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Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud


Postby smike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:18 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ladhar Bheinn

Date walked: 04/06/2014

Time taken: 15 hours

Distance: 37 km

Ascent: 1800m

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We had long planned a trip to the Highlands this June. With money being a bit tight this year, we'd decided to take the plunge and do some wild camping to save a few sheets on accommodation. However, as we got ever closer to our time away, the weather forecast got progressively worse with a depressing inevitability. Nevertheless, the forecast was also 'changeable', so there was the off-chance that we may get some good days so we thought 'to hell with it' and went anyway - the best decision we've made in a long while!

After the first night the MWIS forecast was pretty dire everywhere and we were clutching at straws as to where may stay dry. However, the Met Office have a fantastic facility that seems to have snuck under the radar of most mountain walkers - they actually provide hour by hour forecasts for a large majority of individual mountains in Scotland, and they seem pretty accurate, considering the small geographical area they cover, rather than the vast areas that the Met's own mountain forecasts and MWIS forecasts provide, and they are available in both Android and Iphone apps - I can't recommend these individual forecasts enough (and no, I don't work for the Met Office, I'm just very grateful that we have such a good forecasting services available to us). I checked and the mountains out far west were looking substantially dry and potentially sunny for most of Tuesday afternoon and then the majority of Wednesday before the rain set in. I don't know about anyone else but one of the main reasons I love walking in the hills so much is for the views, and I will do anything to avoid days in the cloud.

Immediately Knoydart seemed like the right choice as it was looking dry and because of its isolation it really justified a wild camp, which was the entire purpose of our trip. Ladhar Bheinn came to mind and a plan was quickly formed - we were already loving the flexibility that wild camping had given us - we weren't constrained to any one area and could go where the weather was right.

We drove to Kinlochourn (an exciting drive in itself, down the long 22 mile single track road past Loch Garry and Loch Quoich) and paid for parking for 2 nights (£2 per night at present) at the B&B and cafe. The owner also took details of our route and when we planned to be back, which is reassuring when you're entering such a remote area that at least someone knows what you're up to. We then started the long walk to Barisdale - it was raining when we left, but, right on time with the local forecast, it cleared up and the sun came out, and we were treated to some stunning views along a remarkably still Loch Hourn.

LadharBheinn01.jpg

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A word of warning about the walk in to Barisdale. This may seem like a very silly thing to say, but it's quite a long way! I naively thought it would be a nice Lochside stroll, but it goes up and down on rough terrain for 7 miles. The distance was exacerbated by the fact that I felt like I was carrying 2 bags of cement on my back (food for 2 people for 2 days, tent, 2 sleeping mats, sleeping bag, waterproofs, change of clothes, stove, gas, beer & wine etc - lesson learned about wild camping trips - pack the bare minimum! I think next time I just need the tent, sleeping bag, the beer and the food!) We were both extremely grateful when we finally saw the far edge of Barisdale Bay. All in all, it took us over 3 and a half hours to walk the 7 miles!

LadharBheinn10.jpg


We had planned to wild camp further on from Barisdale, rather than use the 'official' campsite, but there was no one else about and we were both glad to stop, and the allure of a flushing toilet and running water from the bothy was too much to pass up for a meagre £1 per person per night - makes you realise what a rip off most official campsites are, although you do have the benefit of being able drive to them!

However, when setting up, the thing I was dreading the most appeared in very significant numbers - the MIDGE! I know a lot has been said about midges, but they really are pure evil concentrated into minute form, which when grouped together in swarms demonstrate a pure representation of the devil - something like a balrog from lord of the rings! I am one of those unfortunate people who gets bitten absolutely everywhere, who repellents seem to do nothing for, whereas my wife seems to be able to survive the onslaught almost unscathed. Needless to say, we were extremely grateful for the bothy as somewhere to escape the midges to sit and cook.

