Section 14 - Loch Maree to Loch Broom
Dubh and Fionn Lochs
This section refers to the hills and mountains from Loch Maree to Loch Broom including the Fannaichs, Fisherfield, An Teallach and Letterewe mountains. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003. The Sub 2000 Marilyns climbed in this section can be viewed here.
Section 14 - Index
|Beinn Airigh Charr||Beinn a'Chaisgein Beag||A'Chailleach|
|Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor||Beinn a'Mhuinidh||A'Mhaighdean|
|Beinn a'Chlaidheimh Demoted to Corbett status September 2012.||Beinn Bheag||An Coileachan|
|Beinn Dearg Bheag||Beinn Ghobhlach||Beinn a'Chlaidheimh Demoted from Munro Status September 2012|
|Beinn Dearg Mor||Beinn nan Ramh||Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich|
|Beinn Lair||Groban||Beinn Tarsuinn|
|Beinn Liath Mhor a'Ghiubhais Li||Meall a'Chaorainn||Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill|
|Creag Rainich||Meall Mheinnidh||Fionn Bheinn|
|Sail Mhor||Meall a'Chrasgaidh|
|Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair|
|Ruadh Stac Mor|
|Sgurr nan Clach Geala|
|Sgurr nan Each|
Section 14 - Trip Reports
12 June 2012
|Map - OS Landranger 19.||Time taken - 5.5 hours.||Distance - 10.25 kilometres.||Ascent - 890 metres.|
A Graham bagging friend was on holiday and was looking for a few walks in the Highlands. I had climbed Beinn a’Mhuinidh in 2005 in rather windy conditions after a wet morning so it was time for a revisit, especially with reasonable weather forecasted.
Incheril near Kinlochewe was the starting point for our ascent of Beinn a’Mhuinidh. Several cars were already parked in the car park there, the occupants possibly off climbing the Munro, Slioch. Once geared up we walked down the path at the side of the Kinlochewe River towards Loch Maree, the main trade route to Slioch. Prior to reaching the Allt na Still we left the path and commenced the ascent of Beinn a’Mhuinidh, following what we considered to be the easiest route through the heather and bracken, aiming for the waterfall.
On reaching the Allt na Still Waterfall it was almost dry. What a difference to my previous visit when the stream was in spate and the water was being blown back uphill. We remained on the south side of the waterfall where there was a break in the cliffs. Here there appeared to be a few different routes taken by walkers and deer but there were no problems gaining the head of the waterfall.
A second rock face had to be breached but with a wide grassy corrie it was simply a case of walking through the gap. To the north three chaps appeared to be doing a bit of scrambling, or at least thinking about it. An easy climb took us to the unnamed lochan below Sgurr Beinn a’Mhuinidh then a slightly steeper gradient led to its summit cairn. It was then a short stroll out to the higher Beinn a’Mhuinidh.
Beinn Eighe had been visible most of the walk but the views now included Slioch and the Fisherfield Munros. It was a grand location and a good lunch spot. Just as we prepared to leave we encountered a shower of rain.
We returned to near the unnamed lochan below Sgurr Beinn a’Mhuinidh then continued our descent to a group of four lochans, all unnamed, beside Meallan Ghobhar. Here we met a couple on their ascent of the Graham. A short climb took us between the two tops of Meallan Ghobhar before continuing south which later involved a fairly steep descent to the path beside the Kinlochewe River and the outward route back to the car park.
|Beinn a'Mhuinidh||Graham||second ascent||692 metres|
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16 November 2009
|Map - OS Landranger 20.||Time taken – 8 hours.||Distance - 18.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 1225 metres.|
It was reported to be a relatively fine day so I decided to head for the Fannaichs and climb these three Munros. The starting point was the A832 Braemore Junction to Gairloch Road at the private road leading to Loch a’Bhraoin where a locked barrier prevented vehicular access. Just west of this private road there was sufficient parking for several cars but there was no other vehicle there when I arrived nor when I returned. The summits were clear and I had good views of An Teallach, the Graham, Groban and some of the Fannaich Munros. I noticed that the top of Sgurr nan Clach Geala had a covering of snow so I decided to carry my ice axe, although I didn’t use it.
I walked down the access road towards Loch a’Bhraoin then followed the newly constructed path through the forest to the left and to the outflow of Loch a’Bhraoin, the Abhainn Cuileig, where a new bridge had been constructed. This route was an improvement on the wet route that used to hug the shore line. Beyond the bridge I followed the stalker’s path, which was a bit wet and boggy in places, south up the side of the Allt Breabaig which I later had to cross Fortunately the water wasn't too high and I managed to get across without getting my feet wet although a couple of fish had to dart out of my way.
The path was followed for around another 500 metres before I left it and commenced the ascent of Meall a’Chrasgaidh. The climb was relatively easy as I searched out the most advantageous route, avoiding a few rocks and spotting a couple of deer. I came across three ptarmigan sitting on a rock which I managed to photograph and while doing so realised there was at least another two above this group. The ptarmigan are my favourite mountain bird so I was pleased to see so many together and to get close enough to take several photos of them. Higher up the gradient eased but the cloud lowered and was floating around the summit of Meall a’Chrasgaidh when I arrived at its cairn.
A cold wind was now blowing so I descended to the col with Carn na Criche where it was even windier so in addition to my hat and gloves a balaclava was now needed as it felt rather wintry. From the col I climbed to the Munro Top, Carn na Criche where the wind was gusting and the cloud was still floating around the summits.
I descended to the col with Sgurr nan Clach Geala and commenced the ascent of this Munro. The wind was now stronger and I was being buffeted around. No wonder three ptarmigan I came across didn't want to take off. As height was gained I reached the patchy snow which initially I was able to avoid. However further on there was no alternative but to cross the snow, which was icy in places. Fortunately as I worked my way round the top of the corrie there was some shelter from the wind. The broken trig point was reached with the summit cairn just beyond.
The south ridge of Sgurr nan Clach Geala was clear of snow but it was once more rather windy as I descended to the col with Sgurr nan Each. The cloud lowered again before I made the short easy ascent to the summit of my third Munro, Sgurr nan Each. Time was getting on and I had hoped to get back to my car before darkness fell so I didn't linger on this top and returned to the col with Sgurr nan Clach Geala. From here I dropped to the bealach between Lochs a’Bhraoin and Fannich and followed the stalker's path north down the side of Allt Breabaig, re-crossing the stream at the same point as in the morning, again upsetting the fish.
I was now getting dark as I followed the outward route back to my car arriving there just before it was totally dark.
|Meall a'Chrasgaidh||Munro||fifth ascent||934 metres|
|Sgurr nan Clach Geala||Munro||fifth ascent||1093 metres|
|Sgurr nan Each||Munro||fifth ascent||923 metres|
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4 July 2009
|Map - OS Landranger 19 & 20||Time taken - 6.75 hours.||Distance - 25.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 800 metres.|
I was back in the Fannaichs to climb the rather awkward to reach Graham, Beinn nan Ramh. I decided to climb it starting from the A832 Garve to Achnasheen Road, around 3.5 kilometres east of the village, at grid reference NH199599. This point, a gap in the trees, isn't that easy to locate whilst driving along what is a fast section of road. Parking is on the verge so some care is required.
I crossed the road and walked up a very short section of tarred track to a large locked gate. The framework of the gate made it easier to clamber over the fence on its east side. The track followed the edge of the forest and here it was cool and sheltered from the early morning sun. However once beyond the tree line I was exposed to the warm and humid conditions which brought out droves of flies and clegs. Fortunately I wore two top layers as I was bitten through my base layer a few days earlier but this made for uncomfortable conditions. I even wore my midge net occasionally to stop the clegs biting me on the face.
The track climbed over moorland to the east of Loch na Moine Beag, where I saw the first of many Golden Plovers, before descending to the south shore of Loch Fannich. The track then headed west above the loch and crossed the outflow from Loch na Moine Mor. Beyond here concrete water pipes ran the length of the track. Later I could see that the pipes went to a small dam on the Allt a’Chlaiginn. I had also observed a vehicle track, not marked on my map, which headed round the east and south sides of Beinn nan Ramh which I used to gain access to the east ridge of this Graham. I later saw that this unmarked track went as far as the west end of Loch Fannich but it didn’t appear to join up with the track on the north side of the loch as there were too many peat hags in that area.
At a suitable point, and nearly two hours after I set out, I left this unmarked track and commenced the ascent of Beinn nan Ramh still plagued by clegs. I was hoping that the wind would pick up but it remained very calm. It was also hot work but the higher I climbed the less bugs there were. I came to a section of peat hags and saw a deer run off from the ridge higher up. The gradient eased and the ridge narrowed as I approached the top of the corrie, Toll Beag. I could now see my destination where lots of deer were feeding. However my attention was drawn to the Golden Plovers who were making a lot of noise and I could see why. Their young were about and learning to fly. The deer on the horizon were aware of my presence and later ran off, some rather reluctantly I thought. I was watching the Golden Plovers and their young when I was spotted by more deer that were hidden in a dip. They quickly ran off to join their colleagues.
The small summit cairn was reached and I had views of the Torridon Mountains, Slioch, Lochan Fada, Beinn Lair, which I had climbed in April, the Fisherfield Munros, An Teallach, the Fannich Munros and Fionn Bheinn which I had climbed only a couple of weeks ago. It was still relatively calm on the summit so I walked around to locate a bit of wind to get peace for an early lunch and whilst doing so disturbed more deer. Fortunately I found a small breeze and sat and ate my lunch watching and listening to the Golden Plovers with their young trying to improve their flying skills.
I remained there for around half an hour before returning to my car by the ascent route. Although lower down there was now a slight breeze at times I killed lots of clegs so hopefully there will be less flying around when the next person passes this way!
|Beinn nan Ramh||Graham||first ascent||711 metres|
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18 June 2009
|Maps - OS Landranger 19,20 & 25.||Time taken 4.5 hours.||Distance - 11.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 1060 metres.|
I met up with my friends, Fraser and Shona, in the village of Achnasheen, which is on the A832 Garve to Kinlochewe Road just before its junction with the A890 road to Lochcarron. There are several parking bays in and around the local pond and in front of the railway station. For those wishing to use public transport, the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh train stops here. Although dry when I set out from Inverness I encountered heavy showers en-route to Achnasheen and the burns were in spate.
We crossed the main road, walked passed some farm buildings, through a couple of gates and onto the open hillside. A stream was followed towards the knoll at Creagan nan Laogh. At this time the cloud was above the summit of Fionn Bheinn, although occasionally it lowered but only for a few minutes.
From Creagan nan Laogh we made a direct ascent of Fionn Bheinn and as we approached the summit trig point the cloud lowered but on this occasion it did clear. I had decided to include the nearby Graham, Meall a’Chaorainn as I thought I hadn't climbed it before. Fraser and Shona were happy to accompany me so we descended west into Coire Bog rather than to the beleach as photos on my web site showed it to be a mass of peat hags.
On the descent of Fionn Bheinn we came out of the cloud, and the rain which we had encountered around summit eased off, so once across the stream we stopped for lunch. Afterwards it was a direct ascent to the small cairn on the summit of Meall a’Chaorainn. The route off was initially to the south avoiding some peat hags and then a descending traverse to the main road just east of Achnasheen School.
Once home in Aberdeen I discovered that in 2001 I had actually climbed the Graham, Meall a'Chaorainn, in conjunction with Fionn Bheinn, but have no recollection of this ascent. Shona was pleased that I had forgotten about this ascent as she is ticking off the Grahams.
|Fionn Bheinn||Munro||sixth ascent||933 metres|
|Meall a'Chaorainn||Graham||second ascent||705 metres|
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16 June 2009
|Map - OS Landranger 20.||Time taken - 8.5 hours.||Distance - 22 kilometres.||Ascent - 1320 metres.|
The start of our ascent of the Fannichs, An Coileachan, Meall Gorm, Sgurr Mor and Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, was the small parking area on the north side of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, at the side of the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road, just west of Loch Glascarnoch.
