Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

A day when the sun was elsewhere

10th December 2009

If I  was a sun seeker, I wouldn't have been crossing Loch Linnhe for my first visit to Ardgour on the day after my ambling around Morar. In retrospect, I'd have been better off staying on the eastern side and confined my attentions to the western end of Glen Coe because that is what seemed to be catching the sun that afternoon. Sometimes, going for a walk means foregoing some sun.

However, with the unsteadiness of the forecast ahead of my trip up north, I was more than glad to have the weather staying as dry as did. In the end, someone seemed to have hit the rain by night switch, as Rob McElwee put it on the BBC weather bulletins that I caught while up there, but they also seem to have knocked against the one for extensive dark clouds too. As it turned out later in the day of my Ardgour tramp, they made sunshine very spotty and there was very little where I was even though there were plenty of blue holes in the sky.

The grey layer that lay over Loch Linnhe as I crossed on the Corran Ferry was without a crack though. Being a foot passenger, I had nothing to pay and was on and off again without fuss. The cloud cover stayed next to impervious as I shortened the A861 on the way to Sallachan at the foot of Glen Gour with a diversion around by Clovullin. Mercifully, traffic was limited to infrequent bunches of cars going towards and from the ferry but the road walking was its usual self from the point of view of my feet. Though they weren't to be seen at their best, distractions abounded with the hills at end of Glen Coe showing off snowy tops when the clag left them. Casting an eye down Loch Linnhe revealed some brightness in the sky if not what lay beneath it.

It took me just over an hour to reach the end of a right of way leading to Strontian. That wasn't where I was bound though and I contented myself with an out and back hike beside Loch nan Gabhar and the River Gour in Glen Gour. A stony track replete with many puddles was what lay underfoot with the waterproofing of my boots really being put to the test. Given the torrents that the month of November brought to us, this hardly was a surprise so I just got on with my walk, avoiding any sections of water that looked too deep.

If quiet immersion in hill country is what you are after, then Glen Gour offers it in spades at this time of year but I cannot see it ever getting crowded, to be honest. The prevailing lack of sun meant that I left imagining the possibilities as I passed the loch and gazed into the hills beyond while wondering if they were attracting dampness. As I was to discover, they were but it was no heavy downpour, more a consequence of mixing hills and unstable air. At the time that I met the damp air, I was pondering the idea of turning around because I wanted to leave some time in Fort William for attending to a few matters that evening. That dampness wouldn't have stopped me going the full twelve miles to Strontian but I had no such ambitions on a day when darkness was due around 15:45. That is not to say that it wouldn't be an idea for later because I'd like to see these parts on a sunnier day anyway.

It was when I was retracing my steps to tarmac that I spotted those blue breaks in the grey cloud and that parts around Glen Coe were being spotlit. There were some attempts made at capturing these with my Pentax DSLR but they don't seem to pass muster now that I look at them. It's always worth having a go but I prefer to share photos that I think others will enjoy. By the time that I was crossing the River Gour at Sallachan, those bright spots had gone and I was left spying the red glow from further south as I trod the A861 between occasional short bursts of traffic and caught the ferry back in good time.

Having gotten annoying hefty soakings on walks in Argyll, I wasn't too mournful about the lack of sun and was only too happy to be introduced to Ardgour on a largely dry day. Saying that, I'd like to experience the area on a day with more sun and would be more than happy to make a longer visit of it. That only would be fair after all the times that I passed it while journeying up and down the A82 on the other side of Loch Linnhe. Now, why have I done that for so long?

Travel details:

Stagcoach Highlands service 44 from Fort William to Corran Ferry and back.

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