921 m. |
Translation: The snout
Pronuncation: an sochkach
This tour to the remote hills at the western end of Glen Affric was one that gave us many interesting impressions. The beautiful woods in the eastern part of the glen, the marvellous loch and the lonely upper reaches around Alltbeithe Youth Hostel. We started our hike from the parking at the east end of Loch Affric where the two routes along the north and south side of the loch commence. We chose the southern approach since we used bicycles in order to make quicker progress on the long way to the foot of the hills. The land-rover track undulates about 50m above Loch Affric and the heavy rucksacks on our backs made themselves felt on every rise of the track. Driving downhill on the good track was fun, though.
Soon we reached the crossing of the River Affric at Athnamulloch. We pushed our bikes over the bridge and continued our bicycle tour. The surface of the track deteriorated considerably being now composed of gravel and small boulders which made things more exhausting. Then, when the Glen opened up and its floor became flatter, we saw the youth hostel in the distance. Once there, we paused for some sandwiches. We left our bicycles by the hostel and climbed the path beside the Allt na Faing into Coire na Cloiche. This was a very steady climb in a grassy corrie. Higher up in the corrie a steeper section followed but the going was easy. Soon the path delivered us on the beallach between the two munros. The views of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and Mullach na Dheiragain were impressive. But first we turned east and climbed the rigde to An Socach. The summit of this hill is only 30 minutes from the beallach and is easily gained. From the summit we retraced our steps and soon started the much more interesting climb of the east ridge of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan.
This graceful, curving ridge has several stony sections which make climbing it quite entertaining. Higher up steepish snow fields on the ridge meant another change of walking conditions. Real fun. We were exhausted nonetheless when we climbed the ever-steepening last 100 m of the ridge to the small summit with a big cairn at 1151m. An extended pause, big gulps of water from the bottles and the decision to leave Mullach na Dheiragain for another day followed. The summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan is a splendid viewpoint for the hills around Lochs Cluanie, Affric and Mullardoch. The weather being warm we enjoyed our solitude up there. But not only was it warm, it also was humid. So, not wanting to be caught out there by a thunderstorm we decided to head back to Alltbeithe by the way of ascent. We parted from the summit, walked down the snow fields and the rest of the ridge and from the beallach dropped into Corrie na Cloiche.
At the youth hostel we rested again and enjoyed the peacefulness of the surrounding landscape. Then we mounted our bicycles and headed back east along the River Affric. Mostly cycling, sometimes pushing our bikes we made good progress. The fact that one pedal of Frank’s mountain bike came off now and then and had to be bolted on again made us swear. Especially since we did not have the right tools with us. Anyway, we reached Athnamulloch with some effort. Soon afterwards the pedal problem was beyond mending. The weather turning to cold gusts of wind announcing showers and possibly thunderstorms, we took the decision that I should continue to the parking by bicycle quickly and check whether I could pick up Frank and his bike by car. But, of course, the gate close to the parking carried a lock. I waited for Frank at the car. He finally arrived only half an hour after me! None of us got soaked by rain. We could have stayed together.
This hill-walk was a novelty for us in that we used bicycles to get to the foot of the hills. Maybe we should come back to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel and climb the adjacent hills from there. I would love to go back to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and explore its other summit. Remote country, lonely hills, few people. Perfect.
Description This is a very modest hill 4 kilometres south-west of Mam Sodhail on the ridge from there to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. It is a small Munro surrounded by much bigger ones, which can be climbed as part of a longer traverse from Mam Sodhail to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, or by itself in a very short day.The approach starts from the carpark at the end of the public road in Glen Affric and goes along the right of way on the north side of Loch Affric. Alternatively, it is possible to go across the bridge near the carpark and cycle along the forest road on the south side of the loch past Athnamulloch. The two routes rejoin 1 kilometre west of the head of Loch Affric and 2 kilometres further on the track reaches the foot of An Socach. Cross the Allt Coire Ghaidheil and climb north-west to reach the ridge which goes round Coire Ghaidheil to the summit. Descend north-east to the Bealach Coire Ghadheil and follow the stalker's path back to the track in Glen Affric.