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Jet 'n me and the Knoydart 3 - pt 1
by Clach Liath » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:22 pm
Munros included on this walk: Luinne Bheinn, Meall Buidhe (Knoydart)
Date walked: 20/10/2012
Time taken: 10.75 hours2 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).
So it was to the autumn of 2012 and I had been awaiting a decent forecast before making the long trip north for the long awaited return. I had considered approaching via Mallaig and Inverie but ultimately settled on Kinloch Hourn again. The MWIS forecast for the Saturday and Sunday predicted 50% and 70% cloud free summits respectively. That was enough to persuade me.
Leaving home early Friday afternoon I was accompanied by Jet – the only family member who willingly accompanies me into the hills. I caught up with the rain in the Southern Uplands and had it off and on for the rest of the journey. Original intentions to walk in to Barisdale that evening were dampened by the weather and the fact that I was still suffering from the after effects of man flu. So I parked up about 3 miles short of Kinloch Hourn to hunker down for the night. My decision not to do the walk in then was, I felt, justified listening to the rain drumming on the roof of the car.
Day 1 – 20 October 2012
I awoke early. The rain had stopped but it was still dark as I drove the final miles to Kinloch Hourn. There are two car parks provided by the farmer there, both on the left as you arrive. The first described as a "winter car park" was where I parked, slightly raised off the road and partially fenced. The "summer car park" is a couple of hundred metres further on and just comprises an open slightly boggy area adjacent to the road, probably formerly a bog that had been infilled.
There were four or five other vehicles parked up. A sign invites a £1 per night contribution for parking. I decided that arriving at 6.30am did not count as a night for these purposes. Jet and I were off by 6.45am. I planned to walk as far as the bothy at Barisdale and have breakfast there. For the first ¾k you walk to the end of the public road and its turning circle. There is nowhere to park beyond the car parks. There the coastal path begins. It hugs the water's edge to start with, on occasion built from large blocks and supported with parapet-like structures. Ropes lying on the ground disappeared towards the water indicating the presence of unseen jetties. The air was still and above a star occasionally appeared between breaks in the cloud.
Jet disappeared ahead into the blackness. The call of wildfowl drifted across the water. The beam from the head torch lit just a small part of the path ahead. From time to time Jet would come back to check that I was still coming. A section of rhododendron was wetting. There is a rise to a bridge across a large stream by Skiary. After the previous day's rain, the stream was thundering through the little gorge by the bridge.
Skiary was once a large settlement based on agriculture and fishing. It even once had a school. Now it just comprises a single house with associated buildings.
The path dropped back towards the Loch briefly. The path was surprisingly overgrown. My legs were soon wet from the grasses and bracken. I ended up walking with my poles ahead of me trying to knock the water off the vegetation before I passed.
Beyond Skiary, which I did not see, there was then the first major rise in the path to avoid a rocky section of shoreline. The path gains about 100m in height before it then descends more steeply to Runival. Both Skiary and Runival are two lonely cottages, the former now operated as an occasional guesthouse.
Slowly the sky behind began to lighten. The sounds of the rutting season, which eventually became ever present throughout my journey, boomed across the Loch. A solitary stag trotted past Runival. By 7.45am it was light enough to walk without the aid of the head torch.
Immediately after Runival the path again makes an unwelcome climb up to the 100m contour line in order to by-pass another headland, Rubha Raonobhal. This felt the toughest of the climbs before the path then descended again to the Loch. Back at the Loch the walk along this section was, I thought, the prettiest section of the path.
The waters were still and clear. Rocks and sea vegetation could clearly be seen beneath the surface. Autumnal colours reflected in the slight ripples. The inner reaches of Loch Hourn began to open out. Across the Loch there were more remote cottages and sounds of the rut continued to float across. I stopped briefly at what seemed to be a relatively new bridge to wonder at the sights and sounds.
It is around here that the horn of Stob a'Choire Odhair first came into view, but this was only half way along the path. There followed a final climb cutting over to Barrisdale Bay. Once the rise was breasted, more of Stob a'Choire Odhair came into view and the path levels out for some distance. Clouds drifted lazily around the tops. To the west, Beinn Sgritheall was still covered. The path, despite recent rain, was not too bad. There were the occasional squelchy sections but these were overcome with care, including some rock teetering with the heavy pack on the back.
The path then descended gently to the top of the final straight drop to the northern end of the Bay passing over a well constructed buttress to the path. The final drop brought us past the ruined church with its substantial walls, but roofless. Here the vehicle track around Barrisdale Bay was met. A sign welcomes visitors.
It was low tide and ahead Eilean Coinnich was joined to the mainland by a spit, only accessible at low tide. This island was the burial place for the Barisdale settlement and perhaps the smaller settlements on either side of Loch Hourn.
It was an easy mile or so to the Bothy where I unloaded my pack. Just before the Bothy is a stalker's house. The stalker's wife was in the garden and we waved to each other, her dog barking a warning. 500m before that is the Estate Lodge which was quiet but probably occupied because windows were open.
We had our late breakfast in the Bothy. It was 10.10am. The time taken to get there was longer than I had anticipated or remembered from my previous visit. Still it is over 10k of distance and almost 600m of climbing; I felt as though I had already done a full day's walking. It is a private Bothy and a £3 per person per night charge is required. There is a box by the sink to deposit cash, or cheques can be sent and an address is provided. There are 12 bunks in other rooms plus a toilet. The fire place has been boxed in and is not usable due, apparently, to past misuse.
