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No wizards - but what an eyesore in Glen Finnan
by dogplodder » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:51 pm
Route description: Sgurr Thuilm and Sgurr nan Coireachan
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Thuilm
Date walked: 23/06/2011
Distance: 18 km9 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).
My walking buddy gizmogirl has been recovering from a badly broken ankle and over the spring we were gradually increasing the distance she covered and roughness of terrain. In May we did Ben Chonzie (which I'd done twice before) without any problem and for her next challenge were looking for something neither of us had done. Having read up on the Glenfinnan Horseshoe with its tarmac approach I wondered if doing the easier of the two might fit the bill. So we agreed on Sgurr Thuilm.
We left early and drove down the A82 turning off on the Road to the Isles, leaving the car at the small parking area just off to the right after the bridge over the River Finnan. As we pulled in there was a large camper van already sitting there which I presumed had been there all night. I'd just read someone's report about finding this parking area full of camper vans with no space to park early in the morning - and passed this on to Moira as we were booting up (inside the car because of midge presence). It was just the kind of trivial chit chat us girls share and not meant for public consumption. So you can imagine my embarrassment when dour looking guy occupying front of said camper van (and sounding none too pleased) said "I'd have moved if that had been the case!" to which I replied "Sorry that wasn't said for you to hear - it was just something I read". That's a good start to the day then, how to make friends and influence people!
I have to admit leaving the car hoping nothing untoward would befall it during our absence as we headed off up the private road towards the viaduct.
This impressive feat of engineering was completed in 1899 and and the story goes that during construction a horse and cart fell into one of the hollow pillars. It has become better known more recently since appearing in the Harry Potter movies. We didn't see any wizardly activity going on although the shape of the hill showing through one of the arches did put me in mind of a wizard's hat. Very suggestible person I am.
This private road up the glen has a better surface than parts of the A82 and is definitely a candidate (for non purists) for using a bike. It's the first time I really wished I'd borrowed my daughter in law's bike as I reckoned even I could manage to cycle this road - and on the return leg I wished it even more!
First sighting of our hill
Sgurr nan Coireachan which we would leave for another day
After 3 kilometers of tarmac we crossed the Allt a Chaol-ghlinne and continued on a rougher track to the right. Around this area there was a great deal of activity going on with heavy digging machines and the place was frankly a mess with churned up mud. I put the dogs on lead as the diggers were charging up and down the track. There was a sign up apologising for any inconvenience caused and saying the work was going on in the interests of improving our carbon footprint - which sounded good but didn't illuminate us any further as to what was going on. For most of the ascent this work was a scar on the landscape which hopefully won't take too long to heal over. We passed the Corryhully Bothy which looked a not bad place to kip down and on the return met three guys who said they'd just climbed Goar Bheinn and were on their way to the bothy to spend the night. They were a friendly trio and it sounded like they'd have a good time even if they didn't get much sleep!
When we reached a small plantation we turned left off the track up a path climbing steeply at first up the obvious spur that leads to the ridge of Drum Coire a' Bheithe.
Path up Drum Coire a' Bheithe
Looking back to the mess that has been made in Glen Finnan
Moira resting her ankle which so far was coping well
Ridge leads over subsidiary top and north to Sgurr Thuilm
Knobbly ridge linking Sgurr Thuilm to Sgurr nan Coireachan
View south to Glen Finnan and Loch Shiel
In deference to the recovering ankle the pace was inevitably slow but steady.
Dogs patiently waiting with ears flapping in the wind
It's a dog's life
On left Stob Coire nan Cearc and Beinn an Tuim
Views opening up to south
Summit dome of Sgurr Thuilm
View north east to Loch Arkaig, home turf to Ewen Cameron of DK Broster's "Flight of the Heron"
I've read Kevsbald's report on climbing straight up Streap from Sgurr Thuilm and am well impressed!
View east to Braigh nan Uamhachan and Streap
Throw me a stick?
