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Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:43 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: An Stac, Beinn Bhuidhe, Beinn na Caillich, Rois-Bheinn, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, Sgurr na Ba Glaise

Date walked: 09/09/2019

Distance: 72.6 km

Ascent: 5134m

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Recent weekends have seen the pair of us rather glum - a combination of less-than-sensational hills and weather. This weekend was a trip to Knoydart, which usually does us proud, it must be said. Would the rugged West Coast mountains bring back a spring to weasel steps? For the three Knoydart Corbetts, it made most sense to get the boat from Mallaig, as approaches either from Sourlies or Kinlochhourn meant a lot of extra miles to be trod. I'd only got the boat over once before - when we did Sgurr Coire Coinnichean and Beinn na Caillich with a high camp on Ladhar Bheinn in the middle. The forecast was pretty grim for Friday, but Saturday looked like it might be good for a change.

Drove up to Morar Sands on Thursday night, arriving just as the light was fading. Rain had pursued us up most of the way, but we had a welcome hiatus when we got to the "local facilities" and set up camp. So different from the last time we camped here - on that occasion it was rammed with tents and campervans, with fires all along the beach and booming rave music - tonight there was only us. Didn't manage to get much of a sleep despite the peace and quiet however - it was fairly stormy for the first half of the night. Up at 5.30 to ensure we got to the boat in time for the 7.30 sailing.

Mallaig was back to a more normal state, with the peak of tourists having passed. We were able to get parked in the west car park and donned our rucksacks in the rain and wind for the short walk along to the pier. We were early - Mallaig didn't really seem to have woken up yet - we sheltered in the lee of the Western Isles booking office and waited for the boat to come. It did arrive, on time, the old fishing boat rather than the faster Larven. We were joined by a few workmen and a stalker and ghillie who were off to work on Foundation land. We got to talking - the stalker suggested checking in at the Foundation office to see where shoots would be taking place today and tomorrow. He also reckoned we'd need to go higher up the valley before we'd get across the Abhainn Bheag today.

Off the boat around 8.15 and a wet wander round to Long Beach to set up camp before heading off into the hills. I'd not been to this campsite before and was highly impressed by location and general vibe. I'm sure it can get pretty rowdy on a summer's evening, but we were the only tent here this morning. We left a note for the ranger and set off for Beinn na Caillich, unburdened of much of our load. We met the head stalker at the Office, who was very helpful and reckoned we shouldn't be in any areas they would be shooting in today. Relieved, we set off up to Mam Uidhe, clag low on the hills and rain, blessed rain, pelting us. Despite the miserable weather it did feel better to be back out West again.


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Inverie draughts
ImageP9060118 by Al, on Flickr

Pitching in the rain
ImageP9060119 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9060121 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Folach Gate
ImageP9060122 by Al, on Flickr


When we crossed the footbridge in Gleann na Guiserein the river roared and thundered below us. Crossing later would be interesting...We doubled back on the other side of the river to join the stalkers' path beside the Abhainn Bheag - boggy in places. Past waterfalls, walls of white water, heather blooming purple on the hillsides and the rain slackening along with some lift in the clag on the hilltops. The usual crossing at the stepping stones was impassable, the stepping stones hidden beneath a torrent. We could see the path continuing on the other side of the river as we walked up into Coire Each, eventually finding a place to cross there.The sun breifly came out, transforming everything for a few dazzling moments. We continued back round to rejoin the track up to Mam Li before turning west to begin the climb up the shoulder of Beinn na Caillich.

Hmmm... glad there's a bridge
ImageP9060123 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9060125 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn na Caillich
ImageP9060126 by Al, on Flickr

We crossed here
ImageP9060127 by Al, on Flickr

Barefoot for Allison
ImageP9060128 by Al, on Flickr

The difference some sunshine can make
ImageP9060129 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn na Caillich from Mam Li
ImageP9060130 by Al, on Flickr

Burnett moth caterpillar (i think)
ImageP9060132 by Al, on Flickr


Ladhar Bheinn rose to our left, the still waters of Loch Hourn beyond that. Progress was laborious over wet and rocky ground but finally we reached the summit cairn, still swathed in mist. We had a visit to pay to the north top - 666m Simm which involved a lot of descent to the small lochans to the north of the main summit, but a measly amount of re-ascent (only 30.5m, so just qualified as a Simm). From there we had a bit of difficulty navigating our course to the second Simm, Meall Coire an t-Searaich, with the thick clag lending no assistance whatsoever. We made it, then prepared for descent down Leathad Mor (the big slope) to cross the river by the bridge. Steep in places, we crossed into a deer-fenced enclosure before reaching the track.

