Ardnamurchan – Climbs, Swims and Rescued Sheep

Back to Arnamurchan for our annual (sometimes more) visit and a return to climbing too. Friday night’s journey up was a bit of a labour despite early finishes at work as a road closure and diversion resulting from an accident made the five hour journey seven instead. A lie-in could have been on the cards then, the following morning, but by 7:30am the tent was roasting and we had to get out and take on the midges briefly whilst packing up.

A quick breakfast and some chat on the detail for the weekend over a map was next in Kilchoan’s cafe. Decisions, decisions, would we climb and lug extra gear or ditch that and just enjoy the place? It seemed like an easy and lazy option to go light so we endured the hour and a half walk with heavy packs (and light ones too) across the floor of the volcanic crater to a point close to our chosen crag.

Glendrian

Glendrian

It didn’t take us long to find a suitable spot, good view, flat and comfortable and with potential for a breeze to keep the midges at bay later on. This was our first visit coinciding with midges and we were not keen to feed them too well. Tents were soon up and then a quick lunch and lounge in the sun enjoyed before we headed a few hundred meters back to our chosen area of the ring crags.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

(l to r) Blaven and the Broadford Hills

(l to r) Blaven and the Broadford Hills

We did three routes of two pitches in blazing sunshine with nobody else in sight. Just us and bird song for most of the day but bizarrely peace was interrupted by music at one point coming from (we think) a cruise liner out in the Sound of Mull, miles away. Not even a single car in the road less than half that distance had been heard before that, a very surreal experience. The routes were nice on their own, but the overall package of comfortable climbing, great weather, great views and the feel of the place generally just made it such a good day.

Saturday's swimming pool

Saturday’s swimming pool

Another benefit of our camp spot was the proximity of a nice lochan which we had walked past on a previous visit and had in mind for a swim to cool off in after the day’s exertions. Again, this just added to the day – warm enough to be pleasant but cool, refreshing and cleansing, what a way to finish off the energetic part of the day.

Midge net view

Midge net view

Beers and dinner were shared with midges unfortunately but soon enough a breeze picked up, strong enough to see the wee bandits off for the night. I say night but night suggests darkness and it was a long time coming before that arrived. Sunset and its approach were taken in leisurely over a few drams with chat and silent pondering mixed in.

Western Isles at sunset

Western Isles at sunset

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The views ahead of us to the west and north were amazing, something we have enjoyed at sunset on previous visits, but not from this high up and a bit more of the Skye hills could be enjoyed without Rum and Eigg obscuring them so much.
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(l to r) Rum, Eigg, Cuillins and Broadford Hills on Skye

(l to r) Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg, Cuillins and Broadford Hills on Skye

Darkness to an extent did materialise eventually and with it some stars, but it was not them that were the main event in the night sky, rather it was the formation of noctilucent clouds, bright and very high clouds which only form at certain latitudes and certain times of year.

Noctilucent clouds over Knoydart

Noctilucent clouds over Knoydart

Both of us fell asleep lying out on the rocky area by our tents with a mind to bivvying out but I was woken by the drop in temperature and we both retreated to our tents at that point. Again we woke to blazing sunshine and warm tents and again we had to endure midges over breakfast. Argghh, I forgot how annoying these things can be, but we survived and they can be endured to a point.

Boulder crag by the beach

Boulder crag by the beach

We struck camp, ironically just as the breeze picked up again, and headed off just after the midges did. After a sweaty walk out, our destination was a boulder and swim at Sanna Bay. An absolutely gorgeous place, so unspoiled and clean and but for the temperature of the water and remoteness, somewhere that could easily be overrun by people. Bouldering did not take up much time, fingers were tender from climbing on the sharp rock and it was hard going to we headed for the water and inched our way in over numerous attempts. So much colder than our dip the previous day, but worth it.

Sunday's swimming pool

Sunday’s swimming pool

View over Mull and Ben More in distance

View over Mull and Ben More in distance

A leisurely lunch then wander back out and on to a long standing objective of our jaunts out to Ardnamurchan, a walk up Ben Hiant. It actually proved to be a much shorter walk than the size of the hill appears to suggest and soon enough we were up top, having followed a good and evidently popular path. Views from here were good as expected and in all directions. A cleared village below the summit on the south caught my attention and I wondered about following a ridge down to it taking in views of the coast below on the way. Andrew was happy to reverse the approach so I jogged off on my own to try and avoid him any waiting at the end.

Stuck lamb

Stuck lamb

The views were good but unexpectedly I chanced upon a sheep stuck in a big which after some effort was free but not looking too lively, perhaps it had already exhausted itself in trying to get free. Soon I found a lamb nearby in a similar situation. It was much easier to extract and had obviously not been stuck as long as it bounded off quite the thing to join its mum and badly in need of a wash.

Free lamb in need of a wash

Free lamb in need of a wash

This place doesn’t disappoint and there are still plenty of things to go back for, can’t wait till next time.

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