Finally, after years of talking about getting ourselves to Scotland and to visit Bell’s bothy in Camasunary, I met up with Daniel in Inverness in June 2017. He had come all the way from Vancouver (Canada), whereas I had made the short trip over from the Netherlands.
The several (outdoor) stores in Inverness allowed us to pick what we were lacking for out little adventure (a map, food, and after some searching, white gas). We had beer for lunch (and mighty fine beer!), as the our food order took so long that the bus to Skye was about to leave without us. Eventually, we grabbed to-go sandwiches with chips (translation: fries), but our smiles quickly vanished when the bus driver told us that our chips were not allowed on his bus and had to ride beneath with the luggage. This minor setback was quickly forgotten, however, as stunning scenery soon came into view on either side of the bus and we were busy keeping a lookout for Ol’ Nessie as we zoomed past Loch Ness.
About 3 hours later, we disembarked by the historical Sligachan Hotel on the Isle of Skye. After taking an early dinner in the pub while orienting ourselves on the map, we hoisted our packs trying our best to convey to the crowd of fellow tourists that we were real men of the mountains. In keeping with tradition, we then failed to take an obvious bridge and soon found ourselves hiking along on the wrong side of the creek.
Having adjusted our internal compass and self image, we then set course in the direction of the mountains Sgurr nan Gillean and Bruach na Frìthe.
After a gentle hike up a trail and then a bit of contouring to the west past a few sheep we pitched our tent in a very pleasant basin north of Bruach na Frìthe at about 600m elevation or so. Tent up and drunk on the beautiful view, we started getting dinner ready. Stove and food unpacked, the two mountain men quickly looked at each other expecting the other member to produce matches. Realizing that our respective ignition sources were safely stored in Norway or Canada, attempts were made to create sparks by ways of short-circuiting batteries and cursing foully. Neither produced the desired result, and our second dinner was taken cold.
a gentle hike up a trail and then a bit of contouring to the west past a few sheep we pitched our tent in a very pleasant basin north of Bruach na Frìthe at about 600m elevation or so. Tent up and drunk on the beautiful view, we started getting dinner ready. Stove and food unpacked, the two mountain men quickly looked at each other expecting the other member to produce matches. Realizing that our respective ignition sources were safely stored in Norway or Canada, attempts were made to create sparks by ways of short-circuiting batteries and cursing foully. Neither produced the desired result, and our second dinner was taken cold.
After having spent a windy and rainy night, we awoke to a windy and rainy day with fog that made it difficult to see our boots stored outside the tent. We abandoned our idea of climbing onto the ridge that should be behind our tent, and after a cold breakfast the clouds lifted enough that we had a pleasant walk with a view along a creek down to the “valley”, accompanied by sideways rain. We then headed SW in the direction of the Fairy Pools on a well trodden trail. Having ensured we were properly wet, the rain and wind retreated as we got over the highpoint of the trail and we had a very pleasant downhill walk from there and soon found ourselves sitting down snacking by the Fairy Pools-parking lot. We originally planned a path traversing around from Glenbrittle to Camasunary – however we were warned by other hikers that this involved a section called the “Bad Step” that was tricky to pass and with the general wetness and the wind that seemed to only be waiting for a chance to pick up, we decided to hitch-hike to the Talisker Whisky Distillery in Carbost instead and hunt down a pack of matches along the way (note: the Bad Step didn’t appear that bad when we looked it up afterwards).
Picking up hitch hikers was not something the many carloads of visiting tourists had planned for that day, but after walking most of the way we eventually hitched a ride with a German couple that dropped us off one mile outside of Carbost. Matches in hand, we soon embarked on a guided tour of the distillery followed by a small dram at the end. We made our way back to Sligachan by foot and hitch-hiking (thus having made a loop nowhere near our destination) to reboot our adventure, and made it to cellular reception just in time to learn that one of us was requested for an important job interview early next week. After several hours of calling, emailing and internet browsing the airline tickets were re-booked, and we could once again set out on the trail. We now followed the trail taking us south between Sgurr nan Gillean and Marsco directly in the direction of Camasunary.
With no time to spare, we set the fastest course for Camasunary then detoured into the bog instead of taking the obvious gravel trail right away. The lush, green mountain slopes called for many a photograph as the mountain peaks disappeared into the clouds. Many sheep were out and shaking their heads at us as we passed by. At the northern edge of Loch an Athain (?), we spotted a group of deer grazing. After getting soaked by another round of rain and wind, we then came out of the valley and were heading down towards the sea and the Camasunary bothy smiling from ear to ear.
At the bothy, we were met by an enthusiastic band of travelers from the United States, who had come over to Scotland to mountain bike the fabulous trails and enjoy themselves – greatly helped by plenty of whisky! We had a nice chat before we turned our attention on dinner. While hot, this dinner was even more of a disaster than the previous, as M&S had sold us gluten-free pasta – it shouldn’t be stored in the edible section…
We kept being amazed by the location. Bell’s bothy is situated in a wonderfully stunning area, between mountains and the sea. Based on our several great adventures with Neil in Canada, we think it’s a location that would have made him super stoked! The bothy itself is also beautiful with it’s stone walls and blends naturally into the landscape.
Early next morning we were up to check on the weather. Discovering the day had brought rain, clouds that threatened to engulf the peaks but mostly a little fatigue, we devoted the morning to do our part to clean up the shoreline instead of chasing peaks. There’s a tremendous amount of treasures that wash up on the beach and we kept filling bag after bag before storing sturdy stuff at the depot and packing out the rest.
Having done our small part to keep the area nice, we hiked back towards Sligachan in the afternoon and soon found ourselves in company with our good old friends Wind and Rain once more. Several creeks were running higher on our way out and ensured we had plenty of chances to refill our drinking bottles and boots on the way back to Sligachan. Our third and last night on Skye we spent on the campsite opposite the hotel as we had to catch an early bus next morning to make it back to Inverness and attend a very nice BBQ hosted by Angus and Margaret!
We would heartily recommend everyone a trip to the bothy – but bring your rain gear, wool socks and matches! 😉
(Big thanks to our friends who helped us raise a little money for the Bothy Challenge!)