This is the story of my first Walk from North – South of Scotland in May 1976 it was an adventure and no day was ever the same. The gear was simple the maps basic but what a trip.
Day 2 May 10 th 1976
It was all a huge adventure for us; we had never appreciated the distances into the mountain or the unusual aspects that we would have to climb the hills. We left Merkland Lodge by 0800 there was plenty of day light it was May and wandered down the A838 past Loch Merkland and down a few miles to the top of Loch Shin and then follow a hydro road into the wilds. All the time we could see Conival and the huge massive of Ben More Assynt in the distance. After we left the track it seined endless we hit the purgatory sloped for about two hours to eventually reach the Summit ridge of Ben More Assynt. It was a great day and the views of the moonscape Assynt of the great hills and the sea were incredible, how I was to love this place and spend a lot of time here on the nearby Aeroplane Flats where a plane and crew had crashed in 1941 and are buried on site, what a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives for us and how many visit this remote grave? It was along the narrow ridge of broken Quartzite blocks (interesting in winter) to the days second Munro Conival . From here we could make out our route and our next objective Seanna Bhraigh and the Loch Coire Mor bothy. We were heading for Ben More Lodge hidden in the back of Loch Ailish for the night and had a great scramble down the short ridge to Dubh Loch a place of remoteness and beauty. On the way we spotted several gullies still holding lots of snow on the other side of the Coire and the possibility of good climbing in a scenic area. I was taking note for future trips to this area and wonder how many visit this coire and see its hidden beauty. There were vast herds of deer moving around and so much other wild life, spring was in the air and the winter was leaving but the hills would still hold their winter coats for a few more weeks. It was a wet glen walk as the hills were shedding there snow in the May sun but we were soon on the track and then the Estate road to Ben More Lodge and again great hospitality from the keeper who was glad to see us after a long winter. He asked us where the deer were and we were rewarded by a huge dram again as the Keepers phone from Merkland had said we enjoyed a dram after the hill. It was incredible hospitality again and we were soon in the bothy sorting out our meal and then an early night.
Today’s distance was only 17 miles and 4478 feet of ascent but much was on tracks and hard ground onto the hill, we were feeling great and this walk was going well.
Day 3 May 11 – Ben More Lodge – Loch Coire Mhor bothy
This was the only day planned to purely road walk and it was along trail down to Oykel Bridge and then follow the forestry and estate road into Corriemulzie Lodge a huge open moorland. In these days there were few cars and we had an easy walk to the hotel and very upmarket place for the famous fishing on the river Okyel.
From here it was head down and into the wilds the weather was again special and after Corriemunzie Lodge the track along Strath Mulzie and into Loch Corrie Mor and our bothy for the night below the impressive Luchd Coire and the ridge leading to Creag Duine looking so impressive. The view changes as you get closer and the 5 kilometres of cliffs are rarely seen by the Munro baggers from the West. I love this place and its history the Coire Mor bothy and the Corriemunzie Club for many years climbed these huge cliffs in winter and many are rarely visited or climbed. This is a true remote place and to see it at the end of winter with the great rim of cliffs above a featureless plateau is so impressive.
I had our first food cache hidden here and it was in good nick and we soon had a wee fire and a meal and then enjoyed the ambience of this place. All the greats of this club had spent many nights in this tiny bothy and though Spartan I revealed in its history and even had a simple guide of the time to pick out the lines on the cliffs. I would visit this again and run a winter 4 day trip a few years later. I was outside enjoying the view until late, more herds of deer were around we had seen no one on the hill after three days and tomorrow we would hit the big hills right outside our door. We had a big day planned 5 Munros in a wild area and the weather was changing.
Today’s distance 21 Miles and 1400 feet