Saturday, 23 June 2012

Duke of Edinburgh Gold training in Knoydart

Sunday 17 June saw Craig drying out his equipment after a very soggy, but enjoyable, two day DoE Bronze exped' in the Pentland Hills in prep for a four day trip to Knoydart.

Knoydart has a sad history but is a fabulously beautiful part of Scotland; I never quite realised how beautiful tho.

Mini bus to Glenfinnan with the team from a school in Ayr followed by the 'Harry Potter' train to Mallaig saw us on the boat to Inverie in good time.

Camping on the beach with the students and midges was fun and we fed the midges whilst enjoying a spectacular sunset over Loch Nevis and the Isles.

Day one saw us off 'quite' early up Gleann na Guiserein towards Mam Li for a lunch stop in the sun.

The going was hard in hot sun and the students were finding the first day testing with their exped packs fully loaded.  We headed on to the bealach and down Corrie Sgamadail to eventually camp at Rubha Ard Slisneach, on a wonderful spot overlooking Skye Cuillin.

Some rain overnight did nothing to dampen spirits and we were off doing micro-nav towards a river crossing, thence to Loch Corrie a' Phuill and the top of Sandaig Burn.   This was a testing time for the students who were developing their nav skills in hard ground, but they did well.  Lunch on the top gave more wonderful views before striking off for a journey through Inverie to the next camp spot.

Eigg in the distance
That night saw the students camp in Gleann Meadail - 'The Glen of the Midge' - well named as we ran around an old sheiling having our evening debrief with hoods on to avoid the plague!   The students set up quickly but the leaders were, thankfully, booked into Druim bothy.

Morning of day three saw the students refreshed and raring to go, which they did, to Mam Meadail, with spectacular views all around, over Knoydart and to Sgurr na Ciche, a beautiful Munro I visited 10 years previously.  The drop from there to Sourlies bothy for lunch gives testament to Knoydart's sad past, as we walked past the ruins at Camusrory and Finiscaig.

Sourlies is a wonderful lunch spot and a bothy of some character, including the friendly, lazing deer in the background.

From here, there was a hard pull up to Mam na Cloich Airde and the two lochans - a truly beautiful spot with everything an mountain enthusiast could hope to encounter - a worried Meadow Pippit, glacial rock formations, varied flora, 'fools gold' on display and views to amaze...what a wonderful spot it was :)

From here, we dined then moved onto Glen Dessary and camped on a knoll for respite from the midges, tho Davey, Lucy and Craig holed up in A'Chuil bothy - a pleasant enough bothy with character and history no doubt.   Day four saw the students charged up with thoughts of home, chippies and a hot bath.

We set them off with clear navigation warnings and they found the path through the trees, giving access to Gleann Cuirnean and the path under Streap.   They were too quick for us and we briefly lost sight of them up the glen...there wasn't much room for error and we were confident they were ahead but we put Lucy's tracking skills to good use and found them sprinting ahead.   They made the bealach when the rain started and hid behind the cairn, although they felt the cold prior to our arrival.

A quick drop into Glen Finnan warmed them up and they got down to Corryhully bothy in double time for lunch and a heat by the fire.

With only 3km to the viaduct, they were off and running and got to the finish line with 'some' energy to spare, for a well earned seat before Davey gave them a debrief on their excellent efforts.

All in, a fantastic effort by all the students, who can be rightly proud of their sterling efforts and team work to get all to the finish line in one piece.

I hope they enjoyed the journey through Knoydart half as much as I did; it is a wonderful place and will be visited again soon :)

Here's a video collection of pictures giving my photo skills inadequate opportunity to properly reflect Knoydart's beauty.


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