Saturday, 31st. August, 1985:
This was the second excursion into the mountains undertaken during a four week sailing trip run by my mate Jon out of Oban. After heading out west to St. Kilda and the Flannan Isles, we sailed round the north end of Lewis and then headed south down the coast of the mainland, stopping off at small harbours and in sheltered sea lochs. As August drew to a close, we put into Little Loch Broom and three of us set off for a two day foray into the wilderness.
Once ashore, we tooled along the A832 past the Dundonnell Hotel for a couple of kilometres before heading up the well graded track onto Meall Garbh and, ultimately, onto Sron a'Choire and the main peak of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. It was then a simple but quite exciting promenade in not very good weather along the ridge, taking in Sgurr Fiona, Lord Berkeley's Seat and the various pinnacles of Corrag Buidhe before descending over Sail Liath. From there we intersected the Shenavall path and dropped down to the bothy for a relatively comfortable night - my second stay here, almost exactly ten years after my first.
The next day, however, we were confronted with a long walk out to rendezvous with the boat which was in the process of sailing round to Aultbea in Loch Ewe while we were on the hill. We left relatively early and forced our way along the trackless northern shore of Loch na Sealga before, at the loch's northern end, spying both a decent track and a rowing boat on the other side of the Gruinard River. Although chest deep, the river was very gentle and, after a careful wade, I found that the rowing boat was unlocked and managed to ferry the others across before we set off again towards the coast. Once we hit the main road, though, we had no alternative but to turn left and tramp along the tarmac for the best part of ten miles; it was a footsore trio that called in for a swift beer at the Aultbea Hotel and then, later, trailing around to the boat at the pier on the other side of the bay took a real act of will. I still remember, though, that the bar in the hotel displayed some interesting bits and pieces from the Second World War when Loch Ewe was a muster point for arctic convoys heading for Archangel and Murmansk, carrying armaments and food to Uncle Joe under the lend-lease agreement. Sore feet aside, there was also a bonus in that I discovered several years later that Sgurr Fiona had been given Munro status in 1981, thus giving me an unanticipated tick on the list. I am not, however, changing the title of this post to "Munros Seventy Three and Seventy Four" as that would put my counting of later hills out of kilter!
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