Back to sunny Knoydart

Day 1 Kinloch Hourn – Sgùrr a’ Choire-bheithe – Barisdale

Day 2 Barisdale – Attempt at Ladhar Bheinn – Barisdale

Day 3 Barisdale – Kinloch Hourn

Day 1

Kinloch Hourn – Sgùrr a’ Choire-bheithe – Barisdale

27 April 2011

20.6 km/1609 m/09:00 hrs

Corbett: Sgùrr a’ Choire-bheithe (No. 28)

After a two week spell of great weather the forecast had looked good for my days off as well, and so I was really spoilt for choice. Where should I go? In weather like this, I could do all the routes I need perfect conditions for (like higher grade scrambles), but in the end I was drawn to the West Coast again. Besides, I am a bit out of practice regarding scrambling, and I didn’t want to risk any mishaps or injuries two weeks before the TGO Challenge…

It had taken me ages to get ready in the morning, and when I finally packed my rucksack into the car, I noticed that one of the front tyres looked very flat. As I had a long drive ahead of me, I made a detour to the local petrol station to check the tyre pressure. It was 1.4 bar instead of 2.1! After that was sorted, I was finally on my way to Kinloch Hourn. When I arrived at the road end, I couldn’t believe my eyes: The car park was almost full, and I just managed to squeeze my car into the second last parking space.

After a short conversation with the couple in the car beside me who were also getting ready for the walk to Barisdale, and a detour to the farmhouse to pay the parking fee, I was on my way – at last, it was already after 12:00!

It was very hot in the midday sun, and there was hardly any wind.

At Skiary, I saw this sign on the fence, and I was curious what this new tea room was about.

But unfortunately…

Looking back to Skiary.

Down to the first “major” stream crossing, the Allt a’ Chamuis Bhàin.

The “stream”…

Then it’s over the second hill down to Runival.

At Runival, a group of sea kayakers had just arrived.

First glimpse of Ladhar Bheinn.

Walking along this shallow bay, I suddenly saw an otter running across the path and hiding in the grass.

One of the few suitable camp spots along the path, near the outflow of the Allt a’ Chaolas Bhig.

And finally – the view along the length of Loch Hourn.

The farmhouse at Barisdale.

I quickly pitched my tent, filled my water bottles in the bothy kitchen and headed off at 16:30 towards the Corbett Sgùrr a’ Choire-bheithe on the other side of Glen Barrisdale.

Lower slopes of Sgùrr a’ Choire-bheithe.

Barisdale from just above the trees.

Undulating ridge.

Looking into Glen Barrisdale.

As I had almost finished all the water I had carried, the ascent felt more and more strenuous the higher I climbed. I must have been quite dehydrated by now, and every step took a big effort. Altogether I had about one litre of water, 650 ml in the Travel Tap and 300 ml in a small bottle.

That is more than I drink on an average hill walk – and normally I can fill the Travel Tap as often as I want, from streams or lochs on the way. But because of the recent dry weather, there was absolutely no water anywhere on the hill, and I must have lost a lot of fluids because of the hot weather on the walk-in to Barisdale.

I was really tempted to turn back, but then again, I was quite close to the summit, so I just kept going, but at a snail’s pace!

Looking to Ben Aden and down to the River Carnach.

One of the dried-out lochans on the summit ridge.

Lochan nam Breac.

The summit – at last! Ben Nevis is just visible on the horizon, a bit right of centre.

Druim Chòsaidh Ridge.

Towards Loch Quoich.

As I was feeling quite unwell and dizzy by now (a few times I thought I might pass out any moment), I made my way off the ridge as quickly as possible.

Start of the descent.

Loch Hourn.

Ladhar Bheinn.

As soon as the ridge flattened out, I took a shortcut to the left, down into Gleann Unndalain. The slope was a bit steeper than I had expected, but I made it safely down to the path – and the waters of the Allt Gleann Unndalain!

Looking back up the steep slope.

Gleann Unndalain.

After drinking a lot of water, I felt better almost immediately. Looking back, I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake – I totally underestimated the heat and the lack of water because I haven’t been walking in such hot and dry conditions for a long time, and this was certainly a lesson I have learned…

I arrived back at the campsite at 21:30, the walk up and down the Corbett had taken me five hours! Not because it is a difficult hill (although it is only 1.40 m short of being a Munro), but because of the state I had been in.

Back in my tent, I didn’t bother having a proper dinner, just the usual coffee and soup, and fell asleep very quickly afterwards.

