Sunday, 6 May 2012

Shenavall and Beinn Dearg

The unexpectedly good weather continued during a week of repairs and renovations to Shenavall bothy beautifully situated at the foot of the impressive An Teallach ridge with the Fisherfield tops across the glen. On my walk in the estate keeper offered me a lift in his Argocat which whilst possibly quicker was a somewhat uncomfortable ride due to the roughness of the track. The spectacular views made up for this as we descended to the former croft of Achnegie that was being used as a store for the large amount of materials being carted in.
The bothy was being upgraded to comply with fire regulations so the stairwell was enclosed, floorboards and ceiling replaced and a variety of other improvements made during a settled period of hot sun, clear skies and moonlit nights. Evenings round the fire produced memorable conversations whilst behind the scenes our very dedicated cook Alex produced food for the team and hot drinks for the numerous visitors that dropped by. 
With much of the work completed by midweek a group of us decided to walk the tops across the glen and set off in a morning mist to be rewarded with the sun emerging as we reached the summits. It was a superb walk in ideal conditions with good company including that of two perfectly well behaved black labs who made short work of the steep ascents. From the top we noticed the bizarre spectacle of a former prime minister's Spitting Image profile appear below us : The (Iron) Lady of the lake - spooky!
I departed on the Friday to overnight at the Ullapool campsite overlooking Loch Broom with the Stornoway ferry arriving just off shore. As the town was hosting a music festival the site was fairly busy for the bank holiday weekend but I arrived early enough to secure a pitch overlooking the sea with hook up as the forecast was for a cold snap. On Saturday I decided to tackle Beinn Dearg and set off in good conditions up the access path, however the clouds slowly built up so that by the time I reached my first summit a blizzard had arrived making route finding rather tricky. At the pass with no real sign of a let up I decided to drop out of the cloud to check my bearings and enjoy lunch during which things cleared up again.
I climbed back up and headed off to the summit of Beinn Dearg following the enormous dry stone wall with deep drifts either side. Another blast of strong wind and heavy snow reduced visibility to almost nil so I was grateful for the wall which continued down the ridge and back to the start point - all in all an excellent walk in the wintriest conditions I have experienced for some time. The evening settled down and today looks set to be fair all day so fingers crossed for a calm crossing this evening. 
Some rain is forecast for this week which may bring my run of 7 good weeks to an end but will encourage me to explore Hebridean culture and history over the final month of this trip.
Final pictures of the mainland are here and catch my location most days at this link.

The slideshow goes back almost two years now to New Zealand's South Island.

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