Shortly after we started cooking, a couple of other guys turned up, Kevin and Mark, who had both come in on solo camping trips. They were really good company and we enjoyed the Craic with them for the couple of nights we were there, talking about all sorts of rubbish - I know they read Walkhighlands so a big hello if you read this - thanks for the good company! We faced the midge gauntlet whilst running to the tent to bed, but the sunset out West was beautiful, which offset the midge misery slightly. Sorry for the pixellated pictures - to save weight I didn't carry my SLR, so it was only dodgy mobile phone pics this time:

LadharBheinn11.jpg

LadharBheinn12.jpg


We slept like logs and woke to a beautiful but midge infested morning. This was all the more reason to get walking, so we had a leisurely breakfast in the bothy and then started out. Kevin and Mark headed out to walk Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe so we bid them farewell and set on our way. The views back to Barisdale soon open up:

LadharBheinn14.jpg

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Views to Beinn Sgritheall:

LadharBheinn13.jpg


We soon turned the corner into the very impressive Coire Dhorrcail:

LadharBheinn16.jpg


The next part of the walk was by far the least enjoyable. It involved an absolute slog up very steep, boggy, grassy pathless slopes from the point at about 250m to meet the ridge of Druim a' Choire Odhair at 700m. Another word of warning - don't do this! We waited until the path petered out before crossing Allt Coire Dhorrcail. However, you can avoid the worst of the slog if you leave the path earlier and cross to get to the ridge as soon as possible (I later read this in the SMC Munro guide aswell), as a path appears on the ridge at about 600m which makes the going significantly easier. We eventually got to the ridge and had a well earned rest, although Monty was still keen to keep going:

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Once on the ridge proper, it narrows and is an absolute joy of a ridge to walk over - very airy and no major difficulties (a couple of minor scrambly moments, but nothing too taxing):

LadharBheinn19.jpg


This leads you to what feels like the summit, although the true summit lies a very short distance to the West. The views were excellent, particularly down Loch Hourn and also West towards Skye:

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We had noticed a walker behind us on the ridge who caught us up with some speed. We had a chat on the summit - she had walked in that day from Kinlochourn, caught us up on the ridge, overtook us, continued to the horseshoe and then walked back to Kinlochourn, all in one day! That's 23 miles and god only knows how much ascent :shock: We felt slightly humbled and wondered if she was some kind of supreme being! If you're reading we give you our utmost respect! If you look very closely, you can just make out her as a tiny spec above the impressive buttresses on the SouthEast ridge:

LadharBheinn22.jpg


However, we knew our limits and felt pretty knackered and didn't fancy the extra mileage and ascent of the full horsehoe, so we continued back down the ridge. However, this was not a bad thing at all, as it was even more enjoyable in descent as you got to enjoy the fantastic views all the way down, and we also got to see the error of our earlier ways at getting to the ridge too late:

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The descent took a fair while and the whole walk took us 8 hrs (although we are by no means fast walkers), so we were very glad to see the welcoming Bothy and campsite for our final night, where I have never enjoyed a cup-a-soup so much in my life! I also trialled some dried expedition food. I will not name the brand or meal, but all I will say is NEVER AGAIN - absolutely one of the foulest things I have eaten, but it served its purpose and filled us up, so I won't complain too much. The Midges were out in even larger numbers than the night before, and after catching up with Kevin and Mark we were very glad we hadn't done their walk, as their descent sounded like a nightmare! We may have to try those two from Inverie in the future instead.

Right on cue it absolutely hammered it down overnight, and it was very overcast and muggy the next day, so we had a relaxed morning, packed up and set out on the long haul back to Kinlochourn, where we had a pot of tea at the cafe and had a chat with the lovely owners. It had been a long trip for just one Munro, but one that feels incredibly satisfying for the amount of effort required to be put in, and also for the fantastic scenery, excellent ridge and company along the way. I would thoroughly recommend visiting this incredible area. Here's to more camping trips in the future (although we will think twice about camping in Westerly areas in Midge Season - probably we will focus on the Cairngorms until out of season).

