Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

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Section 11 - Kintail to Glen Affric and Loch Ness

Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail
Carn Eighe & Mam Sodhail
Mullach na Dheiragain
Mullach na Dheiragain
White Rainbow and An Socach
White Rainbow and An Socach
Mullach Fraoch-choire
Mullach Fraoch-choire

This section refers to the hills and mountains from Kintail to Glen Affric and Loch Ness. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003. The Sub2000 Marilyns that I have climbed in this section can be viewed here while the Humps can be found here.


Section 11 Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Am Bathach Beinn a'Mheadhoin A'Chralaig
Aonach Shasuinn Carn a'Chaochain A’Ghlas-bheinn
Carn a'Choire Ghairbh Carnan Cruithneachd An Socach
Sgurr an Airgid Carn Mhic an Toisich Aonach Meadhoin
Sgurr Gaorsaic Glas-bheinn Mhor Beinn Fhada
  Meall a'Chrathaich Beinn Fhionnlaidh
  Meall Fuar-mhonaidh Carn Eighe
    Carn Ghluasaid
    Ciste Dubh
    Mam Sodhail
    Mullach Fraoch-choire
    Mullach na Dheiragain
    Sail Chaorainn
    Saileag
    Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg
    Sgurr Fhuaran
    Sgurr na Carnach
    Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
    Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
    Sgurr nan Conbhairean
    Toll Creagach
    Tom a'Choinich


Section 11 - Trip Reports

An Socach

20 September 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 25. Time taken - 5.75 hours.
(cycle - 2.25 hours)
Distance - 29.25 kilometres.
(cycle - 16 kilometres)
Ascent - 1190 metres.
(cycle 360 metres)

Just after dawn I arrived in the car park at the end of the public road in Glen Affric and while attacked by the midges crossed over to the ticket machine to pay the daily parking charge of £2. Unfortunately the machine never produced a ticket on this occasion but did when I paid an additional £2. Not a very good start to the day.

I set off on my bike down a slight slope to the bridge over the River Affric and once through a gate along the vehicle track on the south side of Loch Affric. This track was quite stony meaning a bone shaking ride with only a few stops as the midges were still around. Beyond the west end of the loch I crossed the bridge over the river and pushed by bike up the slight incline passed Strawberry Cottage. The track was now narrower and rougher and there were several sections where the boulders where too large to cycle over. I stopped briefly to speak to a chap who was headed in the opposite direction having stayed overnight at Alltbeithe Youth Hostel.

On reaching the new bridge over the Allt Coire Ghaidheil I left my bike here and walked up the path on the east side of the stream and a deer fence. Initially the path, which in parts had been used by quad vehicles, was in reasonable nick but higher up there were sections where it was waterlogged and boggy. However I made good progress and was soon at the Bealach Coire Ghaidheil where I stopped for a second breakfast. Here I spotted a couple ascending An Socach’s North Top.

After my break I also ascended the North Top, a Corbett Top, meeting the couple on their return. They had camped overnight in the Coire and were now headed for Mam Sodhail. A short drop then climb took me to the summit of An Socach, marked by a cairn. There was a cool breeze so after taking in the views I descended the south-east ridge where occasionally there were traces of a path. Lower down there was no sign of one and the vegetation was fairly long. This route took me back to the bridge over the Allt Coire Ghaidheil where I collected my bike and made the return cycle passing a few folks on the track above the loch.

I was advised by Forest Enterprise that they were aware of a problem with the ticket machines but thought it had been fixed. They said they would check them again.

previous ascent

An Socach Munro sixth ascent 921 metres

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Mulach na Dheiragain

14 September 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 25. Time taken - 9 hours.
(cycle 2 hours)
Distance - 40 kilometres.
(cycle 14.5 kilometres)
Ascent - 1555 metres.
(cycle 410 metres)

After a longish day climbing the Corbetts, Aonach Buidhe and Faochaig three members of the group decided on a recovery day. I planned to climb the Munros, An Socach or Mullach na Dheiragain but in the end settled for the latter as I thought it was easier although I’m not so sure now. I was joined by Sue who would have preferred a rest day but the opportunity to climb this Munro overtook any tiredness.

As per the previous day we parked in the car park just before Killilan, reached along the single track road from the A87 Kyle of Lochalsh to Dornie Road, and then cycled up Glen Elchaig to the Iron Lodge. This time it was tougher as it was into a headwind.

We left out bikes at the Iron Lodge then descended to this house before locating the muddy vehicle track at the east end of the property. This section was short lived as the gradient soon increased and it was a steep climb up the zigzag track passed the Allt Sgairt Lair Waterfall. Eventually the gradient eased and we continued east on the now undulating track above Loch an Droma then an unnamed lochan.

On reaching the junction of tracks we took a right but the condition of this track soon deteriorated as it crossed some wet ground churned up by quad vehicles. This route led to a bridge over the Abhainn Sithidh which we used before continuing along another boggy track towards Gleann Sithidh. This track later improved but we soon left it and made a steady climb east towards Creag a’Choir’Ard avoiding the rocks and higher up entering a small gully where the ground was a bit steeper.

The summit of Creag a’Choir’Ard was reached. Here there was a cold wind blowing but there were some grand views of the surrounding mountains as well as down to the west end of Loch Mullardoch. A short drop took us to the Bealach Sithidh then a long steady climb to the Munro Top, Mullach Sithidh. From here a bit of height loss was followed by the final climb to the summit of Mullach na Dheiragain marked by a cairn.

It had taken us five hours to reach this summit so it was time for lunch while taking in the surrounding views which included some of the Glen Affric Munros. Afterwards we returned to Creag a’Choir’Ard, descended north-east then west below the crags before descending to the Abhainn Sithidh and returning to the Iron Lodge where the midges were waiting. On the way back to Killilan we cycled through swarms of the little devils!

previous ascent

Mullach na Dheiragain Munro sixth ascent 982 metres

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Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag

29 August 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 10.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1145 metres.

The ascent of Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag was postponed from the previous day due to the forecast for stormy weather which didn’t materialise. It was wrong again as low cloud covered the hills as I drove east through Glen Shiel parking in a lay-by on the south side of the A87 opposite a forest clearing. (GR NH036119)

I set off across the road then a stock fence before commencing a steep climb through long and wet vegetation between the west side of an unnamed stream and a deer fence. I thought there might have been a walker’s path but there wasn’t. At the top end of the forest I crossed another stock fence then continued on my ascent to gain the Meall a’Charra Ridge in low cloud and showers.

Here there was a path which soon turned north, crossed the 806 knoll and headed towards the south-east ridge of Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg. The cloud did break briefly to give me views of Aonach Meadhoin and down Coire Tholl Bhruach towards Glen Shiel and Loch Cluanie. The path then led up the south-east ridge to an old stone dyke. The cairn marking the summit of the Munro, Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg was a few metres along a narrow rocky ridge where some of the boulders were rather slippery due to the damp conditions.

There were no views so I set off along the north-west ridge to the second of two small cairns marking the point where the ridge changed direction. I continued my descent of the now west ridge initially through some boulders before climbing Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg’s West Top as the cloud again lifted. Here I met four chaps going in the opposite direction who also postponed climbing ‘The Brothers’ the previous day due to the predicted stormy weather and were disappointed that the forecast was wrong again.

I descended to the col with Saileag then climbed to the summit of this Munro as the cloud lowered again. I sat at the top for a while hoping that it would lift but it didn’t so I returned by the upward by-passing Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg’s summit cairn.

previous ascent

Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg Munro sixth ascent 1036 metres
Saileag Munro sixth ascent 956 metres

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A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire

27 August 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 14.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

This was my fourth day in Kintail but despite the low cloud in Glen Shiel the weather forecast was for another sunny day. I parked in the lay-by on the A87 west of the Allt a’Chaorainn Mhoir then made the short walk east to the start of this walk, the vehicle track up An Caorann Mor, marked by a couple of ‘Right of Way’ signs.

A few metres along this track I came to a small cairn indicating the start of the walker’s path across the grassy hillside of Fuaran Mor Chluainidh. The path followed the edge of a small stream and lower down, due to the low cloud, the long vegetation was wet. It was a steady climb and as height was gained I got above the cloud before it broke up to give great views across Glen Shiel. The latter sections of this path were rather muddy.

On gaining A’Chralaig’s North Ridge I stopped to take some more photos and a chap who was behind me on the path passed and sped off towards the summit of this Munro. I followed him but at a more leisurely pace and eventually reached the large cairn where I took a break.

After spending some time at the summit taking in the fantastic views I descended the north ridge where there were a couple of steeper stony sections to gain the col with Stob Coire na Cralaig. I then climbed to the cairn marking the summit of this Munro Top. The descent was via the narrowing north-east ridge where I met the chap I spoke to earlier who was on his return route. He told me he was hoping to cross to Skye and climb another Munro as he was close to completing.

From the col I commenced the ascent of Mullach Fraoch-choire and was soon heading north on the Na Geurdain Ridge where I met a lady going in the opposite direction. The pinnacles were reached but I stayed on the path which made a short dip on the east side of the ridge and was rather eroded. It was then a steady climb to the summit of the Munro.

I returned along the Na Geurdain Ridge and met another lady this time with a dog. I decided not to descend west from the col, instead I re-climbed the Munro Top and descended its west ridge to An Caorann Mor then followed a wet and boggy path to the vehicle track which took me back to the start.

previous ascent A'Chraliag

previous ascent Mullach Fraoch-choire

A'Chralaig Munro sixth ascent  1120 metres
Mullach Fraoch-choire Munro sixth ascent 1102 metres

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Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran

26 August 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 9.5 hours. Distance - 12.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1640 metres.

A few years ago some of the trees on the north side of the A87 east of the Glenshiel Battlefield were cut down and a new car park constructed, ideal for those doing The Five Sisters or even The Brothers. There was even a pointless new sign directing walkers uphill.

Once geared up a Munro Bagging friend and I set off to climb the Five Sisters. As a result of the positioning of this new car park the walkers path now appears to follow the side of the deer fence before crossing then later re-crossing a small stream. The eroded path was then joined and followed to the Bealach an Lapain.

It was a lovely sunny morning and on reaching this bealach there were some fine views of the Glen Shiel hills. We headed west over Beinn Odhar to the Munro Top, Sgurr nan Spainteach. The descent to the Bealach nan Spainteach involved a bit of scrambling before ascending the Munro, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe where we spotted several ring ouzels. Here we were caught by a couple of chaps who were on ‘day release’ from their family holiday.

I took several photos at this point then continued along the ridge as it gradually descended and swung north to the Bealach na Craoibhe before we climbed the second Munro of the day, Sgurr na Carnach. The next loss of height was to the Bealach na Carnach then a fairly stiff climb to the summit of the third and final Munro, Sgurr Fhuaran, where we stopped for lunch with some awesome views.

Our next target was the Munro Top, Sgurr nan Saighead but firstly to avoid the cliffs we descended north-west, followed the rough stony path to the Bealach Buidhe then round the impressive East Cliffs to the summit of the Munro Top. More rock was avoided as we continued along the path then made a short diversion to ascent the Corbett Top, Beinn Bhuidhe.

An easier descent took us to the path at the head of Coire na Criche. Here we parted company for a while as my walking partner used this route to head for Ault a’chruinn. I climbed north through a few rocks before heading north-west along grassy swallow gullies on an easy gradient to reach Sgurr na Moraich, another Corbett Top.

The descent was by the north-west ridge until I reached the crags. Some long vegetation was then waded through to reach the path on the west side of the Allt a’Chruinn where I rejoined my walking companion. We then continued on our descent to Ault a’chruinn where a car had been left.

previous ascent

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe Munro sixth ascent 1027 metres
Sgurr na Carnach Munros sixth ascent 1002 metres
Sgurr Fhuaran Munro sixth ascent 1067 metres

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Beinn Fhada

25 August 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

On some of my visits to Kintail I’ve thought climbing Beinn Fhada from the west would make an interesting approach route and staying at nearby Inverinate, with a reasonable weather forecast, was the opportunity I required.

I drove to the end of the public road at Innis a’Chrotha, east of Morvich, but with the construction of a couple of new houses there wasn’t a suitable place to leave my car. I did find an off road spot just west of the bridge over the River Croe.

Accompanied by a fellow hill walker who was climbing Beinn Fhada by the standard route, we set off across the bridge over the River Croe then the signposted route for the Falls of Glomach. We soon reached a small gate with a warning sign regarding cattle and on passing through this gate entered an area of lush vegetation with a narrow path. Cows and calves soon appeared lying sunning themselves at the edge of the track so with a bit of apprehension we walked passed them but fortunately they never moved.

Beyond this enclosure we parted company and I commenced the ascent of Beinn Bhuidhe initially following the fence. Underfoot there were lots of hoof holes making for very difficult walking so I left this fence line and waded through long rough vegetation. It was a sunny morning but thankfully I was in the shade. Despite this it was hard work and very time consuming. Eventually I gained Beinn Bhuidhe’s West Ridge where there was a faint path through the grass so there may be an easier approach route from the start of Gleann Lichd.

This path led onto Beinn Bhuidhe although at times it was lost in the vegetation. There were some great views and at a small knoll I stopped for a break. Nearby I spotted a herd of goats. It must have been the mating season as the dominant male chased off other males. Afterwards I ascended the Corbett Top, Faradh Nighean Fhearchair, wandering round lots of rocky outcrops. Beyond there were a few small knolls to cross before reaching Sgurr a’Choire Ghairbh.

I had been advised that there was one tricky section on this ridge and discovered it was on the descent to the Bealach an t-Sealgaire where a slab of rock had to be descended. Although there were a few foot placements they were wide apart and it took me a few minutes to work out a suitable route. On reaching the bealach I ascended the West Top of Meall an Fhuarain Mhoir before continuing to its main top, a Munro Top. Beyond was the wide gassy Plaid Mhor where walking was easy and the summit of Beinn Fhada, marked by a trig point, was reached.

Here I met a chap heading for Glen Affric and a few minutes later my walking friend who had spotted me re-ascended Beinn Fhada as I was giving her a lift back to Inverinate. A longish stop at the summit followed, chatting to my fellow walkers, taking in the outstanding views and partaking of lunch. Afterwards we descended north-west then the zigzag path into Coire an Sgairne before joining the track in Gleann Choinneachain which returned us to the start. The cattle, which now included a bull, weren’t as close to the path on this occasion.

previous ascent

Beinn Fhada Munro sixth ascent 1032 metres

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Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and Sgurr Gaorsaic

24 August 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 9.5 hours. Distance - 22.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1770 metres.

