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  #1  
Old 16-10-2007, 08:49 PM
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Default Inverpolly Part III

How things can change in a couple of hours.After fishing the evening ripple with a picture postcard pinky glow in the sky,Matt was soon firing out the Z's,oblivious to the wind which was building in the east.As I lay there in my kip bag mulling over the days events,I could hear each gust coming from miles away,like a fast train passing through a deserted station. I'll bet I could hear each gust all the way from Inchnadamph,past Canisp and along the side of Suilven.As the gusts gradually got stronger and stronger,I lay there gritting my teeth as each gust announced it's arrival several miles up the valley. I listened to them build for 15 seconds or so,then screwed up my eyes and pulled my kip bag over my head as what seemed like a jet fighter passed over us wreaking tent rattling pandemonium. I convinced myself that the tent was up to the job and had been erected properly and managed to snatch 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. It was a funnny old gale, the winds must have reached 60-70 mph at times but between the gusts there was a minute or so of dead calm punctuated by the Stag,who seemed to be only yards away,moaning and groaning like the beast of Bodmin or something equally carnivorous. 'He's more scarred of us than we are of him' I kept telling myself. About 1am ish the rain started too,and by 4,the tent resembled a childs play thing squashed out of shape,leaking and dripping. Not good.I decided that something needed to be done,or at least something had to be gawped at and then pondered for an hour or two over coffee and fags. So soon after 4, I announced that 'I may be some time' as I bravely and selflessly disappered into the night.... I kid you not chaps, the second I unzipped that tent to confront my destiny,the wind and the rain stopped and it stayed that way for a good 15 mins whilst I located the tent pegs that had been ripped from the ground and deposited,luckily within range of the torch beam. The fly sheet had been flapping around like a pair of wet leggings on a washing line and was letting the wind and rain in to our already squashed out of shape living quarters.The front carbon fibre pole had split too and was barely holding form. A quick fettle here and she soon looked good enough to get us through till daylight,if not another night. Job done,with scant regard to my own safety I might add,I felt I had earned a fag break,and as I sparked up and looked to the south,the clouds cleared for a moment,and above Suilvens ridge was Orions belt,the seven sisters and the milky way as bright and as clear as I'd ever seen them before...and that Stag,braying (or is it mooing?) added a dramatic and spooky highland context to the darkness.Marvellous! I climbed back indoors and within seconds the wind and rain resumed but thankfully the gusts were fewer and futher between and the rain now sounded like sand on the flysheet rather than rocks. By 8 am all was calm,the clouds were few and high and the air was clear. A brew,a peanut chunky kit cat and a fag later and we were more than prepared for our push for the summit.
As you as approach the ascent gully propper,the gradient at first looks nigh on impossible,but it never gets any worse than say a 55 degree steep set of stairs,and not the 85 degrees you first expected! After only 5 minutes climbing,we were already afforded stunning views to the north across Inverpolly,Canisp,Assynt,Quinag and beyond. This was gonna be good,very very good.

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Loch na Barrack and Loch a' Choire Duibh from northern ascent gully.

We paused every 10 minutes for breath,pictures and philosophical chats about life,fishing,and the price of chips. Halfway up,my phone bleeped as the first signal for two days beemed over the horizon from Lochinver.

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Canisp from Suilven.

The saddle at the top of the gully between the two peaks was reached in about 45-50 mins,and as we poked our heads over the ridge,we realised where last nights 80 mph wind had gone!

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Once you're at the saddle,both peaks are do-able in the space of an hour and a half,but the eastern peak (Meall Meadhonach) involves what looked like a nervy little ridge walk,mountain goat territory,with not a lot of room for error.So with the wind whipping a full tilt across the ridge,we opted to go for the main summit (Caistel Liath),a 'piece of ****' by all acounts with minimal scrambling involved and apparently often used as a training ground for baby mountain goats.

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The next 100 metres or so up to Caistel Liath saw a good spring added to our step with the prospect of mind blowing views and our first Inverpolly peak being attained,and as the cairn came into view we both gestured generously towards the cairn inviting the other to have the honour. We would have been there all day had I not eventually accepted on the grounds of age or something like that.
This is the bit where explorer/writers always say 'I'm not a religious man,but......'. Well, Im not,but I like to think I have a shred of spirituality about me,whatever that means,and it's usually stirred in me on days like this.It usually involves fishing or mountains,views and solitude.Today it was all of those reasons and more.The very essence of why I began fly fishing was distilled and encapsulated in this spot.For me,Scotland is every inch the home of fly fishing,and when I'm there, the 'spiritual' part of the deal is stirred in me and comes to the fore like nowhere else. As a kid,I drooled over library book pages full of 'Ferox',majestic rivers like the Tay and Spey,ancient flies with magical names to suit the magical places they graced.Sure,I've fished in Scotland umpteen times since those schoolboy dreams,but today,the drama and the majesty of Inverpolly,Suilven,the adventure,and the primeval nature of this almost pristine lanscape was almost too much. I was choked.

