East of Fisherfield: staying ahead of the weather (almost)
by malky_c » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:02 pm
Route description: Creag Rainich, via Loch a'Bhraoin
Corbetts included on this walk: Creag Rainich
Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Bheag (Letterewe Forest), Groban
Date walked: 25/09/2011
Time taken: 7.3 hours
Distance: 24.5 km
Ascent: 1250m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Grahams: Groban, Beinn Bheag
Date walked: 25/09/2011
Distance: 24.5 km
Ascent: 1250 m
Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Weather: Patches of sunshine, showers, breezy
(Link to yesterday's walk) I'd rather worn myself out yesterday, to the point where I couldn't be bothered to walk into Lochivraon bothy to spend the night. Prior plans were out of the window (I had been due to meet some friends who were to be staying in the Smiddy hut, Dundonnell, but they had cancelled at the last minute), so I resorted to kipping in the car. This added an hour or so onto the day's walk, but I'd never slept in this car before. I soon found out that the back seats would not lie flat, so I felt like I was sleeping on a hump-back bridge all night! This had the effect of getting me up nice and early to conpensate for the extra walking.
I was on my way by 7 am, the weather blustery and showery. MWIS had suggested that the showers would turn to more persistent rain later on, so being on the go as soon as possible was the key to the day. At this point, I was happy just to be able to see my planned hills, but things got better over the next couple of hours.
Ruined lodge and boathouse at the eastern end of Loch a' Bhraoin:
I'd not bothered to bring my bike in the end, so strolled along the easy track to Lochivraon. There was a new diversion skirting the lodge at the eastern end, with a suggestion that it would be renovated soon. As Cuillin mentioned in his recent report, the track was certainly bikeable, if a little prone to soft, beach-like pebbly sections in places. I reached the lodge in a little over an hour and had a look into the bothy. It looked five-star as far as bothies went, and I now wished I'd bothered to walk in the previous night.
Lochivraon lodge and bothy:
Outside, a brief heavy shower soon turned to unexpected sunshine as I picked my way down to the river. There was no sign of the marked bridge, but the river was only 3 inches deep at one of the wider points, so I strolled across (of course if I'd paid more attention to the details in Cuillin's report, I would have known this before looking for the bridge).
Groban and Beinn Bheag from near Lochivraon:
Along the valley floor and lower down the NE ridge of Groban, the going was wet and boggy, but much less slippery than Canisp had been the previous evening. The sun began to catch bits of the eastern side of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, where the slabby hillside was prominently stripped of turf.
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Sgurr Ban:
Zoom showing area of slabs:
My armchair plans for this round had originally included the Mullach by its eastern tops and Sgurr Ban, before ambitiously taking in Creag Rainich on the way home! This would have been a pretty big day normally, and after yesterday's exertions, there's no way I could have done it. Having seen the bothy, I'll save that for an overnight trip sometime.
Sunshine on the NE ridge of Groban:
Groban got steeper towards the summit, and the views to An Teallach started to open up, with Ruadh Stac Mor poking over the Fisherfield Munros.
Ruadh Stac Mhor, some lump and An Teallach:
The summit was a surprise. I had a feeling the views would be good up here, but I hadn't realised just how impressive Lochan Fada and Slioch would look. Truly a great spot. Even to the less exciting east, Meallan Chuaich looked like a worthy almost-Graham to come back for.
Slioch and Lochan Fada from Groban (Beinn Eighe in the background):
Three and a half of the Fisherfield Six:
Bad weather just about to hit Torridon:
Meallan Chuaich and Fionn Bheinn:
Another look at Torridon and Slioch:
Beinn Bheag, Beinn Lair poking out behind:
While I'd never really thought about climbing Groban until a couple of years ago, I'd noticed it standing out on the map before. I now found out why - big descents on all sides! The best part of 300m of steep descent took me to the col, from where it was straight back up again. This was pretty steep as well, and the results of my small breakfast began to take effect. I pretty much entirely ran out of energy and had to stop for some chocolate.
Back down Loch a' Bhraoin from the ascent of Beinn Bheag:
Fortunately Beinn Bheag was lower than Groban, and before long the ground levelled off. What rocks that were visible were quite slabby. At one point, I passed a stack of them, and couldn't work out if someone had piled them up as on a dish drainer.
Man-made or natural? Groban and a stack of stones:
Views were nearly as good from here, and I had an inkling that the lower western top would have a good outlook over Lochan Fada. I remembered looking down onto this summit from the ascent of Sgurr Dubh about 5 years previously. However the sun had gone in and the cloud had begun to descend to the south, so I didn't bother going over. Instead, I headed north, looking for a view across Loch an Nid. I found a nice spot out of the wind for a proper stop, and sat looking at An Teallach and the slabs on Sgurr Ban.
