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Knoydart Day 1: a dreich day rescued by a cloud inversion!

PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:47 pm
by bobble_hat_kenny
Another Bearsden Choirboys' outing, this, but just two of us this time: Malcolm and myself were keen to have a look at the challenging Knoydart Munros, but Tom and Donald had done them before, so it was just the two of us. We'd booked the ferry tickets and accommodation (in the Knoydart Foundation Bunkhouse in Inverie) way back in late December 2018 - unusually organised for me! - and we'd sorted out Annual Leave on the Friday and Monday so that we could stay three nights at the Bunkhouse and have all day for walking on the Saturday and Sunday. Well, needless to say with anything planned that far in advance, the Scottish weather didn't exactly cooperate :roll: - both days were wet, and on the Sunday it was blowing a hoolie into the bargain :lol: ! By far the best of the weather we got was the extremely scenic drive up from Glasgow to Mallaig on Friday. Setting sail from Mallaig harbour on the Good Ship Larven, bound for Inverie, was a complete delight :D .
WR1 - leaving Mallaig.jpg

Before long we were sailing into Inverie Bay, with the shapely Corbett Sgurr Coire Choinnichean rearing up impressively behind the village:
WR2 - sailing into Inverie Bay with Sgurr Coire Coineachan looking impressive.jpg

Inverie Village was just as picturesque as we'd imagined, but the Bunkhouse is quite a distance east of Inverie City Centre (so to speak), and after a fair bit of Roaming in the Gloaming, it was a relief to find it at last. It's a cosy enough hideaway, with comfy beds, nice hot showers and - crucially, given the weather we got - an excellent drying room for wet gear :lol: ...
WR3 - arriving at Foundation Bunkhouse at dusk.jpg

The Saturday dawned rather dreich, as per forecast :roll: , but we set off undeterred, and made a reasonably early start. The forecast wasn't great for either day, but looked a bit better for the Saturday than the Sunday, so we opted to do the Big Walk first, tackling the two Munros to the east of Inverie, Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn.

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

We headed a short distance northwest from the Bunkhouse to take the track heading back east up the mouth of Gleann an Dubh-Lochain. Despite the low cloud base, it was a scenic enough route, and the birds were singing :) : Knoydart really is a rather special bit of Scotland, even in dreich weather.
WR4 - start of route at mouth of Gleann an Dubh Lochain.jpg

Soon enough, the Brockett Memorial came into sight. Lord Brockett, the local landlord in the 1950s, seems to have been rather an unpleasant character by all accounts, but there's no denying that he picked an extremely scenic spot for this memorial to his father. You do have to feel sorry for the tenants who were no doubt given little or no choice about lugging the raw materials out here and up that hill, though :roll: !
WR5 - atmospheric view of Brockett Memorial.jpg

Before long, we took the side path branching right towards the mouth of Gleann Meadail, as per the website's route description, crossing two footbridges over the Inverie River and the Allt Gleann Meadail, and passing the scenically located (but locked) Druim Bothy. We passed the craggy western end of Meall Buidhe's outlier, An t-Uiriollach, and our ascent route hove into view. It didn't look too bad from down here, but that's rather deceptive: it was a right steep pull up onto the ridge, and almost entirely pathless.
WR6 - lower Gleann Meadail.jpg

Later in the summer this could have been pretty miserable, with the bracken standing a lot taller than what we encountered. In May, it was steep but surprisingly scenic, with the lower slopes being beautifully carpeted in bluebells as well as the inevitable bracken - rather lovely :D !
WR7 - bluebells and bracken on ascent.jpg

More bluebells and bracken:
WR8 - more bluebells and bracken.jpg

As we gained height, there was a pleasant hazy view back down the glen to Inverie Bay:
WR9 - nice hazy view back down to Inverie Bay.jpg

The cloud base looked as though it was starting to lift a wee bit, and before long we enjoyed a brief but impressive view of Ladhar Bheinn and Aonach Sgoilte almost due north:
WR10 - Ladhar Bheinn and Aonach Sgoilte looking impressive.jpg

Another fine vista down Meall Buidhe's long west ridge towards Inverie Bay:
WR11 - another nice look back down the ridge to Inverie Bay.jpg

Having teased us by lifting for half an hour or so, the Clag now started to descend again with a vengeance :roll: ... this was the view south across Gleann Meadail to the impressively craggy Corbett, Beinn Bhuidhe, with its head embroiled in the dreaded Clag:
WR12 - across Gleann Meadail to impressively rough Beinn Bhuidhe with Clag closing in.jpg

The ongoing route over An t-Iuriollach and on to Meall Buidhe proved straightforward enough, although we weren't fancying our chances of getting much of a view by this stage :? ...
WR13 - Meall Buidhe somewhere up there and plenty of bog cotton.jpg

Just as Meall Buidhe's summit cairn loomed ahead through the Clag, however, an extraordinary thing happened: the mist suddenly cleared and we found ourselves just above a sea of cloud. Strangely enough, the top of the cloud seemed to be sitting at almost exactly the magical 3000-foot line, so only the nearby Munro summits were poking though. An unexpected treat!
Most impressive was probably the improbably pointy Sgurr na Ciche over to the east, with the rougher Garbh Chioch Mhor just beind it, and the top of remote Corbett Ben Aden just hazily visible to the left:
WR14 - Malcolm with Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Cioch Mhor and Sgurr Mhor.jpg

Our next target, Luinne Bheinn, was just about clearing the clouds to the north-east:
WR15 - Malcolm looking at Luinne Bheinn poking through clouds.jpg

To the north, Ladhar Bheinn looked rather like a volcanic island in a sea of cloud:
WR16 - Ladhar Bheinn poking through.jpg

Sgurr na Ciche again, breaking the sea of cloud like a shark's fin:
WR17 - Sgurr na Ciche and pals again.jpg

Malcolm trying to get a photo of Sgurr na Ciche (I think), but with Luinne Bheinn behind him:
WR18 - Malcolm photoing Sgurr na Ciche I think but with Luinne Bheinn in background.jpg

The cloud inversion was a short-lived treat, but it certainly saved what was otherwise a fairly dreich day. The ongoing route to Luinne Bheinn was rough with a lot of up-and-down over a couple of subsidiary Tops, but there was at least an excellent path all the way from here to the second Munro. It's a fair distance all the same, and with the rocks rather slippery in the steady drizzle, we had to take our time over it.
Needless to say, when we did eventually reach Luinne Bheinn's summit cairn, there were no views to be had! We were both soaked through by now, and Malcolm could only muster this rather pained smile:
WR19 - at Luinne Bheinn summit at last and Malcolm almost managing a pained smile in the rain.jpg

A Summit Team Selfie, with our complexions having taken on that Too-Long-In-The-Bath look by now; can't think why :lol: !
WR20 - Luinne Bheinn summit team selfie.jpg

That was the end of my photos for the day, but by no means the end of the walking: it was a lengthy trudge back in the rain, first westwards down to the Mam Barrisdale, then left down the muddy path and then equally muddy track along the boggy northern flanks of the seemingly endless Dubh-Lochain, until eventually - eventually - the Brockett Memorial came back into sight, promising hot showers not much further down the road, followed by a well-earned pint or three at the Old Forge Pub.
A marvellous day out, despite the soaking :D !

Re: Knoydart Day 1: a dreich day rescued by a cloud inversio

PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:05 am
by kevsbald
Nice one, Kenny. Still to get into Knoydart proper - the way it's going, these could be the the photo of the inversion - worth it just for that.