I was staying with some friends in a self catering dwelling in Inverinate so it was only a short drive to Dorusduain in Strath Croe. I’ve used this car park for many years without any problem despite signs advising folks to park at nearby Morvich.

Once geared up I walked east before descending to and crossing the footbridge over the Abhainn Chonaig to join the path in Gleann Choinneachain. It was a pleasant sunny morning as I made the fairly easy ascent to the crossing of the Allt Coire an Sgairne, just below its waterfall. The water level was low and the stones helped to make for a dry crossing before the path zigzagged then narrowed to reach the Bealach an Sgairne where I met a chap drying out his top prior to continuing to A’Ghlas-bheinn.

After chatting for a few minutes I continued on the path as it descended to Loch a’Bhealaich where in places the route was a bit wet and boggy. Beyond the east end of this loch I left the path and commenced the ascent of the Corbett, Sgurr Gaorsaic. It was a steady climb on a pathless hillside but in poor conditions old metal fence posts may be of assistance. The summit area was reached and I checked out a couple of high points before concluding that the cairn was probably the highest.

It was just after midday and despite the loss of the sun, replaced by high cloud, it was too early to head back on such a fine day so I checked out the route to the col with Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan before deciding to add on this Munro. Initially it was a fairly steep descent with a few boulders to avoid but I never encountered any difficulties. From the col I climbed east before swinging north-east onto the south ridge of the West Top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. The old metal fence posts mentioned earlier followed a similar route.

The West Top was eventually reached and I stopped here briefly to take in the views, including the Skye Cuillin, before heading east. A short steep section was descended before the ridge narrowed and I climbed to the cairn marking the highest point on Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. On my arrival a chap who was backpacking left for Mullach na Dheiragain so I took his seat for lunch while chatting to two females who had ascended from the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel in Glen Affric where they had stayed overnight.

After lunch I returned to the West Top then descended its south ridge over Beinn an t-Socaich and from there followed its south-west ridge. Lower down I came to a deer fence which I crossed then entered long vegetation and some young trees. Progress here was slow and awkward with a gully to the west preventing an early exit. On reaching the lower deer fence I crossed it, joined the path in Gleann Gniomhaidh, which was followed back to Loch a’Bhealaich then the outward route to Dorusduain.

previous ascent Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan

previous ascent Sgurr Gaorsaic

Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan Munro sixth ascent 1151 metres
Sgurr Gaorsaic Corbett third ascent 839 metres

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Ciste Dhubh

30 September 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 915 metres.

It was another sunny day as I headed west on the A87 along the north shore of Loch Cluanie where the water level was low. Just after crossing the Allt a’Chaorainn Bhig I parked my car on the verge which had obviously seen several vehicles as the ground was rough. I thereafter crossed the road and a ditch before passing through an old metal gate and onto the path up the An Caorann Beag.

This path wasn’t in great shape. It was well worn with areas of bog and pools of water despite the recent dry spell. Progress was therefore slow as I headed up this glen listening to the occasional roar from the stags. I thought the condition of the path had deteriorated since my last visit and that going up and over the nearby Corbett, Am Bathach might have been better.

On reaching the Bealach a’Choinich, which was also boggy in sections although some of the pools were drying up, I made my way to the foot of the steep south face of Ciste Dhubh in a strong breeze. The next section of the ascent was a path which was badly eroded and muddy and worked its way round the east side of a small rock face. The path improved beyond this rock and later the gradient eased as I gained the south ridge proper.

Here the wind was strong and making any progress was hard work. I considered the possibility that I may have to turn back especially as the ridge narrowed higher up. It brought back memories of a previous ascent in winter when with a group we retreated due to the wind and spindrift. On this occasion the snow was replaced by sun. I decided against ascending the pinnacle, An Cnapach, and followed the path round its west face. Here the wind was at its strongest and I was expecting to be blown over.

However on reaching the north end of An Cnapach, where the ridge narrowed, it was less windy and with the exception of a few gusts this part of the ascent was probably the easiest. The small summit cairn was reached and here there was just a wee breeze so a sat there for a while taking in the views and listening to the roar of the stags. It had been well worth the effort although the thought of the return route along the ridge was always in the back of my mind.

I looked at alternative routes off Ciste Dhubh but in the end settled for a return by the upward route. Again there was the odd gust of wind on the narrow section of the ridge and at An Cnapach, which was a Sub Corbett Top, I climbed its north side and found it quite sheltered although I can’t say that about the actual summit. The next section of the descent was windy but on approaching the Bealach a’Choinich it was by then just a strong breeze. I then followed the path down An Caorann Beag to my car.

previous ascent

Ciste Dhubh Munro sixth ascent 979 metres

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Beinn a'Mheadhoin

27 August 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 25. Time taken - 3.25 hours. Distance - 9.25 kilometres. Ascent - 730 metres.

The forecast was for rain early in the day so I was looking for a short walk once it cleared up. The Graham, Beinn a’Mheadhoin came into this category as it only takes around an hour to reach its summit.

On my arrival in Glen Affric I drove to the west end of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin where parking is permitted on an area of rough ground. This is also the usual parking spot for the Munros, Tom a’Choinich and Toll Creagach. I then followed the start of the route to these Munros, the vehicle track on the east side of the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh. Just beyond the forest a small cairn marked a path that headed towards Beinn a’Mheadhoin. I followed this wet path which was more of a mark in the grassy vegetation. Higher up it disappeared and I found my own way to the summit of Beinn a’Mheadhoin. There were a couple of cairns here but a large boulder appeared to be the highest point.

I remained at the summit for a while taking a few photographs and hoping that the cloud would lift from the higher tops but it didn’t. I therefore returned to the vehicle track with a plan to climb the nearby Graham Top, Am Meallan. I found the crossing of the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh, which ran through a small gully, a bit awkward despite the water not being high. Once on the other side it was a steady ascent over a mixture of vegetation, some of it wet, to reach the summit cairn.

The higher tops were still covered in cloud so after taking a few photographs I returned by the ascent route. On reaching the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh I opted to follow its west bank to the road in Glen Affric. Initially the walking was fine but nearer the road I had to contend with long vegetation and numerous concealed holes, not a route I would recommend. Eventually I reached the road and made the short walk back to my car.

Anyone checking their map will note that the Graham Top, Am Meallan, is nearly forty metres higher than the Graham, Beinn a’Mheadhoin. The reason is that Am Meallan is an outlier of the Munro, Mam Sodhail while Beinn a’Mheadhoin stands on its own.

previous ascent

Beinn a'Mheadhoin Graham second ascent 613 metres

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Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Sail Chaorainn

24 August 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 21.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1750 metres.

Cloud was floating around the mountains of Kintail when I arrived at Lundie on the north shore of Loch Cluanie. There was ample parking on the south side of the A87 where at one time there must have been some sort of construction. A car occupant was camping nearby and while I was gearing up folks from a motor home set off on the ascent of Carn Gluasaid.

Once ready I crossed the main road and followed the sign-posted route for Carn Ghluasaid. This took me to a gate in a deer fence then passed a communications tower. The path which wound its way up the south face of Carn Gluasaid was in better condition than I recalled from previous visits. I have summited this Munro on several occasions so around the 750 metres mark I left the path and traversed round the west side of the hill to a stream flowing through a gully. The cloud was down as I walked up the side of this gully until a suitable crossing point was located. It was then a steady climb to the cairn marking the summit of the Munro Top, Creag a’Chaorainn.

A slight descent took me to the Glas Bhealach where I commenced the ascent of the Munro, Sgurr nan Conbhairean. During this ascent the cloud lifted briefly and I had views into its eastern corrie. However I was back in the cloud by the time I reached the summit cairn where I took a short break.

Afterwards I descended its north ridge as the cloud began to lift again. On reaching the col with Sail Chaorainn it was an easy walk to its highest point which was marked by a cairn. The height of this Munro was 1002 metres but just to the north was the Munro Top, Carn na Coire Mheadhoin which was only a metre lower. In case someone re-surveyed these hills I decided to include the Munro Top, which I’ve visited before. As the cloud continued to lift I walked out the narrow ridge followed by a rocky climb to the cairn on this Munro Top.

I returned to Sail Chaorainn and descended south before cutting across to its east ridge. The descent of this ridge was over grass and some slab rock, most of which I managed to avoid, before walking out to the cairn marking the summit of Carn a’Mhadaidh-ruaidh, a deleted Munro Top. This wasn’t my intended hill, it was a Corbett Top a kilometre further east which involved more loss of height. I descended through some long grass and peat hags then climbed to the summit of the Corbett Top, An Reithe.

It was now decision time, how to return to Lundie? I did consider crossing the lower reaches of the east ridge of Carn Gluasaid but in the end opted to return to Sgurr nan Conbhairean. I promised myself lunch on Carn a’Mhadaigh-ruaidh which would break up the re-ascent. It turned out an ideal location as I was able to watch the deer feeding and lying around in the corrie below. I was therefore a bit reluctant to leave this perch to gain Sgurr nan Conbhairean’s north ridge where I spoke to a chap, the only walker I met all day although I spotted several on the main hills.

On nearing the summit of Sgurr nan Conbhairean a cairn marked the start of the path round its west face and to the south-west ridge which I descended. At the col I climbed to the summit cairn of the Munro Top, Drochaid an Tuill Easaich. From this point it was a fairly easy long descent of its south ridge until nearing the end where it was steeper and rocky with a muddy, wet and in places eroded path. This led to the A87 at the Allt Coire Lair followed by a couple of kilometres of road walking back to my car.

previous ascent

Sgurr nan Conbhairean Munro sixth ascent 1109 metres
Sail Chaorainn Munro sixth ascent 1002 metres

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Aonach Shasuinn

15 June 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 25 & 34. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 19.5 kilometres. Ascent - 910 metres.

Previously I’ve climbed the Corbett Aonach Shasuinn from Glen Affric so I was looking for a different approach route. There appeared to be no restrictions in driving as far as Cougie, to the south of Glen Affric, and despite it adding a bit more distance to the walk I settled for this as the starting point. It was reached from Tomich, located west of the village of Cannich, along a vehicle track for around six miles, quite rough in places especially on the stretch to the Plodda Falls. On arrival at Cougie I parked in the designated parking area for those Pony Trekking although I noticed they appear to be going into the holiday business with chalets.

My brother and I set off along the rough vehicle track on the north side of the Allt Riabhach, a Right of Way to Ceannacroc, in Glen Moriston, through mixed woodland where some of the trees had been harvested. We crossed a new vehicle track which had been constructed for the forest workings but the bridge over the Allt Riabhach was obviously temporary as it had been removed.

Beyond the forest the glen opened up but little height was gained before we reached the Allt a’Chorie Buidhe where I intended making a direct ascent of the Corbett Top, Carn a’Choire Bhuidhe. However a deer fence prevented this so instead we walked between it and the stream. Once clear of the fence we commenced the ascent of Carn a’Choire Bhuidhe. Although pathless underfoot conditions weren’t too bad, mainly because the ground was fairly dry as were the peat hags. Deer were spotted on the ridge line but they soon moved off.

The first cairn I spotted was ignored as I headed for a larger and obviously higher one. However on reaching it there was a third cairn, smaller, to the west which looked higher but on visiting it I was satisfied that the larger cairn was the one. The views of the Munros, Carn Ghluasaid, Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Sail Chaorainn made the short stroll worthwhile. On returning to the larger cairn a slight descent took us to the col with Aonach Shasuinn where a Golden Plover was obviously agitated by our presence. I was disappointed with the photograph I took.

We ascended Aonach Shasuinn firstly passing a shelter before reaching a large cairn. There was also a smaller cairn and on this occasion it was the highest point. Despite some sun there was a cold breeze blowing so we headed back to the shelter where we had lunch. Afterwards we returned to the col then climbed the Corbett Top, Carn nan Coireachan Cruaidh where the south top was higher although we did go over its north top on our route down the north-east ridge.

Here we parted company. My brother descended the Druim a’Choilich Ridge and returned to Cougie via the track used earlier that day while I headed north to the Bealach Fraoch-choire and climbed the wee rocky Graham Top, Cnap na Stri. The descent was through long heather to the peat hags at the Bealach na h-Imrich which were fairly dry. I then ascended Creag nan Calman, another rocky Graham Top.

The descent of Creag nan Calman’ north-east ridge was steep with a few cliffs to bypass and led to a deer fence where I disturbed a few deer. On looking for a crossing point I noticed that a section of the fence had been rolled back so I followed the deer path through this gap and into the forest. The trees were well spaced so my concerns about getting through the forest were ill-founded. I continued downhill eventually coming across an ATV track. This I used to reach Loch nan Gillean, which was quite low, before walking round its east side where the ground was marshy. I gained the vehicle track, a Right of Way from Glen Affric to Cougie, which I used in 2011 to climb the nearby Sub 2000 Marilyn, Creag Dhubh. I walked along this Right of Way arriving back at Cougie where my brother awaited my return as the rain started.

previous ascent

Aonach Shasuinn Corbett third ascent 889 metres

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Meal a'Chrathaich

28 October 2012

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 26. Time taken - 10 hours. Distance - 30 kilometres. Ascent - 1200 metres.

Staying the weekend at Tomich, near Cannich, meant we could set out on foot from our accommodation to climb the Graham, Meall a’Chrathaich. It was also decided to operate on British Summer Time for another day so it didn’t appear we were rising before 6am to make an early start.

It was still a touch dark when we set off through Guisachan Farm and along the vehicle track passed the new house at Kirkfield. It was helpful that a member of the group had used these tracks before and knew the way. Beyond Kirkfield the vehicle track passed below a line of electric pylons where for the first time I was able to see one of the new pylons, on what they call the Beauly to Denny Power Line, fully constructed. It was enormous compared to an old pylon and not just that new vehicle tracks had been built across the hillside. Not a pretty sight.

The vehicle track led towards Loch na Beinn Moire where we followed a path into the forest. This path, which was wet and boggy in several sections, may be called ‘Coffin Road’, but I haven’t been able to confirm this. At a large gap in the trees, near its east end, huge tracked vehicles had crossed the hillside and it appeared that a cable had been buried but they hadn’t bothered to reinstate the path. I didn’t know why a cable should be buried here but the reason may be found in the next paragraph.

On clearing the forest we headed to the crossing of the Abhainn na Ruighe Duibhe where I was surprised to find a new bridge had been constructed and the vehicle track widened and upgraded. The reason for these improvements weren’t obvious at this time but after following the upgraded track south we came to a gate and fenced off area where warning signs restricted entry to the Corriemony Windfarm. Later we observed that one of the turbines was being constructed on a ridge with others to follow as tracks scarred the area. Another part of countryside destroyed forever.

