The west of Scotland is magnificent - steep sided mountains soaring straight from the sea to dizzying heights. The weather changes from warm sunshine to horizontal sluicing rain in minutes with a dazzling array of lighting effects.
For a Challenger walking from the west coast this magnificent scenery has its downsides. Starting from sea level means you're exerting considerably more energy climbing, whether you're sliding on your belly over the bealachs or stretching for the summits. The changeable weather means you've to carry all manner of clothing to suit every whim of Heather the Weather or young Mr McCaskill.
Today, to keep you anchored in reality I'll mention that it is a Sunday - a day of rest - and I'm the last foot passenger to board the Corran Ferry at 8:30am, having breakfasted well at the Inn just a few steps away. I'll be starting at sea level then. All that height gained so far on the walk is now history.
|DAY 3: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW|
So let's cross the Corran Narrows and I'll meet you on the other side: It's no more than a five minute journey.
|THE 8:30am FERRY LEAVING THE INN AT ARDGOUR|
|LOOKING ACROSS THE NARROWS TO INCHREE|
|LOOKING NORTH EAST UP LOCH LINNHE|
|LOOKING BACK TO THE CORRAN NARROWS WITH COIRE DUBH ABOVE|
The narrows were formed by the glacier which gouged out the Great Glen and the trough now occupied by Loch Linnhe. At the end of the last ice age, when the glacier was retreating up its valley, its snout - the point where it melted - stopped for a time at Corran. At this point the ice, being lighter than the sea water into which it was flowing, lifted off the bottom, leaving an underwater ridge. There are many other examples of this feature, the other well-known local one being at the Connel Bridge near Oban, where the outgoing tide flows over the ridge to form the Falls of Lara.
That's all well and good as far as it goes but it doesn't explain why the Loch Linnhe retreating glacier stopped, or paused, here. Looking at the above picture in combination with the map that you've opened and blown up in a new window, you'll see that above the narrows is Coire Dubh and from the map you'll see its glacier dumped a massive end moraine between Ardgour House and Keil House. On the opposite side of the narrows there would have been a substantial glacier in Gleann Righ, flowing away from the ice cap that incorporated the Ben Nevis group and the Mamores. This would have supplied both lateral moraines and an end moraine to add to those from Coire Dubh. These two sources would have grabbed at the retreating Loch Linnhe ice and piled up and added to its lateral moraines as well as the retreating terminal moraine. Subsequent tidal forces produced the spit that forms Salachan Point.
A quick look at the map suggests that the narrows at Ballachulish have been formed in the same way, provided this time from the massive resource of the huge corries of Beinn a Bheithir to the south.
It's these little problems that keep me going; it stops me thinking about my tired legs and lack of a decent engine. It was my old geography teacher, an inspirational man, John Earp, who encouraged my interest in geomorphology. I still have and treasure one of his textbooks he gave to me, published in 1959, from his time at Durham:
|RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE.|
In the next picture you'll see that I'm standing slightly above the surrounding ground. I was following the moraines that you can see on the map as it's drier and easier underfoot than following the stream which has awkward bluffs to negotiate.
|LUNDAVRA WITH BEN NEVIS|
|LAIRIGE MOIRE WITH THE MASSIVELY IMPRESSIVE STOB BAN|
|LOCH LEVEN, FROM THE TRANSMITTER BENCH|
|CAMPED AT THE SAD REMAINS OF THE MAMORE LODGE HOTEL|
|THE VIEW FROM MY WINDOW|
|DAILY STEP COUNT FOR THE MONTH|
Here's a blast from the past. It's still a favourite of mine.