Saturday 23 April 2016

A'Ghlas-bheinn and the Falls of Glomach

Rafe - footpath near Inchnacro beside Abhainn Chonaig - snow shower over A'Ghlas-bheinn

It's that in-between time - do we need our winter gear or not? Better take it, just in case!

So, with fairly heavy packs, we set off from the car parking area by the Kintail Countryside Centre (Morvich), hoping that the forecast heavy snow showers would keep off.

Rafe and Jim - on the path above Abhainn Chonaig
Views west to shower over A'Ghlas-bheinn

The sun shone upon us for about 10 minutes whilst we crossed the bridge at Inchnacro, followed the helpful signposts through the crofting village and onto the glen path. The heavens opened and it rained! We could see that it was falling as snow ahead of us on A'Ghlas-bheinn.

But that there was blue sky beyond - it was worth hanging on for a few to see what the weather gods would give us, before donning the waterproofs...

A'Ghlas-bheinn over Gleann Choinneachain

And it was worth waiting - another 10 minutes and the sun came out, bright and strong. Definitely spring and not winter! It was the last rain of the day.

Steaming slightly, we continued north east along Strath Croe.

Looking back to Strath Croe and Loch Duich from the start of the ascent into Gleann Choinneachain

I had walked down this glen when on a little backpack a couple of years before (Sort of the Affric Kintail Way) - Jim was regaled with reminiscences...

Rafe - as we turn into Gleann Choinneachain - views to A'Ghlas-bheinn

The good path was followed around the corner (south west) into Gleann Choinneachain and into hill country - A'Ghlas-bheinn to our left and Beinn Fhada on our right. Bealach an Sgairne a real notch in the hills between the two.

Views east along Gleann Choinneachain to A'Ghlas-bheinn and Meall a'Bhealaich

Jim and Rafe - ascent towards Bealach an Sgairne in Gleann Choinneachain

The path ascended gently, above the burn, it was pretty easygoing...

Waterfalls in Gleann Choinneachain

The recent shower had laid a covering of snow above about 800m, but we could almost see it melting away - it was warm in that lovely sun.

Views back (west) down Gleann Choinneachain

A'Ghlas-bheinn, Bealach an Sgairne and Meall a'Bhealaich 

Jim - ascent of Gleann Choinneachain -  waterfalls on Allt a'Choire Chaoil

As we neared the waterfalls on the Allt a'Choire Chaoil, we got our first sight of Beinn Fhada and the Sgurr a'Choire Ghairbh ridge - it looked almost Alpine - definitely went to the top of our to-do list.

We crossed the Allt 'Choire Chaoil without incident, the water was low. Rafe was straight in there though - nothing like a quick plodge on a warm day.

Views south from ascent to Bealach an Sgairne to Beinn Fhada and Sgurr a'Choire Ghairbh

Views back (west) down Gleann Choinneachain

We continued on, up the glen, the hills closing in around us - zigging and zagging as we ascended towards the bealach. The terrain became rockier, the path weaving between the boulders.

Jim - ascent to Bealach an Sgairne - views to A'Ghlas-beinn South Top

Jim nears Bealach an Sgairne

Views east from Bealach an Sgairne over Loch a'Bhealaich

As we topped out on Bealach an Sgairne, new views opened up ahead, across Loch a'Bhealaich to the Affric hills.

An excellent place for lunch. Sunshine and sandwiches in a place like this. What could be better?

Views west from Bealach an Sgairne down Gleann Choinneachain

Loch a Bealaich from the start of the ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn South Top

There was a faint path, just back over the bealach on the Gleann Choinneachain side, ascending A'Ghlas-bheinn's South Top. The views were good, wild hills and glens all around, snow streaking the heights and cloud shadows streaking the valleys.

Jim - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Rafe - that's not the top! - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn views to Beinn Fhada and Sgurr a'Choire Ghairbh

We were soon on the summit "ridge" - our wide undulating route to A'Ghlas-bheinn obvious ahead. There was little snow in view - we felt a bit silly in our winter boots!

Rafe - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Jim - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn views south to Meall a'Bhealaich and Beinn Fhada

The walking was good...

Glean Gaorsaic from ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Loch a'Bhealaich and Gleann Gniomhaidh from ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

North towards A'Ghlas-bheinn summit

Rafe - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

East to Loch Duich from ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Jim - ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Beinn Fhada range from ascent of A'Ghlas-bheinn

Looking back (south east) over our ascent route
Views to Loch a'Bhealaich and Gleann Gniomhaidh

As we gradually ascended and neared the summit, the weather turned increasingly wintery. Snow filled every hollow and an icy wind whistled in from the north. Gloves and hats were definitely required,

Looking north towards A'Ghlas-beinn summit

South west over Strath Croe to Loch Duich from A'Ghlas-bheinn summit

By the time we reached the summit it certainly felt like winter was still in control - A'Ghlas-bheinn (Munro 273, 918m).

