Sat 12th May 2012 – Dubh Loch to A Chuil
We were up reasonably early on day 2.
The forecast was good until late in the day, and we planned to make sure we were off the ridge before then, because no matter which way you go down it was going to be
Not a long day in distance, there were going to be much longer days than this later on.
But a tiring day, with the descents.
It had rained a bit in the night, and there was some water on the tents.
But it was drying out ok, and the Trailstar had been superb.
We headed off from camp along this rather fine ridge.
I had forgotten to fit the damned Superfeet, and was still getting the odd twinge from my left foot. I decided that when we had our first rest stop, I would swap them over.
We had a brief stop at Sgurr Mor, and I swapped the Innov8 inners for Superfeet Blue.
This certainly helped, although I was still getting twinges, but they were a lot more stable.
Later I should have swapped them back, because I almost ended up with a blister on my heel by about day 6.
|John as we approach the small lochens near Sgurr Mor|
|Another view down by the lochens|
|View along the ridge looking West.
Oban bothy and Meoble are somewhere down there on the right
|Same view with more of Loch Morar.
You can see the clouds beginning to form.
The weather was good, but there was definitely a chill in the air
We had another stop near Sgurr Breac.
This is a truly magnificent ridge, with wondrous views in all directions, but quite up and down.
|Al on route.
You can see how the ridge rises and drops as you go along.
But just look at those views
|John at a brief rest stop|
In all directions, there were fantastic views of the surrounding hills.
You could still see as far back as Rum and Skye, but also way out towards the Glen Affric hills and Glen Pean.
Looking towards Oban Bothy, was An Stac Tarmachain and Beinn Gharbh.
To our left and North West in the far far distance you could just catch a glimpse of the Affric hills, and behind us still faint in haze, were Rum and the Cullins.
What can I say.
All the bigger Munro’s had crisp coatings of Snow.
|A small stone wall on route and another rise in the ridge heading towards the Sgurr Nam Meirleach|
We carried on along this wondrous ridge to the Lochens at Sgurr Nam Meirleach, where we decided it was time for a longer rest stop.
The weather was still good, but not going to stay that way.
The Corbett’s at the end looked imposing and dark
More like the hills of Mordor.
|The Corbett’s at the end of the ridge.
Still a long way to go.
After a rest at the lochens, Al decided that rather then do the ridge, and then drop down off the end (the original plan) we would descend down from the Lochens.
He was suffering a bit from Fen Legs, and there was still a long way to go.
John went on to do the ridge.
Later as we were to find out, the descent was tough, and at times a scramble.
He fell a couple of times, and hurt his leg along with tearing of trousers.
Considering what happened to Dave’s knee, we may well have made the right decision.
Even so, this descent was steep, especially at the start.
Thankfully the ground was reasonably dry, and so footing pretty good.
I cannot imagine how hard this would be in the wet with poor visibility.
If the ground had also been icy, it would have needed a lot more gear than we were carrying.
I had meant to take some photo’s of this, but a couple at the top did not come out, and I was concentrating quite hard on the descent.
|The start of the descent. (picture courtesy Al)
It was even steeper than it looks
After a bit of a sack and shoe faff, (you need your shoes on tight on descents like this), I eventually caught up with Al and Dave.
When going down terrain like this, it is best not to follow in convoy.
You just need to pick your own route down as you see it, trying to make sure you do not end up at a rocky crag and need to re-route.
It took the best part of an hour to get all the way down.
Al is pretty good on descents, and I am normally not so good, due to lack of cartilage in my knees, but today I was on fire and well ahead by the time I started to get to the lower ground.
Had I bothered to take my camera out, there were some beautiful flowers on the way down hiding in the rocky crags.
I stopped about 3/4 of the way down for a bit of a rest and a drink.
It had been hot hard work, and very very tiring on lower limbs. Knees in particular.
This was not the place to take a tumble and get an injury.
|Wee yellow flowers on the way down.
Where is John Keohane when you need him?
