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The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical


Postby Quincy » Sat Jul 17, 2021 7:48 pm

Route description: Sgùrr Mòr and the eastern Fannichs

Munros included on this walk: An Coileachan, Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich, Meall Gorm, Sgùrr Mòr

Date walked: 09/07/2021

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 1435m

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These hills had been on my radar since 2015 when I first met up with the walkhighland group. I had arranged to head off from the Aultguish bunkhouse on the Saturday with a small group I had only just met the previous evening. We started off in high winds traipsing through bog and when we finally got to the first top of Creag Dubh I decided I'd had enough so made the decision to turn back not wanting to let anyone down by bailing out half way round. Six years on and many more munros under my belt it’s something that wouldn’t bother me so much now. However the forecast for these munros was thick mist then low cloud for most of the day so it would require good navigation skills. Jules had her GPS and I had the map and compass so we prepared ourselves for a challenging day ahead but one we were up for if only to get some good navigation practice. The winds were low and it would be dry so the positives outweighed the negatives.

01 Start.JPG
The forest track at the start of the walk


02 Bridge over Abhainn a Ghiuthais Li.JPG
Bridge over the Abhainn a Ghiuthais Li


We set off from the Inverlael bunkhouse early to get a parking spot. It was only a 10 minute drive to the start and there was a solitary car in the small parking area. We set off about 7:15 and I looked towards our day ahead in the mist. They weren’t the most exciting of hills so I didn’t feel too bad that I wasn’t going to see anything. Instead of the boggy trudge up the river six years ago this time we crossed the bridge and headed up the forest track for the first few kilometres a welcome start. We then crossed the stream further up and followed the ATV track which crosses some bog but was almost dry due to such a long spell without rain. We stopped to check when would be best to head up the shoulder of the beallach but looking at the map we decided to stay on the ATV track a bit longer even though it veered away from the GPS route. This paid off as the ATV track curves back round and heads straight up the hill towards the top of Creag Dubh. By this time we were in thick mist and had to stick fairly close together so one of us didn’t disappear altogether. It was good to check the gps coordinates on the map every so often so we at least knew where we were. Eventually we were up on the rocky shoulder and crossed the boulders to reach the small cairn. This seemed much quicker than the first time I’d tried to get up here.

03 Creag Dubh Fannaich Top .JPG
Creag Dhubh top


At this point 6 years ago the top of Beinn Liath Mhor loomed large and imposing but today it could have been anything, a small grassy lump for all we knew. We continued on in the mist and chipped away at the hill. It’s just a long steep ascent which eventually levels off. It was with great relief we finally reached the first top. We were so pleased with ourselves having navigated in this weather. We stopped for a few photos just to prove we'd been at the cairn but there was no point hanging about in the mist.

04 Sgurr Mor in the mist.JPG
Beinn Liath Mhor


05 First Cairn map to hand.JPG
Reaching the first munro with trusty map


I knew the trickiest part of the day came next negotiating the boulders down to the stalkers path. Jules went on ahead and we started down the boulder field but it just became slippier and steeper as by now there was a continuous misty rain the sort you don’t notice but gets you wet through none the less. I wasn’t enjoying this and we were looking in to nothingness which was a bit disconcerting. I stopped and got out the map and the walkhighland instructions and realised we should have been a bit further north. I shouted to Jules and we both decided to retrace our steps back up the boulders to the safety of a grassy shelf and contour back round the hill.

06 disappearing down the boulders.JPG
Heading down the boulder field


We could see a bit further and it looked less steep so we aimed for a grassy patch below us negotiating the boulders again. Once on the grass we could see a bit further to a path on the other side of the boulders. From here the faint path took us down to the stalkers path mentioned so it was with some relief we reached this and now skirted below the steep section of boulders we had tried to negotiate previously. In good weather this would probably be much more straightforward. Now on the stalkers path it was a much easier route which gently climbed towards the next munro. This didn’t seem to take long at all and certainly in the mist it didn’t seem so difficult. We came across an interesting stone shelter in the mist as we started the steady climb. The path heads up the side of the mountain close to impressive crags dropping away below. The path steepened as it got closer to the top but eventually we arrived at the second munro of the day.

07 The little stone shelter.JPG
Stone shelter in the mist


08 Traversing arounf the corrie to the next munro.JPG
Traversing around the Sgur Mor corrie


09 The mighty Sgurr Mhor.JPG
Mighty Sgurr Mor cairn still in the mist


Once at the top the wind had picked up a little so we decided to head down a little way to where the path splits towards munro 3 of the day. We walked down some of the terraces and chose a nice stop for an early lunch. We sat on the edge of the terrace and worked out our strategy for our next 2 munros through the mist. As we sat there chatting the cloud parted enough to give us a little peak to the beallach below.

10 An exciting glimpse.JPG
A brief glimpse...


I was so excited I got the camera out before it disappeared again. We packed up and started on our way again and as we descended the terraces the clouds parted enough for another glimpse of the way ahead. As we continued on I turned around and there was the second munro revealing itself behind us. I was so excited the camera came out again. The two of us were grinning from ear to ear you’d think we’d won the lottery! As we continued more and more of the hills opened out before us like a kind of grand reveal raising the curtains on a beautiful day.

