Sunday 20 October 2013

Carn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Lapaich.

Glen Cannich - Beinn a'Chairein from Muchrachd (NH283334)

Glen Cannich is a wonderful place at any time of year, but Autumn is just extra special...

Looking west along Loch Mullardoch from near the dam

A twenty minute drive from the campsite, along the Glen, took us to the Loch Mullardoch Dam, at the end of the road. The day was a bit grey, with clouds not only misting the summits, but floating about in the glens and cories as well. We were optimistic (as always) that the summit clag would clear...

Mullach na Maoile and Allt Mullardoch

We headed off west, initially along the dam road, but very quickly onto a boggy path that leads along the northern shore of Loch Mullardoch. There were several parallel paths above the loch side, none of which seemed to be better used than any other, so keeping west, and with our first summit, Mullach na Maoile at 792m, very obviously ahead, we followed what looked like the driest track.

It wasn't very dry.

Loch Mullardoch and the dam from the ascent of Mullach na Maoile

After crossing the Allt Mullardoch over the handy footbridge, we headed off up the south east ridge of Mullach na Maoile. There was no path, just up, through grass and heather - pretty hard going - but steep means getting up there fast and it wasn't long before we made it to the summit.

South east from the summit plateau of Mullach na Maoile

The sun was shining and the views were great.

Rafe on the summit of Mullach na Maoile (761m)
Sgurr nan Clachan Geala and Sgurr na Lapaich's south ridge behind

But the cloud was swirling around the higher hills, only giving us brief glimpses of our next summit, the first Munro of the day - Carn nan Gobhar.

Views to Carn nan Gobhar from Mullach na Maoile summit

Every now and again the sun seemed to be winning and there were breaks in the cloud. We were still optimistic for good visibility at the summit.

Views south east from the ascent of Carn nan Gobhar
Creag Feustag, Loch Mullardoch and Mullach na Maoile

But the swirling cloud certainly didn't detract from the beauty of our surroundings - moody views...

We spied a couple of ptarmigan as we ascended, just starting to get their winter plumage.

Rafe nears the summit plateau of Carn nan Gobhar

It was mostly a grassy ascent to Carn nan Gobhar, but towards the summit, it gave way to rocks - and Rafe just loves bounding about on the rocks.

Looking west from the ascent of Carn nan Gobhar - Sgurr na Lapaich south ridge

Carn nan Gobhar has two tops, the first, the south top is slightly lower and has a well built cairn...

Carn nan Gobhar South Top, looking west

A short way beyond this, the summit of Carn nan Gobhar (Munro 152, 993m), doesn't.

Jim catches a glimpse of the hills to the north
from the summit of Carn nan Gobhar (Munro 152, 993m)

The cloud swirled around, giving us glimpses of the mountains and glens around us - the Loch Monar hills to the north with the Strathfarrar Four to the east of them, along with the Glen Affric hills to the south. Across to the west we couldn't see our next Munro, Sgurr na Lapaich, it was shrouded in deep cloud.

Sgurr na Lapaich from Carn nan Gobhar - our best view of the day !

South west from the summit of Carn nan Gobhar

It was a touch chilly, so there wasn't much messing about on the summit. We descended into Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe, through scree and rocks, out of the clouds and back into the sunshine.

Jim and Rafe - Descent into Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe

We found a good spot amongst the rocks and out of the wind, for some lunch, with views to the north and east - Glen Stathfarrar.

Views north into Gleann Innis an Loichel from descent of Carn nan Gobhar

Descent into Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe
south west to Loch Tuill Bhearnach and Sgurr nan Clachan Geala

Rafe - Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe looking west to Sgurr na Lapaich

The clouds around Sgurr na Lapaich looked menacing and, if anything, getting thicker, lower and blacker...

Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe - looking east to Carn nan Gobhar

But we continued west, out of Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe, a gentle start to the 300m of ascent to the summit of Sgurr na Lapaich.

Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe - looking south to Loch Tuill Bhearnach and Creag a'Chaorainn

Rafe and Jim ascend Sgurr na Lapaich

Looking east down Glen Strathfarrar from the ascent of Sgurr na Lapaich

Loch Tuill Bhearnach and Creag a'Chaorainn from ascent of Sgurr na Lapaich

The going got a bit steeper as we hit the cloud

Ascent of Sgurr na Lapaich

And then a bit rockier - we undertook a little bit of unnecessary scrambling.