ImageP9060134 by Al, on Flickr

The old woman summit :wink:
ImageP9060135 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to the north top
ImageP9060136 by Al, on Flickr

My plan had been to continue up to the Marilyn of Druim na Cluain-Airighe, which rose as a steep flank on the opposite side of the river. Although the rain had gone off, I just didn't feel I wanted to push myself back up 400 steep metres today, so decided just to head back along the track to the tent, for a well earned meal. Allison was by no means unhappy with this decision :lol: We passed some lovely flowers on the way back and as we reached the tent, a double rainbow enclosed the sky above. A lady with a collie passed by, asking about what we'd been up to today. As we chatted Allison said to me that she thought this was Anne Butler (President of the Munro Society) recognising her dog Ralph, as Allison does. And it was indeed. Although we hadn't met beforeshe and Allison were in a bit of rivalry to see who would get thier Full House finished first. We chatted for a while - Anne being quite a conversationalist - and spoke about our mutual aspiration to complete a second Full House. After that, a long-postponed evening meal, a cup of tea while watching the sun sink over Inverie Bay and another lovely quiet night.

The Marilyn we didn't do
ImageP9060137 by Al, on Flickr

This is?
ImageP9060138 by Al, on Flickr

Inverie Bay
ImageP9060139 by Al, on Flickr

Tent with rainbow
ImageP9060141 by Al, on Flickr

The time's about an hour too much - forgot to switch it off when we were talking to Anne B
ImageP9060142 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9060145 by Al, on Flickr

A bit "wicker-mannish"
ImageP9060146 by Al, on Flickr


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Saturday morning - we woke to full sunshine, with a bit of warmth in the air. Oh yeah! A big day, with the two remaining Corbetts on the list - with a return to sea level in between them :crazy: We'd climb Sgurr Coire Coinnichean first, utilising the forestry track (which we'd not managed to locate the first time we were here) then head across to Beinn Bhuidhe and return straight to the campsite - a nice circuit. Past the Foundation Office and the Old Forge, turn up into the woods and wander about a bit takign a wrong turn now and again (not helped by the original track to Sgurr Coire Coinnichean being obliterated by forest clearance). But we found the path up this time - so much easier than the convoluted route we used before.

Lovely morning
ImageP9070147 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Coire Coinnichean behind our tent
ImageP9070148 by Al, on Flickr

Grooming the mane
ImageP9070149 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070150 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070151 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070153 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back over Inverie Bay we could see out to Rum and Eigg, the sea mirror smooth. The heat was considerable - the hefty waterproof Paramo trousers that had served us well yesterday were now something of an encumbrance, even with the leg zips full open. But not to grumble - it's a beautiful day in a beautiful place. The summit ridge reached we could see all the way north to Torridon, a hazy ocean blue spanning the horizon. Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheal lorded it over the nearer mountains. We continued on the ridge for a kilometre or so before descending intop Coire Dubh. The lower half of this was most unpleasant - chest high bracken, spongy grass tussocks, hidden holes - not to be recommended. We did eventually make it to the track, where we stopped for lunch to recuperate from our efforts.

ImageP9070155 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070157 by Al, on Flickr

Ladhar Bheinn
ImageP9070158 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070159 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070160 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070161 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070162 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Buidhe
ImageP9070165 by Al, on Flickr

Luinne Bheinn
ImageP9070166 by Al, on Flickr


We headed west along the track towards the monument before crossing the Inverie River on the easternmost bridge. The track into Gleann Meadail is a lovely riverside meander - we crossed the river again, meeting a woman who was resting - we spoke about our plans, she recalled a time she's done the three Knoydart Munros in the same winter's day for charity - quite an achievement that...Onwards we went, having to re-cross the river further up to reach Mam Uchd, though this was achievable with dry feet. A grassy slog to reach the ridge then a delightful high level wander along the top of Beinn Bhuidhe, with those breathtaking views we've been missing all around. Sgurr na Ciche lookign very pointy behind us, Skye and the other islands swimming in a tranquil sea ahead. A wee scramble up Sgurr an t-Sagairt then along to the summit. Bliss.

