Day 11 – Walk around Maol Chean-dearg

After parking up a little hurridly last night down a dead end road that had a lot of traffic for some reason, I haven’t had the best nights sleep. The weather was looking pretty good however, a bit of low level cloud on certain peaks, but on the whole some sun was definitely apparent.

We had a large brunch sausage sandwich thing and I tried the portable shower for the first time. Which was pretty tolerable I’m glad to say, even if I stayed inside by the heater and washed my hair over the sink while Lee just went for it outside. After this we headed back to the main road where the start of todays walk was only a few minutes away.

Parking at Coulags bridge the path turns off to the left as if going to the house on the hill by the river, it then turns off down the side to drop down to the river before climbing up and joining a newly made track that goes up the valley a short way. The footpath is clearly signposted from this.

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You follow the track up through the valley alongside the river for several miles, until you cross the river.

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And then reach one of the mountain bothies that are spread across the highlands.

After a quick look around the bothy, which is very well use according to the visitors book, we continued onwards and upwards.

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We go past a fork keeping to the right, as the left is the return route back from the over the ridge. The wind is picking up at this point as you can see from when we reach the first loch, and the waves across it.

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From here the path starts to climb more steeply over the ridge on the left hand side of the valley with excellent view back down the way you have come.

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The mountain tops around us are still hidden in low cloud as we head around the back of Maol Chean-dearg and get our first glimpses of Loch an Eoin.

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The path follows the edge of the loch and the turns of left to stay on the loch shores rather than turning right towards Annat and Torridon.

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After clearing the loch shores the path climbs once again over a ridge and some fantastic views of Skye and Loch Carran are in front of you.

P1020904 (NXPowerLite Copy)You stay on the path as it follows the base of the mountain and the begins to climb upwards again as it heads towards the final ridge. The instructions in the walking book become a little vague at this point and I’m quite glad I brought the OS map as the walk require you to leave what has been a well maintained path all the way around, and climb over the ridge to your left when opposite the end of the last loch. We couldn’t see any path here, nor is one on the map but it may well have been covered as there are still snow drifts lying up here. There is only a short scramble over moorland to find the end of the next path which is the route back down, however we are totally in cloud at this point, making it quite hard to gauge if we’re heading in the right direction.

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Fortunately we spot a cairn at the top and pick up the path which is quite clear. It goes through several snow drifts before we come down out of the cloud and have a view back down to the valley we came up.

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It’s a rough descent following a burn back to down the initial fork we passed earlier. We then retrace our steps back down to the van. On the way down we pass three people with a lot of stuff who I can only imagine at this time of day are heading towards the bothy for the night.

Once back, we decide to go and see if there is any electric hook up available at the Wee campsite, as we are out of water and could do with giving the batteries a proper charge having not driven much today. This is our first night on a campsite which is definitely living up to it’s name as there’s only one other person there.

After parking up and putting everything on charge we go down to the pub as there’s a sign outside with a picture of a campervan on it that says ‘The 500’ and we wanted to find out what it was.

We also found that they have two ales on tap from the Strathcarran brewery, which is basically someones garden shed and was just down the road from where we parked the night before.

It turns out ‘The 500’ is the 500 miles it takes to drive from Iverness to John o’Groats and you can get various badges, stickers for doing it. That’s for next year though I reckon.

We then head back for dinner and hopefully another long walk tomorrow, weather permitting.


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