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Sgurr na Ciche

Sgurr na Ciche


Postby fatdogwalks » Wed May 06, 2009 7:57 pm

Route description: The Pap of Glencoe

Grahams included on this walk: Pap of Glencoe

Date walked: 27/04/2007

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Tuesday 27th April 2007 at 10am found me, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog creaking out of the car in Glencoe village to an unexpected, close to oppressive, heat. The Fatdog and I were still creaking from Cap’n Jack’s house move, closely followed the next day by Buachaille Etive Beag. The Cap’n was still creaking from the house move, plus another 3 days of heaving boxes around the new abode. Looking up at the open face of the hill we knew the ascent was going to be moderately unpleasant. Set in a clear blue sky the exposed south west approach of Sgorr na Ciche (Pap of Glencoe) was bathed in bright mid morning sunshine. By the time we got up there it would be searing midday roast with no chance of shade. On went the hats and the sunscreen.

Parking at the lay-by near the edge of the village we crossed the old narrow masonry arch bridge over the River Coe and followed the tree lined road out towards Clachaig. To our right a pleasant riverside walk meandered along parallel to the road for a few hundred metres. This little diversion I would thoroughly recommend…especially on the way back!

A quick consultation of the Harvey map showed the upward path beginning once the forestry on the hill side ended. It was obvious that the aforementioned forestry had now been harvested. So, more correctly, where the chopped down trees ended, an access track headed up the hill through 2 gates.

Once through the gates, then a 100m or so up the track, you can either follow the nearby stream heading straight up the hill, with its adjacent, if intermittent, narrow path or turn right over a timber footbridge traversing the hill along a soggy trail until the next path upwards is reached. We chose the latter. There is only one fork in this path…take it…we didn’t. We only lost 10 minutes or so but it meant a hard slog up through the heather to reconnect with the uphill route. If on the traverse you find a low rubble wall across your path then be warned, you should have forked upwards a few minutes before.

The Cap’n was distinctly displeased with the Fatdog’s navigation.

The view back down Loch Leven is picture postcard stuff. I could have sat down and watched it all day. Given what was to come it would have probably been a good move.

The path is a route for both Sgorr na Ciche and for Sgorr nam Fianniadh with the fork just before the bealach between the two.

The higher we climbed the more worn the trail became. Erosion had taken its toll. By the time we hit the steep zig-zag sections the path had become a narrow channel filled with dry, dusty scree which was decidedly uncomfortable underfoot. The late morning sun was now blazing down. The streams, so welcome further down had disappeared as we climbed and by now we were all feeling the effects of the unseasonal heat. The absence of water meant that we had to give the thirsty Fatdog a drink from our own supplies. For the Fatdog’s sake we hoped for a little pool somewhere up on the bealach above. To make matters worse a nearby friendly cuckoo had decided to cheer us along. By this time we were reduced to dragging our legs up the hill. The persistent call of the cheery nest squatter was beginning to grate as we baked in the relentless sun. Oh for a breeze.

The terrain became rockier the higher we climbed. Eventually, just before the bealach, the gradient eased and the trail split, the right hand fork to the Munro and the left fork to the Graham.

The Fatdog was beginning to look unhappy in the heat as each potential pool she padded past had been reduced to cracked mud. Just as we thought all hope had gone of finding a plentiful supply of water for her, a chance look backwards discovered a narrow oasis still remaining after the current dry spell. A much elated Fatdog plunged in. Myself and Cap’n Jack breathed a sigh of relief.

We had only the final push to the top to go over this hills distinctively rounded summit shape. This was to prove a tricky affair. The path trailed its way up through large rocky scree.

This was the most challenging route the Fatdog had tackled to date. For her this was a scramble. The route we had chosen required her, in places, to ascend up to 2m of rock face. This she accomplished with surprising ease. We have developed a system where I pat a ledge or flat rock which she takes as a sign to move to that position. I then reposition and pat the next stepping stone. And so upward we climbed, me patting rocks, the Fatdog beside me following the movements. Cap’n Jack brought up the rear in his capacity as plummeting dog catcher.

After about two and a half hours after we set out we reached the summit of the iconic Sgorr na Ciche. Given the awkwardness of the rock scree on the final section and taking into account the unrelenting heat this was possibly the most difficult walk me and the Fatdog had tackled to date. Although the weather was not excessively hot it was the warmest in which we had walked since our hillwalking start late last August.

Seconds before we reached the summit the Fatdog suddenly stretched her neck forward and disappeared over the rim above us. We both shouted, the Fatdog ignored us and pressed onwards. We were not alone.

By the time we caught up the Fatdog was harassing a somewhat startled Canadian. His guide book had obviously advised him that there were no dangerous wild creatures left on the Scottish Mountains. Admittedly the hairy lunch chomper is not so much dangerous as grossly irritating and only really shows signs of wildness when her bowl’s been empty for two long. During the usual exchange of pleasantries, we discovered our companion was an architectural student from Vancouver on holiday in Scotland. He admitted he wasn’t much into hiking up hills and was more used to snowboarding down them but was totally amazed by the views.

