• Maol Chean-Dearg

Maol Chean-dearg

2000 Staying at Lower Diabaig I decided not to climb this hill from the south as recommended in the SMC book The Munros but to approach it from the north from Annat, one mile south/west of Torridon village junction on the A 896 road. Climbing up steadily from the starting point the path soon reached the plateau beneath Beinn na h-Eaglaise and continued to the north eastern end of Loch an Eion. There I took the right-hand fork where the path around the western and southern face of Meall Chean-Dearg branches off. After some easy walking and a steady ascent I came to the 590 m-bealach between the hill of the day and An Ruadh-Stac. Having walked 10 km in two hours I took a break, had a rest and looked at the western face of Sgorr Ruadh on the opposite side of the Fionn-abhainn. From this bealach I climbed the ridge up to Meall Chean-Dearg’s shoulder over quartzite scree and quartzite slabs standing upright. The final 100 m in height were a steep slog up the red sandsone boulders to the summit plateau of the hill. There I rested and marvelled for a short time at the sight of Liathach and Beinn Eighe who appeared to be one ridge from there. Alas, rain approaching from a west-south-westerly direction forced me off the summit all too soon. I walked back along the south/east ridge of the hill to the beallach at 590 m in rain and headed my way back to Annat, the ran having set in more persistently. It subsided, however, and I was easily walking back to Loch an Eion when a tall and strong stag crossed my way. He was certainly more shocked at my sight than I was at his and he sped away in enviable hill climbing style. What modest creatures we are when it comes to moving in boggy and bouldery highland terrain. Eventually I got back to the start of my hike after a little more than five and a half hours and I met Stephanie and Fiona for a very enjoyable meal and some drinks at the bar of the Torridon Hotel just a few hundred meters along the A 896. 20 km are a longish day out for one munro of perhaps not all that much Torridonian character. And although the approach from the north is through beautiful landscape scenery I presume that the shorter tour from the south is preferable.

May 1st, 2015|2000, 2015, Strath Orchy to Loch Leven|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beinn Tarsuinn

April 30th, 2015|2015, Loch Marree to Loch Broom|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maoile Lunndaidh

April 29th, 2015|2015, Glen Cannich to Glen Carron|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beinn Liath Mhor

Due to bad motivation and even worth weather when i first tried to tackle it in 2000 Beinn Liath Mhor was still on my ticking list. Call it fate or it was just an accident but the choosen location of the 2015 session made me use a very seldom choosen approach – in terms of locations and transportation – from Coulin. To save me some steps Cord offered to drive me from our cottage using the landrover track with our Fiat 500 upgrade called V70. After a little consideration where we should end our approach trip, he dropped me off a little bit too early, the V70 would have easily made the 1.5 miles to the hut, but never mind. The hut is in a very good state except the paint choosen if you take the notes in the hut seriously.

The walk along Easan Dorcha is exceptional beautiful and does in my opinion not lack comparison to the walk up Glen Derry. After reaching Drochaird Coire Lair – pittily in worsening weather – i started the very, very steep and narrow ascent to the ridge. I have not seen that many steep and narrow ascents, here you can trust me. The bad weather and the steepness accompinied me to Point 876. There only the steepness left me. It had snowed very heavy end of this April 2015 and i walked in newly snow up to my knees ignoring happily all the covered stone pits which i hit constantly more often than needed.

And up on the ridge two old friends accompanied me: “Gustly Winds” and “Hardly No Views”. Luckily the ridge is this defined that my eldest friend “Navigational Problems” should join me only later that day. After Point 876 i enyjoyed the downhill session which ended too soon with the reascent to Point 887. I was lucky that the elements enabled me to take some very dramatic pictures – where i met a long time forgotten fourth friend named “Loose My Glove”. There it went. Black Shadow. But since that remarkable day in the Fannaichs back in 1998 where i lost a glove i am always prepared to such situations because i carry 3-4 pairs of spare gloves in my rucksack.

