Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Bridge on the River Quoich

I don't have a photo of it - it's just the phraseology I enjoy.

The reason it gets a mention at all is that a couple of weeks back me & Andy had set out from Bellshill at 6am, with the broad intention of mounting an assault on Sgurr a Mhaoraich, and the instructions for the start of the walk clearly set out that you park just west of said bridge. By the time we arrived there - and the drive only took about three and a half hours, which was surprisingly speedy I thought - it had become clear that the weather forecast had yet again been unduly optimistic. Swirling cloud, glimpses of snow patches, a generally pervasive impending wetness feel and a rather bracing(!) wind prompted us to reconsider the objective for the day. The hill had supposedly promised a six hour walk, so after due deliberation we formed the view that quarter of a day spent wandering through that kind of weather would be marginally more enjoyable if it involved as little ascent as possible.

And neither of us had been to Barrisdale (or Barisdale, according to the signpost) before, so it was a novel expedition for our intrepid duo.

The Loch Quoich deer are apparently well equipped with calendars, because they somehow knew the stalking season was over.

I say "stalking" - you'll gather that you can drive up to these yins in your car and they unconcernedly stare back at you while you're taking their photies. Indeed they don't bat a deery eyelid even when - purely as an experiment to assess the level of skill needed for your average aristocrat to get close enough to one to shoot it with a big gun - you sound your horn at them.



The road from there to Kinlochourn is a twisty switchback of a thing. I'm not sure how much fun it'd be if there was black ice around, but if you treble the risk to life and limb of the drive down Glen Etive when it's slippy, you'll get a flavour of what's involved.

There's not a great deal in Kinlochourn, but it's well served with car parks (both winter and summer, for some slightly obscure reason) which in turn are well served with honesty boxes for the parking charges. All very civilised.

We soon came across the ideal put-in spot for when we bring the canoe here with the aim of spending numerous days indulging in full on paddling excursions. Probably.

We were thinking it was about 7 miles to Barisdale, and it doesn't take terribly long before the lochside path opens out a wee bit:

It also transpires that the lochside path opens out vertically a wee bit too. There's some undeniably steep and ...undulatory sections, which somehow feel more strength-sapping when you're expecting a flattish wander. You definitely gain height above Loch Hourn.

There's probably only three such sections though, and they look more onerous than they actually are. Still, it's undeniably nice when it gets flat again.

After the final wee dip down towards the head of the loch...

 ...which isny quite Barisdale yet...

...the track improves immeasurably, and you're probably no more than 15 minutes from the bothy. It's...a bothy. No fireplace, but a toilet (not pictured) and a top class drying pulley, just like yer granny used to have:

I'm not entirely sure, but although there's a perfectly serviceable bunkroom, a quick study of the Barisdale website rather led me to the view that if I was heading there for a few nights, to do a few hills, I'd spring for the extra dosh required to book the wee private section of the bothy. Yes, I'm prepared to sacrifice just about any principles of equality for a good night's sleep.

The only other thing of note, for anyone that's thinking of making the trip is that in the four hours or so that elapsed from our outward crossing of the largest of several burns that flow across the path, and our encountering it on the way back, the constant rainfall had rendered the endeavour more than a little awkward. As Andy said, had we taken dugs with us, I doubt we'd have got them across without significant difficulty. Just a point. It had been very very wet right enough.

A mere four and a half hours of deer dodging in the dark later, we were home. Piece of cake. Particularly for yours truly, given Andy did all the driving. Principles, as I said.



  1. Nice report, it caught my eye as the old photo that used at the top of my blog was taken from a wild camp approximately somewhere half way up Sgurr a Mhaoraich. I must admit to also having kipped in the back of the Landy up that glen once before also. There's quite a few geological features you can hide completely out of sight behind if you've a "proper" 4x4!

    I've never been to Barrisdale either so I'll keep that walk on the list for those more damp and dreary days.

  2. Given my current aversion to anything with significant gradient I rather liked the look of that walk. Given the description of the road I suspect I won't attempt anything as potentially suicidal until the spring. The mere mention of dark and deer gives me shivers as I recall late autumn evenings driving back through Glencoe...with those endless shining eyes!

  3. Indeed - and Glencoe was deer-free civilisation compared to the first half hour of the trip on that single track rollercoaster. Worrisome.

  4. I always thought that I'd seen most of what Scotland's roads had to offer over the years, but that one'll stick in the memory. It's an intriguing area altogether.