Petestack Blog

27 August 2019

Flying to Fraochaidh

Filed under: Sailing,Walking — admin @ 8:43 pm

So who’d have guessed I’d be back on Fraochaidh within six weeks of my ‘integrale’ traverse from Sgorr a’ Choise? Not me, but here’s how it came about…

Ex-colleague and (very much current!) friend Isabelle was over from France and keen for some long-promised sailing. Current colleague and friend Eilidh was keen to take Isabelle hill walking, so we took the two days of a fine weekend (no holiday Monday here!) to do both, sailing Fly out into Loch Linnhe and round Eilean Balnagowan on Saturday and climbing Fraochaidh from Glen Duror on Sunday.

Saturday’s sail pretty well started with a chance meeting in Ballachulish Bay with my cousin Alistair on his recently-acquired Silver Leaf motor yacht Silver Bird and exchange of hurriedly-composed photographs as he headed for Cuil-cheanna Spit Buoy and we for Ardsheal and beyond. Which course produced an interesting beat with the expected gentle breeze building to 28 knots apparent before subsiding to not very much at all as we rounded the island and pretty well flat calm from Kentallen home. But that allowed us to motor right into Kentallen Bay for Eilidh to admire her own wee house before another happy coincidence as we came across John Strachan and Jean Aitken on Hawk 20 Didima IV picking up a mooring at the Holly Tree for (I’m subsequently told) Jean’s birthday supper. A thoroughly enjoyable sail despite the odd spit of rain and that increasing and dying breeze not being quite what we’d ordered!

Now, try researching ‘Fraochaidh from Glen Duror’ and you’ll get plenty hits warning of dense forestry impeding this shorter approach, but keep reading and you’ll see that clearing has opened up some good ways through. So we started from the Forestry car park north of the river after deciding that parking for the track to the south of it suggested by Steven Fallon’s site (which would cut out the last remotely awkward ground) really wasn’t satisfactory. The former footbridge is still absent where we crossed, but the river was low enough to cross dry by stones, and our more westerly return track charts another wee track back down before cutting back to the river where we knew it would go. It was hot and sunny with great near-to-mid-distance views and a pretty-well aerial prospect of Saturday’s sail, but things further to the seaward side more hazy (e.g. the Mull Ben More and Scarba discernible, but not really Jura and definitely not Colonsay). Isabelle hadn’t done much walking since recovering from a serious leg problem and was concerned about her ability to make the summit, but got there and back in fine style in the end. It was a pleasant surprise to meet former school captain Jo Shepton and boyfriend at the summit after they’d followed us unrecognised for much of the afternoon, and a pleasant non-surprise to return to Eilidh’s Kentallen abode for the fine dinner she’d pre-prepared. Put the Saturday and Sunday together and the weekend felt like we’d been away for a great wee holiday together even if we’d all headed home separately for the intervening Saturday night! :-)

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