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Day 2

Barisdale – Attempt at Ladhar Bheinn – Barisdale

28 April 2011

5.5 km/572 m/03:00 hrs

The first look out of the tent the next morning was a bit disappointing: No sun, but clouds down to about 700 metres. I had planned to climb Ladhar Bheinn again, the first time had been a long round trip from Inverie, but this time I wanted to try the more scenic approach from the Coire Dhorrcail side. I set off at 09:30, hoping the clouds would lift during the morning.

Not keen on repeating yesterday’s experience, I was carrying almost two litres of water in a Platypus bottle, plus a full Travel Tap.

I crossed the bridge in Barisdale and took the path leading NW towards Ladhar Bheinns East Ridge. This path zigzags up to a broad shoulder and descends down the other side into Coire Dhorrcail.

I left the path at its highest point and climbed directly up the ridge.

Loch Hourn and Arnisdale, Beinn Sgritheall in the clouds.

Shallow water at low tide in Barisdale Bay.

A dull looking Coire Dhorrcail.

As the ridge I had planned to walk was completely in cloud, I kept climbing halfheartedly, but my motivation to go further was not very strong.

Looking back along the lower part of the ridge.

When it even started to rain, I decided to give it a miss today and have a relaxing afternoon in Barisdale instead. I descended from the ridge in a southeasterly direction and made my way back to the campsite.

Luinne Bheinn’s summit still in cloud.

Back at the campsite, I spent the rest of the day sitting outside the bothy, reading the bothy books, talking to other campers, and eating and drinking a lot 🙂

Somewhat annoyingly, later in the afternoon the sun came out, the clouds lifted (!) and it was a very nice and warm end to the day…

Watching the deer and chickens provided some entertainment…

During the evening more walkers arrived and pitched their tents, some of them were heading to Inverie the next day where the Knoydart Music Festival was taking place.

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Day 3

Barisdale – Kinloch Hourn

29 April 2011

10.6 km/681 m/04:00 hrs

The weather on Friday morning was as gorgeous as Wednesday had been, and for a moment I was tempted to tackle Ladhar Bheinn again – but I didn’t fancy the long walk out to Kinloch Hourn and the two hour drive home after such a long and strenuous hillwalk.

Luinne Bheinn clear of clouds.

And so was Ladhar Bheinn…

At about 10:30 I finally left the campsite, I found it really difficult to drag myself away from this wonderful place on a day like this!

Ladhar Bheinn from Barisdale beach.

The walk back to Kinloch Hourn was as enjoyable as the walk in had been, it felt even warmer although it was quite windy.

The Allt Innis a’ Chuilinn, the stream I had been struggling to cross in January…

Looking back to Ladhar Bheinn.

Scots Pines along the path.


On my way I met a lot of walkers heading to Barisdale, probably not surprising given the weather and the fact it was a Bank Holiday weekend.

But the first time ever I saw a mountain biker cycling this path – something I wouldn’t have considered possible, because of the many loose and steep, rocky sections. However, he assured me that, although he did have to carry the bike in some places, it was still more cycling than walking!

The outflow of the Allt a’ Chamuis Bhàin where several walkers pitched their tents, exhausted by the heat (and their heavy rucksacks).

Some of the walkers coming from the other direction had confirmed to me that the tea room at Skiary was open, which put quite a spring in my step!

Promising sign.

The B & B and tea room at Skiary is run by an extremely friendly and enthusiastic young couple who provide home-cooked meals using local produce where possible.

I settled for the home-made scones with cream and home-made rhubarb and strawberry jam, together with elderflower cordial (home-made, of course). Bliss!

Lochside view from the front of the house.

Meals for the B & B guests are being served in the greenhouse.

Afternoon tea with a view…

I could have stayed all day, this is one of the most peaceful and relaxing locations I can imagine. But unfortunately, I still had a long drive ahead of me and so I had to leave this little paradise.

The last part of the path, leading through a jungle of rhododendron and birch trees.

Back at Kinloch Hourn, the carpark was even fuller than it had been two days ago.

After a perfect stay in surroundings like this, it’s always a bit difficult to get back to “reality” – but I will be back very soon, as it is only a few days now until the TGO Challenge, and I will be starting it in Knoydart 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Back to sunny Knoydart

  1. Well – That looked a whole lot better than the last time you were there! And Skiary looks wonderful – all powered by gas, you know. Always fancied a stay there…
    One day..


    Lovely report – have great Challenge.

    • Thank you, and I’m wishing you a great Challenge as well!

      Although it looks as if the weather at the end of the week will be more like it was in January… roll on Thursday! 🙂

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