Thursday 29 September 2016

A Week from Kinlochleven

Rafe - autumn bracken - on the slopes of Mullach an Tuir above Cannich

A week staying in the Caolasnacon Camping Park in October - what could be better? An amazing spot, right beside the narrows of Loch Leven - surrounded by sea, sky and mountain.

The weather was superb. Not a drop of rain fell and we were blessed by almost constant sunshine - it was touch windy midweek, but who was caring.

We had four hill days (6 Munros) whilst we were on our hols:

Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise

But here are a few pictures from the days in between...

Thursday, 29th September - An Evening in Cannich

River Cannich in Cannich village - where Rafie often has a plodge - not today!

We had driven up from North Yorkshire the day before, through torrential rain, which had fallen over most of Scotland. When we arrived at Cannich Caravan Park, the rivers and burns around the village were doing their very best to get all that water to the sea!

We had a wander around the village and along to the Allt Coillte, east of Cannich - where we took the rough track (which soon disappeared into a sea of bracken) steeply up its eastern bank, marvelling as we passed one waterfall after another.

Waterfall on Allt Coillte by Cannich

Waterfalls further up Allt Coillte by Cannich

Views south from the slopes of Mullach an Tuir, above Cannich

Interesting fungi - by Cannich

Friday, 30th September - Away to Kinlochleven

River Cannich in Cannich village

Moving on day. From Cannich, to our campsite near Kinlochleven...

Loch Leven - views east from Caolasnacon

Rainbow over Kinlochleven from Caolasnacon

Loch Leven - views east from Caolasnacon

Saturday, 1st October 2016 - Loch Leven, Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise

Loch Leven before dawn - east from our camp site at Caolasnacon

We were up early for our hill walk - Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise - these few were taken from the campsite before we went on our way... Perfect reflections on a sublime morning.

Loch Leven as the first sun catches the tops - west from Caolasnacon

Loch Leven - perfect reflections - views east from Caolasnacon

Sunday, 2nd October 2016 - Loch Leven, Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

Another glorious morning - Loch Leven - west from Caolasnacon

Another early start for another hill day - Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh - so just one photo from early in the day and one from the early evening from the campsite... just a perfect day.

Early evening on Loch Leven - east from Caolasnacon

Monday, 3rd October 2016 - Exploring the West

Sun rises over the montains - Caolasnacon Campsite 

After a bit of a lie in, and a walk around the shore at the campsite, we headed out to Glencoe village and for a walk around the very lovely Glen Coe Lochan.

Glen Coe Lochan

Glen Coe Lochan - views to the Pap of Glencoe

After a spot of lunch, we had a drive out, down the Lochaber coast to Glen Creran (somewhere we'd never been before) and had a wander around Glasdrum Wood, a NNR special for it's exceptionally diverse biodiversity...

Glasdrum Wood - NNR

Jim in Glasdrum Wood

Tuesday, 4th October 2016 - Road Trip to Mull

Ancient Rowan - Loch Leven - west from Caolasnacon

After Rafie's morning walk along the shores of Loch Leven, we headed out on a road trip, across the Corran Ferry, and over the Morvern hills to Lochaline.

We had a coffee and cake, from the slipway cafe, whilst sitting in the sun, on the shore, waiting for the ferry.

Lochaline to Fishnish Ferry

We were soon aboard, making the 20 minute crossing to Fishnish (love the name) on Mull - the breeze was fresh from the east down the Sound of Mull as we stood on the observation deck taking in the scene...

Ferry in the Sound of Mull

We drove on to Toberbory for a bit of an explore...



Before driving off around the sinuous north and west coast.

We had a picnic at Calgary Bay - and Rafe got a yomp on the beach.

Rafe - Calgary Bay, Mull

Rafe - Calgary Bay, Mull

Before making our way back to Fishnish and, eventually, home to Kinlochleven.

Treshnish Islands from Mull

Wednesday, 5th October - Meall GhaordaidhKinlochleven and Signal Rock 

Rafe - Loch Leven from Caolasnacon

Rafe had his regular pre breakfast walk along the shore by the campsite, before we headed out for another hill walk - Meall Ghaordaidh.