Welcome bridge
ImageP9070167 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070168 by Al, on Flickr

Heading to Mam Uchd
ImageP9070170 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070171 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Sagairt
ImageP9070172 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Glen Dessarry
ImageP9070173 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070175 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070176 by Al, on Flickr

There's still quite a long way to go from here back to the beach, so we continued along over the Simm of Sgurr Coire nan Gobhar then the long descent between the two lochans in the "scorched dell" then steeply down to the bridge at Kilchoan. A large group of stags graced the field around the estate building, paying very little attention to our passing by. What antlers! Across the horse field and back to the tent - still warm enough to sit outside and eat our dinner while the sunset appeared by increment. A fine day from dawn to dusk.

Descent route
ImageP9070178 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070179 by Al, on Flickr

Kilchoan
ImageP9070181 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070183 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070184 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070187 by Al, on Flickr

Rum
ImageP9070188 by Al, on Flickr

Composting toilet
ImageP9070189 by Al, on Flickr

Campsite hut
ImageP9070190 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070192 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP9070193 by Al, on Flickr

Sunday began with mist on the hilltops and the loss of the previous day's warmth. We were up at 7ish to get breakfasted and packed away in time for the boat back to Mallaig, which I though was at 9, but was really at 9.30. It was the smaller faster boat today, pretty packed with folk. A tubby seal swam in circles around us as we came into berth in Mallaig harbour. What would we do today? I had earmarked a couple of Marilyns to the east of Mallaig, which would be some gentle relief after the rigours of Knoydart. However, Allison had been talking to Anne Butler about her wish to get her remaining Corbetts done as soon as possible, so the option of doing the Rois-Bheinn round was an obvious one.

Sunday morning
ImageP9080195 by Al, on Flickr

Friendly seal
ImageP9080196 by Al, on Flickr



I'd done those hills twice before, so had no need to go back over them, but since they were just down the road from Mallaig, at Lochailort, it seemed sensible to get them done. Of course I hadn't prepared for them, seen if there were Simms needing added, nor could I remember how long they'd taken - but I was sure we'd be able to get them done in the time we had available. So we repacked our rucksacks and drove to Lochailort, to be greeted with the foul smells of the marine hatchery there.


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My recollections of these hills were that they were tough wee buggers, going up An Stac was craggy and getting to the summit of Druim Fiaclach was a bit of a hassle in clag. So we opted to go round anti-clockwise, as the clag was down and looked set to stay that way. Round the houses to reach the start, rather than going across the fields for some reason (mistake number one) then into the bogginess. We reached the hydro track, which you are on for a tiny time only, the only bit of good track to be had all day. Up the hillside aiming for the bealach between An Stac and Seann Cruach then weave one's way through the crags to reach the summit of An Stac. Raining quite heavily by now, clag making navigating awkward.

The one (short) bit of track
ImageP9080197 by Al, on Flickr

Up to An Stac
ImageP9080198 by Al, on Flickr

An Stac summit. You'll notice how the mood falls in subsequent summit shots...
ImageP9080199 by Al, on Flickr

Down into the corrie of the bones then up to Bealach an Fhiona before turning right to follow the fence line towards Rois Bheinn. Mistake number two - forgetting the first cairn you reach is actually the Corbett summit, not the more dramatic one further along (wasted 1.4km there), retrace our steps to Bealach an Fhiona and up to Sgurr na Ba Glaise - mistake number three - forgetting this was the third Corbett, not Druim Fiaclach, we still touched the trig but no happy snappy shot.. - and it was my 150th Corbett of 2019 too....then managed to navigate south rather than south east off here, missing the ridge to An t-Slat Bheinn and having to contour round a steep hillside full of slippy boulders to regain our position (mistake number four). Getting along the ridge was tricky in the poor vis and rain, taking longer to check map and compass, but we reached the dog-leg turn at the lochan and began to head round to Druim Fiaclach. If I'd remembered that this wasn't a Corbett we could have saved time by dropping down into Coire a'Bhuiridh from Bealach an Fhalaisg Dhuibh (mistake five) and also avoided the unpleasant descent we ended up with off Druim Fiaclach. By the time we were at the top of Druim Fiaclach it was half past six - I had imagined we'd be back at the car before that (mistake number six) It was hard to see what was a safe route down in the mist and we headed too far to the east on safer ground, meaning we had to regain height to meet with the track I had for descending and crossing the river...that's probably another couple of mistakes. We had no food left and were running low on energy, worried that we might not get back to the car before darkness fell. I can tell you, the recently re-acquired smiles on weasel faces were largely wiped off :lol: I see WH calls this round a rugged and unforgettable experience - well unforgettable for the wrong reasons today...

