Knoydart was always going to be challenging and I had given a great deal of thought on how I would tackle the next three or four sections of my walk. On my previous walk I had already walked into Inverie from Morar. As a mountain bagger I had already done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart, but as a coastal walker I now needed to try to do it some justice by including some of the its shoreline.
I could write many pages on the permutations I considered in attempting to complete these sections, but I think it best just to give the general plan on the next three days of walking:-
1) Drive to Mallaig, park up and sleep in the car overnight
2) Following day walk from Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn
3) Following day walk from Kinloch Hourn to Inverie
4) Following day walk to West coast of Knoydart returning to Inverie to catch ferry back to Mallaig
I had planned not to carry a heavy sack this time, relying on B&B and bunk house accommodation. This meant I would just carrying a spare change of clothes and a small amount of food provisions. I had also recently bought a pair of shoulder strap ‘wraps’ which fitted around my existing rucksack straps to give extra support and padding.
I caught the 6:03 train from Mallaig to Fort William which cost £8.60 with my Senior Railcard. It was quite light outside as now, so I was able to enjoy some of the scenery I had previously walked. I then had a couple of hours to wait in Fort William until the 10:15 Inter-City Bus service #916 bound for Uig, but I would be alighting in Glen Shiel. I headed to the nearby Morrison’s, whose cafe opened at 08:00 and where I could get a reasonable breakfast and pass the time.
I asked the bus driver if he could drop me off 3 miles up the road from Glen Shiel (my designated stop), on a long straight, with a large lay by. He immediately became awkward by saying “which straight, there were many long straights”. He also added that he could not stop if there was Wind farm traffic. Quite what he meant I did not know, but it did not look good. Sure enough just as we left Fort William we got stuck behind a Stronelairg wind farm convoy. Fortunately the police escort allowed the queue to clear as we stopped at the Commando Memorial. As we approached the layby in Glen Shiel I alerted the driver to where I wanted off. He then mumbled something about getting done for blocking the road and that he could not stop if there was no space in the layby. There was one car behind us and the road was empty! I was really glad to be off the bus, what a miserable old git!!
It started to rain as I made my way up the stalkers path alongside the Allt Mhalagain. It was a route I had previously taken some 9 years before when climbing the Corbett ‘Twins’ of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais and Buidhe Bheinn. As I reached the upper Coirie I followed the Allt Coirie Toiteil to the Bealach an Toiteil. It was quite easy walking with a few snow slopes to negotiate around. By this time the sun had appeared and I had splendid views down Coire Reidh to Loch Hourn. To my right was the impressive and steep side of the Munro Sgurr na Sgine, which I climbed on a very wild and windy day with no views back in 2001.
I began the descent into Coire Reidh and could see the ATV track I was heading for about a mile away. I had excellent views across to Knoydart and could see Ladhar Bhienn’s snow-covered peaks were cloud free. I left the ATV track after a short distance and then headed for the small lochan of Lochan Torr a’Choit where I crossed the Allt a’Choire Reidh by means of a well made bridge. I then decided that instead of simply following the well-made track directly to Kinloch Hourn I would continue some distance west towards Gleann Dubh Lochain. I did this because when I returned to the area on my next trip I would be able to do an out-and-back from Corran on the Arnisdale side. I walked on for about another mile, before marking and carefully noting the point on the track for future reference. I retraced my footsteps back to the bridge near Lochan Torr a’Choit. There was a plethora of tracks and paths here, all coming together to continue through a narrow pass, the Cadha Mor.
I descended very steeply down the other side of the pass into Kinloch Hourn. The path entered a small plantation above Kinloch Hourn house. I was amazed to see that the majority of trees were Eucalyptus and big ones at that. As I passed a row of cottages a group of about 5 dogs came out barking. They were very friendly and just curious. I spoke to the Stalker about the trees, he said they were planted in 1890. Eucalyptus are lovely trees; I once planted two in my garden as tiny saplings; but they grew really fast and tall and I had to take them out after a couple of years.
I carried onto the public road and crossed the Lochourn River and then walked the short distance to Kinloch Hourn farm which was my B&B for the night.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 10 miles
Total distance = 3,685 miles