Kinlochewe – Letterewe
14 February 2011
15.2 km/745 m/06:45 hrs
I have been to the Letterewe area several times, walking in from different start points (Poolewe, Corrie Hallie, from the East via Loch a’ Bhraoin and from Incheril along Gleann na Muice), and I was curious to find out how the approach from the Loch Maree side would be. This route would also give me the opportunity to climb Beinn Làir, the last Corbett I still have to do in this area (weather permitting!).
At 10:30 I started from the car park at Incheril, walking along the path beside the Kinlochewe River, then along the northern shore of Loch Maree.
Beinn Eighe on the other side of the loch.
On the path along the river.
The weather had been dull from the start, but now clouds were forming around Slioch, and soon after, it started to rain.
After the bridge across the Abhainn an Fhasaigh (where the path to Slioch turns off to the right), the main path climbs to the Màm Smiorasair, a rather bleak looking landscape, especially in weather like this.
A lonely feral goat, probably not used to seeing many visitors.
The path then winds through some small forests.
Several streams have to be forded, most of them didn’t cause any problems, apart from this one:
Fallen trees required some bum-sliding down this boulder (because of the big rucksack being in the way there was no way around it).
Looking back along the loch.
Just before 16:00 I could see the first house of the Letterewe settlement through the trees, but somehow I must have missed a path junction. Suddenly I found myself looking down a steep-sided gorge with a roaring stream in it, and no bridge across.
After walking back a few metres, I found an open gate and a path leading to a stone bridge near the outflow of the Abhainn na Fùirneis (this is very obvious on the 1:25000 map, but I was only carrying the 1:50000 scale one).
From this point on, some “little green men” were helpfully leading the way.
Walkers are being led on a route around Letterewe House and its outbuildings.
Above Letterewe, a well maintained path zigzags up the hill, providing good views over Loch Maree.
Because of the dull weather, it was getting darker very quickly, and at about 17:15 I started looking for a suitable camp site. I found a small grassy area, just big enough for my tent, shortly after the junction where the path for the Strathan Buidhe goes to the left.
During the night, the wind picked up and the temperature inside the tent was just above freezing, but my sleeping bag was warm enough and I had a good sleep.
Letterewe – Shenavall
15 February 2011
17.7 km/919 m/08:00 hrs
The night must have been a lot colder than I thought, because my boots and gaiters which had been lying in the tent porch, were frozen solid. It took me quite a while to get into the boots, and especially trying to tie the frozen shoelaces was an “interesting” task…
But it had cleared over night, and the views across to the Torridon hills made up for those little inconveniences!
Unfortunately, with my camp site lying in the shadow, the morning sun had no chance to dry out my tent, so I had to pack it away slightly damp, the groundsheet even had little pieces of ice sticking to it, but they could be shaken off easily.
When the sun finally reached my camp spot, my rucksack was packed and I was ready to go.
Climbing up to the Bealach Mhèinnidh, the views across Loch Maree became better all the time.
Approaching the bealach, Beinn Làir came into view on the right hand side.
Higher up, the wind had become very strong and I could see spindrift being blown off the ridge.
On top of the Bealach Mhèinnidh, I found a sheltered spot beside a steep rock wall. There I put on another layer, packed a small rucksack with some essentials, and left the big rucksack tucked behind a rock. Then I set off to climb Beinn Làir…
Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far – the wind was so strong that I was struggling to stay upright, and even with three layers of clothes the windchill was so bad that I was freezing.
I wasn’t even anywhere near the main ridge yet, and I imagined it would be a lot worse up there, so I decided to turn back.
The Graham Meall Mhèinnidh on the other side of the bealach.
Small lochan on Beinn Làir.
View over Fionn Loch.
After picking up my rucksack, I made my way down to the loch.
Meall Mhèinnidh and Beinn Àirigh Charr.
Small waves were crashing over the causeway and I wasn’t too keen on a cold shower, so I waited a few minutes until the wind calmed down a bit, and then walked across very quickly.
