Trip Report – Day walk – 4th August 2011 – Kernsary & Spidean nan Clach

Trip Report – Day walk – 4th August 2011 –  Kernsary & Spidean nan Clach

Route Taken – Poolewe Camping and Caravanning Site – Kernsary Loch – Kernsay-Kernsay Forest – Lochan nan Caber – Coire nan Dearcag – Spidean nan Clach – Waterfall on Allt Aconair – ( Detour Loch Tholdhoire – Doire Daraich)- Kernsary- Kernsary Loch-Poolewe.  20kms (12 miles)

Loch Kernsary & Bein Airigh Charr

The day dawned fine after overnight rain, with the forecast suggesting sunshine and showers, so what is different in Scotland? Unfortunately as I discovered later on in the walk, it was very much heavy continuous rain and no sunshine (except the half hour I awoke to!).   I packed my Paramo 3rd element jacket, not a good move for the first part of the day, because the air was still and humid, but I am glad I did for the second half of the day. More about that later on.

I took the footpath just a few hundred metres from the campsite which makes it’s way along Loch Kernsary.  I was recommended to walk in this area by fellow blogger David Seòras of Luachmhor blog whose family comes from Poolewe. David thanks for the suggestion, I just wish the weather had been better.

This is a pleasant walk along the loch side with views to the hills I was heading for. The narrow footpath hugs the loch side and makes its way in and out of birch and alder trees. Stopping to take off my jacket, I was immediately covered in midges, the little blighters emerged from nowhere in a big cloud over me. I sprayed myself with DEET and put on my head net,this combination keeping them largely at bay.

After walking 4 kms ( 2.5 miles) I came to the verdant green grass of Kernsary.


A little further on,I came across a farm of some description. With plenty of horses and buildings surrounded by a very fancy looking electric fence, not your standard electric tape, but almost a prison grade electric fence, certainly a lot of money spent here.

Shortly I reached Kernsary Forest a man-made conifer plantation and followed the broad forest track, turning right at the second junction and climbing over the high stile which straddles the deer fence.

approaching Kernsary forest

By the time I was out of the forest the rain , which started as a drizzle was falling steadily now, fortunately there was not a strong breeze making it any worst. Whilst I was dry in my Paramo, it was rather too hot to be wearing, but as the day progressed, I think my Montane DT jacket would have been found wanting as the rain would be coming down in torrents.

Clearing the forest

I made my way along the narrow path that wound its way between the bogs either side of me meeting up with German backpacking with his son, who incidentally was camped opposite me when I got back to the site in the evening.  We exchanged some small talk, but both of us were keen to get on as the rain was falling quite hard and the midges were out in force.

I took  a path on the right just before Loch an Doire Crionaich and walked along to the small lochan – nan Caber.

Loch an Caber

Approaching Loch an Doire Crionaich

I quickly whipped out my sandwiches from my pack and continued on munching them as I walked. To stop for more than 30 seconds meant clouds of midges around you.  The path contours around the outcrop of Meallan nan Gobhar and meets a small metal bridge over the stream Allt Aconair. A bit further on I turned sharp left and headed up hill, up the corrie of Dearcag. The rain got harder and harder and the clouds enveloped the landscape. As I climbed higher and it rained harder, the slower my pace became. I was heading for the summit of Bein Airigh Charr via the neighbouring summit of Spidean nan Clach. My Garmin suggested that I had arrived at the neighbouring summit, but quite frankly I could have been anywhere.

Is that the summit?

I headed towards Bein Airigh Charr, but my heart was not in it. I really could not see anything and after changing my batteries in my Garmin, it bleeped low batteries for some reason. I had taken new ones out of a new pack, so I was not sure why they were flat.  Faced with my Garmin shutting down and the landscape as shown below, I decided to start heading downwards.

I could be anywhere !

After awhile I spotted the path I came up and followed this until some small bealachs I saw earlier on. I carried on the path, which had now become a small river, everywhere now was water and still the rain got harder. My Paramo jacket was keeping me supremely dry as I sloshed down the newly made stream. Eventually I found the path that would take me near the waterfall on the Allt Aconair.  The river was now in spate where a few hours before it had been a gentle stream.