Things got now even more interesting. Iced rock formations, waist high snow, strengthening gusts, in one word: lovely conditions. But i really loved it. And since i was not totally engulfed in clouds i used every chance to take pictures of the breathtaking landscape that surrounded me: the approaching summit of Beinn Liath Mhor with the Torridian giants in the background. Marvellous. I felt lucky. Lucky even more later to survive the choosen descent.

But first i had to concquer this Munro, well earned but no time and no conditions for sandwiches. I descended and then the troubles began. Cord had already warned me about the rocks and the descent i had chosen was definitely not the best in winterly conditions. The rock formations combined with snow and ice coverings led me to a zig-zag-down-up route to the bealach. My heart was heavily pounding and i had to wear my grivels due to the lack of crampons to more or less securely climb down. There was more than one occasion where i cursed my self on that afternoon.

But then i finally reached safe terrain and made my way the usual stumbling and looking and navigating. I reached the path far beyond the point i ought to reach it. But i did not mind. This path was my friend for the next 3 miles before reaching my approach path. Nevertheless i enjoyed the strolling back to the hut where the path developed into a track. Cord was already waiting at Point Alpha to pick me up and spare me the last mile to Coulin Farmhouse, thanks my friend!

That was a hell of a day. And i would no like to have missed one single second of it. A real adventure. A marvelous landscape. And a real Munro.

2000 We set out from Achnashellach on a day which looked quite promising in terms of water comming down from the skies. Some sunny spells on our drive from Lower Diabaig to our starting point had given us glimpse of the sun, however. But those were the only rays of sunlight until the hike was over. We soon reached the mouth of Coire Lair but couldn’t see anything because the hills were shrouded in clouds and rain was comming down on us.We followed the path to the foot of the south east face of Beinn Liath Mhor. From there Alex and I (Frank’s went back to the car – the knee) climbed up the very steep heathery slopes of the hill. That was a real slog. After some scrambling on wet, wet stone higher up on the hill we reached the ridge just 50 meters west of the most easterly summit of Beinn Liath Mhor. The wind was strong and unrelenting. Rain was comming down. Alex and I stamped along the ridge which narrowed and then broadened to the second summit of the day and further on to the main summit of the hill which is all white quartzite boulders. We rested in the lee of the big summit cairn and ate our sandwiches holding them in our cold hands. We aborted the descent to the head of corrie due south down the summit slopes and retraced our steps back to the summit cairn. From there we went due west and turned to a south-westerly direction at a lochan 1 km west of the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor. With some additional scambling over wet and slippery stone ledges overgrown with grass and moss we finally reached the path comming from Bealach Corrie Lair: Wet boots, wet legs – me at least. We had gone too far west and had to walk back east to the rocky knoll at the head of the bealach. Here the rain subsided and for the first […]

April 28th, 2015|2000, 2015, Coulin and Torridon|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Slioch

Residing in our marvellous house on the Coulin Estate meant that reaching the start of the hike involved only a fifteen minute drive to Kinlochewe. The day started out with good weather. At the parking in Incherill we changed into boots and packed our rucksacks in sunshine and cold air. Then everything was where it should be and we embarked on this long-anticipated hike along the north shore of Loch Maree towards Gleann Bianasdail. As can be read in many a description this six or seven kilometre walk first along the banks of the Kinlochewe River and then a little further on along the shore of the loch is very pleasant, a little undulating and much of the stretch can be covered walking on grass. It would have been a perfect day had we not encountered a succession of rather smelly carcasses of decomposing deer which littered the shoreline every now and then. Winter had been long and hard! All in all we saw eight or ten of them; and smelled one or two more. Yuck!

After 70 or 80 minutes we crossed the bridge over the Abhainn an Fhasaigh and immediately turned due north along the somewhat rough path that climbs grassy slopes interspersed with inclined and horizontal slabs of sandstone. The slope gets steeper the higher up you get. Sgurr Dubh boldly rises ahead to the left and we followed the path heading for the beallach between this hill and Meall Each. At about 500m the first specs of snow appeared and close to where the path levels off as it reaches the flat expanse of Coire Tuill Bhain it turned into a quagmire of slush and muck.

