Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
15th to 17th March 2008
A weekend spent on the shores of Loch Calavie in the heart of some of Scotlands most remote countryside
We arrived at Attadale on the banks of Loch Carron around midday and parked just inside the entrance to Attadale gardens in the area set aside for walkers. After a bite to eat and a cup of tea we hauled our well laden rucksacks onto our backs and headed of into the hinterland of Attadale forest. A landrover track winds its way through the estate gradually starting to gain height through some birch woods. At the start of the climb there were some good views back to Loch Carron. The track climbs up the valley of the Abhainn Odhar before levelling off a little as it crosses undulating moors with pine forest on the right. We passed a couple of small lochs before climbing steeply in a series of zigzags after the second loch, Loch na Caillich. The gradient then eased as we passed between the hills of Aonach Dubh and Meall Ruadh. A little further down the track Bidein a'Choire Sheagaich and Lurg Mhor came into view at for the first time, although they were still a fair way off.
Lurg Mhor & Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich in the far distantce
The track continued its downward trend before flattening out as we arrived at the bridge crossing the Black water river which was fast flowing at this point as it changed direction to head south to join the river Ling. We continued along the banks of Black Water River, Uisage Dhubh, as the landscape opened out a little into a wide area of moorland. The track soon reached Bendronaig Lodge and adjacent well kept bothy.
Bothy at Bendronaig
It was tempting to maybe use the bothy as the weather was beginning to close in, but we decided to continue onto our planned destination, Loch Calavie. After crossing the Allt Coire na Sorna by a small foot bridge we turned right climbing up into Coire na Sorna before crossing a low bealach and descending slightly to the lonely shores of Loch Calavie. Following the path which leads along the northern shore we started to search for a suitable place to camp. We eventually settled at a point near were the Allt Coire Calavie flows into the loch. We managed to get the tents up between showers and the mountains provided some shelter from the cold notherly winds that would be blowing for most of our stay. After unpacking we settled down to our evening meal as the darkness descended shortly after seven. A blustery and showery night ensued, the rain evntually easing around seven, an hour or so after sunrise. When breakfast was finished we prepared ourselves for the hills and set off shortly after nine. Following the loch shore for about 1km we surveyed the hillside for a suitable route up. The right hand edge of a deep ravine looked likely to give reasonably firm footing up the sodden hillside. After a final steep pull the top of the ravine saw the terrain ease in gradient.
Half way up Lurg Mhor, Beinn Dronaig and Loch Calavie in the background
A patch work of snow covered the boggy hillside but eventually formed a more complete blanket further up. Over to the south blackened skies gave a stark contrast to the snow topped hills of Killilan Forest.
Stormy skies over Killilan Forest
The narrow ridge leading out to Meall Mor looked as if it would provide some interesting scrambling, but not today.
Meall Mhor, right, and its narrow ridge
We gained the level plateau just east of the summit cairn of Lurg Mhor, impressive cornices leading the eye around the cliff edge.
Corniced summit of Lurg Mhor
The top surprisingly gave sanctuary from the sometimes biting wind and the sun now showing more consistently made it a rather idyllic spot.
Lunch spot on Lurg Mhor
The views in every direction were awe inspiring and gave easy viewing of the islands of Rum, Eigg and Skye. To the north across Bealach an Sgoltaidh lay the peaks of Sgurr Choinnich, Sgurr a Chaorachain and Bidean an Eoin Deirg.
Sgurr Choinnich, Sgurr a Chaorachain and Bidean an Eoin Deirg
Our next goal was Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich whose snowy slopes shone brightly when the sun was out between snow showers.
Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich
The hillside's were snowy rather than icy so the descent to and ascent from the Bealach between Lurg Mhor and Bidein a'Choire Sheagaich provided no real difficulties apart from some slippery patches were the grass poked through. Looking east there were great views down to the western end of Loch Monar and the steep craggy sides of Lurg Mhor. Loch Monar is thirteen kilometers long and now considerably enlarged after the construction of a dam at its eastern end.
Western end of Loch Monar and Lurg Mhor
The slope steepened toward the narrow summit ridge but the snow provided good if deep footholds. Stephan and I enjoyed a second lunch stop near the top but it wasn't long before the weather closed in again. It was snowing more steadily now so we decided on what we thought was the easiest route down to the tents. We headed back down to the bealach between Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor. Then descended following one of the main burns that flow to Loch Calavie, Allt Coire Calavie. The going was a bit boggy but the gradient not to steep and we were soon down. The wind died and the temperature dropped during Sunday night as the skies cleared. We woke early to a sharp frost but with the prospect of some sunny skies, however early optimism was greyed occasionally by passing clouds. A brief reddening of the sky provided good viewing over breakfast.
Sunrise across Loch Calavie
The Loch Calavie provides a scenic venue for those fisherman willing to travel to this far flung area of Scotland. We were up and away down the shores of the loch shortly after seven. As we rounded the east end of the loch a wire bridge provided a bit of entertainment while crossing the outlet of Loch Calavie, Allt loch Calavie.
Balancing act, Stephan on the wire bridge
A stalkers path continued around and then part way up the eastern slopes of Beinn Dronaig. The snow on the upper slopes had become crunchy after the overnight cold snap. The weather started to improve slightly while we snacked at the top and continued to brighten as we continued westward. After clearing the northern crags we then altered course heading for the west end of Loch Calavie a short way from the tents. We arrived back at shortly after midday. The balmy weather continued a while and allowed us to enjoy some soup and a bite to eat before taking down the tents.
Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich from Beinn Dronaig
After packing up we then prepared ourselves for the long walk back to Attadale. It was a further four hours before we arrived gratefully back at the car. It was then time for a hot chocolate and the drive back over to Aberdeen.
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