Overnighter on Etive

As any reader of my blog already knows, I’m partial to the odd overnighter on Etive. Even in February. At least there is more daylight now, even if the full drabness of winter has beaten all colour from the mountains.

My hike was its usual soggy self, with a good bit of wind helping blow me along a saturated trail. I came across this hairy caterpillar making its way across the path – it was obviously more optimistic than me about the weather!

Two or three centuries ago Etive hosted large iron smelters which needed a good supply of charcoal to keep going. Rather bad news for the local forests, but the place is littered with the remains of old charcoal pits. As you can see from the photo, these pits are large, flat and easy sites to pitch an One Tigris Iron Wall, complete with tent stove.

Fishing First

Being a good angler I actually popped my hooks in the water before bothering with the tent. Hooks weren’t the only things popping, as I shattered the ceramic liner on my old BNHG rod ring too. That makes two in 30 years, so maybe I should write and complain 🙂

I discovered that my bait was still frozen even after being out of the coolbox for hours. Something to do with the great Scottish weather! However, I managed to hack a piece off before sending it out in search of spurdogs.

I like fishing under the shadow of the mountains, Ben Starav in this case, as they make a dramatic backdrop. A pair of sea eagles were working the far side of the loch and provided added interest. I think I can be smug in this case though, as I didn’t see them pounce on anything.

For my part, no sooner had my second cast touched bottom when a hungry spurdog seized my mackerel bait. First fish and, typical for this area, a small male.

A Calm Evening

I still had to sort out my camp before darkness fell, so I collected firewood and refilled my water bottle. With the tent also pitched, I carried on fishing for a while longer.

A couple more spurdog appeared, both identikits of my first, but I wasn’t really too bothered about catching.

Instead I watched the sun setting over the Etive mountains and the moon rise, keeping a little light in the sky. The wind died away and the temperature was quite bearable.

I’d had a late night the evening before, and had also overloaded my pack. A mistake on both counts, as I was pretty knackered by now. Hungry too, as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Spicy chicken, potatoes and mushrooms was on the menu and I didn’t need to wait too long before I could tuck in.

Nicely filled up, I just crashed for an early night, watching a video in my tent. I didn’t even bother with the tent stove as it was still quite warm and there was no real point.

Morning Chills

It was a little different next morning however. I awoke to a thin layer of snow and a distinctly chillier atmosphere, and soon pressed my woodburner into service.

I nipped down to the shoreline to cast out my baits again, glad of a little hint of sunshine.

Coffee was soon followed by two helpings of bacon and eggs (hiking and camping is a great excuse for seconds).

Fish were still around and I picked up more small spurdog and also this LSD which beat it’s bigger brothers to my bait.

I was fishing clean ground but with a fringe of weed towards the shore, so it wasn’t difficult to deal with the fish. In practice I find I rarely lose gear along this part of Etive, although you definitely don’t want to fish too light.

By lunchtime the wind was rising, as per the forecast, so I wound in my last fish and packed up. It’s a hard hike and Etive is definitely not a fishing paradise, but it’s a great place to spend a night and chill out with a fishing rod.

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    1. Just nice to get out, even though this was a very short overnighter and sandwiched between two wet and windy spells. I’m starting to notice the longer daylight hours too, which is nice. It was actually milder than forecast and I don’t think it made it much below freezing. I brought along a down jacket but never took it out of its drybag. Having the stove up and running in the morning was nice, but a bit of an unnecessary luxury really.

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