“If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans… When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man.” – Wilfrid Noyce
Loch Quoich is situated west of Loch Garry and is a loch and reservoir. It was dammed in the 1950’s, and has only one road on the north side which gives good access to some of the surrounding rugged peaks.
Loch Quoich is a lonely loch on route to Knoydart, which is said to be Scotland’s last wilderness…now that made me sit up and take notice!
So we were off to visit this peaceful area. Our plan was to paddle across Loch Quoich, set up a wild camp for the night then undertake the solitary Munro, Gairloch.
To get to the spot where we would leave our car to paddle across the loch we followed the very remote and narrow road for miles which eventually took us to the reservoir. Although it was a pretty narrow, bendy road at points, views were beautiful and you knew you were in the middle of nowhere really but somewhere very special, it was so secluded.
Eventually we reached our spot at the loch where we had space to leave the car and also where we would launch our kayaks. We gathered up what we would need for the evening, including our tent, sleeping bags, food and hiking gear and packed it into our kayaks before finally setting off.
Conditions were pretty nice for the paddle and views could not be better, it felt good to be out here and you could feel the sense of remoteness.
The paddle was longer than I expected but nice at the same time. As we got into the middle of the loch the wind picked up slightly which meant paddling harder but it would have been rude to complain, I mean look where we were!
We eventually reached the shore across the loch and disembarked onto a pebbled beach. We looked around for a spot to call home for the night and found a small bit of sandy beach which looked perfect.
We quickly unpacked the boats and set up the tent before getting sorted to summit Gairloch before it got too late.
We headed over the river and straight away hit our first obstacle, a deer fence with no gate. So we had to undertake the climb. This deer fence was high as you could imagine, pretty flimsy and at an angle so not the best fence to climb over, however it had to be done (this was after Andy insisted several times I just had to get on and climb it!!!) otherwise we were stuck, so over the deer fence we went!
Straight away we were into boggy heather land. You couldn’t take your eyes of the ground as all over the place there was these large square holes dug out…loads of them everywhere all the way up this section which has reminded me to look into why these where here?? If you stepped in you’d be in trouble. Each footstep had to be placed to avoid, bog, holes or heather…can you tell I wasn’t loving this section, did I complain, hell yeah I did! Things like this always reminds me and puts into perspective how different each of the Munro’s are. You have easy to reach ones with pretty good man made paths up and down, ones I’d class middle of the road type then the others which are remote, with no paths so navigation has to be undertaken and some of these are rugged and scrambly in addition which takes extra effort but once summited these ones give you that sense of entitlement as you earned yourself the summit as you worked hard to get there. And that I guess is what keeps them interesting.
So this Munro from the side we were undertaking it from as we had came in by boat, yip you guessed, had no path, none whatsoever! We navigated our way through the rough terrain until we hit another deer fence. Another deer fence! So the negative was we had to climb the deer fence obviously, the positive was the other side of the deer fence had lost the holes, lost the boggyness and lost the heather.
We climbed over another angled, unstable deer fence and then we were onto a steep, long, grassy slope rising to a high crest.
We continued along the crest before gradually rising some more until we were on a very large top…I wasn’t expecting that.
Views from the summit were wonderful…it felt so remote. I simply love escaping into remote areas to get lost, just us against the elements. I am a massive believer that when we get close to nature – be it untouched wilderness, like here, or a forest, or even a tree in your back garden – we do our overstressed brains a massive favour…and I continue to practice what I preach.
We could see all way across to the South Glen Shiel Ridge that we had undertaken the day before and it looked amazing. We also could see across to the Nevis Range and from here it looked like a storm was brewing and possibly heading our way so it was time to exit and descend quickly.
The descent that took us to the first deer fence crossing was very quick and easy, we got down in record time but once we crossed that fence it got slow as we were back on to the boggy, holey, heathery terrain.
By the time we reached the second deer fence I had had enough of the terrain as progress was so slow. We finally crossed the deer fence to hit the pebbled beach which we followed back to our tent whist admiring all the drift wood laying around.
Just as we got back to the tent we got hit with a small downpour which passed over quite quickly. We eventually cooked up some dinner, sitting in glorious surroundings before washing in the loch and calling it a night.
Next day we took it slow and easy packing away before paddling back across the beautiful loch and heading home.
Adventures like these feel good. They take a bit more planning sometimes but once undertaken that sense of achievement and accomplishment is something else.
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