Loch Affric to Cul Dubh
Dawn brought the gentle pitter-patter of rain on the flysheet. My reading of the clouds the previous evening had been correct: the weather was changing for the worse. However, it was only light rain and it almost stopped when I packed.
All of today’s photos were taken on my iPhone, which was in a waterproof Lifeproof Fre case, hence the lower quality, for which I apologise. Indeed, it was so wet later in the day, that the touch screen ceased to function, so I couldn’t take as many photos as I wanted.
Mick was going to Cougie, while I was heading for the Allt Garbh. However, our paths coincided for the first part of the day’s walk. As we walked along the shore of Loch Affric, the rain stopped and we had a pleasant stroll, chatting away.
We reached the Allt Garbh and Cougie path and turned south. In places it was decidedly boggy, but the surroundings were pleasant. As we climbed higher, the rain started in earnest. By the time we reached the turn off to Cougie, there was a strong wind and driving rain. Mick turned off to Cougie and I continued up the track following the Allt Garbh.
Although the weather was increasingly grim, the conditions underfoot were made easy by the well maintained track. To my relief there was a substantial bridge over the Allt Garbh. I was hoping that the shooting hut shown on the map might be open to provide some shelter. However, it was locked and I wasn’t even able to shelter behind it from the wind.
Beyond the shooting hut, the floor of the Allt Garbh opens out into a lochan fed by a sinuous stream and a boggy morass. I continued westwards along the 450m contour, following a faint track some of the way. The wind was driving the rain into my face and things were starting to turn unpleasant! I looked for a crossing point but the boggy floor of the glen meant I had to go further west than I wanted. In the end I found a decent place to cross.
The next task was to climb up to the Bealach an Amais and into Glen Fada. There was no track. It was steep and tussocky with extensive snow patches near the top. As I climbed, the wind became ferocious with driving rain which felt like ball bearings firing at my face. Fortunately, my back was facing the wind most of the time. At the top I was almost blown over a couple of times. My decision to take my FWA rather than go high seemed a wise one. The good news at the top was that I found a LRT going down Gleann Fada, which made the walk down considerably easier.
As I descended into the glen, the wind and rain lessened. The scenery was bleak but in its own way, beautiful. The LRT was not marked on my map, so I had no idea where it led. Further down, the rain stopped for a while, although the wind was still ferocious in places. Eventually, the LRT led to a ford where the foaming river looked tricky to cross. Instead I decided to head for a bridge marked on the map lower down. I picked up a stalkers path which led me to the bridge.
With some relief, I crossed the bridge and regained the track winding its way down Glen Doe. My intended stopping point was Cul Dubh. However, I was on the look out for other places if they presented themselves. Frustratingly, there were quite a few good spots on the other side of the river, but none on my side. The rain started again and I resigned myself to the trudge down to the dam marked on the map.
I reached Cul Dubh just before 4 o’clock. There was a decision to be made: should I camp here or go on, as it was still early? I decided not to pass up the opportunity of a certain good spot for the uncertain prospect of a pitch further on. Cul Dubh
I was extremely glad I did stop a bit early as about an hour later, it absolutely hammered down with rain. Not only that, but, as I found the next day, there weren’t any decent camping spots for a long way.
While I wouldn’t have chosen the weather, it was a good experience, especially as my Paramo Velez didn’t wet out at all. Considering the conditions, I stayed reasonably comfortable. I knew that the next night I would be staying in a B&B in Ft Augustus, making any privations more bearable.