To Coire Fionnaraich, South Torridon, Loch an Eion and Maol Chean-dearg
Friday 1st July
What a long drive up to Achnashellach area, South Torridon, phew! When you drive for hours then walk immediately afterwards, it takes more of an effort to get going.
We had time to take in the sunshine and the bloody midges and clegs. I always think of Nick Clegg when one of them bites me.
Saw a beautiful dragonfly; just sat there basking in the sun, quite happy to get her photograph taken. We were looking for signs of life to take on the path, footprints, rubbish, the odd sock. We came across a memorial engraved into the rock, in memory of Michael and Alan Conan.
I realised it had been ages since I had walked in this kind of heat and sunshine. I looked up at the sky and rested my head on the top of my pack, taking in the sun.
We got to the bothy and there was nobody there. We bagged our room and laid down our territory. Bothying is a bit about territory, yet somehow what people go in for transcends the practical stuff.
We had a great evening, Nick took loads of photographs, we messed about by the river, taking in our surroundings, the tropical dry looking landscape that Torridon offers.
Nick carried in a bag of coal in and we had a fire for comfort rather than for warmth.
We spent most of the evening and night pottering about outside. I kept looking down the path and expecting someone to arrive. They never did. We kept trying to work out. Right, if they finished work in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Dundee etc by 4 or 5pm, they would arrive at the road by the latest 9 or 10pm. Then they would arrive at the bothy, the latest 11-11.30pm. Nobody came. The night was calm. We lit a candle upstairs where we slept.
Saturday 2nd July
I had a morning nightmare. I ended up kind of singing then shouting out. Nick was downstairs making a brew when I shouted out. The little birds perched on the log outside the bothy flew off when they heard me!
Ten years ago, I passed this bothy and I distinctly remember a beautiful tree stood over the bothy. Now it is a seat, a log. Who knows. Did somebody chop it down for wood? Did it blow over in the wind? Did it catch a disease and die? Now it was a log to sit outside and admire the rest of the view from. Everything out here is a bloody metaphor!
We packed away and said goodbye to the bothy. It was sad to leave it, in one night it had become home.
We walked up the valley and over the col to Loch an Eion. It’s quite high up, completely remote and inspiring. You can see the main Torridon hills from the loch. As we walked round we met loads of tiny little frogs bouncing about on the path. It was hard not to squash them.
Gliding on the loch were two majestic birds. I think we thought they were Great Northern Divers, but they weren’t. We watched the nameless birds for a long time; thinking.
We finally pitched the tent on the south side of the loch on a small stoney gravelly stretch that looks like sand from a distance. Luckily the midges were not that bad. There was a couple of times we had to wear nets and got annoyed with them, but on the whole it was good for the time of year and for Torridon!
After pitching, we went straight up Maol Chean-dearg. The north side. It was a continuous steep and rocky climb to the top. We popped out on to the plateau. The view was stunning. We did meet a lonesome guy on the top from Ullapool, who was a fireman. He’d been helping with the recent fires they had. He didn’t stop talking. He’d been walking for miles on his own and he seemed relieved to talk to people.
We poddled down the south side of the mountain. This is the mountain with sandstone on the top. There was also lots of quartz. It was like being in another country somehow. The Torridon hills are so rocky, unlike the Glencoe hills that have grass and moss snuggled in between their rocks.
We walked all the way round the base of the mountain back to the tent. I went into the loch after the walk and it was freezing! I could only stay in there for a few seconds. Odd it was still so cold.
We watched the sunset a little away from the tent and carried cups of tea and jaffa cakes to the spot where we could see the sea.
The wind picked up for the rest of the night, so we stayed outside until midnight. It was still light at 11pm. I made up a “Take the Piss out of Myself” ‘self help’ book fuelled by lots of whisky and chocolate.
Sunday 3rd July
In the morning we took our time because it was so beautiful. The sun was out and we didn’t want to leave. In slow motion we ate and packed everything away. Walking back was sad. Walking back the same way is always a bummer.
We ambled back to the road and felt happy in landscape and being with each other. Time for an egg and bacon butty and a pint of shandy!