Saturday 5 July 2014

Maol Chean-dearg

Fionn-abhainn at Coulags Bridge

Freddie's home from uni, so we had to pick a walk with particular interest for a geologist - how about Torridon! and on a beautiful, clear sunny July morning there couldn't be anywhere better in the entire world...

Rafe in Fionn-abhainn - views north

We set off from Coulags Bridge, north along the Fionn-abhainn, a sparkling burn is just what Rafie needs at the start of any walk. The good stalkers path took us gently into the hills and away from civilisation - we made good time.

Rafe - views north into Coire Fionnaraich

The hills rose around us as we ascended towards Coire Fionnaraich, but Maol Chean-dearg, our Munro objective for today, kept a low profile behind its neighbours.

Foot bridge over Fionn-abhainn - views into Coire Fionnaraich

To our east was a hardly recognisable Sgorr Ruadh, seen from a different angle, we walked over the Munro last month along with Beinn Liath Mhor...

Approaching Coire Fionnaraich Bothy

Further up the glen we came to Coire Fionnaraich Bothy - a lovely old building, maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association - We spent some time exploring the place, and reading up on the history of the families who lived there (until relatively recently). It's hard to imagine the hardships of staying in such a place, especially on such a lovely summers day - easy to romanticise...

Jim and Freddie - Coire Fionnaraich Bothy

Coire Fionnaraich Bothy

It was a good place for a breather and a snack.

Views south from Coire Fionnaraich Bothy

It started to get quite busy around the bothy, other groups of walkers wanting their chance for a look around. We moved on...

Fionn-abhainn, Coire Fionnaraich and Sgorr Ruadh

Our next landmark was the rock called Clach nan Con-fionn (The Stone of Fingal's Dog) where Fionn mac Cumhaill reputedly tethered his hounds when hunting. It wasn't quite the outstanding spectacle that we had been led to believe, but it certainly was in a glorious place.

Clach nan Con-fionn rock in Coire Fionnaraich

We were soon heading up and out of Coire Fionnaraich, ascending towards Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh.

Views south from the start of the ascent to Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh - our route in

Freddie and Jim - views to Maol Chean-dearg

As we ascended the terrain gradually changed from the green of the glen to the grey and white quartzite we have come to associate with so many of the Torridon hills - along with the old red sandstone, which caps Maol Chean-dearg (the name translates as bald red head!).

Freddie - Ascent to Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh and Maol Chean-dearg

An Ruadh-Stac and  Loch Coire an Ruadh-staic from Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh

Once in Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh, the views opened up again!

Heading for the summit of Maol Chean-dearg from
Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh

I must have taken 100 photographs, before we started on the push for the summit.

Fuar Tholl, Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh and Meall nan Ceapairean from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

The heights were dizzying, our favourite Torridon landscapes all around, the sun bouncing from peak to peak.

Freddie and Jim - ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

Loch Coire Fionnaraich and Sgorr Ruadh from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

Fuar Tholl and Meall nan Ceapairean from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

Views north west to Torridon from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

Freddie found some pipe rock...

Pipe rock on Maol Chean-dearg

Beinn Eighe from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

I took another 100 photographs...

Rafe on Maol Chean-dearg

Rafe bounded about from rock to rock...

An Ruadh-Stac and  Loch Coire an Ruadh-staic from ascent of Maol Chean-dearg

And Jim just kept slogging on.

Rafe and Jim on the final pull up Maol Chean-dearg

Rafe - ascent of Maol Chean-dearg - views north west

Once on the summit plateau, we were knocked out by the new views to the north.

Maol Chean-dearg summit (Munro 247, 933m)


Rafe - Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine and Beinn Liath Mhor from Maol Chean-dearg

Ben Damph, Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Loch Torridon from Maol Chean-dearg

Rafe and Jim - Beinn Eighe from Maol Chean-dearg

Beinn Alligin and Beinn na h-Eaglaise from Maol Chean-dearg

Where on earth is there any better place to have your lunch...?

Not a bad place for a spot of lunch - north west from Maol Chean-dearg

It was another of those day's when you really don't want to descend.

An Ruadh-Stac and Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh and from our descent from Maol Chean-dearg 

But all good things...

Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine and Beinn Liath Mhor from descent from Maol Chean-dearg

 Coire Fionnaraich and Meall nan Ceapairean from decent from Maol Chean-dearg

Looking back at the decent route - Maol Chean-dearg

We followed the same route out, breathing in every last bit of that mountain atmosphere.

 Coire Fionnaraich from Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh

Allt Minatha Luadhardair - Maol Chean-dearg

Once away from the summits and into the shelter of the glen, it was hot, hot, hot!

Fionn-abhainn and Coire Fionnaraich Bothy - views south

Rafe cools off in Fionn-abhainn

A second lunch and a paddle by the footbridge was very welcome.

Before a gentle saunter back to Coulags - another classic day...

Fionn-abhainn - views south into Strath Carron

Fish and Chips for Jim and pizza for Freddie and me, from the Beauly Chippy - saves on the washing up!

Route:  Car parking area just SW of Coulags Bridge on A896 (NG956451), NE along road, take path N just past bridge (NG957451) (sp RoW to Glen Torridon), track to gates of house, turn left on path down to river, follow path along E bank of Fionn-abhainn, cross fb at NG951472 and continue on W bank, pass Coire Fionnaraich Bothy at NG950479, continue on path,  turn left (W) at NG948490 at small cairn onto stalkers path, at Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh (NG932487 sh 587m) turn NW, path to summit Maol Chean-dearg (Munro 247, 933m), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 14km  Ascent: 930m  Time: 7hours

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...