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...no pictures please,I'm emotional !

The view was all I'd dreamed of and more. I'd seen the pictures from the summit on the internet,but nothing can prepare you for the jaw dropping,heart stopping, beauty of Inverpolly from the top of Suilven.

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Stac Pollaidh and Loch Sionascaig.

A bar of Galaxy,and a fresh memory card later and we were on the way down. 25 mins from the saddle! No rests needed but more care required with the footing.
The wind was' fresh' as we packed and headed back across the boggy,rocky,heathery assault course of Suilvens northern slopes. We passed Loch na Barrack and the loch with no name,eager to fish,but with the tent in it's fragile state we knew we had to make some sort of concession in terms of getting back a little bit closer to civilisation.

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Canisp.

The bulk of the downhill yomping was made easier by the 70mph wind that was now howling up from the south and into our faces. We practiced our best ski jumping postures as we descended Ciore Mor towards the 'delta' where the boat was thankfully still grassed thanks to what must have been constant southerlies whilst we were away.

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One last thrill awaited us a we loaded the boat and decided to fo for it,head on into 25 + mph wind. A doddle,cutting straight into it,but I wouldn't have tackled it given the slightest angle.
We arrived back at base camp at 2pm ish on the Sunday. We had provisions and spirit eonough for another day,but having done all and more than we wanted to,and the strength of the tent,not to mention the wind being unknown factors,we decided....eventually and sadly to call it a day.
As we limped into the car park after the 2 hour descent down the Kirkaig,I swear I couldn't have managed another step. I'd been hallucinating for the last half hour of the descent...hearing voices and seeing the reflections of shiny new Range Rovers through the trees only to round the next corner to another... err...unforgettable view of the Kirkaig.
We popped into Lochinver to hand the boat keys back to Peter who again furnished us with coffee and hazelnuts and a thumb through his photo album.Page after page of memorable baskets of fat trout from the lochs and lochans of Inverpolly and Assynt gave us food for thought and another trip...very soon.
After a quick stop at Lochinver Londis where we stocked up on strange things to eat (you know the stuff you get when yer knackered and hungry but can't make a decision to save yer life...chocolate,crisps,packets of Leerdammer and Eccles cakes!) We headed home,skirting past Loch Sionascaig (where Matt treated us to a flat tyre by gawping at the scenery instead of the rocks on the road),Loch Bad a' Ghaill,Stac Pollaidh,Cul Beag and Cul Mor. "Which one do ya fancy next mate?" "Stac Pollaidh"....."Yer on".
A word of thanks to my partner in crime Matt. I met Matt through this forum in May and we have enjoyed several excursions together already. He is the perfect gent,a fine angler and a more than capable companion on a 'wilderness' trip.... even if he can't keep his tyres in one piece! Thanks for putting up with me on a truly 'awesome' weekend mate. Only next time,leave the big ones for me eh?

If any of you fancy a similar sojourn,feel free to p.m. me. I'm no expert,but we caught fish,climbed Suilven and got back in one piece.

Last edited by Scratch; 16-10-2007 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 16-10-2007, 08:58 PM
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An absolutely brilliant piece of writing and photography, and an excellent adventure for you both.

For gods sake get this printed, or more likely serialised, in a magazine will you?

This is what the mags are crying out for, not the stuff being churned out at the moment! Perfect for fly fishing and fly tying I think!

Thank you for sharing, for your obvious time taken in writing, and especially for the pics.
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:01 PM
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Excellent.
Thanks very much for making the effort to write such a piece, i really got a feeling of being out in the wild. The thought of virgin (or as near as possible ) water is also really awe inspiring.
Anyway, where do you get this great sticky toffee pudding?
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:06 PM
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magic.well done guys,i have a good story about the wind and camping which i'll save for another time.

jim
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:08 PM
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....you mean you stuck with it and actually read it all
....sure you didn't just peep at the piccies now boys

Thanks a million for the extremely kind comments boys... Twas fun writing it.
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:24 PM
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Inspiring stuff!

And no mention of ticks. After a day hike up the Kirkaig to Fionn I seem to remember at least one of our party having some problems removing ticks.
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:30 PM
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No ticks Tony...apart from involuntary twitches of my casting arm as we walked up the Kirkaig
A very low midge count too...the wind saw to that.
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Old 16-10-2007, 09:53 PM
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Fantastic Scratch, thanks for sharing.

cheers

Ardbeg
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Old 16-10-2007, 10:31 PM
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A great read and pictures. Try up behind Inchnadamph too. This was taken from between Beinn Uidhe and Glas Bheinn at 2000 feet. Grid ref. NC 264 261 looking North.

(A bit wide for the forum)

http://www.ftscotland.co.uk/gallery/..._114_pano.html
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Old 16-10-2007, 11:09 PM
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sandy,much as i hate scanning photos,thats an absolute cracker.

jim
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