Knoydart in a Day
Knoydart has been high on my list for a long time, but for some reason I’ve failed to go there despite numerous trips to the highlands. My latest excuse has been that I don’t have any lightweight camping gear but with the mountain mileage I’m comfortable covering in a day creeping up, suddenly the Knoydart Munros were in my sights.
With a good forecast for the Saturday, I drove up the Kinloch Hourn road and found a decent spot to spend Friday night in my van a mile from the end of the road, cooked up an enormous bowl of pasta, set my alarm of 5am and got my head down.
By 6am the next morning I was jogging down the road, deciding not to drive to the car park as it was only a mile (I don’t like driving short distances if I can help it) and happy to start the day with an easy down hill scamper. I was aware that I’d given myself more work to do at the end of my day, but that was a problem for evening me. Morning me was quite happy!
The path from Kinloch Hourn to Barisdale was a delight. I’m always more comfortable charging up a hil than doing a coastal route but I might need to change that. The surrounding hills were shrouded with cloud, which was a bit worrying. I was really hoping my first trip to Knoydart would give me some views, but I was on my way now and had a ‘what will be, will be’ attitude, focusing on enjoying jogging along the (hillier than I expected) path to Barisdale.
I only met one person on the path. A backpacker who had left the Barisdale campsite in a swarm of midges. He commented that my choice to wear t-shirt and shorts was “brave” but I assured him that the cocktail of Smidge and Deet on my legs had stood the test of time, and if all else fails, I’ll just have to put a sprint on!
I reached the campsite at Barisdale at 8ish to see folk packing up their tents whilst wearing their midge nets, but I kept moving without seeming to catch the attention of the midges and quickly headed across the bay to the foot of my first Munro of the day. Ladhar Bheinn.
I started off up the big stalkers path to Coire Dhorrcail, but quickly found myself in a sea of tall bracken and in pathless terrain. Upon checking the map I saw that the path had taken a sharp right. I unfortunate had continued charging straight up the hill so needed to spend a bit of quality heather/bracken bashing time to get back on track. Once back on the stalkers path it was easily followed into the Ciore and what a Ciore. A deep gauge in the mountain surrounded by tall crags, a truly stunning place.
As the path petered out I crossed the Allt Coire Dhorrcail and made a direct line up the East flank of Druim a’ Choire Odhair on pathless but relatively straight forward ground. This was where the views really started to open up. The clouds on the mountains was beginning to clear. I could see to the north that more rain and low cloud was heading my way but I was currently in the middle of a perfectly timed clear bit.
Once on the ridge the path became more obvious and while steep there were no difficulties in reaching the summit ridge. It was on this section I bumped into a chap, on his way down. After a bit of chat he modestly informed me that Ladhar Bheinn was his last Munro. What a place to finish your round! I gave him my congratulations and headed on up the hill, thinking that I really need to plan ahead so I also finish on a good one!
After soaking in the views from the summit I headed along to the trig and back. Luinne Bhein looked an awfully long way away and my pace wasn’t what I’d hoped so I started to think how nice it would be to leave Meall Buidhe for another day! I decided to leave that decision until I was on top of Luinne Bhein and just focus on getting there.
The climb up from Mam Barisdale was fairly tough going but the views more than compensated, especially upon reaching the summit.
I looked at my watch and saw that I had enough daylight to do the out and back to Meall Buidhe. Time may have been on my side, but my legs (with 18 miles covered already) were not.
“It’s just there!” I thought to myself!
“I’m knackered and its still a long way back to the van, even from here” I also told myself.
The brief rain shower that was chilling me at the top had cleared and the sun came out, giving me the opportunity to sit comfortably in the sun and eat my lunch while hatching a plan.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Knoydart Munro to complete on” I thought.
“that one can be done from Inverie”
“you can get a boat into Inverie”
“There’s a pub in Inverie”
And there it was. Not only had I hatched a plan for my last Munro (May 2022 all being well) but I’d come up with the perfect excuse to save myself some serious effort 😊
Happy with my decision I descended the ridge to Mam Unndalain, following a faint path at first which soon disappeared as the ridge broadened. Once at Mam Unndalain I followed the stalkers path (no detours into bracken on this one) back to Barisdale.
With plenty of daylight hours to get back to Kinloch Hourn I spent a bit of time on the beach enjoying the cool breeze and the sunshine before wandering back along the lochside.
28 Miles in total and just over 8000 feet of ascent left me tired but super happy with my day. I’ll definitely be back when I get hold of some decent back packing gear to explore some more.
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