There were already a few cars parked here on this pleasant sunny morning and some of the occupants appeared to be headed for the Munro, Am Faochagach. Others were already walking along the west side of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh. We followed those headed up the side of the stream on an eroded and sometimes boggy and wet path crossing the Allt an Loch Sgeirich where the stream becomes the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li.
There is an alternative route on a forest track further east but this involves a bit of ascent before dropping down to cross the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li at a bridge. It is possible to remain on the east side of the stream but from experience the going is very rough, boggy and tussocky. This bridge and one further upstream are relatively new and neither are shown on my map although I was aware of their existence from previous visits to the area.
At the second bridge we crossed the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li, where a large group appeared to be working on their route. We headed towards Meallan Buidhe, initially on a mark in the grass caused by walkers but it soon disappeared. Our route was over the west shoulder of Meallan Buidhe and to the col between it and An Coileachan. There were lots of frogs around. From the col we headed towards the corrie and then onto the north ridge of An Coileachan with a steady climb to the summit cairn. Here there were views of the other Fannaich Munros, Beinn Dearg and the Torridon mountains.
We had lunch here and other walkers arrived on the summit including a chap from Cannich who had climbed all bar five of the Marilyns and had completed the Munros in 1969. He must have been feeling the heat as he was walking topless. Some of the walkers we had passed earlier arrived as we departed An Colieachan and headed down its boulder strewn north-west ridge to the Bealach Ban. It was then an easy climb to Meall Gorm’s South-East Top, passing the ruins of an old stalker’s stone shelter.
The next summit was the Munro, Meall Gorm and despite some spots of rain visibility was still good. We descended Meall Gorm’s north-west ridge and joined a stalker’s path that rose up from Fannich Lodge, crossed the Munro Top, Meall nam Peithrean and headed towards Sgurr Mor, which was to be our third Munro for the day.
On reaching the summit of Sgurr Mor we took in the views before returning south for a few metres then descended its east ridge and rejoining the stalker’s path that avoided the summit climb. An old small stone built shelter was passed as we continued on the path to the bealach and round the north-west side of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich. At a suitable point we left this path and climbed directly to the summit cairn of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich trying to avoid as many of the rocks as possible.
The descent was initially north then a dog leg east to the rock face where we again headed north, this time more steeply on what appeared to be a walker’s path. Once lower down we crossed some wet and rough vegetation to reach a vehicle track beside the dam on the Allt a’Mhadaidh. The track was then followed back to the parking area on the A835 at the west end of Loch Droma where a vehicle had been left.
|An Coileachan||Munro||sixth ascent||923 metres|
|Meall Gorm||Munro||sixth ascent||949 metres|
|Sgurr Mor||Munro||fifth ascent||1110 metres|
|Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich||Munro||fifth ascent||954 metres|
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28 – 30 April 2009
|Map - OS Landranger 19.||Time taken -
Day one - 8.75 hours.
Day two - 10.75 hours.
Day three - 2.25 hours.
Day one - 24 kilometres.
Day two - 22.5 kilometres.
Day three - 9 kilometres.
Day one - 1240 metres.
Day two - 1620 metres.
Day three - 125 metres.
I had four Corbetts to climb for a second time in the Letterewe and Fisherfield areas and rather than several long day walks to climb these mountains I decided to link them together on a backpacking trip. I also had the advantage that I was being joined by a fellow Corbett bagger with a car so we could make it a linear walk. The starting point was the village of Poolewe on the A832 Gairloch to Braemore Junction Road. There is a car park at the east side of the River Ewe on the road leading to the local school, just off the A832.
Once packed we set off south along the east side of the River Ewe passed some houses and the local school and continued on a tarred road to Inveran. The road became a track as it by-passed Inveran House and headed for Kernsary. Here I heard the first cuckoo of the year.
Beyond Kernsary the track went into a wood where a number of ponies were kept. A sign indicated the route to a new track, which isn’t that new as it was in existence when I was last there in 2004. The path, once over the stile and out of the wood, headed south-east above the Allt na Creige and below Beinn Airigh Charr, which we had climbed in 2005.
The track continued below the Graham Meall Mheinnidh and towards the Causeway between the Fionn and Dubh Lochs. About a kilometre before reaching the Causeway and around 4.5 hours after leaving Poolewe we stopped for lunch near the path that headed to the Bealach Mheinnidh.
After lunch we deposited our rucksacks behind some rocks before setting off up the path to the Bealach Mheinnidh. There were some deer either side of us and we stopped and spoke to a chap who was en-route from Kinlochewe to Shenavall. On reaching the bealach we followed the top of the rocky north face of Beinn Lair towards it's summit. A blue tent was spotted away down in Bealach a’Chuirn but there was no sign of the occupants.
The earlier fine weather had disappeared and we were confronted with low cloud, which was probably haar drifting across the mainland from the east coast. Three dotterel were annoyed by our presence as we headed for the large summit cairn arriving there around seven hours after setting out from Poolewe. Although the cloud threatened to break up there were no views so we returned to where we had deposited our rucksacks. The chap we had seen earlier was camped near where we had lunch.
It was time to look for a suitable camp site and we followed the path to the south-east end of Fionn Loch where an ideal spot was found. After our meal watching some fish jumping in the loch and the sun setting across the far end of the loch it was time to retire for the night. Unfortunately I didn’t get much sleep as it was very windy throughout the night and I was concerned that my tent was going to blow down. Fortunately it survived the night’s storm.
In the morning the chap we met the previous day passed us en-route to Shenavall. He to had a disturbed night’s sleep. After a leisurely breakfast in calmer conditions we set off for the Causeway between the Fionn and Dubh Lochs where we spoke to some canoeists who told us that despite their fibre glass canoe being tidied down and some stones inside it, it had been blown out of the Dubh Loch and into a small lochan nearby, fortunately without any damage.
We left the canoeists packing their gear and headed over to Carnmore to visit the bothy where I had stayed overnight in 1997. It was still as grotty as ever and was occupied by a couple who had been there for two nights and were also now headed for Shenavall. After the short detour to the bothy we headed up the path on the north-west side of the Allt Bruthach an Easain to the twin lochans of Feith Mhic-illean. While climbing this path, which had been improved with the installation of drainage channels, we heard and saw the helicopter (Coastguard) above the north face of Beinn Lair. On my return home I did a search of the internet and found that it was a mountain rescue in progress. The accident had occurred on Marathon Buttress, while we were in or around Beinn Lair the previous day.
Near Lochan Feith Mhic-illean we deposited out rucksacks behind a rock and climbed the Corbett Beinn a’Chaisgein Mor disturbing some Golden Plovers. On the ascent there were good views of the Fisherfield Munros, including my favourite A’Mhaighdean, Slioch, which we didn’t see for the cloud the previous day, and across to our next climb, Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag. On reaching the summit of Beinn a’Chaisgein Mor we walked over to some rocks and looked down into Fionn Loch and out to Gruinard Bay. There were no sign of the canoeists on the Fionn Loch.
We returned by the ascent route and sat at a sandy area of Lochan Feith Mhic-illean for lunch. Thereafter we continued along the path to the head of Gleann na Muice Beag before descending the path to where it passed close to Loch Beinn Dearg. The next section was over pathless terrain as we walked round to the east side of the loch and then aimed for the bealach between Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag.
At the bealach we left our rucksack and commenced the climb of Beinn Dearg Mor. The upper section was rather steep but a path zig zagged its way through the rocky terrain, some of which was scree. At the summit there were views across Loch na Sealga to An Teallach and to Strath na Sealga and Shenavall bothy.
The return was to the bealach to pick up our rucksacks before the climb to our final Corbett. The ascent of Beinn Dearg Bheag was a bit tougher with the extra weight and also we had been on the go for around 7 hours. There was a discussion whether to drop down to Loch Toll an Lochan but my backpacking companion wanted to continue with the next ascent. Higher up on the ascent of Beinn Dearg Bheag it became quite rocky and narrowed slightly and there was now a strong wind blowing so things were a bit more difficult than expected.
After a brief stop at the summit cairn we commenced the descent of the north ridge of Beinn Dearg Bheag. It was narrow and involved some scrambling in the strong wind. I had hoped to continue along the ridge to its far end as I had previously experienced the pathless terrain on the south-west side of Loch na Sealga and wanted to avoid it however with a strong wind blowing we decided to descend a steep grassy gully and traversed over some rocks to the awkward terrain above Loch na Sealga. There were a few herds of deer around as we made our way to the north-west end of Loch na Sealga where we found a camping area.
It had taken us a long time to descend from Beinn Dearg Bheag to this location so after our evening meal it was time for some well earned rest.
I had a good night’s sleep and was refreshed for the final stretch. A short walk took us to the Gruinard River where there was a vehicle track and lots of different birds, which I wasn't able to name. The vehicle track followed the west bank of the river to the main road (A832) where we had left a car a couple of days earlier.
|Beinn Lair||Corbett||second ascent||859 metres|
|Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor||Corbett||second ascent||856 metres|
|Beinn Dearg Mor||Corbett||second ascent||910 metres|
|Beinn Dearg Bheag||Corbett||second ascent||820 metres|
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28 December 2008
|Map - OS Landranger 19/20.||Time taken – 6.75 hours.||Distance - 16.3 kilometres.||Ascent - 825 metres.|
It was a very cold morning as I headed for Destitution Road, the A832, Braemore Junction to Gairloch Road. Passing Loch Glascarnoch the car temperature gauge showed -10C although it was a few degrees warmer when I parked my car in the small parking area around 6 kilometres west of Braemore Junction. There were already several other vehicles parked there but as suspected most of the occupants were headed for the westerly Fannaichs.
A short walk along the track at the side of a forest, where someone had set up camp, took me towards Loch a’Bhraoin, and the new path onto the Lochside. The area was white with frost and the majority of the Loch was frozen over. It was then around a five kilometre walk along the north shore of Loch a’Bhraoin to the house at Lochivraon with good views down the Loch to the Grahams, Groban and Beinn Bheag, which I had climbed in September this year. The path had stretches of ice and where the Estate had made a berthing area for a boat I could hear the ice in the Loch cracking.
Lochivraon is still under renovation although I was told on my last visit that it would be finished by November. The house is secure with metal bars across the front door and by the looks of things similar bars are to be installed across the windows, I presume only when unoccupied. I visited the bothy at the rear of the property and was surprised to find it unlocked. On entering, the floor has been re-laid with concrete and sealed and the walls whitewashed. A flush toilet is in the process of being installed against one wall, although it needs partitioned off from the rest of the bothy. Three wooden beds have been placed in the bothy along with a staircase which has still to be erected. I presume it is to access the roof space for further sleeping quarters. As the property is unlocked I am thinking that the bothy will remain open to walkers once refurbished.
Once I had inspected the bothy I followed the stream at the rear and commenced the ascent of Creag Rainich. As I left the lower reaches of the Glen it became a bit warmer especially where the sun was striking the hillside. A herd of deer, which were also getting the benefit of the sun, watched me for a while before disappearing. It was a steady climb over very frozen terrain with patches of ice and eventually I reached the lochan south-east of Meall Dubh. I crossed Meall Dubh and after a short dip commenced the climb of around 80 metres to the summit trig point of Creag Rainich.
The views from the summit were awesome especially of An Teallach. To the west were Mullach Coire Mhic Fherachair and Sgurr Ban, two of the Fisherfield Munros and beyond Slioch, Beinn Eighe and Liathach and to the south back across Loch a’Bhraoin to the Fannaichs. I took a break here sitting in the sun eating my sandwiches, taking in these fantastic views. However it was soon time to depart if I wanted to get back to my car before dark. I returned to Meall Dubh and then set off down its east ridge avoiding large sections of ice and over Bristeadh a’Mhill Dhuibh where I saw more deer, possibly the same heard I had disturbed earlier. They stood out against the sunny orangey coloured vegetation. I continued to the summit of Meall an t-Sithe, as the sun was setting behind Beinn Eighe and Slioch and the summit of Beinn Dearg was lit by the setting sun.