Looking down Loch an Nid to An Teallach:
Those crazy slabs on Sgurr Ban:
After lunch (at 11:00am?) I worked my way rightwards to avoid the steepest ground, and dropped down to the glen. Cloud was descending onto the Munros now, so even if I'd been full of beans, the addition of Mullach and Sgurr Ban wouldn't have appealed any more. As it was, I was far from my best, with my feet making it known that my boots were now past their prime. Just need to keep them in one piece until the January sales!
Creag Rainich was actually the easiest ascent of the three, as its slopes were much shallower. The weather was moving in now, but I still got some atmospheric views down to Loch an Nid and across the slabs. It had occurred to me before, but I could clearly see that the little pimple of Meallan an Laoigh would be an ideal place to view this hillside from, being plunked right in the middle of it.
The slabs and Meallan an Laoigh from the ascent of Creag Rainich:
I spotted a few deer on the horizon. There had been a number of them about today, and I'd heard plenty of bellowing. I hadn't seen a single deer the previous day.
Deer on the ridge:
The race was now on. Would I get to the summit of Creag Ranaich before the clag came down?
Moody shot of the end of Loch an Nid:
The answer was no, and I was hit by a particuarly squally shower on the summit, which had an oddly short trig point (I noticed particuarly as I was trying to shelter behind it!). I could still glimpse some of the moorland lochans to the east of An Teallach through gaps in the cloud, but it wasn't pleasant to hang around, so I started down very soon. The more northerly of the eastern ridges looked quite sharp and sporting, but it didn't go where I wanted, so I headed towards the 748m top on the broader, southern one. 'Stay high for the views' Kinley had said in his recent report. I had left the door open for this option, having neither a bike or overnight bag to collect at Lochivraon, but my feet definitely ordered me to get low instead.
I contoured the 748m summit and took a diagonal line down to meet the loch east of Lochivraon. The ground was variable and the route served its purpose today, but I still can't see why the SMC guide suggests it as the only option. It is probably the worst way up this hill!
I thought that was it for the weather, but it cleared up again, giving a slow but pleasant walk back along the lochside.
Beinn Enaiglair from the track along the loch side:
Meall a Chrasgaidh:
Lodge and boathouse:
I was pretty glad to be back at the car, as today had been more painful than the average day walk. I didn't even manage to keep up with Naismith, despite not really stopping much. However, it took me to some lovely remote spots where I was very lucky with the weather for the second day in a row. It made me glad I'd started working my way around the Grahams as well, as I'd eyed up Creag Rainich up before as a quick dash on its own (probably by the SMC route). This added much more to the day, and was a great way to round off a fun but knackering weekend.
Of course it wasn't actually finished, as 5 minutes down the road, I discovered I had a flat tyre. Cue another heavy shower and the fastest wheel change I've ever done! I'd never looked before, but I had one of those stupid space-saver spare tyres that recommend you don't exceed 50mph. When you get a clear run at it, the Ullapool - Dingwall road is actually very fast, and I found regulating quite a challenge. Where are all those bumbling 45mph caravans when you need them?
by kinley » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:41 pm
Glad to see some good views from the Grahams - they are cracking wee hills.
Kind of glad we interrupted this route earlier in the year due to Hazel's ankle. The Corbett deserved a better day.
Would certainly consider this whole loop again sometime.
by IreneM » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:43 pm
by Klaasloopt » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:13 pm
Sleeping in a car gets you up early why not have a small tent or bivy bag lying around in the back...
by mountainstar » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:28 am
Those slabs above Loch an Nid are really unusual aren't they.
by ChrisW » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:40 am
The stacks of stones on Groban do loook man made but they also look very large to be shifted about by hand
by malky_c » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:46 am
Klaasloopt wrote:why not have a small tent or bivy bag lying around in the back...
I had planned to take the tent (and the bike to shorten the approach), but I was so disorganised I didn't bother. Probably wouldn't have had the motivation to put it up anyway
mountainstar wrote:last March when I stopped in the bothy.
Those slabs above Loch an Nid are really unusual aren't they.
Answers my question from the other thread . I quite fancy walking up next to the slabs at some point. Can't think of anywhere else in the UK like that (although you should have a look at Atlantic Slab on Carnedd y Ffiliast if you haven't already. Lovely easy scramble up the middle of it).
ChrisW wrote: I 'discovered' a space saver when I got mine heading to Mayer & Driesh - I assumed there must be some 'safety margin' built in to that speed restriction so largely ignored it
You're probably right, but since my RAC membership has lapsed, I didn't fancy putting it to the test!
by drumtian » Tue May 06, 2014 12:53 pm