Saturday 2 January 2016

Gales, mud and flood, Part two.

With the gale gradually gaining in strength, accompanied by rain, there was a pressing need to hunker down somewhere. It was just as I was about to head down to the beach by Little Gruinard that a car stopped and backed up. The driver was spending a few days driving around the coast. The offer of a lift was too good to refuse. A night in B&B had become an attractive proposition. Thus it was that I ended up at Camusnagaul, where I was already booked in for the Tuesday night. Mrs Ross is one of the few B&B's open in the winter months in that area, one I would recommend too.
 By morning the worst of the weather had passed. It was to be an easy day though, my legs were tired. The path leading up by the Allt Airdeasaidh looking interesting. The river cuts down the hillside in a series of waterfalls.
Geologically they are rather fascinating. It appears as if the river is moving slightly across the hillside as well as downward. There were places where it was obvious that the river had cut a new channel
to one side of the old waterfall, leaving the original dry. At one point, as I was making my up the hillside, I walked toward a few trees growing on the edge of a gully. It was a bit unnerving to find there was a sheer drop off the edge with the river hundred of feet below in a narrow chasm. Good size trees were growing down there. Once again the river has carved a deep channel in what must be weaker rock.
It was a steady plod up the hill with water flowing in all directions. Up toward the bealach there were fine views in to the Fisherfield

It would have been quite straight forward to push on up to Sail Mhor. The river might have been a problem to cross, beside which I was content to potter. It had been dry all morning but once more the wind was rising and ominous dark clouds were slowly building up.
It was another night of heavy storm. An early breakfast had been arranged for the Wednesday morning. The one and only bus up from Gairloch was due through at approximately eight forty five. The landlady assured me the bus would stop at the end of her drive. There was enough space there  for the bus to pull in. Thus it was I was out by the road not long after half past eight. There was still a strong wind blowing and  torrential rain was sheeting down the glen. At ten to nine I was getting a wee bit worried. Just after, Mrs Ross gave me a shout. Noticing me still waiting, she had rung the bus company. Bad news, a landslip at Garve had closed the road. Apparently this has happened a few times recently and it is normally cleared quite quickly. However, the bus had been cancelled. Worse, there was not another bus until Saturday morning. Despite a minimal amount of traffic on the road, there was little option but to thumb it. The cost of new train tickets would have been pricey. My hope was I could at least get as far as Garve. The Kyle line runs through there and maybe there was bus replacement service?
More than hour later standing in the lashing rain, a food delivery truck stopped for me. The driver was heading for Inverness and he had been monitoring traffic reports. There was a single lane open through the landslip. The storm continued all the way down to Inverness. Wind regularly buffeted the truck. There was standing water on the roads. In places deeper water and streams flowing off the hill  sweeping across the road.
The truck driver kindly dropped me off at Inverness train station. A lot of the information boards were showing trains cancelled. Fleets of rail replacement buses were on standby. Hence a quick cup of coffee and on to a coach for Perth. Again, the road conditions were awful. The driver remarked he had never seen things quite as bad. In the many years I have been travelling up and down the area I have never seen things as bad either. Flooding was extensive. For example, by Kingussie, Ryvoan barracks was a moated island. The main road, a causeway across an inland sea. Every river, it seemed, had burst its banks.
Reaching Perth, station staff were busy directing the milling crowds. Passengers for Edinburgh were directed 'over the bridge, platform two, change at Stirling and you need to hurry, the train is waiting'. It is most undignified for an old girl like me to have to leg it! The train was packed, as was to be expected. Finally made Edinburgh and eventually Newcastle, arriving back more than twelve hours after setting out.
Not an easy trip, with nine days food and fuel in the rucksack. My intention originally had been for a day or two of leaving the tent in one spot and doing day walks. With continuous bands of storms blowing in from the south and west, bringing high winds and heavy rain, I had to revise that idea. It had been remarkably mild too. The short lulls between the storms actually allowed brief spells of sunshine. Spare clothing in case of it turning cold were carried but not used.


  1. Rather wet adventures seem to be the norm for everyone at the moment! Glad you got home safe and sound, Dawn :)

  2. Thanks Chrissie. Just hope February's little toddle with Mike is not as wet!

  3. I remember stopping at Camusnagaul and watching the seals amongst the rocks. Lovely spot with great views. It was certainly a shame about the weather as its not a cheap trip into that part of the world. Thankfully you managed to get a lift to Inverness or it would have been a bit of a disaster. Glad your ok.

  4. Oh, forget to mention, lovely photo’s considering the weather. Are you still using that diddy compact or have you bought a new camera. Very sharp images.

  5. Thank you Alan, a lovely area indeed. Yes, still using the didy compact. My other camera, a Sony Nex, is a tad too heavy. May try and update the compact sometime.

  6. I don’t think you need to change the camera the pictures are great.

  7. Thank you Alan, , using a mini tripod helps.

  8. I always like to think that the silver lining in such a wet trip is that it does make the burns and falls all the more impressive, and you've got some excellent photos there demonstrating that very point.

  9. Tank you Gayle, very true, I do tend to go for quite a few water type photos.