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Loch Mullardoch Round in 48 Hours

Loch Mullardoch Round in 48 Hours

Postby FeebsChemist » Sun Jun 27, 2021 9:12 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Affric), An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Càrn Eige), Càrn Eige, Càrn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Màm Sodhail, Mullach na Dheiragain, Sgùrr na Lapaich, Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan, Toll Creagach, Tom a' Chòinich

Date walked: 19/06/2021

Time taken: 48 hours

Distance: 58 km

Ascent: 4800m

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As part of a weeks holiday in June, my partner and I decided upon this route intending to up the Munro count with a wild-camping adventure, then stay in an Airbnb for the rest of the trip to recover. We planned to tackle the Loch Mullardoch Round over two days, camping en route. This was certainly a bigger expedition than we had ever attempted, but we were motivated and confident that we could manage the ascent. We also had done a fair bit of wild-camping over the last year and had invested in a light-weight tent and air mattress, so were hopefully the experience wouldn't be too uncomfortable.

Day one

We started out at around 3:30pm at Loch Mullardoch dam after a long drive up from Manchester. The weather was sunny and the forecast was for a dry, warm weekend. Knowing this we prioritised food and water over layers in our packs and I made the bold decision to swap my waterproof trousers for a bag of emergency marshmallows, which in hindsight was a tragic call. We followed the track from the car park along the north of the loch for a short while before turning up the Allt Mullardoch. A short bolt up a grassy slope and we were on the ridge then the top of Carn nan Gobhar by 5:30pm. The weather was good and we still had a few hours of light so we decided to press on to the top of Sgurr na Lapaich, though the ridge looked steep and daunting.

Looking over to Sgurr na Lapaich from Carn nan Gobhar.

The plan was to walk until we were fed up or ran out of light, then find a flat bealach to make camp. We noted the decent spot by Loch Tuill Bhearnach but continued. As we were ascending the ridge the rain started then escalated to hail and for the next hour we grew gradually more sodden and cold. It was at this point I regretted not packing my waterproof trousers as the rain was running into my boots and soaking the insides. This early deluge was responsible for my wet socks and boots for the next two days. At a shoulder just past the col between Sgurr na Lapaich and An Riabhachan we abandoned hope that the rain would stop and threw up the tent. We quickly scoffed a packet of cold lentils and naan (having opted to not carry the weight of the stove) before huddling in our damp sleeping bags to hide from the midges.

Day two

Morale was low as we awoke before 6am in cloud and rain, but we quickly packed up and started tramping up the ridge, aware of the mammoth task for the days ahead. We followed the long ridge along to An Riabhachan then on to An Socach without much conversation and views only of the mist around us. We took a bearing from the top of An Socach down to Meall Shuas and as we descended we finally dropped out of the cloud line. A good fast-flowing stream allowed us to fill up our water bottles before reaching the low point at the head of Loch Mullardoch. Disheartening as it was to lose so much height, our spirits lifted as we dried out a bit and the weather cleared. Passing over the stream to face the other side of the glen, we picked a route up steep, grassy ground to gain the ridge line and began the long trudge to Mullach Sithidh. The plod took an age and it was past lunch time before the final ascent to Mullach na Dheiragain.

Looking ahead to Mullach na Dheiragain

Top of Mullach na Dheiragain.

From the top of Mullach na Dheiragain we could see ahead to Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan. The top would mark half way in terms of the Munro count for the route and it looked far away and very high. However, it was turning into a nice afternoon and the rocky ridge was an enjoyable scramble near the top. The views over to Skye Cuillin from the top were also worth the wait. It had taken a while to get to Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan but it had turned into a spectacular afternoon and we were encouraged that An Socach looked lower and not too far long the ridge.

Looking ahead to Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan.

Views over to Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe

By the time we had ascended An Socach and dropped to the bealach at around 700m it was going on for 7pm.We had been walking for over 12 hours we had over 400m of ascent to the top of Mam Sodhail. This was a decision point on whether to stop for the night. We had summited five Munros that day and had five remaining to complete the route. It was going to be easier to face the next day if it we had less to do than the previous, so we decided to stop for a quick lentil pouch dinner than carry on over Mam Sodhail. The rocky top with a shelter is reached by a traverse. Despite the June evening sunshine t was fairly windy and cold and quickly crossed underneath the top of Carn Eighe and camped just before the bealach with Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Carn Eighe and Bein Fhionnlaidh

Day three

The morning was cold when we woke early. We left the tent up and ran up Beinn Fhionnlaidh to try warm up despite a second day with boots and socks that were still wet. We were treated to a lovely view of Carn Eighe before the cloud came in and the rain returned.

Morning view of Carn Eighe from Fhionnlaidh

Returning to our tent we packed up quickly in the rain then plodded up Carn Eighe. At this point we realised we had lost our compass somewhere en route (the most likely time was when we stopped to fill up water bottles the previous day). This being the case we carefully kept the steep drop on our left until the ground flattened then to our right to reach the top of Stob a'Choire Dhomhain. As we followed the long ridge line, pinnacles appeared out of the mist followed by lifting of the cloud.

To Tom a'Choinich

With visibility improved we followed the ridge on to Tom a'Choinich, pausing to catch up on the football scores with a fellow hiker who was ascending the ridge as we passed.

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Having achieved so much the day before and having started out so early, we were hoping for a relatively early finish. We were slightly disheartened therefore, that it was passed midday by the time we summited the final Munro of the route. This was possibly due to the distance between the Munros or our sore legs. Exhausted and relieved to have completed the 12 hills, we descended to the low point further along the ridge then headed down heathery terrain to reach the Allt Froach choire. This is a lovely stream and we stopped for a while to enjoy it and top up the water bottles. We managed to miss the path and followed the stream all the way to the edge of the loch, then scrabbled round the coast to reach the dam.

From the dam we followed the road to the bridge and finally back up to the car, nearly exactly 48 hours after we'd left it.
Ridge on way to Tom a'Choinich
Looking back from the top of Mam Sodhail
Looking ahead to An Socach #2

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Mountain Walker
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Joined: Apr 18, 2018
Location: Manchester

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