Checking out the two possible ways to the summit(s) from the corrie we soon decided that in these conditions of late winter and us carrying no ropes the more sensible approach seemed to be via Sgurr an Tuill Bhain and its south-east ridge which throws one arm down towards the corrie floor. We crossed the corrie where deep snow covered the heather and climbed up towards the south-east ridge of the Sgurr. Once at an altitude of 750 to 800m the wind picked up and one additional layer of fleece had to be added as another sheet of insulation against the wind-chill. Higher up on the steeper sections of the ridge leading to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain the wind became a real impediment to walking.

Looking west from a spot just below the summit of Sgurr an Tuill Bhain we could see a front of heavy snow showers moving quickly towards us. And when the snow hit us goggles came on and we stumbled forward onto the final two kilometres of narrow ridge towards the summit of Slioch. To quote from Mr Storer’s book 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains: “Under snow the ridge between Sgurr an Tuill Bhain and Slioch’s north top makes a good introduction to narrow winter ridge walking”. Amen to that and let me add that hip-deep snow and iced over rocks required a little more than a beginner’s level of expertise to make it to the summit safely in strong winds and driving snow: Luckily the wind on the high ridge was somewhat less intense than what we had encountered on our climb to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. Needless to say that the views were not all that expansive and we were lucky to get glimpses towards Fisherfield and the tops surrounding Coire Tuill Bhain.

Finally the summit came into view and we touched the well-earned cairn of this magnificent hill (location confirmed by GPS – to be sure in the almost whiteout conditions). Even though we couldn’t enjoy the scenery and not much could be seen of the cliffs dropping away towards the north and west we stayed at the summit for a few minutes to regain our strength and composure. But when no sunny window would appear in the snow showers we decided to make our way back towards the safety of Coire Tuill Bhain by retracing our steps.

Retracing the steps in a literal sense was not possible since the wind and driving snow had almost obliterated our footsteps after maybe twenty minutes. But route-finding was not an issue, of course, on this narrow ridge. We fought our way back to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. Now, for a change, the right halves of our faces were battered by the wind and snow – call it poetic justice if you will. But then we finally made it back onto the broad south-east ridge of the Sgurr and went down steeper slopes than used for the ascent. This brought us back into the flat bowl of Coire Tuill Bhain.

There we peeled of a layer or two of fleece, drank some water, ate a well-earned Mars bar and then re-crossed the corrie towards the beallach between Sgurr Dubh and Meall Each. From there it was “only” another 550m down the very stony path to the shore of Loch Maree. We finally got there and rested for a quarter of an hour in the light drizzle once we were back across the bridge over the Abhainn an Fhasaigh which really was in spate now. A flock of mountain goats came closer and closer as we were sitting there more or less motionless so that we might not scare them off.

The return leg from the bridge to Incherill was uneventful but our legs were aching a bit and the dead deer still smelled horribly. Then after 20 kilometres of walking and maybe 1.200 metres of ascent had been completed on the hike we finally got back to our car which waited for us in what I now remember as late afternoon sunshine. At least it felt like that after the heavy snow and atrocious winds we had had to endure on the hill.

A memorable hill walk thus came to a good end. This was a hill exceptionally well-earned and I can say that Frank and I are looking forward to coming back […]

April 27th, 2015|2015, Loch Marree to Loch Broom|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Am Faochagach

The third day of our hillwalking holiday in Alba was to be a day of transiting from Ullapool to Torridon. So the Munro bagging goal of the day was to climb Am Faochagach, a hill which is not very far from the A 835 which should be doable in five to six hours. We parked at the small parking beside the bridge over the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh. The day was overcast and sported the occasional rain shower at glen level. So it was a constant question of wearing your rain gear or not. From the road we followed the very wet path that leads to the Abhainn a’ Gharbhrain, the short river connecting the Loch of the same name and Loch Glascarnoch. With the last weeks of a very wintry spring still leaving their mark and quite a bit of melting going on nonetheless it was likely that this river which is notorious for being difficult to cross would call for some wading. And that’s what we soon found out to be true. When we reached the right-hand bank of the Abhainn the boots soon went off, the trousers were rolled up and we waded the river. That was ok even though the water was very cold.

