Sunday, 9 March 2014

Another Wintery Walk

We hear that the south of the UK is enjoying such warm, spring-like weather that people are wandering around in tee shirts.  Nothing of the sort is happening here - we're still savouring the wettest winter anyone hereabouts can remember.  It hasn't rained too much today, but we certainly haven't seen the sun, and it's still miserably cold in the wind.

Despite the weather, we were away into the hills this morning, leaving the car at the turn to the Beinn Bhuidhe wind turbine and crossing the road to walk along the southeastern flank of Ben Hiant.  Although the main purpose of the walk was to get some exercise in what is probably the most beautiful corner of Ardnamurchan, we were also looking at the archaeology that's scattered along the steep slope, including the structures in this picture, which may or may not be the remains of shieling huts.

Throughout the walk we were watched by red deer hinds.  There were several groups, some of as many as thirty animals, some with only three or four.  We didn't see any stags.  Apparently, the hinds take over the best grazing, chasing the stags away.

This is the area we were aiming for, a bowl of land cupped between the southern slopes of Ben Hiant and the lump of Stellachan Dubha, on the left.  We headed along the lower slope to the left, to cross the lowest point of the saddle in the distance.

The day had started grey with a light wind and occasional drizzle, but as we worked our way round this bowl of land the weather deteriorated, bringing rain to the level where we were, but something much more wintery to obscure the upper slopes of Ben Hiant.

But there was at least one sign of a spring, this rather brightly-coloured toad who looked remarkably fat considering he's just coming out of winter.  But this has been an unusual warm and wet winter that may have suited him.

Once across the saddle we were approaching the top of the steep slope down to Maclean's Nose.   Here a super view opens up westwards, of a series of bays which end with Kilchoan Bay, but as we crossed the ridge we came into the full force of the southwesterly and the rain it was bringing in.

We had hoped to make our way down onto the top of Maclean's Nose but, with the weather so miserable and time running out on us, we turned back.  Having chased us away from our destination, the weather then cleared, giving us a fine view across Loch Sunart to the hills of Morvern.  The deep bay on this side is Camas nan Geall, with Ardslignish Point beyond it.  The dark island in the middle distance is Oronsay, with Loch na Droma Buidhe tucked behind it.

An interactive version of this map is here.

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