6 members combined canoe and hill skills for a great weekend in the mountains on the east side of Knoydart this September.....it was an idea which took a while to come to fruition. It all started when Brooker suffered a severe relapse of Polymunrosis subtotalis. He came back in 2016 all enthusiastic about Munro bagging after an unusually good spell of weather in the Scottish Mountains.
Hill and Paddle weekend 2017
he said: "its made me think it might be fun to combine a paddle and a hill walk next year. There are some fairly inaccessible (remote) mountains, with water at the bottom.
If you have hill skills and open canoe skills, and would like to combine the two, please get in touch, and we might run a trip, probably not an official club trip, as its a madcap plan."
It transpired the club had quite a few crazy members, so a plan was hatched to scale Gairich and Sgurr Mor, which are inconveniently placed a long way from public roads, unless you count the one on the wrong side of Loch Quoich.
A date in June was agreed (it's always fine in June), and a dozen folk signed up. But the forecast was grim, with low cloud and high wind, so we postponed. A new date in July..lightning doesn't strike twice and all that..and the forecast was grim, so we postponed, until September!
So finally 6 of us met on a grey morning on the banks of Loch Quoich. Light winds were forecast, and we were rewarded by a mirror finish on the loch! The new club open canoe trolleys, made the launch a doddle, and we were on the far shore in a trice. Curiously we found that our intended site was occupied already by 3 tents and there were kayak paddles poking out, but no kayaks. Very strange.
Alice and Norman set off to explore the loch, while Wendy, Sandeep, Neil and Iain set off for Gairich. The Kingie Estate stalker had asked us to stay off Sgurr Mor as they were stalking in the corrie today. We heard no shots, just the Ravens. A good path led us up over wee Gairich to the summit ridge, where we got a good soaking from a passing shower. We met 3 walkers coming down. Turned out they were the owners of the tents on the shore. They had reached the summit in the heavy burst of rain, and were glad to descend. We pressed on, it was further than expected, but reached the summit in glorious sunshine, with fabulous views.
Back at camp, Alice and Norman had set up a tarp, and had the stove on when we rolled in.
It turned in to a beautiful evening with no midges, no rain, and gentle winds. Spam, Mexican beans and a glass of red wine provided welcome resuscitation. The sun fell in the west, outlining the peaks against the red glow, and then the stars came out!
A fine morning greeted us. The neighbouring party were leaving for home, in their inflatable kayaks. These were smart, with storage inside the inflatable sections. They seemed a brilliant idea!
Leaving Alice and Norman to explore the west end of the loch by kayak, we set off up Sgurr Mor, on a beautifully graded stalking path, which led us up on to the ridge. Not so sunny, but the cloud frequently rent open to give tantalising views of the surrounding peaks. A murder of Ravens soared above the ridge, we saw a herd of red deer, and a golden eagle. Finally after the summit picnic, we turned for home, and the views were great on the way back. Alice and Norman had broken camp before us, but after a short crossing through a small chop, we were greeted by fruit loaf, and willing hands on the final carry up the beach.
Chips in Fort Augustus on the way home. We sat by the canal in the warm still evening. Still summer! What luck.