Rafe and Jim - Ascent of Sgurr na Lapaich

The summit of Sgurr na Lapaich (Munro 24, 1150m) was rocky and fairly pointy. The visibility was about 50m, so we had excellent views of the summit shelter - a good place for a drink and a oatie bar. Highest point this year !

Jim nears the summit pointy bit - Sgurr na Lapaich (Munro 24, 1150m)

A quick double check of the compass confirmed our direction off the top. We were travelling south now, back towards Loch Mullardoch. It was a long descent, pretty much pathless. Many walkers pick up two further Munro's beyond (west) of Sgurr na Lapaich (An Riabhachan and An Socach), but we knew we didn't have the daylight for them at this time of year. So we descended via Sgurr na Lapaich's south ridge

We took in Sgurr nan Clachan Geala a Munro Top (28) at 1093m, then over innumerable undulations...

Mullach na Maoile, Loch Mullardoch and Mullach a'Ghlas-thuill
from Sgurr na Lapaich South Ridge

including Braigh a Choire Bhig and Mullach a Ghlas-thuill - we came out of the clag at about 900m and the views opened up  - clear and bright.

As we descended we were treated to the classic autumn display of the Red Deer Rut - Many red deer across the hillsides - roaming and roaring - what a sight.

Then, just when we thought it couldn't get any better, a golden eagle flew overhead, soaring past us from the south and up over Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe.

Jim descends towards Loch Mullardoch from Mullach a'Ghlas-thuill

As we dropped into the coire by the Allt Taige we happened across a herd of wild goats having their afternoon tea. Rafe had known they were there for a while !! We were sorry to interrupt them - they made off up the coire and out of sight in no time.

Rafe - Allt Taige - views north to Creag a'Chaorainn

We crossed the Allt Taige by the kindly supplied footbridge (apart from Rafe who fancied a drink and a plodge), just as the rain started.

It was pretty much head's down and get on with it, along the four and a half kilometre's of muddy, wet, slippery path back to the dam - we had a brown dog by the time we got back to the car...

West along Loch Mullardoch from a damp walk out

Route:  Car park at Loch Mullardoch Dam (NH223316), track west along north shore of Loch Mullardoch, after crossing Allt Mullardoch (fb) head NE on open hillside to Mullach na Maoile (761m), Bealach an Tuill Ghaineamhaich, Carn nan Gobhar (Munro 152, 993m), Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe, Sgurr na Lapaich (Munro 24, 1150m), Sgurr nan Clachan Geala (Munro Top 28, 1093m), Braigh a Choire Bhig (964m), Mullach a Ghlas-thuill (792m), desend to Allt Taige (fb), track east along north shore of Loch Mullardoch to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 18.3km  Ascent: 1500m  Time: 7.45hrs

Saturday 12 October 2013

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich.

It was about an hour and a half drive from the campsite to the start of the days walk - at the Glen Quoich bridge on the Kinloch Hourn Road - and it was 10:15am before we set off...

Loch Quoich and Knoydart from our start point (NH016040)

Another crystal clear day, with the mountains pointing into azure.

South east over Loch Quoich from our start point (NH016040)

We were a touch annoyed with the two cars parked in the little car park to the west of the bridge - if they'd made any sort of effort, there would've been room for four cars - but they hadn't - so we turned around and managed to find a spot at the other side of the bridge, the grass was dry today and there was little chance of the car getting stuck.

The South Glen Shiel Ridge from Glen Quoich

Kit donned, we struck off north, up Glen Quoich, on the good track on the eastern side of the little spur of Loch Quoich, enjoying the warmth of the autumn sunshine.

Glen Quoich, looking north to the South Glen Shiel Ridge

My jacket quickly came off and disappeared into the rucksack - but Jim as usual kept his on. He never seems to feel the heat or the cold...

River Quoich and Am Bachaich

After about two and a half kilometres, we headed up the slightly mushy path along the River Quoich, past a rather lovely waterfall,

Waterfall on River Quoich (NH015070)

At the top of the waterfall on River Quoich
(NH015070) looking east

Then turning east along the Allt Coire a'Chaorrainn, through glorious countryside under the piercingly blue skies.

