Five word weather: Man, that wind is cold!
15 hours; 20km kayak; 25 km walking; 400m dragging kayaks across stone, up and down grassy slopes, and through gorse bushes; 5 ticks acquired (though more may have been discovered after writing!)
In our continued attempt to make some of these routes a bit more interesting than the norm, we’ve finally shelved our axes and crampons and Andy cleverly worked out a way for sea kayaks to play a part today in the challenge!! So excited!!
It took us awhile to find a “good enough” launching area to start the day. The 1.4 km paddle across Loch Quoich was calm and peaceful; a nice start for two sleep-deprived adventurers! After pulling the boats onto shore we did a kit swap, changing out of our kayaking gear and into hill clothes and shoes. This 5km walk was path-free, no doubt due to the fact that we took an alternative route to the norm. The summit was cloudy so not much in the way of views at the top, but the day was just beginning so ample time for views to come!
Views across Loch Quoich
Andy pointing out our starting point across the loch
Summit of Gairich
The 9km kayak up Loch Quoich was rudely interrupted by a heavy shower and headwind, but at least in a kayak we’re dressed and ready for getting wet!
Today’s forecast was for intermittent showers and only a 40% chance of cloud-free Munros so we were actually quite fortunate that the only shower we experienced over a very long day occurred when we were already decked out in waterproof everything anyway.
The paddle across Loch Quoich
Jamie kayaking toward Garbh Chioch Mhor
After another clothes/kit swap we set out for a round of four (20km). The first ascent was physically draining as we climbed over tussocks, bog and rough terrain, all of which made it feel much further than it actually was (though we were at least greeted by loads of tiny frogs along the way!). This all made the summit feel like quite an achievement and Andy has renamed it the Loch Quoich Matterhorn.
Andy above one of the many local water features
Butterwort having lunch
Views from the approach up Garbh Chioch Mhor
Summit of Sgurr na Ciche
The distance between the first two summits was only a few kilometres so where the first summit had seemed quote tough the second seemed downright easy. It was only in January that we started our Munro challenge on Knoydart, but at that time we spent days in cloud with minimal views. It was brilliant today to have views of those first summits, not to mention many others that we have since tackled (and even more that we have yet to do!). The forecast proved incorrect in that we didn’t have to contend with rain throughout the day, but the wind was definitely blowing harder than predicted and it was COLD!
It was only about four kilometres between the third and fourth summits but with a high non-Munro top between them that necessitated going up to 890m only to have to drop back down to 720m again before our final climb we were definitely ready for a snack attack tucked behind some rocks for shelter!
Summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor
Summit of Sgurr nan Coireachan
The mini cairn – which we made larger – on the top before the last summit
Snacking complete, we zig-zagged our way from the saddle to the summit, feeling quite pleased that we were beginning to make a dent in our June figures in some of the most remote and stunning scenery the world has to offer (in our humble opinions 😉 )
Views across to Sgurr na Ciche
Andy ascending Sgurr Mor
Summit of Sgurr Mor
Views of the descent
Where the paddle out in the morning brought us a heavy shower and headwind, we had a nice tailwind to help push our tired selves the 9km back to the car. We finished the paddle back to the car just as it got dark (we love summer in Scotland – “dark” was 11:30pm!). After an impressive coordinated effort of boiling multiple pots of water (hot drinks; flask filled for the next morning; super noodle dinner); unloading kayaks and bagging wet gear; loading the kayaks on the roof; packing our bags with provisions for the next day; and shoving food in our faces we finally welcomed sleep in the back of the car at 0115. What a Day!!