Day 1 – Invergarry to East Glenquoich Forest, 17 miles.
Day 2 – East Glenquoich Forest to Wester Glen Quoich, 14 miles.
Day 3 – Wester Glen Quoich to Barrisdale, 14½ miles.
Day 4 – Barrisdale to Inverie, 9 miles.
Day 5 – Ladhar Bheinn circular, 15½ miles.
Day 6 – Brockett Memorial / Knoydart in a Nutshell.
Plot of track, camp-sites and elevation.
Downloadable GPS routes.
Return to Knoydart.
Day 3 – Wester Glen Quoich to Barrisdale, 14½ miles, 3239ft ascent.
Surprisingly I slept for about 10 hours, but the next morning it was still very wet. I sensed a lull in the rain and rose, packed away the tent, breakfasted and freshened up in the Coire an Doire Leathain, just like the men of the shielings would have done many times before.
The rain was stop / start, but everywhere was soaking wet. After a short while we left the nice(ish) track that ran through the glen and started to head up to Coire Sgoireadail, crossing the burn via another of these ‘fords’.
It was a short, sharp and steep climb up to the top. And a wet one! So by around 9.30am we knew it was all downhill from here. All downhill but not much fun. As is often the case it was steep and lumpy and the path often disappeared when it got close. The sections of motorway crash barrier weren’t doing an awful lot for the drainage, but they were a nice gesture!
The walk down the valley was fairly featureless, apart from a very impressive old fence driven into the rock, usefully keeping us away from the often deep crevice of the Allt Coire Sgoireadail. I had earlier toyed with the idea of tackling the two Munros just on the south-east side of valley, Sgùrr Thionail and Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich, but wisely decided very quickly that they could wait for another day. The pylons that drop down from high above us, down in to the valley and then back up and away in to the distance are the same ones we’d camped by two nights ago, carrying juice from the underground hydro-power station back at Invergarry. Odd to be towering above the pylons.
Soon after the pylons the scenery changed and we were in the more wooded surroundings dropping down towards Loch Coire Shùbh. A welcome change from the exposed marshland we’d been tramping through for past 3 hours but still very wet!
When we got to the bottom we reached another ford, this one across the Loch Hourn river. At barely even 1.5miles long, the Loch Hourn river must be the shortest river in Scotland.
The fording-route looked good, but it was wide. I thought I’d taken a photo of it, but it seems I didn’t. I did however take a video.
Impressively, I make it look very difficult.
After crossing the river it was so nice to be back on some decent tarmac – and back on the same road we’d already been twice before. I figured here would be a good time & place to have a bit to eat and change my damp socks. Which is quite an involved procedure, but soon we were refueled and rebooted and the walk continued. But not for long. Almost immediately with every step something began digging into the end of a toe and was most uncomfortable. I was going to have to stop and de-boot all over again, I could carry on as it was. It turned out that the offending object – which I was assuming was a bit of gravel – was actually the short but lumpy seam of a darned-over hole in the sock! After some oakum-picking style unpicking the hole had returned and the nasty lump had gone. And on we went.
On the way to Kinloch Hourn we passed the point of the Kinloch River that would have had to been crossed had a taken a short-cut to avoid the ford. The ford was definitely the better option! And passed the busy car-park of Kinloch Hourn and its defunct manually pumped petrol pump.
At this point I was under the impression that this nice wide well-surfaced track was going to continue all the way to Barisdale, and the stroll along Loch Hourn was going to be very pleasant – albeit rainy. I was sadly very mistaken!
By now the water seemed to have got in to my camera and it was behaving very oddly indeed, and wouldn’t do anything except take one photo as soon as you turned it on. So sadly I was unable to zoom in on what looked like could’ve been the Loch Hourn monster. Or a duck. We’ll never know. What didn’t need zooming in on was a stupid almost-sheer-drop of slippery wet rock that I had to get down, and once false move and we would have been in the briny. I decided that using the bum-slide method here was probably the best way to go.
A waterfall across the loch at Tor a’ Choit caught my eye, and for the last time for a some time my camera decided to oblige me with a zoom. I was later told that in summer you can swim in the pools of this waterfall.
Trying to capture the picturesque reflection here, I also manage to capture the exact moment when it started to rain again. Clever eh? Mind you there were so many such moments during the days I guess it was only time before I caught one on camera.
My dreams of a gentle easy walk into Barisdale were now firmly shattered, as the path changed from precarious to flooded, from overgrown to bare rock, with many ups & downs. And a brief map reading error gave me false hope, when I thought I was a mile or so further ahead than I actually was. Bah!
Passing Runival there’s a rather unwelcome 300ft lump of rock in the way. And at the top an odd old gate, that doesn’t open and isn’t easily walked around which was slightly inconvenient. After dragging myself up and around the gate, I went to lean against it on the other side for a breather only to suddenly realise that it was only attached to the posts at opposite corners. It nearly flipped me over and sent me back down to the bottom! Stupid gate, and then to make matters more annoying a short distance ahead after dropping back down to loch-level, there was another 300ft lump to get over! Sigh. At least the misty views looking back were nice.
Approaching Barisdale Bay there was one last climb up, but the path didn’t get much better. In the photo to above right, the water is the path. The heather conveniently forcing us to splash through the middle of it.