A sign indicated the track to Loch ma Stac and we followed this track as it ran along the west side of the River Enrick. On reaching the loch the water was low so we visited the three storey derelict house situated on what would normally be a small island. It had rained since we left our accommodation and the hills were now covered in cloud. At the loch the party split as I wanted to include several Graham Tops. I was joined by Shona while the others planned to ascend Meall a’Charathaich and return by the approach route.

We headed off for our first Graham Top, Meall a’Chrathaich’s West Top. This involved walking through some long heather and into the cloud. The summit cairn was located and we then navigated to the col with Meall a’Chrathaich where I think several deer were confused by the two groups and were unsure where to run. Meall a’Chrathaich was climbed and we had a brief reunion at the summit trig point before continuing our separate ways.

Our next target was Meall a’Chrathaich’s East Top which was crossed en-route to the third Graham Top, Meall nan Oighreagan. To reach the fourth Graham Top was a bit more complex as it would involve using streams and lochans to reach the foot of Carn Tarsuinn. Initially it was a steep descent to a stream but prior to reaching the burn the cloud began to lift and we were able to cut out a few of the navigation legs.

Carn Tarsuinn, a rather rocky hill, was still in the cloud so we found a grassy gully and this took us onto the summit where we located the cairn. We took a break for lunch and the cloud continued to lift giving us views of the numerous lochans that cover this area. We were also able to see a small part of Loch Ness.

After lunch we returned down the gully and headed to a string of lochans which we used to guide us to the foot of the fifth and final Graham Top, Carn na Ruighe Duibhe. We climbed to its South Top, which was apparently one metre lower than the North Top, then made a slight descent before ascending to and locating what we thought was the highest point on Carn na Ruighe Duibhe.

We would have preferred to descend directly to the bridge over the Abhainn na Ruighe Duibhe but on the outward route had observed that the hillside to the east of the River Enrick was covered in young trees. Instead we descended west over a mixture of terrain including some boggy ground to reach the River Enrich beside a deer fence. The river was crossed and we followed the ‘motorway’ track to the bridge.

With limited daylight left there was a discussion on how long it would take to get back to our accommodation and in the end it was like a route march as we shared the pace through the forest then the tracks back to our accommodation. Thirty minutes was cut off from that part of the outward route.

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Meall a'Chrathaich Graham second ascent 679 metres

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A'Ghlas-bheinn

16 September 2012

slide show from photographs taken on the walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 16.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1220 metres.

Overnight rain had almost cleared as I drove to the small car park at Dorusduain in Strath Croe. A second car arrived a few minutes later, the driver heading for Beinn Fhada, his penultimate Munro. My plan was to complete the Marilyns in Section 15 with an ascent of Meall Sguman and possibly include the Munro, A’Ghlas-bheinn on my return.

I set off along the forest track through Dorusduain Wood crossing a couple of bridges en-route. The streams were high so from the start the odds on crossing the Allt a’Ghlomaich later that morning weren’t very good. Beyond the forest, a path which had been upgraded rose above the west side of the Alltan Leoid Ghaineamhaich. It was bright and warm work walking up the glen where there were a couple of herds of deer. Unlike some they didn’t move very far when I was spotted. Maybe they are a bit more accustomed to seeing folks in this area. The final section of the path to the Bealach na Sroine was a bit wet as well as being cairned.

On reaching the beaIach I saw my intended destination, Meall Sguman. Studying the Allt a’Ghlomaich with binoculars it looked crossable so I descended the eroded path to the Falls of Glomach. I had visited these falls before and was aware you don’t see very much from the top. However the water rushing into the gorge was impressive enough with the stream above flowing quite fast. I walked up the side of the Allt a’Ghlomaich looking for a suitable location to cross but soon realised that the water would be well above my knees and I didn’t fancy a swim nor going over The Falls.

I abandoned the planned ascent of Meal Sguman and settled on a new approach for me to A’Ghlas-bheinn. From the Allt a’Ghlomaich I climbed towards Meall an Odhar, by-passing its summit as I cut across to Meall Dubh. Here I encountered the first of several heavy showers. Beyond Meall Dubh I needed to take on some food so between showers stopped for a bite to eat before continuing to Creag na Saobhie. As the cloud lowered and engulfed the summit area I spotted a group of around six descending the steep north ridge of A’Ghlas-bheinn. On meeting this group I stopped and spoke to them for a few moments before continuing up the north ridge to the summit cairn where it was windy with no views.

I descended the south ridge as the wind picked up and sections of the path were quite eroded, not something I recall from my previous visits to this Munro. I was taking quite a buffeting as I approached the cairn at the Bealach an Sgairne but once into Gleann Choinneachan I was sheltered from the wind. Good progress was made down the glen passing the path leading towards Beinn Fhada and onto the crossing of the Allt a’Choire Choil, which I thought might be difficult. It wasn’t, the stones were still visible above the water level. Lower down the rain became quite steady and after crossing the bridge of the Abhainn Chonaig, I again met the party of six, who were headed for Morvich. A few minutes later I was back in the car park at Dorusduain.

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A'Ghlas-bheinn Munro sixth ascent 918 metres

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Carn a'Chaochain

8 April 2012

slide show from photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 25 & 34. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent -615 metres.

Last year I ascended Carn a’Chaochain but only to its summit trig point. This was despite the fact that I knew it wasn’t the highest point having climbed this hill before and having studied the map the previous evening. I just forgot that the highest point was slightly to the south. On the same visit I climbed the Graham Top, Carn a’Choire Lieth but on later checking I discovered that the cairn on the old fence line wasn’t in fact the summit. Low cloud had prevented me seeing the true summit a few metres away. This trip was to rectify these errors.

A friend drove me to Cougie, the start of the walk, reached along a rough tack from Tomich. We parked in the Riding Centre car park and once geared up set off along the vehicle track on the south side of the Abhainn Deabhag, which was shown on my map as a path but was in fact a forest road. After a few hundred metres I located the path that headed uphill. The ground was initially a bit wet and higher up work had recently been carried out on the path, but it wasn’t much of an improvement for walkers, which probably wasn’t the intention anyway. A deer fence was reached with a small digger parked on the other side of the gate.

Once beyond the fence we followed the path, which wasn’t obvious in sections, to the Bealach Feith na Gamhna. From here we crossed some rough and boggy ground to Carn a’Choire Ghlais. This was followed by a short descent to an area of peat bogs which required navigating around before old metal fence posts guided us to the cairn at the top of the rocky knoll north-west of the summit of Carn a’Choire Leith. A descent over some snow, then an easy ascent led to the summit cairn of Carn a’Choire Leith. However a large boulder slightly to the south-east appeared to be slightly higher so I also visited that point.

We returned to the Bealach Feith na Gamha and commenced the ascent of Carn a’Chaochain over heather and grasses until higher up where the ground was a bit wet and boggy. Loch Carn a’Chaochain came into view and we passed it on its north side and below the trig point summit. A couple of Golden Plovers were heard and their distress calls obviously disturbed a nearby herd of stags which quickly ran off. An easy climb took us to the summit of Carn a’Chaochain, marked by two cairns, where we had lunch.

After lunch we walked across to the summit trig point before descending to the Bealach Feith na Gamha and to Cougie by the outward route.

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Carn a'Chaochain Graham second ascent 706 metres

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Carn a'Chaochain

20 October 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 25 & 34 Time 4.5 hours Distance - 12.5 kilometres Ascent - 630 metres

The start of this walk was Cougie, reached after a drive of several miles along a vehicle track from the hamlet of Tomich. Once geared up we walked along a vehicle track on the south side of the Allt Riabhach, until a cairn marked the start of the stalker’s path up the side of the Allt na Fearna. It was possibly a stalker’s path several years ago but was now used by All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) accessing the hill.

The ATV track was in places wet and muddy as it climbed through the forest, most of which had been cut down. A gate in a deer fence led to the open hillside where I left my companions as I had planned to include the Graham Top, Carn a’Choire Leith. I hurried along the wet and muddy path to the Bealach Feith na Gamhna as the cloud lowered and engulfed me. From this bealach I headed east over some wet and marshy ground to Carn a’Choire Ghlais, where through the mist a deer and I spotted each other before it disappeared into the cloud.

At this summit cairn I changed direction and made my way out towards Carn a’Choire Leith. The ground here was a mass of peat hags and bogs but fortunately there were some metal fence posts as a guide and I didn’t stray too far from them. A cairn was reached which I presumed was the summit but later read that a boulder fifty metres away was actually higher.

I returned to the Bealach Feith na Gamha where it was cold and damp so I was glad my companions hadn’t waited for me. I climbed the east ridge of Carn a’Chaochain, through long heather, passed a small cairn and above Loch Carn a’Chaochain. On reaching Carn a’Chaochain’s trig point there was no sign of my fellow walkers and I presumed I had missed them due to the low cloud.

In an attempt to catch up with my friends I headed back to the bealach, by the ascent route, and out of the cloud, as it had lifted slightly. I stopped to take on some fuel as I had been walking a bit faster than normal and was feeling the effects. There was no sign of my companions on the track below as I descended towards the forest.

The cloud was slowly lifting and on looking back I spotted them walking down the ridge. It then donned on me that I hadn’t been to the highest point on Carn a’Chaochain, which lay south of the trig point and was two metres higher. I should have recalled this earlier as it was mentioned the evening before and on a previous ascent I remembered walking along the west side of Loch Carn a’Chaochain. Ah well I’ll just have to go back on another occasion as I also need to take in the highest point of the Graham Top, Carn a’Choire Leith.

I wasn’t sure if they had spotted me so I walked back to the bealach and explained my error before returning to the car by the approach route.

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Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and Glas-bheinn Mhor

19 October 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 26 Time taken - 6.75 hours Distance 14 kilometres Ascent - 800 metres

My walking friends wanted to climb the Grahams, Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and Glas-bheinn Mhor, located on the west side of Loch Ness, south of Drumnadrochit. Overnight there had been more snow which was now lying at lower levels.

We left the car in the car park near Grotaig, at the end of the single track road above Loch Ness and the A82. The marked path led along the side of the Grotaig Burn and through woodland, where it was a bit wet and muddy, and onto the open hillside. The now peaty path led to a stile and the north-east ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh.

The path along the ridge was also muddy with a light covering of snow and some ice in places. Here we encountered a few snow showers and a cold wind. The gradient steepened as we approached the summit area during another snow shower. A few cairns were passed before we reached the summit cairn where we had a glimpse of our next hill, the Graham, Glas-bheinn Mhor.

It wasn’t possible to make a direct approach to this Graham due to a set of cliffs and a loch so we headed down Meall Fuar-mhonaidh’s south-west ridge. Here we encountered some difficult walking conditions as the snow shower continued and lying snow blew about in the strong wind. After around five hundred metres we commenced a gradual angled descent, avoiding rocks, as we made towards the south end of Loch nam Breac Dearga, glad to get a bit of shelter from the wind. Here we heard the roar of the stags.

On reaching the south end of Loch nam Breac Dearga we headed towards Loch Ruighe an t-Seilich. The sun was now shinning so we took the opportunity to stop for lunch. During this break we heard the sound of gunfire and when we resumed our ascent of Glas-bheinn Mhor we saw some deer on its south ridge. After reaching Loch Ruighe an t-Seilich we climbed to Glas-bheinn Mor’s summit trig point as another snow shower passed through the area.

A few photographs were taken before we left this hill and headed for the north ends of Lochs Ruighe an t-Seilich and nam Breac Dearga, crossing some rough terrain. Once beyond Loch nam Breac Dearga we climbed through the gap between the knolls Mac a’Mhill and Nighean a’Mhill then through some long heather. An angled ascent was made to the path on the north-east ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh before following the paths back to the car park.

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Meall Fuar-mhonaidh Graham third ascent 699 metres
Glas-bheinn Mhor Graham third ascent 651 metres

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Carn Mhic an Toisich

18 October 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 25 & 34 Time taken - 6.75 hours Distance - 18.5 kilometres Ascent - 720 metres

I was staying with friends in the hamlet of Tomich, south-west of the village of Cannich. The forecast for our visit wasn’t great and in fact included snow. On the first day we decided to climb the Graham, Carn Mhic an Toisich.

The starting point was Hilton Lodge, a few miles south-west of Tomich. There was parking for a single vehicle just beyond the start of the track leading to Guisachan Forest. Once geared up we set off along the forest track which led to open moorland. Here the track gradually gained height as it ran close to electric transmission lines. The track was rather wet after heavy overnight rain and now the occasional shower. Looking north the Glen Affric mountains had a good covering of fresh snow.

We reached Loch na Beinne Baine where the vehicle track was being upgraded. It was awash with mud and a digger was working nearby. I have since carried out a Google search but wasn’t able to ascertain if the work was related to an upgrade of the pylons or another one of those ugly windfarms that now proliferate the Highlands. We left the mud and cut across rough heathery ground to a new deer fence, entering the enclosure via a gate. However the fence only covered a small area of the hillside and if we had known that in advance we would have walked round the fence rather than being forced to climb it.

After a steady ascent the south-west ridge of Carn Mhic an Toisich was reached where a strong wind blew us towards the summit cairn. On arrival at the highest point it was too windy to hang around so we continued in a north-easterly direction to loose some height before swinging round below the summit. Well that was my plan but my companions were aware of my interest in Graham Tops and insisted that we headed east to climb the nearby Carn na Caorach. At this Graham Top we found some shelter for lunch.

Once lunch was over we descended to the north side of Carn Mhic an Toisich. Here it became obvious that my walking partners weren’t serious about climbing Graham Tops as they decided to head for the vehicle track used earlier that day. I descended to the east side of Loch nan Gobhar, crossing some peat hags, followed by a steady climb to the summit area of Carn nan Earb. It was very windy on this Graham Top where the highest point wasn’t obvious. I visited a couple of cairns before heading off the top and out of the strong wind. The vehicle track was rejoined near the north end of Loch na Beinne Baine and I ambled down the track waiting for the others to catch up before we headed for the car.

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Carn Mhic an Toisich Graham second ascent 680 metres

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Ciste Dhubh and Aonach Meadhoin

30 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 1450 metres.

I parked in the lay-by on the A87 at Glenshiel Forest as it was set back from the road rather than a spot beside the bridge over the Allt a’Chaorainn Bhig. I walked the short distance west along the A87 to the edge of the forest where I passed through an old rusty gate and headed up the path on the east side of the Allt a’Chaorainn Bhig.

