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Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)


Postby HighlandSC » Sun May 08, 2011 1:33 pm

Route description: Cul Mor

Corbetts included on this walk: Cul Mor

Date walked: 02/05/2011

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 14.2 km

Ascent: 975m

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Date - Mon 02/05/2011
Title - Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)
Route - Start from Knockan Crag, anti-clockwise circuit taking in all 3 tops
Weather - Perfect
People - Me
Time - 5.5h
Distance - 14.2km
Ascent - 975m
Max Altitude - 849m


Cul Mor - Route (2 May 2011).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Cul Mor - Route Profile (2 May 2011).jpg


Most of my recent outings have been inland or south of Inverness so I decided it was time to get back up to the stunning NW coast. Not looking for too hard a day, Cul Mor looked a perfect option.

It was only by chance I went online before going out and noticed the "Liathach on Fire..." trip report, and some other news articles. So although I wasn't aware of fires further North where I was heading, I wasn't as shocked as I might have been to see them.

With a forecast indicating possible inversions in the morning, my original idea was to get up really early to catch one..... didn't quite happen. It was 9am when I left Inverness- under a complete blanket of cloud. I bet someone's on the hill tops above that right now, I thought. It didn't take long to drive into blue skies, and upon starting walking pretty much all cloud was gone. It was to be another perfect day.

Not long after beginning the walk I met an earlybird walker on his way back- a brief chat confirmed my fears....I'd missed a great inversion early this morning. Not to worry- just look at the day it's turned out to be!

The route follows a good path most of the way up the broad ridge of Meallan Diomhain. It was here I caught my first glimpse of Suilven, and soon after spotted the smoke of the wild fires. From Meallan Diomhain you could take a much more direct line (but steeper) to the summit of Cul Mor, but I opted to go north to the small lochan for better views/see what was happening with the fire, and to follow the NE ridge up to the summit.

Cloudy start in Inverness
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Didn't take long to reach the blue skies
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Stopped at Loch Glasscarnoch for a shot of the hazy Ben Wyvis
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Todays hill - Cul Mor. The last fragments of cloud remaining- gone 10 mins later.
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To the left, its neighbour Cul Beag
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Easy going for first 2km on great path
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Lochan Fhionnlaidh
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Continuing N toward Meallan Diomhain. Still no idea there's fires in the area.
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Suilven peeks out
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Looking back to Loch a' Phollain Riabhaich
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The grassy terrain eventually turns rocky on Meallan Diomhain. There are lots of small cairns and a faint path, but it's easy enough going if you stray off the path (easy done).
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Cul Mor. Summit on right. South top (Creag nan Calman) on left.
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I skirted the small lochan and picked up the ridge toward the summit
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Plenty of interesting rock features
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Once at the bottom of the ridge I could now see across to the devastation the fires were causing....

Fionn Loch fires & Suilven
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Back to the walking. Summit, and Coire Gorm.
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Looking E inland
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Final short but rocky approach to summit
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Time to bask in the summit sunshine and take in the views
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Stac Pollaidh
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Suilven, Quinag & Canisp
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Suilven (& Fionn Loch fire)
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Over Coire Gorm to Fionn Loch fire
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S from Cul Mor summit to Creag nan Calman
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More cool rock formations
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I sat at the summit for about half an hour having lunch and soaking in the views. I decided to extend my plan to go out to the NW top, before returning and going up the S top Creag nan Calman, then descending back to Meallan Domhain and retracing my route back to the start.

Ptarmigan & Suilven - approaching 758m top NW ridge
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Ptarmigan (zoomed)-fire nowhere near as close as it looks!
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Sitting at 758m top looking to Fionn Loch fire & Suilven
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Creag nan Calman to Stac Pollaidh
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Coire Gorm
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Fantastic views across to Stac Pollaidh
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Cul Beag
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Made my way back to the bealach where I'd left my bag, then headed on up to Creag nan Calman
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But not before first taking a quick detour to the W nobble
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Creag nan Calman summit, looking to main summit (right)
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Front of the fire beside Loch Sionasgaig
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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_ilUWGAp1w[/youtube]

Pano - click to open LARGE
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Stac Pollaidh from Creag nan Calman
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Cul Beag & lochs S of Cul Mor
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Sat here for some more food taking in the spectacular views, and in disbelief of the destruction caused by the relentless fire
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Made my way back to the bealeach. Descended to the left of the (dry) stream
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Looking back up the bone dry stream
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I veered a bit too far left before descending (there are craggy bits to avoid) and ended up on steeper ground than was necessary- however got away since it was so dry and easily followed another dry stream to easier ground. Eventually rejoined Meallan Domhain and retraced my route back to the start.