The sky was turning orange as I descended Meall an t-Sithe, initially south to avoid rocks and then across what would normally be very wet and boggy ground but today except for ice patches, the going was relatively easy and I was able to head directly to my car and the end of another wonderful day in the Scottish mountains.
|Creag Rainich||Corbett||second ascent||807 metres|
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26 September 2008
|Map – OS Landranger 19/20.||Time taken – 6.75 hours.||Distance - 23 kilometres.||Ascent - 880 metres.|
I was away early from Inverness up the A835 towards Ullapool, passed Loch Glascarnoch which I noted was very low due to maintenance on the dam. In fact the old road, which would normally be under water, was fairly obvious. At Braemore Junction I took the A832, towards Poolewe, but after 6 kilometres I parked my car in a small parking area just beyond the private access road to Loch a’Bhraoin.
I walked down the road to Loch a’Bhraoin, the surface of which had been upgraded since my last visit. Prior to reaching the Loch I came to some new paths. They were diversionary routes for the Rights of Way to Lochluichart and Letterewe, avoiding the old boat house which is apparently to be rebuilt.
I followed the excellent path for Letterewe which soon reached the north shore of Loch a’Bhraoin where a new and rough track had been constructed along it's shore, replacing the old path. For those who like to cycle to the foot of hills, this vehicle track would be suitable for mountain bikes. I followed the track for 5 kilometres to the west end of the Loch and headed for the derelict property at Lochivraon. For the whole length of the Loch I had seen something white in the distance and was surprised to find that it had been the chimney of the property which was under renovation and had been whitewashed. At this time three construction workers arrived on an All Terrain Vehicle. and on speaking to these Eastern European workers I learned that the property would be completed in around two months. They couldn’t say why it was being reconstructed but probably as a holiday let.
I continued along the Right of Way, which had some rough improvements done, till I reached the stream that flowed into Loch a’Bhraoin. I crossed this stream and then some boggy ground, but neither was a problem as there had been no recent heavy rain. As height was gained the terrain became a bit easier. I was thinking that there was a lack of wildlife, other than lots of hairy caterpillars, when within a few minutes I saw seven ptarmigan, a mountain hare and some deer.
The summit cairn was reached where there was a strong wind blowing. I had views back along the route I had taken, the most westerly Fannaich, A’Chailleach, the Torridion Mountains, Slioch and the Fisherfield Munros, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Sgurr Ban. I descended towards Bealach Gorm with lots of deer to the south. At the bealach I climbed fairly steeply to the summit cairn of Beinn Bheag, avoiding some wet rock, and back to the windy conditions. I moved to the westerly cairn for better views which in addition to those already mentioned included Lochan Fada and An Teallach. My camera developed a fault and I was unable to record these awesome views, which was rather disappointing.
I descended north-east, disturbing some more deer, to the Right of Way and followed it east to the point where I had left it earlier that morning. There was more activity at Lochivraon where a trailer containing some wood had arrived by tractor. As I continued back along the loch-side I think the stalker was on the east ridge of Craig Rainich as there was a boat tied up at the loch-side and an All Terrain Vehicle nearby. However I never saw or heard him as I headed back to my car.
|Groban||Graham||first ascent||749 metres|
|Beinn Bheag||Graham||first ascent||668 metres|
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10 June 2008
|Map - OS Landranger 19.||Time taken - 7.25 hours.||Distance - 18 kilometres.||Ascent - 1250 metres.|
This was the second visit to Slioch in under a week. On the first occasion the earlier low cloud lifted and it was rather warm work getting to the top. However on this trip it was windy and raining when we set off from the same car park and the low cloud was unlikely to clear.
The route of ascent was similar but not the weather. We had occasional rain showers with a strong wind so waterproofs were the order of the day. On entering Coire na Sleaghaich I had decided to stay in the corrie for as long as possible to try and avoid the wind on the ridge as I was aware that a walker’s path would take us onto the ridge beside the twin lochans. Once beyond the lochans it was windy as expected and the cloud base lowered and engulfed us. At a small knoll we spoke briefly to a chap who was on his way back down from the summit. Here the wind was at its strongest and it eased slightly as we headed for the trig point and onto the summit cairn which was slightly further north. The previous week at the summit I was bothered by the midges while having lunch, this week it was cold, windy and raining.
The cloud base did not lift and it was still fairly windy so we decided to return by the route of ascent. In fact we actually headed down into the corrie even earlier which got us out of the wind and cloud. Lower down we met two ladies who had set out at the same time as us that morning. They were setting up camp with the intention of tackling Slioch the next day. We passed two other backpackers who looked rather bedraggled near the bridge over the Abhainn an Fhasaigh.
|Slioch||Munro||seventh ascent||981 metres.|
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5 June 2008
|Map - Landranger 19.||Time taken – 8 hours.||Distance - 19 kilometres.||Ascent - 1260 metres.|
Kinlochewe is located on the A832 which runs from Auchnasheen to Gairloch. Just east of the village a narrow road leads to the hamlet of Incheril and the car park for the start of this ascent of Slioch. James and John were joined my Norman who is in the final throws of completing all the Munros.
Leaving the car park we passed through a wicket gate and followed a path north-west which eventually reached the Kinlochewe River and thereafter we mainly followed its east bank until it joined Loch Maree. The path then continued down the side of the loch, sometimes using its foreshore, to the Abhainn an Fhasaigh. Here a new bridge had been constructed over the stream but the complaint from one of the party jokingly was that the parapet hadn’t been sanded and he could get a splinter in his hand.
We followed the path up the north-west side of the Abhainn an Fhasaigh before climbing up to between Meall Each and Sgurr Dubh on a fairly eroded path. It was warm work and there was very little breeze. The earlier low cloud had lifted from most of the summits. Beyond this pass the path turned into Coire na Sleaghaich and crossed a boggy section but everything was very dry due to a fine spell of weather.
Once in the Coire there were a fair number of deer feeding but they weren’t that bothered about our presence. We then climbed out of the Coire to the bealach north-west of Sgurr Dubh, over a small knoll, and descended slightly to an unnamed lochan. This was followed by a fairly steep eroded path, well there were several, up to another knoll before an easier ascent to Slioch’s trig point. The highest point is apparently a few metres further north although my map shows then as the same height at 980 metres. As we headed towards the true summit we saw a couple of goats fighting.
I was hoping for a pleasant lunch break at the summit with views down Loch Maree and out towards the sea. The views were still awesome despite some light rain clouds circulating the area but the main problem was that it was calm and the midges were a nuisance. The tops of the Fisherfield Munros had some cloud cover so in the end it was rather disappointing.
After a shortened lunch break we headed along Slioch’s east ridge, disturbing the two goats we had seen earlier. The ridge narrowed slightly before we ascended the Munro Top, Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. From here we descended steeply down to Coire na Sleaghaich and returned to the start by the ascent route. Two ladies, who had left the car park at the same time as us, were setting up camp below the corrie with the intention of climbing Slioch the following day.
Norman was pleased that he had managed to bag another Munro but James was disappointed as it was the end of his three days in the Torridon area and the following day he had a 10 hour drive home . As for John he was wondering what was in store for him on the next day’s ascent of Liathach.
|Slioch||Munro||sixth ascent||981 metres|
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14 February 2008
|Time taken - 4.75 hours||Distance - 12 kilometres||Ascent - 855 metres|
The adventure started on the journey north-west from Inverness where there was low cloud with the temperature just above freezing point. On road north towards Ullapool I had the occasional glimpse of the sun drenched mountain tops, areas where the trees and vegetation where white after a hard frost, and an accident where a van had left the road presumably due to the icy road conditions.
On approaching Braemore Junction I had left the areas of low cloud behind and now had a great view of An Teallach with its patches of snow. At Braemore Junction I took the A832 to Gairloch as far as the junction just north of Corrie Haillie where I left the main road and drove along the narrow single track road towards Badrallach. The drive to say the least was interesting as it climbed below Beinn nam Ban and then down into the crofting community of Badrallach. At the end of the road there was a turning area with limited parking spaces.
I set off on the path that headed west along the north shore of Little Loch Broom to the crofting areas of Rireavach and Scoraig, which apparently has a population of around 80. This path is the only access to these hamlets other than by sea. There is no vehicle access.
It was a lovely sunny morning for a walk along this sea loch with Sail Mhor rising above the south side of the Loch. After around a kilometre and a half, at a point where I had my first view of the Scoraig peninsula, I left the path and climbed to the west of the rocky 338 point with views back to An Teallach and the Fannaichs. A slight descent took me to the west side of Loch na h-Uidhe before crossing to the foot of the south-west ridge of Beinn Ghobhlach.
The weather conditions were fantastic for a mid February day. It was fairly warm with a slight breeze and a few bits of high cloud. I have had colder days in summer so I was enjoying the day with the mountain to myself and views in all directions including over The Minch to the Outer Hebrides.
The next section of the ascent was a bit steeper with several rocky areas to be bypassed but I eventually arrived at the summit with its cairn and small shelter. The views were awesome. Beyond Sail Mhor and An Teallach to the south were the Fisherfield Munros and Torridon, and to the west and the Island of Skye. Across Loch Broom was Ben More Coigach, Ardmair Bay, Ben More Assynt, Conival. The mountains further east were shrouded in cloud. Down below me was Ullapool and beyond that the Ben Dearg Group of mountains. I couldn't have asked for better views.
I had lunch at the summit taking in these fantastic views and in fact lingered for a while noting the mountains I could see. I didn’t want to descend by the ascent route so I decided to walk round Coire Dearg. This was a wise decision as the views over the steep and rocky north ridge into Loch Broom and out over the Scoraig peninsula made it well worthwhile.
On reaching the end of the ridge I descended steeply into Coire Dearg and headed towards the path to Scoraig, latterly through long heather and around some rocks. Once back on the path I headed back to Badrallach, initially up and over a rocky section of the path before reaching the point I left earlier. Here I saw a walker away out in front and I followed him back to the start.
On the drive through Badrallach I stopped and gave this walker a lift. He was actually a resident of Scoraig and had left home an hour earlier so I was able to gleam some information about the Scoraig peninsula.
It had been a great mountain experience and one to cherish. I think it will have to be included in my top 10 walks. If anyone is looking for a hill to climb with some fantastic mountain and sea views this is the one but wait for a good day. If the weather is bad go elsewhere and come back on a fine sunny day.
|Beinn Ghobhlach||Graham||first ascent||635 metres|
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30 October 2007
|Time taken - 3.75hours.||Distance - 9 kilometres.||Ascent - 520 metres.|
This Corbett is located south of the west end of Loch Glascarnoch on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road. There are parking facilities at the north-west side of the bridge over the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh beside a weather monitoring station.
I set off up the west side of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh following at times a wet and boggy walker’s path. Beyond the Allt an Loch Sgeirich a bridge, not marked on my map but from a previous visit I was aware of, was crossed and the ascent of Beinn Liath Mhor a’Ghiubhais Li commenced. At first the vegetation was wet and boggy but higher up it was slightly better. Here some deer and a mountain hare were spotted. The hare tried to conceal itself but its white ears stuck up above the vegetation.
Near the summit the ground was a bit bouldery but there were no problems in reaching the summit where there were two cairns, one of which had been demolished. While at the summit it became engulfed by low cloud and then some light rain.
I descended south, initially walking round Alton Forest but I had to cross the deer fence to reach the main road and the short walk back to my car.
I sign indicated a route through Alton Forest which could have been used to ascend this mountain or the Fannaich Munros.
|Beinn Liath Mhor a'Ghiubhais Li||Corbett||second ascent||766 metres|
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12 September 2006
|Time taken: 8.25 hours.||Distance: 19 kilometres.||Ascent: 1000 metres.|
It was a wet morning as we headed to Incheril, near Kinlochewe, the starting point for the ascent of Slioch. Here there is a public car park used by walkers and tourists. However by the time we started walking down the Kinlochewe River to Loch Maree it had stopped raining and the clouds were breaking up. The path was a bit wet and muddy as it's also used by the local sheep.