The path was a lot drier than normal and I made good progress although the flies were a nuisance but the clegs were even worse, biting me at every opportunity. Thankfully I had a long sleeve top on and I don’t wear shorts on the hills. Just below Bealach a’Choinich the path was a bit steeper and eroded but thankfully on arriving at this wide bealach there were no clegs due to the breeze.

I took a coffee break here before heading to the foot of the south ridge of Ciste Dhubh. The path above this point was steep and muddy as it worked its way round some crags. Beyond them the gradient eased and the ridge began to narrow. A couple of deer and a calf ran across Coire Odhar. I also spotted a vole which disappeared into a hole. I climbed to the narrow top of An Cnapach before a short descent to the narrowing ridge and the final fairly steep climb to Ciste Dhubh’s summit cairn. Here I had great views including Glen Affric, Alltbeithe Youth Hostel and the Five Sisters.

I returned to Bealach a’Choinich, where a met a family heading for Ciste Dhubh. They also complained about the clegs but I had already decided not to return down An Caorann Beag but ascend Sgurr an Fhuarail. So from the bealach I made the steady climb to its summit, a Munro Top, where I had lunch. Afterwards I descended to the col with Aonach Meadhoin, where I left my rucksack, and climbed to the summit of this Munro. Here I had views down Glen Shiel to The Saddle.

I returned to Sgurr an Fhuarail, collecting my rucksack en-route, and descended its south ridge taking in its South Top, classed as a Corbett Top. From here the gradient increased with traces of a path before easing as I approached the Cluanie Inn and then the walk back along the main road to my car.

It was well worth the additional climbing, not just for the views, but I avoided the clegs and flies on my return.

previous ascent Ciste Dhubh

previous ascent Aonach Meadhoin

Ciste Dhubh Munro fifth ascent 979 metres
Aonach Meadhoin Munro sixth ascent 1001 metres

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A'Ghlas-bheinn

12 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

I was en-route to Skye and stopped off to climb the Munro, A’Ghlas-bheinn. I had read that the route from Dorusduain had been closed off so decided to check this out for myself. From the A87 on the north side of the Causeway over Loch Duich, I drove up Strath Croe to the car park at the end of the road. Although in poor condition in places there appeared to be no restriction on access.

There were a few biting midges around in the car park, the first I had encountered this year, so I didn’t linger but set off to the bridge over the Allt Choinneachain, firstly passing through a couple of wicket gates to reach this stream. Once over the footbridge I joined the path that came up from Morvich.

Initially there were a few spots of rain as I walked up the path on the south side of Gleann Choinneachain but it soon got heavier and the cloud lowered. The Allt a’Choire Chaoil was crossed below the waterfall before I continued up the glen. The gradient steepened as the path zig zagged to the turn off for Beinn Fhada. A couple in front of me, who had come up the north side of the glen, headed towards Beinn Fhada while I continued to Bealach an Sgairne. En-route I met a foreigner going in the opposite direction who wanted confirmation of where he was headed. At the bealach a group were descending from A’Ghlas Bheinn.

I commenced the ascent of the south ridge of A’Ghlas Bheinn and soon entered the cloud although I did get brief views to the east of Lochs a’ Bhealaich and Gaorsaic. The route followed a walker’s path, eroded in places, until I eventually reached the summit cairn.

The summit was in cloud so there was no point in lingering here. I took a bearing and headed for A’Mhuc, initially following traces of a path but it soon disappeared. Around half an hour after leaving the top the rain ceased and the cloud lifted to give views of Loch Duich, the cloud topped Corbett, Sgurr an Airgid and the Graham, Carnan Cruithneachd. I stopped here for lunch enjoying the views before continuing my descent to the east end of Dorusduain Forest and then the track back to my car.

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A'Ghlas-bheinn Munro fifth ascent 918 metres

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Sgurr an Airgid

2 February 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 9.5 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

It was a sunny and calm morning with the snow clad mountains reflecting in Loch Duich as we drove south-east along the A87 Kyle of Lochalsh to Sheil Bridge road. Just before the Causeway over the Croe Estuary we left the main road and parked in the car park for the Clachan Dhuich Burial Ground. From previous visits I was aware that a path, not shown on my map, led up towards the bealach between Sgurr an Airgid and Beinn Bhuide from directly opposite the car park.

Once kitted up we crossed the road and went through a wicket gate and onto the path. As on my previous excursion the start of the path was muddy as cattle graze here. Additionally there was some wet snow covering the ground so it was a bit of a quagmire at least to start with. However as height was gained we soon left these conditions behind but progress was slow as we kept stopping to look at the reflections of the snow clad mountains in Loch Duich and taking photographs. Beinn Fhada and A'Ghlas-bheinn stood out well and later Beinn Sgritheall became visible above the hills to the south-west.

Sections of the path became concealed by the snow but there was a gate in the fence which we were aiming for. Beyond this gate the line of the path wasn’t visible so we walked over the snow covered heather taking turns to break the trail. The zig zag section of the path became obvious and that made for easier progress for a short time. The path ran below some snowdrifts which were corniced and gave the appearance that they had collapsed. We therefore needed to avoid this area and found our own route uphill.

It was still sunny at this time and we came across enormous snowdrifts with overhangs which ran the length of the bealach and prevented a direct approach. We therefore headed east and ascended the snow covered slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe until we were above the corniced area before heading onto the bealach. Here it is normally rather boggy with lots of peat hags but the deep snow concealed everything. Unfortunately I went into one of these hollows to the amusement of others and had to pull myself out. Beyond this area the snow wasn't as deep and we made reasonable progress towards the east ridge of Sgurr an Airgid despite wandering around looking for the route with the least amount of snow cover.

The gradient increased and the snow became deeper with lots of drifts. It was here that some of the group felt they were out of their comfort zone and decided that they had had enough risk for the day. This left me on my own to break trail with drifts now reaching chest level forcing me to make lots of detours to gain any height. On approaching the summit I hit a combination of hard packed snow, ice and drifts and some low cloud. This required a lot of concentration and the correct decision making but I was also aware that the ascent was taking me longer than planned and the rest of the group would be waiting for me as I had the car keys.

A short rocky and icy section was crossed and the summit trig point of Sgurr an Airgid was reached. Unfortunately there were no real summit views due to the cloud although I did have a fleeting glimpse of Loch Duich and the hills to the west. Anyway I didn’t have time to linger on the summit so I returned down the ridge retracing my bootprints. The others were waiting for me in the corrie area having done a bit of sunbathing and partaking of their lunch. On reaching them we headed back by the ascent route and at the gate in the fence the snow commenced with large flakes and that continued until we got back to the car.

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Sgurr an Airgid Corbett third ascent 841 metres

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Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and Glas-bheinn Mhor

17 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 26. Time taken – 6 hours. Distance – 14 kilometres. Ascent – 800 metres.

I had hoped to make a visit to Kintail to do a bit of mountain bagging but the weather forecast for the far west wasn’t great so I settled for a re-ascent of these two Grahams, located above the west side of Loch Ness. From Lewiston, an extension of Drumnadrochit, on the A82 Inverness to Fort William road just south of the bridge over the River Coiltie I drove along the road to Balbeg. At the end of the public road there was a reasonable sized car park.

From this car park I walked along the marked path at the side of the Grotaig Burn, through several gates, and into the forest. The path was quite steep in places but eventually led to the open hillside. Here the peaty path rose to the north-east ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh. Early spots of rain had ceased although it was a bit windy beyond the forest. As I walked along this ridge I had views of Loch Ness to the north and south.

The path was quite wet and boggy with a few rocky sections before I reached the summit cairn of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh. If the weather had remained wet I had planned to return by the outward route but as the rain had stopped I decided to continue to the second Graham, Glas-bheinn Mhor. I descended the south-west ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh but on this occasion went further down the ridge before heading north-west, which made things easier than going down the rocky west face.

I made a direct approach to Glas-bheinn Mhor, following some deer paths, and on its ascent made my way round a few rocky outcrops, disturbing a couple of deer. The summit cairn was reached but it was rather cold and windy here. On my previous trip I had used Loch nan Breac Dearga and the lochan to the south-east of Glas-bheinn Mhor as navigation aids but the return route had been quite tough underfoot. On this occasion I decided to try and stay higher and head for the col between the two tops of Nighean a’Mhill. Overall I think this route was probably slightly easier. From this col I made my way onto the north-east ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and returned to the car park by the outward route.

previous ascent

Meall Fuar-mhonaidh Graham second ascent 699 metres
Glas-bheinn Mhor Graham second ascent 651 metres

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Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag

15 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1090 metres.

Fraser and Shona were on a walking break in the Highlands and I was invited to join them for a couple of day walks. They were staying the night in the Kintail area so we planned to meet up on the A87 Invermoriston to Shiel Bridge Road directly below the Bealach an Lapain. I arrived at this location to find the usual parking area closed due to tree felling so I utilised a lay-by further west.

The plan was to climb the Munros, Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag, sometimes referred to as 'The Bothers'. The Five Sisters are to be found to the west of the Bealach an Lapain. We had access to two vehicles so we left my vehicle in the lay-by and used Fraser's vehicle to travel east up Glen Shiel to the rough parking area just west of the bridge over the Allt Coire Tholl Bhruach.

We set off up the walker’s path on the east side of the Allt Coire Tholl Bhruach passing an old stone built sheep pen. The path disappeared as we climbed towards Coire na Cadha before heading west onto the south ridge of Aonach Meadhoin. Once on this ridge we were into the cloud, although occasionally it briefly broke to give us a glimpse back into Glen Shiel.

The summit cairn of Aonach Meadhoin was reached. There was no view but we took a break before descending west on a narrowing ridge. Once at the foot of Aonach Meadhoin’s west ridge it was a steady climb to Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg. An old stone dyke was reached and it was followed out to the summit cairn passing a couple who were on their way off the top.

Again there was no view so we returned to the end of the stone dyke and continued west passed a large bank of snow. The path was followed as we descended Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg’s west ridge before an ascent to our third Munro of the day, Saileag where we had lunch. Afterwards we continued west and descended to the Bealach an Lapain. As we did so the cloud began to break up and we saw across Glen Sheil to the South Glenshiel Ridge, Sgurr na Sgine and The Saddle and north into Gleann Lichd and the lower reaches of Beinn Fhada.

On reaching the Bealach an Lapain we followed the rough and eroded path down to the main road followed by a car journey back to the start.

previous ascent Aonach Meadhoin

previous ascent Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag

Aonach Meadhoin Munro fifth ascent 1001 metres
Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg Munro fifth ascent 1036 metres
Saileag Munro fifth ascent 956 metres

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A'Chralaig

25 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 7.5 kilometres. Ascent - 940 metres.

I was heading home after a long weekend staying in Plockton and decided to climb this Munro en-route. A large lay-by on the north side of the A87 Invermoriston to Kyle of Lochalsh Road west of the Allt a'Chaorainn Mhoir is the normal parking area for this Munro and those walking through to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel. In recent times I have seen vehicles parked east of the stream on the south side of the road, although I think this may be private ground.

I walked the short distance east, crossed the bridge over the Allt a'Chaorainn Mhoir and a few metres up the track leading through An Caorann Mor. At the side of a stream I noted a walker's path heading up hill and followed it. I hadn't seen it before as I usually just make my own route up the steep sided mountain. The path made for a slightly easier ascent with brief views of the Corbett, Am Bathach, the Munro Top, Sgurr an Fhuarail and down into Glen Shiel. I reached the snow line and further on the snow became a bit firmer with a thin icy crust and I thought that I may have to put crampons on. However this wasn't necessary and I reached A'Chralaig's south ridge.

It was cold and windy on the ridge with a couple of snow showers and brief views across to the Munro Top, A'Chioch. I made my way up the ridge avoiding any ice and eventually reached the summit and its large cairn. The plan was to have a bite to eat here but it was too cold and windy even behind the cairn so I set off back down the south ridge. Lower down it appeared that the cloud was breaking up and the sun was attempting to make an appearance but the cloud never cleared the summit of A'Chralaig. I continued down the ridge and returned to my car by the ascent route and then the long drive home.

previous ascent

A'Chralaig Munro fifth ascent 1120 metres

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Carnan Cruithneachd

22 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 13.8 kilometres. Ascent - 1088 metres.

We were staying in Plockton, near Kyle of Lochalsh for a long weekend and it was Edith's turn to plan a walk and this one suited me as I hadn't climbed the Graham, Carnan Cruithneachd, before. The start of the walk was Dorusduain in Strath Croe which is reached from the unclassified road that leaves the A87 beside the causeway over Loch Duich and passes through the farm at Lienassie. Access by this route appears to be discouraged but there is a car park at the end of the tarred road just before Dorusduain. It is suggested that Morvich be used instead but that adds a couple of kilometres each way, to the walk.

The start of the route was through the forest, signposted to the Falls of Glomach, but where the track descended to cross the Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich we passed through a gate on our left and continued through the forest. A steep climb later took us out of the trees and into a winter wonderland, well a light covering of snow, although A'Ghlas-bheinn, Beinn Fhada and the Five Sisters seemed to have a good covering.

We continued along the track crossing a couple of streams before deciding to leave this route as the west face of the hill was rather rocky and with the soft snow it would have made for a rather tricky ascent. Some rough ground was crossed before we ascended the south side of the hill using a couple of mainly grassy snow filled gullies. The west summit was reached and here we had good views down Glen Elchaig, across to the Corbett, Sguman Coinntich, as well as the route up Srath Duilleach passed Loch na Leitreach. A short walk east took us to the actual summit of Carnan Cruithneachd. Here there were views of the Corbett, Sgurr Gaorsaic and the Munro, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan.

The descent was along the east ridge but it was rocky and fairly steep but we managed to find a gully to drop down and headed towards the Falls of Glomach. The further away we got from Carnan Cruithneachd, the more impressive the hill appeared as it had a very rocky aspect. Some walkers avoid climbing lower hills but this one is well worth ascending. We walked over snow covered ground to north-west of the Falls of Glomach where we stopped for lunch. The area around the Falls of Glomach are rather treacherous and there have been several accidents in the area, possibly caused by people looking for the best view. It appeared to me that the main waterfall is concealed behind a large rock and I am not sure if it is possible to see the actual Falls even from the path down the side of the Allt a'Ghlomamaich.

Once lunch was over we headed for the Bealach na Sroine looking for the path shown on the map but it wasn't obvious due to the wet and boggy ground and several All Terrain Vehicle Tracks. However once we had dropped down into the Glen the path was very obvious and we followed it back to Dorusduain.

Carnan Cruithneachd Graham first ascent 729 metres

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Meall a’Chrathaich

31 October 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 26. Time taken – 6.5 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 630 metres.

