Date: Saturday-Sunday 15th – 16th November 2014
Distance: 15.7 + 11.2km
Ascent: 830 + 200m
Quite a complex weather picture was watched in fine detail in the run up to the weekend. There seemed to be a forecast for light winds Saturday night and a hint that the west would have reasonably clear hills. The fine detail continued to shift all the way in to Saturday morning when we headed out from Fort Bill with the tent.
Still had options of Ardnamurchan or Morvern in our heads as we crossed the Corran Ferry before dawn – a few miles down the road and the decision was made with a left hand turn before Strontian to the Lochaline road.
Takes the better part of 45 minutes to get from Corran to Lochaline. Spotted a Sea Eagle perched on a rock on one of the Morvern hills – the same perch as it was on in September.
There is an estate car park at Achranich at NM 705 473, left the car and started along the estate road heading south along the east shore of Loch Aline. The whole day was at a slow amble – we had about 8hrs to sunset and only about 15km to cover.
Watched groups of wrens picking their way through the undergrowth – one end of the British bird size range to the other in 30 minutes.
Wandered down the road – a fair number of redwings and fieldfares flying and calling as we went. Not the most peaceful walk – the Silica Sand Mine started up its machinery and the industrial hum was out of keeping with the surrounds.
Wandered round to Ardtornish Point and the ruined castle (just a pile of rocks now) and then followed the estate track to the cottage at NM 691 436 – passed through the gate here and then directly uphill on open hillside.
Sat and had some lunch on Glas Bheinn – still windy and with a lot of cloud on the bigger hills we toyed with the idea of turning around…..but decided to carry on.
After An Dunan the terrain changed for the remainder of the loop – to this point it had been quite grassy – hereafter it was very wet, peat boggy terrain. Progress slowed as straight line walking was replaced by weaving and back-tracking. Lookin back to An Dunan the green to brown border looks quite abrupt:
…..which then flew off with the 10 or so we hadn’t seen.
Carried on to An Sleaghach – rather sad to find that fitness levels have dropped in the post-bagging era and my legs were feeling the weight of the camping pack despite a rather untaxing distance.
A bit reinvigorated by the sight of a Golden Eagle taking off from the slopes above – jogged up the slope to see it sailing away to the north.
Headed to the top of the hill – the summit area was still very wet and pitches were in short supply. Found a nice little snug for the tent on the 500m west top of the hill at NM 761 433. Got the tent up with an hour to go before sunset, pulled on the insulating gear and enjoyed the sights.
Supped on a hot cup of soup as the sun set – then cooked up our meals as the light waned away. Retired to the tent and sampled a variety of chocolate treats with an accompaniment of medicinal spirit.
Got back out a few hours after sunset to enjoy the view – a bit like our Arran camp there were lots of lights visible across the Loch. Car lights visible up at Onich and across to Argyll, a few well lit Calmac ferries crossing to Oban. I always enjoy these views – all the hustle and bustle at a silent distance.
Back to the tent and got our heads down (after pm’ing Squiz on a surprisingly strong data connection). Back up a couple of times to look at the stars.
The wind had dropped out completely by 0200 – got up at 0730 to watch dawn develop.
It is one of the real joys of summit camping to just sit and watch the light change. Had our breakfast, identified distant hills, enjoyed the warmth of the sun and relaxed. Eventually got the tent struck and rolled away after 1000 and carried on.
We’d noticed that the hydro work had created a road running from Loch Tearnait to a weir at about NM 752 450 on the Allt Dubh Dhoire Thearnait. The easiest route off the hill would be to descend direct to that however this would mean losing the sun for a while and the view completely. Not on a day like this!
Carried on to cross Meall a Chaorainn and head for the Camas Eagnaig path at Lochanan Dubha.
The descent NE off An Sleaghach involves one rather steep drop – nothing extreme, but the rather wet, slippy terrain meant care was needed – back to meandering round boggy outcrops towards Meall a Chaorainn. It does have a very rewarding view NE to the hills from Cruachan to the Ben.
Took a couple of panorama shots of some well-loved hills.
Link to larger pano
Link to larger panorama
The path is patchy – obviously an old formed path in parts, mud soup in others. Followed along in glorious autumnal colours.
Wended back down the path – a quick whistle from Hazel had me turning round – to see a rather unexpected sight….of a badger running towards me. It was about 4m away and by the time my camera was out it had detected me too and ran off at a tangent. Certainly a first for us to see a badger out in the middle of the day!
Down to Loch Tearnait where the track becomes a hydro road. A crannog is marked here and patches of green with lazy beds bear witness to past habitation. We were taken by this place – a beautiful loch in a natural amphitheatre.
From there quickly back to the car. A cracking drive north to the Corran too – beautiful sunshine on the hills.
A stunning red sky accompanied us through Glen Coe before it was back to the humdrum.
We’ve been thinking about this one for about 5 years…..nice to get another one of those “to-do” camps achieved in the conditions they deserve.