Once over the river we climbed up on the moraine that leads in a north-easterly direction towards the hill of the day. Where it ended we picked up a path beside the Allt na h-Uidhe and steadily climbed towards the whaleback of the hill. We reached a wide beallach on the ridge at about 700m and turned due north. Here the hill was covered in maybe 10 cm of fresh snow. We climbed another 120m until we found ourselves on a plateau-ish ridge which we followed north. Visibility was only moderate but after another kilometre we reached the start of the final steepening that signalled the last 130m leading towards the summit dome of Am Faochagach. These consisted of banks of deep snow alternating with grassy and stony sections (solifluction forming the slope). The going was not easy with strong winds and driving snow making progress laborious. But at least on the way up orientation was easy since you just kept on walking up the incline. Then we reached the summit with its two cairns which both of which we duly visited (to be sure).

The weather now resembled a full-blown snow storm and we were glad we could turn back and try to retrace our steps. On the way down from the summit we erred too far to the left (east) and had to change course in order not to aim too low and end up in the gully between Meall Gorm and Am Faochagach. But everything became clear when the clouds and driving snow gave us 30 seconds of respite and some views. Then what was left to return via the whaleback-section of ridge towards the col a 700m, turn towards the valley below, stroll down the side of the hill and reach the flat terrain south of the overgrown moraine leading towards the Abhainn a’ Gharbhrain.

When we reached the river we realized that a decent amount of melting had been going on in the glens while we fought a snow storm on the ridges. The water level had risen considerably. We searched for an acceptable spot for wading the river and picked one close to where we had crossed the river heading for the hill a few hours earlier. The current was strong, the water chilly and the rocks slippery. This resulted in one of us getting quite wet (arms and legs up to the buttocks) while crossing the river while the other one (Frank) made it to the other bank rather more elegantly.

From the south bank it was another kilometre to the car which we spent hopping over puddles of water and avoiding the worst sinkholes in the grass. When we reached the road and the car another heavy snow shower extended its stubborn welcome to us and proved rather consistent with the rest of the day weather-wise. Naturally the change from wet hiking clothes into a pair of dry jeans, socks and shoes was a rather unceremonious and hurried affair executed in the lee of the car.

It felt good to have bagged this unpretentious and bulky hill in late winter conditions since that added an adventurous note to this otherwise straightforward hillwalk: Five and a half hours of Alba some of it spent in full “immersion” mode. Be it in a snow storm or a river! :-)

April 26th, 2015|2015, Loch Broom to Easter Ross|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seana Bhraigh

2015 was the year set aside for climbing all of the Munros still left in the north of Scotland. The northernmost of these was Seanna Braigh. Since we had stayed in Ullapool for the night the logical approach to the hill was from Inverlael; even though we had been there so often before and the first three kilometres of the hike would be more than well-known to us. Alas, what can you do?

So we started from the parking beside the A835 walking up the forest road to the ruin in Glensquaib in acceptable weather. Soon some layers of protective clothing needed to be shed. After maybe 35 minutes we reached the Glensquaib ruin and embarked on the steep and stony track that leads up to Druim na Saobhaidhe. Once more level terrain was reached the track was completely covered by snow which resulted in us heading too far to the south-east. Once we had realized the error we turned in a more northerly direction to reach the ford over the Allt Gleann a’Mhadaidh.

There we crossed the stream. The ensuing track was well discernible even under snow and we climbed it for another three kilometres until we reached the succession of lochans in Coire an Lochain Sgreirich. At the head of the corrie more snow completely obliterated the path and we were left to our own devices. After maybe fifteen minutes of treading deep snow we reached the spot where a descent down a steep gully between two tops gives access to the rocky knolls below leading to Cadha Dearg. At the head of Cadha Dearg, which has the appearance of a rocky, sharp and deep glen from there, we paused to marvel at the views. A magnificent place and we had it all to ourselves – the last other hikers we met that day having retraced their steps towards Inverlael long before.

