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Glorious Knoydart

Glorious Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jun 16, 2015 9:00 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Bhuidhe, Bidein a' Chabair, Carn Mor (Glen Dessarry)

Date walked: 13/06/2015

Distance: 54 km

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If you look at the list of most popular Corbett ascents on Walkhighlands, you find Bidean a'Chabhair right at the bottom, with Carn Mor only 2 places above. I'd looked at these hills, particularly the fine pointed top of Bidean (Peak of the Antler) when climbing Sgurr Mhurlaggan and wondered why they were so infrequently climbed. Didn't seem unduly difficult to access and in a fantastic part of the country. I resolved to find out as soon as practicable.

After a fortnight's holiday of constant rain and miserable weather, my return to work had been greeted by wall-to-wall sunshine every day. Would it hold for the weekend? The forecast suggested not - but Sunday was to be reasonably good. Undaunted, we set off on Friday late afternoon with the hopes that we could climb up onto the back of Carn Mor and high camp, complete Carn Mor on Saturday and finish off the unpopular Bidean on the Sunday. The sun began to disappear as we drove up through Glencoe and Fort William. The road along Loch Arkaig was busy with traffic coming in the opposite direction - must have been workers finishing up or the denizens of Murlaggan heading to Fort Bill for a wild night out. Anyway, we arrived at the parking space at a reasonable hour, had some sandwiches and checked our bags then set off into Glen Dessarry. We walked to the first house on the left then across a bridge into the forest. A sign was warning of operations and suggesting an alternate route, but that wasn't heasing the direction we wanted to go, and I felt pretty sure there'd be no logging going on upon a Friday evening. We saw no evidence of timber harvesting where we went anyhow. Followed the excellent track for a bit then decided to cut up through the trees and a seemingly narrower forrested section onto Monadh Gorm. This proved a bit of a kerfuffle - there was very little room between the trees and we were scratched and poked by branches. Did our best to keep to deer tracks where we could see them, but not a very pleasant experience. Once we made the other side of the treeline Allison stopped to try and get all the little bits of twig out of her hair/clothing - big mistake! Legions of midges appeared as from nowhere and chased us up the hillside. I had fondly imagined that the long cold spell might have starved the midge clan to death and that we wouldn't be troubled this year - wrong! I had forgotten just how harassing they are as they bite and get up your nose/in your ears. We moved as hastily as we could to the brow of the hill where a breeze was sufficient to remove the midge menace. From here we walked along the back of the hill, Mam nan Calum which resembles the parting of a balding man's head, with tree clad slopes to either side and a "baldy" section in the middle. I wasn't sure what to do- I knew the forecast for Saturday wasn't particularly good and did entertain thoughts of ascending Carn Mor tonight if it stayed clear. However, as we walked along the clouds settled upon each mountain top in turn and it was evident that by the time we reached the summit we'd be enveloped in clag. We therefore decided to pitch up on some flattish ground near the 568m marker. It is so wonderful to high camp in summertime - I really need to do it more often.

Track from car park, Monadh Gorm ahead
ImageP1080210 by Al, on Flickr

Up through the trees
ImageP1080212 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back on Loch Arkaig
ImageP1080214 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080215 by Al, on Flickr

Pano from summit Monadh Gorm looking west
ImageP1080216 by Al, on Flickr

Along Mam na Calum
ImageP1080220 by Al, on Flickr

Campspot - Carn Mor ahead
ImageP1080224 by Al, on Flickr

Overnight there were no disturbances. We woke to find the tent coccooned in milky white air - damn - no moring sunrise then! The wind had died away, but fortunately the midges hadn't returned to persecute us. Breakfasted and got ready to set off. After studying the map, it occured to me that the distances involved in the route I'd planned were not very far - at this rate we'd summit our second hill by about 2pm and could be back at the car by tea time Saturday. That would mean we could go somewhere else for Sunday, but it seemed such a shame to leave Knoydart early when there was a good forecast. What other options did we have? I checked the map and noticed that Beinn Bhuidhe was within striking distance - would mean two long days, but the alternative meant leaving an awkward to get Corbett unclimbed. Allison took some persuading this was a good idea :lol: We set off for Carn Mor, which was an unremarkable experience in the clag and returned to Meall Nan Spardan where we decended. I'd originally planned to follow the shoulder of this rigde right down to the trees, but it looked perfectly possible to shortcut this descent, so we essentially followed the grid line down from the 640m top. Through the clag we could make out the flank of Meall na Sroine rising steeply ahead of us. Again, I had thought we'd need to go up the nose of this hill, but it seemed quite possible to pick a way through the crags, as long as we had visibility. As the clag was sitting at about 600m, so far so good.

