Sunday 30 April 2023

Adventures with Ellie - 16th April '23 - NW Highlands

Our first Adventure of 2023 started on the Sunday afternoon as we drove towards Ullapool and on to Knockan Crag. It is a favourite place for us to stop over and it was convenient for our planned walk on Stac Pollaidh the next day. After we parked there were a few vehicles came and went, we went for a stroll along the trail to stretch our legs. Part way we met a stag blocking our path. We waited a while to see if he would move, but he seemed content to stay put. David pointed our he had a friend close by. We decided to leave them to it and turned back. A short while later we were joined by another couple in their van, we were the only two vehicles to stay all night.

We had a pleasant night and were away at a reasonable time in the morning, but were disappointed to find the car park at Stac Pollaidh full. There were other vehicles parked close by, but we were not going to add to any issues and decided to do a walk we had planned for the following day. The car park there was quiet and we set off.

It was a beautiful day, quite warm, with clear blue skies and blazing sunshine.

I had not looked closely at the details of this walk as I was planning it for the following day and was unprepared for wet feet within the first few hundred metres. Oh well. We ambled along, pausing to take in the views and to do a bit of birdwatching, we saw razorbills and red throated divers.

There was an older couple who had set off just behind us, they were making steady progress too, but as we continued there were some tricky rocky sections to clamber. After we'd had lunch overlooking a small bay, it became apparent they must have turned back as we could see a long way behind and they had disappeared. There were stunning views of Suilven, Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh. We had watched a chap in the small bay poking about the rocks and boulders, we were curious as to what he was up to.

We continued on our walk, turning inland and shortly after, David narrowly missed standing on a large, female adder. Never seen him move so fast. We followed the boggy, vague path, crossing burns using a few dodgy planks, before eventually reaching the road at a bridge and turning towards the car park, just over a kilometre away. As we walked, we met the chap who had been poking about on the beach earlier, we had a chat and he turned out to be a geologist, returning to a previous project from his university days.

We reached Ellie shortly before the other couple returned to their vehicle, they had turned back at about half way, so we had covered a similar distance. From here, we decided to treat ourselves to a night on the campsite, Port a Bhaigh, a lovely site with a pub across the road. We arrived in plenty of time to get set up and shower before going for a meal at the pub. It was delicious.

We had been to wash up a few dishes and were heading back to Ellie when we bumped into some friends from home, we'd pitched next to their van and not realised! We had a chat and then headed off to bed.

Approximately 9.47km 164m

Suilven, Cùl Mòr and Stac Pollaidh

The next day the plan had been to walk Stac Pollaidh, but we changed our minds and drove out to Sgurr an Fhidhleir instead. The car park was busy, but only small, so we figured the hill wouldn't be too busy. We were able to fit Ellie in neatly, got our sandwiches and gear sorted and set off.

The first part of the path is quite steep. Part way up, the path split and we managed to take the wrong fork. After a while, we realised and adjusted our aim to intersect the correct path again further up, no big deal. After a short while, we got to the top of the main climb and stopped for a break and a snack. We could see the summit ahead of us now and, having found the path, headed straight for it. We split briefly but stayed in visual contact, David paused to speak to two ladies who had just left the cairn, but I continued on to the slight scramble to the top. The views were huge and stunning, but I didn't like the drop and climbed back down a bit out of the wind and away from the edge. We perched together on a rock to eat lunch, watching two paragliders over Beinn Mhòr na Coigach before heading off the hill ourselves. We met three young men who had set off behind us and were taking their time to reach the summit, and once we got back to the car park, we met the two ladies David had spoken to as they drove away. It was a lovely walk.

We had decided to return to the campsite for a second night as we were virtually passing anyway, we ate a meal in Ellie before being treated to another great sunset and a quiet night.

A great first trip of the year away.

Approximately 8.91km 608mS

Beinn Mhòr na Coigach

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