Sunset reflected - Loch Leven

We returned to rose tinted mountains...

New moon from Signal Rock, Glencoe

We took a walk around An Torr to Signal Rock in the evening - it was lovely to be out in the gloaming...

Bidean nam Bian massif from Signal Rock

Thursday, 6th October 2016 - Around Kinlochleven.

West from Caolasnacon - Loch Leven

Sun rises over the mountains - above Loch Leven

After Rafie;s morning walk from the campsite and a leisurely breakfast, we drove west to Kinlochleven village.

A walk up to Grey Mares Tail Waterfall whetted our appetite for more coffee and cake. This time at the cafe at The Ice Factor ice climbing centre.

Grey Mares Tail waterfall, Kinlochleven

Loch Leven from Glen Coe Lochan walk

We wandered on, and took another walk around the lovely Glen Coe Lochan.

Glen Coe Lochan

Pap of Glencoe from Glen Coe Lochan

Glen Coe Lochan

Glen Coe Lochan

Glencoe mountains from near North Ballachulish

After tea at the campsite, we took another traipse west, along Loch Leven's south shore, into the sunset.

Sunset from Caolasnacon

Sunset from Caolasnacon

Gloaming - Loch Leven

Friday, 7th October 2016 - Back to Cannich

Loch Leven from Caolasnacon - views east

Time to go...

Sun rises over the mountains - Caolasnacon

We'll be back.

Saturday, 8th October 2016 - Beinn Sgritheall

Only photographs from the hill today, see link above.

Sunday, 9th October 2016 - Homeward bound.

A final walk around Cannich village woods - and coffee and cake at the Bog Cotton Cafe - and then back to Hopeman...

River Cannich in Cannich village

Thursday 22 September 2016

Canoe to Mam Sodhail, Carn Eige and Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Jim - wheeling  the canoe down the track from the car park at the
end of the road in Glen Affric to access River Affric

We've been waiting for a chance to do this one, for a while.

The forecast was for a calm and clear day, so we set off from the Forestry car park at the end of the road in Glen Affric with a canoe full of walking gear and high hopes for a great day... A canoe west into wild country, followed by a 3 Munro hill-walk.

It was a few hundred yards along the track that follows the north shore of the River Affric, with the canoe on it's little trolley, before we found a good spot to launch...

Views west along Loch Affric

Once on the water, we paddled west, out onto the Loch. The water was mirror smooth and the reflections clear and sharp. Stunning!

Views west along Loch Affric

It was about 4km along Loch Affric before we pulled the canoe onto the shore and stashed our non-hill-walking gear amongst the vegetation...

The start of the walk - beside Loch Affric (NH153225)

...and headed off, through gale and pine to pick up the Glen Affric stalkers path above the Loch.

An Tudair above Coire Leachavie from beside Loch Affric

A bit further west, we took the new path (hydro scheme!) up Coire Leachavie, with our first Munro objective, Mam Sodhail, wreathed in cloud, ahead.

The western end of Loch Affric from NH148230

The path gave for easy walking - we gained height quickly - the views back across Glen Affric buoying us up...

Jim ascending into Coire Leachavie
Mam Sodhail in cloud

...and the views of the hills ahead, pulling us on.

Waterfalls on Allt Coire Leachavie

Once past the little dam and hydro "shed" the path deteriorated somewhat - rather rocky in some places, boggy in others - but it was clear and obvious as we ascended into upper Coire Leachavie. An Tudair to our left, the coire rim and Mam Sodhail in front and the Mullach Cadha Rainich/Sgurr na Lapaich ridge to our right.

Views south along Allt Coire Leachavie to Loch Affric

The path followed the lovely Allt Coire Leachavie, punctuated by tumbling waterfalls all along it's length.

Ascent of Coire Leachavie
Views north to Mam Sodhail

Waterfalls on Allt Coire Leachavie

We stopped for a first lunch at the top of a steeper pull, the views down the glen green and gold.