Towards the rocky top of Carn Mor
ImageP1080227 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080228 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080229 by Al, on Flickr

Along Meall nan Spardan
ImageP1080230 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080231 by Al, on Flickr

Meall na Sroine ahead
ImageP1080234 by Al, on Flickr

We crossed the Allt Coir an t-Serraich a bit higher up to avoid a gorge and parked ourselved over in Rod nan Daoine where we had lunch and prepared ourselves for the ascent - always more challenging with big packs, although we were both feeling the benefits of daily Corbetting for the two weeks of our recent holiday - finally I was starting to feel some fitness returning. The ascent was straightforward and we took in the summit of Meall nan Sroine before continuing along a broad ridge towards Bidean a'Chabhair. Over to our right was evidence of a major landslip. Lochans glimmered darkly. The going became rockier and we noticed 2 people coming towards us out of the clag - didn't expect to see anyone else on such a "rarely climbed" hill. We spoke for a while, were told there were no difficulties with the ascent, and pressed on.

ImageP1080236 by Al, on Flickr

Picking our line up
ImageP1080238 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080242 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080245 by Al, on Flickr

Landslip (in centre of photo)
ImageP1080247 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080253 by Al, on Flickr

Up ahead we could see the narrow pointy top of the mountain, which looked alomst like the crest of a wave from this angle. Some small bits of scrambling up rocky/scree covered slopes and we were there - no views sadly, but a cracking hill. This was decision time - we could either head back down Meall na Sroine or we could continue along the crest of the ridge to Sgurr na h-Aide and onwards to Knoydart. Without much vacillation we continued on our way. Sgurr na h-Aide used to be the Corbett summit until re-measurement corrected matters. Getting over involves a little scramble, nothing particularly exposed, just a bit of fun. We could see Loch Morar to our left and Loch Nevis to our right, vaguely through the clag. Onwards for a short way we went - I had planned to trot over to Sgurr nam Meirleach and descend along it's shoulder, but the shorter option was to drop down into Coire Dubh - on the map it had looked rather steep, but - provided the gorge of the Allt a'Choire Dubh was avoided by heading over to the west, it looked serviceable. Quite painful on Allison's knees, mind. It's quite a long way down, to sea level. At the bottomwe crossed over Finiskaig where the ground was a bit marshy then nipped over the Finiskaig river to the fabled Sourlies bothy. Had to have a look in as we went past - 3 lads who had come up from Glenfinnan were making themselves comfortable. Chatted briefly then we pressed on.

Summit of Bidean
ImageP1080254 by Al, on Flickr

Another view of landslip
ImageP1080255 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080256 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080259 by Al, on Flickr

Nearing summit
ImageP1080261 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Bidean
ImageP1080263 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080264 by Al, on Flickr

On towards Sgurr na h-Aide
ImageP1080266 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080268 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Morar
ImageP1080271 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Nevis
ImageP1080275 by Al, on Flickr

Final steep pull to summit
ImageP1080277 by Al, on Flickr

West from Summit Sgurr na h-Aide
ImageP1080280 by Al, on Flickr

West along the back of the mountain to meall na Meirleach
ImageP1080282 by Al, on Flickr

View to Sourlies
ImageP1080285 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Aden, Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1080292 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080293 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080296 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080299 by Al, on Flickr

Sourlies, Beinn Bhuidhe behind
ImageP1080300 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080301 by Al, on Flickr

Brief pop inside
ImageP1080302 by Al, on Flickr

The tide was in so we had to come up onto the shoreline at Strone Sourlies and followed the marshy track towards Carnoch. This was swampy in places - I really think the MBA should improve the approach roads to their bothies :wink:
Crossing by means of the interesting bridge (not really necessary if you are weak of heart and the River Carnoch is as low as it was today). The views to Sgurr na Ciche (unfortunately still topped by cloud) and to Ben Aden were fantastic from here - I can only wonder what it might have been like to live in the (now ruined) cottages at Carnoch and have these hills for company in all weathers. We took ourselves into the smaller of the two ruins to cook our meal - the floor largely free from weeds although quite a lot of trash around, mostly half burnt, including a leather luggage tag from someone from Germany. What should we do? It was getting on for 7pm - we could camp down at this level, or we could make it up to the bealach between Sgurr Sgeithe and Mam Bhasiter at around 550m. Allison was tired and in pain - we'd been walking for 10 hours already, but I knew tomorrow was going to be a long day and didn't fancy starting with a 550m ascent... we'll go up tonight. The path is actually pretty good - once you find the start of it (hint - just about 100m after the dodgy bridge there's a large black pipe - path starts opposite it as a tiny track in the grass). We zigged and zagged as effortlessly as possible up to the bealach and scouted about for a place to pitch. The map suggests a flattish area just to the NE of the termination of the shoulder of Mam Bhasiter and indeed there were suitable spots there. It was windier than anticipated, still dry. We had a view down to Inverie Bay although clouds were down preventing a wider vista. Unfortunately, other than a yellowish tinge, there wansn't much of a sunset.

