Date walked: 12/09/2018
Warning! long report
With some delay I decided to write a report of a walk I did with some of my mates in September. It could be useful if you are planning to do something similar.
Our plan was to follow the glen to Tom a' Choinneachaidh. After fording the water of Nevis somewhere around there, we would climb to the path below Binnein Beag. Upon reaching the path we’d follow it to Coire an Lochain below Sgurr Eilde Mor and camp there for the night. The following day we planned to to bag Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean and possibly Sgurr Eilde Mor. Afterwards we’d cross the moorland to Luibeilt. Our plan was then to ford the Abhainn Rath if possible and go on to staoineag bothy and spend the night there. The final day we would walk out to Corrour station.
Well, that didn't go as planned.
The actual walk:
After getting off the sleeper and shopping for supplies we took a taxi to Glen Nevis because we were too lazy to walk there. Setting off from Steall Falls Car park at around one o'clock, we followed the gorge to the falls where we had our lunch in the rain. Some daytrippers were being silly on the famous wirebridge.
When we reached the ruins, we saw the last walkers for the next three days. It was a group of children with some adults accompanying them (DoE?). Our Fellowship took the left path where it split although we had to take the other one, but I don't recall seeing it.
Binnein Beag left, Binnein Mor right, slope we need to climb in the middle
Some time later we left the path and crossed the very boggy moor. We eventually crossed the path we had intended to follow and forded a small stream. None of us really knew were we were exactly and we mistakenly thought we had forded the Water of Nevis. There was some other moorland to be crossed and I quickly realised our mistake.
We then did arrive at the real river after descending a rather steep short slope. We crossed the river without our boots. The water was a bit chilly (understatement) and a lot higher than anticipated. In the meantime it had started to rain and with cold and wet feet we began our ascend on this very steep slope without paths. Ascending it was difficult and rather miserable. We took the path of least resistance through the heather and didn't really care how we were going.
View from the lower slopes
Through the increasingly present mist some deer could be seen and there were some fine views to Ben Nevis when it cleared up for five milliseconds. The ascend took ages and after every bump I thought we were on the plateau but that was never the case. We trudged on and ultimately reached the plateau. Exhausted and quite wet we decided to set up camp here. It was only around four but nobody was in the mood to go any further.
And then the real fun started...
After our dinner the wind was picking up more and more. We didn't think any of it because we had pitched the tents in the direction of the wind. When it was dark and we were going to bed the wind had changed directions a bit and was becoming very strong. My tent immediately flattened because it has a single pole in the long direction and it wasn't properly set up because of the stony ground (I also think the design isn't very well suited to scottish conditions which is weird because it is a Vango). I decided to take it down and moved in in one of my friends two person tunneltents which was very cramped with three people in it. The wind had now changed 90 degrees and was ridiculously hard (this was right before hurricane Helene and storm Ali).
At this point the gales were bashing in on the side of the tents. We were afraid the tents would be destroyed. What would we have done then? Walk to the bothy or go back? Both weren't really an option in the night. During the night we had to go out in the storm more than once to restake the pegs that had been blown out. Nobody slept until the storm became a little bit quieter at around 4 AM. We woke up around 7 AM with as little as three hours sleep.
I now have a deep hatred of tunneltents (overstatement). The sides just take too much wind and the fly sheet touches the inner net which subsequently becomes wet as well. My mate Wiebe that tried to sleep next to the side facing the wind had to support it all night by lying against it. I know you're supposed to pitch in the direction of the wind and it would make a very good tent then. But the wind changes direction in Scotland and you can't repitch it every time can you? I suppose you can but it isn't nice in a storm in the night.
We decided not to climb the munro's because of the exposed ridges in the high winds and. The plan was to quickly walk to the bothy and sleep in the afternoon.
We made our way down the slope from the plateau into the corrie. There were no paths or deer tracks but we got down without too much problems. Then we trudged along the bank of the stream to Tom an Eite. It was slow going searching a way through bog and jumping over streams and took longer than we had anticipated.
Gorgey thing in the coire between Binnein Beag and the ridge coming from Sgurr Eilde Mor
View to Tom an Eite from the same coire
Quickly walking to the bothy wasn't really an option anymore. Arriving at a random footbridge over the stream we had followed, we found a path going eastwards. It now became apparent we wouldn't be able to cross the Abhainn Rath. The taxi driver had indeed warned us that water levels would be high because it had rained a lot in the days before.