High level watering hole
Last few steps to the summit
Summit cairn of Sgurr Thuilm
From the summit looking west we could see Loch Morar and the Islands of Rum, Canna and Eigg and the Cuillin on Skye.
Moira's ankle did well on the ascent but found the descent less to its liking
Sky looking threatening but we only got 20 minutes of drizzle while Inverness had hours of torrential rain.
Loch Arkaig and the Loch Quoich hills
The walk down the ridge was tough for Moira as her foot didn't like being in other than a horizontal position. By the time we reached the vehicle track she was in a fair bit of pain and exhausted. I suggested she take her time while I go ahead to bring back the car to meet her. I felt in the circumstances the owners of the private road would not object! But she was determined to finish the walk unaided so for a while we walked together. Then I took an executive decision and at risk of getting a row later went on ahead, breaking into a run once I was out of her sight. Once I'd decided to do it, it became a challenge to see how quickly I could reach the car and it was all I could do to stop when I met a young French couple who wanted to ask my permission to camp in the glen! They were a sweet pair so I did stop to chat to them for a few minutes and then was off again on mission bring the car back for friend with gammy ankle.
As I neared the parking area I hoped the dude in the camper van would have gone (he had) and then I had to locate my car keys as Moira had put them in my rucksack but I didn't know exactly where and ended up emptying my whole sack while being mobbed by midges hungry for blood and excited labradors who assumed I was emptying contents of sack on ground for them to eat!
The keys were in a logical enough place which also happened to be the last one I looked in. I then dived into car and without stopping to change out of boots was off up that private road like I was running for my life from the evil wizards. I knew I might be in for a telling off but when I reached the exhausted hobbling soul she didn't have the energy to say anything at all until she'd had something to eat. Once she'd recovered her power of speech she admitted she was very glad to see me and even more so the car! We did wonder with hindsight if 18k had been too far for her stage of recovery and were more cautious with our choice of next walk!
I posted this in a hurry before rushing out and have so far had to make three corrections to gross inaccuracies!
by soulminer » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:11 pm
Glad you enjoyed the walk, as I enjoyed reading the report about it
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- Location: Johnstone
by LeithySuburbs » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:13 pm
by Kevin29035 » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:18 pm
by malky_c » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:38 pm
There's a new 0.9 megawatt hydro scheme going in in the glen. No damming of the valley in the conventional sense (ie a new reservoir won't be formed), but they will no doubt build a small weir somewhere upstream, a pipe down to the turbine building, and a discharge back into the river again. Rather like this one in Alladale:
Hope it is run better than the Alladale one though. The riverbed downstream of the weir isn't supposed to run dry
by PeteR » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:55 pm
by Peter913 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:51 am
by Liathach » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:10 am
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- Joined: Dec 24, 2008
I love seeing your dogs in your reports, they always look so happy on the hills
by Caberfeidh » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:34 pm
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- Joined: Feb 5, 2009
by smudger71 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:36 pm
they are laying a pipe down the whole glen and are buiding a small dam just at the start of the ascent to maintain flow further down the river. It looks like a eyesore at the moment with the track, the heavy plant and the trench for the pipe and the sound of workmen resonating as we walked along the ridge was not the best.
The plan is that the works are due to finish by the turn of the year, lets hope they restore the environment as best they can, i suspect that apart from the dam the area will be restored pretty well and we see these small dams in most glens these days...actually they make good tightrope practice!!!!
still the views north from this ridge are spectacular!!!!
by dogplodder » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:07 pm
soulminer wrote:I loved the walk round these two. I had my previous dog Brodie with me and his head was up all day on deer alert well, till I broke out the biscuits and sarnies on SnC
You gotta love 'em!
by dogplodder » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:25 pm
LeithySuburbs wrote:Nice report and always good to hear about someone else as tactless as me .
Not the first time the mouth's got me into bother and I guess it won't be the last!
by dogplodder » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:27 pm
by Graeme D » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:26 pm