OK, primroses (thanks Louise)
Eventually, we arrived at the bottom, crossing and then following the stream down to our right to the river at the bottom.
|Two Geezers on an ‘ill mate.
OK, Dave and I near the bottom (courtesy Al’s Blog)
This is quite a deep ravine, and the path runs higher up the side.
I tried a short cut over the top, but it ended on a steepish drop, so I went back round to catch up Al and Dave.
We stopped for a rest and some food a bit short of the water falls.
There was still a jolly long way to go to get to the bothy, along a windy and at times narrow track. The distance on the ground not really showing how much hard work this is.
11 miles is not a long way, on the flat. But when you add this terrain into it, it is a different ball game altogether. Especially with large rucksacks on your back.
|The falls along the river Abhainn Ceann Loch Morair|
The walk along the river is up and down and varied degrees of wet and width, finishing at Loch Eanaich, where there is a small beach.
From here, there is no path on the map, but there is for the most part a clear path on the ground following the river all the way into the forest.
At the end, the track becomes quite indistinct, and curves round to the right, following the stream. This is crossed easily, and there is a small broken down fence as well as a crossing ladder to get over into the forest.
It is not obvious where this is, but crossing back to the left of the river and through a bit of undergrowth, and very wet ground shows an overgrown and wet track heading to the right.
After a while, this opens out and keeping the river to thew right, eventually becomes a Landrover track, that winds through the forest.
Forest Tracks are well.
We followed this for some time until after fording the river as it widened (we crossed on stones) we had a bit of a rest.
Al had a lie down, and Dave I think had a sleep.
The weather was still fine, and we stayed here for about 40 minutes.
It was not far to A Chuil now anyway.
We headed off on the last bit to A Chuil.
The track was wider and much easier now, with some new bridges rather than needing to ford the river.
Just as we left the forest to cross to the bothy, it poured with rain.
To late now to muck about with waterproofs.
(if we had not stopped, we would have made it in the dry).
I was in a bit of a rush and hurried on getting wetter by the second.
Undeterred (‘Ard Me), I made my way across.
As I got to the other side, the rain stopped, and the last bit of the descent down the slippery track to the bothy was completed.
There were about 8 or 9 in the bothy.
I need to get a list of names.
One of the rooms was full, but luckily the other sleeping area just off the main room, was empty and we quickly unpacked our gear here before making a brew.
As the night went on, and the weather began to change, we lit a fire as best we could.
This was controlled after it was lit by Freddy, (he of the pemmican), who became fire monitor for the night.
More arrivals as the evening wore on, and the weather outside worsened.
It looked like tomorrows weather was well and truely on it’s way.
It was going to be the FWA along loch Arkaig rather than any tops.
The trip to Glensulaig bothy was going to be a non starter.
|Candlelight in A Chuil|
More arrivals at the bothy as the fire gave out what heat it could.
It was not much, but it was better than none.
The rooms seemed to remain quite segregated apart from the newer arrivals.
Some rather wet German lads arrived late aon, along with a chap who had walked there from Fort William, and was heading back there the following day.
Apparantely, he had to walk at least 20 miles to make it worthwhile????
We had done about 11 and it had all been worthwhile.
To each his own.
There was a another chap also called I think FRED, who was doing Le Jog.
A nice guy, he stayed and talked for a while although he was in the other room.
He would annoy Al in about 36 hours time by attempting to get him soaked in Gairlochy.
(we’ll come to that in time )
That could well be a new verb to annoyal
A few drams were drunk and near the end of the evening the fine chap in the picture below, who knew us, and whose name will come to me at some point came in with a box he had stashed up there a few weeks before.
It contained cans of beer, and we had one each.
|Bloody fantastic sir, Bloody fantastic|
All good things must come to an end however.
As the rain and wind increased outside, it was time for sleep.
Tomorrow was going to be a slog
It was going to be a cold and wet slog
It was going to almost end in tears
And for one or more reasons
It was going to be quite memorable.