Monday, 4 October 2010

Braes of Lochaber

Whenever I've been to this area before, it has been on business: the business of climbing hills. However a schedule enforced by a bad knee meant the low-level charms around Roybridge got a look in this weekend.

The weather was poor, so no great loss to miss out on some hilltops. I'd often fancied seeing the gorge on the River Spean (there are actually a few), and so we wandered from Roybridge, heavily hungover, down the Roy to its confluence with the Spean and upstream. The undergrowth was sodden and jungly, full of slugs, lichen, oakleaves, toadstools and toads, the black River Spean flowing silently to our right, dippered.

Intending to cross a bridge to a track on the other bank, we were surprised to find it down. This forced us up onto the road, seeing deer on the railway and a circling buzzard. Thus the opportunity to see the gorge from below was lost, and it is only accessible from upstream, where a precarious suspension bridge hangs above the initial waterfall.

Waterfall at the top of the gorge:

Start of Monessie Gorge:

At Monessie lies a rare survival, a medieval Catholic chapel called Cille Choirill.

Cairn at Cille Choirill:

The next day was rainy too, and we walked up Glen Roy for a bit of fresh air before going down the road. Glen Roy is home to the famous parallel roads. These perfectly parallel lines on the hillside were once thought to have been built by the mythical figure Fionn to improve hunting in the glen, but today it is thought that they are ice-age shorelines from a glacier-dammed lake, a unique feature that is not found elsewhere in the country.

The Parallel Roads from the viewpoint (look closely at distant hillside):

The sun came out on the walk back to Roybridge, lighting up delicate autumn colours in the ancient wood. With the sunshine, birdsong, and a dragonfly buzzing past, it felt like spring!

Woods of Glen Roy:

Grey Corries in cloud from sunny Glen Roy:

Spot the deer!

Walking home:

Soon, hopefully, I will be capable of climbing a small hill again: but this was a nice alternative in an area I had only previously ever been interested in seeing from up high.


Alex said...

Hope your knee recovers asap.!

I`ve only ever seen the Monessie gorge from the train in passing.Must make a point of having a good butchers sometime.

Robert Craig said...

Alex - it's hard to see Monessie properly. The info on UK rivers ( suggests its not even canoeable, so I'm not sure how you'd get to see it properly unless you were a railway worker and took a wander along the line...