Allt Aconair in spate

I arrived at the point where I needed to ford this river, but with water at I estimated thigh or waist deep and moving at a fair pace, there was no way that I was going to attempt to cross it.  I moved up to higher ground to survey the scene. There was no way that I could cross the river and continue my route towards Loch Maree and then back to Poolewe, so I decided to cross the adjacent stream Allt Airigh a Charr.  I slid down the steep bank and crossed by the way of two big boulders sitting across the swollen stream.

With my Garmin low on batteries, I set a North Westerly  course on my compass by way of boggy ground and heather along LochTholdhoire and Doire Daraich. Very tough going and quite a slog until I eventually saw the edge of Kernsay Forest and the pastures of Kernsary.

By the time I crossed the Kernsary river, the rain had finally stopped. I took off my jacket and over trousers and walked back along the banks of Loch Kernsary.  About 2/3rds of the way around, it started to bucket it down again. Back on with the waterproofs for the final section to the main road at Poolewe. I arrived back at camp, James my son  came back with Fish and Chips and this washed down with plenty of tea revived my spirits.  It had been an interesting day, but not really that enjoyable !

Wait for the next post – a complete contrast in weather and scenery.

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15 Responses to Trip Report – Day walk – 4th August 2011 – Kernsary & Spidean nan Clach

  1. Gibson says:

    Lovely day you had Mark! You can see it in different weather at
    We first visited Fisherfield and Letterewe in 1981 but these photographs are from a 2009 trip.

  2. shame about the weather, there’s fantastic views to be had from on top. You’ve capture the atmosphere pretty well though in the photos.

  3. AlanR says:

    I enjoyed your post Mark and considering the weather the photo’s are pretty good. I know when it’s raining i cannot be bothered getting the camera out at all. So good on you for that.
    The Electric fence is a bit odd isn’t it.
    Re your Garmin batteries. I have the Satmap Active 10 plus that uses 3 AA Ultimate Lithium Energiser batteries or the supplied LiPol battery. One time last year my batteries didn’t last very long which rang warning bells. The next batch of Energisers i bought i checked with a volt meter. 2 were 1.1 volt and 2 were 0.9 volt not 1.5v as they should have been. I now check every battery before going onto the hill. The trouble with batteries is, you can’t take them back.
    I also use 3 Ansmann 2850 mAh digital camera batteries which hold about a 1.1 volt charge but i know that the longevity is not as good as 100% 1.5v energisers so only use them on short trips. They also help keep costs down.

  4. -maria- says:

    Looks – cloudy & wet! I think that plenty of tea can cure almost anything, from a broken heart to a common cold to blisters on your feet 😉 I agree with Alan, the pics are good considering the weather.

  5. -maria- says:

    Mark, they say that Finland is a coffee country but I’ve never learnt to drink that stuff – I always choose tea. But every so often it happens that tea is not served, or some kind herbal infusions are served as tea. So I have fully enjoyed the British tea culture when I have visited the UK, it is nice not to be the odd one out with special requirements 😉

    • Maria, I love tea with milk, probably my favourite drink. I also like herbal teas as well – camomile with honey and vanilla, my current like. Usually drink herbal tea when backpacking as I don’t like powdered milk much or UHT !!

  6. backpackingbongos says:

    Some lovely wild country there Mark. Shame about the rain and midges, however it must have been great to be in the hills.

    • James, I thought of you and Reuben when I stopped and got covered with midges. At least I was able to move on. I saw some midge suits (top half) in a outdoor shop in Portree in Skye. They were not really that expensive – £35

  7. GeoffC says:

    The scenery looks great despite the clag. I know what you mean about your heart not being in it when the mist and rain come down, it seems like effort for the sake of it. Eating on the move – another familiar scenario with midges about, no standing still!.

  8. surfnslide says:

    Shame the weather wasn’t better – that part of Scotland is tremendous and a true wilderness. The effort to get to either the two munros out there (A’Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor) or Bheinn Lair is well worth it – superb mountains and views as you could see from the slideshow I posted on an earlier comment. I did Beinn Airigh Charr at New Year a few years back, ended up walking down from pretty much from Loch Tholldhoire all the way to Poolewe in the dark!

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