Hiking From Glen Shiel To Morar

I like walking in Scotland but the weather is often a problem. When doing the West Highland Way in January I had excellent weather so I thought I’d try another January expedition. I love Knoydart so I wanted a route in that area and I thought it would be a good idea to try and stay in bothies to provide a bit of extra security if the weather was ‘Scottish’.

The plan I came up with was as follows

  1. Glenshiel to bothy Suardalen
  2. Suardalen to Barisdale (bunkhouse/bothy)
  3. Barisale to bothy Sourlies (via Inverie)
  4. Sourlies to Glenfinnan

Day 0: Travel to the Start Point

I got the train to Kyle of Lochalsh. It was a slow train.

Christmas Lights in the Kyle of Lochalsh

Christmas Lights in the Kyle of Lochalsh

When I got there I had a bit of time to admire their Christmas lights before getting a bus to Glenshiel where I stayed in the bunkhouse at the Kintail Lodge hotel

Day 1: Glensheil to Suardalen

I planned the first day of walking to be really short in case I had transport difficulties getting to the start.

Scottish Weather on the way to Suardalen

Scottish Weather on the way to Suardalen

Even though there were no train or bus problems I was glad of a short day because the weather was pretty foul

Bothy Life inside Suardalen

Bothy Life inside Suardalen

Day 2: Suardalen to Barrisdale

Suardalen in the Morning

Suardalen in the Morning

Trees on the Skyline

Trees on the Skyline

I was actually going the wrong way at this point; no major harm done, but I was slightly worried for a time.

I could easily knew when I was back on track because I found the pylon line that I would be following pretty much all the way to Kinloch Hourn

Pylons Marching Up Toward Bealach Aoidhdailean

Pylons Marching Up Toward Bealach Aoidhdailean

The view on from Bealach Aoidhdailean

The view on from Bealach Aoidhdailean

Throughout this walk there always seemed to be more snow on the east facing slopes

I heard deer barking and eventually managed to spot them.

A Herd of Deer

A Herd of Deer

The first view of Loch Hourn was pretty impressive. Loch Hourn supposedly mean “Loch of Hell” but it never looked particularly hellish to me.

First sight of Loch Hourn

First sight of Loch Hourn

Reflections in Loch Hourn

Reflections in Loch Hourn

My camera has not done a brilliant job with the next photo. You can see in the reflection that the sky was very blue but when you look at the actual sky it is white and blends together with the skyline. If anyone has any photoshop (actually, Gimp is all I have) tips for sorting this out then drop me a line on twitter or through the contact form

Over Exposed but still beautiful

Over Exposed but still beautiful

I got into Barrisdale (one ‘r’ or two? The OS name the bay with two and the house with one) just after dark. The bothy/bunkhouse there has a huge kitchen area, electric lighting and some inflatable mattresses. In my opinion it is well worth the three quid they charge.

Day 3: Barisdale to Sourlees

Morning in Barrisdale

Morning in Barrisdale

Walking up to the Mam Barrisdale I got caught up by a brief hail storm. I could hear it coming up the glen behind me for a few minutes before it struck. Sounded like the pitter patter of millions of tiny feet.

Looking into Knoydart from Mam Barrisdale

Looking into Knoydart from Mam Barrisdale

I didn’t need to resupply so I headed straight up Gleann Meadail instead of going to Inverie. With hindsight, I should have gone a completely different way to Sourlees rather than doglegging nearly all the way to Inverie.

Inverie Bay from Gleann Meadail

Inverie Bay from Gleann Meadail

If it wasn’t for the sign I wouldn’t think this bridge was dangerous at all. It was a bit slippy though.

The Dangerous Bridge at Carnoch

The Dangerous Bridge at Carnoch

I didn’t sleep in the hammock, it is a bit narrow for me, but I do remember having a very comfortable night there when I was younger/smaller.

The Sourlies Hammock

The Sourlies Hammock

Loch Nevis in the Evening

Loch Nevis in the Evening

The weather was so fine at Sourlies that I sat outside to eat my tea and watched the colours change as the sun went down. By then I was freezing so I went back inside where things weren’t much warmer.

Day 4: Sourlies to Morar

My original plan was to walk out to Glenfinnan through Glen Dessarry. I changed my mind and decided to go along the edge of Loch Nevis to Tarbet and then along Loch Morar to finish at Morar station. I would highly recommend this route.

Scurr Na Ciche and Other from Loch Nevis

Scurr Na Ciche and Other from Loch Nevis

There isn’t really a path between Sourlies and Kylesknoydart which made things tricky as sometimes there are crags right down to the waters edge. The best option would be to always walk around the top of them rather than try to force a route though (as I did).

Looking toward Kylesknoydart

Looking toward Kylesknoydart

I picked up some mobile reception at Kylesknoydart so I was able to check in with my family and girlfriend so they knew I was ok.

Looking Back along Loch Nevis

Looking Back along Loch Nevis

First Sight of Loch Morar

First Sight of Loch Morar

The section along the side of Loch Morar felt a lot further then I was expecting. There is also a few kilometers of road walking at the end which felt like it went on forever. I still got some nice pictures from the road though.

Sunset over the Isle of Eigg

Sunset over the Isle of Eigg

Last Look Back

Last Look Back

I made it to Morar station at about 1550 (so still light, just) and caught the 1611 train to Fort William. Which I think is pretty good timing after 4 days of walking.