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Loch Arkaig Grahams...and a surprise Corbett

Loch Arkaig Grahams...and a surprise Corbett

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jan 16, 2022 11:05 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall a' Phùbuill

Grahams included on this walk: Meall Blair, Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean, Sgùrr Choinich

Date walked: 16/01/2022

Distance: 63 km

Ascent: 2709m

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Fresh from our travels up the West Highland Way last week, I was keen to get back out onto some hills. But I had enjoyed the longer flat-walking of the Way and thought I'd incorporate at least one longer walk to a Graham in our menu this weekend. Weather forecast was fairly innocuous, low cloud but not much in the way of rain. That left lots of choice where we could head off to...

I finally decided we would head up to Loch Arkaig and do the two grahams to the north of the loch for one day, then the lovely Graham of Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean on Saturday, involving a long walk up Glen Maillie. If there was time we could do Druim Fada in the adjacent Glen Loy on the way home on Sunday. Headed off into the twilight, noting that darkness doesn't come now til 5pm, which is something positive. Camped up by the waterfall at the head of Loch Arkaig, a quiet night with an almost full moon for company.

2022-01-14_0900 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Friday morning the mist is lying quite low on the hills, we can't see any snow, but reckon we won't run into any today. First time we did these hills we saw nothing - looked like it might be a repeat. I try not to use the same route for hills, but some don't easily lend themselves to alternatives so we chose more or less the same circuit today as we'd used previously. Parked at a cattle grid some way past the butterfly car park, through some undergrowth then follow the fence line up the flanks of Sgurr Choinnich. It's a really gentle ascent, and the ground is fairly easy going - not much in the way of tussocks, just shortish grass. We made it up to the summit cairn, still some occasional wee snow patches around, but almost all gone.

Image28617E01-FF90-4530-8DC2-40FCFF9C347A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Choinich
Image6DBE21CF-81AE-46F7-B9FB-A2193962E35A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The walk over to Meall Blair is on the boggy side. Following a fence line initially, then it turns sharply away to the north and we were left to muggle our way through the clag. Over a little 5H that Allison was asking to avoid - but going round would have been worse than climbing it, and finally onto the slopes of Meall Blair. I'm sure the views are great. We came off heading towards Loch Arkaig, picking up an ATV track in the process that took us down to the track by the Sea Eagle hide. Past a few posts with nails hammered into them all round - maybe to stop the deer rubbing against them and knocking them down? I remember seeing a wooden statue in one of the Edinburgh museums like that - was an African "Nail Fetish".

Meall Blair
Image9E2FE87E-956D-4C38-892C-A7D7EDA0547D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image257830BF-61EC-473B-80A6-6DAABFFCAA17_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Loch Arkaig
ImageE4D65D77-7AD5-4A81-9014-5F4A554FBBC4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image9C83A258-DA3B-4C96-A166-B9E7AEF04366 by Al, on Flickr

As we descended the cloud lift a bit and we got some views of the Loch. Back at the car for about half past three - time to do a bit of a walk in to the next hill. We changed over rucksacks, finding our overnight packs much more pleasant to carry than those we'd had on last week on the Way. Would we camp or would we use Invermaillie Bothy? I was wary - it was a Friday night after all, and who knows what randoms might be making a weekend of it in Invermaillie? But we decided to give it a go. We took the muddy track off to the right, past some ponies who were munching their hay and approached the bothy just as it was getting dark. Allison took a tumble over a stone or root and hurt her side, which wasn't great. The bothy was empty and in very good order. We'd stayed the night when we did Mullach Coire the last time, five years ago, and there have been considerable improvements made in that time. It's one of the bigger bothies I know, with 2 good sized rooms downstairs with fires, a cloakroom (!) and three rooms upstairs, all nicely wood panelled, with double glazed velux windows. We put our sleeping stuff up the stairs and had our tea, then I set a nice blaze in the hearth downstairs and we sat and had a whisky and read. There's also 4G reception, which I haven't found before in a bothy.

2022-01-14_1600 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Image2B3A642E-4721-4683-A6CE-49F8C80B0808_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF0F8B083-BF85-4E36-867D-244E2BAF9BB5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8F34296E-5E0D-445C-9AC5-F88572B95D47_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We had a quiet night with no visitors, ghosts or even mice. Outside there were circles of hoof prints suggesting the ponies had been capering about at some point. The mornign was dry, clouds a bit higher than the previous day, and we set off back to the track to walk into the glen. It is a lovely glen this one, not often visited it would appear. Scots pines and birch trees line the slopes; to the south are Beinn Bhan and Meall a'Phuibuill, to the north the long ridge of Mullach Coire, which is, in itself a long spur from Gulvain. As we walked along, an estate vehicle pulling a trailer passed us. Up ahead we could see deer running down the mountainside to follow the van. The driver tooted his horn to them and they followed in a posse, like kids chasing after an ice cream van. He was feeding them potatoes and neeps. We chatted as we drew level - he feeds them alternate days during the winter. They were having a rare tuck in, anyway.