On reaching Loch Maree we followed the path along its east shore to the bridge over the Abhainn an Fhasaigh, which we crossed, and took the path up Gleann Bianasdail for a short distance. Thereafter we followed a walker's path into Coire na Sleaghaich where I expected to find some deer but there was none. It was the peak stag stalking season but I had already checked my route with the local stalker so I had no concerns about interfering with any stalking. From the Coire we climbed to the bealach north of Sgurr Dubh, passed one of the twin lochans and climbed steeply up a path which covered in loose rocks.
We then headed for the trig point, passing several feral goats en-route and then onto the true summit a few metres further north. It was now a lovely day with some wonderful views of Loch Maree and the surrounding mountains.
We had lunch at the summit looking at the fantastic scenery. Later we reluctantly left the summit and headed back to the car park at Incheril by the route of ascent. En route we were passed by an English Gent and his dog. My client asked him if he was a Munro Bagger and the man obviously didn't understand the question and replied 'no she's a Labrador' which I thought was rather funny.
|Slioch||Munro||fifth ascent||981 metres|
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19 July 2006
|Time taken - 3.75 hours.||Distance - 8 kilometres.||Ascent - 750 metres.|
The forecast was for a hot and sunny day with predicted temperatures around 28C in the North-West Highlands so I planned an early assault on Sail Mhor. However on the arrival at Ardessie near Camusnagaul it was hot and sunny with the temperature already at 24C.
I left the main road at Ardessie and followed a path up the east side of the Allt Airdeasaidh passed several waterfalls. Climbing up this path was horrendously hot with not even a slight breeze to cool me down and I lost a lot of sweat. Maybe I needed to loose a few pounds anyway.
Once above the waterfalls, and at a convenient spot, I crossed the Allt Airdeasaidh as a mountain blackbird flew off downstream. I then commenced the climb of Sail Mhor and aimed for south of the rocks but it was hard going in the heat. Around 500 metres there was an intermittent light and welcome breeze.
It was still tough going in the heat but I eventually reached the small knoll which was followed by the final short ascent to the summit of Sail Mhor. There were two cairns, the first was covered in flies so I continued to the second one and just beyond it I found a lovely spot for a cuppa looking over An Teallach, Fisherfield and Letterewe areas. I also could see the Scoraig peninsula with its small habitations across Loch Broom to the Summer Isles. There was a nice cooling breeze but the effort to climb this Corbett was well worth it for the views.
I later descended the south ridge of Sail Mhor to the Ruigh Mheallain bealach where I headed down the side of a stream to the Allt Airdeasaidh. At this point I saw two fellow walkers ascending Sail Mhor. They were the first walkers I had seen on any Corbett in four days, other than my client who had been with me for three of these days.
On reaching the Allt Airdeasaidh I followed a path, which was eroded in sections and in poor condition until I arrived at the point where I crossed the stream earlier that morning. I continued down the side of the stream and on arriving back at my vehicle I noted that the temperature was now 28C so I was glad to be out of the mid-day sun.
|Sail Mhor||Corbett||second ascent||767 metres|
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3 July 2006
|Time taken - 8.5 hours.||Distance - 12.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 1450 metres.|
Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona are the two Munros of An Teallach and can be combined with an ascent of the Pinnacles but my client just wished to ascend these two Munros by the easiest route.
Visibility on driving north to Dundonnell was very poor and on reaching the lay-by at the Mountain Rescue Post the cloud base was almost down to sea level. I located the start of the path and followed it uphill.
The path deviated from that shown on the map and reached a stream which it crossed before heading into the corrie and towards Sron a'Choire. Visibility was still poor as I navigated our way to the summit of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. Despite the cloud it was fairly humid and while on the summit we had a very brief glimpse of Sgurr Fiona before the thick mist returned.
We descended by the south ridge of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill and climbed Sgurr Fiona before returning to Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. We met a few other walkers on this section of the walk and on a couple of occasions it appeared that it may brighten up but it didn't happen and we were still in the cloud.
From the summit of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill I navigated to the path marked on the map and followed it to Meall Garbh where the cloud started to break up and for the first time since we had set out we saw where we were going. The path, which seemed less used than the morning path, was in poor condition with several worn and gouged sections slowing our descent back to the start of the day's walk.
|Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill||Munro||sixth ascent||1062 metres|
|Sgurr Fiona||Munro||sixth ascent||1060 metres|
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5 - 8 June 2006
|Day One:||Time taken - 4 hours.||Distance - 7 kilometres.||Ascent - 370 metres.|
|Day Two:||Time taken - 15.5 hours.||Distance - 21.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 1650 metres.|
|Day Three:||Time taken - 12.25 hours.||Distance - 23 kilometres.||Ascent - 1065 metres.|
|Day Four:||Time taken - 3.75 hours.||Distance - 7 kilometres.||Ascent - 310 metres.|
It was mid-afternoon when we set off from Corrie Hallie on the A832 Braemore Junction to Dundonnell road and climbed through Gleann Chaorachain on a rough vehicle track. My client for the next four days was a lady of pension age who is in the latter stages of completing all the Munros. Unfortunately most of the ones she has left to climb are remote and require long walks in and out or backpacking trips similar to this one.
The lady had decided to stay at the bothy at Shenavall rather than camp as it meant she didn't have to carry a tent. Unfortunately she had a pack that wasn't comfortable and this meant frequent stops to try and adjust the sack which only seemed to help for a few minutes.
The track passed through some pleasant woodland before climbing steeply to its highest point. Here we left the track and followed a rough path below the south side of An Teallach with good views of its corries and pinnacles. We also had our first views of the Fisherfield Munros. The path became a bit more wet and boggy and we were overtaken by a group of walkers who were being guided by another hill walking company. One of their party took pity on my client and also tried to re-adjust her rucksack but to no avail. This group were planning to camp but further south.
The path, which is in a fairly poor state later descended fairly steeply to the bothy at Shenavall. Here my client managed to find an upstairs room to herself which she later called the 'penthouse suite'. There were four others staying in the bothy that night, one group which I never saw but I was told they returned from the hills around midnight. I spoke to another chap who was staying in the bothy who had managed the round of six Munros from Corrie Hallie in twelve hours and was intending walking back to Corrie Hallie in the morning over An Teallach.
I camped nearby together with a couple from Leeds who had arrived earlier that evening on an experimental backpacking trip. It was a pleasant evening viewing some of the hills that were to be climbed during the next couple of days, well that was until the wind dropped and the midges came out.
It was just after six when we set off from Shenavall and walked down to the Abhainn Srath na Sealga. This river was fairly low and was easily forded in footwear that we had carried for this purpose. Once on the south side we put on our walking boots and headed across a very boggy area to the foot of the first Munro of the day Beinn a'Chlaidheimh. The ascent of this mountain involved a steep climb through heather, avoiding rocky outcrops, which my client didn't find enjoyable. She was also still having problems with her pack despite the lighter load.
It was a beautiful sunny morning with some fantastic views which can be seen from my photographs (see link). I insisted on a short break every hour to enable my client to eat and drink as it was going to be a long day and she needed all the reserves of energy she could muster.
Higher up there were traces of a path and we eventually reached the north ridge of Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and followed it over the 900 point to its summit where we had one of our hourly breaks taking in the mountain views. One Munro down three to go.
This was followed by a descent to the twin lochans beside Am Briseadh where we had another break and where we loaded up on some water. The next section of the walk, the ascent of the north-east ridge of Sgurr Ban, was very rocky so I tried to use some of the grassy terraces. As we commenced this climb we spotted a couple of hinds, the Leeds couple descending Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and the guided hill walking group at Loch a'Bhrisidh.
We reached the summit of Sgurr Ban and were joined by the Leeds couple before descending steeply down the south ridge and a steep ascent of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair up a sree filled path. The summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair was rather windy so we continued down its rocky south ridge, traversed below Meall Garbh to Bealach Odhar. After another one of our regular breaks we ascended the final Munro of the day Beinn Tarsuinn which was as far away from Shenavall as we were going to get that day.
The descent of Beinn Tarsuinn was by the north-west ridge, over a section that looked like Table Mountain. We followed this ridge before dropping to the bealach, avoided a steep gorge, and into Gleann na Muice. By this time the mountains were covered in cloud and it started to rain intermittently.
This was a very long walk out and my client was now very tired and her rucksack was still annoying her. Eventually we reached the path down the Glen and passed the route of the next day's walk up Gleann na Muice Beag where the other hill walking group were camped. At Larachantivore we crossed the Abhainn Gleann na Muice without the need to remove our boots as the river was low. The next section of the walk was across the very wet and boggy Strath na Sealga and we returned to the Abhainn Srath na Sealga where we changed our footwear for the river crossing. It was then a very short walk to the bothy at Shenavall, but by this time after over 15 hours out on the hills, my client was completely exhausted. At this time I doubted if she would make the following day's walk. It was the longest day walk she had every undertaken.
I had to ensure that she ate before going to her 'penthouse suite' as she needed to try and replace some of her lost energy.
Looking out from my tent early in the morning the cloud was almost down as far as the Loch so I decided against getting up at that time. Half an hour later the cloud was breaking up and I could see part of the hillside so it was time to get up and have breakfast. I was very surprised to find that my client was bright and breezy and raring to tackle the final two Munros of this backpacking trip.
We set off around 7.30am and retraced the final section of the previous day's walk as far as Gleann na Muice Beag and took the good quality path up this Glen. It later climbed steeply before easing considerably as it crossed some heathery and boggy ground. We were now in very remote country miles from any habitation. The path traversed round the north side of the double Lochan Feith Mhi'-illean before heading south towards Fuar Loch Mor.
As we progressed our way up this path, watched by several deer hinds, the cloud was breaking up and we entered some really spectacular scenery. The condition of the path deteriorated the higher we reached but it was still in reasonable condition and near the bealach between Ruadh Stac Mor and A'Mhaighdean it consisted of slab rock.
Once at the bealach we set off for A'Mhaighdean with views back down our ascent route to the Fuar Loch Mor and on the other side to some of the Munros we had climbed the previous day.
We climbed onto A'Mhaighdean's south ridge where we stopped and spoke to the other hill walking group who were all enjoying the sun that now engulfed the mountains. A final short walk took us to the summit of A'Mhaighdean and the awesome views out over the Dubh and Fionn Lochs to the Sea of the Hebrides. This in my opinion is one of the best views from any mountain in Scotland and my client agreed.
Lunch was taken at the summit taking in the views before reluctantly leaving the summit and returning to the bealach. En-route we met some other walkers, who had possibly come in from Poolewe in a long day walk. We also saw the Leeds couple we were heading up onto this wonderful mountain summit.
The next section had been worrying my client since she first saw it, the ascent of Ruadh Stac Mor. It involved climbing through a rock face before reaching a boulder field. My client was very nervous so I had to talk her through the rock face and onto the easier boulder field. From there we worked our way to the summit trig point where we had another break.
In earlier days I used to return to the bealach and follow the route we ascended that morning but more recently I have descended Ruadh Stac Mor by its south ridge before dropping to Lochan a'Bhraghad being careful to avoid several rocky outcrops which are not shown on the map. This is what we did on this occasion and my client was pleased as she didn't fancy the descent to the bealach through the rocks.
On the descent we were again watched by some hinds before we reached the south side of Loch a' Bhraghad and followed the outflow until it changed direction. From here we climbed onto the path we used earlier that day and followed it back down Gleann na Muice Beag and into Gleann na Muice. The route back to Shenavall was then the same as the previous day but at least on this occasion my client wasn't as exhausted.
We reached Shenavall for a well earned rest and meal some 12 hours after setting out.
The final day was the walk out from Shenavall to Corrie Hallie, a reverse of day one.
We set off from Shenavall and the steep climb out of Strath na Sealga. The client's laden pack was still causing her problems and was slowing her down. It took a long time to reach the vehicle track and despite the final section being downhill she was struggling which was understandable after such a tough couple of days.
