Archive for October 30th, 2011

October 30, 2011

A thousand shades of brown in the far north

by backpackingbongos

There is a certain amount of relief in Reuben’s eyes as he lays in his bed this evening.  Finally a day when he is not dragged up a wind-swept mountain or up to his belly in bog.  The car is outside cooling down after a 1,193 mile round trip to Sutherland in the far north of Scotland.  I shudder to think what the final petrol bill is.

A total of eight days were spent backpacking among some really wild and empty landscapes, with an atmosphere totally unique to the far north.  The autumn colours are at their peak up there, I did not realise that it was possible to get so many different shades of brown.  The autumn light shining on all those yellows, reds and browns resulted in a real treat for the eyes.

Two backpacks were done in the company of Pete and our dogs Reuben and Dougal.  On our third backpack we were joined by his wife Fiona (aka TLF).  Three different backpacks enabled us to explore and experience three very different landscapes.  A photograph and a few words from each:

We started off by heading for three days into the vast Ben Armine Forest.  This is a huge sprawling area of high moorland that reminded me of the Monadhliath mountains.  We climbed to the summit of Ben Armine itself which is reputed to be the most remote Graham (for non hill baggers this is a hill between 2000ft and 2500ft).  The view from the top was breathtaking, with the Flow Country laid out at our feet.   The photo above is from the Bealach Easach looking towards Loch a Bhealaich.

Our second backpack saw us heading across the Flow Country itself.  This is a land of huge skies and it was slightly unnerving heading across what felt like an endless bog.  The reward was a lovely bothy at the end of the day.  The photo above is of Pete making use of the argocat track that thankfully went in our direction for a couple of miles.

Our final backpack was for three days amongst the rugged peaks of Assynt.  This is a real primeval landscape, the raw bones of the earth being thrust high into the sky.  The map is a chaos of contours, rocks and lochans begging to be explored.  Thankfully the weather was kind enough to let us climb high and enjoy the views.  The photo above was taken on the ascent of Beinn Leoid.  The Stack of Glencoul is in the middle distance with the mighty Quinag on the horizon.

As time allows I will put up three separate trip reports.  In the meantime I will leave you with my impression of a new bit of gear I took along.  I wore a brand new pair of ‘proper’ leather walking boots.  Eight days of wading through some of the sloppiest ground imaginable and my feet remained dry, comfortable and blister free.  I also did not fall over once.  Was that a deep intake of breath from the back?