installed 1MW water turbine and the scars in the landscape the construction will leave behind.
Going was easy and in the end we decided to pitch our tents in the little glen between Sgurr Thuilm and Sgurr nan Coireachan. There was a nice even patch of grass that would have been great but when I had a look at my shoes and trousers there were ticks everywhere. WHAAAA! No wonder because we were in the middle of a path which was heavily trotted by stags. So we decided to pitch the tents a little further away from the path where just a single tick was found after some searching.
We slept well in our first night and woke up to a sunny and bright day. After some coffee, bread and ham we headed off towards Sgurr Thuilm which we approached via the southern flank. On the way up the weather deteriorated somewhat and once we were on the top it was snowing a wee bit. So this was our first Munro this year and we celebrated this with a dram of whisky and continued to do so on every following Munro. The path then led us along the old fence on the ridge all the way to Sgurr nan Coireachan where we arrived 2 hours later feeling quite exhausted due to our heavy rucksacks (each between 15 and 20 kg).
The view from this Munro was slightly better and Loch Morar as well as Loch Arkaig and Glen Pean could be seen. But the wind was chill so we went further along in a westerly direction, trying to find the path which leads down into Gleann an Obain Bigh. It was really hard to find the path, which was shown as a clear dotted line in the map but overgrown and hardly visible in reality. Finally we found it and were gladly following it down into the Glen since the northern face of Sgurr nan Coireachan is quite steep. At a small waterfall of a little stream we had lunch and went on into the Gleann an Obain Bigh valley which is a scenic little valley at the head of Loch Morar. From there we wanted to continue into Gleann an Lochain Eanaiche which lies to the northeast of the loch but we first had to cross the little promontory of Sron a’ Choin. There appeared to be a path over the rocks but it was soon lost, but apart from some scrambling there was no problem in crossing the Sron a’ Choin. Right at the top of it there was a little plaque commemorating someone who wasn’t very old when he passed away. I’m sure there is a sad story behind this.
After taking in the view of Loch Morar and scaring away some sheep we walked into the Gleann an Lochain Eanaiche and stopped for the night at the Lochan Eanaiche. The lake has a small beach at its eastern end and is such a scenic place especially at dawn when the sun illuminates the surrounding hills and bathes them in the deep orange alpenglow.
The night was cold and my Mountain Equipment Firewalker 2 sleeping bag didnt really keep me warm. It says on the label: “For everything but winter temperatures” and its quite right. Next morning we went on to an easterly direction through the small gap into the woods of Glen Dessary. There is a very idyllic glade at NM926936 where two streams meet. If we had have more time we would have jumped into the pool there but we wanted to do the three Munros to the north today and so there was no time to lose.
We put up our tents in the glen below Garbh Chioch Mhor, emptied our rucksacks and started our ascend on Sgurr na Ciche (SnaC). Two of us remained behind and enjoyed their day in the glen. There is a land rover track which we followed, but when this forks away to the west we headed north until we came to the lower end of the gorge between SnaC and Gharb Chioch Mhor. Wow! We were amazed by the steep gorge with the towering SnaC to the left. It was fun to scramble up the gorge, now that our rucksacks were light. It was cold in there and in sheltered places we even found icicles. Finally we reached the upper end of the gorge and I must admit by that time I was pretty exhausted. To my very disappointment the summit of SnaC was still another 200m above.
By then I thought I would leave the idea of Munro-Bagging behind and look for other activity. What about Glen-Bagging? I’ve got no idea how many glens there are in Scotland but it should be fun to reward yourself with a dram of whisky for each bagged glen.
After some serious scrambling along the eroded path up to SnaC we all arrived at the summit. In contrast to the day before it there were quite a few walkers up here and it was a bit like rushhour, a constant coming and going. The view from SnaC was marvellous. Loch Nevis, Knoydart, Loch Quoich, Skye and a lot more valleys, peaks and islands could be seen. It was a bit hazy and somewhere near Loch Morar there were two huge smoke plumes. We had sunshine on our little peak but there were also rain clouds to the north not too far away.
