Friday, 2 September 2011
Woods, Waterfalls and Dizzying Depths
Glen Feshie glowered under a leaden sky. The light was flat and dull with colours muted and distant views indistinct. In conditions like this woods and waterfalls often offer more inspiration and beauty than open hillsides and summits so I wandered the short distance down the glen to the Allt Fhearnagan and the first trees. Here I turned up beside the gurgling stream and followed it through dark green alders and then upwards through birches and pines. Ahead the gentle murmur of the stream was changing to a complex mix of roaring and rushing and the first flecks of white water could be seen through the trees. Soon the lowermost of the Falls of Badan Mosach came into view. These falls are a series of little cascades and waterslides tumbling down a series of granite steps and slabs. On this day they were in full voice after all the recent rain and looked magnificent. The bottom the falls are wide, the stream splitting round a small wooded islet. Above this is a steeper single waterfall, a mass of water curving gracefully over the rocks. Climb higher, past a wide waterslide with the water spread thinly over the brown slabs, and a series of little falls appears, crashing down water-worn channels over a broken rock step into a wide pool. The falls are all attractive and the complex patterns of the water and its interaction with the rocks demands attention. The situation is delightful too, a sylvan paradise with natural pine and birch forest rising from either bank. At every step the scene changes and time is needed to take in the intricate nature of this splendid mix of wood and water.
Eventually I left the forest and the falls for the main path up the Allt Fhearganan corrie, which I left in turn to traverse the featureless rounded top of Carn Ban Mor and climb the slopes to the tiny pointed summit of Sgor Gaoith. Touches of sunshine briefly lit up patches of ground but mostly the sky remained overcast. To the east the clouds brushed the higher summits of Braeriach and Cairn Toul. A cold southerly wind had me thrusting my hands in my pockets and thinking I should start carrying gloves again. Visibility was good in that far hills were in view – Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh, even Ben Nevis – but the dull light meant there were no details, just different shades of grey silhouettes. The precipitous view from Sgorr Gaoith down broken cliffs to Loch Einich some 600 metres below was as spectacular as ever though and the main reason I had continued to the summit.