Posts tagged ‘Coiremor bothy’

May 2, 2009

A Scottish coast to coast – Evanton to Ullapool pt4

by backpackingbongos

Day 5 (23rd April) – 7 miles with 240m ascent

When I awoke this morning and went outside the bothy, I spotted Richard paddling across the far end of the loch mug in hand.  I am not a morning person so I went back inside to make a coffee, then sat outside the bothy to take in the scenery.  Todays walk was very easy so there was no rush this morning and we pottered around the bothy for a few hours before setting off just before midday.  Today would be slackpacking rather than backpacking!

We followed the track alongside the Corriemulzie river with great views back towards the mountains with Creag an Duine dominating the surrounding peaks.

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The track was very easy going and we made fast progress, crossing the ford without any difficulty.  We then took a shortcut up the hill side across rough ground to pick up a higher parallel track that eventually leads to Glen Douchary.  A narrow path branches off of this and heads towards Ullapool with the only sign post we had seen in the hills on the whole trip.  It was good to see that our final destination was in sight.

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A narrow but well defined path made a change to the landrover tracks that you now find in the mountains.  Fast progress without spoiling the wild landscape we love so much.  Landrover tracks seem to be eating into the wilderness these days making the wild places ever more accessible.

Just before dropping down into the next valley I turned around to take in a last close up view of the high peaks.  From now on the mountains would be behind us, although the lower hills would be just as wild.

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The narrow path disappearing in places stuck high above the Allt nan Caorach, a hidden scenic gem amongst the barren hills.

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There was a great looking wild camping spot at the head of the valley but we had only been walking for a couple of hours.  There is then a very long narrow lochan along most of its length which I imagine does not get much sunlight.  Before dropping down to the shores of Loch an Daimh we had a good glimpse of Glen Achall which would be our final route to the coast tomorrow.

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There was a grassy spot at the end of the loch and we sat for a while to eat some food and see who could skim stones the furthest across its surface.

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There is a vague path that follows the shore of the loch for half of its length which eventually joins up with the main track from Glen Achall.  Whilst walking alongside the loch a jet plane flew silently up the loch towards us seemingly only a few feet above the water.  It was only when it passed overhead that the roar from its engines hit us, instinctively making us duck.  Our ears were ringing for a while afterwards.   We soon spotted the chimney of Knockdamph bothy in the distance and a short while later we rounded a corner and there is was.

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It was only just gone 3.00pm and we had finished walking for the day.  We had thought about spending the last night wild camping but the weather forecast (kindly supplied by text by my partner) was for rain tonight and the morning.  I did not fancy a damp night so decided to stay in the bothy.  Richard fancied camping so tried to put his tent up outside but the ground was too hard to get pegs in.  A lazy afternoon and evening spent reading and strolling around the bothy, soaking up the atmosphere of its wild location.  Most comments in the bothy book were from people walking the Cape Wrath trail from Fort William, something I would love to do one day.  As with the other two bothies we had visited on this trip, Knockdamph was very clean and well cared for.  Its sad these days that you have to really get away from roads for bothies to be properly respected by visitors.  Not one of the 3 bothies we visited had even a scrap of rubbish and there was always dry fuel left for the next visitor.  I have visited many bothies on my travels and it always surprises me that people would visit beautiful places, leave piles of rubbish and have a shit right next to the bothy (and reading some reports in bothy books actually inside it) without burying it.  Anyway rant over!

Knockdamph has an upstairs bedroom with beds and mattresses which was quite bizarre, not that I fancied sleeping on a musty old mattress.  For some reason it made that room feel a little spooky, what with its ancient newspapers lining the ceiling.  We decided on the floor downstairs instead.

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Map of route (click to enlarge)

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Day 6 (24th April) – 12.2 miles with 300m ascent

We had just over 12 miles to walk today before catching a bus from Ullapool to Evanton at 4.30pm.  Not knowing how long it would take we decided on a early start.

We emerged from the bothy just after 8.00am into a cloudy and drizzly world with clouds covering the hills, weather that had been thankfully absent during the last week.  It was very mild and after only 30 minutes walking we had to stop and take off waterproof trousers as we were getting wetter through sweat than we would through the very fine rain.  Within a short space of time our track was descending into Glen Achall where spring had definitely sprung.

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The route ahead now was very easy and ground was covered quickly along a well surfaced track.  It was such a contrast after the last few days to be walking through a green low level valley.  The drizzle became patchier and the skies tried to brighten up.

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We were soon reaching Rhidorroch house halfway along Loch Achall where we hit our first bit of tarmac for 5 days.  We also passed our first hiker in 5 days but our greetings were totally ignored, welcome back to the real world!  We consoled ourselves by a quick rest by the loch to skim a few more stones.

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Unaccustomed to traffic we jumped out of our skins when a vehicle approached us from behind further down the road.  The final couple of miles of the route were alongside the Ullapool river hidden in a wooded valley between low hills.

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A large noisy quarry welcomed us to the outskirts of Ullapool and our rumbling stomachs pulled us across the A835 and along the coastal road into the village.  We had managed to cover the 12 miles by 1.00pm which would hopefully mean a chippy would be open.  It was and we satisfied our appetites before heading down to the beach near the pier to dip our toes into the sea.

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Although it was a short route we were pleased to have made it across and to have been self sufficient for six days.  I had left the pebble collected from the coast near Evanton in the van.  Richard had carried his across and he left it on the beach, lets hope an east coast pebble left on the west coast does not upset the balance of nature!

After a few hours of kicking our heels in Ullapool we got on a bus and probably stunk it out, six days in the hills does have a downside!  Just over 2 hours later we were back where we had started…………………………….

