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Knoydart notes

Knoydart notes

Postby Bert Barnett » Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:03 pm

Date walked: 17/04/2015

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17 April; The high pressure weather system in mid April was the signal to get the tent out for those hills which are too far away for a day outing. Away on the Thursday evening, I arrived at the big parking area next to the masts above Loch Quoich just before dark.
Quoich bedtime.JPG
Bedtime above Loch Quoich

18 April; Next morning down at Kinloch Hourne, after carefully selecting and packing all the camping essentials, I set off with a fine cool breeze at my back. Cold enough for the Buffalo shirt, it did not take long for the heavy pack to bring out the sweat, but it did not seem worth it to change into a lighter top. It was two years since I had been along the loch, but I had forgotten the disappointing hazards. To start with, the rhododendron tunnel is not a pleasant beginning to the day, but thankfully it was dry. A good soaking would be guaranteed after a night of rain. I had anticipated the two hilly bits, but these passed with only a wee bit of cursing over the steep and rugged sections. There follows some pleasant sections down near the sea, but the going after is not made easy with long stretches with overhanging heather obscuring the path. Walking these passages in the dark would be very awkward.
Loch Hourn morning

Arriving round the corner into Barrisdale Bay, Ladhar Bheinn was looking very fine
Barrisdale Bay

As I passed Barrisdale House and reached the wee hydro housing I noticed that there was not much water coming out, and the usual electrical whine was absent. As I approached the bothy I could hear the generator thumping away; glad I brought the tent. Having put up the Vaude Power Lizard about five times, I am still not sure about the best way to go about it. Perhaps I should read the instructions again. Settled in and soup to restore the salt levels, I set off across the flats to the Ladhar Bheinn path. Disappointingly, I soon lost the path which zig zags up in surprisingly indistinct manner.
hourn 1.JPG
From the zig zags

Up on the traverse into the glen, the path re-emerges as the fine feature I remember. Two John Muir Trust men were resting by the path which they had been repairing with stone slabs. We had a good chat, and I suspect they were staff members doing a bit of “physical work” rather than contractors. The north east ridge is steep but good underfoot and I was pleased to reach the Munro top Stob a’Choire Odhair. This indeed was the principal objective for the whole outing; a third visit to this top which has been missed on other occasions when I approached from the south. My new lightweight Black Diamond ice axe remained on the pack; only one small canny snow patch felt my boots.
Beinn Sgritheall accross the loch
Dhorcaill 2.JPG
Coire Dhorrcail

No one in sight, but it was late afternoon by this time. Last time I did this way and down by Mam Barrisdale on a very fine day, again I saw no one
Remains of trig pillar

On my return however after downing a thousand feet, I met a couple coming up who like me had come in from Kinloch Hourne but were going to stay in the bothy. Back at the tent I was surprised to find it was 8pm, so the Beanfeast was promptly prepared. Another mature Scot was at his wee Vango tent, a very similar design to my Vaude, but I was told that his tent was easy to put up. (Should have kept to my usual brand allegiance.) Thankfully I had pitched as far from the bothy as possible, so the generator was merely a background distraction which did not spoil the whirring of a circling snipe, the hoot of an owl and the clicking of antlers as two young stags were playfully jousting just over the river. I learned the next day that the generator stopped at 12.40am. The couple in the bothy had not been able to sleep till then, and the £3 charge seemed somewhat unreasonable
18 April; Next morning was perfect; a light wind and low sun giving good photo lighting. The bothy couple were away by about 6am heading for Meall Buidhe and back over Luinne Bheinn
Luinne 1.JPG
Morning sun on Luinne Bheinn

I was away soon after, up the Mam Barrisdale and the north west shoulder of LB; terrific walking.
Meall Bhuide 4.JPG
Meall Bhuide