Jim - Upper Coire Leachavie

Once into the upper coire, we could see another walker, tiny in the distance, making his way up the zig zags in the coire wall below the bealach. It looked something of a slog.

Upper Coire Leachavie

We decided that a quick scrabble up onto the ridge to the east was a more appealing prospect.

So - right turn and up!

Views south down Coire Leachavie from ascent to Mam Sodhail South Ridge

We were soon above the coire bogs and in amongst the boulders on the short, steep climb up to the ridge at the bealach between Mullach Cadha Rainich and Mam Sodhail.

Ascent to the Mam Sodhail South Ridge

Mam Sodhail and Carn Eige from Man Sodhail South Ridge

New views - north to Mam Sodhail along its south ridge and Carn Eige (Munro objective number two) over Gleann nam Fiadh.

Looking back down into Coire Leachavie from Mam Sodhail South Ridge

Mam Sodhail South Ridge to Sgurr na Lapaich and Coire Leachavie

Jim and Rafe - Ascent of Mam Sodhail

A vague path followed the ridge up to the summit. We followed the path.

Carn Eige and Loch Uaine from ascent of Mam Sodhail

We were soon at the top - the views opening up again to the north. Loch Mullardoch and her Munro's,  beyond to the Loch Monar hills and as far as Torridon - the hills went on forever.

Jim - nearing the summit of Mam Sodhail

On the summit of Mam Sodhail (Munro 14, 1181m) there was a massive cairn, which had to be climbed for photographic purposes. Once on the top, Jim confirmed that it was hollow, just a circular wall - it would have been good shelter from the wind had we needed it. Rafe would have had some trouble gaining access though!

Rafe - Mam Sodhail summit (Munro 14, 1181m) - Views north west

Jim and Rafe - descent from Mam Sodhail summit
Views to Loch Mullardoch, Beinn Fhionnliath and Carn Eige

We continued north, down into the bealach, an excellent place for a second lunch.

Good view for a second lunch
Gleann nam Fiadh and Loch Uaine from descent from Mam Sodhail

Loch Mullardoch from bealach between Mam Sodhail and Carn Eige

Looking back to Mam Sodhail from bealach

Jim - start of the ascent of Carn Eige

The ascent of Carn Eige, fuelled by Jim's excellent sandwiches, was easier than expected, not too steep and with an obvious path. Carn Eige is, apparently, the highest point north of The Great Glen!

Carn Eige summit (Munro 12, 1183m) - views north to Beinn Fhionnliath

Carn Eige summit - views east to Stob Coire Dhomhnuill ridge

The views from the Carn Eige summit (Munro 12, 1183m) were as wonderful - and as it was two metres higher, possibly slightly better, than Mam Sodhail.

Stob Coire Dhomhnuill and the east ridge looking like an excellent walk - but for another day!

Descent from Carn Eige - views to Beinn Fhionnlaith and Coire Lochan

It also looked like a long drop into Bealach Beag before the climb up to Beinn Fhionnlaith - our last new Munro of the day.

Jim - views to Beinn Fhionnlaith and Stob Coire Lochan

The descent wasn't too bad, and we picked up Stob Coire Lochan (Munro Top 221, 916m) along the way.

Looking back to Carn Eige

Stob Coire Lochan summit (Munro Top 221, 916m)

Coire Lochan, Stob Coire Lochan and Carn Eige
from ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaith

The views were eye wateringly lovely, all the way.

Loch Mullardoch from ascent of Beinn Fhionnliath

Beinn Fhionnlaith (Munro 128, 1005m) was dwarfed by her enormous neighbours - but the airy summit hung above Loch Mullardoch - a magnificent place to be.

Beinn Fhionnliath summit (Munro 128, 1005m) - views west

Time was getting on, we now had to start heading back to the canoe - we dropped off Beinn Fhionnlaith and into Bealach Beag again.