11 The mist parting before us.JPG
The mist now hugging the ridge


12 Looking back to Sgur Mhor now clearing.JPG
Looking back to Sgurr Mor


We could now see our way to the third munro and the minor tops in front of us. In my excitement I hadn’t noticed my boot loosening off. It was now getting very loose under my gaiter so I stopped to tighten it up. When I removed the gaiter I realised my lace had completely snapped in two. Lucky for me I had been carrying round spare laces for the last few years. I knew they’d come in handy on day! Even Jules had spare laces so we wouldn’t have been short.

13 Meall nam Peithirean top.JPG


14 A stop for new laces!.JPG
A brief interlude to replace my broken lace!


It didn’t take us long to reach Meall Gorm. By now we could see right down to Torridon and also we could see back to a couple of people behind us after thinking we were completely alone on the round. There was a Geordie lad hot on our heels who had driven all the way up from Hartlepool to tackle these hills. His early start didn’t slow him down as after a quick chat he was off again well on his way to the final munro.

15 Looking back to our misty trudge!.JPG


16 Jules on Meall Gorm.JPG
Jules on Meall Gorm


16 Socially distanced summit 3! Meall Gorm.JPG
Socially distanced summit pic...two very happy ladies!


17 Shelter.JPG
Another shelter more human size!


18 Last summit with a new companion.JPG
Heading towards the final summit


It wasn’t too much of a drop to the last munro so we were soon heading back up the slopes towards An Coileachan. The views were really fantastic by the time we got there. A lovely cairn for our final munro and great views right back to the start and to the west coast and the amazing Torridon munros. This was such a bonus on a day we thought that would have been shrouded in mist. Looking back to the munros we had climbed in all their finery I realised what we could have missed. We stopped for a while drinking it all and taking way too many photos!

19 Clearing towards Torridon.JPG
Looking across to Torridon


20 Delightful An Coileachan Final Fantastic Summit.JPG
An Coileachan our final fantastic summit


A small group of 3 came up to the top behind us the only other walkers we met all day. After many photos and an excited spring in our step we aimlessly headed off the mountain full of excited chatter about the day. We suddenly realised we couldn’t see the loch we were heading for and in this glorious weather our navigation skills had deteriorated having become quite complacent! We stopped to check the map and realised we should be much further round. We traversed the hill to the point we should be descending and continued on down the steep hillside with a very intermittent path. Although it looked a bit daunting contouring round to the west we missed out the worst of the crags and it didn’t take long to get down close to Loch Gorm and a better path.

22 Down to Loch Gorm.JPG
Heading down to Loch Gorm


23 Looking back to An Coileachan.JPG
Looking back up to the An Coileachan crags


There was a sting in the tail though. Once the path passes Loch Gorm we suddenly found ourselves dragging our feet over peat hags, bogs and vast areas of swamp like terrain that you wouldn’t want to be traversing in bad weather. After half an hour of this Jules had had enough she screamed out a range of expletives to the air saying what I was thinking!!

24 Endless peat hags.JPG
The endless peat hags


25 The bridge a welcome sight.JPG
The bridge in the distance


Eventually we could see a bridge across the stream lower down. I started to make a B-line for this still stumbling over grassy tussocks. We finally reached the bridge with some relief. It was then a muddy track back towards the ATV track we had started out on. It may be better to stay on the path closer to the river although the small group close behind us didn’t seem any quicker having taken this route. The last small uphill was from the first bridge to join the forest track. Once on the level we could see the car still looking some distance away but we eventually reached the road.

26 made it.JPG
At last!!


27 the walk out.JPG


28 much clearer Fannaichs.JPG
A final look back to the Eastern Fannaichs


It had turned out to be such a great day and a lovely ridge to walk, one of my favourite outings this year. We were back at the bunk house by 7pm for a cup of tea and a well deserved Tunnocks wafer! Just as we sat ourselves down at an ornate table in the lovely bunkhouse garden the rain came on so we had to retreat indoors. Oh well you can’t have everything!
User avatar
Quincy
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Re: The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

Postby GillC » Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:13 am

:clap: :clap: :clap: great report, sounds like you had a blast. Oh how easy it is to forget navigation on a good day fullness chatter lol :lol: :lol: :lol: all well thanks ends well .
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GillC
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Re: The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

Postby mamoset » Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:04 pm

A perfect account of how that day unfolded. I must protest, however, at being referred to as "a Geordie"!!! :lol: :lol:
Was nice to have a chat with the two of you, hope you managed to see the sights from Am Faochagach the next day :D

Chris
mamoset
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Re: The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

Postby Quincy » Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:11 am

😂😂 I realise that Chris but most people on this site wouldn’t know where a monkey hanger is from!! Coming from a sweaty sock who lived 10 years in Geordieland it’s still lovely to hear the accent even if it is from Hartlepool. Good luck with the rest of your munros.
User avatar
Quincy
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 134
Munros:179   Corbetts:28
Grahams:5   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:24   
Joined: Mar 30, 2015
Location: Argyll

Re: The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

Postby Graeme D » Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:17 am

Lovely round that, and nice that it cleared up for you later on! :D
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Graeme D
 
Posts: 3704
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Location: Perth

Re: The Eastern Fannaichs - from misty to magical

Postby mamoset » Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:54 pm

Quincy wrote:😂😂 I realise that Chris but most people on this site wouldn’t know where a monkey hanger is from!! Coming from a sweaty sock who lived 10 years in Geordieland it’s still lovely to hear the accent even if it is from Hartlepool. Good luck with the rest of your munros.


Haha, ok :D good luck with yours too :thumbup: 8)
mamoset
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1663
Munros:189   Corbetts:2
Donalds:1
Hewitts:115
Wainwrights:214   Islands:5
Joined: Feb 12, 2011

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