The objective here was the East top which I had reached previously from the Mam Unndalain, but was not clear if you would cross the top heading for Meall Buidhe. It is. However twisting down the North East ridge was a delight and the way up Sgurr a’Choire bheithe was straight ahead
Beithe 2.JPG
Sgurr a'Choire bheithe
Luinne 2.JPG
Luinne Bheinn
Summit selfie

Coming down the North West ridge I met a mature couple heading up with big sacks. Their plan was to traverse SaCb down to Loch Quoich and then turn up Ben Aden to camp on the summit. They had come in from Kinloch Hourne that morning and it was now afternoon. I did not say it aloud, but I thought their chances of achieving that was doubtful; of course they were perhaps used to walking with head-torches
hourn 5.JPG
Down the ridge to Barrisdale

Back at the camp it was gey warm, and I had no intention of packing out under a high sun, so I took my time to make cous cous, tea and soup before carefully packing. The bothy couple arrived at the same time, but they were quickly ready to head down the trail. The pack was heavy as I had packed the Buffalo shirt, but the weight was soon forgotten due to the attention needed to watch my feet. The stick was put to good use on the rough down parts and my knees were grateful. As I approached the end of the path, I witnessed a strange phenomenon where the path runs close to the sea. For about one hundred yards or more, there were vigorous streams of gas (air?) coming straight out of the gravel. There was no evidence of vegetation which may have produced methane; a real puzzler. A fine evening back at the van, I changed but did not unpack. I reckoned that at 7pm I should have no bother driving up the steep narrow road. Wrong! At the steepest, narrowest, walled section I was confronted by a car. Without thinking, I guessed reversing downhill would be easier than uphill, but had no idea if a passing point was near. In about 50 yards I was aware of a grassy wider spot and drew in hoping that a downward exit would result. The car squeezed past but I was not in a good situation. A wee bit more down and I was able to turn up the hill. Good winter tyres probably helped. I stopped for the night at the RoW turn off for Glen Sheill. Not another car passed that night!
19 April; Another perfect morning and as ate my porridge a stag nibbled round the Right of Way post.
Breakfast company

No cars at the start of the Sgurr a’Mhaoraich tourist path, and the easy going was welcome after the previous day’s hard work. I appreciated the silence. On my previous visit I had arrived along with a few cars and there was chattering in the air which I can do without.
Sgurr Mor

Before the Corbett Top there was a surprisingly wide band of snow at such a low height. There was more snow ahead, but the wee pinnacles to the side were a useful diversion. They were furnished with a few via ferrata wrought steel steps alongside the fence posts which were clearly installed by the same workers
Mhoraich 2.JPG
Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

The summit in this instance once more was not the objective
Mhoraich 4.JPG
East from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Sa’M Beag was the purpose of this visit and the view down Loch Hourne is one of the best. Sadly the sun was too high for a good photo, but here it is anyway
Kinloch Hourne

I had intended returning down the path and so making this a rest day. However, I guessed that if I headed down the South ridge, I might cadge a lift along the road and have time for an afternoon hill. I took advantage of the snow fields to traverse over to the main ridge, but they were not steep enough to be a big help. A car passed along the road when I was about five minutes from the road, but for better or worse, not one car passed me till I reached my van. The day was wearing on, so I chose to have a rest and parked at the jetty parking. I was restless waiting for tea time and when I tried to read my eyes quickly closed. A snipe circled again at dusk and the road traffic was very light
Evening sun across Loch Quoich

20 April; Next morning there was some cloud about and I was first to park at the Gleouraich path. The coolness of early morning mist was welcome after the blue sky days just past. Emerging above the clouds, the photo conditions were as good as I could hope for and the excellent path made the ascent a real pleasure.
Out from the mist
Quoich 2.JPG
Loch Quoich west end

The clouds had mostly gone as I reached Spidean Mialach and the big snowfield made for a rapid descent
Gleouraich 3.JPG

I stepped out of the snow and in a few yards was on the path! These paths have appeared in my lifetime and I am not complaining. Back at the car park I was confronted with a sight which always brings me grief. I had parked at the extreme side of the four car space, but the next car was half a car space away as was the next car. People park as if they are the only cars coming to climb the hill. Leave a space, but leave a whole space so another car can fit in, and do not leave half a car space at the end!
Selfish thoughtless parking

It was only 12.30pm, and too early for another rest day.
I preferred to leave Gairich for my departure day, so I opted for another Sgurr a’Mhaoraich Beag to give me a real date for my database.

