Sgor Gaoith via Loch Einich
by Alastair S » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:46 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgor Gaoith
Date walked: 05/11/2011
Time taken: 8.2 hours
Distance: 34.3 km
Ascent: 1336m10 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).
Cycling 20.2km, 1hr 50min
This is a rare thing: a walk report from the weekend of 5/6 Nov that doesn't have a Brocken spectre. But don't worry it does have some nice piccies.
It was my first outing for 6 weeks. Three of those were because I'd been on holiday and the rest because I'd broken a toe while there. I had planned a trip to Torridon with my club the weekend after I'd got back but had to knock it on the head due to said toe. While it was disappointed to have missed a trip to one of my favourite areas of Scotland I consoled myself that the weather looked pants.
The forecast for this weekend was too good to ignore so I decided to go on the Saturday despite the better prospects for Sunday - so that I could recover for work on the Sunday. An early start was in order so I could attend our local fireworks display that evening.
The approach for this walk was the same as I used for Braeriach in September (Braeriach Bagged) - that is a 10km cycle from the Whitewell car park near Coylumbridge to the outflow of Loch Einich (or Eanaich if you believe the OS). It was malky_c that first put me onto this approach with his West Cairngorms wander report.
Anyway got to the car park nice and early and I was on my way in the cloudless dawn twilight by 7:00am. It was a frosty -2C when I started but I soon warmed up. It took me 1hr 10 minutes to get to the start of the Coire Dhondail path (that included 3 stops for photos). When I'd conceived of this route I had initially thought to go anti-clockwise, getting the steep pathless ascent of Sgor Gaoith out of the way first. But I soon realized that from a photographic point of view I should tackle it the other way round. So it was up the Coire Dhondail path. This is pretty easy going for the most part. There is a steep rocky section just before you cross the steam (Allt Coire Dhondail) and top out at the 1,000m mark (exactly 500m above the loch).
Fine prospects on my way up Gleann Einich. This ford (of Beanaidh Bheag) is the only crossing of note on the way up this wonderful glen (the others being smaller or bridged). A pukka MTB'er wouldn't hesitate & ride straight through. I on the other hand tippy-toed across the stones (as I did on my last visit). Around 20-30cm deep though the middle. On the way back I unwittingly nearly stepped on a large fish near the edge. It was in only around 6 or 7cm of water and gave me a fright as it splashed out of harm's way. And "Ford Focus"? The bike is made by Focus, a German manufacturer.
Allt Coire Dhondail
You cross this stream just before you top out Coire Dhondail, just below the 1,000m mark.
The rough and pathless terrain on the plateau south of Loch Einich.
The path peters out here. I suspect most folk head for (or from) Braeriach. The going that way is pretty good - grass & gravel for the most part as I found out in September. The going the other way is far from easy. Bumpy and rocky for the most part with several fields of rocks to negotiate. And it was made a lot worse by the frost and ice. Verglas in fact. It was some of the trickiest conditions I've encountered. You couldn't see the ice on the rock so you had to expect every rock to be so covered. Using one walking pole I slowly made my way SW and round the south of the loch. In the end I nearly ended up with a broken finger to match my broken toe. I slipped on one rock, put my hand out to steady myself on another rock only to find that that rock was ice covered too - so my hand slide along it and I jabbed my pinky into another rock. It was painful and nicely purple by the end of the day but not broken. In the end I was glad to clear the rocks with just that minor injury.
Sgor Gaoith And Loch Einich
The view north from above the south end of the loch. The summit of Sgor Gaoith is the high point on the left (west).
Sgor Gaoith And Braeriach
The weather was still superb with hardly any wind and I got my nice shots down the loch. It started to cloud over from the south around 11. Past the remains of Ross's bothy and on to summit - which was just in the clag when I got there There were a couple of walkers already there. So I put on a fleece had my lunch (#2, #1 being in the flat bit of Coire Dhondail). The cloud gave the odd glimpse towards Glen Feshie and Strathspey and the top of Braeriach had also been swallowed up. I didn't hang about as I was quickly cooling off (despite absence of wind) and I could see at least a dozen or so people making their way up from Glen Feshie.
Braeriach And Loch Einich
They're Easy To Spot Just Now
Summer and winter these birds are the master of camouflage but the lack of snow isn't doing this chap any favours. The change in plumage is triggered by the hours of daylight. This fellow didn't allow me to get very close but I quite like the setting.
Coire Odhar And Loch Einich
At 1,030m it must have been one of the highest dwellings in Britain. A bit about this (& other ex bothies) in this MCofS article: Lost Bothies of The Cairngorms.
Loch Einich From Sgor Gaoith
aka Sgoran Dubh Beag. There are five numbered buttress to the cliffs below Sgor Gaoith and this is the view from first, most northerly.
Loch an t-Seilich
There is a larger loch of the same name nearby in Glen Tromie. This wee loch is just north of Loch Einich (aka Loch Eanaich). I'm surprised its not a "Lochain". Anyway seileach means willow so I guess this name translates as Lake of the Willow.
An easy stroll to the top of Sgoran Dubh Mor, but no decent view back to the parent peak. I then made my way to No. 1 buttress (Sgoran Dubh Beag) so I could spy my way down. I wasn't really looking forward to this part. My toe till now had been fine but this part would put it to the test. In the end it was fine. But it was slow going (again). Thick heather all the way back to the loch. Using both my poles I did manage to stay upright all the way, but there were several close calls. There was a path of sorts when I got to the bottom but it soon disappeared. Crossing the outflow of the loch was a doddle and I was back to my bike by 2:30. Five minutes getting sorted and it was a fun 40 minute blast back to the car. But after the 2 hour drive home I was too knackered for the fireworks and I was tucked up in bed by 8pm
Flickr set over here - or straight to the slideshow here.
by Stretch » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:55 pm
by foggieclimber » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:59 pm
Good to see a different approach to Sgor Gaoith.
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by Scotjamie » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:07 am
Enjoyed that, certainly - beats my foxhunter path from Achlean in the photo-less clag....and still without a brocken spectre.
by kinley » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:16 am
Like Loch an t-Seilich best.
by rockhopper » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:49 am
by Bod » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:17 am
by malky_c » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:40 pm
Going along the south edge of Glen Feshie looks good too. I considered that option when I was up there, but plumped for a more southerly route. Would like to have done both!
by Collaciotach » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:30 pm
by Alastair S » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:05 pm
Had a comment from a Flickrite who says the southern shore of the loch is also worth a visit. He spent some time studying fish populations there (Arctic Charr and Brown Trout if you must know (Caberfeidh )) and said that there are tricky bits getting there but its worth the effort. I could made out faint paths on both sides. Sounds like I need another visit
by Alastair S » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:10 am
Larger version here.