Eventually we reached Corrie Hallie and the end of the walk.
I have completed these six Munros on a single round, once from Corrie Hallie going as light as possible, and on other occasions from Shenavall. On this occasion, splitting the six Munros into two days allowed me more time to see the scenery around A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor and I probably enjoyed the walk more as I wasn't rushing to complete all six Munros.
If you have the time don't rush these mountains take an extra day and enjoy them.
|Beinn a'Chlaidheimh||Munro||sixth ascent||916 metres|
|Sgurr Ban||Munro||sixth ascent||989 metres|
|Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair||Munro||sixth ascent||1018 metres|
|Beinn Tarsuinn||Munro||sixth ascent||937 metres|
|A'Mhaighdean||Munro||sixth ascent||967 metres|
|Ruadh Stac Mor||Munro||sixth ascent||918 metres|
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28 May 2006
|Time taken - 5 hours.||Distance - 10 kilometres.||Ascent - 780 metres.|
The plan was to climb the two Munros on Beinn Eighe but with a forecast indicating white out conditions for an hour or so we decided to go to Fionn Bheinn instead. My clients did some preparatory work the evening before by devising a route plan.
We drove to Achnasheen and parked in the village car park before crossing the main road, A832, walked passed farm buildings and followed the east side of the Allt Achadh na Sine until we climbed onto Creagan nan Laogh. It was cold and windy but the summit top was still clear. However we stuck to the route plan and headed to the bealach east of Fionn Bheinn as the cloud began to engulf the tops. The ridge edge was then followed to the summit trig point which was by this time in cloud.
We returned to the bealach and navigated our way off the hill eventually coming out of the cloud. We then found a sheltered spot for lunch before heading back to Achnasheen.
|Fionn Bheinn||Munro||fifth ascent||933 metres|
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4 - 5 February 2006
|Day One:||Time taken - 8 hours.||Distance - 19.5 kilometres.||Ascent - 1070 meters.|
|Day Two:||Time taken - 7.75 hours.||Distance - 19 kilometres.||Ascent - 1050 metres.|
I met my clients at Braemore Junction on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool road and we drove the few miles west on the A832 to a small layby near the access track to Loch a'Bhraoin. We followed this track to the partially frozen loch and crossed the footbridge at its outflow. It was a reasonably pleasant morning at this time, as can be seen from the photographs.
A stalker's path heads south from this point but it involves a river crossing so we took the diversionary route to a newish bridge that crossed the Allt Breabaig lower down and followed a boggy track on the east side of the river. We didn't remain on this track for long before commencing the climb of Meall a'Chrasgaidh. The ascent at this point is fairly steady over some rough and rocky terrain. Higher up it levelled out slightly but here we were engulfed by low cloud which was being blown in on the wind.
The summit cairn was reached and we were joined by two other walkers who were on a nearby slightly lower cairn until they heard our voices. After speaking to them for a few moments we descended to the wide bealach and climbed onto the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Clach Geala where we spotted a couple of ptarmigan who stood out it their white feathers in the snowless terrain.
On approaching the summit of Sgurr nan Clach Geala the cloud broke up and we had some good views on the final approach to the summit cairn, which lies just beyond the remnants of a trig point. Unfortunately the cloud hadn't cleared completely and was covering the south ridge as we made our descent to another bealach before the climb to the final Munro of the day, Sgurr nan Each, where I spotted a couple of ptarmigan lying on remnants of a small cornice. One slid off the patch of snow before they flew off.
From Sgurr nan Each we returned to the bealach and descended to the stalker's path at the head of the Allt Breabaig and the long walk back to the start.
Sunday's start was the same as Saturdays but unfortunately one of my clients was feeling unwell so he and his wife decided to head for home and miss the windy conditions we were later to encounter.
The remaining clients wished the shortest approach to the summits, so we headed back to the stalker's path which we used on the descent the previous day, but before the crossing of the Allt Breabaig we headed steeply up the Leitir Fhearna onto the Druim Reidh ridge which gave pleasant walking, except for the strong wind, and onto the Munro Top, Toman Coinnich.
The plan was to then go out to Sgurr Breac before returning and climbing A'Chailleach and descending by Sron na Goibhre to Loch a'Bhraoin. However the wind was very strong at this time so, after consultation with the clients. we descended to the bealach and climbed to the summit of A'Chailleach and returned to the bealach. It was very windy on the ridge with poor visibility due to low cloud.
Once back at the bealach we traversed round the south side of Toman Coinnich and climbed to the summit of the final Munro of the weekend, Sgurr Breac. There were still no views until we were well down its east ridge which led to the head of the Allt Breabaig. We followed the stalkers' path we had used the previous day back to the start and the end of the weekend's Munro bagging.
|Meall a'Chrasgaidh||Munro||fourth ascent||934 metres|
|Sgurr nan Clach Geala||Munro||fourth ascent||1093 metres|
|Sgurr nan Each||Munro||fourth ascent||923 metres|
|A'Chailleach||Munro||fifth ascent||997 metres|
|Sgurr Breac||Munro||fifth ascent||999 metres|
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9 September 2005
Some months ago I was asked by a senior partner in an Edinburgh solicitors firm if I would be prepared to guide some of his clients for two days walking in the Ullapool area. One of the days planned was to be An Teallach.
A few days before this walk the weather forecast was showing snow above 1200 metres, with strong winds and a wind chill into the wind of -14C. This was of concern to me as the wind was too strong to risk taking clients on the An Teallach ridge. However this forecast did not materialise and changed to a more seasonal forecast.
I met my clients at Braemore Junction, south of Ullapool and we drove to Corrie Hallie near Dundonnell, which was the start of the walk. We set off up the track in Gleann Chaorachain with one of the guys setting a cracking pace. I later learned that he was in training for a trip across the Sahara Desert in a few weeks time.
At the high point on this track we took the path that leads to Shenavall bothy and followed it to the crossing of the stream that flows out of Lochan na Brathan. This was the start of a steady climb through rock, heather and some bog to the summit of Sail Liath, a Munro Top. It was mainly clear with some good views of the pinnacles of An Teallach, although there was a cold wind blowing.
One of the party decided not to continue and returned to Corrie Hallie. The others descended to a bealach before climbing to the top of Stob Cadha Gobhlach followed by another descent before the Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress was approached.
This is where the scrambling started but we avoided the climb up the buttress by climbing round it's side where we had a slight problem getting over and round a rocky section but we eventually reached the first pinnacle. My clients were coping well with the exposure and scrambling with Colin, the chap bound for the Sahara, appearing to be in his element.
The scrambling continued as we took in all the pinnacles followed by Lord Berkley's Seat. Once at the bealach beyond this Munro Top my clients were able to look back and see how impressive Lord Berkley's Seat was with its sheer drop and how it leaned outwards.
This was the end of the scrambling and we headed to the summit of the first Munro of the day, Sgurr Fiona. This was Shona'a 142nd Munro, half way round completing all 284 Munros, while this was Colin's first. We were also able to spend time taking in all the views including out over the Sea of the Hebrides.
A drop to a bealach followed, before the climb to the second Munro, Bidean a'Ghlas Thuill. This was followed by a rocky descent to a bealach where Colin and Alan decided to climb the Munro Top, Glas Mheall Mor. They set off at 'race' pace to this summit and joined us lower down the glen.
The rest of the group descended into Glas Tholl, steeply at first before picking up a path just below the bealach. This path, which was muddy and boggy in places, passed numerous small waterfalls. The bottom section of the path uses large rocks as the route before reaching the final obstacle, rhododendron bushes which required to be negotiated before reaching the main road just north of the starting point.
My clients then headed for the Dundonnell Hotel for a well earned drink.
|Sgurr Fiona||Munro||fifth ascent||1060 metres|
|Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill||Munro||fifth ascent||1062 metres|
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9 July 2005
We set off from Ullapool in what I expected to be a warm and sunny day. The Beinn Dearg group of mountains, which are visible from Ullapool, were clear of cloud. We headed south to Braemore junction on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road and then west on the A832 Gairloch road to a lay by north of Loch a'Bhraoin. Although we were early the lay by already had about half a dozen cars parked there.
We set off down the track to Loch a 'Bhraoin where a father and son were camped and were participating in an early morning fishing adventure.
The footbridge at the end of the Loch was crossed with care as a couple of the wooden spars were rotten and had collapsed. I hope the Estate is going to repair this bridge in time as crossing the river in spate conditions may be impossible. This route is part of a 'Right of Way' to Lochluichart.
Once over this bridge we headed south along the path on the west side of the Allt Breabaig and later forded this stream. There was a sign further north indicating a route to a footbridge to cross this river but the river was fairly low and easily crossed.
Once on the east side of the Allt Breabaig the path climbed a bit before we continued south up Glen Breabaig. The surrounding mountains were covered in cloud with the base around 600 metres. However it was warm in the Glen.
On approaching the bealach and the descent to Loch Fannaich we met a chap who was undecided in his plans for the day. He wanted to know the forecast and appeared to be in doubt as to his ability to cope with the low cloud. He obviously lacked the skills that were required to leave the path and climb any of the surrounding mountains. In my opinion he sensibly decided to retreat back down the path to the start rather than venture into a situation he couldn't cope with.
Once at the bealach we climbed, fairly steeply initially, into the cloud, where it was colder with a fairly brisk wind. We donned more clothing before heading to the summit of Sgurr Breac. From there we descended to a bealach and climbed the Munro Top, Toman Coinnich. This was followed by a drop to another bealach where we met a lone walker who was climbing these mountains in the opposite direction. From this bealach we climbed to the summit of our second Munro of the day, A'Chailleach. This was my clients last Fannaich Munro and she now has only 60 Munros left to climb.
We didn't stay long on the summit of A'Chailleach as it was cold and windy so we descended north and found some shelter for lunch. While sitting there the cloud attempted to break up and we had a few glimpses of An Teallach before it was shrouded in cloud again. However it appeared that we were just in the wrong place as the Beinn Dearg group of mountains still appeared devoid of cloud and probably were all day.
Once lunch was over we continued our descent over Sron na Goibhre and headed down to the stream flowing out of Loch Toll an Lochain, following this stream for a short distance, before cutting across some rough ground towards the bridge at the east end of Loch a'Bhraoin. This was a slow process but we eventually reached the footbridge and followed the track back to the start of the walk and the end of three day's walking in the North of Scotland.
|Sgurr Breac||Munro||fourth ascent||999 metres|
|A'Chailleach||Munro||fourth ascent||997 metres|
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25 May 2005
Today's client wanted to climb the Munros Meall Gorm and An Coileachan which had been missed out on her last trip with another guide due to injury.
In light drizzle we set off from the car park just north of Loch Glascarnoch on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road and followed traces of a path on the north bank of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, which after a couple of kilometres becomes the Abhainn a'Ghiuthais Li.
A short distance up the Abhainn a'Ghiuthais Li we came across a new bridge which I decided to cross as I was concerned that the old bridge, not marked on the map, had possibly been damaged in the winter storms. However this was a mistake as the going on the south side of this river was torturous over very rough and boggy ground which made progress very slow. One positive fact was that the drizzle had ceased and it appeared that the cloud was trying to break up as we had brief glimpses of the lower sections of the Fannaichs.
Another reason for it being a mistake was that when I came to the old bridge I found that it had recently been replaced and we could have therefore made better progress by continuing up the north bank of the river. These bridges are obviously not for the benefit of hill walkers but for Estate vehicles during the deer cull, but are very welcome. I would suggest that if following this route don't cross the river till you reach the second bridge.
Once passed the second bridge we continued up the south side of the Abhainn a'Ghiuthais Li before climbing up to Loch Odhar and round Loch Gorm to the Meallan Buidhe - An Coileachan Bealach. This was to avoid the climb over Meallan Buidhe but it was rough going and I am not sure if was of any benefit.
