Saturday 9 April 2016


Gairich across Loch Quoich

We'd been watching the weather forecast for a few days - it just kept getting worse for Saturday! We decided on a shorter walk for the Sunday (Gairich, one of the smaller Munro's, south of Loch Quoich), and planned a long lie for Saturday...

Got up on Saturday (the rain pattering on the roof), gave the dog his pre breakfast dander around Cannich (rain pattering on the waterproofs), had a leisurely breakfast (rain still pattering on the roof) and had a gander at the weather forecast again.

Quoich Dam reflections

Wha...? Forecast had changed - a calm and clear weather window Saturday pm and more rain and wind for Saturday night and Sunday.

It's amazing how quickly you can pack a rucksack!

Gairich over Loch Quoich

About an hour and a half later we were jumping out of the car beside the Quoich Dam, in light rain, but with the cloud rising and the mountains appearing - Gairich's snowy cone reflected in the mirror that was Loch Quoich.

Rafe and Jim cross Quoich Dam

We crossed the dam - many photographs were taken of the reflections - before we arrived at the celebrated Gairich/Quoich bogs.

Gairich reflections over Loch Quoich

As bogs go, the Quoich bogs are pretty boggy.

Looking back over Quoich Dam

The overnight rain and the recent snow melt meant that the ground was saturated. It was more of a wade than a walk around the eastern end of Loch Quoich - but the rain was soon drizzle and the drizzle was soon gone - the clouds had cleared from the summit of Gairich and it was even looking bright.

Gairich from the eastern end of Loch Quoich

We met a couple of chaps on their way down from Gairich - they had set off early and were very wet. They had intended to climb Sgurr Mhaoriach, north across the glen as well. But they were sick of the sucking mud and were heading off for the pub! They were the last other walkers we saw all day...

Rafe and Jim - crossing the bogs east of Loch Quoich

Unfortunately for them, they had timed it badly - the sun came out!

Rafe - Gairich over Lochan an Fhigheadair

As we headed south over the low bealach between Meall a'Chait and Beinn Bheig the path improved and the jacket came off.

Jim - descending into Bealach na Faire

We descended to the edge of the woods at Bealach na Faire, a lovely spot for a refuel, before heading west along the delapidated deer fence at the start of out ascent of Gairich.

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from Bealach na Faire

The path was muddy in places, but much improved and the views opened up, particularly to the north, as we climbed the eastern nose of Gairich, Druim na Geid Salaich.

Rafe - that's not the summit! - ascent of Druim na Geid Salaich

The summits of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich, Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach, that bit higher than Gairach, still held plenty of snow - its a couple of years since we were up there.

Rafe and Jim - ascent of Bac nam Foid with views to Gairich

There was a vague path across the moor, rough and peaty, but not steep. We made good time.

Bac nam Foid - views south west over Glen Kingie

Bac nam Foid with views to Gairich

We stopped for a late lunch in the shallow Bealach Coire Thollaidh, before the ascent of the final steep bit of Gairich. We hunkered down behind some rocks (by a handy patch of snow for Rafe to play in!) out of a chilly breeze - and watched the snow showers passing over every hill but ours...

Lunch spot - watching showers - south east from Bealach Coire Thollaidh

Once the sandwiches had disappeared, we set off once more - a stiff pull on an obvious path up the Munro.

Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis from Bealach Coire Thollaidh, Gairich

The air was clear, the views tremendous - Ben Nevis and friends standing out in the south, the Arkaig Forest, Knoydart and the Black Cuillin in the west and Torridon beyond the Loch Quoich hills to the north - glorious.

Glen Kingie and Gulvain (middle right) from ascent of Gairich

Jim - ascent of Gairich - views north east over Loch Quoich

Loch Quoich from ascent of Gairich

Jim - Gairich East Ridge

Towards the summit, there was a brief (too brief for Jim!) scramble - Rafe was glad of his harness and a bit of a hand up the steepest bit.

North west over Loch Quoich from ascent of Gairich

Although small, Gairich had a wonderful proper pointy mountain feel - it was great!

Rafe and Jim from Gairich East Ridge

Gairich's northern crags

And the views just kept getting better!

Rafe at the top of the scramble - Gairich

Glen Kingie from ascent of Gairich

East over Loch Quoich from ascent of Gairich

Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach over Loch Quoich from ascent of Gairich

Glen Kingie from ascent of Gairich

Looking back east along our ascent route of Gairich

As we ascended, the snow increased and by the time the climb eased off there was plenty of the white stuff underfoot.

Jim and Rafe near the summit of Gairich

South west from near the summit of Gairich

We were soon on the summit - Gairich (Munro 272, 919m).

North west from near the summit of Gairich

Gairich summit (Munro 272, 919m)

It was one of those days when we just didn't want to go down!

North east from Gairich summit to Sgurr A'Mhaoraich, Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach

Second lunch!!

West over Arkaig Forest from Gairaich summit


Jim and Rafe - west from Gairich

But it was already gone 4pm - time to head home.

Jim and Rafe - descent east from Gairich

We descended the way we had climbed - the views no less lovely on the way down.

Descent from Gairich - views over Loch Quoich

Views south west from descent from Gairich

We were soon back in the bogs, although a dry afternoon had allowed much of the surface water to drain off.

Jim - descent over Bac nam Foid and Druim na Geid Salaich

We had a third lunch (or a first tea) back in Bealach na Faire, in warm sunshine, before the final leg around Loch Quoich in the gentle light of the early evening.

Gairich and Loch Quoich near the end of the walk

Route:  Car parking area west of Quoich Dam (NH070025), S across dam, continue S on boggy track long shore of Loch Quoich initially and across moor to deer fence at NN066996, (dont go through delapidated gate in fence) SW along fence to NN065995, W ascending zigzags up Druim na Geid Salaich, W on indistinct path across Bac nam Foid to Bealach Coire Thollaidh, ascend W along path (short easy scramble) to Gairich summit (Munro 272, 919m), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 15km  Ascent: 900m  Time: 6 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 399 Loch Arkaig


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