M209 | 954 m. | 3130 ft.
Translation: Big grey hill of Fannich
Pronuncation: byn leea voar fannich

May 2009 was the wettest hiking season in Scotland that I ever had the privilege of experiencing. This tour proved to be no different from the average squishy, slithering, sleety, soaking standard. Having set our mind on ticking off the four eastern Munros of the Fannaichs we approached the hills from the parking on the A835 between Loch Droma and Loch Glascarnoch which is at the bridge over the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh.

On the left bank of the Abhainn we followed the bends of the burn which carried a lot (!) of water indeed. The going was good and the path was sort of dry. Soon we reached the confluence of the Allt an Loch Sgeirich and the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li, crossed the first and continued our tramp along the left bank of the latter. We did not (!) use the bridge but climbed further on the deteriorating path. Higher up the burn we managed to cross it and headed over heathery terrain up the gentle slopes of Meallan Bhuide. Well, close to the rounded summit of this hillock the rain caught us and ended the short intermezzo of two hours walking without water coming down (my feet were soaked anyway, so hey, what difference does it make?). Loch Gorm came into view. It nestled nicely between the crags of Meall Gorm and the corrie headwall which lay ahead.

We climbed into the hanging corrie above the loch, veered in a south easterly direction and came to the summit slopes of An Coileachan. At the summit sleet was coming down so the short rest was rather uncomfortable. From this first Munro we turned north-west, crossed the area at the head of the corrie of ascent and climbed the grassy slopes, interspersed with rocks, which lead to the very flat ridge of Meall Gorm. The wind now caught us, things became considerably colder and the visibility dropped to 50 meters.

At a stone shelter shortly before the summit we added an additional layer of warmer fleece in driving rain. Then the summit appeared, the cairn was touched and we continued immediately on the good path, not without being almost blown over once or twice by the gale. On this ridge we met another group of hillwalking lunatics (Sorry lads! :-))) who did the same tour counter-clockwise. Soon after the top of Meall nan Peithrean the 200m climb to the summit of Sgurr Mor began. Frank raced ahead and I had to hurry not to loose contact. Having already bagged this Munro a few years earlier my motivation only sufficed for plodding on. At the large cairn we took a short summit break and then retraced our steps to where the side ridge leading to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich branches off. The steep descent down this side ridge was treacherous since a thin layer of slushy snow covered the grass and the path.

Soon the broad ridge made for easy walking. We passed the hunters’ shelter, got to the bouldery west face of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and followed the path contouring around the hill to its north side. From there we climbed the last 100m to the summit of our fourth Munro. By now, we both were quite exhausted. But since the car was another seven or eight kilometres off and the weather did not improve we hastened our retreat. Down the very rocky south ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich we headed towards the gentler slopes of Creag Dubh Fannaich. From this subsidiary top we struck a more or less direct line towards the confluence of the Allt an Loch Sgeirich and the Abhainn a’Ghiubhais Li.

The terrain got flatter and with all the water that had come down and was still falling from the sky we now experienced the disintegration of gentle heathery slopes into pools, rivulets, streams on grass and mossy water traps. One of the wettest pieces of land in Scotland we have ever seen. With some difficulty we crossed the Allt an Loch Sgeirich and reached the path along the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, which had beed transformed into a raging torrent of peaty water with waterfalls and all. Very nice to the eye but our minds were set on autopilot by now.

Then, after seemingly countless jumps over pools and countless bends of the river we finally saw the parking and our car. Soaked and very, very tired we reached the road, peeled off some of the wet layers of clothing and headed off towards our warm and cosy cottage in Letters on the shore of Loch Broom. This was not a great hike, there were no marvelous views, but in hindsight it feels like we did a decent job on a ghastly day in the hills.

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Total distance: 19275 m
Max elevation: 1172 m
Min elevation: 321 m
Total climbing: 1520 m
Total descent: -1139 m
Total time: 07:24:12


2002 The morning in Ullapool. The afternoon in the Fannichs. It turned out to be exactly the right plan since as the day developed the weather got better and better. Around noon we parked our car at the dam of Loch Droma and went up the landrover track and footpath leading to Loch a’Mhadaih. Heading for the north-east ridge of Meall a’ Chrasgaidh we crossed the heathery terrain in the corrie. Further up we had a few drops of rain – the last ones of a dying anticyclone. We walked on to the col at the head of the corrie and headed for the ascent of Sgurr nan Clach Geala. Up we went and I have to damit that this is one of the finer Scottish hills I have been to. The hanging corrie, the well-defined ridge and the more than extensive views from the summit. We took a break lying in the grass. An Teallach, Fisherfield, Letterewe, Slioch, Beinn Eighe and Liathach in the distance. The North-West is simply the best. Alas the next hill beckoned and so we walked back to the bealach, passed over Carn na Criche and climbed up the steep north-west ridge of Sgurr Mor. Massive, mossy cairn and strongish wind on the summit. We soon went on down the southern ridge of Sgurr Mor and over the connecting ridge with its well kept stalkers path (and shelter) to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannich’s western flank. From the flat ground on the north of the hill we stomped up this third munro of the day and paused. Exhausted we devoured some biscuits and embarked on the final leg of the day, the descent back to the landrover track along the Allt a’Mhadaidh over the north-east ridge and down its steep north slope. After a few hundred metres we found a developing path which in due course brought us back over slightly boggy terrain to weir of the Allt a’Mhadaidh. From there the last three or four kilometres to the Loch Droma dam were pleasant walking. A surprisingly sunny day in the Fannichs and a real contrast to the tough winter walks up Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and Sgurr nan Each which Frank and I did in February 1999. Also remarkable how harmless the flat territory below Beinn Liath Mhor Fannich’s summit appeared in comparison with the winter climb in 1999 where Frank and I had to turn back here in complete white-out conditions.

Description Sgurr Mor, the highest of the Fannaichs, is a fine mountain at the centre of the range rising high above its neighbours. From its summit three ridges radiate, south-east to Meall Gorm, north-east to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and north-west to Carn na Criche. The north face of Sgurr Mor and its neighbouring top Carn na Criche forms an impressive dark wall looming over Loch a' Mhadaidh.The traverse of these two mountains is best made from the dam at the end of Loch Droma on the A835 road. From there follow the track and beyond it the path up the Allt a' Mhadaidh to reach Loch a' Mhadaidh. Go round the west side of the loch and climb steeply to the col between Carn na Criche and Meall a' Chrasgaidh (which may be easily reached from this point). Climb east up a broad ridge to Carn na Criche and continue south-east across a col and up much steeper slopes to the pointed summit of Sgurr Mor. Traverse the ridge which leads north-east to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and descend the corrie to the head of Loch Sgeireach. Continue the descent north to reach the track beside the Allt a' Mhadaidh and return along it to Loch Droma.