From Mallaig we took Bruce Watt's 'Western Isles' ferry to the isolated little village of Inverie which, according to the Guinness book of Records, boasts Britain's remotest pub - The Old Forge
. We resisted it's temptation, ignored the comforts of the bunkhouse, and took the primrose lined path for seven miles/1,500ft to the head of Mam Barrisdale where we found a delectable spot for the tent facing Meall Buidhe (3,107ft), one of Knoydarts most impressive Munros. A Red Deer stag gave nervous little barks, resenting our intrusion into his territory. From far below, by the Loch an Dubh-Lochain, came the incessant call of the Cuckoo, a sound we'd have to get used to for the duration of our holiday.
|Facing Meall Buidhe|
We'd arrived in glorious sunshine but our ascent of Luinne Bheinn (3,083ft) found us scrambling around in clouds and rain on compass bearings that were not always reliable due to the presence of magnetic rock. After a quick photograph we left the summit cairn on a dodgy bearing but thankfully when the clouds briefly parted the compass was pointing in the exact direction of our tent. We returned to Inverie, scattering the deer down Mam Barrisdale, closing our ears to the insistent Cuckoos and howls of resident Inverie Peacocks, and caught the ferry back to Mallaig.
ISLE OF MULL
|At Loch na Keal|
For many years we've kept returning to one of our favourite wild camping spots on the gorse scented shore of Loch na Keal where eagles fly. On this occasion some untidy louts had left unsightly litter all over the place and burnt brown rings in the grass where they'd thoughtlessly placed hot pans. After putting up the tent we spent a good couple of hours bagging up all the rubbish and burning whatever was combustible. A local farmer kindly took the rubbish away for us and order was restored.
We went for a five mile run, as far as the Gribun Rocks, to work up an appetite for a gorgeous Italian meal at the 'Mediterranea
' restaurant in Salen, a birthday treat courtesy of my wonderful partner. We opted for local seafood, Mussels in a wine and garlic sauce for starters, seared scallops with red peppers, strips of streaky bacon and Mediterranean salad for the main course, mixed berry pavlova for sweet, and all of this made more appetizing with a rich red Sicilian wine. My partner was also given a complementary dish of black and green olives. I don't ever recall a nicer birthday meal. We returned to camp, watched a blazing red sunset over the Western Isles and slept like babies.
|On the A'Chioch Ridge|
We arose early next morning to warm sunshine, filled ourselves with porridge and set off up Gleann na Beinne Fada to a col below the towering A'Chioch ridge. The adrenalin flowed thick and strong as we clambered upwards, making the height and exposure all the more pleasurable. From the summit cairn of A'Chioch (2,770ft) we descended 300ft to another col before the long airy ascent of Ben More (3,169ft). At an exposed section near the summit we were joined by a happy little Jack Russell terrier jumping from ledge to ledge on its way down. Then it's owner appeared accompanied by a rough coated Deerhound lurcher both of whom were equally adept in negotiating the steep, rough terrain. On the sun warmed summit there wasn't a breath of wind. We lingered a while, over a bite to eat and mouthful of juice, wallowing in nostalgia while chanting a litany of well loved names of all the beautiful islands and places we'd visited together in the past - the sacred Isle of Iona
with its shining sands, Staffa
with it's basalt pillars and famous Fingal's Cave that inspired Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture', Bac Mor like a giant sombrero floating on the sea, Lunga with it's incredible population of nesting Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and Shag. Beyond the Treshnish Isles floated the white fringed island of Tiree and the more rugged island of Coll. We descended Ben More by its easy north west ridge and were back in camp by lunchtime. After a well earned brew and a bite to eat we packed the tent and drove west along the coast to catch the ferry to our 'secret camp' on the island of Ulva.