Càrnan Bàn and A’ Mhaighdean, seen across Dubh Loch.
Carnmore, with barn on the left.
Carnmore barn can be used as a bothy.
It is a very basic shelter, and I would only use it in an emergency. I didn’t have a look inside this time, but here is a photo I took in May last year:
I followed the excellent path under the cliffs of Sgùrr na Laocainn, an outlier of Beinn a’ Chàisgein Mòr.
Looking back to Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch.
The NW ridge of A’ Mhaighdean, a scrambling route that is high on my list…
Beinn Làir from the North.
Ruadh Stac Mòr and A’ Mhaighdean.
On the way to Clach na Frithealaidh, Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh ahead on the right.
Interesting clouds over Ruadh Stac Mòr.
Gleann na Muice Beag.
Beinn Dearg Beag and Beinn Dearg Mòr.
When Larachantivore came into sight, I had to stop all the time and take photos of the sky, because the clouds and the colours seemed to change every few seconds.
Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh.
Beinn Dearg Mòr.
View up Gleann na Muice.
I still had two rivers to cross, the first one I could ford easily downstream from Larachantivore, after that I had to cross the large boggy area in Strath na Sealga. As it was getting dark quickly, I found it difficult to avoid the worst of the bogholes, but then again, having very wet feet already, I would be able to wade through the Abhainn Srath na Sealga without changing into Crocs!
While I was trying to find a suitable place to ford the river, I got a bit lost in the gorse bushes on the river bank. But at least I found proof for my theory that Flip Flops are not the ideal footwear for river crossings 😉
It was almost dark when I reached Shenavall, which was already occupied by a couple who had walked in from Corrie Hallie, carrying a 10 kg bag of coal! I had brought some as well, but only enough to last a few hours in case I would have been on my own in the bothy.
They were going to sleep upstairs, so I moved into the room at the back. We spent the evening sitting around the fireplace, exchanging stories about hills, bothies and walks… until bedtime at about 22:00.
Shenavall – Kinlochewe
16 February 2011
25.7 km/779 m/08:00 hrs
During the night I was woken up several times by the bothy mouse, nibbling at a plastic bag. I wasn’t too worried because I had hung my food up on the wall, and I thought it was the empty plastic bag I had carried the coal in. But when I packed my rucksack in the morning, I discovered that the mouse had eaten a hole in one of the mesh pockets on the hipbelt! I had completely forgotten about the bag of fruit and nut mix I had left in that pocket… and the rucksack had been standing on the floor over night.
Due to the interesting conversation with my bothy mates over breakfast, I left much later than I had planned. It was 09:45 when I finally left Shenavall in drizzly, windy weather.
Beinn Dearg Mòr.
First I walked along Strath na Sealga, then turned south towards Loch an Nid.
Looking back to Loch an Nid.
After fording the Allt Cùl Doireachan I climbed up to the Bealach na Croise. This was easier than expected because I found traces of a path.
On top of the Bealach na Croise, looking back down the glen.
The Allt Coire Mhic Fhearchair has to be crossed in a deep gorge.
When I reached Loch Meallan an Fhùdair, I followed its outflow down to Lochan Fada.
Slioch and Lochan Fada.
Soon the path turns into a “motorway” leading to Kinlochewe…
At a path junction, a signpost tries to confuse walkers by getting two bealachs mixed up…
The path eventually becomes a landrover track and then a (private) road, leading past some derelict houses at the Heights of Kinlochewe. Although I could walk quite fast along this road, it was dark when I got back to the Incheril car park at 18:10.
The weather could have been better on days 1 and 3, but it was still a good walk in one of my favourite areas. Next time I will walk in from Poolewe again, camp at Loch Dubh and climb Beinn Làir and Meall Mhèinnidh from there, and hopefully A’ Mhaighdeans NW ridge, weather permitting… 😉