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Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4


Postby Frogwell » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:42 am

Route description: Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich

Date walked: 07/11/2011

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It had been absolutely glorious sunshine all the way up the A9, apart from a few miles of low fog between Dunkeld and Pitlochry, but as I drove down Affric it started to grey up a little, nothing major, but enough to remind me that this is Scotland. Late again, I arrived at Chisholme Bridge about 2ish, but I wasn't too concerned about the time as I figured I just needed to get onto the ridge before sunset to give me enough time to build my tent and find a decent spot to get some sunset photos. The start of the walk is nice and easy estate track, but just as comfort is setting in, the pathless, boggy, heathery trudge up Toll Creagach begins. Pretty soul sapping stuff - I kept wondering if perhaps I was missing a really nice path or something, but some zig zagging back and forth revealed just more and more boggy bog. Near the summit the ground firmed up and I was looking forward to the views, so needless to say I was not overly amused when two minutes from the top the cloud rolled in and buggered things up. Over 90% chance of cloud free summits said MWIS. I tell you, there'll come a day when someone will do them an injury for their sick and twisted sense of humour.

I loitered about a bit waiting for the cloud to pass, it was coming and going a little bit, mainly coming though so I gave up and wandered off in the direction of Tom a' Choinich. I walked along the plateau to the bottom of the scramble up Tom a' Choinich, looking for decent camp spots and eventually walked most of the way back again and found a nice little spot out of the wind on the bealach at the bottom of the slope to Toll Creagach. I had hoped for something with better views and that would get the morning sun so I could pack the tent away dry, but given the strengthening wind I figured shelter was probably a better idea, plus there was running water a couple of hundred metres away.

Tent planted, water boiled, food soaking and tea brewing. I gave up on the idea of sunset shots, the cloud obviously decided I was undeserving. After my one course meal I ambled back up to the top of Toll Creagach to see if the views had cleared at all. I hid my camera and tripod in my sleeping bag stuff sack so as not to arouse suspicion from any nearby clouds, a ploy that seemed to work as it was pretty clear up there and the lights of Inverness seemed worthy of a photo or two. Of course I'd left the camera remote back at the tent, without which I couldn't use the bulb mode on the camera so the longest exposure I was allowed was 30 seconds. Just enough to have a black picture with a few undistinguished blobs of light. A few choice insults randomly hurled about at nothing and everything and I headed back down to the tent to watch some TV on my newly purchased £10, ex-display Tesco special MP4 player.

Low battery was the flashing message on the screen.

I was being tested surely. Tempted as I was to jump up and down on the tiny little box of malicious evil, rip it's giblets out, jump up an down on them and then insert each individual piece of broken plastic into separate nuggets of deer poo, I decided instead to go for a walk. Which I did, then brushed my teeth and went to bed. A more dignified, albeit less satisfying option I feel.

All in all the night was pretty uneventful. The wind gusted a few times but I'd remembered the side guylines for the tent this time so it didn't really budge, the temperature dipped just into the negative but I wasn't cold. I had to get up to pee on a beetle at about 2am. Well, I didn't have to, as such. Actually, I only noticed the beetle after I'd peed on it. In as much as I'm any judge, I don't think the beetle was very happy with whole being peed on situation to be honest. If our roles had been reversed I'd be a little miffed too. I wonder if our roles were reversed later on? It's possible he snuck into my tent while I slept and exacted his revenge. I'm not going to think about that.

I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could have some tea and porridge before sunrise. I headed back up to Toll Creagach hoping for something spectacular. While decent enough as sunrises go, it was a bit on the bleh side. I rattled off a few snaps here and there, but for the most part I just took the surroundings in. A number of planes doodled along high above, presumably London bound given their height, a helicopter zipped along Loch Mullardoch before gaining height to clear the mountains to West - A PDG Eurocopter by the looks of it, so maybe headed to Plockton.

I was back at the tent for the back of 8, a leisurely packing saw me on my way by 9. Had I realised what was ahead I probably wouldn't have been so casual about things. This is a staggeringly beautiful walk, but I misjudged just how much up and down and just how long it is. I really shouldn't have returned to Toll Creagach in the morning, had I broken camp after my tea and porridge I could easily have made Tom a' Choinich by sunrise and that would have made the day a whole lot easier.

By the time I got to Sron Garvh I could see most of the rest of the walk ahead. It looked pretty long. Not long as in painfully, legs cramping up kind of long, in fact maybe not that long at all, but given that it's November and the sun clocks off at 4:30, quite a distance to cover before then.

I stopped on Stob a Choire Domhain and had a mangled Tesco value macaroni pie for lunch. While doing my best to retain some dignity as I picked up small pieces of macaroni from amongst the grass, I saw the first person of the day - a silhouette standing on the summit of Mam Sodhail.

After my hasty lunch of macaroni and grass I made progress to Carn Eige. By this point I'd figured I wasn't going to have time to do Beinn Fhionnlaidh. I wasn't overly disappointed - I saw it as a reason to return, if a reason was even needed. Leaving the summit of Carn Eige I met up with the silhouette from Mam Sodhail - turns out he wasn't a silhouette at all, he just looked that way from a distance, he was actually a normal man. A man wearing a hat. Not only that, he actually turned out to be the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz. I didn't know that at the time though. Well, the man, hat and beard bit I deduced quite quickly actually, his heritage I did not, but more on that later. A quick chat later he went East and I went South.

