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Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Drugged on Knoydart, Part One


Postby seasgaich99 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:39 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgùrr a' Choire-bheithe

Grahams included on this walk: Slat Bheinn

Date walked: 20/07/2013

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 1170m

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder. The radical changes since my late-life marriage include a vastly reduced amount of hill time. Yet the lure of the high tops is scarcely diminished. Sgùrr a’ Choire-bhèithe is a muckle big mountain, a Corbett with attitude, the stuff of dreams. Maps had been pored over, distances and ascents computed, and I had long imagined the best bit: the welcoming cairn, the new panorama. The ruckie felt dauntingly heavy, an affront to my careful logistical efforts. I clocked off early, caught a bus home, and fiddled again with the pack before dinner with Rosemary. One driver seemed oblivious of their mirrors, managing for several miles to hold up quite a few folk before drawing in at Whitebridge. Even so, I still made good time to Loch Quoich, stopping to stow my pack near a gappy old bridge, where a silver Fabia was parked.

Down at Kinloch Hourn, I roused the mannie at the farm and paid for two nights, got boots on and tied the remaining gear around my waist. The chitty for display in the car I absent-mindedly stuffed in a pocket, as I set off, back along the tiny road. With the heat of the day barely receding, I sought mental diversion, spying an occasional wren or dipper. I left the road around eight o’clock, chucking the loop along the loch shore for a direct strike up and over Sròn Lice na Feàrna. Busy gangs of red deer hinds with a few calves, frogs, and a mewing buzzard all seemed to defy an evening drunk on heat. I cut across towards the end of the Abhainn Chòsaidh. The contouring was strenuous enough, then worse, as swathes of bracken and tussock took over and persisted right to the burn, a serene relation of a sometimes raging torrent. I pitched camp on a meagre scrap of flatter bank, right beside the burn, and the hordes found me immediately. Sun cream purporting to contain insect repellent seemed to deter them. A meal, ablutions and to bed. As I drew the curtains, I watched the moon pass behind the right shoulder of Sgùrr Mòr. What price tomorrow?

Wisps of mist brushed the loch surface. As I dodged the insidious legions and munched what I could, suggestions of sunshine leaked through the veil. A snap of the tent, pack up, then off. Of course, the sort of rank stuff I’d stumbled through last night clothed these lower slopes too. I had savoured this trip for years, however, and gritted my teeth. I’d need a lot more of that, as well as positive vibes, and there were plenty of them. Rags of residual mist drifted away. These views were unique, and my walk would take me right into the heart of Knoydart, a field of dreams. Bunches of tussock and thicker stuff gave way to a medley of shorter vegetation and rock – undulating, to be sure, but the sort of challenge I invariably find uplifting. Something wasn’t right, though. Rest stops increased, the mercury kept rising, water was at a premium, my sweaty clothes stuck to me, the summit, to say nothing of my intended camp site, seemed fanciful targets, and time galloped on. Another thought. I have been able since boyhood to more or less ignore seasonal bouts of hay fever. Recently, my doctor prescribed eye drops, tablets and a nasal spray. Their combined effect is lethargy and drowsiness.

I gritted my teeth. Hill birds were scarce: the odd meadow pipit, a female ptarmigan and chicks, almost trodden upon, and a swift much higher up. Water sources grew ever more dubious, but my demands were inexorable. The Druim Chòsaidh is a ridge and a half, sprouting a myriad energy-sapping knobbles. Glad at least of my wide-brimmed hat, I gritted my teeth. Gradually, though, a compensating jigsaw assembled itself: Ben Aden and the Sgùrr na Cìche clutch, then much higher, Ladhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn, lochs Nevis and Hourn, and Beinn Sgritheall. I tackled a couple of daunting rock towers just east of the summit, and scanned a route over today’s other objective, Slat Bheinn. A lone man appeared. The Fabia owner. He’d been up Ben Aden yesterday, camped down in the pass, then took a direct line to the top of Sgùrr a’ Choire-bhèithe. The Loch Quoich shore route had given fair passage, with some tracks and trails to help. I envied him his route down the big ridge, and plodded on. It was with a whoop of delight that I arrived at Sgùrr a’ Choire-bhèithe’s summit cairn, a fabulous spion kop for surveying Knoydart’s treasures. Despite, or maybe because of, all my struggles, it felt good to be up here. I needed a breather, anyway.

