Listening to tales of life in the Highlands, taking tea with Frank, in his small book-lined parlour in Tarbet must be the closest you can be to ‘getting away from it all’. And yet we had only been walking for half a day.
Frank, now eighty seven years old, living in the middle of nowhere, tells tall tales, honed & polished with twenty five years of re-telling, of libidinous priests & nuns, wild wedding parties and sour German tourists. He has time to spare and willingly shared his life with us for a part of our afternoon as we sheltered from a biting northerly wind, sitting around the wood-burner in his home, the converted chapel.
Tarbet is a tiny community tucked into the windy gap in the ridge between Lochs Morar and Nevis, connected to the outside world only by boat or a meandering path, which we had tumbled along, through sun-spilled birch and oak woodland hugging the shore of the deep fresh water loch, from Morar, our start point.
The weather had been bright, blustery and promised violent stormlets that never actually materialised.
The following few pictures will tell of our walk eastwards this morning:
(ALL THE PICTURES IN THIS REPORT WILL GET BIGGER IF YOU CLICK ON THEM. HOVER YOUR MOUSE OVER THEM FOR A DESCRIPTION)
We might easily have stayed longer with Frank but our route asked for a final push up the next section of the ridge; a tough scramble up alongside a deer fence in knee deep heather, to position us for a crack at a bothy for the next night.
I’ll tell you now: You really should appreciate the next few pictures as I thought my heart was going to punch its way through my ribcage as I clambered up the steep, rocky, heathery hillside, with my legs turning to jelly. (Just thought I would mention it….)
On our way to our chosen campspot, we fortuitously bumped into the lovely John Hesp and so we walked the last few hundred yards together to Coire Dubh, where we popped up our shelters.
After pitching the tents we scampered about the ridge, snapping photos and watching some spectacular snow showers sweep Loch Nevis and Sourlies.
It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Today’s route is shown in purple. (18.3 km with 900m of ascent)
2nd OCTOBER 2013: SAD POSTSCRIPT:
Very sadly I have learned from Matt Hobley that Frank Conway, who lived at the chapel at Tarbet has passed away in hospital after a short illness.
We only met Frank for an afternoon, but we felt our lives were enriched having met him.
This lovely piece of music was written for Frank by Hamish Napier
Please click on this link, to hear SLOW AIR: Father Frank Conway of Tarbet
You can find another lovely take on Frank, by clicking HERE