It was one of those days when the words simply weren’t sufficient to describe what I could see with my eyes. Dark, brooding clouds hung heavily over the mountains yet in spite of the poor light, the damp conditions only served to emphasise the vividness of the Autumnal colours. I don’t know how many different shades of browns, russets, greens, oranges and yellows there are in the English language but I think it’s safe to say that the images here will do a far better job than my powers of description.
I was with my son, looking for a place to wild camp for the night since we had a day’s rock and ice climbing booked at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven the following day (look out for a future post about this). We turned off to Glen Etive and soon stopped in a passing place to take a quick photo of Buachaille Etive Mor, its dark mass towering over the expanse of moorland below. The colours were just stunning.
The intense Autumn colours provided photogenic sights all the way down Glen Etive.
I’ve camped overnight in my campervan several times now in the Glen. It’s a place that’s often frequented by walkers with several good flat areas for tents, wild swimming pools and roadside camping spots. I’d read that there had been cases of weekend campers leaving litter-strewn sites this year but hadn’t realised that wild camping is now being restricted, as it already is in some parts of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Now there are signs along the roadside politely steering people towards the car park and small grassy campsite right at the end of the road at the head of Loch Etive. It’s such a shame that the minority spoil things for those who appreciate wild country and the ‘leave no trace‘ philosophy.
By the time we reached the end of the road (it takes a full thirty minutes to drive down the Glen) the wind was blowing strongly off Loch Etive, funnelled between the steep hillsides. The trees and waves are evidence enough of the fierce winds that whip up off the loch, and the dark clouds hung menacingly over the hills.
We battened down the hatches, spending the evening playing games inside the cosy van. Meanwhile outside, the wind strengthened. It soon began to rock the van and whistle outside the windows. It must have been about midnight when I was conscious of the rain splattering against the windows. I slept fitfully, occasionally waking to hear the rain and wind outside.
My alarm clock woke us at 7.45am but it was barely light. It was still tipping it down outside on a miserable and gloomy morning.
As we drove back up the Glen after breakfast we found the river, which had already been full, become transformed into a torrent. The noise of the white water, churning rampaging down the rapids, was impressive. The steep mountain sides were adorned with white ribbons of water, gushing down into the valley bottom. When rain falls heavily like this, mountain rivers can be in spate in no time at all and it was reminiscent of my munro-bagging expedition to the Fisherfield Hills in similarly appalling weather conditions. I’d never seen so much water in the River Etive before.
Back at the A82 we turned right to pass through Glencoe, stopping for a side view of the Buachaille this time.
On the return journey home I stopped to take a picture looking down Glencoe. With the Autumnal colours and overcast skies the view looks somewhat different to the same view in mid-summer (below).
This Autumn has provided some intense colours but while photogenic, the stormy conditions were a timely reminder that winter isn’t far away.