Its a few weeks since my last visit to “Quinag at 1000 feet”, due to weather and other commitments.
I’ve had a few days pencilled-in, but the conditions weren’t good.
Today’s forecast is mixed, but improving, and I’m keen to get back there, so I try to time it for the scheduled “improvement”.
It’s late morning when I arrive at the car park used by most of the walkers, and I can’t see Quinag, despite it being just across the road.
Coffee, biscuits, book, lunch…. finally a bit of brightness, so I set off down towards Coire Riabhach near to my last finishing point. Off the road, across the burn straight onto rough grassland that’s now losing its autumn hues and heading for the “winter desiccation” look that will last several months. I’m lucky; I hit a deer path, and it makes my ascent to 1000 feet a little easier.
Almost there, about a hundred feet short, and I disturb four stags that are having an afternoon snooze, apparently unaware that the rut is on. The camera is buried in my rucksack, so no photos. A few more yards and a mountain hare launches out of the vegetation where it had been invisible. It’s mainly brown, but has a bit of white around its belly.
There we go; 305 metres; 1000 feet, and the view opens up across Loch Assynt. And the view is grand, all except Suilven and Canisp which are trying to hide in the cloud.
I’m loving these grasses; soft feathery textures and an orangey-brown colour. Of course, they’re as hard as nails really; there’s nothing delicate waving around in the wind up here!
I get the camera out. It goes “Click” and then “Splat” as a big dollop of rain decides to fall at that precise moment and hit the lens. I clean it off and get a couple of pictures.
Turning around and heading north, I’ve got the cool breeze in my back and fleeting sunshine starting to pick out features and make it look like a painting. I’m very conscious that this weather can make very atmospheric photos, with a bit of luck.
Keeping my altitude isn’t easy; what looks like rough grassland also contains lots of wet, peaty gullies to negotiate. The peat isn’t that deep either; it drops two or three feet onto the Cambrian Quartz bedrock, which is angled the same as the hillside, and is also wet and slippy.
I’m getting good views of Glas Bheinn, in the east, across to my right, as it slips in and out of the cloud.
Spidean Coinich is way up to my left, somewhere over the top of the grassy slopes.
Sail Gharbh starts to appear as a very dark shrouded lump, still well and truly murky.
Closing in on the walkers path up to the Spidean, the bedrock breaks through more and more, and creates great foreground for me.
Odd bits of sunshine travel across the landscape adding to the atmosphere of the view. Which is kind of empty; just dead grass, but very photogenic, and also kind of full of hidden gems of stones, moss and lichens.
It’s decision time; left or right; 1000 feet or home. I’m at the edge of the big plateau between Spidean Coinich and Sail Gharbh.
Losing time earlier means that the sun is now too low if I carry on to my left, so I knock it on the head and go right.
But the sun is still just about hitting the little loch near to the path; below my chosen altitude, but begging for a photo! Sail Gharbh summit still only vaguely visible.
Back at the car park, I turn around and see that the summit ridge has finally broken cover, so I nip back across the road to finish my short day.