Saturday, 2 March 2013

Smooth seas beneath the Rough Bounds

The Rough Bounds of Knoydart - whether one walks in or paddles, it is a spectacular journey, though on the smooth seas we enjoyed, the journey is considerably easier afloat.
Starting on the sands of Morar, in fact our route up Loch Nevis followed the southern boundary of Knoydart, only our camp arguably lying within this 'last wilderness'**.
Heading out between the sand bars, clear shallow seas mixed with the peat stained fresh water above white sands.
Leaving the open coast to enter Loch Nevis where a cold headwind picked up as we crossed to the wooded shores south of Inverie.
Passing the narrows of Kylesknoydart with the last of the flooding tide and the wind has eased...
...to give gentle conditions once more for the last few kilometres, Sgurr na Ciche looming ahead and a nearly full moon rising above the ruins of Finiskaig.
Landing at last light - the usual brief and brutal winter changing regime followed before the tents went up in quick order though it took several hours and a walk to Sourlies Bothy to restore circulation to frozen feet.
Warm once more, I pottered on the shingle beach, experimenting with long exposures, trying to capture something of the beauty of this cold winter camp.
Ben Aden, one of the lesser summits of Knoydart, beneath the stars of clear northern skies. With no wind, it was a peaceful night and I slept well, waking to clearing skies and a day that hinted at Spring.
Cold feet plagued me again although the long carry to reach a rapidly receeding sea sorted that little problem out quite successfully.
Retracing our route - a perfect morning.
Chris passes beneath a beautiful area of woodland...
...before the short crossing takes us out toward the entrance of the loch, a view of Blaven and Clach Glas - the imposter - beyond.
There were many moments such as this - simply sitting awhile, soaking in the sun. A good day for 'the ridge'.
Beneath azure skies we rounded the headland, passing Mallaig, the Small Isles our western horizon, heading into a strong sun to reach Morar by mid afternoon - two days and a wonderful night in Knoydart.

**The all too normal fire rings at the head of the loch are a sad reflection on those who make the effort to access this so called wilderness and challenges the right to responsible access that I'm sure those who burn and litter so indiscrimately would protest vigourously was theirs. Indeed leafing through the pages of the Sourlies Bothy book it is remarkable how well frequented the area is. I had intended to read my own entry from a trip when I paddled in and climbed Sgurr na Ciche two years previously but that book was long gone, it's replacement mere months old, the pages filling rapidly. It is hard not to reflect upon the pressure these spaces must endure and harder still to understand those who cannot grasp the reality of the enlightened concept that is responsible access.

1 comment:

Ian said...

What a superb spell of weather it's been Will! Love the night exposures, very atmospheric. Sounds like you need to try the F.E. Arctic Socks! :o)

Kind Regards