Monday, 11 April 2016

Southeast of Beinn nan Losgann

We walked across Estate land to the west of the Beinn nan Losgann forestry yesterday and set out today to walk the southeastern side, but on our way there stopped at the place most visitors know well, where there's a wonderful view down the wide glen of the Achateny Water and across the Minches to the Small Isles. This picture shows just part of that view, with the township of Kilmory in the middle distance, Eigg away to the left, and the Cuillins of Skye capped with cloud and still showing the last of their snow.

We left the car by the small quarry where the sand martins could look after it and began the climb into the open, tussocky land around the forestry, stopping every now and then to look back at that view - in this case, across Loch Mudle.

One of the pleasures of this walk is that it takes one into the rolling foothills to the north of Ben Hiant, Ardnamurchan's highest hill, but today was very special because of the air. The Highlands are justifiably famous for their clear, clean air, and today was a textbook example of what they have to offer. I cannot recall having such perfect conditions for photography: in a three-hour walk I took 160 pictures.

This is the north face of Ben Hiant's summit, a face which spend its winter in shadow, while....

....this is the eastern end of the ridge called Beinn na h-Urchrach, a ridge which runs parallel to Ben Hiant.

It's a rolling landscape, the glens occupied by crystal clear streams and well-cropped grass which is just beginning to grow again. We had a fairly stiff and chill easterly blowing today but, in the shelter of these little glens, the air was still and warm.

The burns have cut into the hillsides as they meander down, sculpting out strange shapes. We've walked in this area dozens of times, yet this particular glen is one we have yet to explore.

You're never alone here: at this time of year the natives are more inquisitive than afraid. During the walk we saw three herds of deer, upwards of fifty individuals in all, some of which we kept bumping in to.

The fences round the forestry have been down for some time, so the deer move freely between the open land and the trees. We  have always assumed that they spend the night out in the open and the day in the safety of the trees, but this group seemed reluctant to leave the grassland.

It's the time of year for the stags to be casting their antlers, though this one showed evidence of have been broken off deliberately as it was firmly embedded in the soil.

We were out for three hours and came home reluctantly.

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