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Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Postby malky_c » Tue Aug 15, 2023 9:11 pm

Route description: Tom a' Chòinich & Toll Creagach, Glen Affric

Munros included on this walk: Toll Creagach, Tom a' Chòinich

Date walked: 14/08/2023

Time taken: 6.7 hours

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 1120m

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Munros: Tom a' Choinich, Toll Creagach.
Date: 14/08/2023.
Distance: 17.5km.
Ascent: 1120m.
Time taken: 6 hours, 45 minutes.
Weather: Very calm and muggy, sunny/overcast mixture until final downpour 5 minutes from the end.

After yesterday's wander up Meall Mor, the forecast looked even better for today so we decided to aim slightly higher. From the point we had started discussing Jackie's fitness plan of of 'easy Munros by boring paths' (or was it 'boring Munros by easy paths' - I can't remember :crazy: ), I had suggested this pair. While they certainly aren't boring, they fitted the criteria of being a decent walk onto a couple of high summits that wasn't too long or tough, and had a reasonable route to follow without my signature crashing through bog and heather. After plenty of accidental crashing through bog and heather (not all instigated by me), we thought they would now be less of an effort than they would have been a couple of months ago.

New_Route (11).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Leaving the new Chisolm Bridge carpark a little after 11, we followed the new path and hydro track up Gleann nam Fiadh. Once past the dam, it came as some surprise to me that the path deteriorated into wet bog for the next km or so. Although it was probably 15 years since I had last been up here, I had no recollection of this!

ImageApproaching Toll Creagach

ImageTom a Choinich from Gleann nam Fiadh

ImageStob Choire Dhomhnuill and Tom a Choinich

ImagePath deteriorates...

We were going at roughly the same speed as a couple of other guys, so we kept passing them and being passed as they or we decided to have a break. They were walking into Alltbeithe YHA after doing this though, so had plenty more to come today.

Once we reached the point where the path climbed into Toll Easa the going improved a bit - this was more like what I remembered. It was muggy work in the humidity and we noticed as we slowed down that the midges were rife. We had noticed them earlier, but not to this extent! As we branched off the stalkers path onto the SE ridge of the hill, we were treated to the occasional breath of breeze but never for long enough.

ImageOn the SE ridge of Tom a Choinich

ImageToll Creagach

ImageBeinn a Mheadhoin and Glen Affric


Our two acquaintances had opted to stop about halfway up the ridge - risky business we thought. We carried on until we were in line with the summit and there was slightly more breeze, however it didn't last and Jackie lost the plot halfway through her sandwich (I ate mine twice as fast but was also losing the plot by now). We moved on again, eventually reaching the summit. Worth a bit of a wander westwards for the views along the ridge towards Carn Eighe. The top might have been a nice place to linger but even here was besieged by midges today.

ImageMam Sodhail and Stob Choire Dhomhnuill

ImageApproaching the summit of Tom a Choinich

ImageWest from the summit

ImageBeinn Fionnlaidh

ImageSW to the Glen Shiel hills

After lingering slightly too long at the top, we scarpered down the steep eastern ridge. The next ascent was more gentle so we were able to move just fast enough to deflect further midges. Then there was a long, easy flat section of plateau before the top of Toll Creagach which gave us a chance to walk and eat at the same time. Good views to the hills north of Loch Mullardoch gave us a chance to talk about all of the possibilities around here - an area that has been close to home for me for years but one that Jackie has barely scratched the surface of.

ImageAn Socach and An Riabachain

ImageLoch Mullardoch and Glen Cannich from Toll Creagach

Toll Creagach brought the relief of slightly more breeze and we were able to enjoy a proper break here, watching showers drift over other areas. Like yesterday, we had largely been lucky and avoided them.

ImageAn Riabachain and Sgurr na Lapaich across the loch

I had wondered about going back to the col between the two hills and dropping back down the stalkers path but having looked at Walkhighlands and Strava quickly I could see that most people just descended due south from the summit all the way back into Gleann nam Fiadh. This is what I had used as both and ascent and descent route on various other visits but because of that I knew it was pathless all the way. Now that it is becoming a standard way, I hoped we would pick up some traces of a path at some point.

ImageSouth across Glen Affric

Not that a path is needed for the first 350m - the turf is largely short and there are stony areas to stroll across with just the odd step into areas where the ground has slipped to watch out for. Lower down we plunged into heather and wet grass but a path of sorts did materialise before too long. For the last 200m it was fairly obvious and it deposited us 5 minutes or so from the end of the good hydro track. I think my previous routes on this slope were a little further east, so even if this path did exist at the time I wouldn't have found it.

ImageLooking up Gleann nam Fiadh on the way out

ImageJackie in front of Beinn a Mheadhoin

We strolled back down the glen, a few spots of rain hitting us as we approached the new section of path to the carpark. This had happened on occasion earlier in the day but this time it steadily got heavier until it was bucketing down for the last 30 seconds of the walk. As we jumped in the car and drove away, it continued to pour down, drenching a couple of cyclists that we passed, and it didn't stop until we reached Cannich.

When I had helped out at the Highland Cross bike changeover station earlier in the summer I had managed to find a quiet 10 minutes for a swim in Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin just across the road from the Chisholm Bridge Carpark. This was initially earmarked for today's post-walk swim but the midges had already swayed us from that. The downpour was the last straw and we fled to Lochend on Loch Ness before stopping for a swim in the end. After a muggy day, it felt very refreshing.

ImageSwimming at Lochend
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Re: Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Postby Sgurr » Tue Aug 15, 2023 10:08 pm

Great to see that Jackie managed Munros. Good to see the heather along one of of the paths. Doing the Lakes lately, I find I miss it.
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Re: Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Postby rockhopper » Fri Aug 25, 2023 10:45 pm

Some of the worst midges I ever encountered were down Glens Affric and Etive. I'd echo Sgurr's comments. Definitely good to see Jackie out and about covering greater distances and heights. However, I've a long way to go to get anywhere near her wild water swimming exploits - well done - cheers :)
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Re: Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Aug 26, 2023 9:42 am

Nice one. I enjoyed these two more than I expected, though they were a little snowier and the midges were thankfully hibernating.

Have you guys been swimming with midge headnets yet? :lol:
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Re: Midge encounter on Tom a' Choinich & Toll Creagach

Postby JWCW2014 » Sat Aug 26, 2023 3:31 pm

We were up there the day before Malky- the four of us split into twos based on pace on the ascent. My son and I were fairly bothered on the descent from Toll Creagach as we disturbed the heather it seemed to create swarming clouds. My dad text later to say an hour or two after they experienced the worst midge he’d ever seen, and he’s got several decades of bivvying to compare to…

These two are a nice round we thought - you looked like you had a good day out!
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