A Trek along Etive

My dad would describe the trek along Etive as character building. Very scenic but not easy at the best of times. Today, the mass of thick mud and boulders in front of me was even less appealing as I was laden down with more gear than usual.

Up close, the damage was impressive. A huge cloudburst over the Trilleachan Slabs had stripped the hillside down to bare bedrock. The resulting carnage of trees, boulders and deep sticky mud sat in front of me. All this from a tiny burn, not even shown on a large scale OS map.

A scarred landscape

I could see where others had tried before, some of footprints circling round in the gloop as their owners thought better of it. Climbing higher was an option, but in the end I went for a rock hopping route across the gunge. Quicker, but messier, as my nice new boots would testify!

Brand new boots!!

Fortunately, life became easier as I worked along the trail. Obstacles, yes, but old friends I’ve met before and no new horrors. Plenty more burns to wash off the boots along the way 🙂 Altogether, it took nearer three hours than two to work along to my camping spot, although I was using camera gear a fair bit too.

I do love this classic view of Scots pine standing in the shadow of Ben Starav. On a fine sunny day the snow adds even more drama, and this spot marks where I leave the trail and work back down to the lochside.


Arrival, finally!

I’ve never fished here before, although this long abandoned pier is very close to another favourite spot. It’s easy to fish, and you can set up camp close by, despite the ground being somewhat rocky.

Easing the weight on the rucksack from my shoulders I took a breather before sorting out my gear. I’d taken in a bass rod alongside my beachcaster today, with a view to fishing lighter gear than usual. My rigs were the usual pulley setup and I soon lobbed out some mackerel in search of spurdogs.

I managed a few nibbles in the sunshine, but the spurdog were tiny and unenthusiastic. Most of the baits came back stripped, which suggested crabs were pretty active. Probably I should have fished harder but I was happy enough just to savour my surroundings – I’m not too bothered about catching really wee fish.

It’s a marvellous spot to cast a line and today was probably as good as it gets. Bright sunshine, windless, snow on the mountains! Bug free too! Just a shame that the daylight lasts barely 8 hours at this time of year before the cold hand of night descends.

Steak on a Slate

As I watched the sun sinking I realised I still had plenty to do. I’d been fishing all right, and collected a bit of firewood, but my tent was still attached to my rucksack and the fire needed to be set.

My pan for tonight

I forced my sluggish old body into more action than it likes, and just managed to pitch the teepee and get a fire blazing before darkness finally fell.

I’d been watching a few YT videos and decided to risk some pan-free cooking tonight. My menu was steak on rock, an old slate being the cooking surface of choice. No fallback option, so this had better work!

This worked extremely well I have to say, despite me managing to break a third of the slate off. The slate heated up very nicely, but not enough to turn dinner into charcoal. Baked potatoes and some mushrooms accompanied my juicy sirloin.

I was interrupted a couple of times by fish banging away on my old Zziplex. Nothing special, but they reminded me to pay attention to more than just dinner. I did make a concession to Christmas by adding a couple of mince pies to my slate. These turned out perfectly fine, just little cool on top.

Final fish was a modest doggie and I decided to call it quits at that point. Cold, combined with an early start, do take their toll!

Lightweight tent stove

The tent was cold and I was wet with all the bog hopping, so the stove was a godsend. Even a modest amount of wood blazing away quickly warmed me and provided a cheery glow. My trousers literally steamed dry in the warmth as I happily chugged a whisky enhanced hot chocolate before hitting the sack.

A Grey Dawn

Rain delayed play in the early morning. Not by very much really, as it was still pitch dark when the downpour woke me up, drumming on the tent walls. I just turned over and snored on for another hour – fishing dedication has its limits!

Eventually, the grey light of dawn forced me awake and I poked my head out. It was quite nice really, and far better than the dismal mix of rain and snow that was forecast.

Having run out of excuses, I rolled out the tent and got the rods back into action. Fishing nominally underway, I traipsed through the woods a little way to find some water for my morning coffee. Sometimes Etive itself has enough freshwater content to be usable but not today, so I’d a short hike along to the nearest burn.

My stove soon came back to life, stoked with enough wood to get water boiling and heat my sliver of slate enough to sizzle some bacon. Very welcome it was too!

Bacon on a rock!

I fished on during the morning but the fish still weren’t very keen. Only a couple of spurdog turned up to the party and both were fairly scrawny.

I wound in the last of the gear and packed away my soggy tent early in the afternoon, mindful of the long trek along Etive before I reached my car. There are definitely easier ways of fishing here (a boat comes to mind!) but I like a good hike too, so I’m happy to put the extra effort in. Even happier when I finally reach a warm, dry, car!

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  1. Great to see another Etive hike/camp/fish post Doug. Beautiful looking setting as well with the snow.
    Looks like an impressive land slide there mind. Is there much work going on up there at the minute with the hydro scheme?

    1. Oh yes – the wee single track road is a horror show just now, with many dozens of contractors vans parked along it. I got stuck for about an hour as I left, because a lorry had gone off the road and into a ditch and we’d to wait for a tow truck. I was lucky, as I reckon other people had been waiting a lot longer. When we finally got moving it must have been the longest queue of vehicles ever seen on that road! There’s no work going on at the end of the road however, so the only barriers from then on are natural ones!

  2. Sounds a bit nightmarish especially for somewhere normally so quiet. Wonder how impressed the locals are!
    I miss Etive. Haven’t been for a few years, might see if I can find a window for a bit camp/fish in spring before the bugs bounce back.

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