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Affric-an Easter: Càrn nan Gobhar

Affric-an Easter: Càrn nan Gobhar

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:10 pm

Munros included on this walk: Càrn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch)

Date walked: 02/04/2021

Time taken: 7.25 hours

Distance: 15.1 km

Ascent: 991m

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Carn nan Gobhar is usually climbed as a starter to the Mullardoch round and as such, never fully appreciated. Most walkers hardly notice it on their way to much more attractive Sgurr na Lapaich, but I always felt that Carn nan Gobhar deserved more thorough exploration. It is close enough to home to consider it local and not technically difficult so it can be done in winter conditions. Somehow by the time we got around to doing it, most of the snow has melted. This allowed us to do a bit of easy scrambling on Creag Feusag. Our circular route was inspired by Malky's report, though I was told that following his footsteps wasn't always a safe idea :lol: :lol:
What we ended up doing was basically a circuit of Coire an t-Sith over Creag Feusag, Creag Dubh and Carn nan Gobhar:

Track_CARN NAN GOBHAR 15.1KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Starting from the parking area below Mullardoch dam, we walked on the new hydro track for a short time...
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 002.JPG

...before leaving it to face the steep slopes of Creag Feusag. On the first impression this end of the ridge looks impregnable, but on closer inspection, we spotted a shallow, grassy gully which, we hoped, could be followed up:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 008.JPG

Of course, there were some obstacles to overcome, but nothing a hill-hungry panther couldn't handle:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 011.JPG

Not a four-paws experience, but it was close :lol: :lol:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 030.JPG

After about 200m of steep, overgrown slopes, we emerged on gentler ground, but it suddenly became more rocky:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 024.JPG

Looking down to Mullardoch dam:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 039.JPG

The upper reaches of Creag Feusag are full of rocky surprises, little pockets of scrambling and rock-hopping :D Of course it is all avoidable but I wasn't exactly in the mood to AVOID difficulties :lol:
Let the fun begin!
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 045.JPG

To be honest, it was hardly scrambling at all, but I enjoyed grabbing a rock here and there...
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 049.JPG

The ground was still a bit wet so it was more about picking the right tuft of grass than any technical moves. I couldn't curb my inner madness though :lol: :lol:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 057.JPG

Another section of easy scrambling:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 061.JPG

Higher up on the ridge we met a pair of ptarmigan. They are currently changing their plumage to the summer outfit:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 067.JPG

The ridge becomes easy and nearly flat at the height of 780m, but the true top of Creag Feusag is still another km away. We could see the summit cairn from the upper end of the rocky section:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 083.JPG

The surrounding area was dotted with strangely shaped rocks, including this outcrop:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 194.JPG

Kevin striking a pose. He had his first covid jab two days earlier and was still suffering from mild side effect of the vaccine. I noticed that he was a bit slower than usually, but it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind. In his job, it is virtually impossible to avoid contact with other people, so I'm glad he's at least partially protected.
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 197.JPG

Panoramic view west to Càrn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Lapaich:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 096.JPG

Sgurr na Diollaidh:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 097.JPG

The summit of Creag Feusag:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 098.JPG

Lucy admiring the views; despite the grey cloud above the day was decent, not too cold and moderate winds. The original forecast was for sunny spells in the afternoon but this never happened. Well, Met Office doesn't always get it right :wink:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 218.JPG

The Strathfarrar Munros:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 107.JPG

From Creag Feusag, the rest of the traverse is a delightful walk on a wide ridge with fantastic vistas. Shame about the gloomy weather, but even with high cloud spoiling the light for photos, it was still enjoyable.
Our second target: Creag Dubh:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 227.JPG

On the col with a lengthy name Bealach na Creige Duibhe, we encountered a stone wall. It cuts the col in half so obviously it's some kind of border (a boundary between two estates perhaps?). The strange thing is, the wall can so easily be omitted (or even jumped over if you are a stag) so it just makes no sense. Reminded me of a similar stone dyke on Suilven.
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 125.JPG

Kevin just joked "Looks like Hadrian was here on holidays" :lol: :lol:
Looking back at the wall from half way up Creag Dubh, the wall visible in the foreground:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 129.JPG

We took time traversing to Creag Dubh, where we planned a longer break and a hot cuppa. Càrn nan Gobhar is close, only across another bealach with less than 150m of ascent (Creag Dubh is not a Munro or a Marylin, just a Munro top) :roll: :
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 241.JPG

It might only be a mere top, but Lucy still posed proudly on its large cairn. Funny how some minor tops have much bigger cairns than their main summits:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 238.JPG

The eastern end of Loch Mullardoch from Creag Dubh:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 138.JPG

View due east along Glen Strathfarrar:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 143.JPG

Panther ready to go!
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 154.JPG

Panoramic view of Càrn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Lapaich behind:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 157.JPG

The second bealach was surprisingly windy, I had to swap my thin gloves for my ski-winter ones (thankfully I took both pairs), but the traverse was very easy, pleasant walking on stony ground and a few patches of snow.
Creag Dubh from the Munro summit:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 166.JPG

We were so happy to reach the top of our first Munro this year! Not a new one - these are few and far between now with only 22 to go - but at last something above the magical line of 3000 ft!
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 175.JPG

The best views were of course to the west, to the mighty Sgurr na Lapaich, its east face still in full winter conditions (would be even more snow now after the fresh snowfall last week).
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 169.JPG

Lucy's 120th Munro:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 182.JPG

The Affric Munros:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 180.JPG

The summit was windy so after a short break for photos, we descended south to complete the circuit around the corrie. Originally, we planned to go down over Mullach na Maoilie, but I spotted an easier route dropping into Coire an t-Sith, which is can be seen to the left of this photo:
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 185.JPG

Kevin remarked that we'd still have to cross Allt Mullardoch down in the glen, but I spotted a white patch which looked suspiciously like a bridge, so we took the chance and descended the grassy slopes into the upper corrie. It was generally easy going, a few small streams to hop over and some wet ground lower down, but definitely less steep and mucky than the usual descent straight to Loch Mullardoch. Recommended if your knees need care.
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 189.JPG

And guess what - the white patch turned out to be a proper bridge!
2021-04-02 carn nan gobhar 193.JPG

The track in Coire an t-Sith has been upgraded to give access to a small hydro dam (them dams pop up everywhere these days!) so from the bridge it was a quick march down to Loch Mullardoch and then back to the big dam. Kevin was tired towards the end and by the time we got home, he said he felt totally knackered. I guess the covid vaccine weakened him for a short time. Despite that, we still enjoyed this circular walk very much, calling it "the mini Mullardoch round". If you want to do justice to Càrn nan Gobhar, this is the way to go.

Easter Saturday was forcast to be bright and sunny, so we managed another hill the next day. I didn't want to torture poor vaccine-weak Kevin to do another multi-top round, so we visited a popular half-day Munro. TR to come soon.
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