Mam Sodhail - what a hill. Bloody fantastic so it is. I think I might place it at the top of my new favourite list. A nice scramble up, excellent views, an unfeasibly large cairn and a twisty ridge off. What's not to like? As I stood on the cairn I cold see the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz doodling past the location where I'd eaten my lunch and previously spotted him.

Time was getting on and I figured I'd best be past those tight contour lines on the map before it got dark, so I punished my knees all along the ridge to Sgurr na Lapaich. About half way along I decided that Santa really needs to bring me a lightweight down sleeping bag this Christmas as I think my synthetic Snugpak probably weighed about 15kg by this point. Plus it possibly has beetle pee on it. I really wish I'd planned my time better as that ridge really deserved a more sedate pace - the whole walk did really. At this point I saw the only other two people of the day - trudging their way through what looked like a boggy stalkers path far below. The sun was disappearing as I descended down the scrambly bits. Had I known just how boggy the next section was I'd probably have put on more speed earlier on too. Navigating relentless bog by moonlight is actually not very much fun. I gave up hope of trying to follow any path and just tried to get through without sinking.

Just as I reached the track that leads back down to Affric lodge the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz came round the corner. He was back to being a silhouette by this time, although it's possible it was just the darkness playing tricks on my eyes. Not sure.

We walked to the car park in the moonlight talking about things and stuff. Mainly stuff. Turns out he's actually quite an interesting guy. Not that I thought he wouldn't be. It was during this conversation that he revealed himself to be the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz. Actually, the left out the bit about the beard, he probably figured I'd worked that out for myself, but the bit about him being the son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz; that he told me about.

He was parked at the car park, or at least his car was, so we parted company at this point and I walked the remaining mile back to my car. Even though I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get some decent sunset photos along the loch, it was still a nice mile by moonlight to end the walk. I debooted, threw my gear in the back, started the car and was just waiting for the demister to demist the windscreen when an apparition appeared off my starboard. Actually, it wasn't an apparition at all, but the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz. An apparition, a silhouette and the bearded son of multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member, Squiz? You have to marvel at the man's talent. Turns out his car battery had gone flat and so the keyless doors were steadfastly refusing to let him. Being quick at the thinking game he realised that his best chance at avoiding a ten miles walk to Cannich was to make haste after me and hope that my car has a slow windscreen demister. On this occasion he was lucky. very lucky in fact, as in the past I've been known to become irrationally impatient with the demister and stick my head out the window, Ace Ventura style, instead.

I gave him a lift back to Inverness where he was going to try and get some form of public transportation or a taxi North. I went to Morrisons and bought some water, then went to a fish and chip shop and wasted £5.95 (anyone got a recommendation for a decent chip shop in Inverness for when I'm next there and hungry?) and then I drove down the A9, only breaking the speed limit once. That once did last 97 miles right enough, but lets call it progress anyway. **

** For any police officers from traffic division reading this - that last bit was a lie. I didn't break the speed limit at all. In fact, I don't even have a car. I rode my donkey home. Slowly.

Any, enough waffle. Some snaps from along the way, the first three from Sunday and the remainder from Monday.

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Frogwell
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby DrookitMunter » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:53 am

Beautiful photos. Really sharp and amazing colours. This one is simply stunning, thanks for sharing:

Image
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Stretch » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:59 am

I'm not going to lie, I get a little excited each time I see you've posted. Again, I wasn't disappointed after reading this and gawking at the fine photos. Your various struggles paid off in my opinion!
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Fudgie » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:02 am

As ever your pictures are wonderful and I really need to start taking my D300 with me more often.The story isn't bad either :)
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:15 am

Gorgeous pictures, brought back some old memories :D :D Mam Sodhail was my first Munro, but I was unlucky to do it in cloud...
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby iainwatson » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:27 am

stunning photos! what kind of camera do you use? i assume its a top end one by the look of the pics
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Fudgie » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:28 am

I noticed you posted elsewhere that you use a D90. What lens do you use?
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Redrock » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:00 pm

Some really great pictures and a fine story told, Frogwell! :D I really like the late evening cairn shot but the distant shot of Ben Nevis definitely takes the biscuit! 8) Well done on helping "the bearded son of a multi-mountain bagging, prolific Scottish Hills forum posting member" - I'm sure you will be well rewarded! :lol:
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby kevsbald » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:09 pm

Lovely lovely lovely
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Alastair S » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:22 pm

Amazing photos as usual. I'll now go and read the text :lol:
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Alastair S
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby PeteR » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:17 pm

Absolutely stunning 8) 8) 8)

Excellent report. I tried to pick out a favourite photo, but gave up as they are all just amazing 8) 8) This looks like a fantastic area to explore :D :D
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby Alastair S » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:14 pm

A most entertaining read too.

It was my stated intention to get to this area this year but I've singularly failed. I'll need to redouble my efforts next year as it all looks stunning. No doubt the good weather helps but I'm confident we'll get another good weekend next year.

BTW I keep my remote release elastic-banded to one of the legs of my tripod. I figure I only ever use it with a tripod so that it where it stays.
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby gammy leg walker » Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:56 pm

Braw"frogwell"
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby dooterbang » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:37 pm

High quality photos yet again - sublime.
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Re: Glen Affric (1x3) +4 -1 =4

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:36 pm

Great pics but love the writing - great blend of humour and description :D .
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