Form Cadha Dearg onwards we enjoyed occasional rays of sunshine during an otherwise cloudy day. From the cleft we headed up steepish slopes covered in fresh snow towards point 906m which we skirted on the south and then continued over the plateau and the final rise to the summit of Seanna Braigh. The cairn nestles precariously on the rim of Luchd Corrie. Man, that’s a great corrie indeed. We rested for a short time at the summit even though the high winds did not really extend an invitation to stay all that long. The views were stunning and we were happy (and lucky) that the sun shone and the clouds on the surrounding hills had lifted: Eiddidh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Beinn Dearg and the Coigach hills of Ben More Coigach and Cul More (the first hill I climbed in Scotland – in 1993) and, further north, Canisp and Suilven all were visible as were the distant Fannaichs to the south.

But then the strong cold wind and time constraints urged us to abandon the summit and to retrace our steps in the direction of Inverlael. Soon the head of Cadha Dearg was reached again. From there we walked towards the 100 or 150m climb up the steep gully leading back to Coire an Lochain Sgeirich. The climb up this steep snowfield was treacherous because the snow was slushy and in some places hardly thick and compact enough to support our weight. But we finally made it to Coire an Lochain Sgeirich without dropping into deep snow holes or breaking through snow bridges.

Once in the Corrie it was another 30 minutes of descent in a heavy snow shower to make it back to the first (lowest) of the lochans. There the access path became apparent again and we followed it back to the ford over the Allt Gleann a’Mhadaidh. At the ford there was much more water in the Allt now that the snow had started to melt but we managed to cross the burn dry-shod to reach its south bank alright. We took another well-earned break in the late afternoon sun. Then all that was left was to retrace our steps to Glensquaib ruin and to the parking at Inverlael. We reached the parking at about 8:15 pm, when dusk was slowly falling. From there it was a short drive back to our B&B where a hot shower was waiting for us as well as the prospect of a nice curry at the Indian restaurant in Ullapool.

This day was great winter outing in very remote country. All in all we covered about 27 kilometres, half of it in snow or deep snow. The elements were not always nice on us this day. So Seanna Braigh was a hill well-earned and we really enjoyed the effort spent to bag this Munro.

April 25th, 2015|2015, Loch Broom to Easter Ross|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mam Sodhail

2015 was to be the year, when we wanted clear the far north of red flags (unbagged Munros on the maps of www.bgmb.de). With a few left to tick in Torridon, Fisherfield and the Ullapool hills we had a long drive north ahead of us in order to get where we wanted to: Our hunting lodge by Loch Coulin and the B&B in Ullapool to start with. But before the far north could be tackled we had unfinished business a little further south in Glen Affric which needed our attention. For me that meant Beinn Fhionnlaidh and for Frank it meant the whole group of Carn Eighe, Mam Sodhail and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. So our trip up from EDI took us to the Tomich Hotel, ideally suited as a starting point for this grand tour in Affric. We arrived early enough to sit outside, to bask in some of the warm sunshine and to have nice pint of lager. After a good meal, an early night and a full breakfast, we were at the start of the hike before ten o’clock the next morning: The parking where the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh flows into Loch Bheinn a’Mheadhoin.

Since we had already climbed Toll Creagach and Tom a’Choinich from there years earlier the Landrover track was well known to us. We quickly made progress on this good track and reached the spot where the path by the Allt Toll Easa branches off. We continued straight ahead on the path beside the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh further up into the wide open corrie/moor. After two more kilometres we headed up steepish terrain on grass and snow fields leading towards the Garbh Beallach. From there we continued up narrow sections of the ridge (the stalkers’ stairway) towards Sron Garbh and Stob aí Choire Dhomhain. The ridge between these two is studded with a few rock towers which meant some pleasant scrambling or bypassing on the path provided for either of us. Soon the summit of Carn Eighe came into view. Once there we had a break and enjoyed the views from this remote summit. On my last visit more than a decade ago I had not been afforded with such nice vistas so this was a first for me, too.