Map of the route (click to enlarge)

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April 30, 2009

A Scottish coast to coast – Evanton to Ullapool pt3

by backpackingbongos

Day 4 (22nd April) – 6.2 miles with 690m ascent

It was cold in the bothy when I woke during the night with my watch showing the temperature at 3c, it must have been pretty chilly outside.  I got up early and peered out of the condensation covered window and was relieved to see flawless blue skies.  Richard had already vacated the bothy and I found him sitting on a boulder in the middle of the river, plugged into his ipod with a cup of coffee in his hands.  What a perfect start to the day!

Damp gear from yesterday was hung outside in the sun whilst breakfast was eaten and we had a leisurely first part of the morning just enjoying the location.  I took a photo of the old bothy which stood more comfortably in the landscape than the newer tin one we had stayed in last night.

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Our packed rucksacks seemed a bit lighter this morning than they had done in the last few days, we were now wondering if we would have enough food to last rather than thinking we had brought too much!  The plan for today had been fairly elastic with the aim of getting to Coiremor bothy by the route most suitable for whatever the weather would throw at us.  The stunning blue skies and warm sunshine decided on the route for us, we would bag Seana Bhraigh.

We were soon squelching up the Abhainn a Ghlinne Bhig in really good spirits, even a peat bog that tried to remove my boot could not spoil the morning.

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From the bothy I had identified a spot where the cliffs on the north side of the valley gave way to steep grass slopes which were deeply cut by the Allt Feith na Slataich.  It looked ok from the bothy but appeared to get bigger and steeper the nearer we got to it.

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It was certainly good exercise climbing up to the 6oom contour with frequent breaks to gasp for breath and look back down the valley to the bothies.

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The scenery was getting better with each step and finally the gradient eased considerably as we reached the base of Meall Feith na Slataich and stopped to fill our water bottles and our stomachs.  The ground on the hills surrounding us was pretty rough and peat hagged as we continued with the climb.

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The climbing became easier as we gained the ridge.  We constantly had to find boulders to sit on where we could just relax and take in the view.  What would be the point of rushing a day like today?

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We were now surrounded by a panorama of peaks.  It was good to see Ben Wyvis far off in the distance guarding the way we had already walked.  Beinn Dearg was the most dominant peak and it still had some large patches of snow and cornices along its edges.

Lunch came early when we found a spot sheltered by the wind before we walked to the col between Seanna Bhraigh and Creag an Duine a spectacularly pointy and airy peak.

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The wind and the scenery literally took our breath away.  The strength of the wind blowing through the col made it difficult to stand and we were aware of the enormous cliffs a few feet away.  Impressive as the scenery was it was time to get moving.  Its strange how the wind acts because only a minute away all was calm again.  As we climbed we kept close but not too close to the edge of the cliffs to get the best of the views.  The remaining cornices were still pretty impressive.

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The summit cairn is placed only a few feet from the edge of the cliffs which drop very steeply straight down to the floor of Luchd Coire.  I could imagine that this could be a fairly dangerous place in winter when the summit is covered in snow and there is a cornice extending out into space.  No such problems today and the views in all directions were exceptional under blue skies in crystal clear air.  My eyes kept getting drawn to the Coigach and Assynt peaks which dominated the north west.  There was also a very impressive spiky looking mountain to the south east that could only have been An Teallach, a mountain that is definitely on my list.  I could also not resist getting on my stomach and peering over the cliffs to the Coire far below.

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Whilst comfortable in the bothy I had toyed with the idea of climbing Carn Ban as well as Seana Bhraigh as it did not look to far on the map.  However from here it looked miles away and the ground in between looked very rough with loads of bogs and lochans to navigate.  At least I can come back one day and walk Glenbeg to Coiremor via Carn Ban!

We descended the north east ridge which was much easier than it looked on the map, which made it look like there may be a little scrambling.  Initially the cliffs dominated the walk down until we reached a small lochan at the col.

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We continued along the ridge for a bit before starting a very steep descent into Luchd Choire where we got a good view down to Coiremor bothy next to Loch a Choire Mhor.

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The descent was punishing on the knees but we soon reached the floor of the coire where we could follow the stream down to the edge of the loch.  During this descent we had a keen eye on the river flowing out of the loch.  It looked very wide from here and I had read that it can often be difficult to ford.  Standing next to it it was as wide as we thought it would be but we managed to get across dryshod.

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We were soon arriving at Coiremore bothy and were more than ready to get the stoves on for a hot drink and some food.

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There are actually two bothies here joined together.  The smaller one on the right hand side is maintained by the MBA and although nice and cosy was full of old manky looking sofas.  Not sure why someone would want to bring a sofa to a bothy as it just ends up getting damp and dirty and full of mice.  A substantial part of the building was Magoo’s bothy which had been rebuilt by the RAF to remember a guy who was killed in action.  It is a homely bothy which is really well maintained and looked after.  There is even a seperate little bothy inbetween Magoo’s and the MBA one with it own wood burning stove.  The major problem was deciding where to sleep!  Richard took a bunk in Magoo’s whilst I slept in the little bothy next door.  Not often that you can have a bothy each!  Dinner was cooked on the large table inside Magoo’s and the bothy books were read cover to cover, so many interesting stories there.  As with the night before we did not bother lighting a fire as it was not really that cold.  It would be rude to use the bogwood someone had taken the trouble to collect and dry out without topping up the supplies.  We really could not be bothered to go collecting in the bogs at the end of the loch.  I spent the evening feeling sick, I had not been purifying my water during the day so it may well have been that.  I retired to my sleeping bag before it got dark, not before popping outside to check out the magnificent view of Creag an Duine towering over the Loch and bothy.

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Map of the route (click to enlarge)

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