Saturday, 20 December 2014

The White Tailed sea Eagles of Kerrera.

I did this little trip back at the beginning of November. Ray and I drove up to Oban for a day paddle  around Kerrera. At the south-western tip of the island is the headland of Rubha na Feudain. Whilst paddling along I noticed two funny looking lumps on top of the headland.

Sitting on top of a rock were a pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles not something you see every day.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Auchmithie Caves.

From Arbroath to Auchmithie is a spectacular stretch of coast full of sea stacks and caves. Over last weekend the weather turned out great so what better way to spend the day than paddling than paddling this fantastic coast.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

One I did earlier.

I haven't done as much kayaking this year so far as I have in other years. This trip was at the start of June. We did an overnight trip down the Isle of Lismore, camped at the end overlooking Mull and came back the next day. Nothing special just a laid back paddle for the three of us. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Somebody arrived in the middle of the night, a German I think, stomping around in his jackboots on the wooden floor. I left him in bed in the morning. For the first time on the trip I didn't need waterproof to start the day. As I wandered along the path to Kinloch Hourn the day just got better and better. I treated myself to a cheeseburger and coffee at the cafe, first non freeze-dry food of the trip.

A couple of K's from the village is Loch Coire Shubh. Here I take a path off to the north at first through a forestry plantation,  deer fences on either side. I'm thinking "this is not so good", but I'm soon out of the woods and into an open Coire,  Coire Sgoireadall. The gradient is nice and easy, the path good I'm making good progress. I head for a bealach at the head of the coire. This takes me into another equally wild coire, Wester Glen Quoich. I'd hoped I could contour around the head of this coire but no chance, I dropped down and started climbing again. I camp for the night a couple of hundred meters below the Bealach Duibh Leac.
 In the morning I have two options up to the bealach and down to Sheil Bridge if the weather isn't good or up to the bealach and along the south Sheil ridge if it's good. It was good. I'm on top of Creag nan Damh by 08.00. I don't see anyone else till midday, then as the day goes on more people cross my path their all doing sections of the ridge. I drop off the end of the ridge looking for somewhere to camp above Loch Cluanie but all the streams are dry it hasn't rain for two days. I ended up by Loch a'Mhaoil Dhisnich only two km from the Cluanie Inn but I didn't want to camp by the road.
A red deer hind was staring at me when I opened the tent next morning only yards away, she barked and ran away. I had planned to cross the valley and "do" the north side over the next two days but my body was saying. "No, That would be a ridge too far". I dropped down to Sheil Bridge and got the bus home.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Unfortunately it rain in the night again, in the morning it was drizzly, warm and wind-less, midge heaven. I was a prisoner in my inner tent, outside between me and the fly sheet were thousands of tiny biting mouths. Full waterproofs, hat, headnet, gloves. But, you have to lift the veil to eat so breakfast was taken running around in circles.   
 So who was Jimmy Watts? Why was he in Knoydart building paths? They are good almost as good as Inca roads. Some sections are beginning to be engulfed in bog but what isn't in Knoydart. This one cuts diagonally across the hillside following a steady gradient up to the bealach leading into Gleann Unndalain. This would take me onto Barrisdale on the shore of Loch Hourn, I'd given up the idea of climbing any peaks today as the weather was so bad. Then as I climbed the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the sun came out, just a bit. At the bealach I turned left off the path and climbed up the east ridge of Luinne Bheinn and over the many summits.
 At Mam Barrisdale I'm back on a well made path which I saunter down to Barrisdale. I've camped here before and remember it as a midge infested swamp. I couldn't face another midging so paid my £3 and stayed in the bothy.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Knoydart continued.

I'm camped just above the Allt Coire na Ciche in a very impressive and wild coire. Once again I start the day head to toe in waterproofs, at least there's no midgies. I follow the stream down and soon come to a huge moraine wall right across the coire. (Not long ago, geologically speaking, there must have been a fantastic glacial lake here). The stream diverts around it to my right, yesterday I'd seen the other side of this wall and know that there is a spectacular waterfall there. I contour around left to the top of the moraine wall, here and there I see quady bike tyre marks. Soon I'm on a zig-zag path that takes me almost back to where I'd camped the night before last. 
This time Sourlies was empty, I could have come here last night but would never have found that track in the dark. I push on, Eilean Tioram once a isolated skerry now forever aground in a sea of mud. Behind it salt marches, it's stopped raining now but the brooding sky and steep sides to the valley give it a dark other worldly almost Patagonian fell. Only bracken standing in for Tossack grass.
The swinging bridge over the river Carnach, it's ropes dreadfully rusted, it's planks rotten. It creeks but takes my weight, not one to bounce about on I think. The sun is trying to shine through the cloud cover, it's turning into a nice day. Up stream the river bends around to the right and enters a gorge, the path peters out. I'm scrambling over boulders again but this is quite fun if a little midgy.

 Once past the gorge and up a little rise past a waterfall and I can see the Lochen nam Breac. I climb up the north side and find myself on a track, Jimmy Watts path. I camp on a small hillock to try and catch the wind - to keep the midgies away. Time for a swim and sit out side the tent drinking tea, life is good.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Knoydart trip days 3-

Again it rain in the night, and again head to toe in waterproofs but not for long this time. Just down from where I'd camped is a gorge and waterfall, I was on the left bank which turned out to be a mistake. The path descended to the riverbed and I carried on scrambling over bolder and climbing along the side of the gorge. All of a sudden this was getting hard, I must have gone wrong somewhere. I climbed out of the gorge to try and find the path but couldn't see it, then I looked over to the other side of the river - there was a nice wide well made path. Sheepishly I re-climbed down to the river and up the other side. 
At Sourlies bothy there was the usual resident nutter, this one was still in his sleeping bag with a rather large sheep-dog pup! I didn't stop but climbed up following a stream behind the bothy up to the main Druim a Ghoirtein ridge of Sgurr na Ciche. At first I seemed to gain height quite quickly up to the Lochan at 450m. After that the clouds closed in and visibility was down to 10m or so. It just felt like one lump after another, up one side down the other with no height gained at all. Eventually I came to one lump higher than the rest 750m said my altimeter, this one is marked on the map which was reassuring. Up one side so it should be down the other side only where had the ridge gone? I must be dropping off down one side of the ridge. I retraced my steeps and got the compass out, sure enough I'd been 90 degrees out.
Onward and upwards, the ridge now started to get steeper more scrambley with scree and rocks intermingled with vertical grass and heather. By now it was raining and the wind was getting stronger, at one point I was bridging wide up a wet chimney. "I thought your on your own, with a big pack on, it's raining what are you doing?" I climbed down and tried again around the corner, a little easier this time.
The summit, it was already past 4 o'clock, the plan had been to traverse the mountain and descend the Loch Quoich side. No time for that now not in this weather. Then I found a path, it lead off right (southeast). "If there's a path there should be a way down". It lead to a bealach (col) between Sgurr na Ciche and the neighbouring peak Garbh Chioch Mhor. I could see nothing on the Loch Quoich side but there was a faint path leading down toward Glen Dessary. I took it and soon found myself down climbing a waterfall in true gill scrambling style. I was very glad to reach the bottom of the fall and the gentle angled coire floor. I found a flatish, firmish bit of ground by a stream, "it'll have to do". tent up, kit in, water bottle filled, I'm in my little nest for the night.