Rough distances, ascents and times:

03/06/2014: Kinlochourn to Barisdale - 7miles / 600m ascent / 3 hrs 45 mins
04/06/2014: Ladhar Bheinn - 9 miles / 1300m ascent / 8 hours
05/06/2014: Barisdale to Kinlochourn - 7 miles / 600m ascent / 3 hrs 45 mins

Also, one thing to note - Monty (our dog) picked up shed loads of ticks - there are a lot of them about at the moment, so check your dogs coats regularly. Happy walking :D
smike
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby litljortindan » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:49 pm

Sounds like a memorable trip.
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:08 pm

Great report & enjoyed the read very much, some fantastic photo's :clap: :clap:

I'm off to invent a midge exterminator, would be worth a fortune :lol: :lol:
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby AnnieMacD » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:06 pm

Great read and loved the description of the ridge walk. It's great when you're up high and you can just saunter along on top of the world!

Yes, the midges and ticks are both terrible this year. It must be to do with the relatively warm winter and wet spring.
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby simon-b » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:55 pm

Great report, trip and photos, smike. And total respect to the lady who did that whole horseshoe in one go.
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby smike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:48 pm

litljortindan - thanks, it was a thoroughly invigorating trip and we can't get the place out of our heads now.

AnnieMacD - yes it was a fine ridge - the best of walking is ridges. I read an article somewhere that said it was to be a bumper year for midges because of the wet winter and spring. A few of the blighters had even managed to survive in our tent when I put it up to air and clean it in my garden this afternoon!

Fife Flyer - Thanks - yes if there was some way of guaranteeing avoiding the Midge that would make the inventor a millionaire! Apparently they don't like cigarette smoke - I'm half tempted to take up smoking :lol: That or just invest in the midge hat.

Simonb - Thanks. Yes, we still can't believe that lady's pace - a big achievement doing all that in a day, not for us mere mortals! We were speculating as to whether she was some elite sportswoman - she didn't even break a sweat!
smike
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby Tomsie » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:19 pm

smike wrote: I think next time I just need the tent, sleeping bag, the beer and the food!)
Also, one thing to note - Monty (our dog) picked up shed loads of ticks - there are a lot of them about at the moment, so check your dogs coats regularly. Happy walking :D


Dont forget the beer :lol: :lol:

Is Monty a Dachsy?

Looked like a good trip and nice report :clap:
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:16 am

Loved this report. It's just whetted my appetite for Knoydart still further.

I'm very impressed that you carried in beer. :clap: Much as I enjoy the amber nectar, I couldn't see myself carrying it in on my back....

Midges: I can really recommend the midge mesh hats. I've escaped pretty well unscathed this year by dint of using one in combination with a heavy dose of DEET on the back of my hands, and tightly close sleeves and trouser bottoms.

Weather forecasts: do you know whether you can get these hourly forecasts any other way than via a smart phone (my phone runs on coal and steam)?
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby smike » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:59 pm

Thanks Alteknacker. You can actually get the forecasts on the Met Office website - just type in the mountain name in the forecast area box and Bob's your Uncle, i.e. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/ladhar-bheinn-highland#?tab=fiveDay&fcTime=1402268400

Tomsie - Monty isn't a Dachsund, he's actually a bizarre mix between Border Terrier and Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen! He's lovely though - great temperament and loves the hills, although he has an annoying habit of guarding anywhere he has been for more than 30 seconds by barking at any intruders (although he wouldn't hurt a fly)

monty.jpg
smike
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Re: Ladhar Bheinn Out Loud

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:44 pm

smike wrote:Thanks Alteknacker. You can actually get the forecasts on the Met Office website - just type in the mountain name in the forecast area box and Bob's your Uncle, i.e. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/ladhar-bheinn-highland#?tab=fiveDay&fcTime=1402268400


Many thanks Smike. I'll definitely try this prior to the next foray. :)
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