I’ve not written for a wee whilie….last time I wrote I was driving down Loch Quoich after walking the Easians one fine September weekend. It was still daylight as I didn’t fancy driving this long remote glen in the dark in my Bongo, just on the off-chance the worst would happen and it would break down, miles from anywhere on my own, in the dark!
I drove and drove, passing loads of good places to camp but they were all taken. One spot was perfect – off the road, a little bit high up, the most beautiful view. Except a giant motorhome had got there before me. The owner was sat outside on a deckchair sunning himself, thinking he was Erchie. I drove further until I saw another spot, but it was taken by several vans, tents, bonfires, flags and a big gang of people sat outside – I had no idea what that was all about so just waved and drove on. Finally I found a spot that wasn’t taken. There were piles of cow dung but I guessed there would be right along the glen so stopped and set up camp. It turned out to be a beautiful spot.
I made tea and had some wine and pored over maps. As it got dark I could hear the roar and bellow of the stags rutting in the remote glens. I took a look outside – it was nearly a full moon, that red moon that was so magical a few months ago – and decided to go for a walk to take it in. I was absolutely terrified but it was so beautiful, the full moon silhouetting the mountains across the glittering loch, so bright I could see my own shadow, all accompanied by the eerie roar of the stags. A moment I will never forget.
I woke up early to a fantastic pink and blue morning and took my time getting ready, enjoying the view, knowing I did not have to rush.
I wasn’t sure which hills I would be walking up today, having the choice of many as-yet unclimbed Munros on my doorstep. But since I was parked at the doorstep of solitary Sgurr a’Mhaoraich, well it would be rude to ignore it, and it was a fairly short walk.
Four fishermen fae Fife came strolling past, out of nowhere. They were very friendly and said they were there to pay their respects to their friend who had died in the loch a few years before. A poignant moment as I watched them make their way down the track to the water’s edge.
I then watched the Highland cattle family down by the water, very slowly make their way up to me, willing them all to turn back but to no avail. Soon they were up near the van. I know the Highland cows are placid creatures so I wasn’t as concerned as I would be had they not been. Still, it gave me the incentive to get going.
Right opposite where I had parked was a track that led right up into Coire nan Eincheallach, so I headed up that way.
I cut across west over rough ground to gain the ridge, all the while hearing the odd bellowing stag in the corrie interior. I aimed for a small gorge and once the ridge was gained, stunning views opened up towards Kinloch Hourn.
There was a faint path here and there but the day was clear and the ridge was easy to follow.
It was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I could not take my eyes off the horizon around me. It was just marvellous. The hills of remote Knoydart, Glen Shiel, Skye, a great view of The Saddle – it was just a 360 horizon of mountains.
I got to the summit just as a couple reached it from the opposite ridge. We chatted for a bit – they were staying in the Cluanie Inn for a few days of hills for their wedding anniversary. I left them at the summit cairn and walked away a bit to shelter behind some rocks and eat my piece and enjoy my surroundings. I was loving this walk – the views and weather were tremendous and the whole experience was heightened by the previous evening’s camping and then walking along Loch Quoich in the moonlight.
Eventually it got too cold to sit about any more so I left my spot reluctantly and made my way along towards the eastern ridge. This turned out to be a very pleasing ridge walk, with a well defined path. It overlooked the wonderful South Shiel Ridge and the corrie down towards Am Bathaich, where several stags were roaring far below. It was simply stunning.
The ridge path then turned south where I could see the Munro of Gleouraich opposite the water.
Once I reached the road I had a short walk of 1.5kms along the road to reach the van.
I passed the couple I’d spoken to at the top – they had come down the same way I came up and informed me that the Bongo was surrounded by cows! It was true and as I got to them I gingerly stepped past and hurried into the driver’s seat and drove out their way. I was actually more worried about the van being scraped by their horns but it was OK and there were no marks.
Once I got to Invergarry I stopped to call Ally. He was away doing his Summer Mountain Leader assessment and I couldn’t wait to find out if he had passed. He was delighted to say he had – well done to him! 🙂 A perfect end to a great weekend.