Two Nights in Knoydart: Sgurr na Ciche via Loch Nevis - The Climb

My second day in Knoydart dawned clear, at least I presume it did, there being no need to rise early, the start of the ridge along which I would approach Sgurr Na Ciche some 20 yards from the tent.
The going was immediately tough, steep and tiring, but I gained height quickly and soon broke free of the dense bracken crowding the lower slopes. Looking down on the head of Loch Nevis, the clear shallow waters shimmered below.
The ruins of Finiskaig are visible here, one of many ruined crofts, evidence of the significant population that once called Knoydart home. Popularly billed as the country's last wilderness, ironically it is closer to that now than it was 300 years ago. Across Knoydart, from Barrisdale to Glen Meadale were once sizeable communities...this is not wilderness or untouched, rather a land once farmed, then emptied, perhaps more isolated now than then, when scores of trading ships might be anchored in Barrisdale Bay at any one time. The story of those who refused to leave Knoydart is infamous, significant amongst many within the history of the clearances. But what would these glens look like today, had the evictions never happened? Would there now be thriving towns and all that accompanies them? Or would these communities have dwindled in numbers, as continues to happen particularly amongst many island communities today? Certainly, the glen below would look quite different I felt sure. It is sobering to acknowledge the pleasure we take from the solitude available in these places has been arrived at, at such cost.
Pondering such thoughts, I plodded on and up, ironically (the clearances being carried out to make way for sheep which were more profitable to the landowners than the crofters), these were the only souls to witness my passing today.
Above the loch, the moon slowly faded...
...and with the angle of the ridge easing for a while I made fast progress towards the striking summit, still some 600m above.
A solitary tree overlooking the glen and River Carnach caught my eye as I rested before the last rise in the ridge...
...and before long I was tackling the steep summit slope itself, from which was a striking view of the Cuillin ridge taking me back to a superb trip from Elgol to climb the Dubh Ridge in May...
...as well as Ladhar Bheinn, last October.
I had not given much thought to the descent and opted at the last minute to make a circular route, taking the rough track beneath Garbh Chioch Mhor and down to Lochan a Mhaim.
Eventually the descent levelled, leading on to the head of Loch Nevis...
...and past the bothy at Sourlies, an atmospheric MBA hut complete with hammock. 
I signed the book, 'passing through', and continued back to my camp.
Another dramatic sunset brought the day to an end, but would the weather hold for the long paddle back to Morar?

Comments