The cloud base had by this time lowered and we were unable to see the hillside so the climb up the north side of An Coileachan was in poor visibility and light rain. After a steady pull we reached the summit cairn of An Coileachan where it was cold and wet so we set off for the Bealach Ban over some rocky terrain.
The Bealach Ban, which according to the map was fairly wide, but we saw very little of it in these poor conditions. A steady climb followed to Meall Gorm's South-East Top, then a reasonably level walk to the actual summit of Meall Gorm, face into the wind and rain.
We returned to some old stone built shelters where we stopped for lunch before heading back over Meall Gorm's South-East Top and to the Bealach Ban. From there we descended out of the cloud and rain to Loch nan Eun and round its south side. Once again the terrain was difficult and in hindsight I should have probably gone over Meallan Buidhe.
From Loch nan Eun we traversed round the east ridge of Meallan Buidhe and headed for the first bridge on the Abhainn a'Ghiuthais Li. The terrain here wasn't as bad but we had to avoid sections of bog. We disturbed a large herd of deer but as I descended towards a burn crossing I came very close to a lone deer whose head was down eating furiously and hadn't noticed the rest of the herd run off. It got quiet a scare when it saw me and quickly darted off. A good job it wasn't the stalking season!
This was followed by a slight ascent before descending to the bridge and the river crossing. Thereafter we retraced our outward route as the rain started again.
|An Coileachan||Munro||fifth ascent||923 metres|
|Meall Gorm||Munro||fifth ascent||949 metres|
|main mountain index||top of page|
13 - 15 May 2005
The Fisherfield Six, as I call them, are a group of six Munros, within the area known as the Fisherfield Forest. They are remote mountains with A'Mhaighdean one of the remotest Munros.
To climb these Munros requires either several long walks in or a backpacking trip. I favour the backpacking trip, either staying in the bothy at Shenavall or camping nearby and tackling all six mountains in a very long day. So this was the plan for two clients this weekend.
On the Friday afternoon I was uplifted from Inverness and driven to Corrie Hallie, near Dundonnell, which was the starting point for this adventure.
Once we were laden with our rucksacks and camping gear, and I mustn't forget Frances's little red bag containing her food, we set off up Gleann Chaorachain. This was a steady climb and we met several people returning from their day's walking. By the time we reached the crossing of the Allt Gleann Chaorachain Frances was complaining about not taking her larger sack as she found carrying this plastic bag rather awkward and sweaty, as the late afternoon sun shone heating up the glen. This brought back memories of my last visit to this area when the client carried some of her gear in a black bin liner. I'm sure neither lady will fall into this trap again.
Once across the Allt Gleann Chaorachain the track climbed steeply till it reached the path that we required to take to reach Shenavall. The path was fairly dry and most of the boggy sections were avoidable. The final half hour was downhill to the bothy at Shenavall where we set up our tents.
The next morning I was up before five to prepare for the long day in front of us. It had been a cold night with some frost and Frances said she had been cold throughout the night.
At 6.20am we set off for the short walk down to the Abhainn Srath na Sealga where it was noticeably colder. The crossing of the river wasn't difficult and we headed across the Strath na Sealga which was wet and boggy in several places, before commencing the climb of our first Munro, Beinn a'Chlaidheimh. This was a steep climb searching for the easiest route through rocks and rough terrain. The sun was shining so it looked like we would be fortunate in the choice of dates for this visit.
It took us a couple of hours to reach the north ridge of this mountain and the final climb to the summit. There was a cool wind blowing on the summit ridge but it was ideal for walking.
Once we had a second breakfast we set off down the south ridge of Beinn a'Chlaidheimh to the two small lochans beside Am Briseadh where we loaded up with water. Andy, my other client, took on four litres of water, no wonder he required a large sack. I have never seen anyone drink so much water on a day walk in Scotland.
From the lochans we headed up the rocky ridge of Sgurr Ban with several large patches of snow. On this summit we had another break while taking in the surrounding views of the numerous mountains, too many to count or name.
Once fed and watered we dropped to the Sgurr Ban/Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair bealach before the steep climb through scree, some snow, and loose earth to the summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. We were now half way through bagging the six Munros but a long way from the end of the walking day.
There was no break on this summit and we descended steeply down through rocks and snow before taking the path below Meall Garbh to the Bealach Odhar and the climb to the fourth Munro Beinn Tarsuinn where we had lunch. We had good views of Slioch, the Torridon mountains and we could see out to Skye and the Western Isles and that was only looking westwards. This was roughly our half way point in our walk and we were a long way from our tents.
During the afternoon the sun disappeared and was replaced by a thin veil of cloud and the wind was still cold.
We walked along the narrowing north ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn, where there is a large level area like a table top, before descending steeply to the level area between Beinn Tarsuinn and our next Munro A'Mhaighdean. On the descent we came across a couple of ptarmigan and we also topped up with some more water. The walk across this level area requires a lot of twisting and turning to avoid bogs and peat hags so we were pleased when we reached the other side.
The long pull up the mainly grassy ridge of A'Mhaighdean took its toll on my clients who were now feeling the effects of their long day. However I had already told them of the spectacular views once at the summit. Although it was cold on the top they were not disappointed. The views, in my opinion are probably the best from any mountain in Scotland, with its 3,000 feet drop to the Dubh and Fionn Lochs and the view out to the Sea of the Hebrides and the Western Isles. Spectacular, but only for the hardened hill walker as the area is so remote.
We sat here for a while and had something to eat before commencing the descent of A'Mhaighdean where we saw a leveret, which hid under a large rock. We also got very close to a ptarmigan which was perched on the edge of a large rock.
The final Munro was Ruadh Stac Mor, which is very rocky on its west side. However Andy preferred this to the grassy A'Mhaighdean and was soon heading for the summit. After a brief stop on our final Munro we headed along the ridge, down to Lochan a'Bhraghad and to the Gleann na Muice Beag track where we disturbed a large herd of deer.
It was a long walk back down this glen and then Gleann na Muice with a couple of rest stops. My clients found a suitable crossing point of the Abhainn Gleann na Muice before we headed over the wet and boggy Strath na Sealga where Frances ended up deep in a bog. I also went into a boggy section but at least it wasn't over my boots. I think we were distracted by the awesome sun set with the sky and mountains around us a bright red colour.
Once over this Strath we re-crossed the Abhainn Srath na Sealga at the location we had crossed nearly sixteen hours earlier and headed up to our tents. It was just after 10pm.
I retired to my tent but I think my clients still had some energy left to converse with the residents in the bothy and cook their evening meal.
The next day was a long lie till 7.30am when we rose and had a leisurely breakfast. The mountain tops were covered in cloud so we had been lucky as the day before all the mountains were clear of cloud all day.
Just after 9am we set off back up the path to Gleann Chaorachain and a slow plod back to Corrie Hallie and the end of a tough weekend.
|Beinn a'Chlaidheimh||Munro||fifth ascent||916 metres|
|Sgurr Ban||Munro||fifth ascent||989 metres|
|Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair||Munro||fifth ascent||1018 metres|
|Beinn Tarsuinn||Munro||fifth ascent||937 metres|
|A'Mhaighdean||Munro||fifth ascent||967 metres|
|Ruadh Stac Mor||Munro||fifth ascent||918 metres|
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16 March 2005
It had been a wet and windy morning but I was determined not to sit about all day looking out the window at Beinn Eighe, so after lunch I drove to Incheril, just south of Kinlochewe and parked in the car park there.
I set off down the wet and muddy path which runs along the east shore of the Kinlochewe River. The river was in spate and there was some flooding in places. However the weather was mainly dry at this time and I was relatively sheltered from the wind. It was obvious it was windy higher up as water from the swollen streams was being blown back up the hillside.
I followed this path almost as far as Loch Maree before climbing towards a waterfall. Here I disturbed several deer sheltering from the wind. As I approached the waterfall I was searching for a route through the wet rocks and disturbed more deer which were unable to cross the gorge and had to climb higher up to get away from me. At least I knew there was a possible route through the rocks.
A scramble through the slippery rocks took me to higher ground. When I looked back I saw water from the stream being blown skywards like smoke from a chimney.
I was using several of the small lochans as navigation aids and beside one of these lochans I came very close to a mature stag with his head down feeding away. It took him several minutes to note my presence before he took off.
The final climb to the first cairn of Beinn a'Mhuinidh was a bit steeper with some patches of wet snow which I was able to avoid before climbing through some rocks. The final stretch to the true summit was across some undulating ground. Here it was rather windy but I still managed a quick look around to view the cloud topped mountains of Fisherfield, Slioch and Torridon.
My planned descent was to take the easier angled route to the south with its many lochans and temporary streams caused by the heavy rain and snow melt. On the descent it started to rain and it progressively got heavier as I progressed across some rough ground.
My return took me down to the track between the Heights of Kinlochewe and Incheril which runs along the side of the Abhainn Bruachaig. This river was rather wild due to the volume of water. My return to Incheril was in heavy rain and the semi-dark. However it had been an enjoyable walk despite the weather conditions during the second half.
|Beinn a'Mhuinidh||Graham||first ascent||692 metres|
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13 March 2005
The plan was to take clients into the remote Letterewe area, which together with Fisherfield to the east, combines to make a large wilderness area in the north-west of Scotland.
The drive to Poolewe, the starting point for the walk, was along ice and snow covered roads. We parked in the car park beside the bridge over the River Ewe and followed the track along the east side of the River past Inveran to Loch an Doire Ghairbh.
Beyond this Loch a path, which is not marked on the map, cuts across the hillside to join the Kernsary to Ardlair track. The start of the path is obvious but deteriorates as you climb up over a rise and is boggy and undistinguishable at the far end. Once on this path the first snow shower of the day struck. Fortunately the wind and snow were on our backs so it didn't hamper our progress too much, just curtailed our visibility.
Once the snow shower cleared the sun appeared as we walked along the track towards Ardlair so we took this opportunity to stop for a break. Thereafter the walk continued along this track until an old sheep fank was reached, where a path leads up the mountain to below Spidean nan Clach.
The path was covered in snow and in places some ice, so care was required. As we gained height the path was difficult to locate in the snow. However as it follows a stream that flows down from the col between Spidean nan Clach and Meal Chnaimhean it wasn't too difficult to work out where it should be found, even during the occasional snow shower. A large herd of deer watched us as we progressed towards the col.
The climb, from just below the col became a bit steeper with a greater depth of snow and more icy patches. The gradient eased before a final steeper climb to the summit trig point of Beinn Airigh Charr. The weather had by this time deteriorated with low cloud, a strong wind and it started to snow again so visibility was fairly poor.
On reaching the summit there was no point in hanging about as there was nothing to see so we headed back towards the col and sought some shelter behind some rocks for lunch.
We then resumed our descent and the low cloud cleared. It was a fairly lengthy walk back to the Kernsary to Ardlair track but quite pleasant sliding about in the snow.
We took the short cut across the hillside towards Loch an Doire Ghairbh and then the track back to Poolewe and the end of a long day.
As expected in this remote part of Scotland and in these winter conditions we never came across any other walkers and there was no evidence anyone else had been out on theses hills that day.
|Beinn Airigh Charr||Corbett||second ascent||791 metres|
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28 November 2004
On a previous visit to the Fisherfield area to climb the Corbett, Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor, (see below) I thought it looked possible to climb the two Beinn Dearg Corbetts from the north. Reference books indicate an approach from the east but this requires two river crossings on the way in and also on the way back. A well known climber, whom I know, who has written route plans for some of the northern Corbetts, was able to confirm that he had climbed these hills from the north.
I left my car at Gruinard on the A832 between Dundonnell and Poolewe. At this time it was just turning daylight so I was able to see the track as I cycled south on the west side of the Gruinard River.
An hour later I arrived at the end of the track at the north-west end of Loch na Sealga where I left my cycle. The building shown on the Ordnance Survey Map no longer exists although there are two secure small containers there along with three boats which the Estate obviously use to access the remoter parts of their land.
