A rather delayed Part 3 of the Knoydart Trip. I am now in Cornwall with my family on holiday – dreadful weather today, so good reason to get sorted out. I am way behind with my blog and reading others – so much catching up to do. Perfect opportunity in the evenings, but both campsites so far have had rubbish internet connections! Here is Part 3:
Tuesday. I awoke early to another beautiful day. I poked my head out of the tent and was immediately reminded why you need to have a head net close at hand this time of year in Scotland. There was not a breath of wind and the midges were out in force. After waking William we walked over to the bothy where our fellow backpackers were making breakfast out of the reach of the “wee beasties”. Over a cup of tea and porridge, we discussed all the mountains in the area, gear selection and all the usual backpacker talk when backpackers come together. After breakfast and with head nets back on, we went back to the tents to strike camp. Once again it was a warm morning and we were looking forward to our walk over the mountains to Inverie. The first section was steady climb out of Barisdale along a good track to the pass of Mam Barisdale. Stopping ever so often to take a drink and admire the scenery, we reached the mountain in good time. After an hour or so of climbing we reached Mam Barisdale and with it a change in the weather. It was cloudier over the other side with a breeze, but fortunately it did not look like rain as we made our way on a long steady descent.
We started our long descent down to the lochain. I had mentioned that the area had been unusually dry, but we met our first thick mud, the soil mixing with the numerous little streams coming off the mountainside to make a thick gooey mixture, caking our once pristine looking boots after two days of walking in very dry conditions. About half way down, my ever eagle-eyed son, spotted some more red deer on the other side of the valley to us and we spent some time observing them through binoculars, they were completely oblivious to the observation from two walkers.
After lunch, the easy to walk trail ensured we made good speed towards Inverie. A couple of miles further on we came across a herd of Highland Cattle on the track. Somewhat nervously we walked amongst them, but we need not worry as they continued to graze barely aware of our presence.
We past a stone cross up on the hill-side, it looked like a war memorial, but it was in fact it was a memorial to the men of Knoydart who fought against absentee landlords, a sad reminder that once there was a much greater population in the area before the land clearances and scattering of many Scots to the four corners of the globe.
Just past this we had our first glimpse of our destination and around the corner came a walker in his 70’s with an alarm loudly going off on his mobile phone. He explained that he would be very grateful if we could switch this damn phone off that his daughter insisted he take with him in case of an emergency. He had no idea how the phone worked. William took one look at it and as only a teenager, who is wedded to electronic devices can, immediately silenced the shrill. The gentleman couldn’t thank us enough. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he wouldn’t get a mobile signal anywhere, if he got himself in trouble. Again another good reason for investing in my Spot 2 Messenger.
After walking through a pleasant wooded area, we saw the first houses of Inverie and turned to the left, following the signs for the campsite. A sign pointed the way across a horse paddock, which we duly followed, thinking we were going wrong, until a beautiful beach (Long Beach) came into view, here on a narrow strip of closely cropped turf was the site.
A small alpine style chalet served as bothy, with a tap and some long wooden benches outside. A little further along was a compost toilet with a fine view of the bay while attending to your business!
We pitched our tents around 5 pm, having the whole campsite to ourselves. I put some money in the honesty box, £3 per night per tent and set about cooking our evening meal, looking out to the bay with the mainland in the distant. Of course Inverie is part of the mainland, but you can only get here by boat or foot, so it has a remote island feel about. A little later, the warden came along, collected our money from the box. He commented that yesterday it was very busy here, being a bank holiday Monday, but as we found out we were the only ones to camp this night.
Later on we walked down to the village and had a drink at the Old Forge, which is reputedly to be the most remote pub in Britain – despite this title; it was packed to the rafters, so we took our drinks outside and spent a pleasant hour sitting in the warm sunshine.
Afterwards, we took a tour around the jetty, before returning to our tents as the midges came out again! A little light rain in the night soothed me into my sleep.
In the morning, the sun was out and so were the midges, making the most of the still air. We had breakfast in the bothy, packed up and made our way to the jetty to find out about the ferries. The main ferry would arrive at 11.30 and it was 8.30. We resigned ourselves for a three-hour wait but after about 45 minutes a water taxi arrived and we took the 20 minute journey to Maillaig costing £10 each.
The boat skipped over the waves on a beautiful warm day while I reflected on the journey with the fantastic weather we had and the marvellous scenery we had walked through.
At Maillaig we had a wait of around an hour before taking the local bus to Fort William. Although the journey was longer as it stopped at all the small villages on the way, the scenery was glorious and the sun warm through the glass of the bus – a journey that was a pleasure to be on. A quick change at Fort William saw us board the National Express coach from Glasgow to Skye, where we alighted at Shiel Bridge near to the campsite. A short walk to the car lead to journey’s end, well at least our tour around the Knoydart Peninsular – What an excellent trip we had!