Glenfinnan – Glen Pean – Kinlochmorar
Sunday, 31 March 2013
25.8 km/928 m/09:00 hrs
With this year’s TGO Challenge only a bit over a month away, I had been desperately waiting for some decent weather to do a few training walks. During the winter I had not done any backpacking trips (the last one had been in October), and I needed to get used to 25+ km walks with a backpack again.
The whole of March had been too cold, too windy and there was still far too much snow around for my liking. All I had done were a few short local walks, nothing worth writing any trip reports about.
But the weather forecast for the Easter weekend was good, it would still be cold, but sunny and dry. I had to work on the Saturday, but on Sunday morning I was on my way to Glenfinnan. I arrived at about 09:00 and found the car park already full, but most of the cars belonged to visitors who just took the short walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and after waiting a few minutes I found a space for my car.
I set off along the tarmac road which turns into a track shortly before Corryhully Bothy, and later becomes a path leading to the Bealach a’ Chaorainn.
Looking back down Glen Finnan.
Frozen waterfalls on Streap’s NW flank.
Gleann a’ Chaorainn.
For the first time I tried to walk along the E bank of the Allt a’ Chaorainn because I had read in several trip reports that there was a much better track than the path on the W bank that’s marked on the OS maps. Unfortunately I headed across the stream too early and found myself clambering over various grassy lumps without finding the track, and I returned to the W bank.
When I eventually saw the track (much further down the glen), I crossed the stream again and followed the track which leads straight to the bridge across the River Pean.
I suppose this track is quite useful when the Allt a’ Chaorainn is in spate and difficult or even impossible to ford near the bridge across the River Pean.
But today the rivers were anything but in spate, and it would have been very easy to cross the Allt a’ Chaorainn with dry feet.
After crossing the bridge and entering the forest via a very boggy section of “path”, I soon reached the forestry road that leads W to Glenpean Bothy. After a couple of km this turns into a path through what feels a bit like an enchanted forest…
River Pean and the ruin opposite Glenpean.
I stopped for a break in the main room of the bothy.
Looking around, I remembered a night a few years ago when I had broken my spork in this bothy and then found a nice table spoon in the drawer under the table 😆
After my break I continued on the good path along Glen Pean.
More frozen waterfalls…
When I reached the E end of Lochan Leum an t-Sagairt, I could easily ford the river at the outflow of the loch, as the water level was very low. I climbed up the hillside for a few metres and soon found the small cairn marking the start of the path that traverses the steep slopes on the S side of the lochan.
On the path above the lochan.
Lochan Leum an t-Sagairt.
Further up the glen narrows at the site of a large rockfall.
I clambered over the huge rocks until I reached a dead end, and suddenly realised that I had missed the turn-off where the path continues much higher up the hillside.
Instead of retracing my steps, I climbed up the steep slope until I found the path again. Now the difficulties were over, and I could follow the path that leads all the way to Loch Morar and Oban Bothy.
Gleann an Obain Bhig.
Crags in Gleann an Obain Bhig.
I forded the river by the ruined buildings near Lochan an Obain Bhig.
After walking along the sandy beach at the E end of Loch Morar, I followed a faint path up the side of Sròn a’ Choin.
Apart from one steep section which can be a bit awkward with a big pack, the way over the headland is straightforward.
Looking back to the beach.
Pebbly beach on the N side of Sròn a’ Choin.
I found a nice camp site near the shielings at Kinlochmorar, and all was good until I started boiling water for my dinner. I had brought a used 100 g gas canister to finish it off, and a full 230 g one to use afterwards. While I was pottering about in the tent, the water was boiling on the stove in the porch, as usual – and suddenly the stove toppled over and immediately set the dry grass on fire 😯
I have no idea how it could fall over in the first place, as there was no wind at all and I had not touched the pot or stove. Besides, this had happened a couple of times in the past, but each time the flame had gone out straight away.
For a second I was paralysed with shock, but then I grabbed my Platypus bottle and emptied its contents over the stove and the flames, and luckily there was enough water left to extinguish the fire… phew! (Back home, I ordered a folding tripod to increase stability, especially when using small gas canisters!)
Kinlochmorar – Gleann an Lochain Eanaiche – Glenfinnan
Monday, 01 April 2013
29.2 km/904 m/10:00 hrs
Unfortunately, I had pitched my tent in the wrong location for catching the morning sun. It was freezing cold and I even had to wear gloves to pack up the tent.
Looking back to Loch Morar from the stalker’s path along the Abhainn Ceann-loch-morair.
The path contours around the foot of Sgùrr na h-Aide, and when I stepped out of the shade and into the sun, it suddenly felt pleasantly warm.
Bealach nam Mart and Abhainn Ceann-loch-morair, still partly frozen.
Around the next bend, I discovered a hidden gem – Lochan Eanaiche! A lochan in a beautiful location with a sandy beach at its E end, but I don’t think it is much visited.
Past the lochan, I followed the river up into the narrowing glen…
… and soon came across this “Saltire Stone”.
The last section of the glen before reaching Glen Dessarry.
View towards Coire nan Uth.
On the track between the two forested areas in Glen Dessarry, I suddenly noticed an animal running towards me in the distance, and at first I thought it was a small dog and expected its owner to appear behind it any moment.
But when it came closer, I realised that it was a badger who didn’t seem to notice me until I was only a few metres away 🙂 This was only the second time I had seen a badger in broad daylight, the other time had been near the W end of Loch Monar in 2010.
On the way back, I used the track on the E bank of the Allt a’ Chaorainn again, this time enjoying the great view to Streap ahead of me.
Streap Comhlaidh and Streap.
The way up to Bealach a’ Chaorainn was a long slog, it seemed never ending and my legs were beginning to feel tired now.
Looking back down into Gleann a’ Chaorainn.
Past Corryhully Bothy I kept my eyes open for potential camp sites, as I was planning to camp in Glen Finnan on the first day of the TGO Challenge. About two hours after leaving the bealach, I was back at the car park near the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Driving back to Fort William, I noticed dark grey clouds in the sky, which seemed strange considering the sunny nice weather all around. A few miles later I saw a huge wildfire lighting up the evening sky above Banavie, apparently it stretched over three miles 😯