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Knoydart - Into the wild

Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby CurlyWurly » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:55 am

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

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

Grahams included on this walk: Slat Bheinn

Date walked: 28/05/2010

Time taken: 22 hours

Distance: 52 km

Ascent: 4179m

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Knoydart had been high on my ‘must visit’ places for a while now and an invitation to a ‘stag-party’ in Invarie gave me the opportunity to sample this place. Everyone else attending the stag would be getting the ferry from Mallaig but I had other ideas. How about ‘walking in’ and knocking off a couple of peaks on the way?

I was drawn to Kinley’s recent trip up the Corbett, ‘Sgurr nan Eugallt. I could use this as the start and work my way towards Inavrie, ticking off peaks as I go. I plotted all the Munro’s, Corbett’s and Graham’s on my map and planned and contemplated a route.

By travelling south-west in a pretty much straight line, I could climb Sgurr nan Eugallt, Slat Bheinn, Sgurr a Choire-bheithe, Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe. From here I could head west and pick up the land rover path that runs alongside the Inverie River and into Inverie. The following day I could take in the final Munro, Ladhar Bheinn and hike back along the coastal path to Kinloch Hourn.

Phew, this was going to involve some serious ‘cross-country’ trekking and to give myself a decent chance of success, I decided the best bet would be to travel up late Friday afternoon and do a wild camp on the first Corbett so that I would have a good start the next day.

Whilst everyone else was preparing for the drive to Mallaig, myself and Derek, a work colleague, who also fancied the cross country experience set off up north towards Kinloch Hourn. Kinley’s post had mentioned a lay-by opposite a stalkers path that leads up to Sgurr nan Eugallt. The question was, do I leave the car here and walk up the road at the end or drive down and park the car at the car park and walk up the road at beginning. I decided to leave the car in lay-by. A couple of kilometres up the road at the end won’t do any harm will it? (I was going to regret this decision on the Sunday).

We set off up the path and it did not take long before we reached the bealach, near where the path stalkers path ends. The clouds where dark and moody but fortunately the rain was holding off.

1 - Heading up the stalkers path.jpg

We headed up to the trig-point then west along the ridge towards the bealach between Meall nan Eun and Sgurr nan Eugallt.

2 - Derek on Sgurr nan Eugallt.jpg

3 - Looking to Meall nan Eun.jpg

Meall nan Eun is a Graham and it was never in my initial plans but the distinctive three tops looked appealing. A quick discussion ensued. Should we take in this ‘extra’ peak then make our way down to the River Barrisdale and camp there or push on and try and get to the top of Slat Bheinn before nightfall? Like the last slice of cake, just sat there waiting to be eaten, the lure of this additional peak had a huge pull and maybe if I had been on my own then I would have succumbed to the temptation. But we decided that the sensible approach would be to push on and get some of the ascent out of the way.

We descended the 350m from the bealach to the River Barrisdale and checked the time. It was 21:15 and we where at an altitude of 143 metres. The summit is 700 metres so we had an ascent of about 550 metres. It would probably be dark by the time we got to the top but the terrain did not seem to offer any significant issues so we pushed on.

We estimated about an hour to get to the top but it probably took about 90 minutes. By the time we got to 400 metres, the rain had begun to fall steady and the grassy banks where wet and slippy. I was surprised that even in darkness you could make out the definition of the mountain and after a number of false summits, the top was finally in view. By this time it was 22:45 and we hastily set about finding somewhere to camp. The wind was westerly so we dropped 20 metres or so to the east and ‘tucked in’ below a big outcrop with the potential of great sunrise views across Loch Quoich.

4 - Camping on Slat Bheinn.jpg

The night passed without drama and at 7am we where packing our tents away and ascending the short distance back to the summit. From there we headed south-west towards the Corbett, Sgurr a Choire-bheithe. I suspect that most people would probably climb this peak from Barrisdale and follow the north-west spur to the top, and not even bother with Slat Bheinn which is a shame because what this hill lost in height, it gained in character.

5 - Looking back to Slat Bheinn.jpg

We dropped down to the little loch and I made a mental note to maybe come back one day and wild camp here. We then worked our way up towards the summit of Sgurr a Choire-bheithe. The acsent offered not considerable difficulties and we made decent time to the top, stopping occasionally for photographs.

6- View from  Sgurr Choire a beith.jpg

7 - View from  Sgurr Choire a beith.jpg

8 - Me on Sgurr Choire a beith.jpg

I liked the summit of this mountain, the views where expansive and clouds whisping in and out of the summits added to the drama. Three peaks down and we had not met another person, although I knew this would change as soon as we tackled our first Munro, Luinne Bheinn.

We had been fortunate with the weather and whilst it had been cloudy all day, it had not rained at all. Our luck finally ran as we hit the procession of other people heading up the Munro who had made their way up from Barrisdale. We trudged to the top, the rain becoming heavier and I will not deny that I was a little deflated at not being able to get any sort of view.

9 - The summit of Luinne Bheinn.jpg

The mist momentarily lifted from Meall Buidhe and I could see how far we still had to travel. For the first time I felt a little weary. We dropped back down and trudged round along the path. One consolation was that even in mist and rain, navigation was easy and we could put the map away. We made reasonable progress and climbed up the rocks towards the summit. I cannot imagine how amazing it would be up here with clear skies but today it was not going to be so I swallowed my disappointment and plodded on. I stole a momentary glance at the pile of rocks that marked the summit but other than that I did not draw breath.

As is the case towards the end of the day, conversation was kept to a minimum and we joined the procession of other people making their way towards Inverie.