Along the shore from Sourlies
ImageP1080303 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Aden - steep from this side!
ImageP1080305 by Al, on Flickr

Across the bogfield
ImageP1080306 by Al, on Flickr

Ricketty bridge
ImageP1080308 by Al, on Flickr

You've been warned
ImageP1080309 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080311 by Al, on Flickr

Allison still not looking very convinced!
ImageP1080312 by Al, on Flickr

Ruined cottages at Carnoch
ImageP1080313 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080314 by Al, on Flickr

Up towards the bealach
ImageP1080315 by Al, on Flickr

Good track
ImageP1080317 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080319 by Al, on Flickr

The day's stats (friday night's ascent missing)
ImageP1080320 by Al, on Flickr

Pitch, Inverie Bay ahead
ImageP1080322 by Al, on Flickr

Bidean a'Chabhair
ImageP1080324 by Al, on Flickr

The night was colder than the previous one and wooly hat in the sleeping bag was required. It also rained overnight which hadn't been forecast and I was rather worried that the fine weather predicted for Sunday wouldn't materialise. Up quite early around 7 - grey and cold. Bits of drizzle. Clouds not too low however. Chilly cutting wind meant belay jacket and gloves a necessity whilst cooking porridge. We decided to leave the tent pitched and take only essentials in our rucksacks. I'd looked at the map and reckoned that it should take us about 2 hours there and back - Beinn Bhuidhe was a grassy looking hill and we were already at 550 of the 855m ascent. But hey - this is Knoydart, I should have known better :lol: There's an almost Graham - Mam Bhasiter - in the way which rises to 714m and fails in Graham status by only around 4m of descent between it and Beinn Bhuidhe - so by the time the several rocky tops of Bhasiter have been negotiated you are right back down at 574m. And it's a longer way than it looks too! From Mam Uchd we climbed up Sgurr an t-Saigart which ends in a 50m bluff that looks quite tricky. We enjoyed a little scramble in taking this head on, but there's a path (which we used in descent) that is found round to the left and which avoids any difficulties. We'd dropped our rucksacks before going up here and it was further to the summit of Bhuidhe than I expected it to be. The weather was becoming increasingly summery as we walked on - now in baselayers - and the views went from breathtaking to stupifying. The whole of Skye lay before us, as did Eigg at her most elongated. Ceamreathahan and Cheesecake to the north, Ben More on Mull - ah - heaven :D We spent a bit of time at the trig in the sun just enthusing about being here.

Morning sun on Beinn Bhuidhe
ImageP1080325 by Al, on Flickr

Bidean a'Chabhair
ImageP1080327 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back down towards Sourlies
ImageP1080332 by Al, on Flickr

Mam Bhasiter
ImageP1080333 by Al, on Flickr

Aden, Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1080334 by Al, on Flickr

Inverie Bay, Skye just becoming visible
ImageP1080335 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1080338 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080342 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Bhuidhe - not just a wee grassy hill
ImageP1080343 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Ciche, Mam Bhasiter in foreground
ImageP1080347 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Nevis
ImageP1080350 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080352 by Al, on Flickr

Rocky bluff
ImageP1080354 by Al, on Flickr

Aden, Dessarry Munros
ImageP1080357 by Al, on Flickr

Summit of Beinn Bhuidhe from top of the bluff
ImageP1080359 by Al, on Flickr

SW towards Mull
ImageP1080361 by Al, on Flickr

Trig with Rhum behind
ImageP1080362 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080364 by Al, on Flickr

Skye hills
ImageP1080365 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080366 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080368 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080369 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080370 by Al, on Flickr

It was time to start the long descent - we headed back over Bhasiter then returned to break camp. My optimistic 2 hours had taken 3.5 and more time was used taking down the tent and packing the sacks. On our way down the track we met the lads from the bothy who were keen to get to Inverie for thier tea which they'd booked for 7.30. We walked along the sands towards Sourlies - the tide being out, meeting a flock of sheep on the beach which seemed a little weird. Sourlies was empty, but we stayed out in the sun on the boulders outside for our lunch. It was about 2pm when we finished, time to begin the return leg to Glen Dessarry. I wasn't quite sure how long this would take - not knowing the state of the track - but I knew we wouldn't be at the car anytime before 6.30pm. The first part of the track, along from Sourlies, is frequently boggy, then a better section takes you up into Mam na Cloiche Airde - passing several waterfalls on the way. More bogginess as you skirt by the two lochans - we encountered a couple of ladies who'd just been swimming in them, proper swimming cozzies and all. With the hot sun beating down on us the lure of cool refreshing water was considerable, but so was getting back home at a less than awful hour. Onwards through Bealach an Lagain Duibh with a fairly disappointing standard of track - rocky and boggy. Given the use this trail gets I was thinking it might be a bit more easy going. But again - it is Knoydart.

