Saturday, 9 June 2012

Shenavall Bothy wild camping 24th - 26th May

Really hot weather on this last Munro bashing trip made it memorable for many reasons.

We wisely popped Bella into kennels when we went to Scotland because we knew the camping trip was going to be hard going and it was not the place for little Border Terriers to have any fun.  Our journey north was pleasant enough and we ended up in Newtonmore where we stayed at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool, and just had time for a quick dip before dinner. Next morning we headed for Corrie Hallie under An Teallach where we left the car, shouldered our packs and headed off on what we knew would be a 3 hour hike in. The heat was sweltering and we had a couple of stops on the way.

The long hot walk in.
Getting hotter.

Once there, Pete chose the camping spot and up the tents went, simple really. The weather was wonderful and the bothy was not too crowded so we settled in and studied our maps. Our food was all dehydrated so it was light to carry but as I started to munch my evening meal I realised that we were not going to enjoy any of it. Believe me, the only dried food which tastes any good is the custard with apple, the rest is ghastly. We need a serious re think for the next time..... We did take some Calvados though, which I find helps me to sleep, not a lot though just a few sips.

Morning at Shenavall
On the Friday morning we had a meagre breakfast and lots of tea and then set off at 7 am for our attempt at the Fisherfield Munros, we were only looking to do four of them the first day. Well I don't intend to go into detail, but suffice it to say that the temperature soared well above anything we were expecting. Water consumption rose too, and that meant we had to find more on the hoof. We did manage to fill up at a lochan and that meant using our purification tablets which had to be left to work for half an hour. Then on the way up our second Munro, Sgurr Ban I spotted some snow still lying by a gully. We made our way up to it and knocked the bits of grass off as it melted in our warm hands, so we had the pure snow within and stuffed this into our mouths with glee and also filled up the containers again. All this hydration was taking time, so in the end we only managed to do 3 Munros and then decided to call it a day and make our way back.  On the way we filled up the bottles again at a wonderful cool waterfall and had a good drink but by now time was pressing so we did not return to camp until 9.30 pm. The conditions had been much too hot and there was little cooling wind at all. The next morning was even hotter and we wisely decided to walk out and come back some other time which meant we could take our time packing our gear away and just relaxing in the outstanding sunshine. Shenavall really is remote and beautiful and we were glad we did not have to rush about and miss this truly unique experience.

Me in my 'awning'
We made a few decisions at Shenavall too, resolutions you might call them.

1) Figure out what can be eaten, which is light to carry but tastes good.
2) Change my very old tent for a lighter, wider, higher design because I struggled to do anything in the tiny space.
3) Never rush the last few Munros just because they need ticking off, they are far too good to spoil by charging around them, they need savouring.

Wild camping doesn't get any better than this.

We walked out on the Saturday and reached the car by lunchtime. Still exceptionally hot and we headed for Ullapool where we had booked into 'The Argyll' as we had planned to be arriving late, but that had all changed. So we had lunch and lounged around until our evening meal at the Ferry Boat Inn which was wonderful; try the place but book in advance or you won't get in.

Silly socks over trousers to keep out the ticks.

There comes a time when you have to say goodbye to old friends and this tent has been with me as my personal sleeping quarters for over a quarter of a century. Not bad little Saunders Jetpacker. I have slept on a windy ridge on the island of Iona in a fierce storm which blew in off the Atlantic in this little number and lay then wondering when the two of us (in those days DH used to share with me) would be wet through and the tent torn in half.

Back in Keswick I went in search of luxury wild camping......

Plenty of roof space here!

You might be surprised to know that we did not suffer any tick attacks at all, maybe socks over trousers should be the new trend. Nor did we see any sign of midges, really, I mean it....  But, our guard was down in 'The Argyll' and we both were bitten by mosquitos whilst we slept with the window open. I know can you believe it? Shenavall and you would expect us to be eaten alive, but in an inn at Ullapool paying £117 a night?

Now there is a moral to this tale dear readers; wild camping is safer and cheaper than staying in inns, and if you have not booked our wild camping extravaganza yet on 3rd and 4th July at Wasdale Head you should. It will be fun and it will be wild and it will be luxury for me at any rate as I will be in my new tent.