The walk commenced along the south shore of Loch na Sealga before making a gradual ascent, initially over rough and wet ground to below the north ridge of Beinn Dearg Bheag in occasional snow showers and disturbing lots of deer feeding in the area.
A steep climb followed, avoiding rocky outcrops, until I reached the snow level at 700 metres. The ridge began to narrow and became more rocky. Extreme care was required as the rocks were covered in snow and ice which slowed progress. However this wasn't a problem to the ptarmigan who were at home in their winter plumage camouflaged by the snow.
On several occasions I had to drop off the ridge for short stretches to traverse round steep rock. This reminded me of An Teallach which I could see on the other side of Loch na Sealga. After several ups and downs and negotiating narrow sections of the ridge I eventually reached the summit of Beinn Dearg Bheag which was at this time clear of cloud.
I descended the stony and snow covered south ridge to the bealach which was clear of snow but this was short lived. As I commenced the final climb of the day the cloud lowered and the snow started to fall again. This steep climb through more stony, snow covered ground took me onto the ridge of Beinn Dearg Mor. This ridge is about 90 metres higher than Beinn Dearg Bheag and had a significant covering of snow. In fact it was knee deep as I approached the summit cairn. The cloud didn't break completely but it was obvious to me that there were sheer drops on either side.
I remained at the cairn in the hope that the cloud would lift but to no avail so I headed back towards the bealach. As was my luck, once half way down, the cloud cleared and shortly thereafter the sun came out so this was a good opportunity to stop for a late lunch. I sat, sheltered from the cool breeze, enjoying the sun and taking in the views towards the snow covered mountains of Torridon. However I couldn't remain there for long as I only had a few hours of daylight left and a long walk back to my cycle.
Once l had eaten my lunch I continued to the bealach and then steeply down to Loch Toll an Lochain avoiding the rocks. I went round the west side of the Loch which was sandy in places before crossing over the east ridge of Beinn Dearg Bheag. This traverse was over awkward and wet ground and it was a relief when I came across some heathery terrain which allowed me to make quicker progress. However lower down the terrain was once again wet and difficult to cross.
It was almost dark when I reached the shores of Loch na Sealga and as was the case with Ben Aden a few weeks earlier it was difficult to make out the water's edge. However I wasn't too bothered as my feet were wet from all the boggy and snow covered ground that I had crossed during the day.
On reaching the north-west end of the Loch I collected my cycle and commenced the long cycle back to my car. Initially I cycled without using my head torch but after a while it became difficult to see the boulders etc so I had to switch it on. Progress was slow at times especially when the track came close to the fast flowing Gruinard River but I successfully made it back to my car nearly ten hours after I had set out.
Once I had recovered I realised that it had been a successful outing as I had reduced my tally of four Corbetts left to climb to two.
|Beinn Dearg Bheag||Corbett||first ascent||820 metres|
|Beinn Dearg Mor||Corbett||first ascent||910 metres|
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24 October 2004
I was down to single figures in my quest to climb all the 219 Corbetts, mountains between 2,500 and 3,000 feet with a drop on all sides of 500 feet. Some state that there are 220 Corbetts but two of these Corbetts are on the same ridge, are given the same height, and do not appear to have the required drop between them. Obviously this is open to some debate.
On this Sunday morning I set off on my mountain bike from the A832 at Gruinard, located between Dundonnell and Poolewe. I followed the track south on the west bank of the Gruinard River, through a herd of cattle that had, in places, churned up the track. Further on I disturbed some deer and a few decided to swim the River which was in spate. The stags had survived the cull which finished on the twentieth but now it was the turn of the hinds. However as it was Sunday there was no stalking.
After nearly an hour of cycling, well I did push my bike on the uphill sections, I reached the Allt Loch Ghiubhsachain where I left my bike. I was pleased to see that there was a concrete bridge across the burn. Once on the west bank I walked up the side of the Allt. It was a bit wet and boggy in places but on reaching steeper ground the conditions improved.
Once higher up I had to re-cross the Allt Loch Ghiubhsachain and follow a small stream south-westwards towards more wet and boggy ground. From here I located a stalker's path, which was obviously little used, and followed it in a similar direction as it climbed then dropped to cross the Uisge Toll a'Mhadaidh. I could hear the stags in the area of Corrie Toll a'Mhadaidh roaring as the rut was in progress.
I followed this path as it climbed to the bealach south of Beinn a'Chaisgein Beag before climbing to its summit cairn and trig point. The weather had been fairly pleasant during my approach but on reaching the bealach the wind increased and low cloud spread in with spots of rain.
Fortunately the rain didn't materialise at this time and the cloud lifted slightly as I returned to the bealach and the long walk up the south ridge of Bidean a'Chaisgein Mor to its summit. As I approached, a large number of ptarmigan flew off and fought against the wind. Winter is obviously on its way as the ptarmigan's plumage was turning white.
It had taken me nearly five hours to reach this point and with the weather conditions about to deteriorate I had my lunch sheltering behind some rocks looking down on the Fionn Loch and the Corbetts beyond.
As the rain started I set off for my return to the bealach and the stalker's path leading me back towards my bike. Unfortunately I got a wet leg re-crossing the swollen Allt Loch Ghiubhsachain but by this time the rain was fairly heavy so it was really immaterial that one leg and boot was soaking.
On reaching the track beside the Gruinard River I collected my bike and cycled back to the start rather wet. Despite the weather it was a pleasant walk and cycle and once again I never met anyone else on a Corbett expedition. It was an interesting approach to this Corbett and avoided two river crossings (twice) and possibly an overnight stay at Shenavall bothy. It also gave me a different perspective of this remote area.
|Beinn a'Chaisgein Beag||Graham||first ascent||680 metres|
|Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor||Corbett||first ascent||856 metres|
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11 September 2004
It was still dark as I arrived at Poolewe for my day's walk in the Letterewe Forest area of what is commonly known as "The Great Wilderness".
I set off in the semi-darkness and cycled along the track to Kernsary where I left my cycle. I continued east through a forest and walked along the path to Fionn Loch a distance of about 5 miles in heavy rain with low cloud shrouding the hills. It was initially a pretty miserable walk but my sights were set on at least climbing the distant Corbett Beinn Lair.
On approaching the Fionn Loch with views of the Causeway across to Carnmore the rain ceased, the cloud base started to rise and the day looked more promising. I stopped to take on some food before commencing the climb of the stalker's path to Bealach Mheinnidh. At its highest point I turned east and headed for Beinn Lair. Just short of the summit there is a cairn where I had fine views of A'Mhaighdean and some of the other Fisherfield mountains. There was also good views of An Teallach and back towards Poolewe and Gairloch. I continued onto the summit of Beinn Lair where I had views of Slioch.
I returned to Bealach Mheinnidh and climbed the Graham, Meall Mheinnidh. The wind had picked up and was fairly strong on the summit but fortunately there were numerous large rocks for me to shelter behind for my second break of the day.
The descent off Meall Mheinnidh is more difficult than the map shows as there is a lot of rock so the drop to Srathan Buidhe took longer than I expected. Near the high point here three Highland cows, who were feeding in the glen, were surprised by my sudden appearance and watched me as I headed up Beinn Airigh Charr. This was a fairly easy walk up its south-east ridge and higher up I surprised some deer feeding in one of the hollows. The wind was now very strong and it was raining again as the cloud floated about the summit.
Once I reached the trig point I headed down towards a stalker's path that would lead me to the Ardlair to Kernsary track. Not long after leaving the summit I saw a couple of antlers behind some rocks and suddenly a stag stood up and stared at me. We looked at each other for several minutes before I moved and the stag ran off.
The stalker's path was found and I followed it down to the Ardlair to Kernsary track before walking back to Kernsary and a cycle back to Poolewe, the end of a long but enjoyable day in a very remote part of the country. During this trip I never saw or met anyone else so it is possible to walk in Scotland at the weekend without meeting another soul, well at least when the weather forecast is poor.
|Beinn Lair||Corbett||first ascent||860 metres|
|Meall Mheinnidh||Graham||first ascent||722 metres|
|Beinn Airigh Charr||Corbett||first ascent||791 metres|
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10 April 2004
The starting point was the A832 at Ardessie with a climb up the path on the east side of the Allt Airdeasaidh past several rock pools and waterfalls. Higher up this burn was crossed, followed by a steep climb up onto Sail Mhor past weather beaten sandstone tors which had collapsed.
The summit was shrouded in low cloud so we descended the south ridge but this was abruptly halted when the cloud cleared leaving spectacular views of the Summer Isles and clearing cloud on the Fisherfield Munros and Corbetts along with An Teallach.
After a long break taking in the ever extending views the steep descent to the col continued before a short climb to the summit of Ruigh Mheallain was made. This necessitated a scramble onto a large boulder to be physically on the highest point.
The return to the Allt Airdeasaidh was made over some rocky and boggy ground disturbing some deer en-route before we returned to Ardessie.
|Sail Mhor||Corbett||first ascent||767 metres|
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28 February 2004
Aberdeen had experienced a week of snow and strong winds with the closure of several roads so I was keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and road reports to ascertain whether the weekend booking of Munro Bagging in the North-West of Scotland would be possible.
On the Friday afternoon I travelled to Inverness and on retiring for the night it was again snowing. Early the next morning I met Janice, Frances and Eric and we drove to Incheril, east of Kinlochewe where we abandoned our cars in the snow covered car park. It was bitterly cold but bright and the prospect of a fine day’s hillwalking looked good.
Well wrapped up against the chill we headed along the path at the side of the Kinlochewe River. Initially the path was well trampled by sheep pacing up and down searching for food in the deep snow. There were also traces of boot prints in the snow, probably from the previous day. As we walked down this path the sun came out and lit up the surrounding mountains but progress was relatively slow, not by the ability of my clients, but by the depth of snow.
A short distance beyond the head of Loch Maree we reached Gleann Bianasdail crossed the footbridge and walked up the side of the Abhainn an Fhasaigh with its torrent of water rushing over rocks and through narrow gaps. We had lost height so once across the bridge the climbing started as we headed up towards Coire na Sleaghaich. The sky was cloudless and we had good views of Beinn Eighe, a massive mountain on the other side of Loch Maree.
The climbing was tiring, breaking tracks through the deep snow and with the sun out it became very warm so we discarded our outer layers of winter clothing. Janice was down to her ‘T’ shirt and was hoping to pose like this on the summit.
In the corrie, as expected, the snow was even deeper. Progress was reduced further by the snow which was now knee deep at times and on occasions even deeper which halted progress completely. Thankfully it was cooler here as we were hidden from the direct rays of the sun and there was a slight cold breeze. At snail’s pace we headed onto the wind blown south-east ridge. Here there were terrific views of the snow clad Torridon mountains glistening in the sun. The struggle to reach this point was well worth it for these stunning views.
The main problem was the snow had slowed our progress drastically and I now had to set a target time when we would have to cancel our challenge to reach the summit. This was obviously disappointing to my colleagues and me but I had to consider that it got dark around 6pm.
At the twin lochans a bank of cloud engulfed us before we climbed up a short steep section of the ridge. On reaching the top of this section the cloud dispersed and we could see our target in the distance. It looked like we could reach it before the deadline I set for our return.
Compared to what we had climbed through, it was a reasonably easy walk along the ridge to the trig point and onto the true summit beyond. It had taken us more than six hours to reach the summit. In normal conditions it should take less than four hours. Everyone was happy especially Janice as this was Munro number 276 in her quest to climb all 284 Munros. They posed for photographs so I hope they download and do justice to the tremendous views from this castle like summit. A picture is better than a thousand words and anyway I don’t think I could do the views justice here.
The eventful day however was not finished. The finale was the traverse of a narrow ridge to reach the Munro Top, Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. I had not mentioned this to Frances as I am aware that she is apprehensive on ridges. The ridge was mostly hidden by large quantities of windblown snow, some thigh deep. This meant working out where the ridge line lay before crossing it. I had to encourage Frances not to look over the edge as this is a mistake if you have any fear of heights on narrow ridges.
