Monday, 2 April 2012

A Knoydart Weekend.Bidein A Chabair.

Twas a weekend of high Adventure to complement the fine end of march heatwave we have been enjoying.
Pinched this picture from Alex as its better than any I,ve got of me.This is scrambling up the wicked summit ridge of Bidein a Chabair,a surprisingly exposed and remote peak.Must be one of the top 20 best ever Corbetts. Knoydart was proposed as a place to visit for corbett bagging and I was keen as I,ve not been up this way for years.Would it have changed? Would it be busy?Would it be just as hard ?

We left Glasgow at 5 50 am and motored up past Fort Billy to Loch Arkaig where we parked.
Cycling in it was just as I remembered it except for a lot more signage en route and  a lot more cars at the  foot of the dead end road.
We had mountain bikes with us as the plan was to cycle into the bothy(a cool one this) drop off the extra gear then head off up the track to the hill.

This is us seeing Alex,s  Corbett for the first time.I have to admit,even for an area as good as Knoydart this mountain was a stunner.If the last forty are all as good as this one it will be a pleasure ticking them off.Good smooth track in as well for the bikes.
At the bothy ,of which there are many in this area,we dumped the wood,food,sleeping bags and extra gear.
I had two bottles already made up from my house.My vodka and coke bottle filled with the sweet noble Juice of the potato plus a  refreshing dash of coke.... and an  Identical bottle of coke.Trust me to leave the bothy with the wrong bottle then .A thirsty day ahead in heatwave conditions for poor bobby...  or a tragic non thirsty drunken stumble.What to do? I picked thirst and a  puddle sucking but clear headed outlook.Sadly every puddle seemed to have copious amounts of frog spawn jelly in it so it was rather soupy  slurping for my tastes.Never swallowed a single tadpole though.

Even when we left the bikes at the end of the track and set off on foot this Corbett only grew in splendour.It was a hard one to reach though  at the end of a long ,twisting  up and down ridge.I don't know if this peak is in the area known as the rough bounds of Knoydart  or just falls outside but it certainly feels like it.The terrain here is mighty rugged.
Looking South west over the  coastal range of peaks.Nice pastel colours due to rare heatwave conditions.
Seen a few deer but no sheep at all.Also collected my usual highland quota of sheep ticks,biting bugs,Assorted flying teeth and itchy critters about my person.In March!!! (And No,I didn't leave the house with them before you ask you cheeky buggers.)
Also spotted this famous two headed hind on a cliff above the glen.Strange place Knoydart.
Most folk ,according to Alex,s guide book, are too knackered to bother with the  lower peak  that lies beyond the Summit of Bidein a Chabair.This  summit seems to have two names incidentally as its down  on my 20 year old map as Sgurr nah Aide.  The  natural Batman sign Island of  Rum and the wedge shaped  coastal escarpment hills around Mallaig lie either side of this peak.
I was slightly surprised by how much bare rock lies on this ridge.Both summits in full winter conditions have turned back eager Corbett baggers with only 20 metres to go which must be a bugger if you've  came all this way.
The reason is the top photo.Both summits have an easy scramble to reach the final peak.Both are  remote and exposed and under snow ,ice or howling winds would be tricky.
Luckily we would not be denied and bagged both.
After an epic walk we returned to the bikes hidden in the forest then cycled back to the bothy in the dark.It seemed a long way.
It was the usual basic dry shelter but I was glad to see it had seats and still retained its coal fire.All you need really..and food and candles and  some coal or wood.
We had arranged to meet a few other folk here.Our freind Graeme was bringing a car load of three others up  and we also had a few strangers in by the time we arrived back.A German guy walking  across Scotland,s  west coast to Cape Wrath  and Two seasoned bothy to bothy explorers from Edinburgh.
A fine night was had around the fire, sipping head smoothing liquid libations and munching  assorted nuts then a very fine extra spicy Jamaican ginger cake homemade by Kev.Cracking times.