Meall a’Chrathaich could be climbed from Glen Moriston to the south, or from Glen Urquhart in the north, which is slightly longer. As I was staying in Inverness, Glen Urquhart, which runs between Drumnadrochit and Cannich, was closer so I decided on a northern approach. On the south side of the A831 Drumnadrochit to Cannich Road, near the west end of Glen Urquhart, a single track road leads to the small hamlet of Corrimony. I managed to park at the side of the road near to a signpost marking the end of the public road.

The map I was using was out of date as the track heading south-west from the farm buildings only went as far as a house. I therefore had to return to the start and followed another track, signposted RSPB, which ran along the east side of the River Enrick. The track then crossed the river by a bridge and immediately thereafter was a signpost, again for the RSPB but also for Loch ma Stac, which was where I wanted to head. The path ran between the River Enrick and a field, containing cattle, with an electric fence, one of many I came across that day. It eventually joined the track that obviously ran through the field from the bridge I had crossed earlier.

On rejoining the track a sign indicated that I was entering the RSPB Corrimony Natrue Reserve. Other informative notices indicated that there were over 100 different species of birds in the reserve. Well I must have selected the wrong time of year as I saw very few birds. It was sunny but rather cold with some snow lying. The track passed through a forest and then open ground, where natural regeneration seems to be taking place.

The track eventually came to Loch Comhnard and then to another fenced off area, with an electric fence. Here a signpost indicated the route went through this field. Unfortunately there were around sixty cows grazing near the gate. I searched for an alternative route, but there wasn’t one so I returned to the gate, took the "bull by the horns" and entered the field. With a bit of trepidation I moved through the herd of cows with them all taking an interest in me, but they moved aside as I approached them, thankfully. Within the field was a bothy which wasn’t in great condition as one side had a few gaps open to the elements, but at least it would be shelter if anything untoward happen.

The field was rather muddy in places due to the movement of the cattle and beyond the bothy I came to another bridge over the River Enrick. On the map it shows a 'Ford'. The bridge was covered in snow and I could see several holes so I carefully crossed it and continued up the muddy track. Higher up there was less mud and evidence of cattle before I reached a gate in a deer fence. From here the track started to deteriorate, which was a surprise as I was aware that there was a shooting lodge ahead. I could now hear the roar of the stags and saw a few deer run off.

I crossed another stream at a ford and lost the track for a few minutes due to the snow cover. I managed to rejoin it higher up and followed it to Loch ma Stac. Here I found out why the condition of the track had deteriorated. The shooting lodge, on a small island at the north end of the loch, was derelict and no longer in use. The windows were boarded up and green sacking at one of the windows was blowing in the wind. A shame that this three storey lodge had been allowed to fall into disrepair and now rather unsightly.

From the north end of Loch ma Stac I crossed snow covered heather, hiding various holes and bog making the going slow and hard work. I wound my way to the col between Meall a’Chrathaich and its south top before climbing to the summit trig point. Here I had views of the Grahams, Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and Glas-bheinn Mhor which I had climbed in September and the Graham, Carn Mhic an Toisich, which I had ascended in July. The wind turbines on Meall Dubh, to the south, were very obvious and I could see the snow covered Kintail and Glen Affric mountains.

I lingered here for a few minutes but the long return route beckoned so I descended to the track just north of Loch ma Stac and followed my upward route. Fortunately the cattle had moved away the gate and a few swans were now feeding in Loch Comhnard. Some of the snow cover lower down had melted in the sun.

Meall a'Chrathaich Graham first ascent 679 metres

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Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and Glas-bheinn Mhor

28 September 2008

Map - OS Landranger 26. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 800 metres.

This morning saw me driving south on the A82 from Inverness to Drumnadrochit, early enough to avoid the slow moving tourist traffic, the occupants trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster. East of Borlum Bridge at Lewiston, a continuation of Drumnadrochit, I took the unclassified road to Balbeg. This road climbed steeply then headed south above the A82 and the west shore of Loch Ness. Part of this road is used as the Great Glen Way and the Great Glen Cycle Route.

South of Balbeg I parked in the marked car park and was the only vehicle there. I followed a well signposted route to the hill through several gates, initially along the side of the Grotaig Burn but then the path climbed steeply up through the forest. The fencing, gates and signs must have cost a fair bit of money but kept me out of the fields and off the vehicle tracks. My only criticism was a sign said 250 metres to the car park, well they underestimated it, I measured it at 550 metres.

Once onto the open hillside a peaty path led through the heathery hillside where there was a stile over a deer fence. The path led to the north-east ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh where the walking was easy as it was rather rocky. Overhead two groups of geese were headed south. This was probably the best part of the route as height was gained the path became more wet and boggy. The weather was fine, although cloudy out west but with views north up Loch Ness towards Inverness and across to Foyers on the east side of the Loch.

On approaching the summit I came across a herd of deer feeding. I was only a few feet above three of them and I was able to watch them for a few seconds before they realised my presence and ran off. The summit had several cairns but the path led to the highest point with views now south down Loch Ness towards Ford Augustus and the mountains beyond.

I now needed to head west to the second Graham, Glas-bheinn Mhor but the direct route was protected by cliffs and a Loch. I decided to head down the west ridge of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and round the south side of Loch nam Breac Dearga. Part way down the ridge I commenced the descent through the rocks, which was a bit tricky at times, maybe the best plan would have been to go further south and double back. However I was able to surprise some more deer feeding below the rocks.

The south side of Loch nam Breac Dearga was reached, part of which was in the shade, but I found a sunny spot for a coffee break. While seated there in peace and tranquillity the only noise was the distant roar of the stags. Reluctantly I set off again this time over some wet and boggy ground aiming for a small loch to the south-west of my target hill. From this lochan it was a relatively short climb towards the summit of Glas-bheinn Mhor but en-route I disturbed a snipe and came across three young stags feeding. I watched them for a while, they stared at me and then ran off, well four ran off, as I never saw the other one till they moved away.

I reached the summit trig point with views of the Kintail Mountains. There was also a cairn, so I visited it as well before heading down to the north side of Loch nam Breac Dearga over a mixture of rock and bog. Once at the Lochside I climbed between the knoll, Nighean a’Mhill and the north face of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh where I viewed a large cleft, not seen from the ascent route. I then traversed along the side of this Graham until I reached the path used earlier that day and followed it back to the start. I passed four people descending and four ascending, which were the only walkers I had seen in three days.

Meal Fuar-mhonaidh Graham first ascent 699 metres
Glas-bheinn Mhor Graham first ascent 651 metres

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Sgurr an Airgid

16 September 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 33. Time taken – 4.25 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 840 metres.

The start for the ascent of this Corbett was the car park beside the small cemetery just off the A87, on the north side of the causeway near the outflow of the River Croe. Opposite the car park was a gate that allowed access to a field and a track that headed uphill. This replaces the route shown on the map that starts at Lienassie although it joins it higher up.

The first obstacle was some cattle grazing close by but they seemed docile enough. Higher up we went through a metal gate in a deer fence and onto more heathery ground. The path was in fairly good condition, despite the hoof prints lower down. The path took us from sea level to a small cairn at nearly 600 metres. The cloud which had started to break up then lowered again to engulf us.

A walker’s path, which was rather wet and boggy crossed the col between Beinn Bhuide and our target mountain, Sgurr an Airgid, where we met a chap on his descent. While talking to him we were passed by a runner and his dog heading for the summit and a short time later on his descent. They were the only people we met in on the hills in three days.

The walker’s path followed a double ridge towards the summit keeping to the crest of the most northerly one and took us to the summit trig point where we took a break. Unfortunately there were no views.

The return was by the ascent route.

previous ascent

Sgurr an Airgid Corbett second ascent 841 metres

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Sgurr Gaorsaic

15 September 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 33. Time taken – 6.25 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 1100 metres.

My start for the ascent of the Corbett, Sgurr Gaorsaic, was Dorusduain in Strath Croe, which was reached from the A87 at the causeway, near Inverinate. This unclassified road also leads to Morvich but at Ruarach I drove along the road to Lienassie and Dorusduain, where there was a small car park. I have used this car park on several occasions over the years, in particular to climb Beinn Fhada and A’Ghlas-bheinn. I was of the opinion that this access was a public road but signs now say different and are encouraging parking at Morvich, which means a slightly longer walk.

From Dorusduainn we walked a short distance to a couple of wicket gates which lead to the bridge over the Abhainn Chonaig and the path up Gleann Choinneachain. It was a bit damp when we set off but the light rain became more intermittent and the cloud lifted off some of the mountain tops. Higher up we crossed the Allt Coire an Sgairne, which flows down from Beinn Fhada, and beyond that we came to the turn off for this Munro. However we continued up the Glen to the Bealach an Sgairne.

At the Bealach we descended to Loch a’Bhealaich, the path being rather wet and boggy in places. We went round the south side of the Loch but access to Sgurr Gaorsaic wasn’t possible due to peat hags and slow moving boggy streams. Instead we moved slightly south and then commenced the ascent of Sgurr Gaorsaic. Old fence posts would aid navigation in poor weather and in places the gradient was fairly steep but keeping close to the fence posts led us to near the summit. I’m not so sure about the small lochan shown on the map as I think it is more an area of water and peat bog, which may have been a lochan several years ago. I couldn’t find it on my previous ascent although my recollection was that the summit area was misty and snow covered then.

It was only a short walk from the fence posts to the summit cairn which consisted of a few stones and a metal stanchion. Well I couldn’t see anything else in the area, although I did walk around the summit looking for any additional cairns to no avail as the highest point isn't particularly obvious.

The return was by the ascent route and we returned to Dorusduain as the rain, which was later to turn heavy, commenced.

We headed over to Skye to visit the Cioch Shop where my walking partner purchased a Cioch Glamaig jacket. I have to admit that I also made a purchase, a pair of Cioch trousers. However they are very busy so it will be November before they are ready but they are winter trousers so I’m not in a hurry.

previous ascent

Sgurr Gaorsaig Corbett second ascent 839 metres

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Carn Mhic an Toisich

19 July 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 25 & 34. Time taken – 4 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 610 metres.

It had been a very wet night in Inverness and was still raining when I rose so I decided to give the day’s walking a miss. However during breakfast the rain ceased and the forecast indicated that it would dry up with just a few showers so I changed my mind and headed for Tomich.

Tomich is located south-west of Cannich, which is on the A831 Beauly to Drumnadrochit Road. I continued through Tomich and followed the signs for Plodda Falls. The road later changed from tar to a hard core surface and at Hilton Lodge a 'Right of Way' led to Glen Moriston. I found a parking space a short distance up the 'Right of Way' although there was no gate at the start of the forest so I suppose I could have driven further but it was into the unknown and rather risky.

I walked through the forest following the 'Right of Way' and passed an area, enclosed by electric fencing, where wild boar were farmed, although I never saw any of them. However I did see evidence of how the forest had been churned up by their presence, which apparently assists in regeneration of the trees.

The track eventually emerged from the forest and headed south towards electric pylons passing a 'Right of Way' to Tomich. Although the track headed south in a similar direction to the pylons they weren’t as obtrusive as I had expected. The next point of note was Loch na Beinne Baine where the track rose more steeply for around 40 metres before levelling off. Opposite the south end of this Loch, near a concrete building, I left the track and crossed some wet and boggy ground, disturbing a couple of grouse. It was then a short ascent onto the south-west ridge and an easy walk to the summit cairn of Carn Mhic an Toisich. Here I had views of the Drumnadrochit Grahams, the Loch Quoich Munros, the Kintail and Glen Affric mountains.

The return was by the ascent route and was uneventful. I was glad I had gone out as the weather was reasonable, the cloud was above the summit of my Graham, and I just had the occasional shower.

Carn Mhic an Toisich Graham first ascent 680 metres

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Beinn a’Mheadhoin

14 June 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 25. Time taken – 1.75 hours. Distance - 5.5 kilometres. Ascent - 380 metres.

I had this Graham in mind for sometime trying to fit it in with another walk as its ascent only takes around one hour so it wasn’t worth a special journey to climb it. Earlier I had been up Carn Gorm in Glen Cannich and this was my opportunity to climb Beinn a’Mheadhoin.

The starting point was Glen Affric, just east of the bridge over the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh and around two kilometres from the end of the public road. There was ample parking on a rough piece of ground at the south side of the road. From there I walked up a vehicle track on the east side of the above mentioned stream, which is the normal route to the Munros Tom a’Choinich and Toll Creagach.

I left the track at the end of the forest and headed north-east towards Beinn a’Mheadhoin following traces of what appeared to be a walker’s path, disturbing a couple of hinds. I had views down to Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin and Loch Affric and higher up Gleann nam Fiadh and some of the Munro Tops surrounding Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe still with some patches of snow.

It was warm work lower down as the sun had appeared but higher up a cold wind was blowing with the occasional light rain shower. The path later disappeared but it was only a short distance to the summit cairn. The summit area had a couple of other smaller cairns where better views were afforded.

I sought shelter for a late lunch before returning to the start by the upward route.

Beinn a'Mheadhoin Graham first ascent 613 metres

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Carn Eighe, Beinn Fhionnlaidh and Mam Sodhail

7 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 25. Time taken - 10.75 hours. Distance - 27 kilometres. Ascent - 1930 metres.

Early morning and it was sunny as I drove to Cannich, reached from either Beauly or Drumnadrochit using the A831, to meet up with Shona and the drive up Glen Affric to the car park at the end of the public road. From here we set off along the track on the north side of the calm Loch Affric with its mountain reflections.

Just before reaching Affric Lodge we headed up the track that led to the boggy ground between Sgurr na Lapaich and Am Meallan before descending to Gleann nam Fiadh. The path up the Glen was on the opposite side of the burn but the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh was fairly high due to snow melt. We therefore walked up the south bank of this stream at times following All Terrain Vehicle tracks, passing a couple who had removed their boots to wade the burn. Further up the burn I managed to cross with dry feet while Shona decided to remove her boots and wade the burn.

On reaching the stream flowing from Coire Mhic Fhearchair we followed a walker’s path to a small lochan, still partially covered in snow, before climbing onto the ridge east of Sron Garbh crossing some patches of snow. Once on the ridge we ascended Sron Garbh, by-passed the rocky summit of Stob Coire Dhomnuill, onto Stob a’Choire Dhomhain and Carn Eighe where we took a short break along with the couple we saw earlier.

The north ridge, which was free of snow except for the corrie edge, was followed to the Bealach Beag before the ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Here there were good views of Loch Mullardoch and the Glen Cannich Munros. We returned to the Bealach Beag before traversing round the west side of Carn Eige and climbing to the bealach between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail. It was then a steady climb to the large circular cairn of Mam Sodhail where we took another break looking over to the Kintail mountains, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and Mullach na Dheiragen.