A short walk back brought me to a nick in the ridge and a likely-looking line by a burn leading to Loch Coire nan Cadha, demanding nothing more than patient selection of best routes, with some nice little cascades and, on this shady face, plenty of fresh water. Down at the lochan, I opted to edge around its eastern shore, not yet able to see water lapping against a big crag. I didn’t fancy back-tracking, but sank beyond my knees at one boggy bit, soaking the boots into the bargain – a daft choice. I never felt the bottom…!

Another weary slog by cramped contours carried me at last up to rugged Slat Bheinn’s summit, venue for more superlative views and lengthy repose. Its grand chiselled features emphasised by sun and shadow, Ladhar Bheinn looked especially fine, as did the sweep of Glen Barrisdale, with an alternative western approach to my first mountain looking considerably easier. My line down to tonight’s camp was evident enough, as long as I stuck to rockier stretches, and, at the bottom, a through path led around a large outcrop, more or less right to the loch shore. Alas, no wind and too much residual heat, plus a body oozing carbon dioxide proved perfectly conducive to further depredations from the swarming multitudes, as I pitched the tent then ate a mobile supper. The closing ceremonies couldn’t come quickly enough.

Once again, the question loomed: will I fare better tomorrow? This had been the hardest day of my life, reminiscent of the effects of altitude on my body felt in various places abroad. Having waited so long to climb these wonderful hills, especially the Corbett, and now in my sixties, there must be some doubt as to whether I will ever be here again. That’s how I rationalised things at the time, but I’m convinced now that the effects of those drugs weakened me that July day. However, I’m still able to wax lyrical about it because the dominant memories are positive, the imagined images magical, fulfilling all expectations, doing justice to a terrific area. Needless to say, I hope to be back! :wink:
Attachments
CRW_6486.jpg
Western end of Loch Quoich: Sgùrr Mòr and The Rough Bounds
CRW_6489.jpg
Friday night camp by the Abhainn Chòsaidh
CRW_6491.jpg
Morning mists - Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach in the distance
CRW_6493.jpg
Rock exposures - a feature of the Druim Chòsaidh
CRW_6495.jpg
Parched and tough. The Druim Chòsaidh, sweeping west to the rock towers and summit of Sgùrr a' Choire-bhèithe
Slat Bheinn.jpg
Sgùrr a' Choire-bhèithe, Slat Bheinn (Beinn Sgritheal beyond) and Sgùrr nan Eugallt - tough territory for the aspiring hill-walker
CRW_6500.jpg
Over Lochan nam Breac to Sgùrr na Cìche and Ben Aden
CRW_6501.jpg
Walking on the Wild Side: the Druim Chòsaidh, with Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn beyond
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Across Sgùrr Mòr and Sgùrr an Fhuarain to a distant Ben Nevis
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Ladhar Bheinn and Loch Hourn beyond Glen Barrisdale
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Back down the Druim Chòsaidh: Gairich in shadow
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Loch an Lagain Antheich and the eastern end of Slat Bheinn
Last edited by seasgaich99 on Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.
seasgaich99
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby adamg » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:18 pm

Great report, looking forward to part 2. Beautiful pictures too! :clap:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby The Rodmiester » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:30 pm

Not done these yet but this wets my appetite to re visit again soon, looks wonderful, thanks for posting :D
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:38 am

Wonderful report and pix.

One of my objectives for this year is a walk across Knoydart, and this really whets the appetite (Andrew Doggett also did a great report on his early start walk to Ladhar Bheinn). Once you're over 60, you do have to wonder how much longer you can continue doing this kind of stuff...

The midges saga reminded me why I tend to restrict my trips up to God's own country to the early parts of the year...

Drugs: could it have been the place? It looks pretty intoxicating to me!
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby seasgaich99 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:08 am

Alteknacker wrote:Wonderful report and pix.

