Friday 30 May 2014

Sow of Atholl, Sgairneach Mhor and Beinn Udlamain.

Coire Dhomhain from near the start of the walk - Sow of Atholl, Sgairneach Mhor and Beinn Udlamain

Another lovely day - Jim was feeling good after his test Munro walk last weekend - so off we go...

Sow of Atholl, and Sgairneach Mhor over Allt Coire Dhomhain

Briefly beside the A9, before scurrying under the railway tunnel access to the hills - a good track led us into Coire Dhomhain.

Footbridge over Allt Coire Dhomhain and Sgairneach Mhor

How many times have we driven past these hills at Drumochter Pass? How many times have we pointed out the Sow of Atholl and the Boar of Badenoch?

Grouse butt on the ascent of the Sow of Atholl

The Sow of Atholl looked steep, but on such a lovely day?? We took a sharp left at the first footbridge over Allt Coire Dhomhain and were soon on pathless open hillside.

Rafe and Jim ascend the Sow of Atholl

It was steep - and hot - but steep means a quick ascent - and with today's clear air and sunshine we could see for miles.

Views north over the A9 from the ascent of the Sow of Atholl

We were soon on the top, and we could have had a game of cricket!

The Sow of Atholl (Meall an Dobharchain) is a Corbett at 803m, but height isn't everything.

Jim - Sow of Atholl (Meall an Dobharchain) summit (Corbett 157, 803m)

Hot, hot, hot. It really was a lovely day. We spent a while pointing at and naming summits whilst scranning a spot of lunch.

Views south from the Sow of Atholl (Schiehallion left)

Before heading south east, straight off the summit, on easy slopes, to the bealach between the Sow and our first Munro of the day, Sgairneach Mhor. We skirted around the head of a little glen at NN618735, before heading off up the western side of this glen.

Views north through unnamed glen to Boar of Badenoch (from NN618735)

We came across a path of sorts, better going than the deep heather though, and this led us up the hillside towards the snowy cornice hanging above Coire Creagach below Sgairneach Mhor.

Jim at the start of the pull up Sgairneach Mhor

Rafe spied a peaty pool for a bit of a cool down...

Rafe - on the ascent of Sgairneach Mhor

Views back to the Sow of Atholl from the ascent of Sgairneach Mhor

As we neared the summit, we could see that the cornice was quite extensive, peeling away from the hill, looking ready to fall. But it was hard old snow, icy blue and solid, it wasn't going anywhere too soon, not even in this heat...

 On Sgairneach Mhor

Jim - near the summit of Sgairneach Mhor

East from near the summit of Sgairneach Mhor

Sgairneach Mhor summit (Munro 155, 991m)

Once again the views from the summit of Sgairneach Mhor were amazing, underrated hills to be sure.

Decent into Coire Dhomhain - views NW to Beinn Udlamain

We headed off towards the watershed of Coire Dhomhain on easy terrain, good walking.

Rafe has a chilly paddle in an infant Allt Coire Dhomhain

It was a touch muddy down in the wide bealach, Rafe managing to find a nice spot for a plodge in water, snow and mud at the same time!

Coire Dhomhain from the ascent of Beinn Udlamain

South west from the ascent of Beinn Udlamain into the wild lands of Atholl

We picked up another path on the ascent to our second Munro, Beinn Udlamain, so the going was made easier. A couple of friendly ptarmigan watched us pass by, croaking a greeting. 

Ptarmigan on Beinn Udlamain

Loch Ericht and Ben Alder from Beinn Udlamain

The summit of Beinn Udlamain was wide, with glorious views, east over Loch Ericht to Ben Alder and north to A'Mharconaich and Geal-charn (yes- that Geal-charn) our walk from last week.

Beinn Udlamain summit (Munro 119, 1011m)

And, of course, the rest of today's walk.

Sgairneach Mhor from Beinn Udlamain

Sgairneach Mhor from Beinn Udlamain summit plateau

We continued north east along the wide sunny plateau, not really wanting to go down yet...

Rafe - Beinn Udlamain summit plateau with views to A'Mharconaich

At the top of a little gully we finally headed back down into Coire Dhomhain (it was starting to get late, after all!)

Sgairneach Mhor from the descent into Coire Dhomhain

But not really wanting to walk miles along the wide track at the bottom, we stayed high on the hillside, descending slowly around the lower slopes of A'Mharconaich, only reaching the Coire bottom, just before the footbridge at NN620752,

Jim and Rafe - Sgairneach Mhor from the descent into Coire Dhomhain

Seemed like a good spot for a second lunch. Rafe, of course, was only interested in getting as wet as possible before we got back to the car.

Allt Coire Dhomhain

Once back at the car, we were questioned by a German family - What is the white stuff on the hillside?
Snow we told them
How high up?
Oh, about 800m.
Never, that's too low down for snow in May!

I wonder what they thought it was, if not snow??

The Sow of Atholl and Sgairneach Mhor from Coire Dhomhain

Route:  Layby 81 on A9 (NN632761), S along the path beside the A9, to the tunnel under the railway line at NN633751, turn N then W along good track into Coire Dhomhain, at NN620752 turn left onto another good track, cross footbridge and continue until the track ends, continue straight up the pathless hillside of Meall an Dobharchain (Sow of Atholl), Sow of Atholl (Corbett 157, 803m), SW to NN618735, W to Sgairneach Mhor (Munro 155, 991m), SW for 500m, then NW to top of Coire Dhomhain (NN584732), Beinn Udlamain (Munro 119, 1011m), continue on summit plateau to spot height 861m (NN592752), descend pathless hillside to track in Coire Domhain and return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 17.6km  Ascent: 1100m  Time: 7 hours

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