Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Light and shade in Loch Broom

I'd decided on a paddle in outer Loch Broom near Ullapool with a hillwalk the following day.  The forecast was for cold but relatively settled conditions prior to a wintry spell of weather.  I hoped to get some shelter from the predicted northeasterly wind by paddling along the north shore of the outer loch from Ardmair Bay to Achiltibuie.

Ardmair Bay is a perfect lauch site; a curving shingle beach with car parking right above it and a campsite in the summer.  It's sheltered by Isle Martin and has the impressive backdrop of Ben More Coigach (big hill of Coigach).  Arriving at about sunrise, 0800 at this time of year, I wasted no time in getting moving as it was cold in the shade.


The low winter sun was illuminating Isle Martin beautifully whilst Ben More Coigach was enveloped in a sea of cloud which washed over the ridge.  It seems to be a feature of this hill that it forms these washes of cloud.  Normally they form from the southwest (left edge on this picture) and dissipate to the east but today the reverse was happening.

The vibrant colours are a total contrast with the greens of summer - this variety is one of the wonderful things about the changing seasons in Britain.

There aren't too many places in Scotland where mountain cliffs drop straight into the sea, but Ben More Coigach is one such.  Close in, the mountain drops very steeply to the water and landing places are very limited.  The cliffs are formed mainly of sandstone which was glowing in the low sunlight.

It's heavily featured and eroded rock and has some interesting shapes.  There seemed to be a Norse warrior staring out from the left edge of this outcrop!

The forecast northeasterly wind was actually blowing from the south east and increased rapidly to F4-5.  This made for uncomfortable and wet paddling along the cliffs and shore on the north side of the loch.  I was glad to pull into the shelter of Horse Sound and land on the sandy beach at Achininver.

The skyline had become a monochrome sweep of mountain and cloud.  The prominent domed hill in the centre of this photograph is Sail Mhor (Big Heel) which I'd climbed a couple of weeks previously.

Time for a cup of tea while I decided what to do next; once back around the point and into the wind it would be a slog back to Ardmair.

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