It was around 4pm when we descended to the bealach and continued along the ridge up to Garbh Chioch Mhor where the ascend was far easier. The views from the top were great as well but we didn’t stay long as we wanted to bag Sgurr nan Coireachan. The path along the ridge is well defined and offers great views. The two fastest of us had the idea of following the ridge all the way to Sgurr Mor so we parted at the bealach below Sgurr nan Coireachan. And while the other two hurried to Sgurr Mor, the rest ascended slowly to Sgurr na Coireachan. On top we found it to be really windy and so we opted for descending back to the bealach and from there via the southern slope into Glen Dessary.
At 7pm we arrived back at the camp and were welcomed by our two friends with tea. After almost two days in the wild I decided to take a quick bath in the little stream but that wasn’t the best idea. The water was really cold. I can't tell you how short, sorry ... cold it was. Well, by walking into the stream also I dispersed the algae (or whatever this slimy stuff is) and once out of the water it was everywhere on me. I must have looked like some ancient sea monster But the water was refreshing and I felt much better afterwards and enjoyed the couscous we had for dinner.
Our friends came back from Sgurr Mor just before total darkness set in, that was by 10pm I think. We slept well that night after having bagged three more Munros. The next morning was sunny but cold. After a quick breakfast we continued westwards along the Lochan a' Mhaim all the way to the Sourlies bothy. A very beautiful walk with fantastic views over Loch Nevis. Close to where the Finiskaig river drops down we saw an otter. Wow!
There is also a geocache close to the bothy in Sourlies which we found after some searching. We then walked along the beach (it was low tide) and turned north into the Carnach valley. By then the sun was high and roasting us. It was indeed so warm that we took our clothes off and jumped into River Carnach which was a real pleasure. Luckily there was no one around and we dressed just in time before a family passed us who would have been highly embarrassed to see us.
Then we split up again. While the first half went up on the slope along the Allt Carnach, my mate and I went to the Cnoc Allt na Seilge to find the geocache over there. We followed the land rover track for 1.2 km and arrived at the cache location. You can't image our surprise when we found the pools in River Carnach there. It's such a beautiful spot. The water was crystal clear, and there were several pools and little waterfalls. I'm lacking the words to describe it in detail but I've not seen such a nice spot in Scotland before.
Well, this wasn't the only surprise but when we were looking for the cache, which was well hidden and had not been found for almost two years, we saw two girls skinny-dipping into the pools. Gentlemen as we were, we turned away and tried to stay out of their view, but they must have seen us already because they quickly dressed and ran back to Carnoch. I must admit that a geocacher looking for a cache will automatically behave in most cases very suspiciously. Always staring at the ground, looking behind bushes and under rocks, sneaking around while having the GPS in his hand. Well, I don't want to know what those girls thought about the two of us.
When the pools were finally ours, we took a lot of pictures but no bath (we had done that only an hour ago) and hurried then back to the ruins at Carnoch and followed our friends up the steep path. Half way up we found them relaxing in the sun and together we had some soup and bred and mars bars. Our goal for the day was Meall Buidhe so once we had reached the gap we left our rucksacks behind and scrambled up to the top. We reached it a little later and enjoyed the view back to Sgurr na Ciche, to Ladhar Bheinn, Skye and so on. The weather was still fine but around we could see clouds laden with rain and the wind was blowing cold. Meall Buidhe was the sixth and last Munro of this years hiking tour and on the descend we all felt a bit sad. At the gap we collected our stuff and followed the path down into Gleann Meadail. At the place where the valley becomes narrow and a wee bridge crosses the stream we decided to pitch our tents for the night. Although it was already quite late, there were still a few walkers passing by, heading presumably to Inverie and the pub. It was a wonderful evening and the landscape was coloured with a deep orange and even the smallest hillock had a long shadow. We ate our last pack of noodles, had the last bit of the whisky and sat long into the night talking about Scotland, Knoydart and many other things as well. Finally we went to our sleeping bags and dreamt of a pint straight from the tap in the remotest pub in mainland Britain.
Temperatures were below zero that night again and we hurried in the morning as we had a tight schedule. The last stretch brought us to Inverie back into civilisation. I'm sure some of us looked pretty battered, one mate could no longer wear his walking boots because of the blisters on his feet and was therefore walking in sandals. While arriving in Inverie we realised that we were far to early. It was only a quarter past nine and the ferry wouldn't arrive until eleven. What was even worse, the pub wasn't open yet and we had to wait 75 minutes until we got a pint. Well, most of you will know that a beer after a few days out will taste twice as good. The ferry arrived on time and was quite crowded on the return trip to Mallaig. I said good bye to the mountains and glens of Knoydart and as soon as we got off the ferry we felt the adventure was over.