Image5CE3D53E-C853-494B-9E31-FED0287E4C34_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF9687011-15F6-49F7-A3EB-77D06E8F4C76_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image802E98A7-684D-4FBA-8F02-8A00935C15BF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageBDDE5E8C-50A6-4B73-B29F-5CF9C18C902B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Mullach Coire - as far as you can see on the right
ImageFAFE73C2-1A11-4102-9CA4-21CB8E4F2825_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Continuing on, we followed the track up to the ruins of the old Glen Maillie cottage, a little further on there's an exciting looking bridge I remembered from last time, though there's no need to cross it for Mullach Coire. We stopped for lunch, considering what line to take up the steep flanks of our hill. I saw a probable deer route that seemed reasonable, so we huffed and puffed up there. Once on the flat ridge there was still 2-3 km to go to reach the summit. We could see yesterday's hills across Loch Arkaig and looking to the west the Glen Dessarry hills down to Sgurr na Ciche. Once we'd reached the summit we came back the way we'd come and descended back to the track. We were both feeling really tired - perhaps the exertions of last week were catching up with us. I wasn't sure what to do - it would take us maybe 90 minutes to get back the the bothy, but a Saturday night was chancing it even more than a Friday. I didn't fancy walking all the way back to the car. However, there's not a lot of choice when it comes to camp spots along this glen. I'd noticed a good spot just by the ruined cottage and suggested we have an early finish today, get our strength back and head off early tomorrow morning.

Image487F6F81-AC0A-4CBA-9A88-70200ADB1B46_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Meall a'Phubuill on the L, Gulvain ahead
Image99AB9CB7-582B-439A-8879-054F38747A71_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image92E0681F-659A-416F-9DBA-D3F7842C2F80_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image666F9466-BCFE-46AA-96D8-4F1CAA7DED85_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Glen Dessarry hills
ImageA8653B8F-7CA7-4258-99A5-C96D65896FC2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Yesterday's hills
Image97989B7A-C93D-431C-BC5D-450B0FB95F12_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image71EAA61C-FDBA-4B3F-8AA8-60B29F7415C0_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4F5A8630-11DB-40A2-902B-8F5C8F7C3DDD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageDE2BEC06-CE90-4E2F-A94C-D3D934E25BE0_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We pitched on a nice soft green spot a hundred yards or so east of the ruin. By this time it had gone 4pm so it seemed reasonable to make a start on the tea, while it was still light. While we were thinking. what to do the next day, it occurred to me that we were looking over at Meall a'Phubuill, a Corbett that would suit me fine. Allison didn't need it, so she could choose to stay in bed should she wish. An early night followed, finishing off a book of Tolstoy short stories. Quite a lot of rain overnight but restful nonetheless. I wakened at 7 intending to get up, but promptly fell asleep again til after 8...

Beinn Bhan
Image0012395F-4412-484F-BB87-E2BE8FB14485_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image24E18CC1-79A0-4943-8040-08558560B5AF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We left the tent up, with anything not required in it and set off back along the track to the strange bridge, which we'd need to use to cross the river given last night's rain. It was fine - I went over first and Allison gingerly followed. We'd decided to go up over the 5H of Monadh Beag, past another ruined cottage. We were fortunate to pick up an ATV track which went almost to the summit of Monadh Beag. From there we had a drop to the bealach with Meall a'Phubuill, avoiding peat hags. Lots of deer, some sheep also. We chose a line to the east of the summit, which was less steep than elsewhere. Good views down to Loch Eil, Gulvain etc.

Image0FE21165-9FD0-456B-BFAB-E1341047A1CD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Meall a'Phubuill
ImageBF9114C7-D1BB-4449-A15D-19725E3B0234_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Mullach Coire in the backdrop
ImageAE490D20-4A0C-4339-9715-617FE1809EEE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image44AEC78F-166A-4C49-8248-C6EF5A4E0F0A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5E199BDB-124E-413E-885D-F2889B34A7C0_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image52B8D11A-3431-4D63-AA50-1A9F2591CFD2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We retraced our steps back down - although I kept managing to lose the ATV track once we picked it up. Back to the tent, packed it away then set off back down the track. We met a couple of folk who'd biked up. The bothy was still standing as we passed by and finished off the few kilometres back to the car. A fairly quick drive down the road tonight, not much traffic about

The way we are headed
ImageE8463443-8B73-4DA3-AE89-6B3646ED81D3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB84FDA0D-2581-45F2-B26E-FAEA9B5A9C8A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD7C887AD-66CC-48A4-8992-17D02576B3CE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image80095A4C-E468-4827-8241-B0E732A20804 by Al, on Flickr

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Re: Loch Arkaig Grahams...and a surprise Corbett

Postby Graeme D » Mon Jan 17, 2022 3:41 pm

Was up Meall Blair and can vouch for it being an excellent wee viewpoint. I'd forgotten about those posts with nails sticking out of them until you mentioned them. There were quite a few on the approach from Loch Blair.
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