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An easter wander around Knoydart

An easter wander around Knoydart


Postby benno » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:39 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ladhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn, Meall Buidhe (Knoydart)

Date walked: 21/04/2014

Time taken: 19 hours

Distance: 50 km

Ascent: 4000m

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Given the awesome weather over the Easter weekend and the fact that, for once, good weather coincided with a bit of time off work, I decided to head up to Kinlochhourn early on Monday armed with a backpack and head up into Knoydart. Leaving the busy carpark at 9.30 I headed out along the path on the lochside towards Barrisdale, passing a decent number of people walking back out from a weekend in the hills, many looking like they'd caught the sun. It was hot, there were no midges, the sky was blue, the wind was light, things were looking promising!

Loch Hourn
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First view of Ladhar Bheinn
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As Barrisdale bay swung into view after a few hours, I got my first peek up towards Luinne Bheinn and the Mam Barrisdale - my intended base for the next night or two. This was my first time in Knoydart and so far it was living up to its reputation as rough, remote, and staggeringly beautiful. A golden plover (I think) welcomed me into the bay.

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I headed over the bridge and off up towards the bealach. Stopping at a wee burn I stripped right down and cooled myself off in the lovely cold water - this was hot work with a big pack.

Back towards Barrisdale from the path to the Mam Barrisdale
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Sgurr a'Choire Bheithe
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Arriving at the bealach at 1.30 (4h from the car), I pitched my tent, dumped most of my gear, had a quick sandwich and headed across the boggy terrain towards Stob a' Chearcaill, eventually gaining a distincter ridge, scrambling up some crags and traversing up to the low point of the ridge between Stob a' Chearcaill and pt.849.

Meall Buidhe from the Mam Barrisdale
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Back to Barrisdale bay
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Approaching Stob a' Chearcaill
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Luinne Bheinn from ascent of Stob a' Chearcaill
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Down the Aonach Sgoilte ridge towards Sgurr Coire Choinnichean and Inverie
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Ladhar Bheinn
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Gaining the ridge felt like an achievement - the legs starting to feel it now! Heading towards the looming bulk of Ladhar Bheinn, I began to appreciate what a huge undertaking climbing this hill is - it's huge! Slowly but surely, after many ups and downs, the final approach to the summit came into view and, stopping to fill up my bottle with snow, I clambered up the rocky slopes and onto the summit, heading over to to the broken trig point, finding a spot on the lee side of the hill with a sea view and proceeding to lie down and drink it all in. 6.5h car to summit.

Barrisdale bay from the ridge
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Down to Loch Nevis and Inverie
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Loch Hourn and Ben Sgritheall from the summit
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Back along the ridge, Luinne Bheinn and Sgurr na Ciche in the distance
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On the summit
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Skye silhouette
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After a good hour on the summit (I may have dropped off for a bit of a nap...) I reluctantly left this incredible spot and headed down the the tent, the re-ascents on the ridge feeling painful, the final descent motivated by the thought of the chicken jalfrezi and rice waiting for me in the tent. After a 9.5h day, 2100m ascent and 24km walking, I slipped off my boots, hung up my socks to dry, ate my dinner, jumped in the sleeping bag, and popped off to sleep.

Approaching the tent
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Yes
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After a windy night I reluctantly got out of the sleeping bag, ate some pre-cooked bacon and beans in tomato sauce for breakfast, downed a coffee, and left the tent at 8am to a slightly different looking day. I had felt the wind picking up over night and despite being on the lee side of the pass my tent was still getting blown to bits. I worried slightly that it might have blown away by the time I got back from today's hills! Oh well, good excuse to buy some new gear.

I headed East away from the bealach along a muddy path, joining a line of fence posts which I followed up between the crags around to the South West side of Luinne Bheinn, heading up steep ground to the wind blasted summit, arriving there at 9am and promptly heading towards the East top to get a bit of shelter. The wind was strong, there were high clouds (though patches of sunshine) but I could see the dark skies to the East rolling over the Loch Quoich hills and slowly closing in on me. I hastily headed down the SE ridge of Luinne Bheinn, turning SW to head along the top of Coire Odhar towards the bulk of Meall Buidhe up ahead.