I parked at the jetty parking and started up the track beside the forestry plantation. A good easy start and the traverse onto Leac nan Gaidhseich was no problem, helped by a newly clouded over sky which took the heat out of the day. Thereafter the going is very good and I peeled off before the main summit to cross over to S’M Beag
SaM Beag again

The grassy rise to the main summit went well and the initial snow field descent was a treat. Despite the fact I had descended this the day before, I thoroughly enjoyed the route and did not see a soul on the hill all day. Parked at the mast above Loch Quoich, I enjoyed a pleasant evening with a beer and a Bill Bryson book.

21 April; Another morning of cloud capped hills, but the signs were that that would not last. Over the Quoich dam, I avoided the loch-side path which I remember as a squelching trudge. Some signs of path higher up have not yet developed, but the main path is reached and the eye can stop seeking out the driest line. I do not remember a path up Gairich, but the path/track after the plantation is very good indeed and I wonder if it is my poor recollection, although my last visit was 2009 and my first 1983. The path then continues all the way to the top! That was certainly not the case in the early years of my bagging.
Gairich 1.JPG

On my return to the bottom of the steep part of the hill, I met a party of two and not long before I reached the plantation another party of three, so in five days on the hill, I was never accompanied by chattering baggers. Why do people have to talk so loudly when they are walking three feet from their companion? I have chided people before when I have heard them from quarter of a mile away, and approaching them let them know that I did not come up a Scottish hill to listen to loud mindless banter. Raves and rants over.
PS tick alert. 5 on my belly, 2 on my arm, 1 on my back. I blame the stags wandering about the campsite.
Last edited by Bert Barnett on Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby basscadet » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:33 pm

Some lovely hills there, been some brilliant weather too :)
We had a couple wait for us to pass recently, then followed 10 yards behind us yabbering away! Definitely annoying.. I
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby The Rodmiester » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:00 pm

A pretty special few days you had there Bert, I've been caught out by the Barrisdale generator before as well, but you only do it once :) Some wonderful photographs, I must get back there soon, probably not this year now, too many other hills to climb.
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby rockhopper » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:54 pm

superb - enjoyed that :thumbup: must try to get back here preferably with weather as good as yours - cheers :)
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby weaselmaster » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:30 pm

Having been in the same area on the weekend days, I envy you the extra days there in that weather. Have still to do Tops on Ladhar Bheinn & sgurr a'mhaiorach beag, though that will have to wait for a bit...hopefully ben aden and friends this coming weekend though.
Share many of your sentiments about the comportment of other hillwalkers.
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:46 pm

Beautiful photos and really enjoyable read. A trip back to the Knoydart is a definite mehbe for this year, so thanks for the warning about the generator - don't remember that from our last trip there - in the early 1980s :roll:
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:11 pm

Entertaining report, and smashing pics. :clap: :clap: Boy, do I envy you that weather - sadly I had other commitments and was therefore unable to make use of it :(
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby Beaner001 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:59 am

Thoroughly enjoyed that Bert :clap:
Look forward to going the Knoydart hills :D
Agreed, selfish parking does my nut in, not just on the hills but in urban car parks too :evil:
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby larry groo » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:42 am

Epic trip and a great read accompanied by some cracking pics!

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Knoydart notes

Postby BoyVertiginous » Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:41 pm

Great stuff, thanks. I imagine you're feeling a whole lot better having got a few of those off your chest :wink: :lol:
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