Glen Elg and Arnisdale
Just us and three men counting deer. We met their transport, a small thing
on caterpillar tracks and the driver said they were counting deer. We’ve heard of
deer hunters, but … On the hill we spotted hoofprints in the snow, but no deer.
By the time we’d returned to Arnisdale the herd was back browsing and relaxing
in the evening sun.
‘They were all in the bottom this morning,’ we told the driver.
‘The sun gets them out onto the hill,’ he replied.
But if you know how many you’ve got to start with, why go and count
them when they’ve moved? We didn’t think of the question until after lunch and
then there was nobody around to ask. We did see them all towards the end of our
walk though. As we approached he drove away, like the bus to town, three men
clutching onto the back of the cab.
Whilst we never met the deer counters personally, they were with us most
of the day. Caterpillar tracks in the snow showed us the path up and three sets of
footprints going in the opposite direction to us, one with a stick, guided us down.
There was a middle section with no help. Virgin snow, but clear and navigable by
sight. Follow the pylons and turn left when they go right. The map shows the line
of pylons ending on Skye. Is this the sole electric supply?
I had wondered whether a 10 mile walk to 450 metres was appropriate.
But it was pristine snow, clear blue sky and no danger as long as we didn’t fall
and injure ourselves. Cameron McCleish’s book on Monros suggests walking
and climbing in The Highlands is not complete until you’ve done them in all
weathers. At sixty years of age and ‘fittish’, I’ve have sadly lost my head for
heights and Sheila is not into breaking records, so good weather is for us. Great
views of The Cuillins and Knoydart. No sound. Stunning.
I’d camped 3-4 years earlier across Loch Duich at Morvich with Big D.
This year we were in Ratagan. A cottage and very comfortable. Large grounds.
Picture windows in the lounge and master bedrooms overlooking the lock toward
The Five Sisters – a formidable ridge of Monros.
The weather changed regularly and quickly. One minute clear, the next
cloudy, hills in mist, and the next pouring with rain. And of course, snow.
On one of the sheets of paper pinned to the cork board in the kitchen was
written, ‘Don’t forget to feed the birds’. It tooks us day to find the seed, but the
intention was obvious. Just in front of the lounge window, on a pebble path that
bordered the lawn, stood a ‘Heath Robinson’ bird table. A not quite straight one
metre wood tower with lots of space and shelves and a swinging half coconut on
a piece of string. And the small birds came. No cats to speak of.
Our day in Arnisdale Glen was the best of the weather. The week with
Big D was continuous sun. I’d said let’s keep walking as long as the weather
holds. It never broke and served me right – I was knackered by the end. Our walk
on Glen Elg had been Bienn Sgrigheall, a Monro that starts at sea level. Brilliant
and topped off by a couple of pints in the Glen Elg Inn. The host was Chris, all
beaming Scot in kilt and the rest. Clean interior, well-tended lawns, just a
pleasure to be there, albeit a bank holiday.
So we called after our trip this time, but no such experience.