But it was soon over, and we caught our first glimpse of the sandy Bay – and delightfully a proper track again! We fair skipped down the hill, and past the ruined bothy to join the proper track and be officially welcomed into Barisdale.
After the shock of the noise from some sort of pump-house (you soon get very used to the peace and quiet) I got to the bothy – which was unsurprisingly rammed. But no matter, as I was going to camp anyways – I just wanted somewhere to hang up my wet gear to hopefully dry out overnight, or at least get a little less damp. The atmosphere in the kitchen area was busy and steamy but very convivial. Lots of light-hearted banter regarding stoves, boots and choices of trail-food (“CoffeeMate… in tea!?”).
And as various tales came and went, I started regaling my story of the last time I was in a bothy with the two Germans who wouldn’t let me keep the fire going, and there was this mouse… At which point a Scouse voice popped up “Wait – did the mouse eat the Germans’ chocolate?? I’ve read this on the internet!” How nice to bump into someone who had such fine taste in walking blogs!! By the way, if you happen to read this Joe – this took me exactly three minutes to write :-)
So nice to pitch my tent on level ground with the approval of the local residents of course, and I was out like a light. Top
Day 4 – Barrisdale to Inverie, 9 miles, 2123ft ascent.
As we enjoyed the last bit of level ground for a while I pondered what to do today. The original plan had been to go via Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe, but struggling with my bag over the past few days I was beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea or not. In fact I’d been wondering that for a little while – but now it was decision time.
But predictably as the top of the pass at Mám Barisdale got nearer and the legs got a little wearier, I decided that perhaps today should be an easy day. Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe aren’t going anywhere, so they can wait. A wise decision.
Up at the top of Mám Barisdale it was clear and very blowy, so the woolly hat came out. Here as I had a sit down and enjoyed the views, I realised that although it was still a good few miles to Inverie without any distracting pesky mountains to get in the way I reckoned I could be in the pub for lunchtime.
While up high I took advantage of the breeze to dry my socks out by donning them glove-style, as they’d not seemed to manage to rid themselves of much moisture in their overnight hangout of the cold fetid kitchen of the bothy.
Down at lochan level now and out of the wind, so the hat could come off and the dry socks go away. Must take care not to step in the puddle of tadpoles though. I hope they sprout legs before the puddle dries out – mind you, round these parts it could be some time before any of the puddles dry out.
Just gone 10am and we might even make into town for a brunch never mind lunch! The digger was a reminder that we were nearing civilisation – an abandoned digger but it’s a sign of modern technology none-the-less.
I meet a couple around here leaving Inverie for a walk up the valley the other way, and they told me that the pub isn’t open at lunch-times at the moment. They don’t open until 3pm! Gutted. I’ve been rushing all that way for nothing. Still, I think with my pack on I’d rather reach Inverie with nothing to do than be struggling up Luinne Bheinn cursing “never again”!
Another obligatory highland moo cow photo, and when I get to the familiar nearly-there landmark of the Brocket Memorial I sit down for a breather. Not far to go now, and with no pint any time soon nothing to rush for. Just as well because after setting off I realise that one of my nice dry socks is missing! I must have dropped it somewhere. Bother (this wasn’t the actual word I said to myself, but it was along those lines) – I’ll be needing that tomorrow. So 180 degrees I turn and tramp back half a mile, and pleasingly find said sock. Must be more careful with my woollens eh? Don’t want to make that mistake again! Hmmm.
Through the woods, with some odd cut-out sections in the trees. Something smells funny in these woods, but I can’t see anything dead. But what I can see on emerging is a lovely view of Loch Nevis and Inverie below.
Knowing roughly where I’m going now, I take the direct route to the bunk-house through some pretty little woods. Passing the saw-mill with a poster which I think is about Scotland’s first king or something.
And just after the woods, a short skip past the JB 1892 houses, and hoorah – we’re back at the welcoming Knoydart Bunkhouse, to be greeted warmly by the lovely Anna, our charming hostess for whom nothing is too much trouble. And it’s barely midday. But shock-horror – almost immediately I realised then that I’ve lost my woolly hat! As if a sock wasn’t enough. Anna was very sympathetic, so I chose a bed and dropped my bag and scampered back along my tracks to find it. I would definitely need that tomorrow! Although a tad annoyed about having to go back, now minus my pack I felt I could do another 10 miles! And after a while it seemed I might have to – a good two miles later and there was no sign of it. I hoped Anna was right and someone would pick it up and I’d see them later. I knew there’d be a few others passing the same way and I’m sure they’d be in the pub that night. Fingers crossed. Back to the bunkhouse, and a wee rest and a chance to sort my stuff out. The pub wouldn’t be open for another two hours yet.
Heading into Inverie and it almost feels like home. And weirdly it was at this very spot my camera started working properly again! I guess it just wanted to be here all the time. I stopped off at the Knoydart Pottery and Tearoom (“Don’t call it a tea-shop!” as I was told) for a bacon sarnie, and a packed lunch for tomorrow. I watched a dolphin or porpoise or some such thing swimming about akin to Jaws. I waited and waited for it to spring out of the water and athletically flip a beach-ball or something but then I saw the clock… it was pointing at the number three!