Sunday, 30 June 2019

Adventures with Ellie - NW Sutherland

Two weeks after the Challenge and it was time for our first proper weekend away with Ellie, so Friday afternoon (7th June) we packed her up and off we went, heading for NW Sutherland. We had eaten before we left, so drove for as long as possible before deciding to stop in a lay by set back from the road, south of Rhiconich, by Cnoc Thull.

Heading north west

 Classy supper

 The pink light from the sunset catching Foinaven

We spent the rest of the evening setting up and enjoying a simple supper, with a beer and a gin and tonic, before settling down for the night.
We were up and away before mid-morning, with no real plan beyond visiting the shop at Kinlochbervie to purchase lunch and dinner. Whilst we were there, we scoped the facilities at the stop-over at the harbour, complete with electricity, drinking water and a chemical toilet disposal point, all for a small donation paid at the shop. This was to prove useful information.
Once our purchases were made (I've had far easier and more successful resupplying on the Challenge) we made a decision, I had a route downloaded onto my Viewranger app that we could take a look at, starting at the car park at Blairmore equipped with toilets. As we were driving there, we had a change of plan. We would have lunch on arrival and then, rather than do the longer walk, including two beaches and two cemeteries,  we would do a quick out and back to a trig point I'd just spotted on the map Cnoc Poll a' Mhurain. David had been nursing an ankle injury and we thought this would be shorter, if he didn't want to cross the rough ground and climb, he could stay on the track and meet me further along as I came off the hill. As it happens, he came with me and we were soon atop the little hill and admiring the views, well worth the little effort made.
From our new vantage point, we could see a track in the distance, beyond Loch na Gainimh. A quick look at the map confirmed that after crossing about a kilometre of open ground, this track would take us back to the car, so off we went. I remarked that few people if any appeared to have been this way, probably because normally it would be very wet ground. However, it was easy going, the fence we had to cross was broken down and we soon found ourselves at the beautiful sandy beach at the head of the loch. After a short break, we joined the hoards of other people on the track that were heading to or from Sandwood Bay and were soon back at Ellie.
 Ready for the day

 Windswept and interesting

 Well of course we're turning right!

 Cnoc an Staca, Cnoc Poll a' Mhurain behind

 David took the scrambling route, I didn't...
 A stack

 Looking SE
 Looking west

 If you look closely enough you can see the lighthouse at Cape Wrath

 David, joining me at the trig

 Looking south

 Loch na Gainimh


 This pony is sulking. A sign asked passers by not to feed it

We left mid afternoon and retraced our route via Kinlochbervie to gain the A838 and head NE towards Durness. We hoped to find a place to stop for the night along the way. We didn't actually have to go far before we found a lovely spot off the road by a bridge with nice views of the northern flanks of Foinaven, along Strath Dionard and the southern flanks of Cranstackie. We also happened to be alongside Farrmheall, a rather attractive looking little lump. So attractive looking that it didn't take much persuasion to head up for a second little outing of the day!
We soon had our boots back on and were heading up this pathless little hill. There was a vague ATV track at times, probably headed for the mast on the little lump behind Farrmheall. It felt really quite exhilarating to venture onto the hill with no plan and er, no map, we could see the top, why would we need one of those? We carried on uphill, admiring the wild flowers and the views as we went and commenting on the clouds rolling by. We were already above 400m when we realised the clouds were rolling in around us and somewhat hindering our views. No matter, we continued. By the time we were nearly at the spot height, the visibility was down to about 10 m. We continued and the large cairn loomed out of the murk at us. The return walk was a good training exercise, having worked out a rough bearing on Viewranger we followed that in small sections, ticking off features we'd passed on the way up, until the cloud started to thin a bit and eventually we could see Ellie waiting for us below.
We had dinner and settled down for a quiet evening with no neighbours again, but also not much view in the end as the cloud came further down. No matter, we had an excellent signal and I soon discovered this interesting little lump had been an accidental Marilyn! The best kind.

Cnoc Poll a' Mhurain - total distance 3.93 m, total ascent 577 ft
Farrmheall - total distance 2.46 m, total ascent 1154 ft

 Odd view of an orchid
 Clouds rolling in behind us
 Was not expecting a traffic cone up a pathless hill
 Large cairn, looming out of the murk

 Bit damp


 Steak, Jersey Royal potatoes, green beans, mushrooms and a whisky cream sauce
 Dark chocolate and cherry tart

Initially, we woke with murk and slightly damp weather, but by the time we were ready to head off, the weather was clearing and we could see blue skies ahead. We discovered a need to return briefly to Kinlochleven to make use of the stop-over facilites before we continued heading NE towards Durness, planning to stop for lunch and perhaps visit Smoo Cave. In the end, we lunched at Balnakeil and drove on to Smoo, but only stopped to use the facilities before continuing on a slow journey home. The views as David drove were quite lovely and we stopped a few times to enjoy them and prospect future stop points.
 Damp start


 Looking towards Sgeir Leathan, A'Ghoil-sgeir and Eilein Hoan, An Ceann Geal beyond (Whiten Head)

Traigh Allt Chailgeag

 The SE face of Beinn Spionnaidh

 Ben Hope
 Ben Loyal

 Moine Ho (ruin) from the east

 Ben Loyal and Ben Hope

 Caisteaal Bharraich


 Bonar Bridge

 Kessock Bridge
Holiday Hat!


Gayle said...

Excellent stuff! Looking forward to more of the same. Hope David's ankle is better (or well on the mend if not).

Louise said...

Still note quite 'right'...

Louise said...

*not (sigh)