One of my objectives for this year is a walk across Knoydart, and this really whets the appetite (Andrew Doggett also did a great report on his early start walk to Ladhar Bheinn). Once you're over 60, you do have to wonder how much longer you can continue doing this kind of stuff...

The midges saga reminded me why I tend to restrict my trips up to God's own country to the early parts of the year...

Drugs: could it have been the place? It looks pretty intoxicating to me!

Glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks for your reply.

Time is ever the thief, and I share your thoughts on how much longer I can keep tackling the big tops. Mind you, there's a few folks in their 70s or even 80s still strutting their stuff, so there's hope!

Knoydart is so fabulous that it may well have combined with my potions to double their effect... :wink:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby seasgaich99 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:09 am

adamg wrote:Great report, looking forward to part 2. Beautiful pictures too! :clap:

Thanks for that. Part 2 coming soon... :wink:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby seasgaich99 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:10 am

The Rodmiester wrote:Not done these yet but this wets my appetite to re visit again soon, looks wonderful, thanks for posting :D

My pleasure, and thanks for your reply. :wink:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby malky_c » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:11 pm

Any report containing the Druim Chosaidh is well worth a look 8) . I like your camping spot under Slat bheinn too.

I did a similar route to this a few years back - it was a tough but enjoyable day out, but I think it would have been better for being a multi-day route. It was similarly hot and dry, with water hard to find and the Abhainn Chosaidh easy to cross. Not the Knoydart conditions I am used to!
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby seasgaich99 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:17 pm

malky_c wrote:Any report containing the Druim Chosaidh is well worth a look 8) . I like your camping spot under Slat bheinn too.

I did a similar route to this a few years back - it was a tough but enjoyable day out, but I think it would have been better for being a multi-day route. It was similarly hot and dry, with water hard to find and the Abhainn Chosaidh easy to cross. Not the Knoydart conditions I am used to!

Cheers for that, Malky! Good to share thoughts and opinions. Knoydart when wet is often to be left well alone, but those 2 days were probably tipping the limits for me in terms of heat. Still, wouldn't swap the experience for the world - odd people, these mountaineers! :wink:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby rockhopper » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:06 pm

Can remember reading this one before going on to read part two - both very enjoyable and informative as I'm hoping to get out here some time this year ! Well done on your runner up in WROTM :clap: - cheers :)
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby seasgaich99 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:44 am

rockhopper wrote:Can remember reading this one before going on to read part two - both very enjoyable and informative as I'm hoping to get out here some time this year ! Well done on your runner up in WROTM :clap: - cheers :)

Many thanks for that. I've only recently joined - maybe I 'peaked' too soon... :wink:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:31 pm

A fantastic read with some great photo's :clap: :clap:
Knoydart is one of the few wilderness's left in this wonderful country of ours.
I will have to see about getting a tent (yes a tent) & all the gubbins one needs for camping if I am to head out that way, not fond of those little hungry insects, so will be doing some research :lol:
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:40 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:A fantastic read with some great photo's :clap: :clap:
Knoydart is one of the few wilderness's left in this wonderful country of ours.
I will have to see about getting a tent (yes a tent) & all the gubbins one needs for camping if I am to head out that way, not fond of those little hungry insects, so will be doing some research :lol:


You must get a midge net, Martin! You will love the wild camping, Honest! :D
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby Sgurr » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:47 am

Seasgait99 wrote: Now in my 60s there must be some doubt as to whether I will ever be here again.


Climbed Slat Bheinn last year at 74. Admittedly not by hauling a tent in, but there are some "cheating" ways of doing things in Knoydart like hiring The Stable bothy...don't despair, there is hill life after 60 (and I hope after 75 too). We also "cheated" on An Stac by getting the boatman to take us to the Oban bothy and back.
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Re: Drugged on Knoydart, Part One

Postby dunrig » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:25 am

Enjoyed that - although relatively young (at 55) have kinda accepted that I am never going get done all the things I want to do in the hills - hoping for a long hill life, though looking forward, just being alive and relatively healthy after 70 would be enough
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