In the morning we awoke to our normal cloudless perfection in the highlands.,Alex was up early to bag another Corbett while I stayed in my cosy sleeping tube to read a book and fester around the bothy.
It was the first long  mountain day since being knocked down and I was happy with just one tentitive display of leg bashing up the hills.I felt not too bad though.Stiff and sore but nothing major in the pain department.
I noticed Alex had to walk up even the easy  hills on the track back to the car... as did I.
He,s still  a highly driven man though........If an old knackered one : o)
The wild and empty lands around Glen Dessarry


Alistair said...

That looked a brilliant trip Bob. We really must meet in a bothy somewhere again...

Anonymous said...

I looks like a great, albeit tough, day. The scrambly bit on the ridge look fun!

The track looks pretty good for cycling. We headed along Loch Arkaig last week and took the most northerly of the tracks in Glen Dessary (on the north of the river), but that wasn't smooth. Did you cycle up Glen Pean to that bothy, or was it the Glen Dessary track in the forest to A'Chuil?

Douglas Wilcox said...

What a great trip Bob. Sadly I don't have the knees for Knoydart now but I made up for it by paddling from Ayrshire over to Bute, round Arran and over to Kintyre, then round the bottom of Arran. You are right about the weather, it was cool at night though!


blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Alistair.
Hope to get up to your area soon.Skye Must be Stuffed with Corbetts.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Shelia.
I thought "a cool one this" would be enough to give it away.I,m well sneaky like that in my thinking process.
There are also now exactly 100 classic or cult films cunningly and lovingly weaved from the start into the back posts I,ve written .A film to go with most entries in fact.
No ones noticed that either or if they have they have not bothered to comment on it.
Such is life for the creative writer these days.James Joyce never had these problems I bet.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Douglas.
I,m only really fit for one big mountain day in a weekend these days myself.I feel so sore the next day its unreal,like getting clobbered by a van all over again.
You still get around and enjoy yourself which is the main thing.
Luckily I,m just as happy exploring the central belt as I am scrambling up the big stuff these days.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I get it now ;-)

I thought you were maybe just reluctant to name names, since for years the MBA did not give coordinates for their bothies on the 'net.

I missed all the film references, but then I'm not a film-goer (if it had been book references I may have got them).

I admit that often when reading blogs I'm often checking routes on Memory Maps and planning/dreaming, that I miss the nuances of the writing. Sorry, guilty!

The Glebe Blog said...

Hi Bob, thanks for your get well wishes, I'm sure I will.
Looks like you're back to fitness, you've had a stunning weekend. Some great views too.
'Juice of the potato' are you on the Poteen now ?
It seems the west of Scotland is a magnet for Germans these days, there's been a few around Newton Stewart recently too.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
Yeah. I hope you get back up those hills in no time. I was out of action hill wise for almost three months but at least it happened during the winter months.
Is it just me or has this spring been not only early but hyperfast.
The cherry tree blossom came and went in a flash this year.Its gone already here.

Neil said...

Sounds like a great trip. Can't beat a night in a bothy with good company! I haven't done this Corbett; I did it's neighbour Carn Mor many years ago. Remember it as being a long, long way.

Mark said...

Cracking trip report. Did this Corbett a long time ago at New Year in full winter conditions, from the same bothy and don't remember it being too tricky, but I have slept since then and also a bit of scrambling bothered me less then than it does now.

blueskyscotland said...

As you say Mark it depends on your
ability.I certainly wouldn,t fancy being up on that remote summit in extreme conditions these days.
Mind you I dont even attempt to go up hills in those sort of conditions now so I,ve probably lost my mountain Mojo.
I found it hard and long enough in good weather.

Carol said...

Great post - I keep looking at that hill (as I do most of the Corbetts around the end of Loch Arkaig) and hoping I get to it soon. I'll pick my weather carefully though after reading your comments about the scrambly summit bits!

I always walk my bike up hills when I'm doing a bike/walk in Scotland. I need to conserve my energy for the walking bits (I was never a great cyclist anyway).

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol.
Its a fine Corbett with good views over the islands and the scramble at the summit is only a few semi exposed moves.