We eventually reached Sgurr an Thuill Bhain and Frances’s heart rate settled down again. Janice and Eric appeared to be unperturbed and took it in their stride. However all the problems were forgotten as we admired the magnificent views of the Fisherfield Munros and An Tellach.
The descent back into the corrie was through deep snow and once we had struggled across the bottom of the corrie we picked up the tracks we made on the upward route. The descent to Gleann Bianasdail was made as the sun was going down so by the time we returned to Loch Maree it was dark. It was then a plod back along the path to the start but at least Eric was able to use his newly purchased head torch. The moon and stars were bright and we disturbed some deer who seemed a bit confused by our appearance.
We arrived back at the car nearly 11 hours after we had set out, on a walk that should have taken between 7 – 8 hours. It was now -6 degrees centigrade and I was unable to untie my boot laces as they were frozen solid so had to go back to Inverness still wearing my boots.
|Slioch||Munro||fourth ascent||981 metres|
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15 February 2004
A trip to the Corbett Creag Rainich, located between the Fisherfield and Fannaich mountains was planned. Approaching the starting point the skies were clear and the sun was out giving spectacular views of An Teallach.
The start was on the road known as ‘Destitution Road’ which runs from Braemore Junction towards Corrie Hallie. Night frost still hung to the vegetation as we headed along the track to Loch a’Bhraoin and the ‘Right of Way’ along its north-west side. As the temperature rose we climbed up the hillside to the summit trig point. Here we had good views of several of the Fisherfield Munros and of Beinn Eighe.
Once we had our fill of views we descended back towards Loch a’Bhraoin stopping en-route for lunch. The sun was out again and it was pleasant sitting there taking in the views of the Fannaichs in front of us. Although it was mid February there were only a few patches of snow and it felt more like late spring. In fact I have experienced worse weather in summer.
On approaching Loch a’Bhraoin it was almost impossible to tell where the water commenced as the whole Loch, stretching for approximately three miles, was like an enormous mirror. The water was so smooth that every aspect of the surrounding scenery was reflected on the Loch and in fact the reflections were clearer than the actual scenery itself. These were probably the best reflective views I have ever seen, so where was ‘Colin Prior’? I might even sell him some of my pictures if they do justice to this spectacular phenomenon.
On reaching the edge of the Loch it was still difficult to see where the water’s edge was and on throwing a pebble into the water the ripples lasted for ages as they spread out and a light haze appeared above the water. The walk back along the side of the loch was magnificent with the promontories giving the impression of extended overhangs which we could have walked underneath.
Unfortunately we reached the end of the Loch and a short walk back to the car. However the reflections on the Loch will remain with me for many years to come and will be hard to beat. Reference books state that the slopes of Creag Rainich are uninteresting. The slopes may be uninteresting but the views are spectacular and you never know you might be lucky to get similar reflections in Loch a’Bhraoin.
|Creag Rainich||Corbett||first ascent||807 metres|
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7 September 2003
This was Janice's final four Fannaich Munros. She arrived at our meeting point bang on time and we drove firstly to the finishing point where we left a car before heading to a small car park on the A835 road west of Loch Glascarnoch. This loch was at the lowest level I have seen it for years and the old road could be seen disappearing into the waters of the loch.
The walk started up the side of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh which higher up changes its name to the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li. The path is normally wet and boggy but due to the dry summer we have experienced this year we were able to keep our feet dry. Once higher up we waded through deep flowering heather to reach the south ridge of An Coileachan. A steady climb took us to this Munro summit.
A stroll north-west along a ridge took us firstly to Meall Gorm and then to the highest Fannaich Munro, Sgurr Mor, which is a good viewpoint.
We were now headed back to the main road but still had one more Munro to climb, Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, but in comparison with Sgurr Mor this was just a short climb to the summit. All that was left now was a descent over rough ground to a track beside the Allt a’Mhadaidh and to the car parked beside Loch Droma and the end of my first midge free day this summer.
|An Coileachan||Munro||fourth ascent||923 metres|
|Meall Gorm||Munro||fourth ascent||949 metres|
|Sgurr Mhor||Munro||fourth ascent||1110 metres|
|Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich||Munro||fourth ascent||954 metres|
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19 July 2003
This Saturday found me leading a walk on An Teallach. Frances had been asking me to take her up this mountain for sometime now and today the opportunity arose as she had decided to come along to the walk on The Deargs.
Although she does some indoor climbing she was a bit concerned about doing An Teallach and brought her friend Alison along for some reassurance.
The weather was a bit cloudier than in recent days but good views were had over to the Fisherfield Munros.
The track from Corrie Hallie up Gleann Chaorachain was fairly busy with walkers heading for the Fisherfield hills so once we started climbing Sail Liath we were on our own. Once over the first two Munro Tops we avoided the crest of the ridge and walked along the narrow and sometimes eroded path to its west.
We did climb to the summits of the Munro Tops Corrag Bhuidhe and Lord Berkeley’s Seat. Frances, who had no problems despite her reservations, managed to get to these summits although once on the actual tops she turned a bit pale and would only stay there for a few minutes while photographs were taken. Alison appeared unperturbed by her lofty and exposed position. The rest of the day was uneventful and we successfully climbed the two Munros. The only down side was it rained for a short time on our descent.
|Sgurr Fiona||Munro||fourth ascent||1060 metres|
|Bidean a'Ghlas Thuill||Munro||fourth ascent||1062 metres|
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30 May - 1 June 2003
This trip to the Fisherfield Six was proposed for the middle of May but postponed due to poor weather forecasts. Having spent most of the last week of May studying various forecasts, which all showed a changeable weekend, I headed for Inverness.
At teatime, while sitting waiting for Janice, it started to rain and, although warm, I was wondering whether or not we had made the correct decision. However the rain shower was short lived.
The drive north to Corrie Hallie was uneventful although my chauffeur did attempt on at least a couple of occasions to head in another direction. Was this her way of telling me that she had changed her mind about this expedition?
At 8.30pm we set off for the walk to Shenavall. Although overloaded Janice did manage to leave the kitchen sink behind. Immediately after leaving the main road the track climbed steadily up Gleann Chaorachain through a nice wooded area before crossing a stream and climbing steeply to its highest point. By this time I was sweating profusely as it was very warm for that time of night. Janice denied that she was perspiring, so it was just me who was unfit.
We then walked along the path towards our base for the weekend with good views of An Teallach on our right and some of tomorrow’s mountains appearing in front of us. The noise of a cuckoo was heard and stayed with us during out stay at Shenavall.
On arrival at the bothy at 10.45pm we met three chaps from the Stirling/Dunblane area sitting outside the bothy in lovely surroundings and on a beautiful midge free evening, partaking of a dram. They were the only human occupants of the bothy although several other walkers were camped nearby. We set up our tents and retired for the evening. Other walkers arrived later and pitched their tents nearby. They kept Janice awake but this allowed her to read all of her local newspaper which she had carried in, except for an article she was saving for the second night in the tent.
Awake and up at 6am after a reasonable night’s sleep. We didn’t need Janice’s alarm clock. After breakfast we set off at 7.05am and walked down to the river, Abhainn Srath na Sealga, which was very low and easy to cross for a change.
We then headed up Beinn a’Chlaidheimh towards a gully slightly to the west of the steep and rocky south ridge. It was hard work in the warm weather and hazy sunshine. Obviously we were going to have to take on more water due to the heat, so that’s what we did from the last dregs of a stream high up on the mountain. On reaching the summit we could see some of the mountains we were to tackle later in the day a long distance off. Although we were in a remote area seven other Munro Baggers were in front hoping to conquer these six mountains.
We dropped down to some small lochans beside Am Briseadh where we had a brew up and something to eat prior to tackling the stony and rocky northeast ridge of Sgurr Ban. An hour later we were on its summit with Munro number two of the day under our belts.
A descent down to the bealach, where there was no trace of any water, and a steep climb took us onto Munro number three, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Half way there and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Some cloud was now floating about but it looked like the weather would hold out for another few hours yet, although the forecast did say rain in the afternoon.
Continuing our descent north onto a narrow path under Meall Garbh, we changed direction as we reached Bealach Odhar. Here we met a party of three who were undecided on their target for the day. A steady plod took us to the summit cairn of Beinn Tarsuinn, which is on a good viewing ridge. We were able to look back at what we had completed that morning and the two Munros we still had to conquer. Below us in one of the small lochans a deer was paddling about trying to cool down. The party of three guys joined us, together with a resident from the bothy who had taken in the Munro Tops. Two of the party of three decided that enough was enough and descended down into Gleann na Muice and returned to Corrie Hallie.
The rest of us then descended down to the ridge, which is narrow in places and has an area similar to a tabletop. Some easy scrambling was required as we negotiated the ridge before descending down to the bealach at 525 metres looking for water. The area was remarkably dry so we were forced to descend to the streams below Stac a’Chaorruinn to collect water and have a late lunch with freshly boiled water for tea and coffee.
After lunch it was a hot and steep climb up through the rocks onto the grassy slopes of A’Mhaighdean. As our pace slowed spots of rain were felt although we could see Slioch and in the haze Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin. Having walked this route before I was aware that it was a bit of a plod and that the best part as usual was reaching the summit. However the location of this summit also gives you spectacular views that suddenly open up only as you arrive at the top. 3,000 feet below us were several lochs including the Dubh and Fionn Lochs. It is my opinion that this location gives you the best view from any Munro summit.
Reluctantly time was getting on and we still had one Munro to climb before the long walk back to Shenavall. So it was time to leave this magnificent location and descend down the stalker’s path that takes you down past Fuar Loch Mor. Prior to reaching the path we stood and watched three hinds, which were close by, and they in turn stood and watched us.
The ascent of Ruadh Stac Mor is a bit tricky due to a ledge of rock which has to be negoiated and lots of loose boulders which cover the summit. So after another hard slog we reached the cairn and now we could see the long route back to the tents.
To shorten the route we descended down to Lochan a’Bhraghad, avoided some rocky outcrops that are not shown on the map, and followed a faint path down to Gleann na Muice Beag . The pace was slowing as we walked down this glen on the well-made stalker's path before joining the path down Gleann na Muice. A short break to chat to a couple we had met on the last two hills, and who were camping in the glen, gave us a breather before crossing the Abhainn Gleann na Muice near Larachantivore. Across boggy ground, which fortunately wasn’t that wet, before our final river crossing of the Abhainn Srath na Sealga and the stroll up to the bothy at Shenavall arriving there at 10.05pm, fifteen hours after we had set out.
The midges were out and biting so we went into the bothy to eat and were made most welcome by the occupants who congratulated us on completing such a long walk. One guy gave up his chair so that Janice could have a rest while she ate her tea or should it be her supper. Just before midnight we returned to our tents for a well-earned rest. Janice forgot to read the article in her newspaper.
A long lie after the exertions of the previous day. Up at 7am on a reasonably nice morning with the clouds above the summits. After breakfast and packing we left Shenavall at 9am for the climb out of the Glen and into Gleann Chaorachain. En route we had to don waterproofs, as the spots of rain were rather large. This was the first time we had walked with anything other than a ‘t’ shirt on. At that point we spotted some wild goats on the hillside. On the descent down Gleann Chaorachain we met a few walkers heading for An Teallach.
At 11.30am we arrived back at Corrie Hallie rather tired but Janice was happy to head home to insert the six ticks in her book.
Reference books say that attempting these six Munros in one outing is only for the very fit so well done Janice you are obviously very fit and did well in the warm conditions.
Those who know Janice will no doubt recognise her from this biography, so sorry Janice I don’t think you can remain anonymous for much longer.
|Beinn a'Chlaidheimh||Munro||fourth ascent||916 metres|
|Sgurr Ban||Munro||fourth ascent||989 metres|
|Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair||Munro||fourth ascent||1018 metres|
|Beinn Tarsuinn||Munro||fourth ascent||937 metres|
|A'Mhaighdean||Munro||fourth ascent||967 metres|
|Ruadh Stac Mor||Munro||fourth ascent||918 metres|
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