We descended the south-east ridge of Mam Sodhail, over the tops Mullach Cadha Rainich and Sgurr na Lapaich before a fairly steep descent to a boggy area which we crossed to join the track used on the upward route. The track was followed down to Affric Lodge and back to the car park after a strenuous but sunny day.

previous ascent

Carn Eighe Munro seventh ascent 1183 metres
Beinn Fhionnlaidh Munro sixth ascent 1005 metres
Mam Sodhail Munro seventh ascent 1181 metres

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Aonach Shasuinn

10 February 2008

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 1060 metres.

This Corbett is located between Glen Affric in the north and Glen Morriston to the south. I was planning to climb Aonach Shasuinn from Glen Affric which is reached from the village of Cannich on the A831, which runs from Drumnadrochit through Cannich to Beauly.

At the end of the public road at the east end of Loch Affric there is a fairly large car park where I left my car and walked along the vehicle track on the south side of Loch Affric. It was very still with the mountains on the north side of the Loch reflected in the water. Beyond Affric Lodge and a holiday home I came to the point where I was to leave the track. A ‘Right of Way’ sign for Cougie indicated the route up the east side of the Allt Garbh.

The map indicated that the path crossed and later re-crossed this stream which seems a bit pointless as there is no bridge and it would mean wet feet. Rather than cross the stream I continued up its east bank as had many other walkers creating several muddy and boggy sections. In one of the hollows I came across a stag feeding which quickly ran off.

The path eventually joined a vehicle track which headed west from Cougie to Loch an Sguid. I walked westwards along this track as far as the stream descending from Creag nan Calman, before crossing it and ascending the heather clad hillside of Cnap na Stri. During this ascent the cloud based lowered and I lost the views I had over Loch Affric.

There was no cairn marking the summit of Cnap na Stri so I went to what appeared to be the highest point before taking a bearing and descending steeply to a bealach. From there I ascended the curving ridge of Carn nan Coireachan Cruaidh, which had a narrow section. Beyond the highest of the two tops the ridge took a 90 degree turn, which despite the low cloud was easy to follow as there was a large build up of snow to my right.

It was an easy ascent firstly to a stone shelter and then to the summit cairn of Aonach Shasuinn. There was no point in lingering here so I continued to the West Top spotting my second ptarmigan of the day. From the West Top I descended its north ridge, avoiding some snow fields, until I was low enough to change direction. My plan was to avoid the upper reaches of the Allt Garbh as it was slow moving and would be hard to cross after the recent rain and snow melt. I cut across the side of the hill aiming for the bridge over the Allt Garbh, around a kilometre east of Loch an Sguid.

On reaching the bridge I walked east along the vehicle track back to the point where I had left it earlier that day. I then retraced by route back to the start.

Aonach Shasuinn Corbett second ascent 888 metres

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Carn a’Chaochain

4 November 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres. Ascent - 620 metres.

Carn a’Chaochain is located between Glen Moriston in the south and Glen Affric in the north. My plan was to ascend this Graham from the north so I drove to Tomich, accessed from Cannich on the A831. From Tomich I continued along the track to Plodda Falls and on towards Cougie.

The area was heavily forested with sections that had been cleared and others in the process of such activity. Due to the amount of cut trees I parked near Garve Bridge and headed into the forest. Initially walking was better than I had expected and higher up I came across a fire break where a few deer spotted me and ran off. Later the underfoot conditions deteriorated somewhat and a few fallen trees had to be avoided before a deer fence was reached. Unfortunately the fire break forced me in a south-easterly direction, away from my target hill.

Once over the deer fence I was into peaty and rough terrain. I traversed round the north side of Carn a’Choire Leith disturbing more deer before I descended across peat hags to the Bealach Feith na Gamhna. Here there were traces of the old stalker’s path. The ascent of Carn a’Chaochain was through some heather and up into more peat hags. An easterly oblong cairn was reached north-west of Loch Carn a’Chaochain where someone had inserted marker pins used on a cork notice board, into a split in a rock. It seemed a rather strange thing to do on a hill that is seldom visited.

I continued onto the trig point where the tops of the Affric Munros were now cloud covered. However the summit of the nearby Corbett Aonach Shasuinn was clear and there were good views back down Strath Glass. The trig point wasn’t the actual summit, it was further south, so I headed across some boggy ground to the summit cairn. From there I had views of the east end of Loch Cluanie and a windfarm under construction east of Meall Dubh in Glen Moriston.

The descent was towards Loch Carn a’Chaochain and onto Bealach Feith na Gamhna where I headed north and picked up the stalker’s path that took me to the edge of the forest. Here there was a gate and the track continued steeply down the side of a stream and alighted onto the forest road 350 metres west of Cougie where pony trekking takes place. I spoke for some time with the local stalker and he called the path I had descended ‘The Pony Track’, although he had no connection with the pony trekking business. The stalker wasn’t aware of the path shown on the map starting south of Cougie but higher up it is part of ‘The Pony Track’.

After my interesting conversation with the stalker I walked east along the forest track back to Garve Bridge arriving at my car just as the rain started.

Carn a'Chaochain Graham first ascent 706 metres

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Glen Affric

5 – 7 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day one - 3.25 hours.
Day two 10.45 hours.
Day three - 3.25 hours.
Distance:
Day one - 13.5 kilometres.
Day two - 20 kilometres.
Day three - 13.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day one - 50 metres.
Day two - 2100 metres.
Day three - 50 metres.

The start of this walk was the car park at the end of the public road at the west end of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin in Glen Affric approached from the village of Cannich. From this car park we took the track on the north side of Loch Affric to its west end where we followed another track that led to the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel which was our accommodation for two nights.

The next day we departed early from the hostel and followed a path up the west side of the hostel building, across to the Allt na Faing and into the cloud. The path, which was being improved, continued up the side of the Allt na Faing to the bealach east of Stob Coire na Cloiche. At this point the cloud above broke and we had a cloud inversion as we climbed the west ridge of An Socach. On this ascent we saw a white rainbow, a phenomenon that I had never seen before.

We had some really terrific views as we ascended An Socach and from its summit. Numerous tops appeared above the cloud and the visibility was excellent. On the return to the bealach the cloud bubbled up again. At the bealach we met fellow hostellers who were later to confirm sightings of the white rainbow.

From the bealach we descended steeply down the side of a gully. The plan was to follow a bearing to Loch Coire nan Dearcag but this wasn’t possible due to numerous rocky outcrops which forced us lower than I had wanted but we eventually reached the Abhainn a’Choilich which was followed back uphill to the partially weed covered Loch Coire nan Dearcag. At the loch we walked on a bearing to the bealach south-west of Carn na Con Dhu and once again out of the cloud.

We climbed to the summit of Carn na Con Dhu as the sun broke through and the cloud covering the mountains started to burn away. A short and in places rocky descent was next before the gradual climb to the summit cairn of Mullach na Dheiragain. Here we sat in the sun having a leisurely lunch looking at the surrounding mountains, including across the glen to An Socach where we had the earlier cloud inversion.

About half an hour after arriving at the summit of Mullach na Dheiragain we headed back to the bealach where we met a solo walker. From the bealach the ascent of the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan commenced and shortly thereafter we spoke to a second solo Munro Bagger heading for Mullach na Dheiragain. Higher up the ridge it narrowed and became a bit steeper and rockier but eventually we reached the summit cairn where we stopped for another break. This was my client’s 280th Munro, only four more to go. We had views of numerous mountains, across to the Islands of Skye, Rum and Eigg. We could even see the Skye Bridge.

However the break was short lived as the midges were out and being a nuisance so we headed down Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan’s east ridge and over the Munro Top Stob Coire na Cloiche to its bealach with An Socach. On the descent, for future reference, I looked for a more suitable route to Loch Coire nan Dearcag and thought that probably east of the summit of Stob Coire na Cloiche would be a better descent route to reach Mullach na Dheiragain.

From the Stob Coire na Cloiche / An Socach bealach the descent to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel was the path used earlier that day. The evening was spent speaking to a guide from another company who was taking a group through Glen Affric to Morvich.

The final day we returned to the car park at the west end of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin. On this occasion we took the track along the south side of Loch Affric and had some good views of the Mam Sodhail Tops as the early morning mist lifted.

previous ascent

An Socach Munro fifth ascent 921 metres
Mullach na Dheiragain Munro fifth ascent 982 metres
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan Munro fifth ascent 1151 metres

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Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag 

26 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 4.25 hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 1000 metres.

I required to climb two of the brothers, Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Saileag and decided on an approach from the A87 in Glen Shiel opposite the Allt Coire a’Chuil Droma Mhoir where there are a few small parking areas. There is a convenient gap between two areas of forestry which permitted easy access to the high tops.

I crossed a small fence and climbed steeply up the grassy slopes, over a second small fence to the Meall a’Charra ridge. Around twenty minutes after setting out it snowed for around five minutes and despite a forecast of further showers thankfully they did not materialise. However the mountain tops were white from overnight snow.

On reaching the Meall a’Charra ridge there was a path which led to the 806 knoll and onto the ridge just west of the Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg – Aonach Mheadhoin bealach. From here I climbed the east ridge of Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg which had a covering of snow but the path was still obvious. A small wall near the summit was reached and finally a short narrow section of snow covered ridge had to be traversed to reach the summit cairn.

Once I had taken a few photographs I returned along the ridge and descended to the Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg – Saileag bealach before climbing the east ridge of Saileag where I met my first walkers of the day who were traversing the ridge in the opposite direction.

I took in the views from the summit of Saileag before returning along its east ridge as I didn’t fancy descending to the A87 and walking back up the main road to my car. Near the Saileag – Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg bealach I traversed round the south side of Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg which was initially okay but further round it was a bit steeper and stony. With a bit of care I was still happy with the route although I wouldn't recommend it unless walkers feel secure on rough steep ground. It led to the path above the 806 knoll and I returned to the start by using the ascent route.

Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg Munro fourth ascent 1036 metres
Saileag Munro fourth ascent 956 metres

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Glen Affric

3 – 6 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day one - 3 hours.
Day two - 10 hours
Day three - 5.75 hours.
Day four - 6.75 hours.
Distance:
Day one - 13.5 kilometres.
Day two - 24 kilometres.
Day three - 16.5 kilometres.
Day four - 20 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day one - 50 metres.
Day two - 1600 metres.
Day three - 850 metres.
Day four - 765 metres.

The lady booking this walk wanted to climb three Munros, two to the north of the remote Alltbeithe Youth Hostel, and one to the south. This would involve three days walking basing ourselves at the Youth Hostel.

Day One

In the afternoon we drove up Glen Affric and parked in the car park at the west end of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin. From here we walked along the undulating vehicle track on the south shore of Loch Affric in warm and sunny conditions. The area was busy with walkers and cyclists.

At the west end of Loch Affric we crossed the bridge over the River Affric and continued west along a vehicle track. The track was fairly rough and undulating in places and could be cycled but this wasn’t what my client wanted.

We eventually reached the idyllic setting of the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel, which was basking in the sun, with a few deer feeding in the vicinity.

Day Two

After a night’s rest we set off from the Hostel and followed a path which crossed over to the Allt na Faing. A new area of forestry had been planted here and fenced off but the National Trust for Scotland had installed wicket gates and were in the process of upgrading the path.

Once beyond the new forest plantation we continued up the side of the Allt na Faing and into low cloud. We soon reached Coire na Cloiche and the Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan – An Socach bealach. My client had already climbed An Socach but I wished to take in this summit so my client was happy to do likewise.

The ascent of An Socach was reasonably straight forward and as we approached the summit we thought the sun was going to break through the cloud but unfortunately it didn’t happen. After a few minutes at the summit cairn we returned to the bealach and climbed the Munro Top, Stob Coire na Cloiche, before commencing the long ascent of the east ridge of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. My client had a few wild flowers to study and name en-route and we also spotted a few ptarmigan.

Once again we thought the sun was going to break through the cloud but it took to around 50 metres below the summit before the cloud started to clear. We headed to the summit cairn where we had a cloud inversion. There were around six peaks peeking above the cloud including Carn Eighe, Mam Sodhail and Mullach Fraoch-choire. We sat at the summit eating our lunch and enjoying the phenomenon.

We still had another Munro to climb so sadly we left the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and descended its rocky north-east ridge into the cloud. Once at the bealach we climbed steadily to the Munro Top Carn na Con Dhu which was followed by the gradual ascent to the summit of Mullach na Dheiragain.

There was no point in remaining at this summit as we were still in the cloud so we returned by the ascent route to the bealach where we met the first walkers of the day and spotted another ptarmigan. Beyond that we met a sole walker and his dog descending the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. After three hours we arrived back on the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan where we spoke with a fellow Hosteller. We took another break at this summit, but on this occasion without the views before descending to the Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan / An Socach bealach and the path back to the Hostel for our final night there. During the descent the cloud started to break up and gradually rise.

Day Three

The following day we left the Hostel, crossed the River Affric by a footbridge and commenced the ascent of Mullach Fraoch-choire. It was a sunny morning but as we were climbing the north side we were in the shade until higher up. It was a fairly steep ascent but once back into the sun we had good views into Fraoch-choire and to the mountains we climbed the previous day.

The ascent continued up a narrowing ridge with some rocky outcrops which were easily by-passed and we soon came to the summit cairn. We took shelter at the summit from a cold wind and had something to eat. We were soon joined by four other walkers who had come up the south ridge.

After our break we headed down Mullach Fraoch-choire’s north-east ridge, initially fairly steeply and then onto a narrow section of the ridge. Thereafter it was a pleasant and easy descent until lower down where we were confronted by deer fences and some awkward terrain to traverse. However after meandering about for a while we came to a foot bridge which gave us access to the track on the south side of Loch Affric. This vehicle track was followed back to the car park at the east end of Loch Affric.

Day Four

The final day we were joined by another client to tackle the two Corbetts to the south of Loch Affric. The weather had changed and it was windy with showers as we set off from the same car park as above and returned along the south side of Loch Affric as far as the Allt Garbh and took the path along its east side. The water was running fairly fast and would have been difficult to cross so we continued up the east path to near Loch an Sguid.

At this point due to the wind and the volume of water in the Allt Garbh it was decided that we would change our plan again and only climb Carn a’Choire Ghairbh so we climbed onto its east ridge where we disturbed a grouse and discovered it had been sitting on a nest of ten eggs. We continued along the ridge mainly following some old fence posts but it was very windy so we tried to stay on the lee side of the ridge. On approaching the summit we had to remain low and try to shelter as much as possible, touch the cairn and return to some shelter as quickly as possible.