Looking back to the bealach, and the steeper craggy section on the right I could have better avoided
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Approaching Meallan Diomhain
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One of the many small cairns descending Meallan Diomhain
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Knockan Crag. Just about back at car after a great day 8)
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As I was packing my gear away I looked across to see about 50 (I did count) people coming out the moors between Cul Beag and Mor. No idea what they were doing, but I did recall meeting a walker last week who warned us that there would be hundreds of kids in the Highlands this week doing some activity course stuff... perhaps this is some of them.
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A last snap of Cul Mor from the road
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What a day :D 8)
Fantastic views in one of my favourite areas. Just such a shame to see those fires destroying patches of it :( I walked this on Mon 2nd May. Over the next couple of days I believe the fire continued round closer to (but not reaching) Stac Pollaidh and also scorching the W side of Cul Mor. I was certainly in no danger from these fires during my day on the hill.

Links to BBC news stories about the fires:
Fire crews battle blazes in Sutherland
Crews continue to battle wild fires across Scotland

Full flickr set of pics
http://www.flickr.com/photos/highlandsc/sets/72157626541420475/
Last edited by HighlandSC on Mon May 09, 2011 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby Michelle » Sun May 08, 2011 2:13 pm

A great day out indeed- looks perfect. You're accumulating a large collection of hills you're just going to have to do again with me, you know! But maybe with less fire :o
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby HighlandSC » Sun May 08, 2011 6:15 pm

We'll definitely get up this hill :D
Yeah- without the fire, but with the tent! Loads of nice camping spots up there 8)
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby Stretch » Sun May 08, 2011 6:19 pm

He's trying to get you lost in the hills again Michelle :lol: - the old bivy bag trick.

Great shots, they look better on here than they did on FB. I'm still kicking myself for not getting out this past weekend.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby ChrisW » Sun May 08, 2011 9:29 pm

WOW - fantastic report and spectacular photo's, what a great walk with stunning views. That may be 3.5 hours drive from me but I am definitely adding that to my list....fantastic :D
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby BlackPanther » Mon May 09, 2011 10:39 am

Hi, lovely pictures! Another hill on my to-do list, looks like it is well worth climbing.
On Monday the 2nd, we saw a single car parked along A835 next to Cul Mor path when we were driving up to Ben More Assynt. Could have been your car :D :D :D
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby HighlandSC » Mon May 09, 2011 12:14 pm

Stretch wrote:He's trying to get you lost in the hills again Michelle :lol: - the old bivy bag trick.

:lol: nah- those are pre-marriage tactics. I'm now on alert for being pushed over a cliff :lol: ;)


BlackPanther wrote:On Monday the 2nd, we saw a single car parked along A835 next to Cul Mor path when we were driving up to Ben More Assynt. Could have been your car :D :D :D

Almost certainly was- I'd guess it was sitting there alone most of the afternoon (big light blue car). Will the Panther be doing a report from Ben More Assynt? Always good to see reports from close by on days you were out.
:D
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby BlackPanther » Mon May 09, 2011 12:22 pm


BlackPanther wrote:On Monday the 2nd, we saw a single car parked along A835 next to Cul Mor path when we were driving up to Ben More Assynt. Could have been your car :D :D :D

Almost certainly was- I'd guess it was sitting there alone most of the afternoon (big light blue car). Will the Panther be doing a report from Ben More Assynt? Always good to see reports from close by on days you were out.
:D


I'll post my Monday's trip for sure, today if I manage to do it, or on Wednesday (busy on Tuesday).
Strangely enough, we did not see the fires you photographed from where we were. Too far away?...
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby HighlandSC » Mon May 09, 2011 12:36 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Strangely enough, we did not see the fires you photographed from where we were. Too far away?...

Possibly were too far away. The SE wind was blowing all smoke out to sea and south. It was also a hazy day which wouldn't have helped- it was often hard to distinguish between haze and smoke at a distance. I couldn't see any sign of fire/smoke until I was pretty much on the summit of Cul Mor, so you'd have had even less chance being (guess) 10 miles N and a few more miles E.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby malky_c » Mon May 09, 2011 3:31 pm

Great little hill this (well not that little I suppose, but pretty easy to get onto compared with some of the NW) and looks like you had a good day exploring all the tops too. Was the guy you met in the morning Highlandhillwalker? I'm sure he was up that way and seems to make really early starts.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby HighlandSC » Mon May 09, 2011 5:06 pm

malky_c wrote:Was the guy you met in the morning Highlandhillwalker? I'm sure he was up that way and seems to make really early starts.


Don't think so, I've had half an eye on his posts and reports and no mention of Cul Mor. It was an older white haired guy with a collie dog if that helps.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highland)

Postby NevJB » Mon May 09, 2011 8:35 pm

Lovely pics - sorry to see the fires though - I try to fish Loch Veyatie everytime I'm up that way - just love the setting - framed in between Suillvan and Cul Mor.
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Re: Cul Mor & Wildfires near Inverkirkaig (Assynt, NW Highla

Postby litljortindan » Sat May 18, 2013 7:53 pm

You got a good day then and some nice pictures. Interesting to see the west end of the hill too.
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