Rois-Bheinn west top
ImageP9080201 by Al, on Flickr

Druim Fiaclach
ImageP9080202 by Al, on Flickr

Final river crossing
ImageP9080203 by Al, on Flickr

The river crossing, when we finally reached it, was easy despite the day's rain and we were glad when we eventually returned to the car - at almost 8pm. Just over nine hours it had taken us (as compared with 6 hours when I did them solo and 8 when we did them together - just shows the effect of poor visibility and Knoydart-tired limbs). We didn't even have anything much to eat - some cereal and a small bit of pie and custard had to do before the drive back down in the dark and rain - I didn't get home til after 11.30, but at least I didn't have work the following day unlike some.... :wink:

ImageP9080204 by Al, on Flickr
Last edited by weaselmaster on Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
weaselmaster
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Posts: 1888
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:58 pm

Wa-hey! You're back west :D Lovely report, and the sunshine on the burn evokes very similar memories of how it lifts the spirit instantly. I wild-camped around Rois-Bheinn and my legs were nearly dead by the time I pitched - not helped by a daftly heavy load as well as the steep ascents. Yet to walk in Knoydart, so thank you for some helpful tips in here, and bracken warnings...
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby rockhopper » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:57 pm

Good report as ever - and very useful too.
Am hoping to cover the Knoydart C3 as an overnight trip along similar lines to your two routes but heading off SCC to the NW - probably not until next year though - will keep your WR in mind. Thanks :)
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:09 pm

rockhopper wrote:Good report as ever - and very useful too.
Am hoping to cover the Knoydart C3 as an overnight trip along similar lines to your two routes but heading off SCC to the NW - probably not until next year though - will keep your WR in mind. Thanks :)


Thanks - we did the full traverse of SCC last time, quite a lot of ups and downs as I remember. I guess you could head to mam barisdale and come back down the track to do Beinn Bhuidhe, just a pity that brute Ladhar Bheinn is in the way between SCC and Beinn na Caillich :wink:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby stirlingdavo » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:38 pm

Your caterpillar is a Ruby Tiger moth. More commonly seen in the spring when fully grown and when they've become a uncolorous reddish-brown.

Cheers David
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stirlingdavo
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby PeteR » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:24 pm

I remember that compostable toilet. If they just had a shower facility (even a dody one) then it would be a perfect site for me........after three days there earier in the year I think I may have become a tad pungent.

I think Sgurr Coire Coinnichean is one of my favourite Corbetts. Such a great viewpoint for relatively little effort. Looking forward to getting back there to polish off the remaining Corbetts at some time.

The Rois Bheinn trio is a tough round. Enjoyable..........but tough. Not sure I'd have managed it after your previous days walking :lol:
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Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:52 pm

stirlingdavo wrote:Your caterpillar is a Ruby Tiger moth. More commonly seen in the spring when fully grown and when they've become a uncolorous reddish-brown.

Cheers David


Thanks for the info :D
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weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1888
Munros:214   Corbetts:44
Grahams:76   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:331   Hewitts:31
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Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Knoydart brings a smile back to Weasel faces

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:56 pm

PeteR wrote:I remember that compostable toilet. If they just had a shower facility (even a dody one) then it would be a perfect site for me........after three days there earier in the year I think I may have become a tad pungent.


i noticed one of those solar shower bags in the rafters of the camping hut and was wondering how many hours of september sun would be needed to raise the water temperature above bloody freezing :lol:
Of course, you could have taken a dip in the sea...

I've stopped worrying about showers when away on the hills - though i do like using rosewater on a cotton swab to cleanse face and other parts - lovely and cooling, fragrant and refreshing :D
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weaselmaster
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Posts: 1888
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Location: Greenock

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