Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A walk in the Rain part 2.

In the morning it was raining as hard as ever, I went around to the east side of the Loch so as to avoid crossing the river lower down the valley. And then the bog trot began, I would be ankle deep in bog for quite some time. Four miles north I came to a quadi-bike track, after another two miles there was a fork in the track. The map showed the left track going to the top of a waterfall then some way further down the hillside re-starts zigzagging down. I wasn't too sure about the gap in the track. The right fork was longer but was shown as continuous, so I plumped for this one. At the bottom of the falls was Carnach, there was just a locked lodge house and no one in sight. Beyond was a good 4 x 4 track heading away north-east, a couple of miles further along another building Iron Lodge, again all locked up. At this point I walked off the Harvey's Knoydart and Kintail map, these are printed on polyethylene which is waterproof. My next map was an ordnance survey paper map, which isn't waterproof. Where was my plastic map case, not in my sack it was at home so not a lot of use. After Iron Lodge the track forked, left fork looked very steep sided with no where to camp, right fork lead to Loch Mhoicean so I headed there. Had I gone left I'd have come to a bothy but I hadn't got it marked on my map. It had rained all day, I pitched up in the rain and next day I packed in the rain.
Beyond the Loch the good track ends, there is still a track marked on the map but on the ground it's very faint. Somebody had driven a Quadi down it at some point in the not so distant past but following it wasn't easy. At some point I should have crossed over on to the east side of the stream (called the Allt Coire nan Each at this point). But I mist it and continued down the west side. About four miles further north the stream turns left (west) and becomes the Allt an Loin Fhiodha which flows into Loch Cruoshie. This was fast flowing and very deep, I followed it back up stream about a mile to where a ford was marked on the map. After looking at it and poking it with my walking poles I decided it was between waist and chest deep. It had been raining for three days so was in full spate, the water was moving with tremendous force, no way was I crossing there. Another mile up stream I found a place, there was a rock in the middle of the stream with a waterfall either side of it. Getting on to the rock was easy just a boulder hop, the other side was about four feet across and eighteen inches down onto a good wide ledge. I was aware of my heavy pack pulling me back but I took a deep breath and jumped. I was very glad to land safely on the other side. I quickly picked up the quadi track but this went north-east to Pait Lodge. I wanted to go north-west to Loch Calavie which was about two miles away. Two miles of bogs and ponds and Lochans and old glacial moraines and another river which was no doubt also in spate. This river the Allt Loch Calavie, flowed east into a line of small Lochs before flowing into Loch Monar at Pait Lodge which was about five miles away. The only bridge was at Pait Lodge, in this weather I had no other choice. There were some boats moored in the bay and a couple of quadis parked by the lodge but no other sign of life. Once over the bridge there was no sign of the track so I just followed the Loch shore until I found a place to camp. It was still raining and I was only six miles from where I'd camped the night before. 

Once again I packed in the rain, after a couple of miles I spotted the end of a 4x4 track. At last a solid surface to walk on. By the time I finally reached Loch Calavie it actually stopped raining. Waterproofs, hat and gloves off I was cruising along, past the Loch and on to Ben Dronaig Lodge where I turned north again, up by the spectacular gorge of the Black water to Loch an Laoigh. I left the track and headed up the Loch shore, just a mile away was another path that would take me to Achnashellach. Up ahead by the path I could see a roof, “could it be” I thought. But then “I bet it'll be locked”. As I walked up to the building I could see the round MBA sign, it was only 15.00 but I wasn't about to pass up on a dry roof for the night. Bearneas Bothy, just a single room but it was dry and it was great. I'd hung up my wet kit, had a brew, written my diary cooked and was just settling in for the night when I heard footsteps outside. Johann from Holland came in dripping wet as it was raining again. I'm always a little apprehensive when meeting strangers in bothies having had a few bad experiences. So I was quite re leaved that Johann turned out to be quite normal. He was doing a similar walk to me but in the opposite direction. It continued raining all night but stopped as we left next morning, he south across the bog while I went north up into the mist.

I was glad of the path as it would have been hard work micro-navigating across without it. The path went up over the flank of Sgurr na Feartaig to the top of some big crags before working it's way down some scree filled gullies. Once down that it was straight down the hillside and out of the mist. I went through a gate and into the back of a forestry plantation, it was getting warm and as I pealed off waterproofs the first midge decided to put in an appearance, the first I'd come across since Sheil bridge. Achnashellach station and the path to the next stage of my walk lay just a mile away down stream. But to get there I had to first cross the river and the bridge was as always on this trip in the other direction. Three miles along a forestry road over the bridge and four miles down the road. Up past the station, through some more forestry. In the forestry I didn't notice the difference but once out on the open hillside everything was different. The geology had changed and that changed everything. Everywhere you looked there was glacial moraine piled up in huge great heaps all covered by a thin layer of peat. The peat was so much thinner than on the schist and it was all waterlogged, so much so that there were pools everywhere. There was no where flat enough or dry enough to put a tent. I stopped near Loch Coire Lair, the way ahead looks just as bad as the ground I'd just come up. Then I met two lads out mountain biking they told me of a bothy nearby. It wasn't the way I'd planned to go but it was parallel to it, so what the heck. I followed the valley down through Scots pine to a bridge by a waterfall beyond it was a little wooden hut the Easan Dorcha Bothy AKA the tea house. There's room for about four people to sleep at the most, from the book it seems lots of the locals use it as a picnic site, and what a lovely spot.
Next day started off with waterproofs on but they soon came off as I wandered down by the River Coulin past Lochs Coulin and Clair and onto the road to Torridon. I got a lift after about a mile, he dropped me at the campsite. I pitch, throw my pack in and went in search of the village shop and some real food. It was a Sunday, they didn't open on Sundays, hay-ho. I shaved and showered that felt really good. I dozed in my tent, let my boots dry, let my feet dry. In the evening I got some chocolate and a waterproof map for the rest of my trip from the youth hostel. My OS 25 Glen Carron map is now just a sad mess.


  1. Wow very interesting trip. You must have been away the same time as us @
    Team AlliMike

  2. Yep a wet and windy couple of weeks infact a wet and windy summer so far