A Scottish coast to coast – Evanton to Ullapool pt2

by backpackingbongos

Day 2 (April 20th) – 6.7 miles with 520m ascent

It was a warm still and humid night and I awoke with the inner of my tent covered in condensation.  Tricky getting out of a small tent without getting an early morning shower.  Due to the number of ticks the day before I put on my gaiters to get a little protection from them.  I’m glad that I did because on a trip to the woods to answer natures call I hit a real hot spot and got a big cluster of tick nymphs on my gaiter.  Maybe 50 tiny little ticks then had to be washed off.  After breakfast it was definitely time to move!

We packed away wet tents and damp sleeping bags and headed up the valley of Abhainn Beinn nan Eun on a good track.  The landscape became progressively wilder as we went further up the valley.

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Just before an impressive set of waterfalls we came to an unlocked little shelter which would be useful in bad weather.

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Alongside the waterfalls came the first climb of the day as the track became a path and then gradually disappeared.

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As we climbed higher the weather got better and with the sun shining and a gentle breeze we decided to stop for lunch and pitch the tents for a while to let them dry out.  A spot was chosen that would be ideal for a wild camp.

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After lunch we had our first mountain of the trip to climb, Carn Loch nan Amhaichean at 697m.  We climbed up wet and boggy ground to a col just south of Gob na h-Eibheachd with great views back along the valley to Ben Wyvis.

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We then kept height and contoured above Loch nan Amhaichean to reach the south ridge of the peak.  It was then a simple climb to the summit which gave extensive views for its modest height.

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We descended to the north with views down to the loch on our right before leaving the ridge and dropping into Coire Rhainich.  The descent with heavy packs made our knees complain and when we arrived at a large grassy patch beside the river we could not resist stopping for the night.

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We had covered far less mileage than planned which would mean a longer day tomorrow.  We were happy with the spot we had chosen and cooked outside the tents with great views to snowy peaks to the south west (Fannichs?)

Map of the Route (click to enlarge)

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Day 3 (April 21st) – 12.5 miles with 440m ascent

I awoke with the sound of drizzle hitting the tent flysheet and found it difficult to get myself out of my cozy sleeping bag.  I always find it hard to get motivated in the mornings but even more so when it is raining, so it took a bit of effort to pack up wet gear and get moving.  We followed the valley down to the cottage at Strathrannoch and took the track towards Allt Coir a Chundrain which we forded without any problems.  We had planned to bag the munro Am Faochagach but the clag was down and the rain was becoming steadier so we forged ahead with the low level option.  A track ascended the hill side after the ford and climbed towards a small plantation where a path was meant to start.  This was non existent so we forged up through wet tussocks to try and find the path higher up on the shoulder of the hill.  We found a gate still standing where a fence line should have been, but no sign of the elusive path.  By now the rain was getting heavier and was joined by a strong gusty wind right in our faces.  Feeling a bit dejected we found shelter behind a large boulder where we could have some food.

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We forged on through the wet tussocks into the wind and rain where the path should have been for a couple of miles before finally dropping down to the track alongside Loch Vaich.  A quick stomp and the deserted houses of Lubachlaggan came into view with a stormy back drop of mountains.

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An ideal looking spot for lunch we descended off of the track and suddenly the skies cleared and the sun gave a welcome appearance.  Stoves on in the lee of one of the buildings and our spirits were lifted as the weather looked like it was turning for the better.

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All of a sudden the skies darkened again and bands of rain swept in obscuring the mountains so we hastily retreated into the ruined building and found one room that was almost habitable.  Lubachlaggan would make a great bothy and it looks like the room we found is still often used by people passing through even though there are no doors or windows.

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The sun was soon shining and I went outside to take some photos and walk to the shore of the loch.

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We headed north along a well maintained track and the weather played with us all the way. Ten minutes of heavy rain / hail followed by ten minutes of warn sunshine.  Taking off waterproofs would risk a soaking.

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Finally we reached the head of the glen on the shoulder of Meall a Chaorainn and we caught a glimpse into Gleann Mor.

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We felt that we had reached the heart of the mountains now, miles from civilisation.  On descending into the valley this illusion was spoilt a little bit by Deanich Lodge which looked a bit out of place in this wild glen.  We could see someone in a 4×4 get out and feed a herd of deer and some cattle before driving off back down the valley.  A burst of sunshine then lit up the glen.

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Just after crossing the river we were hit by a pretty ferocious hail storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere.  The sky went black then it hit us with strong gusty winds that took it away just as quickly as it arrived.  The track continued west up the valley and finally stopped at a weir where we got a distant glimpse of our bothy for the night.

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The ground approaching Glenbeg bothy was atrocious and no matter how long we walked the bothy seemed to get no closer to us.  The last mile seemed to go on forever as bands of rain soaked us and bogs sucked at our boots.  Cycle tracks in the peat showed that someone before us had shown real determination to get there!  Finally the speck in the distance got bigger and we could feel that we were getting somewhere.

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All that remained was a final squelch and a fairly tricky river crossing and we arrived at Glenbeg bothy.

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I always get a feeling of anticipation when approaching a bothy.  Is there anyone else there?  If so what will they be like?  Will it be trashed or full of litter?  Glenbeg was a very pleasant surprise as not only was it empty but it was pretty luxurious and in an absolutely wild and stunning location.  Strangely for such a remote location there were actually two bothies, the newer one in the foreground in the photo above and a traditional stone building shown on the left.  The old bothy was very dark and dingy with small windows set within its thick walls.  Normally I would have been more than happy to stay in it but the newer one was light, bright and comfortable.  We even got a bedroom each.

The rest of the evening was spend refueling our bodies and popping outside to be look at the grand scenery.  The bothy seemed to accentuate the remoteness of its location.  It was a full days hike to the nearest road and that would involve crossing wild and trackless hills towards Inverlael.  The last visitor in the bothy book was from a week ago and there had only been a handful of entries so far that year.

We had fingers crossed that the weather would change for the better the next day because we were going to cross Seana Bhraigh, which is reputed to be one of the remotest munros………………………….

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3 Comments to “A Scottish coast to coast – Evanton to Ullapool pt2”

  1. I’m really enjoying this account of your walk. It really is wild, remote countryside around Gleann Beag, isn’t it? I’ve not been to the bothy there. I’m looking forward to your Seana Braigh part of the trip; it’s years and years since i climbed that big, remote hill.

    I don’t think I’m fit enough now to carry 6 days worth of food and fuel – and hubby is no fitter. Well done you two!

  2. Good to hear that you are enjoying the posts. One of the best walks I have ever done, I love the wild places.

    I certainly was not feeling fit on this walk with all that food and fuel. That probably shows in some low mileage days on the trip. You probably could do the route in 4 or 5 days but then half of the fun is spending all that time just soaking up the wilderness.

  3. You’re making me feel jealous. Looks a really interesting route.

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