Monday, 8 September 2014

Rough Bounds of Knoydart, Aug'14

Manny was with Lorna on a bespoke trip into the Rough Bounds of Knoydart at the end of August. Here's his wee story of the day....

Lorna having already bagged Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich the day before in pouring rain and very little visibility, was hoping for kinder weather for this trip, her last big day out as she rapidly closes in on a completion…!

The day started very well in cool temperatures and the broken clouds lifting all the time as we biked into Upper Glendessary.  The footpath beyond is a notorious swamp and slow going, but we only plodded up a mile or so before heading north into impressive Corrie nan Uth, and climbed to the col below An Eag, now in lovely sunshine and the superb views opening up around us. A 1K contour to the north brought us onto the ridge on which we required. Dumping the packs we hiked strongly over inconvenient Sgurr Beag to get at our first Munro of the day, Sgurr Mor, with a wisp of mist almost blocking our view. The temperature had risen quite a bit and we were glad of the slight breeze picking up from the west as we retraced our steps back over Sgurr Beag to our packs and lunch.

With the long approach and the out-lying first hill done, we settled into the roller-coaster ridge to the west and onto Sgurr nan Coireachan, cooking nicely in the sun. Here Lorna educated me on how to use the panorama function on my new phone – and what a panorama to start with!

After seeing nobody in the morning we had encountered a steady stream of walkers all going the opposite direction and on shorter routes. Wildlife was out on view with deer, ptarmigan, newts, frogs, an eagle and even two wild boar encountered throughout the day!

This ridge is both long and rocky and we were glad to find more water at the foot of Garbh Chioch Bheag for refills. However water wouldn’t be a problem for much longer as the forecast late afternoon rain was approaching fast from the west in a curtain of dark cloud, the first spits hitting us before our third Munro, Garbh Chioch Mhor sadly requiring the waterproofs to go on. The top reached we took a brief moment out to celebrate Lorna getting into single figures on her countdown!

Only one to go but a long drop then steep re-ascent onto what should have been the days highlight, Sgurr na Ciche, which seemed so long away at the beginning of the day! The mist rolled in and robbed us of the jewel in the crown, but we didn’t moan too much since we got the best part of the day in fine weather. After a brief summit stop to re-fuel we began the long road home. The gulley off the hill proved extremely slippy in the rain and we descended cautiously not wanting to tempt a slide.

As we rounded a giant boulder there was ptarmigan lying on the path, sadly dead, and still warmish – its demise coming after having clearly face planted into the rock during flight! It was mixed feelings to be able to hold such a beautiful creature like this; we’d much rather it had still been flying. The rest of the walk out was long and got harder as the last of the light faded to blackness requiring the head torches for the grim bog walk back along the forestry edge, finally grateful to reach our bikes for the last 3 miles to the car after 13 hours on the hoof!

Overall it was a fantastic day out and a great reward for Lorna to get all these hills in one go, now on easy street to the finish line!