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Moidart - a fine bit of coastal bagging!

  posted by Darren Axe on 2011-06-09

27-30 May 2011: Trip report from the club's recent visit to Moidart, written by Darren Axe.

The Moidart trip made for a little change from the norm for a Hiking trip... (we did do some hiking honest!) We headed north on Friday for the fine little coastal settlement of Glenuig tucked away in a sheltered cove on the South side of the Sound of Arisaig. Arriving late in the evening, we were pleased that potential camping spots had been scouted out by Andy McCormick. We put our tents up on a little promontory opposite the Glenuig Inn in the low light of a Scottish summers night before diving into the Inn just in time for last orders. Prior to our trip we had reached an arrangement with the Inn and the Glenuig Community Hall to enable us to wild camp and make use of various facilities in each establishment, which was great. There was however a wedding taking place in the hall on Saturday, which precluded use of those facilities on Saturday as some were to discover at their peril (John Wallbank)!

Saturday was a blustery day of heavy showers and sun, so we sacked off the idea of 'going up high' and settled for a tour of the headland from Glenuig. We first headed out to Smirisary, a bit of a old coastal crofting community with stone cottages in varying states of repair. It was good to see that quite a few of the cottages had been brought back into use. On from Smirisary, we headed South along the spectacularly rugged coast looking out over the wild Atlantic to the Small Isles. We soon reached the beach of Port Achadh an Aonaich, where Mouse and Richard braved a dip in the sea! That was probably the easy part as on getting out to get dry, they were greeted with a torrential squally shower! From the beach we headed on around the peninsula through a fantastic arch in the cliffs, until we rounded into the North Channel of Loch Moidart. We were now looking across to the wooded and steep sided Eilean Shona, which looked spectacularly like some mystical land from Lord of the Rings. It was quite a battle scrambling along the steep sides of Loch Moidart, scrambling between rocky sections of shore and the heathery slopes just above, so we decided to head upwards! We carried on up and bagged the summit of Smirisary Hill at a whopping 136m! But we worked hard for every meter of that ascent. From Smirisary Hill we hacked down to Loch na Bairness and on again down to the shore of Loch Moidart once more before taking to more hacking through thick woodland until we could pickup the track and road back North through to Glenuig. Saturday evening was spent with much merriness in the lounge of the Glenuig bar with much entertainment from the lovely resident Belgian Shepherd 'Islay'!

Sunday we woke up to more of the same weather wise, but perhaps with slightly stronger winds. Enthusiasm for the 'elusive' Rois-Bheinn was lacking once more, so we settled on heading out to explore the wonders of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. We set out leisurely on the minibus along the extremely bumpy single track lanes twisting and turning our way towards the most westerly point on the British mainland. Our first stop was at the steeply sided bay of Camas nan Geall, where the road rounds a precipice upon a semi-circular shaped shelf high above the flat meadows and sands below. The bay has a spectacular setting with the terraced Ben Hiant rising high above to the North-West and views out to Mull to the South-West. Heading on from here, our next stop was Sanna Bay out on the North-West tip of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. On the way across, the road passes through the spectacular circular ancient caldera cone structure that is exposed surrounding the small community of Achnaha. Sanna Bay is a fantastic sandy beach facing due West. There were some pretty huge waves crashing in, and we enjoyed being blasted by the fresh Atlantic spray. After this we of course had to go and Bag the Point of Ardnamurchan, with its lighthouse. The views from here are just perfect, with all the Small Isles, Mull, Coll and Tiree in view across the epic seascape. After rattling all the way back to Glenuig, we enjoyed another evening in the Glenuig Inn with the more adventurous opting for an evening stroll along the coast in the evening sunlight.

Even with the bonus of an extra day, we still managed to opt out of a quick nip up Rois-Bheinn on bank holiday Monday! Instead we headed down to the ford across Loch Moidart and walked over to Shona Beag, a small section on the eastern end of Eilean Shona connected by a narrow neck to the main island. We headed up and over the Islet on a stone track and found ourselves entering the grounds of a grand victorian house. After being welcomed into the garden by the owners who were having a bonfire, we wandered down through the grounds to the muddy little bay looking out over the South channel of Loch Moidart. After this brief morning outing it was back to Glenuig to get the tents down and head off on the long journey back to Lancaster. We had a great journey home passing back through the West Highlands in all their summer glory with lots of sunshine and clear views of all the high peaks that we oft' frequent at colder times of year!

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