Some of the locals, by River Quoich

Two golden eagles soared overhead, down the glen towards us and then up, spiralling above Am Bachaich, the peak directly ahead, that would be our first summit of the day.

Jim - Sgurr a'Mhaoraich and Am Bachaich

We met another walker here, also excited about having seen the golden eagles - he had been over Sgurr a'Mhaoraich already and had walked out via Coire a'Chaorainn. He was heading up the north ridge of Gleouraich next, across the glen - a big hill day...

At the start of the ascent of Am Bachaich - east to South Glen Shiel Ridge,
Easter Glen Quoich and Gleouraich

We forded Allt Coire a'Chaorrainn and started up the big zig zags on Am Bachaich. They were a bit too big - whilst they made the going easy and not at all steep, it felt like we were walking miles...

It wasn't long before we headed straight up the east ridge.

Rafe on Am Bachaich zig zags

The views opened up with the ascent...

Views south from the ascent of Am Bachaich - Ben Nevis is to the right distance

Jim - Ascent of Am Bachaich with snow on Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Once on the summit ridge, the going was easy and we could see for miles.

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich and Am Bachaich

Am Bachaich ridge
with views to the South Glen Shiel Ridge and Gleouraich

North over the South Glen Shiel Ridge and beyond. West over Knoydart to Syke and the Cuillin Ridge. South to Ben Nevis et al. And east to Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach - we walked these two Munro's on 1st June, but didn't see them - the views today were stupendous

Am Bachaich - views west to Knoydart and Skye beyond

We stopped for a bite just short of the summit...

Loch Quoich and Knoydart from Am Bachaich summit (899m)

And we had a plodge in the first bit of snow of the season. Jacket was back on.

First snow of the season on Am Bachaich - Views west to Knoydart

Rafe contemplates a swim on Am Bachaich - Views west to Knoydart and the Black Cuillin

Am Bachaich looking west to Knoydart and Skye

The descent into Bealach Coire a'Chaorainn was steep, rocky and pathless - Rafe led the way, as we picked our way through the jumble of boulders, blinded by the sun, shining over the bulk of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich, the Munro to our south.

Am Bachaich from Bealach Coire a'Chaorainn

As we passed into it's shadow, in the bealach, cold descended, we had frost and snow to negotiate, as well as the best part of 200m of ascent to the summit.

South Glen Shiel Ridge and the silhouette of
Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from above Bealach Coire a'Chaorainn

Views west to Knoydart and the Black Cuillin from ascent of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich 

Jim on the ascent of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

East to Gleouraich from the ascent of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Ascent passes quickly when it's steep - we were soon on the summit plateau and in the sun again. With possibly even better views....?

Knoydart from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich summit plateau

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich summit (Munro 104, 1027m) with views south over Loch Quoich and a distant Ben Nevis

A second lunch at the summit of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - but it was a touch chilly, so we didn't linger - except to take many photographs. Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Munro 104 at 1027m.

Knoydart from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

North to the South Glen Shiel Ridge from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

The descent from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich's summit plateau was to the north - it was a bit on the slippery side in places...

Descent from Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - looking east to Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach

Looking back to Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

The ridge continued east for well over a kilometre, along to Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach, our last summit of the day (891m)...

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach

Before we turned south on the excellent, if very long and zig zaggy, stalkers path back to the road. The late afternoon views over Loch Quoich and the mountains all around kept us motivated. A kilometre along the road at the lochside wasn't too bad - and the two cars in the car park were long gone...

Jim and Rafe - Descent from Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach to Loch Quoich

Route:  Car parking area at the east end of the road bridge over Loch Quoich at Glen Quoich (NH016040), west across the bridge and north along the track (from NH014041) along Glen Quoich. At NH019067 turn west then north along the River Quoich and continue west along the south bank of Allt Coire a' Chaorainn crossing at a suitable place approx NH012073. Ascend the stalkers path to Am Bathaich (892m), Bealach Coire a' Chaorainn, Sgurr a Mhaoraich (Munro104, 1027m), continue east, Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach (891m),  Bac nan Canaichean and stalkers path to road and return easterly to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 14.5km  Ascent: 1025m  Time: 5.30hrs

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...