Rafe and Jim descend south from Beinn Fhionnlaith

Rafe and Jim - descent into Bealach Beag - views to Stob Coire Lochan, Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail 

At 832m, Bealach Beag was a long way below where we needed to be. Rather than trudging back over Carn Eige again, we decided to bypass the hill to the west, ascending 200m or so across Creag an Fhuarail Mhor and Creag an Fhuarail Beag to the bealach between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail.

It was a slog! Initially there was a path. Then there wasn't. We just made a bee line for Mam Sodhail summit!

It was a slog.

Crossing Creag an Fhuarail Bheag on the way to Mam Sodhail

Back in the bealach between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail

We were ready for a third lunch by the time we got to the bealach. Food and views. Again.

A good view for a third lunch - Gleann nam Fiadh and Mam Sodhail South Ridge

Views back along Creag an Fhuarail Bheag and
Creag an Fhuarail Mhor to Beinn Fhionnliath

Once fuelled up again, the final 200m or so, back up to Mam Sodhail summit, was much easier than expected (we were getting pretty tired by now - except for Rafe who was still trotting about and grinning!)

Jim - Reascent of Mam Sodhail

A skein of cloud blew in and draped itself over Mam Sodhail as we neared the summit - it was suddenly cold. The weather that had been hanging about across the west coast all day, looked like it was moving in. We didn't mess about and headed south along the ridge. We still had a long way to go...

Mam Sodhail summit (Munro 14, 1181m)

Descent along Mam Sodhail South Ridge

But we needn't have worried. The cloud blew away as quickly as it blew in - the skies opened up again.

Jim - Mam Sodhail South Ridge
Views to Mullach Cadha Rainich and Sgurr na Lapaich

We dropped off Mam Sodhail's south ridge, just about where we gained it on ascent, taking a diagonal route across the hill, down towards the stalkers path beside Allt Coire Leachavie.

Views south over Mullach Cadha Rainich and Sgurr na Lapaich to Loch Affric

Jim - Descent into Coire Leachavie

Once back on the path, a little footsore, we continued south, back to the canoe.

Jim and Rafe - Views south along Allt Coire Leachavie

Western end of Loch Affric

It was early evening - the light had changed - Glen Affric in all it's glory.

Descent back towards Loch Affric and the canoe

Loch Affric

We had a fourth lunch beside the Loch. We had stashed a couple of flasks of tea with our gear. A cuppa was very welcome.

Loch Affric - good place for a fourth lunch

We canoe'd back along Loch Affric as the sun went behind the hills. It was calm, quiet and restful - a gentle paddle. Time to breathe in the beauty. And Rafie had good rest whist he watched the world go by.

Paddling back in the gloaming
Views west across Loch Affric

The midges had a bit of a feast whilst we sorted our kit at the car - but, who cares.

What a day!

Nearing Affric Lodge
Views west on Loch Affric

Route:  Canoe from end of Glen Affric road (NH201233) to north shore of Loch Affric (NH153225), N to track at NH152228, W to track juntion (NH148228), NW along track into Coire Leachaive to above waterfalls at  NH127247, N across coire floor and ascend steeply on pathless hillside to Mam Sodhail to Mullach Cadha Rainich ridge, NW to Mam Sodhail (Munro 14, 1181m), N to bealach, NE to Carn Eige (Munro 12, 1183m), N to Stob Coire Lochan (Munro Top 221, 916m), N to Bealach Beag (832m), N to Beinn Fionnlaidh (Munro 128, 1005m), return to Bealach Beag, S on vague intermittent path, ascending to bealach between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail, S to Mam Sodhail again (Munro 14, 1181m), SE along Mam Sodhail to Mullach Cadha Rainich ridge to NH131249 approx, descend across open hillside to path in Coire Leachavie, SE along track to junction (NH148228) E to NH152228, return to canoe, canoe to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 18km  Ascent: 1750m  Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

Map: OS Explorer 414 Glen Shiel & Kintail Forest

Mam Sodhail

Carn Eige

Beinn Fionnlaidh

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...