Saturday, 7 October 2017

A two day Torridon tour - between a rock and a hard place

Continuing our paddle along the north side of Loch Torridon, Allan and I paused at this ruin.  It may have been a croft or a fishing station, but would have been a tough place in which to make a living.

For most of this part of the loch the shore is steep and rocky - difficult to walk along...unless you happen to be perfectly adapted of course.  We saw several goats and I've met with them previously in this area.

Approaching Loch Diabaig, there's a change in the geology from sandstone to Lewisian Gneiss and the scenery becomes suddenly more rugged but with very few landing places......

.....apart from the shore at the head of Loch Diabaig.  The settlement of Lower Diabaig must be one of the trickiest places in Scotland to reach by road, a minor road at the end of a long minor road which twists over the Bealach na Gaoithe (pass of the winds) before descending steeply to sea level again - truly between a rock and a hard place.

Heading out of Loch Diabaig and towards the narrows separating outer and middle Loch Torridon there's another change in the rock type and this time the contact zone is unmistakeable.  On one side of the contact there's a pink sedimentary rock, and on the other a dark metamorphised igneous rock.

We were by now looking at a couple of options for a second night camping.  There are surprisingly few good spots; we checked out one I've used before on a small promontory before deciding on a patch of level ground on the south shore of the loch.  As it was quite early in the afternoon we decided to paddle part of the upper loch before pitching our tents.

As we passed through the narrows by Eilean a' Chaol (Island of the kyle (narrow)) the view up to the head of the loch showed that a change in the weather was approaching.  The big Torridon hills were obscured by thick cloud and we could see heavy rain falling.  As this was headed our way we started back towards our intended campsite, but the rain beat us.

As the rain started the wind dropped to a dead calm - and we knew exactly what would be waiting for us on the shore!  Almost as soon as we stepped from the boats we were attacked by midges which seemed undeterred by the rain.  We now had a fairly easy decision - we were only about half an hour's paddling from Shieldaig and our car; and we could easily get home that evening if we chose to.  The prospect of a night confined to our tents to shelter from both rain and midges wasn't that appealing - after all, our trip ws meant as a relaxed couple of days! 

We arrived at a decision pretty quickly and got back in the boats to paddle across to Shiledaig.  Even on the main street of the village the midges were biting us as we loaded the boats onto the car.

Loch Torridon had given us a good couple of days paddling and had fulfilled the aim of sheltered options in very changeable winds and weather.  When the wind is in the north or south it's a good alternative to more exposed parts of the north west coast, though the topography of hills and the loch does tend to funnel any easterly winds.

1 comment:

  1. I've rock climbed and walked the steep path snaking between those cliffs above the houses. A really rugged area but a great half day hike back out to the main road. A special place that's still relatively untouched.