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Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip


Postby willmair » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:06 pm

Munros included on this walk: Gairich, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich), Sgurr na Ciche, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glen Dessary)

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe, Sgurr an Fhuarain, Sgurr nan Eugallt

Grahams included on this walk: Meall nan Eun, Slat Bheinn

Date walked: 18/09/2015

Time taken: 19 hours

Distance: 46.3 km

Ascent: 5120m

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With the family heading to the big smoke for the weekend, what better way to spend a free pass than on a backpacking trip into the West Highlands? This was my first trip to Knoydart and only my second trip to the hills of the year(!) and I was a little uncertain about how much ground I'd be able to cover so suspected I'd need to be relatively flexible with my itinerary.

This map shows my eventual route which involved leaving a bike at the dam at the east end of Loch Quoich, leaving a car at Loch Coire Shubh, and an overnight camp at the west end of Loch Quoich by the Allt Coire nan Gall (NN932989). My original plan was to camp further south at Carnoch and to include Munros Luinne Bheinn, Meall Bhuidhe and (possibly) Corbett Beinn Bhuidhe on day one, and Corbett Ben Aden on day two. Once the reality of the terrain and my poor condition became apparent I started looking for alternatives and this hit the spot!


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My trip started with a slightly later than hoped for escape from work in Edinburgh on Thursday evening before driving up to the (excellent) Faichemard Campsite near Invergarry giving me the chance to shower and organise myself before heading towards Kinloch Hourn on Friday morning.

Day One

I chose to do this route west to east so that my cycle back to the car at the end of the walk would be a (generally!) downhill one, so dropped the bike off at the dam and parked up by Loch Coire Shubh to the north of the Coireshubh ruin.

Plenty of parking space...
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...overlooking Loch Coire Shubh on splendid form
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After my usual faffing it wasn't until 10:30 that I finally started walking, but once I did I was delighted to discover the stalkers path up Sgurr nan Eugalt to be in far better shape than I'd expected. With the sun shining, barely a breath of wind and a full pack, it was a very warm but pleasant start to the walk.

Looking up the stalker's path and across to Sgurr a'Chlaidheimh.
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Looking back towards Loch Quoich
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Sgurr nan Eugalt summit after 1hr 15mins.
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Cracking view of the Cuillin's from the lochan on Sgurr Sgiath Airigh
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And across to Ladhar Bheinn and Loch Hourn...
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Similarly from the summit of Meall nan Eun with a spot of lunch after 2hrs 45mins
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Looking south east to the next summit, Graham Slat Bheinn.
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A steep decent into the glen eyeing up the imminent steep tussocky ascent
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Yet more fantastic westward views from the next summit, this taking the best part of a very tough two hours from the summit of Meall nan Eun
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Warm work...
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My route then took me south via a couple of lochans before heading southwest, down to the bealach then up the gnarly ridge for an hour to the summit of what was to be my final one of the day, Corbett Sgurr a' Choire-bheithe.

The views westwards across Loch Hourn were more than worthy of a breather on the way up
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And no worse from the summit
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By this point it was 16:30 and I finally convinced myself that the Munros would have to wait for another trip, so decided upon a new camping spot down by the western shore of Loch Quoich. After 20mins concocting this plan, refuelling and basking in the afternoon September sunshine, I headed straight for the bealach between the summit and Luinne Bheinn, totally underestimating the line of crags that would block my path! After a fruitless search for a chink in the rocky armour I admitted defeat and headed back up the slopes before finding a chute to the west which offered a much less "exciting" descent. From there the going was relatively brisk down the stalkers path, notwithstanding the occasional energy sapping bog. This is obviously a favourite with the deer and as a result it's rather churned up in parts.

Nevertheless I made it down to the shoreline just before dusk
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And in time to feed the local midge population
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Day two

After a decent, if slightly chilly, night's sleep I managed to faff a little less than usual and get up before most of the midges, setting off towards Sgurr na Ciche via the track adjacent to the Allt Coire nan Gall at around 09:30. The going was pretty good until the track petered out and the gradient increased towards the top of the bealach.

Getting steep...
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Time for a quick breather looking back down to the loch
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Although clear at this altitutde, the summits were rather clagged in. Here the "view" from the bealach towards the summit of Sgurr na Ciche. As various passing walkers were to tell me the MWIS suggested 90% chance of cloud free Munros in this part of the world today. I suppose you can't win them all...
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I dropped my bag at the bealach and nipped up to the summit. What a relief after a day and the start of a morning carry a full pack! Up and back along the rocky track to the summit in less than half an hour, it was an amazing contrast to finally be on the main "Munro motorway"!
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A couple of interesting quartz lines in the rocks (in the absence of anything more distant to marvel at)
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Quickly along the "motorway" and onto Garbh Chioch Mhor
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With the occasional glimpse of what may lurk (steeply) below
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Some impressive dry stone walling on this remote and inhospitable ridge
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The unpretentious summit cairn of Sgurr nan Coireachan
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No clearer on Sgurr Mor
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But finally the skies cleared by the time I reached the Corbett summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain with views across to Gairich.
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Westward view from Sgurr an Fhuarain back along the ridge I'd just traversed to the distinctively pointy Sgurr na Ciche now making an appearance beneath the clouds.
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At the start of the day I wasn't at all certain that I'd have time to get over Gairich in daylight, but having reached this Corbett summit by 15:30, I reckoned with a spring in my step I'd just about be able to get over the top, rather than taking the circuitous path down Glen Kingie. So with my best foot forward I trotted (now with a much lighter pack)down the eastern ridge for a welcome refreshment from the Allt a Choire Ghlais before one final slog up the rough west face of Gairich. Despite searching for a few minutes I couldn't spot the stalker's path so made my way up the least line of resistance I could find, before picking up the faint trail three quarters of the way up Gairich Beag.

Gairch summit at 17:45, looking towards the east end of Loch Quoich and my bike which I hoped to be re-united with by dusk.
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Looking north across to Glenquoich "Forest"
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One last selfie...
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And one last look back up to the summit of Gairich
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As all the guidebooks and feedback suggest, the path back to the dam does indeed deteriorate into something of a quagmire, but at this time of the year I suspect it was much less so than it can be. I just managed to get back to the bike before dusk which gave time for a quick refuel before wearily pedalling back along the loch (dodging some quizzical highland coos en route) to the car. Cue a quick change and another refuel leaving me to reflect on the long drive home on a fantastic couple of days in the rough and remote Bounds of Knoydart.

I didn't tick off all the summits I'd (optimistically) planned, but in a way I'm rather pleased I didn't as it'll force me to return to this wonderfully remote corner of Scotland
willmair
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby The Rodmiester » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:38 am

Excellent stuff :clap: :clap: , pity about the low cloud the second day :( A tough two days, but bet your batteries have been totally recharged :lol: :lol: Now back to work :(
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby malky_c » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:51 am

Some great scenery on day 1 - I followed much the same route to Sgurr a' Choire-bheithe about 5 years ago :D .

That's a fair amount of ground to cover over a weekend, especially lugging a tent 8)
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:06 am

Blimey, that's a pretty tough couple of days as it is, no wonder you didn't add the other couple of Munros!
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Mal Grey
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby mrssanta » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:51 pm

ooft! well done that is a long couple of days
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mrssanta
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby Silverhill » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:10 pm

I had planned similar route for last June, but atrocious weather put paid to it. So ended up just doing munros on separate days. Having read your report, I must return! Well done for doing this over 2 days and lucky you to have had views! :D
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Re: Knoydart / Loch Quoich 2 day backpacking trip

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:25 am

Thats a great round. Well done to you :clap:
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