The return was back along the ridge to the west side of the Allt Garbh and back along the side of the Loch Affric to the car park.

previous ascent Mullach Fraoch-choire

previous ascent Carn a'Choire Ghairbh

An Socach Munro fourth ascent 921 metres
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan Munro fourth ascent 1151 metres
Mullach na Dheiragain Munro fourth ascent 982 metres
Mullach Fraoch-choire Munro fifth ascent 1102 metres
Carn a'Choire Ghairbh Corbett third ascent 863 metres

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Ciste Dhubh

4 March 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 565 metres.

The weather forecast was for strong winds later in the day and an update early that morning confirmed we had ample time to ascend Ciste Dhubh and return before the worst of the winds hit the area.

We set off from the same lay-by as theprevious day, just east of the Cluanie Inn on the A87, and walked west along the road to the end of the forest and followed a path up the east side of the Allt a'Chaorainn Bhig. There were a few herds of deer in the glen where it was fairly warm. As we gradually gained height it became cooler with a bit of a breeze.

The path lead to the Bealach a'Choinich where we were more exposed to the wind. This was also where the snow line commenced. We tried to find some shelter for a bite to eat as higher up it would be too exposed to stop. From the bealach we climbed fairly steeply zig zagging up the hill following various bootprints in the snow from the previous day's walkers. The wind was now a lot stronger and there was a lot of spin drift visible near the 877 knoll.

We continued to around the 780 metre mark where the ridge started to narrow slightly and we found it to be very exposed and standing upright was a bit difficult. It was obvious that to continue in these conditions would be pointless as the ridge narrows significantly and progress would be impossible if not dangerous. So for the second consecutive day an ascent was abandoned and we returned to the start of the walk.

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Mullach Fraoch-choire

3 March 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 910 metres.

It was wet when we set off from Ratagan Youth Hostel, where we were staying, to drive up Glen Shiel to the lay-by east of the Cluanie Inn. Once waterproofs were donned we set off east along the A87 to a gap in a fence where a gate previously existed. We went through this gap and followed the vehicle track up An Caorann Mor.

The plan was to climb the Munro, Mullach Fraoch-choire, without ascending A’Chralaig, as the three lady clients had already climbed this Munro late last year but bad weather had prevented them from continuing out to our intended destination. We therefore followed the vehicle track to its conclusion, spotting a herd of deer en-route. The weather improved as we walked up the glen and the mountain tops were now visible.

From the end of the vehicle track we climbed towards Coire a’Ghlas-thuill reaching the snow line around 700 metres. During this ascent we had some awesome views of Ciste Dubh and the surrounding mountains. As we gained height and headed for the ridge north of A’Chralaig we encountered some icy patches which we attempted to avoid.

On reaching the ridge there was a strong cold wind with some spin drift and a cornice to our east. There was a lot of soft snow lying about and we used it rather than the ice covered stones as we descended to the col. From here it was a steady but difficult climb to the summit of Stob Coire na Cralaig battered by a strong wind and spin drift.

The next section of the walk entailed a descent along a narrowing ridge of drifting snow trying to keep to the centre point on the ridge but it was slow going as extra care was required. Some of the drifts were quite spectacular in their various formations caused by the wind blowing from different directions Once at the lowest point on the ridge we commenced the ascent of Mullach Fraoch-choire. Again there was drifting snow but we also had to encounter some ice and rock. The spin drift was blowing in all directions and it appeared to be snowing although it was difficult to tell due to the spin drift.

We eventually reached the pinnacles but found them to be covered in snow and ice. The normal bypass route to the east was a mass of snow which given the conditions was probably unstable. The spin drift was blowing back up this side of the ridge and it was decided that the conditions were too dangerous to continue so we therefore retraced our steps back to the lowest point on the ridge. This was tough as the wind had increased and more snow was spinning around the ridge.

At the col we left the ridge and descended into Coire Odhar where we had something to eat to replenish some of our lost energy. Lunch included some snow as it was still a bit blowy here. After some food and snow we continued down the corrie and to the Right of Way between Cluanie and Glen Affric. We followed the Right of Way south before joining the vehicle track used in the morning that runs through An Caorann Mor. The latter stages of this walk was in heavy rain so our gear was soaked by the time we reached the car but fortunately the Youth Hostel had a drying room.

The ladies were obviously disappointed in not reaching the summit of Mullach Fraoch-choire for the second time but I think they would agree that the risk of continuing was too high. The mountain will still be there for their third attempt.

previous ascent

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Five Sisters

23 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.75 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 1625 metres.

I was working in the Kintail area and my client had given me a few options as to his choice of walks. One of these was the Five Sisters on the north side of Glen Shiel, this being one of Scotland's classic hill walks.

We set off from a parking area on the A87 in Glen Shiel, at the foot of the Bealach an Lapain. The parking area can be identified by a height barrier restricting access to larger vehicles.

A fairly steep path, which was initially wet and boggy, headed uphill and in places was rather eroded, especially above the tree line. However height was gained quite quickly on this meandering path and we soon reached the Bealach an Lapain.

The earlier cloud that shrouded the mountain tops began to break up and during the day we had some great views but with occasional periods of low cloud.

The walk westwards from the Bealach an Lapain firstly took in the Munro Top, Sgurr nan Spainteach before reaching the first of the Five Sisters, the Munro Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. Unfortunately the summit was in cloud so we continued along the ridge this time in a northerly direction descending to the bealach as the cloud broke up again. The next Munro, and sister, on the ridge was Sgurr na Carnach so we were soon climbing to its summit cairn where again the views were cloud obstructed.

The descent from Sgurr na Carnach was fairly steep in places but as with most of the ridge there was a walker's path to follow and we were soon at the next bealach and climbing steeply onto the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran, the third of the Five Sisters. Here we met the only other walker of the day whom I later met that evening in the Youth Hostel in Ratagan.

It is possible to descend from Sgurr Fhuaran into Glen Shiel with a long walk back up the Glen but we had already left a car in the hamlet of Ault a’Chruinn to enable us to climb the final two Sisters.

The descent from Sgurr Fhuaran initially involved a descent of its north-west ridge before swinging round and descending to the bealach below the fourth sister and Munro Top, Sgurr nan Saighead where we found a suitable location for a late lunch. Once fed and watered we climbed Sgurr nan Saighead before traversing the rocky ridge to Beinn Bhuidhe.

From Beinn Bhuidhe it was a pleasant and easy walk to the fifth and final Sister, Sgurr na Moraich with good views down to Loch Duich and out over the sea to the Island of Skye. This was followed by a long descent of Sgurr na Moraich's north-west ridge before joining the path on the west bank of the Allt a'Chruinn which was followed to Ault a’Chruinn and the end of a good day out in the mountains, despite the occasional bank of low cloud.

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe Munro fifth ascent 1027 metres
Sgurr na Carnach Munro fifth ascent 1002 metres
Sgurr Fhuaran Munro fifth ascent 1067 metres

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Am Bathach

22 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Ascent - 600 metres.

The plan was to climb this Corbett in conjunction with the Munro Ciste Dubh but the weather was apparently to make a sudden change with a strong wind and heavy snow forecast.

We set off from the A87 just west of the An Caorann Mor, the Right of Way to the remote Youth Hostel at Alltbeithe, and headed uphill, initially on a path, to the 734 Top before it descended slightly and crampons were required to cross the hard packed snow. From here we continued along the ridge to the summit of Am Bathach.

The descent to the Bealach a'Choinich was pleasant walking with crampons down the snow covered ridge.

The weather was beginning to deteriorate with the cloud base lowering so my client decided that she had had a good few days walking and that to continue in these deteriorating conditions with the strong possibility of failing to reach the summit of Ciste Dubh wasn't worth the effort. We therefore returned to the the start down An Caorann Beag with the cloud continuing to lower and the snow getting heavier.

On our return to the car it was snowing fairly heavily so the decision by the client not to continue was obviously the correct one for her.

Am Bathach Corbettt third ascent 798 metres

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Wild Weekend in Kintail

9 - 11 April 2005

This weekend clients wished to climb some of the many Munros in the Kintail area of Scotland.

On the first day of this long weekend the plan was to tackle Beinn Fhada, also known as Ben Attow, and A'Ghlas-bheinn starting from Dorusduain in Strath Croe. However during the previous few days the Spring weather had reverted back to winter with some heavy snow falls.

We set off from Dorusduain, crossed the footbridge and walked up Gleann Choinneachain and walked up the snow covered path to the Allt Coire an Sgairne disturbing some deer en-route. The stream was in spate but we all managed across it without getting too wet.

The branch in the path was reached and we took the right fork to return to the side of the Allt Coire an Sgairne. As we gained height we entered the cloud base and the track was now difficult to trace in the deep snow.

We eventually reached the point where it was necessary to climb onto Beinn Fhada's north ridge. The outline of the zig zag path could be traced but the whole area was covered in deep soft snow. Progress up this path was slow as the snow was around knee height and at times up to my thighs which made walking very difficult shuffling through the snow. At times we had to leave the path to progress uphill.

On reaching the north ridge of Beinn Fhada visibility was very poor and at times almost zero with the cloud and snow merging to form a white mass. I navigated our way to the summit trig point where it was very cold and windy.

For the descent into a head wind we had to don goggles and followed our boot prints easily back to Gleann Choinneachain.

Despite being well behind our schedule my clients were happy to try and bag A'Ghlas-bheinn so we continued to Bealach an Sgairne and the commencement of the south ridge. This is a very undulating ridge and required frequent short scrambles through snow gullies followed by short descents. The clients were finding it very hard going as visibility was poor and they were unable to see their target. These conditions made the short climbs look larger than they are and they sometimes looked impregnable.

After several false summits for my clients we eventually reached the summit cairn. Rather than return by the route of ascent I decided to take the easier route off the mountain being aware that due to the snow melt and heavy rain the streams would be in spate.

On descending west one of my clients wasn't feeling well and was physically sick probably caused by the exertions and tensions of the day.

We reached the forest and had to plan a route through the trees to reach a forest track that would get us across the swollen stream. This took a bit of effort and a few false trails but we eventually reached the track which we followed back to the start and the end of a long, wet and hard day taking nearly eleven hours.

For the second day the plan was to climb "The Brothers" three Munros east of the Five Sisters. The start of the walk was up the side of the Allt Coire Tholl Bhruach, which was in spate. One of the clients wanted to include the Munro Top, Sgurr an Fhuarail, so I made a slight alteration to my plan.

In rain, wind and low cloud we climbed the south ridge, which was virtually clear of snow having been washed away in the last 24 hours of steady rain. On approaching the 864 metre point we came across a large bank of soft snow which required the use of ice axes for the short climb. Once beyond this point the wind was extremely wild but we were back to grass and rock for a short distance before reaching more snow for the final climb to Sgurr an Fhuarail. Here it wasn't as windy, so we dropped down the snow covered ridge to a col before a more tricky ascent, through snow and rock being blasted by the wind, to the summit of Aonach Meadhoin.

We continued along the ridge with a short descent to another bealach which was narrow and covered in deep snow. The wind here was very strong and gusty and it would have been dangerous to attempt to cross it in these conditions. We returned to the summit of Aonach Meadhoin and descended its south ridge, which was actually to be my original ascent route.

There was a lot of soft snow in this area and we later emerged out of the cloud and returned to our starting point avoiding the swollen streams.

The final day of this long weekend was giving me a bit of concern due to the forecast indicating that it would be windy with gusts up to 90mph. Obviously it would be impossible to stand up in these conditions so I would have to pay particular attention to the wind strength as we gained height.

We set off from Lundie on the shores of Loch Cluanie on what is now a very wet and muddy track caused by contractors installing a radio mast. They should be forced to return the track back to its original condition.

On reaching the radio mast we were able to join the original stalker's path up onto Carn Ghluasaid as the cloud base rose and the rain cleared to showers. For the first time that weekend we had views of the surrounding mountain tops. However with the clearer weather the wind picked up.

The stalker's path is rather wet and boggy in places but it gave good access to Carn Ghluasaid and we visited the summit cairn. We then descended to the bealach where the real strength of the wind was felt. Walking on the bealach was very difficult so as we climbed towards Sgurr nan Conbhairean we kept well away from the edge of the ridge.

However on the summit the wind wasn't as strong and after a photo session we headed down the north ridge, found a bit of shelter for lunch, before climbing to the summit of the third Munro of the day, Sail Chaorainn. This is shown on the map as being at 1002 metres but the Top further north always looks higher although it is shown as one metre lower.

The hills were now covered in cloud and it was raining heavily as we headed out to this Munro Top. The conditions weren't ideal for this with some snow in the col and strong winds blowing across it but with care the clients made it across and the final climb through some snow to the cairn.

The return was back to Sgurr nan Conbhairean by our outward route with the wind now even stronger. En route we spotted a couple of ptarmigan being blown across a snow field.

Thereafter the planned route was via Drochaid an Tuill Easaich and down its south ridge but due to the strength of the wind it was too dangerous to attempt this snow covered descent route. Instead we returned to the bealach between Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Carn Ghluasaid and traversed across to join the stalker's path we used on the ascent route which involved avoiding a swollen stream.

Once on the path it was a reasonably easy but wet walk back to the start and the end of a very tough weekend for my clients who did well to keep going in these adverse conditions.

Beinn Fhada Munro fifth ascent 1032 metres
A’Ghlas-bheinn Munro fourth ascent 918 metres
Aonach Meadhoin Munro fourth ascent 1001 metres
Carn Ghluasaid Munro sixth ascent 957 metres
Sgurr nan Conbhairean Munro fifth ascent 1109 metres
Sail Chaorainn Munro fifth ascent 1002 metres

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Kintail

16 July 2004

I met up with a friend Donald Sutherland, a fellow Munroist, around lunch time, at the superbly located Ratagan Youth Hostel.

We drove to the other side of Loch Duich and parked before locating a track that headed up the hillside. This track, not shown on the OS map, joined up with the stalker's path, which is shown, and led to the bealach east of Beinn Bhuide. From here we crossed over some peat hags and wet ground before ascending the Corbett Sgurr an Airgid, peak of silver. It was dry and we had good views, which has been a rarity this year.

The descent was by our upward route but as has been the case on numerous hill outings recently it rained heavily and we were wet by the time we returned to the start.

Sgurr an Airgid Corbett first ascent 841 metres

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Weekend in Kintail

2 - 4 July 2004

I had a day off on the Friday but had to move my base from Crianlarich to Ratagan, so I only had a half day to collect another Corbett. I settled on my final Corbett in Glen Elchaig, Sguman Coinntich, mossy peak.

