Our new van didn’t come with us on last weekend’s adventure, we decided to wild camp instead. We set off from the car in the early afternoon, rather than the early morning, which felt quite strange, but with the extra light and the fact we were staying out, we had plenty of time. When we parked and set off from Sheperd’s Bridge on Saturday, the weather was much better than we had hoped for. We headed off northwards along a landrover track, beyond which, finding the bridge supposedly hidden in the trees, proved difficult, largely due to the fact that there were not any trees. However, it was warm enough to make the idea of taking our boots off quite nice, until our feet actually entered the water; then it was painfully cold, but refreshing when we were out on the other side.
From then on the path upwards consisted of streams through the grass, heather and sphagnum, which were impossible to avoid as it constituted the entire hillside. The going dried up a bit on the approach to the first munro summit, A’Chailleach. Here, we got good views of crumbling cornices around the corries.
It was much snowier on the way to the second summit, Carn Sgulain, and we saw the first mountain hare of the weekend, racing across the hillside. The distance that they travel is very impressive and it is possible to see the incredible length of their strides in the prints on the snow.
The second summit was very unremarkable and we left quickly to find a camping spot a short way away. Noodles, chicken and sweet chilli sauce should have made for a delicious dinner but when the temperature dropped rapidly they went cold so fast they were not very appetising. Fortunately, it was much warmer in the tent.
It snowed during the night; it sounds different to rain and after a while you could hear the clumps that had collected, sliding down the outer fabric. Happily, it had stopped by the time we packed up the tent in the morning, and we set off at 8am into a cloud.
The whiteout conditions remained for much of the walk across the plateau and it soon started to sleet again. This represented an excellent opportunity for navigation practise for Chris, who thoroughly enjoyed himself. The snow was absolutely covered in hare tracks and we saw numerous ptarmigan.
The summit of the third munro, Carn Dearg, is on a narrow ridge with steep ground on one side. We followed the ridge down to a saddle/bealach and descended on the east side, rather than the west, as there was a path on the map that we wanted to join. We soon dropped below the layer of cloud into a stunning valley, where we found a large herd of red deer and were treated to beautiful colours and the view of a remote lochan, Loch Dubh.
We did find the path but it quickly disappeared into a maze of streams, mud and bog. Indeed, we walked through water for almost the entire way back from that point, which for this reason felt very long. At one point the path on the map crosses a river and once again there was not a bridge. Our feet were so wet by this point that we chose the easiest and safest crossing point and simply waded through the water, which came up to my shins. We did see lots of frog spawn and sadly a frog massacre, consisting of a lot headless frogs. The cause of this remains a mystery to us.
We arrived back at the car at about 4.30pm after what felt like a very long day to me, despite the minimal ascent. We have never had such wet feet after a walk. We both like our Scarpa boots, but this was simply too much for them: water poured out of Chris’ socks when he took his feet out his boots. The fajitas we had for dinner that night were very well deserved.