On our first full day in Scotland we woke up to drizzle but a weather forecast that said that things would improve. We therefore decided to head out for a walk, and after all the previous day’s driving chose the one closest to us.
Just a short drive up a single track road took us to the shores of Loch Affric where we set off on a walk that would take in three Munroe’s! The walk initially led up a jeep track but then veered off over some boggy moorland with no obvious paths. It didn’t take long for my boots to give up on their waterproof promise and the first blister I’ve had in a very long time shortly developed.
Climbing up to Sgurr na Lapaich took us out of the boggyness but up into the clouds. At the top we had our first break but didn’t stop long as there wasn’t much to see through all the cloud.
The next section was an easy ridge walk along to Mam Sodhail during which the cloud was rising and so views constantly opened. By the time we reached Mam Sodhail the cloud was back and it was now time for lunch. It was very cold and windy but the big cairn at the top was hollow so we climbed in for shelter. Unbeknownst to us, the cloud continued to lift so when we climbed back out after lunch the views were brilliant and we could see the ridges ahead for the rest of the walk.
Next, a steep descent to a col and a quick climb up to Carn Eige. Here the wind really picked up and was strong enough to knock us off our feet – not the best thing when the next ridge looked razor sharp!
The ridge turned out fine as the path was slightly off the top on the windward side it took in another two peaks on the way but these were obviously not well enough defined to be classified as summits. After a steep descent we were on a path back to the jeep track.
The jeep track in the glen was barely fit for a motorised vehicle and not much fun to walk on. Much of it was boggy and so we once again had wet feet. In a way this was a blessing as the river crossing ahead was knee deep and therefore would have taken much longer if we’d been looking for an easy crossing to keep us dry.
The rest of the walk was over “bleak moorland” (the book’s description) and so there isn’t much worth relating other than the walk took a little longer than expected so it was almost dark by the time we reached the car. We were both very tired but after 23km that’s no surprise.
Back at the cottage we lit a fire, got cleaned up and then relaxed with a drink before eating an Italian Chicken Casserole.
Glorious weather predicted, so, up in the dark and off in the mist to get an early start on Beinn Sgritheall. The drive took two hours but was amid very pleasant scenery though Glen Shiel.
We parked next to the road and set off on a steep climb on what could be described as a path, but a stream might be more accurate! The climb improved after crossing a stile and reaching a lochan. The views were already impressive so we had high expectations for the summit.
The guide book described the ascent as unrelenting and it certainly was climbing 974m in just 3.5km - just the way I like ‘em! We reached the top in a little over two hours and ate our lunch in a recess in the summit cairn. The views were brilliant - no photo could do them justice. A Wainwright-style guide indicating all the peaks would have been handy as what we could see was beyond the range of our map.
The short walk down to a col and across to another summit was easy and allowed us take in the views, even spying the speck that was our car parked down on the road below. The descent to follow was a bit special – as the peak curved away it seemed there could be no way down but there was a little path zig-zagging down what felt like a near vertical slope (the guidebook mentioned that this would cause butterflies). So, a quick 300m drop listening to the sounds of the stags bellowing below. Finally we got site of the various groups of deer and were amazed by how near they had sounded. After this steep descent it was back to a (what would normally have been described as “steep”) path/stream for the rest of the way down to Arnisdale.
Once at the village we sat looking out into the loch for a while before setting off on the walk back to the car. Just five minutes in, a car slowed down and asked if we’d like a lift. Even the warning of our muddy boots didn’t put the driver off as this was a rental car; so we gladly accepted.
On the way to the walk I’d spotted a pub with sea views and so intended to stop on the way back for a pint. Somehow we didn’t spot it on the way back. We did however come across a hitch-hiker and naturally, after the luck we’d just had, gave them a lift.
The weather forecast wasn’t too good for today, so instead of the mountain walk planned we decided to walk to the Falls of Glomach – the highest waterfalls in the UK (also, conveniently, the site of a Geocache). Our guidebook had noted this walk as one suitable for a rainy day, but at 12 miles and climbing up to 500m it wasn’t really the easy option that it had first sounded.
Another fairly long drive so we were up early and walking by 10am. The route was easy with a well defined and maintained path. Walking up the glen there were many groups of deer with bellowing stags. We even got close enough to one group to be able to see a stag shooing off another (who was presumably trying to take advantage of the disturbance our presence was causing the group).
It was even looking like we’d have dry feet until just before the falls where there was some moorland to cross – neither of our boots were up to much after the previous walks.
The falls were spectacular and just too big to capture with a single photo. I’ll have to attempt stitching a few together to try and portray the scale. The cache was also an easy find so all-in-all a successful day.
Our last day so off for a good walk, this time to Beinn Alligin. The drive was more interesting that the drive to Glen Shiel and the character of the mountains around Torridon quite different to what we’d seen so far.
We’d chosen Beinn Alligin as it was a circular route of the right length but Sam was rather concerned about the “scrambling and easy climbing” required over the Horns of Alligin. I think this spoiled it for her a bit as for a lot of the walk she was worried about what was yet to come.
The walk was fantastic with a fairly steep ascent up to Tom na Gruagaich, from where it was suddenly possible to see what lay ahead – a spectacular ridge walk. It all looked a lot bigger than the image that the map and description had portrayed. Unfortunately this also intimidated Sam somewhat.
At the summit we had a snack and then set off down to the col below. It was quite steep and as we reached the col the wind really picked up. The walk up to the next peak – Sgurr Mhor – was hard work but worth it when reaching the cleft – it appears that a whole section of the mountain had fallen away in the past leaving this great cut out of the side.
We didn’t spend much time at the top as it was still blowing a gale and headed down to the next col to find some shelter before tackling “the Horns”!
We’d seen another pair of walkers follow a contour path avoiding the horns but Sam knew that I was really keen on following the ridge and so gave it a go. As it turned out the scrambling was easy and we both enjoyed it.
The walk down was quite long but on a rocky path so for the first time on this holiday we returned to the car with dry feet – a perfect end to a great week in the Highlands.