I left my car in the car park near the turn off for Camas-luinne and walked up the tarred road to Killilan. The start of the path up the north side of the Allt a'Choire Mhoir was very difficult to find due to the height of the bracken, which in places was about five feet high. I went through the wood and joined the track higher up. The OS Map shows this as a path but it is in fact a track and climbs to near the Bealach Mhic Bheathan.

Once higher up I left this track and climbed to the summit of Sguman Coinntich, avoiding several rocky outcrops. I found some shelter on the north side of this hill to have a late lunch and enjoy the views. To the west, the tops of the Cuillins were in cloud but to the north the Lurg Mhor Munros, the Strathfarrar Four, An Socach, An Riabhachan and the other two Glen Elchaig Corbetts were clear of cloud. To the east the Glen Affric Munros, including Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and the Munros on the north side of Glen Shiel were all visible.

I would have liked to stay longer but the cloud in the west was threatening to head in my direction so I set off down the south ridge back to the track I used on the upward route. I was hoping that for once this summer I would have a dry day but I did get some spots of rain before reaching the track.

I found the path down to Killilan but it was very overgrown and in places difficult to follow so no wonder I had a problem at the start.

The next day I was out with Laila, who is a Munro Bagger, and wanted to be guided along the South Glen Shiel Ridge which would boost her tally of Munros by seven.

Laila doesn't drive so she had travelled by bus from Edinburgh to Shiel Bridge and I collected her from her overnight accommodation. We drove to the finish of the walk where I parked my car and we waited for the Portree to Glasgow bus, which took us up the glen to the Cluanie Inn.

From the Cluanie Inn we walked along the tarred road, which led to Tomdoun before Loch Loyne was created for Hydro Electric power. We disturbed three hinds who were now in their summer coats but they didn't run far so I suspect they had young nearby.

Once beyond the highest point on the road we took the stalker's path up Creag a' Mhaim, crag of the large rounded hill. We had donned waterproofs earlier due to some rain but the climb up to this Munro was very warm and the sun even tried to appear so I had to remove them. However on reaching this summit a cold wind was blowing and another rain shower was spreading in.

The next Munro, Druim Shionnach, the ridge of the foxes, was soon reached as was its South Top. Beyond it we found some shelter for lunch before climbing Aonach air-Chrith, the shacking height, and we met four males who were only doing the eastern section of the ridge as they were late in starting due to a drinking session the previous evening. They were anxious to get back to the Cluanie Inn for a pint.

The descent from Aonach air-Chrith is rocky and narrow in places and met members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team who were on a weekend training exercise. They were walking the ridge in the opposite direction. The next and fourth Munro was Maol Chinn-dearg, the bald redheaded hill, followed by Sgurr an Doire Leathain, the peak of the broad thicket.

We had been reasonably fortunate with the weather as the cloud and showers quickly passed through. However on reaching the sixth Munro, Sgurr an Lochain, the peak of the little loch, the cloud was down and it was starting to rain. This rain got heavier and heavier until it was bouncing off our gear. The path was like a minor stream as we climbed the seventh and final Munro of the day, Creag nan Damh, the rock of the stag.

From here we continued west to the Bealach Duibh Leac. En-route a family of ptarmigan was perched on a rock and took flight as we approached. A couple, the male was in his shorts, passed us and they were also soaked. These were the only people we met walking the ridge in the same direction as ourselves. On a Saturday in July you would expect the ridge to be busy but walkers were obviously put off by the poor weather we are experiencing this summer.

I was a bit concerned about the amount of rain that had fallen as we had two rivers to cross prior to getting back to the car. The descent from this bealach was along a twisting path which was very wet and slippery and extreme care was required. The Allt Coire Toiteil was reached but thankfully the crossing wasn't too difficult although the stepping stones were submerged. The path continued down the east side of the stream which becomes the Allt Mhalagain. However at the junction of this stream and the Allt Coire Mhalagain we had to cross the former. Laila was a bit apprehensive due to a bad experience at a river crossing. However we stuck together and crossed the river without removing any of our gear as we were already wet although it depends on your definition of wet as we were absolutely soaked after the river crossing.

Once across the river it was a matter of metres to the main road and the car. It had taken us 11.5 hours to complete the walk but well done Laila for completing the ridge in one outing. Reference books indicate that it is only possible for fit walkers to do all seven Munros in a day.

The next day Laila wanted to climb A'Chralaig, the creel, and Mullach Fraoch-choire, the top of the heather corrie, on the north side of Glen Shiel, so once again I collected her from her accommodation and we drove to east of the Cluanie Inn beside the An Caorann Mor. From there we climbed steeply up onto the south-east ridge of A'Chralaig and to its large summit cairn. As we ascended the low cloud started to rise and from the cairn we had some views.

The next part of the walk took us along the north ridge to the Munro Top, Stob Coire na Cralaig, and we met a chap who had come up from the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel where he had spent a couple of nights. We then walked along the narrowing ridge between this Top and south ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire. The climb of this south ridge involves some careful footwork on the narrow paths that by-pass the pinnacles, some of which are collapsing.

On reaching the summit of Mullach Fraoch-choire good views were had while we ate our lunch. We returned along the narrow path and came across a Ring Ouzel (mountain blackbird). It was obviously a bit concerned about our presence and wouldn't fly off, so I can only presume it had a nest nearby.

On returning to the Munro Top, Stob Coire na Cralaig, we descended its west ridge to reach the wet and boggy path that runs through to the Youth Hostel. This track was followed southwards back to the start of the day's walk.

Laila was very tired after the previous day's effort but was determined to finish. She has now climbed 179 Munros and hopes to finish them in 18 months or so when she becomes 65. Well done Laila and I hope you are successful.

Sguman Coinntich Corbett first ascent 879 metres
Creag a'Mhaim Munro fourth ascent 947 metres
Druim Shionnach Munro fourth ascent 987 metres
Aonach air Chrith Munro fourth ascent 1021 metres
Maol Chinn-dearg Munro fourth ascent 981 metres
Sgurr an Doire Leathain Munro fourth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr an Lochain Munro fourth ascent 1004 metres
Creag nan Damh Munro fourth ascent 918 metres
A'Chralaig Munro fourth ascent 1120 metres
Mullach Fraoch-choire Munro fourth ascent 1102 metres

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Sgurr Gaorsaic

11 April 2004

From Dorusduain in Strath Croe a walk up Gleann Choinneachain took us to the Bealach an Sgairne and a descent to the south side of Loch a'Bhealaich and the foot of Sgurr Gaorsaic. Its grassy slopes were climbed to the flat summit, which was in low cloud. After walking round the summit to ensure we had found the actual top, which was only marked by a few stones, we headed back to Strath Croe by our outward route.

Sgurr Gaorsaic Corbett first ascent 839 metres

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Glen Affric

18 - 19 October 2003

I was to take a lady to Glen Affric for two days climbing some of the Munros there. This was my third visit this year to these mountains so I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the weekend. However if you read on you will see why the first day of this trip will have to go down as one of the top ten days I have experienced in Scotland’s mountains.

Saturday morning was misty, and as we drove up Glen Affric we were denied the vista of the autumn colours that makes the Glen so popular at this time of year. However the weather forecast said that the early morning mists in the glens would burn away. How wrong they were.

The walk along the north side of Loch Affric and up into Coire Leachavie was uneventful. The mist was not dispersing but as we approached the Coire it was getting brighter so things looked promising. We suddenly saw the ridges on either side of the path as we climbed out of the low cloud that shrouded the valleys. The sky was a lovely blue colour and totally devoid of cloud. The moon was also out. It was time to disperse with some of the extra clothing we were wearing and later I was able to get down to my ‘T’ shirt. The client regretted wearing her thermals.

Rather than continue to climb up into the Coire we decided to climb up onto the Sgurr na Lapaich ridge to get the benefit of the clear weather. The views south were terrific with only the Munro and Corbett tops breaking through the cloud. A short climb took us onto Mam Sodhail where the views were astonishing. To the west the Cuillin ridge in Skye and the Kintail mountains, to the south Ben Nevis, the Aonachs, Grey Corries etc, and to the north the Torridon peaks and beyond. The camera was working overtime.

A steep descent down a frozen path reminded us that it wasn’t summer time anymore. Rather than climb up onto Carn Eighe we walked round its west side before dropping down to is bealach with Beinn Fhionnlaidh. En-route we met a couple sitting taking in the sun. One of the chaps was sitting in his vest top with shining beads of sweat on his head which gives you an idea how warm it was above 3,000 feet. In fact we only saw about half a dozen people above the clouds. Others must have been put off by the poor weather lower down.

A short climb took us to Beinn Fhionnlaidh’s summit cairn and some more exceptional views and snap shot opportunities. Loch Mullardoch was concealed in the mist but in its place was a brocken spectre, which is a halo shaped rainbow and is fairly unique in Scotland.

On returning to the Beinn Fhionnlaidh/Carn Eighe bealach the cloud level had risen so for a short time we were in the cloud. However this didn’t last and we were soon back in the sun and climbing up onto Carn Eighe. As we walked up the ridge the brocken spectre remained and at times I saw my shadow in the centre of the halo. An exciting experience but before you say anything I am not ‘The Saint’. Only those of an older generation will understand this.

On arriving on Carn Eighe’s summit the views had changed slightly as the cloud base had risen and only the higher tops were visible with blankets of cloud rolling over the ridges. A walk along the narrow and interesting east ridge of Carn Eighe took us to the Munro top Sron Garbh. By this time the temperature was beginning to drop and with the lower and upper temperatures equalising the cloud started to break up. Well we couldn’t complain as we had an excellent day above the clouds ‘pitying’ those lower down.

Next was a steep descent off Sron Garbh and into Gleann nan Fiadh where we picked up the boggy path. It was now getting dark and with the cloud cover we weren’t going to get any additional light to assist us on our final six kilometres across the boggy hillside. We reached the river crossing before it became too dark and once across donned head torches to assist us to follow the boggy track over the hillside into Glen Affric. It is interesting trying to navigate in the dark and follow the track but I am afraid my client didn’t appreciate it and was rather apprehensive, so about two hours later we arrived back at the car park for the return journey to Inverness.

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the day. Those who have experienced it will appreciate the excitement of being above the clouds, those who haven’t, well maybe its time to get out a bit more and not be put off when you see low cloud.

What a difference a day makes! Sunday morning in Inverness was very wet so the thought of going out into the hills wasn’t on the top of my agenda. However I knew how determined my client was in her quest to complete all her Munros and having travelled up from Edinburgh for the weekend there was little chance of her cancelling due to a spot or two of rain.

On the drive up Glen Affric the rain stopped and the cloud broke up. As we walked up Gleann nam Fiadh it was dry, although a bit windy. On the climb up the path beside the Allt Toll Easa we were met and passed by three chaps, one an Orcadian whom I met recently on the Quinag. One was a young chap who was racing ahead but his pal was struggling and coughing his way up. We then climbed up the curving south-east ridge of Tom a’Choinich where the ‘cougher’ had to stop for a cigarette break. No wonder he was struggling.

The wind was getting stronger on this ridge and we had our first snow shower so hat and gloves were donned. The wind and snow showers continued as we ascended Tom a’Choinich and near the summit the hill had a slight covering of snow. On reaching the summit we left our fellow walkers to rest and recover in the snow and wind. We never saw them again.

A steep descent down a rocky and slightly snowy path took us out of the cloud and down to the Bealach Toll Easa where we had lunch. However this was interrupted by another snow shower and we headed on up to the summit of Toll Creagach. The cloud tried to break up but not sufficiently to get any decent views so we headed down into Gleann nam Fiadh and the track back to the start.

So the weekend in Glen Affric gave us one awesome summer day and a sample of what to expect during the coming months.

previous ascents Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe, Tom a'Choinich and Toll Creagach

Mam Sodhail Munro sixth ascent 1181 metres
Beinn Fhionnlaidh Munro fifth ascent 1005 metres
Carn Eighe Munro sixth ascent 1183 metres
Tom a'Choinich Munro sixth ascent 1112 metres
Toll Creagach Munro sixth ascent 1054 metres

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Glen Affric

2 - 4 August 2003

For the next three days I was with an organisation called ‘Spice’ which is groups of individuals who meet socially and recreationally. The members who were staying at Cannich were from the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas.

The Saturday walk was to the highest mountains in the area, Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail. As these outings are social gatherings they do not believe in early starts so it was about 10.15am before we headed off from the car park at the head of Glen Affric.

The party of eleven crossed the boggy moorland from Affric Lodge to Gleann nam Fiadh, walked up the Glen, before climbing up into Coire Mhic Fhearchair. At this point one of the ladies felt faint and light headed but this was resolved by the intake of some food and liquid. She wasn’t aware that when she exercises she needs to watch her food intake by eating small amounts regularly.

A climb up onto Sron Garbh and the other Munro Tops Stob Coire Dhomhnuill and Stob a’Choire Dhomhain took us to the summit cairn of Carn Eighe. A drop down to the bealach and an ascent up to the large circular cairn of Mam Sodhail led us to the final Munro of the day. Fortunately the cloud base was now above the summits so clear views were had although the wind was quite strong.

The return back to the start was by a good stalker’s path into Coire Leachavie, down to Loch Affric and along its north side to the car park.

The following day we walked up Gleann nam Fiadh from further down Glen Affric before climbing up beside the Allt Toll Easa and onto the south east ridge of Tom a’Choinich. This is a nice ridge, rocky in places and narrows slightly, to give views down either side. Unfortunately as we climbed we walked up into the cloud with some light drizzle at times.

The party of nine had a short break on the summit but as it was a bit cold and breezy we didn’t stay long. A sharp descent took us down to the Bealach Toll Easa and the final climb of the day to the second Munro, Toll Creagach. An easy descent down into Gleann nam Fiadh and out of the clouds took us back to the start. On the descent a newt was seen.

The final day saw only two people accompany me to the Corbett Carn a’Choire Ghairbh located on the south side of Loch Affric. One, a lady, had been on all three walks, so it was either my charm and charisma or she just likes climbing hills. I will leave it for you to decide. The others missed the best day’s walking as the early low cloud cleared to give some magnificent views and later on in the afternoon we even had a little bit of sun. On the track along Loch Affric we encountered an adder.

Carn Eighe Munro fifth ascent 1183 metres
Mam Sodhail Munro fifth ascent 1181 metres
Tom a'Choinich Munro fifth ascent 1112 metres
Toll Creagach Munro fifth ascent 1054 metres
Carn a'Choire Ghairbh Corbett second ascent 863 metres

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