The three Corbetts that make up the Rois-Bheinn Horseshoe – Sgurr na Ba Glaise, Rois-Bheinn and An Stac – have views that are perhaps unmatched across the whole of the Western Highlands. While not quite of Munro height they nevertheless tower above the surrounding land and on a sunny day provide spectacular views across Loch Ailort, Morar and out towards the islands of Eigg and Rum.
I’d set aside four days to achieve most of my remaining ’14 for 2014′; as the name suggests, a set of personal challenges for both personal achievement as well as to raise funds for the Naomi House charity (see below). With a mix of hill walking, sea kayaking, camping and sightseeing, I centred my activities around Moidart and Ardnamurchan, two little-known areas of Scotland which are very much off the tourist map. This was a chance for me to escape for a few days into peaceful, wild landscapes.
My aim for this walk was to set off early afternoon to climb the first two Corbetts, wild camp up high with – hopefully – a great view of the coastline, then return via An Stac, the final Corbett.
After spending a little while working out where the walk started (I parked just beside a row of cottages at GR 765814) I set off to soon find a boggy path. Out loud I told myself not to get my feet wet but … of course, one wrong move gave me cold water over the top of my boots. Great, just great. No spare socks meant two days’ wet feet, thanks to the unique properties of Goretex.
Undeterred, I negotiated past the massive new Marine Harvest hatchery at Inverailort and up the hill around some large-scale drainage works. A grassy climb soon took me to Druim Fiaclach, the minor peak at the start of a craggy ridge – the finest ridge of the walk – where views of the Morar coast briefly opened up before becoming enveloped in cloud.
Luckily the clouds soon blew over and intermittent sunshine provided picturesque views of lochans, and threw rays of light down into lonely Glen Moidart far below.
It’s not hard to see the appeal of this walk: a great circular outing, spectacular views in every direction and, in particular, a fabulous position over the islands and headlands of Loch Ailort.
I stopped more times than I care to remember, taking things at a relaxed pace given that I wasn’t on any deadline and I had the hills to myself. By the time I reached the westernmost top (summit) of Rois-Bheinn it was nearing 7pm and the lowering sun was beginning to throw soft orange light over the coastline.
At times it was genuinely difficult to work out where the sky stopped and the sea began.
However, what these pictures don’t show was the gusty wind which was now strengthening. I’d planned to pick a wild camp spot somewhere on the grassy slopes of Rois-Bheinn but even in the lee of the hill my first attempt to put up my tent was thwarted by the strong wind. I didn’t fancy being kept awake by a rustling flysheet all night so retreated to a more sheltered spot in between Rois-Bheinn’s two tops.
But the overcast skies put pay to my well-laid plans. Instead of being able to capture some marvellous sunset shots I tucked myself up inside my tent, peeled off my wet socks (lovely !) and cooked up some food before an early bed. The wind did die down after dark and I was warm enough camped out at 820m.
The next morning I found myself surrounded by cloud in an eerie stillness, and followed the conveniently-built wall to the col at Bealach an Fhiona. Or at least I thought I’d reached the col when the ground seemed to disappear steeply away in front of me. At times like these I like to wait for a visual check and sure enough, with the cloud swirling around, it wasn’t long before a gap in the cloud suddenly opened up a view of An Stac and confirmed that I was indeed where I thought I was.
An Stac gives the steepest ascent of the three hills – another 300m – but arguably to the finest viewpoint of the three. By this point the cloud had lifted, giving clear but overcast views of Loch Ailort, Morar and the islands of Eigg and Rum in the distance. This landscape is absolutely transformed by clear skies and sunshine but on this occasion it was not to be. But given the wonderful views and the fact I shared the hill only with a herd of deer I wasn’t complaining. And of course I had the prospect of dry socks to look forward to.
I’m using my 14 for 2014 to help raise funds for the Naomi House Children’s Hospice in Hampshire. Naomi House cared for little Chiara, the young daughter of a friend and ex-work colleague who died of an incurable brain tumour on the 21st January 2014. This case study tells the moving story of how the life of this energetic three year-old was tragically taken.
Naomi House clearly made a real difference to the last few months of Chiara’s life, and that of her family, and so this is why I want to use my 14 for 2014 to raise awareness and additional funds for the great work that they do. If you have enjoyed reading my blog and feel inspired in any way please consider giving a donation to this extremely worthwhile charity.