Then we continued our hike and walked down the steep and stony north ridge of Carn Eighe, reached the more grassy part of the ridge connecting Carn Eighe and Bheinn Fhionnlaidh, dumped our rucksacks close to point 917m (which we bypassed to the left) and climbed the roughly 200 metres towards the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The steep climb delivered us by the summit cairn from where good views of the Mullardoch hills brought back memories from our 36km and 12h trip of the Mullardoch Four on a hot day years and years before. What a truly memorable day that had been!

From Beinn Fhionnlaidh we headed back towards point 917m, picked up our rucksacks and started a rising traverse across the grassy west face of Carn Eighe which became increasingly more interspersed with gullies filled with stones and scree the closer we got towards the beallach between Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail. From the col we climbed the very steep and rocky east ridge of Mam Sodhail. Soon the summit of this Munro No. 3 was attained. From there two decent options for a descent were theoretically available. Either down Coire Leachavie or down the ridge ending in Sgurr na Lapaich. I write theoretically since the ridge offered much better views and the headwall of Coire Leachavie was guarded by a steep snow field and cornice the negotiability of which I could not really judge from the summit.

So after a muesli bar or two had been munched we continued towards Sgurr na Lapaich. Across the corrie debris from avalanches that had issued from below the summit of Carn Eighe and had reached down to the shore of Loch Uaine bore witness of the long and severe winter in the Highlands. (And we were to learn the next few days that winter was not over yet ;-). The ridge was easy and undulated not too much. Only one or two smaller re-ascents had to be endured. Yes our legs were already quite wobbly (at least mine were, this being day number one of the vacation). From Sgurr na Lapaich the speed and ease of the descent were greatly increased by interlocking snow fields which helped save energy and were good for our tired muscles and joints. Once on the flattish terrain east of Sgurr na Lapaich we headed in an easterly direction to reach the Landrover track connecting Gleann nam Fiadh and Glen Affric at the point where it turns sharply towards the east. From there it was an easy but speedy stroll towards Affric Lodge. Once on the tarmac road we turned east and walked another three kilometres towards the parking where our faithful V70 was waiting. A few minutes before we reached the car we passed the start and finish area of the big fell-running event that was to take place the next day in the exact area we had used for the approach and the way off the hills. From the parking we headed off towards Ullapool which we reached by 9:30 p.m. that night not without having lived through a major scare on the drive when – by a hairs breadth – we missed a deer parading the A835 between Loch Droma and the Corrieshalloch Gorge in the dark. Adrenalin!

28 kilometres and roughly 10 hours spent out in the hills was the bottom line of your first day in Scotland in 2015. Not bad for starters, I should say. This was to be one of only two days without sleet and snow in 2015. And it was a very rewarding day in the Glen Affric hills, an area of Scotland to which we certainly will return in years to come, i.e. after the long-awaited compleation.

1999 The fair weather which had helped […]

April 24th, 2015|1999, 2015, Glen Affric and Kintail|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beinn Fhionnlaidh

2015 was to be the year, when we wanted clear the far north of red flags (unbagged Munros on the maps of www.bgmb.de). With a few left to tick in Torridon, Fisherfield and the Ullapool hills we had a long drive north ahead of us in order to get where we wanted to: Our hunting lodge by Loch Coulin and the B&B in Ullapool to start with. But before the far north could be tackled we had unfinished business a little further south in Glen Affric which needed our attention. For me that meant Beinn Fhionnlaidh and for Frank it meant the whole group of Carn Eighe, Mam Sodhail and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. So our trip up from EDI took us to the Tomich Hotel, ideally suited as a starting point for this grand tour in Affric. We arrived early enough to sit outside, to bask in some of the warm sunshine and to have nice pint of lager. After a good meal, an early night and a full breakfast, we were at the start of the hike before ten o’clock the next morning: The parking where the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh flows into Loch Bheinn a’Mheadhoin.

