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CWT: Day 2, Corrlarach to Corryhully Bothy, 14 miles

Looking down into Glen Finnan after the first of many bealachs or passes.

The rain hammered the tent all night, loud and insistent. Is it the bent pole sticking the fly to the inner? Or maybe it’s a tiny bit of roll off in the terrain. I sleep just fine, warm and dry, but eventually a drip splats on my face. The rain pauses, then, like a faucet being turned on, it starts right back up.

There’s nothing worse than packing up in the rain. Funny, I haven’t done it often, if ever. Thankfully, it’s not cold. Oddly once I pop out, the rain’s not too bad either – steady, but I can still see the mountains.

Of course, the tent weighs more soaked through, but we get moving quickly up the track on easy grade. Ted mentions how we were warned the trail is unforgiving from the start, but only in turning around do we realize we’re ascending.

Pines with branches like Thai dancers reach out over rapids carving through jagged rock. The heather is magenta, the brightest bit in this somber place.

We stop at one of hundreds of streams rushing into the Cona River. Ted finds a flat bit where I lay on my stomach to capture the water to filter and we make coffee and cereal before the rain starts again.

Thrift still in bloom along the trail.
Heather like a bouquet of water balloons.
Ted starting up the first rise at Meall na Damh.

The route over the bealach or pass is steep with water flowing directly in the path. But just as we turn up, the sun comes out and blue areas open in the mist. The river is silvery in a mass of brown grasses and fern. My breathing is good and I power up just fine, taking off my waterproof with hopes of a clear afternoon.

The wind picks up as I crest, and I see a black-gray mass heading towards us. Back goes on the jacket as the rain spits out again. I was wisd to bring a baseball cap which keeps rain off my face and is far better than just the hood. But this is not rain pounding on me; it’s hail.

Though it’s not cold, and the damp is surprisingly not unpleasant. I walk along a kind of plateau where water gathers into gullies under the grass, sounding like jet engines. Glen Finnin below is arched by a rainbow, each color brilliant.

It’s wet going down, and rocky. I need to watch my step and choose well to avoid the dampest bits. It’s a gradual descent as rain comes and goes, the sun lighting up portions of mountainside. I find the rockiness interesting, like granite was plastered onto green hills in strips, almost soft in layers.

More rainbows appear, maybe a dozen in all and a train with a steam engine chugs over an old railway viaduct with arched pillars. It’s steeper now, with large steps into peaty puddles. A massive stair-step of falls tumbles through bonsai-like pines.

We pass through a gate with a sort of swinging door for walkers and then it’s easy walking on a jeep track to the village. One person walks past and only grunts.

Cona Glen glowing in sunshine.
River as trail. Scotland is one of the wettest places I’ve ever been, including New Zealand.
Learning that these gorgeous sunny spells don’t last.
Long strides on jeep track under the first of dozens of rainbows.
The Finnan River.

The hiker we met yesterday told us of a shut section, which we meet, climbing past the gate to a view of Loch Shiel, then back down to the river. It’s here where the bridge is closed with a hard-to-climb-around gate, which, of course, we climb around to cross a bridge and head to the monument, a massive tower topped by a Jacobite leader.

I snap a few pictures and we skip the cafe (and tourists) to walk up the glen on a paved road, under the lovely viaduct where a local in a kilt and wool socks rides past on his bike.

The sky clears and the wind picks up as we ascend the valley, the sun sparkling on moist granite outcroppings. It’s easy walking, fast and direct towards the estate and its bothy, an old stone building set aside for people like us rambling the hills.

The monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie who raised his standard on the shores of Loch Shiel to lead the Jacobite uprising.
We failed to stop.
The massive railway viaduct that still transports tourists via steam engine.

We meet a quartet of wet hikers coming down who tell us four others are set up inside drying out their kit, and they are absolutely lovely. When we arrive, they invite us in, making room for our gear near the fire and offering us tea, truly one of the best welcomes I’ve had backpacking!

This bothy is electrified, so we make good use of the tea kettle, beginning with their tea and graduating to a pasta meal and hot peanut butter/chocolate. There’s a long table, chairs, a pew – which I use to dry the tent as every bit of clothesline is taken – plus wooden platforms to sleep on.

We carry on about all sorts of subjects and they give us good information about descending tomorrow and staying right of the butn to avoid a nasty ford. No matter, the day will be damp, with ‘changeable conditions’ and plenty of rough track. I’m told the proper description of a Scottish Highlands hiker is ‘bog trotter’ with the added verbiage of their search for the driest patch to walk, ‘bimbling.’

As we enjoy the fire and food and feeling safe and dry and the rain turns on and off through the evening, a fat and well-fed mouse emerges, scurrying between our bags. Everyone quickly finds a nail to hang their food before settling down and turning out the light, the Finnin River singing us softly to sleep.

The view of Loch Shiel from the closed hill walk.
Lovely folk in the bothy offered us tea the minute we walked in.

4 Responses

  1. Hi Ali and Ted, lovely to read about your onward trip and our night together, and thank you for your lovely company. If you’re ever in need of a NW place to stay then you’d be very welcome in Chester!

    1. BTW, Stu and I walked over towards Sourlies from Knoydart on Thursday and had lunch over-looking the beach, then returned to Inverie. I can confirm the Glenfinnan to Glen Dessary path is harder work!

    2. hello Marie! What a fantastic time shared on my first bothy experience. Really loved it and wishing for more, though it may have to wait until next season 🙁 We got as far as Barisdale and a consolation prize of Ben Nevis. Keep in touch 🐥🎒👣

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