Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Three Lochans

The moment when one leaves the car at the beginning of a walk and steps off the tarmac onto the grass is always very special. It's a moment of uplift, a moment when one knows that, for the next few hours, one is going to be alone in a wilderness with a good chance of not seeing another soul.

Today we left the car near the Caim sheds and walked upstream along the right bank of the Allt na Mi-Chomdhail heading for the saddle just to the left of the snow-flecked hill in the picture, another of the many hills on the OS map which lack a name.

The BBC had promised us fine weather but the clouds stayed low and we walked uphill though a thin but persistent drizzle. This picture looks back down the burn to the Caim sheds and Ben Hiant, with the forestry of Beinn nan Losgann on the left.

As walkers, we do have a persistent problem which should have - but fortunately hasn't yet - led us into trouble: we reach an objective and then see something else which draws us on. Today it was the knowledge that, below the jagged hill on the horizon on the right, there are three remote and pretty lochans. So we decided to press on and visit them.

As we climbed higher, so we came across more and more patches of snow, and increasingly the pools of water were covered with ice, as was....

....the first of the lochans. By this time the drizzle had turned to sleet and the cloud was down over the summits of the neighbouring hills - the ben lost in the mist here is Meall nan Con, the second highest hill, after Ben Hiant, on this end of Ardnamurchan. This first lochan is shallow, with tufts of grass protruding through its cover of ice, but....

....the second is both deeper and darker. In the foreground sits one of the many glacial erratics which are scattered across the area, a rock picked up by a glacier over 10,000 years ago and carried some distance before being dumped.

The third lochan has been almost completely infilled over the years and is now little more than a large, muddy puddle. Sadly, the OS map doesn't give the lochans individual names but lumps them all together as Lochain Mhic Dhonuill Duibh, the Black MacDonald's Lochans. One wonders who the Black MacDonald was that he has three lochans to his name.

As we walked back down the hill, this time following the left bank of the burn, the sun came out across the land far below us and, a few minutes later.... found us. This picture looks at almost the same view as the first, but what a difference some sunshine makes!

Satellite image courtesy Bing Maps

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