Our Favourite Walks: A Knoydart Adventure- Part 2

by Innes Doig

Innes is a good friend of Thistle Trekking and a long time hiking partner of our director, David. Indeed they have known each other since the first year of primary school. Both grew up not far from the Cairngorms and developed a love for the Mountains. Innes is heavily involved with Edinburgh Young Walkers and is closing in on “compleat” round of Scotland’s Munros.

Day 2: A’Chuill to Sourlies

Views from Sgurr na Ciche
Views from Sgurr na Ciche

The next day we again woke to dull and overcast weather. We would now be tackling a ridge of three Munros that would lead us to Sourlies bothy for our third night. At this stage we were still only on the edge of the Knoydart peninsula, and only four kilometres from the nearest road, so it felt as though the proper adventure had yet to begin. After a short walk along a forestry track, it was straight up a very steep pathless slope towards our second Munro of the trip, Sgurr nan Coireachan. I can tell you that at this point my bag no longer felt like it was too light! After 800 metres of gruelling ascent, we finally made it to the top. To take our minds off the never-ending climb, we recounted all the children’s television programmes and cartoon’s we could remember from our childhood, which was certainly a walk, or rather a slog up memory lane!

We then headed West following the ridge to Garbh Chioch Mhor and finally on to the impressive Sgurr na Ciche (peak of the breast). By this point the weather had brightened up and we enjoyed good views of the Knoydart peninsula in the sun. Ben managed to get some reception on his phone and asked his girlfriend to check the updated forecast. We got a reply saying that the next few days of our trip were forecasted to be sunny, warm and with little wind. A fine welcome to Knoydart indeed!

It was then a long descent along a ridge all the way down to Sourlies bothy at sea level. Half way down the ridge we caught sight of the small bothy below us, sitting at the head of the narrow fjord like Loch Nevis that snakes its way far inland. I had never seen anything like this before in Scotland, and thought this landscape more akin to Norway or Iceland than to Scotland. The Vikings must have felt well at home when they colonised these lands over a thousand years ago.

Sourlies bothy
Sourlies Bothy
Mussels cooked in Jetboil
Mussels – fresh from Loch Nevis
(Pan didn’t remain quite so fresh…)
Sunset on Loch Nevis near Sourlies Bothy
Loch Nevis at sunset

It was such a relief to finally get to the bothy after such a big day in the hills, and we immediately cooled aching feet in the sea loch. After settling in to our new home for the night we then went out and collected fresh mussels once the tide had gone out. The extra protein and calories were a welcome addition to our freeze dried pouches for dinner that night. However, Richard’s girlfriend Ashling claimed for months afterwards that she could still taste mussels when brewing hot water in their jet boil… she never lets us forget about it!

Although Sourlies is not the most spacious, finely furnished or most comfortable bothy I have ever visited – there are no windows and even the fireplace/chimney doesn’t work properly – it remains one of my firm favourites to this day. The setting on the shores of the sea loch is absolutely stunning. With the ruins of old crofts nearby, and old rusting ploughs and farm equipment propped against the bothy, you can’t help but imagine what it was like for the isolated communities of people who lived here over the centuries, eking out an existence from both the land and the sea. It is truly a special place, and one that I hope to return to one day.

Innes, Ben and Richard bed down in Sourlies Bothy by Loch Nevis. This is the same location we wild camp at on our Knoydart Expedition leg of our Cape Wrath Trail treks. Innes is right to describe it as a truly special place and Part 3 of his adventure will be available tomorrow!