The hard work done we settled down for lunch, admiring the panoramic view from the summit.
To the west Ardgour, to the south west the Ballachullish Horseshoe,to the south Sgor na h-Ulaidh, and to the north Ben Nevis.

The Corbett, Garbh Bheinn looked a tempting walk for the future.

While the views were stunning, the ambient noise level was horrendous. The Fatdogs internal cooling system was coming under severe pressure. It was like watching an old marine engine under strain as she heaved and panted in a frantic effort to drop temperature. Any second we were expecting sudden jets of steam to come rushing from her ears. The big pink tongue was by now almost trailing through the summit rocks as it reached maximum exposure. “She’s gonna blow Cap’n”. “More water!”

A few big slurps later the Fatdog slumped gratefully to the ground behind a rock.

By necessity it was a quick lunch then back down the rocks to the one pool of water that existed near the top of the hill. This would allow the Fatdog to cool down and tank up for the return trip. Picking our tentative way back down the scree we were passed by our Canadian snowboarding friend as he hurtled passed.

On our way up we had noticed another path approaching the bealach. We guessed it came straight up from the road at the start, thus keeping away from the worn path which had plagued us on the ascent. We decided to head back the alternative route. Within five minutes we hit the point where a decision had to be made. Did we take the faint path straight down or the more established trail heading north west on a traverse across the face of the hill. We opted for the traverse. This worked out ok eventually taking us down the side of the burn which ultimately flowed under the little bridge at the start. Although the path tended to disappear from time to time, I think this would probably make a more comfortable ascent than the scree path.

With a plentiful drinking supply near at hand, the Fatdog was much happier on the descent as we quickly picked up speed down the grass and heather slope.

The loose gravel on the access road at the bottom of the hill proved more treacherous than the hill itself as we skidded down the final section towards the road. Heading back to the car the amble along the lush green riverbank with its cover of mature beech trees was a welcome contrast to the hot day on the hill.

The Fatdog gasped loudly for air again. Her ribcage heaved in and out alarmingly while the noise from her panting crept up the decibel scale. The big eyes stared pleadingly at Cap’n Jack as he pulled out his water bottle from his pack. The Cap’n, worried about the Fatdog’s pitiful state, poured half the water from his bottle into the Fatdogs dish.
The Fatdog immediately grinned and sprung towards the sparkling liquid. “Volvic”, she sighed “…much better than that stagnant crap they make me drink”. She furtively glanced at K. “Now I wonder what he has in his bottle?”

The Fatdog gasped loudly for air…


Moderator note: Photos were hosted by the original poster and are no longer available to show
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby yokehead » Wed May 06, 2009 8:53 pm

Very entertaining report and great pics. 8) A superb day of weather, perhaps best not to complain about the heat, it is Scotland after all! :lol:
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby Paul Webster » Wed May 06, 2009 9:05 pm

Yes, really enjoyed the report and those photos are so crystal clear. Looking at those and reading about the heat and no breath of wind, hard to beleive it was so recent - it's blowing a hoolie and has been tipping it down all day.
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby fatdogwalks » Wed May 06, 2009 10:10 pm

Thanks for the comments guys :D .


Paul Webster wrote:Looking at those and reading about the heat and no breath of wind, hard to beleive it was so recent - it's blowing a hoolie and has been tipping it down all day.


Ehh Paul...did you check the date at the start :shock: :lol: . That was one for your archive...2007 :wink: I'll put a more obvious date on for you next time.
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby cjwaugh » Wed May 06, 2009 10:11 pm

Another great one cheers :D
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby mountain coward » Thu May 07, 2009 1:36 am

You were lucky with the weather - I'm amazed it's been hot already - we haven't had any warm days yet at all and it's flooding where my caravan is in north Lakes! I came down the loose top of the Pap with a group and stupidly decided to go in front... big mistake... everytime I put my hands out to grab rocks so I didn't slip on the loose scree, boulders from the folks behind rumbled towards my fingers (and the rest of me) and threatened to crush them!
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby fatdogwalks » Thu May 07, 2009 8:27 am

Thanks for the comments CJ and MC :D .

You shouldn't get too excited about the weather...it was 2 years ago!!! My fault, I didn't make the date at the start clear enough.

Paul (Webster) and I had discussed me inputting some of my previous hillwalks to help boost the archive on the site. This was the first one of a long term project. I thought Paul would re-date it and whisk it away soon after I entered the post but it sort of hung around and led to a bit of hot weather deprivation syndrome :lol: . Don't worry I'm sure we'll get some decent weather next century.
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby Paul Webster » Thu May 07, 2009 8:46 am

I've put the original date onto your post now. It's still at the top because of the comments :D Though if you click on your name then it will be at the bottom as it is your earliest walk report. Cheers, we liked reading it anyway.
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Re: Sgurr na Ciche

Postby mountain tortoise » Thu May 07, 2009 10:12 pm

You jammy thing I have been in Glencoe since Saturday and the weahter is definitely not last last week. Last last time I saw Sgurr na Ciche lookig as good as your pics was last last summer. Did you take the sun home with you or something?
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