Saturday 19 June 2021

Days like these - a spectacular morning on Loch Hourn

I slept really well at our camp on Loch Hourn, waking early as the light grew stronger.  Stepping outside, this was my first view of the day - the majestic Ladhar Bheinn rearing into a flawless blue sky across the loch.  I've climbed Ladhar Bheinn twice, once from each side of the hill, and had remarkably good weather both times.  It's one of the Munro "superstars" in my opinion and anyone who climbed it on this day would have an unforgettable ascent.

The view in the other direction up Loch Hourn wasn't too shabby either!  The low early morning sunshine was silhouetting the tangle of ridges and spurs around Kinloch Hourn, a very different aspect of the same scene we'd watched the previous evening.

Rather than rush away we took our time to enjoy being in this utterly remote spot on such a great morning.  Everywhere we looked was stunning scenery and we found lots of interest all around, including some strange miniature fountains where the tide was pushing water and air up thorough the saltmarsh areas.

But it was Ladhar Bheinn which held our attention.  We had breakfast facing across the loch so that we could watch the light change on the cliffs at the head of Coire Dhorrcail (on the left of this image) and the gullies and faces at the head of Coire Odhair.

Eventually we decided to get underway and enjoy the view from the water.  We took down the tents and erased all evidence of our second fire; the tide had taken care of the remains of the first one!  We paddled out onto a mirror calm loch for a truly memorable morning's paddle.

It was now mid-morning and the warm sunshine had started to form clouds.  These didn't detract from the views at all, in fact the pattern of light and shade enhanced features and gave depth to the whole scene.  Douglas and I blazed away with our cameras and Donny filmed from "Guppy".  

The backdrop of Ladhar Bheinn was hard to beat, the kayaks tiny underneath the bulk of the mountain.  I took a tremendous amount of images and even now I can't decide which I prefer, so here's a few of them....Douglas' bright red P&H Volan providing a real splash of colour against deep shadows....

...a colour and light gradient as a passing cloud accentuated the warm sunshine against the shadow...

.......Lorna and Allan in a perfect reflection of the dramatic skyline of the summit ridges.....

....Donny motoring Guppy along below Druim a' Choire Odhair (ridge of the dun coloured Corrie)....

Already this was an outstanding day, and it was only mid-morning!  Days like these, they stay with you forever.


Thursday 10 June 2021

Time and tide on the shore of Loch Hourn

A leisurely paddle back along the shore of upper Loch Hourn took us back to our intended camp site on the point where we'd sheltered from the worst of the earlier squall.  The kayakers could carry our boats above the tideline, Donny moored his F-RIB "Guppy" in a small bay close by where it would be well out of the tidal stream.  There was plenty of space to camp here and good ground to pitch our tents; we got set up and did the usual sorting of kit after a day on the water.  

I really enjoy this aspect of trips whether by kayak or on foot - a reasonably early arrival at camp with time to enjoy the evening and to appreciate the setting.  This is a pretty remote spot, takes a bit of getting to and is well worth spending some time at.  The flow of the tide past the camp was quite hypnotic, it was fascinating watching the development of boils and swirls on the ebb and then the flood.

Through the early evening and while there was still some energy in the weather we were treated to a wonderful range of light as showers built over Kinloch Hourn.  The area around Loch Quoich gets some the highest rainfall totals anywhere in the UK and is used to "head" hydro power schemes - there's often plenty of energy potential falling from the sky!

We were pleased to see the showers remain concentrated at the head of the loch while we stayed dry and in a light breeze. It wasn't particularly warm, but cool and dry was fine by us.

As the sun dipped, the shadows deepened and increased the contrast with the sunlit hills, the highest of which still had a smattering of white from the earlier hailstorms - it was developing into a lovely evening.

After a dinner of home-made chilli  followed by baked fruit and custard, both kindly supplied by Raymond we secured the boats for the evening and made our way down below the high water mark to light our fire.  This early in the season there was no shortage of firewood - which as things turned out was a good thing.

 We lit the fire right on the previous evening's tide mark, but miscalculated by about 30 minutes of tide....with the result that we experienced "the lost fire of Loch Hourn"!  Managing to rescue some hot embers, we re-lit a fire on the shingle further up, but still below the Spring tide line.  We were glad of that fire, it was a fairly cold evening with a chilly breeze and though enjoyable to sit around chatting after so long apart, we didn't stay up too late.  The cloud began to dissipate as we were heading for our tents and we had hopes of good weather the following morning.  We were certainly not to be disappointed.....