Since we had already climbed Toll Creagach and Tom a’Choinich from there years earlier the Landrover track was well known to us. We quickly made progress on this good track and reached the spot where the path by the Allt Toll Easa branches off. We continued straight ahead on the path beside the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh further up into the wide open corrie/moor. After two more kilometres we headed up steepish terrain on grass and snow fields leading towards the Garbh Beallach. From there we continued up narrow sections of the ridge (the stalkers’ stairway) towards Sron Garbh and Stob aí Choire Dhomhain. The ridge between these two is studded with a few rock towers which meant some pleasant scrambling or bypassing on the path provided for either of us. Soon the summit of Carn Eighe came into view. Once there we had a break and enjoyed the views from this remote summit. On my last visit more than a decade ago I had not been afforded with such nice vistas so this was a first for me, too.

Then we continued our hike and walked down the steep and stony north ridge of Carn Eighe, reached the more grassy part of the ridge connecting Carn Eighe and Bheinn Fhionnlaidh, dumped our rucksacks close to point 917m (which we bypassed to the left) and climbed the roughly 200 metres towards the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The steep climb delivered us by the summit cairn from where good views of the Mullardoch hills brought back memories from our 36km and 12h trip of the Mullardoch Four on a hot day years and years before. What a truly memorable day that had been!

From Beinn Fhionnlaidh we headed back towards point 917m, picked up our rucksacks and started a rising traverse across the grassy west face of Carn Eighe which became increasingly more interspersed with gullies filled with stones and scree the closer we got towards the beallach between Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail. From the col we climbed the very steep and rocky east ridge of Mam Sodhail. Soon the summit of this Munro No. 3 was attained. From there two decent options for a descent were theoretically available. Either down Coire Leachavie or down the ridge ending in Sgurr na Lapaich. I write theoretically since the ridge offered much better views and the headwall of Coire Leachavie was guarded by a steep snow field and cornice the negotiability of which I could not really judge from the summit.

So after a muesli bar or two had been munched we continued towards Sgurr na Lapaich. Across the corrie debris from avalanches that had issued from below the summit of Carn Eighe and had reached down to the shore of Loch Uaine bore witness of the long and severe winter in the Highlands. (And we were to learn the next few days that winter was not over yet ;-). The ridge was easy and undulated not too much. Only one or two smaller re-ascents had to be endured. Yes our legs were already quite wobbly (at least mine were, this being day number one of the vacation). From Sgurr na Lapaich the speed and ease of the descent were greatly increased by interlocking snow fields which helped save energy and were good for our tired muscles and joints. Once on the flattish terrain east of Sgurr na Lapaich we headed in an easterly direction to reach the Landrover track connecting Gleann nam Fiadh and Glen Affric at the point where it turns sharply towards the east. From there it was an easy but speedy stroll towards Affric Lodge. Once on the tarmac road we turned east and walked another three kilometres towards the parking where our faithful V70 was waiting. A few minutes before we reached the car we passed the start and finish area of the big fell-running event that was to take place the next day in the exact area we had used for the approach and the way off the hills. From the parking we headed off towards Ullapool which we reached by 9:30 p.m. that night not without having lived through a major scare on the drive when – by a hairs breadth – we missed a deer parading the A835 between Loch Droma and the Corrieshalloch Gorge in the dark. Adrenalin!

28 kilometres and roughly 10 hours spent out in the hills was the bottom line of your first day in Scotland in 2015. Not bad for starters, I should say. This was to be one of only two days without sleet and snow in 2015. And it was a very rewarding day in the Glen Affric hills, an area of Scotland to which we certainly will return in years to come, i.e. after the long-awaited compleation.

April 24th, 2015|2015, Glen Affric and Kintail|
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carn Eighe

2015 was to be the year, when we wanted clear the far north of red flags (unbagged Munros on the maps of www.bgmb.de). With a few left to tick in Torridon, Fisherfield and the Ullapool hills we had a long drive north ahead of us in order to get where we wanted to: Our hunting lodge by Loch Coulin and the B&B in Ullapool to start with. But before the far north could be tackled we had unfinished business a little further south in Glen Affric which needed our attention. For me that meant Beinn Fhionnlaidh and for Frank it meant the whole group of Carn Eighe, Mam Sodhail and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. So our trip up from EDI took us to the Tomich Hotel, ideally suited as a starting point for this grand tour in Affric. We arrived early enough to sit outside, to bask in some of the warm sunshine and to have nice pint of lager. After a good meal, an early night and a full breakfast, we were at the start of the hike before ten o’clock the next morning: The parking where the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh flows into Loch Bheinn a’Mheadhoin.