Random foorbridge coming from nowhere
Most of the time the path on south side of the river was quite decent and easy to follow. But it also disappeared a lot in the very wet grasslands/marches. Our feet were now completely soaked. Most of the times the grassland looked more like a small pool.
At Sidhean Dubh we came across the first serious ford. This time we didn't waste any time removing shoes and just waded through. Our feet and boots were wet anyway. The water did come to knee-level. Some time ago the clouds had disappeared and the sun had come through (which would stay for the rest of the day). Our fellowship of five Belgians happily continued their route along the path that was very obvious now.
We arrived at Luibeilt and had our lunch (or brunch? we hadn't really breakfasted to get of the plateau asap). Luibeilt is a lovely spot and everyone was contented. Our spirits had lifted and we weren't thinking about racing to the bothy anymore. Instead I was starting to enjoy the walk a lot. My original plan was to ford the river here and stay in Meaneach bothy or take the path on the north side and go on to Staoineag bothy. Crossing the river wasn't possible, therefore we continued on the south side. I had read some reports that said that the area west of the bothy were the Giubhsachan river flows in the Abhainn Rath was a terrible midge infested bog so I was a bit worried about this.
The river after Lub Eilde
The Lub Eilde was a small but deep stream (which Robrecht experienced when he jumped into it), we walked a bit upstream to find a place to jump over it. The going was quite rough at times but the landscape and river was magnificent. From Lub Beag nan Craigean the were some delightful waterfalls and rapids. We also saw our first trees on the shore since leaving Glen Nevis (excluding the pines at Luibeilt). In my opinion Scotland could do with more trees (and probably less deer).
The terrifying bog ahead was nothing to worry about. It was equally wet as the others we had already passed. One of my friends suggested that this one and the previous bogs were saturated with water which would normally not be the case in the bogs we had already passed. Because of the stream this bog was always saturated hence the reputation. I don't know if this is possible. We also hadn't seen any midges on the whole walk. Maybe because we were in the middle of september?
The terrifying bog, Staoineag Bothy in the far distance
We finally arrived at the empty bothy at around three o'clock and had a relaxed afternoon. Staoineag bothy is built on a superb location on a small hill above the river amid some trees. It's also considerably larger than I thought. Instead of sleeping we just chilled and played card games. Although it drizzled a bit Robrecht went of to go fishing in the Abhainn Rath. Nobody believed he would catch a fish. Five minutes later Robrecht stood on the doorstep and shouted to us that "he had one". We saw with disbelief that he had indeed caught a rainbow trout that was still alive. There was blood dripping all over him and the floor (don't worry we cleaned it). He also tried to get the hook out of its mouth and funnily enough the fish bit him. The fish stayed alive surprisingly long and I had to kill it with my knife (because I study biology and apparently I learn this stuff). We did eat it afterwards.
Robrecht with his beloved trout. I will spare you the pics with the intestines out
The day after we continued along the south side of the river. We found a surprisingly good path that isn't even marked on the map. The path between Stoaineag and Loch Treig was in my opinion the most beautiful and my favorite part of the walk, I think it was stunning. There were some lovely bigger patches of native woodland where the path leads through, hugging the shores of the river and the streams that flow in it.
Once arrived at Loch Treig we had a lengthy break and we explored the old lodge and cleared(?) village at the shore. There are some nice flat meadows that would be perfect for a wildcamp.
The river flowing into Loch Treig
Our next single drops next week@CreaguaineachLodge (sadly without me )
Perfect wildcamping wood to the left, Perfect wildcamping meadow to the right, Lodge in the middle
The water level of the loch was rather low and we could see some weird geological features where the river flows in the loch. Walking around the loch wasn't the most exhilarating thing to do but we made good progress.
Shouldn't this be partly under water?
Loch Treig and some weird structure (can anybody tell what this is for?)
We followed the track next to the railway until it disappears under a bridge to loch Ossian. We followed a boggy path through the wet moors. Of course it started to rain when we hiked the last miles to the station through the moors. The rest of the day it had been impeccable weather. We had to jump over quite a lot of streams that were clearly bigger than normal. We tried to imitate the obligatory Trainspotting scene but the rain became worse and we hurried inside the Station House café to eat some scones and wait for our train to FW.
I really liked our trip although we had some bad moments with a low morale the first and second day. I hope you enjoyed reading this report. If you want to do this as well and have some questions, don't hesitate to ask them.
Thanks for reading.
Isn't it a great outdoors?
I don't know if its shite being scottish but the weather was
Cliché pic of the station
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