Friday, 22 June 2012

Gold Solstice in Knoydart

The Summer Solstice is a great time to be in the Scottish Highlands and the long days are perfect for Gold Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.  I'm just back from a practice in Knoydart- my first trip in to this remote area, and certainly not my last.

Day 1:
We caught the boat to Inverie the day before and set off on a bright morning for the first two days of our trip, a rough round of the Peninsula, beginning with a hike up the Mam Li and a traverse through two high passes down to Croulin on day 1.  We camped close to the tip of the peninsula, and were treated to a beautiful sunset that smouldered between Skye and the low cloud.

 A still morning in Inverie

 The pass at the head of the Mam Li

 Looking North to Loch Hourn, with glimpses of Torridon on the horizon. 

 The Skye Cuillins from the pass above Croulin. 

Sunset over the Red Cuillin

Day 2:
This was a tough day for the group with a lot of off path navigation back over the hills to Inverie, and then beyond, with a midgey camp at the entrance to Gleann Meadail ("Glen of the Midge"). We, being wimpy leaders hid out at Druim Bothy, a private bothy owned by the Kilchoan estate. 

 Descending to the road via the Sandaig Burn.

 Back in Inverie, briefly.

 Kilchoan and Inverie

Lord Brockett's Watnot.  Lord Brocket had the dubious distinction of being a Nazi sympathiser, and the last aristocrat to systematically clear a large area of the highlands.  See the Highland Clearances website for more about him and the Knoydart Seven.

Day 3:
This was a magnificent day with two mountain passes to negotiate and some of the finest scenery in Scotland.  We took Gleann Meadail and descended to the remote Sourlies Bothy. From here it was another high pass via the Mam na Cloich' Airde and down to Glen Dessary.  Here the hardy students braved the midges, while we leaders yet again hid down the road in A'Chuil Bothy.  

 Sgurr na Ciche
 Camus Ruaridh at the top of Loch Nevis.

 The forlorn ruins at Carnoch

 Sourlies Bothy, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. 

 Tide is out in Loch Nevis

 Ascending the pass via the Finiskaig River

 Lochan a' Mhaim
A' Chuil Bothy.

Day 4:
The summer soltice and the longest day.... We hoped it would be a bit shorter than the other days and set out for Glenfinnan amongst gathering clouds.  The weather broke as we topped out of Gleann a' Chaorainn. The rain chased us down hill to the viaduct and the welcome respite of soft shoes and a warm dry minibus.  What a trip!

 The conical shape of Streap guards the pass to Glenfinnan. 

 Looking back up the pass from Glenfinnan. 

There is, allegedly, a horse and cart buried deep in one of the pillars of the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

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