Since we had already climbed Toll Creagach and Tom a’Choinich from there years earlier the Landrover track was well known to us. We quickly made progress on this good track and reached the spot where the path by the Allt Toll Easa branches off. We continued straight ahead on the path beside the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh further up into the wide open corrie/moor. After two more kilometres we headed up steepish terrain on grass and snow fields leading towards the Garbh Beallach. From there we continued up narrow sections of the ridge (the stalkers’ stairway) towards Sron Garbh and Stob aí Choire Dhomhain. The ridge between these two is studded with a few rock towers which meant some pleasant scrambling or bypassing on the path provided for either of us. Soon the summit of Carn Eighe came into view. Once there we had a break and enjoyed the views from this remote summit. On my last visit more than a decade ago I had not been afforded with such nice vistas so this was a first for me, too.

Then we continued our hike and walked down the steep and stony north ridge of Carn Eighe, reached the more grassy part of the ridge connecting Carn Eighe and Bheinn Fhionnlaidh, dumped our rucksacks close to point 917m (which we bypassed to the left) and climbed the roughly 200 metres towards the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The steep climb delivered us by the summit cairn from where good views of the Mullardoch hills brought back memories from our 36km and 12h trip of the Mullardoch Four on a hot day years and years before. What a truly memorable day that had been!

From Beinn Fhionnlaidh we headed back towards point 917m, picked up our rucksacks and started a rising traverse across the grassy west face of Carn Eighe which became increasingly more interspersed with gullies filled with stones and scree the closer we got towards the beallach between Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail. From the col we climbed the very steep and rocky east ridge of Mam Sodhail. Soon the summit of this Munro No. 3 was attained. From there two decent options for a descent were theoretically available. Either down Coire Leachavie or down the ridge ending in Sgurr na Lapaich. I write theoretically since the ridge offered much better views and the headwall of Coire Leachavie was guarded by a steep snow field and cornice the negotiability of which I could not really judge from the summit.

So after a muesli bar or two had been munched we continued towards Sgurr na Lapaich. Across the corrie debris from avalanches that had issued from below the summit of Carn Eighe and had reached down to the shore of Loch Uaine bore witness of the long and severe winter in the Highlands. (And we were to learn the next few days that winter was not over yet ;-). The ridge was easy and undulated not too much. Only one or two smaller re-ascents had to be endured. Yes our legs were already quite wobbly (at least mine were, this being day number one of the vacation). From Sgurr na Lapaich the speed and ease of the descent were greatly increased by interlocking snow fields which helped save energy and were good for our tired muscles and joints. Once on the flattish terrain east of Sgurr na Lapaich we headed in an easterly direction to reach the Landrover track connecting Gleann nam Fiadh and Glen Affric at the point where it turns sharply towards the east. From there it was an easy but speedy stroll towards Affric Lodge. Once on the tarmac road we turned east and walked another three kilometres towards the parking where our faithful V70 was waiting. A few minutes before we reached the car we passed the start and finish area of the big fell-running event that was to take place the next day in the exact area we had used for the approach and the way off the hills. From the parking we headed off towards Ullapool which we reached by 9:30 p.m. that night not without having lived through a major scare on the drive when – by a hairs breadth – we missed a deer parading the A835 between Loch Droma and the Corrieshalloch Gorge in the dark. Adrenalin!

28 kilometres and roughly 10 hours spent out in the hills was the bottom line of your first day in Scotland in 2015. Not bad for starters, I should say. This was to be one of only two days without sleet and snow in 2015. And it was a very rewarding day in the Glen Affric hills, an area of Scotland to which we certainly will return in years to come, i.e. after the long-awaited compleation.

 

1999 The fair weather which had helped […]

April 24th, 2015|1999, 2015, Glen Affric and Kintail|