Meall Buidhe from the tent
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Ladhar Bheinn from ascent of Luinne Bheinn
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Meall Buidhe from Luinne Bheinn
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Ben Aden and Sgurr na Ciche
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Back to Luinne Bheinn
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After startling a pair of Ptarmigan, I dumped the sack at the Bealach Ile Coire and headed up the steep rocky ridge onto Meall Buidhe, getting really buffeted by the wind by the time I reached the top. The weather was really closing in from the East - I didn't spend more than 10mins on the summit, knowing I had a long way to go yet today.

Approaching Meall Buidhe
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Spot the Ptarmigan
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Loch Nevis from Meall Buidhe
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On the summit
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I headed back to the bealach, and having picked out a route from above avoiding a re-ascent of Luinne Bheinn and to get a bit of respite from the now really strong wind, I descended into the coire towards two lochans. Passing a few deer I arrived at the lochans to find they're sandy bottomed - this would have been a great place to stop for a swim yesterday, but, maybe not today...!

Beyond the lochans I clambered up a grassy ramp, towards the top traversing left along the top of some crags, scrambling over a few rocky patches, and arriving back on the fence post path which I followed back to the Mam Barrisdale where my tent was, incredibly, still in one piece!

Lochan an Talamh Dheirg, grassy ramp just visible on the right
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From the ramp
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Clouds descending on Meall Buidhe
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Leaving the bealach at 12.30 after packing up my gear I started the long walk back to Kinlochhourn, heavy pack once more. Passing Barrisdale I trundled past a bemused bunch of stags, antlers not yet fully formed, following the track made of seashells, and arriving at the start of the footpath back to Kinlochhourn, really feeling it on the feet now.

Oh herro
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Back on the coast
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Last view to Luinne Bheinn
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I headed back along the path, having forgotten how much ascent and descent it involved. This path is a killer. About halfway, I stopped for some tasty Ainsley Harriot sundried tomato and garlic cous cous to motivate me for the last few miles. The only problem was the dreadful aftertaste it left for the remaining couple of hours!

Oh herro you too
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Lovely path
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Back on the road
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On the final bit, some more bemused deer watched me stumble past with little interest
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(Not to mention those that really didn't fancy sparing me a thought about an hour later on the drive back)
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Arriving back at the carpark just after 5 I found it almost empty - a stark contrast to the previous morning.

So all in all, a long and knackering walk, but an absolutely awesome experience. Lucky with the weather and the snow cover (even though I carried my cramps and axe in they were just wasted weight), experienced what is now one of my favourite spots in all of the highlands, spent a night on the hill, saw some great wildlife, and felt exhilarated. Lucky me eh.

19h walking, 50km, 4000m ascent
Saw 2 herons, golden plover (possibly), swallows, an unidentified rodent, lots of deer, ptarmigans, caterpillar, and heard a cuckoo.


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benno
 
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:38 pm

Good report and pics - chose your timing well!
Have this on the radar for a couple weekends away, so helps me with route options and the snow update too
Al
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby The Rodmiester » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:15 pm

Great timing I'm heading on over at the beginning of May, no need for humping in the ice axe and crampons I see thanks to your photographs :D :D thanks for posting!
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:33 pm

Great report with some fantastic photo's :clap: :clap:

The hills do look amazing, looks like I will need to get a tent :wink:
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby Silverhill » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:58 pm

What a fantastic trip! 8) I enjoyed reading your report, it brought back fond memories. Thanks for posting. :D
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby bairdo boy » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:22 pm

great post bud, cheers
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:41 pm

Brilliant report, wonderful pics. :clap: Thanks for posting. Definitely will have a wander around Knoydart this year.
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby rockhopper » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:44 pm

Enjoyed that - good time of year and looks like you just made it before the weather changed. Yet to get here but hopefully not too long to wait (for another weather window :roll: ) - cheers :)
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby electricfly » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:03 pm

Fab! :D

We were up on Beinn Sgritheall at the same time you were in Knoydart. We were constantly looking across to your hills and hatching a plan to visit soon.

Weather was great, only downside was the warm haze making long distance photos difficult.
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby malky_c » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:21 pm

8) 8) 8)

I'll be concise about this one!
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Re: An easter wander around Knoydart

Postby Meatball » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:13 pm

Nice!
Quieter than a few days before!
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