View back to Bhuidhe
ImageP1080375 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080376 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1080378 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to Carnach
ImageP1080382 by Al, on Flickr

A desirable view from this house
ImageP1080384 by Al, on Flickr

Sea pinks
ImageP1080387 by Al, on Flickr

Back towards Sourlies, tide out
ImageP1080389 by Al, on Flickr

Beach sheep
ImageP1080390 by Al, on Flickr

Trail back from Sourlies
ImageP1080393 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080394 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080397 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Bhuidhe
ImageP1080398 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080400 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080402 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080403 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080406 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080409 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080410 by Al, on Flickr

We got to the start of the trees and kept north of the treeline, with another interesting bridge to cross. It's easy to miss the way as the trail heads SW at Allt Coire nan Uth to this bridge. Finally the trees stop, Upper Glendessarry Lodge is reached and the track becomes a good quality surface, allowing us to improve our speed. Still another 4 or so km back to the carpark - a welcome sight. By this time it was almost 7pm and I knew we'd have to eat before starting back, so rustled up a veggie chilli in the boot of the Yeti which provided great shielding from the wind. Spoke to a gentleman who'd just come off the Dessarry 3 Munros then started back along the Loch Arkaig road. This is something probably best not done after hurredly consuming a large plate of chilli, as Allison was feeling quite queasy :lol: Home just before 11pm - a great weekend out.

ImageP1080412 by Al, on Flickr

Another dodgy bridge
ImageP1080413 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1080414 by Al, on Flickr

Glen Dessarry lodge in distance
ImageP1080415 by Al, on Flickr

A welcome sight!
ImageP1080416 by Al, on Flickr

Sunday's stats
ImageP1080417 by Al, on Flickr


knoydart3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by weaselmaster on Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:48 am

What an epic trip. Knowing how tough that terrain is, that's a pretty big itinerary.

I smiled at your comment about thinking 2 hours would cover Beinn Bhuidhe. Took us by surprise too!
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby AnnieMacD » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:14 pm

Another fantastic adventure! I'd love to get to Knoydart some day ... I was on Sgurr na Stri on Sunday and could see all your hills - what a day it was.
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:13 pm

one of these areas which provide great walking regardless of the weather - that did look most enjoyable esp with improving weather - would like to spend more time here but might be a wee while before it happens - cheers :)
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby malky_c » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:38 pm

Can't go wrong here. Bidein a' Chabhair was one of my favourites round here :) . Haven't bothered to add on Beinn Buidhe in the times I've been down here - will most likely feature in a trip to Inverie now.

You two move fast - I could see you finishing the Corbetts before me for quite some time. However I though I'd probably pass the 200 mark before you - now even that doesn't seem very likely :lol:
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:12 pm

malky_c wrote:You two move fast - I could see you finishing the Corbetts before me for quite some time. However I though I'd probably pass the 200 mark before you - now even that doesn't seem very likely :lol:

Problem is, Malky, that Sick Kid is 31 behind me and those will have to be re-done....
I'm hoping to finish in November on Beinn Dearg Beag, but ooh the pressure is on :lol:

Anyway - you do have almost 200 Grahams more than me :lol:
Last edited by weaselmaster on Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:29 pm

Great report, and the pics really show what a glorious area this is. Skye looks just marvellous, as always.

It's on my to do list, but probably won't get around to it this year (seems to be a common theme in the replies... :D .

I keep thinking that I must do one of these 2 day sessions, to get right out into remote places like this, but then I see the MASSIVE sacks you guys carry, and my enthusiasm wanes a tad...

From the pic at Carnoch, your good lady companion really looks as if she's giving serious consideration to leaving the 30kg monster right where it is... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Glorious Knoydart

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:47 pm

Alteknacker wrote:
I keep thinking that I must do one of these 2 day sessions, to get right out into remote places like this, but then I see the MASSIVE sacks you guys carry, and my enthusiasm wanes a tad...

From the pic at Carnoch, your good lady companion really looks as if she's giving serious consideration to leaving the 30kg monster right where it is... :lol: :lol: :lol:

Yeah, she does look pretty fed up in that one.

The sacks aren't particularly heavy though - just quite bulky. I don't reckon I'm carrying more than 12kg at the heaviest, Allison's is probably 10kg - we've been steadily working the weight downwards.

I also find that going out more often with a bigger pack on is helping, getting more used to it now
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