A'Ghlas-bheinn summit (Munro 273, 918m) - views north west

Looking back along A'Ghlas-bheinn ridge from the summit

There were a few others about at the summit, looking out across the hills to the north - that was the way to the Falls of Glomach - but the north face was holding a lot of snow, frozen solid over the rocky descent - we were now glad we had our winter kit.

We didn't hang about in the chilly breeze. After the usual photo session, we dropped off the top and into the snow, wielding ice axes. Nobody else followed!

We picked our way through the boulders and the ice - it wasn't too bad.

We stopped for a bite to eat and a hot drink, sheltered amongst the rocks, before crossing a couple of bigger snow fields - Jim keeping warm cutting steps. Rafe jumping about, trying to catch the bits of flying ice.

Rafe - descent north from A'Ghlas-bheinn into winter

Rafe and Jim - step cutting on our descent from A'Ghlas-bheinn

As we descended we met a couple ascending the hill, both with crampons attached!

Looking back to the north face of A'Ghlas-bheinn (note 2 walkers in snow patch west (right) of summit)

We were soon back on the grassy moor - ice axes stowed away, we continued north, keeping to the higher ground (away from the bogs!) with the Falls of Glomach as our next objective.

We were back in early spring.

Jim - descent from A'Ghlas-bheinn - Creag na Saobhie

Lochans between Creag na Saobhie and Meall Dubh - descent from A'Ghlas-bheinn

Looking back (south) to A'Ghlas-bheinn

It was a couple of kilometres over pathless and rough ground, undulating and eventually descending into Bealach na Sroine...

Descent into Bealach na Sroine - views south west towards Loch Duich

We turned north east here, following the excellent stalkers path, towards the Falls.

Descent from Bealach na Sroine towards the Falls of Glomach

We continued north east, dropping down to Allt a'Ghlomaich at the top of the Falls of Glomach.


The photographs really don't do it justice. I couldn't really get it all in one photograph and perspective is always an issue. You'll just have to take a walk there yourself...

The Falls of Glomach

Rafe and Jim above the gorge by the Falls of Glomach

The Falls of Glomach

The Falls of Glomach

The gorge of the Falls of Glomach

Above the Falls of Glomach

We wandered back up to the top of the Falls - seemed like a good place for a third lunch - or as time was getting on, probably a first tea!

Allt a'Ghlomaich just above the Falls

Now, we skill had about 7km to go - the though of that walk out in winter boots had filled me with dread - so I had stashed my trail shoes in my bag. Now was the time to swap footwear - bliss!

Looking back over the glen of Allt a Ghlomaich

Obviously the winter boots had to be carried. Jim gallantly offered to carry them out - he spent the next 7km with my great big heavy boots swinging about from where they were tied onto his bag!

Rafe and Jim - descent from Bealach na Sroine into the glen of Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich

The stalkers path over Bealach na Sroine and down into Gleann Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich was wide and open with big skies - deer country - we saw plenty of the red variety roaming the lower hills around us. It was starkly lovely landscape, if an unnatural mown one!

Looking back to Bealach na Sroine along Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich

It was a long walk out at the end of a fairly long day. But the path was good, the descent gentle and it was OK on the feet (especially in trail shoes!)

Footbridge over Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich

We were soon back in the glen, and then back in the woods. There were a few signposts at the main forest track junctions - but they were aimed at those taking the glen path out to the Falls of Glomach - it wasn't always obvious which track for us to take - but we had a map!

Return route  - Gob na Roinne

Jim - birches by the Abhainn Chonaig

We crossed the Abhainn Chonaig on the good footbridge (Rafe had a plodge) and wandered, weary back to Morvich.

Rafe has a plodge in Abhainn Chonaig

Where we had a final cuppa and Rafe had another plodge, this time in the River Croe. A wet dog is a happy dog...

Rafe and Jim - back in Strath Croe

Route:  Car parking area beside the Countryside Centre at Morvich (NG961211), W along road to Inchnacro, N over bridge over River Croe and through village (sp to Falls of Glomach), fp NE along Abhainn Chonaig then E into Gleann Choinneachain to Bealach an Sgairne, N along rough path to A'Ghlas-beinn South Top (758m), N over undulations to A'Ghlas-beinn (Munro 273, 918m), steeply descend NE to bealach, NE to Creag na Saobhie (818m), N to Meall Dubh (723m), NW to fp over Bealach na Sroine, NE to Falls of Glomach (NH018256), return over Bealach na Sroine to fb at NG985238, cross and follow track through woods on W side of river, at NG983224 cross fb and cross field S to join fp at NG982223, return SW to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 21.5km  Ascent: 1200m  Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer 414 Glen Shiel & Kintail Forest / Harvey Superwalker Kintail

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