Will life become divided into BC [Before coronavirus} and AC [After coronavirus]? And I think I need a category DC (During coronavirus] as this pandemic is likely to be with us for a year or two. Looking back on camping trips we made before lock down they have a happy-go-lucky almost dreamlike quality that I don’t see returning for some time. We took stopping at a cafe, visiting a museum and, of course, camping, not exactly for granted but certainly something we had the freedom to do when we wanted. All this changed in the UK on 23 March 2020 and although things have begun to re-open, as I spend DC standing on a 2 metre line to queue and video calling friends I can’t say the experience is like it was in BC.
Our last BC camping trip was to Torridon in Scotland. We set off in March expecting to be touring this wonderful country for a month and hiking through some of its glorious countryside. Even though our trip was cut short by the virus, we had a wonderful few days before we had to return all the way home.
We have stayed in Torridon, on the west coast of Scotland, before but the last time we were there together on a walking holiday the UK was at war with Argentina over the Falklands Islands. We were looking forward to a much delayed revisit.
Walks from Kinlochewe
You couldn’t ask for better weather the day we followed the tracks and paths around Loch Clair and Loch Coulin. With blue sky and snow still lying on the mountains, the views over the lochs to the distinctive peaks of Liathach and Beinn Eighe took my breath away. The walk is mostly flat and easy to follow for 9 km / 5.5 miles. More details on the Walk Highlands website.
From the Kinlochewe campsite we walked to Loch Maree and along Gleann Bianasdail. This is the approach to Slioch, the craggy high mountain by the loch, but on a cloudy day we stayed low, walking about 16 km / 10 miles. The walk along the river to the loch is a pleasant and easy 10 km return and takes you by the old cemetery and through beautiful gnarled trees covered in lichen. The footbridge over the roaring waterfall might be where some would turn back but we continued up Gleann Bianasdail. Keep a look out for the wild goats that scamper up the steep hillsides here and are delightful to see, we also spotted some red deer. The views back to Loch Maree as you climb higher are worth the longer walk and the river gorge has some vibrant green Scots pine trees huddled along its banks.
Walking there and back the same way when the views are so varied and awe-inspiring is no hardship and I have no hesitation in recommending the 13 km / 8 mile return trip to Loch Grobaig, a tiny loch in the trough between the mountains of Liathach and Beinn Eighe. Starting at the small car park above Torridon House, the path follows the river, through woodland that soon opens out to moorland and a stony and occasionally boggy path. Beinn Alligin looms to your left, the snowy slopes of Beinn Eighe pop up ahead and to your right are the steep slopes and crenellated ridge of Liathach. Following the river, a dipper bobbed along the rushing water between the rocks. As we gained height we looked back for the views of Upper Loch Torridon. We had Loch Grobaig to ourselves and as we ate our lunch I felt embraced by isolation and magnificence.
In the evening sunshine we stopped to recreate photographs we had taken all those years ago at the viewpoint above Upper Loch Torridon. Our trip was cut short but the memories remain. As I type we can’t return to Scotland yet but we hope it will be sooner than 30+ years [maybe even DC] when we are back there again.
We stayed at two campsites
Ardtower Caravan Park is a top-notch independent campsite with views over the Moray Firth from the higher hard-standing pitches. We have stayed a couple of times and the owners are always friendly and welcoming.
Kinlochewe Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is a beautifully positioned site at the foot of Beinn Eighe and in the small village. At night the skies are dark and during the daytime the views and local walking are amazing.