Glen Affric

Trip Start May 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

After Kev's weekend away in Torridon, hillwalking with some ex workmates, we decided to both go when we were invited away hillwalking again, this time to Glen Affric. Mind you, that's not to say that I've forgotten my pledge not to allow Kev to drag me up any more hills (as most of you will know if you've read our RTW blog), no, I'll be staying on flat ground, well flat-ish that is. I suffer from a severe adversion to walking on any ground with an incline of say more than one degree, so Kev went hillclimbing and I decided to walk around Loch Affric.

We arrived at a hostel in Cannich late on the Friday night, just enough time to go to the pub and meet Willie, Simon and Mike for a few drinks and look at the route for our walks the next day. I hadn't actually thought Glen Affric was quite as big as it is, I was in for a 15 mile walk the next day but that's still fine. Early the next day, having not had much sleep due to super noisy hostel guests at all hours, we set off from Cannich and parked our cars in the carpark close to the loch and surrounding hills. The first problem arose the second we stepped out of our cars when we were swamped by midgies. I've heard of the problem of people getting bitten alive whilst walking in Scotland but this was experiencing it first hand and I didn't like it! We said our sleepy goodbyes and whilst the others were safe in the knowledge that a gain in altitude would rid them of their midgie problem, I was stuck with them for the next 15 miles or so. I was hoping the walk would take me along next to the loch for the majority of the route but unfortunately the walk didn't take me right next to the loch at all. it was beautiful though as I walked long slightly above the loch for the most part which gave excellent views. It was however, somewhat more than a one degree incline for much of the walk but it wasn't too bad, I coped! I was also walking at some speed to try and dodge the midgie clouds whilst applying copious amounts of insect repllent at frequent intervals. At the end of the loch was a disused croft and gorgeous views into the glen and the traditional pinewood forests. I was going to stop for lunch but it a) started to rain and b) the midgies although adding a bit of extra protein to by sandwiches were a bit of an acquired taste. Instead, I ate as I started to walk back up the other side of the loch and the only sign of life I saw all day was a very beautiful, super furry caterpillar which I attempted to take a picture of but couldn't work out how to turn on the macro setting on the camera and almost suffocated on the midgies in the process as I was breathing them in and they were crawling in my eyes it was pretty horrible.

Whilst Sian was enjoying her walk, we had started our climb through the heather clad hills, still being pursued by midgies. Unfortunately Mike had to stop to sort his boots and whilst we initially hung around for moral support we quickly thought 'bugger that' and headed off to a more exposed spot. Mike suffered a bit for his stop but it made him more greatful of the climb! It didn't start off too hard and the path was pretty good but soon our enthusiasm took over and we ventured up across the heather, a stream and a steep scree (loose stone) slope before again finding the path and reaching a flat ridge which we followed to our first stop. We didn't manage to spot Sian as we gazed down at Loch Affric but then we couldn't see anything soon after as we climbed into the clouds. It was a pretty eerie feeling but you learn to enjoy different feelings when walking in the hills and soon the weather really came in and the the wind started to gust. By the time we reached the top it was really wild and we were so glad of the large walled cairn which we climbed into for our lunch. After lunch, we really weren't too enthusiastic about leaving our shelter, and following the ridge in the wind was pretty scary, but the rapidly moving clouds did allow for some views on the way to the next hilltop. We picked our way round a rocky ridge but then had to make a decision whether to carry on to another hilltop or to make our way down. Despite cries of 'wimping out' from Mike (who later admitted that he was glad to head down) we descended to the river below which proved a tricky crossing followed by a very, very long walk back into midgie territory and eventually back to the car.

Our bar meal that night was great and Mike's attempt to chat up the barmaid will never be forgotten with the classic line of "Do you know the football scores?".....
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