Our original plan had been to do this hill on route to our accommodation yesterday, but the spectacular weather led us elsewhere. Today was a Gairich day instead, the recent dry weather coupled with the forecast for rain later in the week, alongside pretty high cloud meant the potential for good views.
Having parked at the Loch Quoich Dam the route looked promising – a gentle meander up alongside the shores, easy up a long steady ridge, then a final sharp pull to the summit. That didn’t look too challenging! The reality however was a little different …
Having crossed the dam the path then split onto many different levels, all little tracks trying to avoid the bog. Turns out that wasn’t really possible and whichever level you were on there was a fair amount of jumping from one grassy mound to the next, or feeble attempts to avoid the peaty puddles with limited stones on which to stay free of the mud! By the time we came to the return leg I was taking far less care!
Zig Zagging: Going Up
Leaving the boggy path behind we began to climb gently. The going was easier as the path had dried out and the aim of the day was in sight, albeit still some way away. At this point in I was still unclear as to which way we’d ascend. Secretly I hoped it’d be up the gradual looking slope to the right of my view; in reality it was up the short sharp bit ahead of me.
Ahead of the ‘big’ climb of the day we continued gradually along and up, traversing the plateau Bac nam Fòid. Here there were a couple of wee lochans, very picturesque indeed.
The Big Pull
The final ascent was short and steep, initially with a good path zig-zagging up once more. Here we met another couple of walkers, very excited to see other us having met nobody else all day. Their excitement was contagious and we ended up chatting for too long, my legs seizing up a little and objecting to being made to work once again.
The good zig-zags led to some mildly exposed sections, never my favourite, but the path was good enough to offer reassurance and the steep slopes were grassy. Then we hit the small rocky scramble …
The rock was very dry and there were clear holds; I made it up with ease after a few initial moments of doubt, namely around whether I should try as I may not get back down! I was assured I would be fine! (On his head be it!)
Poles were stashed away inside my rucksack at this point; they didn’t come out again until the return leg. Finally we made it up the remainder of the zig zags and the summit cairn was in sight! A true delight and the views were stunning; so worth the effort.
The Scramble Down
Although a minor (very easy) scramble, I was a little concerned about the route back down, as was another walker I chatted to at the summit. The walking poles stayed stashed in my pack in order to have my hands free, and before I knew it we were back at that daunting wee bit of rock! Bruce assured me it was easy – just face in to the rock and maintain three points of contact; this is the first time I can recall having to climb down like this aside from in the snow when practising winter skills. It was perfectly do-able, but the initial placement of hands and feet required some input from Bruce below in order to find the confidence to begin. After that I was off and before I knew it down to ‘safe’ terrain once more! It actually seemed too easy and it took a bit of convincing for me to realise the hard work was done, there wasn’t another scramble, and the sticks genuinely could come out again! My legs also took a moment to lose the jelly feeling!
Forging Our Own Route
Having completed the zig zags, we then lost the path! Quite how we did this, I’ve no idea, but after a time we realised the error of our ways and took a bearing to right ourselves.
The path down seemed to take forever and was particularly unpleasant as we reached the boggy section once more; rather than trying to hop over things I was more inclined just to plough through it, trousers getting caked in mud! The dam was tantalisingly close (alongside our car) and we finally made it back. Oh, the joy to touch down on a seat!
Definitely one for a fine day – views were worth it; I’d recommend you don’t do it in the rain!