10 - Looking up to An t-Uiriollach.jpg

I reflected on the day. It was a shame to not get any sort of a view from the two Munros but the disappointment of this was balanced by the amazing other hills we had climbed. We arrived in Inverie at 18:15. Derek was staying in the cottage with the other guys but my plans where to camp. With a table booked for 7pm at the Doune Restaurant there was little time to do anything but have a quick shower, get changed and set off. Our taxi was a land rover that would deposit us somewhere up a dirt-track where we would then have to hike down a hillside to the restaurant. We would be travelling back Inverie by boat. Great stuff!

The meal was awesome and the journey back by boat was great. We all headed into the ‘Old Forge’ and settled down for a couple of beers. I pondered on my route back out tomorrow, even without any peaks, it was a good 15 miles. Derek was travelling back out by ferry to Mallaig so I would be hiking out on my own. I would make a decision on my route the next day.

Morning came and even though I had only had one beer I still felt a little hungover. One of the locals had promised me that the weather would be good, but the skies where still overcast and the mountain tops shrouded in mist. I decide to abort any further summit attempts and just hike out instead. I tried to justify the poor weather for this decision but the truth was that I was pretty knackered from the previous days exertions and the thought of a 15 mile hike did not fill me with much enthusiasm let alone adding a couple of peaks on top as well.

One of the more sober guys offered to walk a couple of miles up the Gleann an Dubh Lochain but his generosity did not extend to carrying my pack :) so I set off at 7:30 and made my way past Loch an Dubh-Lochain and then up towards the bealach where I said goodbye to Andrew and dropped down towards Barrisdale Bay. There was half a dozen or so tents at the campsite and people where busy packing up and setting off for the hills no doubt. I stopped briefly for something to eat and took a couple of photos then headed along the path that runs alongside the loch.

11 - Barrisdale Bay.jpg

By this time the sun had forced itself through and the mist was clearing from the tops. Unfortunately whilst everyone else would be enjoying the bank holiday, I was back in work the next day otherwise I would have been tempted to stay another day. I pushed on along the path only stopping to chat to the odd person I met coming the other way.

12 - Loch Hourn.jpg

Eventually I arrived at the car-park at Kinloch Hourn. It was here my decision to leave the car in the lay-by came back to haunt me. It is bad enough walking on tarmac in the first place but to throw in some really steep inclines was nothing but torture. Every time I rounded a corner, the road would go up again. At 2:15pm I arrived back at the car and relaxed for a while on my comfy car seat before seating off back to Dunfermline.

The weather may have been a little grim and it was a shame not to get good views from all of the tops but Knoydart is a truly wild place and there is no doubt I will be back soon :)

Knoydart Route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

13 - Knoydart Route Profile.JPG
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby malky_c » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:07 am

Now that is a great route. Maybe you didn't get the best weather but it still looks pretty good. I'll read this again with interest, as the first part of your route (as far as Sgurr a' Choire-bheithe) is something I've had planned for ages as a circular from Loch Quoich. All these Knoydart reports are making me want to go and do it this weekend now! (cue rain etc).
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby kevsbald » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:17 am

Your report doesn't really detail how physically difficult I'm sure this was although knowing your level of fitness, when you say you were tired, that is a worry. Great effort but a pity about the views. Love the photo of Barrisdale bay though.
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby magicdin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:27 am

Knoydart - a virtual walk highlands sauchiehall street last weekend
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby Alan S » Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:29 pm

Great report and pics CW
Love the last 2 pics 8)
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby kinley » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:18 pm

Wow - some route :shock:

I think I'd have to cache replacement legs along the route to do that. :lol:

Knoydart looking quite atmospheric there :D

Quite a lot of us about too 8)

Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby mountain coward » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:57 pm

Yeah, those last 2 pics are both crackers! Really beautiful area! :D Still to see it for real...
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby maddjock » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:27 am

fantastic journey and great pics...esp the ones from Sgurr a' Choire Bheithe... :thumbup:
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby monty » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:50 am

An epic journey Curlywurly,
A epic report from a fellow Auld toon resident. Fantastic pictures of Barrisdale bay and Loch Hourn. (slightly edited I take it) :D Shame about the clag on top though. I hope to go to Knoydart later this year. I had to laugh at you having to walk up to the car after walking 15 miles :lol: Sorry.

Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby Paul Webster » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:57 am

And there was me feeling a bit fitter for having got round the Fisherfield.... epic stuff Curlywurly. You've done it again with those atmospheric shots of the swirling cloud and sun on Sgurr Choire a' Beith too.
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby CurlyWurly » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:59 am

monty wrote:Fantastic pictures of Barrisdale bay and Loch Hourn. (slightly edited I take it)

I will not deny there was a little manipulation in photoshop, it is pretty obvious which photographs where taken with my small pocket camera and which ones where with the DSLR. I take all photos with the DSLR in 'raw' format so I can adjust things like exposure, white balance afterwards etc. The last two pictures are actually HDR (high dynamic range) photographs (multiple shots of the same scene at different exposure levels then merge them together) :)
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby FloozySuzie » Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:04 pm

Oh my God, that last picture of Loch Hourn is truly, truly stunning. Possibly my favourite yet.
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby Astronick » Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:44 am

That is a brilliant route! Excellent report and some stunning and atmospheric photos. Looks worth all the hard work.
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Re: Knoydart - Into the wild

Postby Graeme D » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:37 pm

My word Mr F - you've surpassed yourself with this one! If we're going to meet up for some walking in July, I'd better get on the tread mill for some extra fitness training! I'd make some comment too about the cracking pictures (last two especially), but it's all been said already! Brilliant stuff! :D
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