We had to wait 4 hours for the next train to Glenfinnan, so we had a decent lunch with fish and chips and Froach ale. Back in Glenfinnan we jumped into the cars, drove to Fort William where we bought the typical gifts to bring back home from a Scotland (biscuits, tea, HP sauce, hot cross buns, salt & vinegar crisps, whisky…).
Because our flight was starting from Edinburgh the next morning, we drove that evening all the way to Loch Lubnaig where we pitched our tents in a picnic area in heavy rain and cold wind. The rain did cease in the night and in the next morning the wafts of mist were hanging in the trees below Ardnandave Hill. We all took a bath in the Loch cleaning ourselves from the sweat of the last days and drove to Edinburgh, got our plane in time and flew home.
Things I've learned on that hiking tour:
1. Marmite is not sugar beet syrup! I was absolutely sure Marmite would be sweet and bought it as a replacement for my beloved nutella. Imagine my disappointment when I had a bite of bread with marmite! WAAAH!
2. Do not even attempt to pronounce the names of Munros correctly for two reasons. First, it will be wrong anyway. Second, no one will understand you, neither your own mates nor the locals. That’s why we derived nicknames from the real names. The two Sgurr nan Coireachans became Sgurr Korean or Sgurr Kim Yong-Il respectively. Sgurr na Ciche was Sgurr Nackisch which can be translated into Sgurr Naked. Meall Bhuide became Meall Buddy and so on....Now you know what the title of this trip report is about
3. Glen-Bagging is not an option to Munro-Bagging. I would miss the great feeling of having reached the top, the views, the fight with yourself not to give up on the ascend. And the whisky consumption would be far to high too.
4. Conversation with other hikers is nice. So I thought watching Billy Connolly on his tour through Scotland would be enough to understand the locals. Well, I was wrong. The Scottish dialect isn’t anywhere close to Cockney or Mancunian (I lived some time in Manchester). So whenever I met someone on the way who I didnt understand I went for the chinese way of communication. Always smiling, being polite, head nodding, muttering “Yes!” from time to time no matter what was said or asked.
5. When walking with a heavy rucksack it a good option to leave it or empty it in the Glen and ascend the Munro with a light pack. Its such a huge difference that I would not have believed if anyone would have told me that before. A heavy rucksack (mine was 17kg) slows you down and takes away the fun.
Well, thats it, thanks for reading and take care,
by Mancunian » Tue May 15, 2012 12:03 pm
- mother and child
- the broken bridge and the remains of the sheep who tried to cross the river ;-)
- the pools of Carnoch and Ben Aden
- same view, notice the rock thats going to make SPLASH!
- between a rock and a hard place
- Looking over Loch Nevis
- the descend from Meall Bhudie
- a tree ...
- the glen below Meall Bhudie
- its getting late
- exhausted but happy
- Hey, whats up?
- waiting for the pub to open
- Good bye Knoydart
- over to Mallaig
- not the safest place for having babies
- after a rainy night at Loch Lubnaig
by monarchming » Tue May 15, 2012 12:06 pm
by BoyVertiginous » Tue May 15, 2012 1:59 pm
Thanks for sharing.
by malky_c » Tue May 15, 2012 4:29 pm
by DarrenJeffrey » Tue May 15, 2012 4:44 pm
by Mancunian » Tue May 15, 2012 5:02 pm
DarrenJeffrey wrote:Some of the best pictures I have seen on this site to date. Simply stunning. What camera and editing do you use?
Thanks for the praise Darren. It was a hard desicion whether to take the SLR Canon EOS 500D or the pocket travel zoom Canon SX230 HS on this tour. In the end I went for the SX230 because its much lighter, can be taken in my jackets pocket and is therefore always available. The pictures are edited with Googles Picasa which I use as a tool to archive all my pictures. I normally dont edit the pictures i've taken but in this case some shots were over exposed and too bright so I tried to improve them a bit. Depending on your verdict it appaers to have worked
by adamarchie » Tue May 15, 2012 9:13 pm
by Bod » Tue May 15, 2012 10:07 pm
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