I gave the dog his breakfast and lit up the stove. I had porridge, tea and a monster flapjack. We mooched around for about 45 minutes. Time was pressing and we had to leave.
The track carried on to a substantial bridge over the River Barrisdale. On the right there comes the path from the stalker's path which leads to Coire Dhorrcail and Ladhar Bheinn. It continues past the branch to the White House and, shortly after it stops, another path branches south towards Gleann Unndalain which provides an alternative approach to Luinne Bheinn.
We followed the Mam Barrisdale path though. It is well made and at a pleasant gradient.
Height was gained quite quickly and the cairn at the head of the pass was reached. We had another stop here. I had considered camping at this spot and doing the round of Luinne Bheinn and Meall Bhuidhe with a lighter pack. But I decided that was too committing and was glad of that decision. From the pass a boggy path leads off a round a few humps towards Luinne Bheinn. It is probably best to break off from this path sooner rather than later and head towards the incipient ridge. But I carried on along the path which follows a line of fence posts. Eventually I was overlooking Bealach a'Choire Odhair. At this point I turned north up a wide re-entrant to find the west ridge at about the 900m mark.
On hitting the ridge I looked back the way I had come and saw a pair of walkers far below at the Bealach Choire Odhair, the only other people I would see that day.
Unfortunately the cloud showed every likelihood of descending. Luinne Bheinn has three spot heights shown on the Harveys and OS maps. The first from just before which the photo below is taken has a cairn but is not within any contour ring and so there is no drop between it and the Munro summit that is supposedly only a metre higher and 150m further on.
The top was now covered in cloud and we did not stay. It was 2.20pm. The route was then down and up on to the Munro top another 300m on before swinging south east to descend to the Bealach Choire Odhair. There is a drop of over 200m in height to the Bealach. I was feeling quite tired by now. There was a hill between us and Meall Buidhe. The path skirts around its higher reaches and it had started to rain quite heavily. I ground my way on but half way up I had to stop again to refuel. There was no shelter to be had and I felt damp and a bit miserable, indeed cross with the forecast that had not predicted any rain.
The food together with a supply of Jelly Babies in my hand was enough to regain some impetus and we rounded the top of Druim Leac a'Shith before descending to the next Bealach at 710m. I must have ascended the final climb to Meall Buidhe in a bit of a daze because I do not remember much of it. I was probably too tired. I was looking forward to creeping into my sleeping bag!
First the east top and then the main summit were reached. It stopped raining and a break in the clouds allowed me to see a red line of the setting sun between two layers of cloud. I would now look for somewhere to pitch the tent. It was now 5.15pm.
I went north. The north ridge is not clear at first but soon forms. After a couple of hundred metres of walking I came across a long thin lochan. I considered stopping here but it was a bit exposed to the elements and there was no running water. So I carried on trending to the right into the part of the coire marked as Coireachan Leacach, I did manage after 20 minutes or so to find a fairly level patch of ground that was not also a bog. In fact it was quite a nice site sheltered on two sides by rocks and with a streamlet nearby but with an eagle-like view out over the lower coire. It was somewhere around the 450m contour mark.
Jet watched curiously as I set up the tent and sorted out what was needed from my sack from what I did not need. The tent was soon up and it was as well because just as we had sorted ourselves out, it began to rain again – this time with some intensity.
It was a bit of a squeeze in the tent, which is a one man tent. I fed Jet whilst organising the evening meal. Once he had finished eating he dutifully curled up in a ball and started cleaning his mucky legs and underside. My pasta was soon on the boil but I had to open my sachet of Lloyd Grossman tomato and basil pasta sauce. The "cut here" corner of the package really needed scissors or a sharp knife, neither of which I was carrying. So I fought with the packaging using nails and teeth to no avail. Next I pinned it to the ground and pushed my fork into the corner. Eventually four holes appeared and a bit more stabbing and wiggling with the fork fashioned an opening. The pasta was ready and I drained the water. The sauce now needed to be added. A bit of pressure on the packaging led to a dribble of sauce emerging. I thought to myself that this was not much good. So I grabbed the packaging with both hands and squeezed it hard. Mmm, mistake. It exploded and soon I was surrounded by a scene that could have come from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bits of pasta sauce splattered the ground around the stove and were dripping of the inside of the fly. Fortunately the only bits of me that were hit were my hands.
I got what was left into the pan and get on with things. Jet remained blissfully unaware. The sauce heated up, I was able to eat the meal, finished off by a mug of tea and dunked Digestives - yum. As I was tidying up, Jet decided to investigate and was delighted to find titbits of food to hunt down. The ground around and the inside of the tent were thoroughly licked clean!
We were settled down and fell asleep to the drumming rain shortly after 8pm. As usual for me in a tent, sleep during the night was broken. Occasional strong blasts of wind shook the tent, it was fairly chilly and my mouth was dry – I was dehydrated.
To be continued here:
our_route.gpx Open full screen NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts
by ChrisW » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:01 pm
by Clach Liath » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:05 am
monty wrote:Nice report Clach Liath. Having just done these hills they are certainly a lot tougher than I expected. Shame your weather wasn't so good because the views are awesome. Loved the exploding pasta bag
Thanks Monty. Just read your TR on these hills - great it was too. The weather was OK for most of the day. It just crapped out for the final couple of hours. And it was nice the following day for Ladhar Bheinn.
by Clach Liath » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:07 am
ChrisW wrote:Great start CL (except the pasta sauce bath ) shame the weather didn't play along for today...I'll head off and see what part two brought.......
Thanks Chris. As you will see, pt 2 brought a much better day weatherwise. As for the pasta sauce...
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