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Why don't more folk use bog free route to Fannichs?
by dogplodder » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:38 pm
Route description: Sgurr Mor and the eastern Fannichs
Munros included on this walk: An Coileachan, Meall Gorm
Date walked: 14/04/2012
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 32 km17 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).
After a mostly sleepless night (must be an old age thing) and only three hours of actual sleep I wondered if I should go. But MWIS was predicting 90% cloud free summits and weather forecast was showing big fat suns for the Fannichs all day (which didn't prove entirely correct) so I decided to go for it.
We parked in the lay-by on the left side of the A832 opposite the road signed for Fannich Lodge. The sign is easy to miss as it is slightly obscured by foliage. Being a bit cheeky we drove up the road as far as the locked gate to see if there would be any advantage in leaving it there but it was such a short distance we went back to the lay-by.
Each of the three signs says the gate must be kept closed. How many times do they need to say it?
Beyond Carn na Beiste our first distant sighting of An Coileachan
It was a beautiful walk in following the course of the River Grudie, first through woodland and then emerging on to the open moor. On the way back we saw a pine marten running across the road in front of us.
Apart from a section nearer the lodge where they seemed to have run out of tarmac the road surface was excellent and made me wish I owned a bike. On the return we wished even more we had bikes!
The next pic was taken close to the watershed on the River Grudie - at this point still flowing south. It also gives a good view of Garbh Choire Mor on An Coileachan's craggy east face. We later stood on top of its most easterly spur in a snow storm so unfortunately didn't get the view of our approach route. On our return we saw a lot of deer around here. They seemed unconcerned until I pointed my camera at them and then they were off! Maybe they thought it was a gun.
Around the area of a long line of pipes we were overtaken by a guy on a bike who was cycling to Fannich Lodge and going up the stalker's path to Meall Gorm which we used to come down. We met him later up top. After a section of rougher surface the tarmac returned and continued all the way to the lodge.
View along Loch Fannich towards Fannich Lodge, with Fionn Bheinn on left
Beyond the crags and at a point where the road started to go downhill we took to the hillside and climbed the lower slopes of An Coileachan. There was no visible path but it was easy going underfoot, on grass and picking our way through rocks. No sign of a bog anywhere.
From lower slopes looking towards lodge with Fionn Bheinn, Beinn Eighe and Slioch in distance
Lower slopes of An Coileachan
Al fresco tea room with convenient shelf for flask and cups
From sunshine to hail to snow
We climbed to the east end of the ridge in snow storm blown in by strong north wind then turned west and followed it over An Elgin to the summit of An Coileachan
Below An Elgin looking down into Garbh Choire Mor
The shower blew over and we got a view back to the east end of the ridge where we had earlier stood and seen nothing
Loch Fannich through a break in the cloud
Climbing An Elgin
Our male dog Jack has been limping recently so I decided not to take him on such a long walk. But I did bring our female dog Tess and she coped very well with the wintry conditions and was still looking for me to throw sticks for her to retrieve after 30k.
Tess enjoying a hug at the top of An Elgin
View south east towards Loch Luichart and our walk in route
At the summit cairn of An Coileachan we were joined by two guys who had met the guy on the bike, who had been wondering how the two women he'd met earlier were surviving in the snow storm. That was kind of him. I asked if they'd take a photo of me and Kath at the cairn and one of them said he would if his pal could be in it too.
Didn't get his name but here he is with the two of us
Later we met the guy on the bike and were able to reassure him we were still alive. We also met a chap who was camping and another couple - but no one else (apart from bike guy) had come in from the south. They confirmed it was a very boggy approach from the north.
Tess on the descent to Beallach Ban en route to Meall Gorm
We passed the large stone shelter which has seemingly been mistaken for the summit - although I'm not sure how that could easily happen as it's clearly not the highest point. We didn't stop there as we were keen to get to the top.
At summit cairn of Meall Gorm - final Fannich in the bag
View north west from Meall Gorm to Sgurr Mor
Sgurr Mor looking stunning
We headed south off Meall Gorm which was an easy descent on fresh snow, moss and rock. It was my first chance to try out my micro spikes and apart from ending up three inches taller on a platform of solidified snow (which I had to keep banging off) they worked pretty well and stopped me from slipping and landing in undignified fashion - which I usually do at least once descending on wet ground.
I did notice though that my various gadgets (camera needing fished out whenever I saw a moment to capture, Leki poles which kept contracting or expanding without my express permission and snow clogging spikes needing declogged with poles) were conspiring to slow me down and Kath who had neither camera, poles or spikes to faff with was making better time than me!
From descent of Meall Gorm to south spur from Meall nam Peithirean and beyond to ridge of Sgurr na Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each
We headed down on the west side of Creag a Choire Riabhaich and picked up the stalker's path which zig zags down to Fannich Lodge. Well it would have been a stalker's path but in places it resembles a steep sided burn and anyone following that route would not be walking on the original path! Not good for erosion but who in their right mind would choose to walk down a flowing waterway which had perfectly good ground on either side? At one point the path headed off west and we decided to abandon it and take a more direct line down. But that might not have been so clever as we ended up back on it a bit lower down after going over some steep tussocky ground.
I've run out of photo allowance so will finish in a post. Since posting this I keep noticing mistakes which my OCD tendencies make me have to edit.
by dogplodder » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:52 pm
The stalker's path leads to a gate and a useful bridge over the river.
The path then goes through woodland to Fannich Lodge which looks like it's known better days. I had run out of water so filled up from the river and that water tasted very good and so far I've come to no ill effect.
We decided since it was such a long walk out we would try to thumb a lift from any vehicle that came along and shortly afterwards we saw a pickup coming from the direction of the lodge. I quickly put Tess on the lead and stuck my thumb out. The woman driver slowed down in her empty vehicle, smiled cheerily and drove on! Two hours later as we neared the end of the road we were thinking less than charitable thoughts about her. There's a good chance I will lose a couple of toe nails as a result of that long walk out. We would have stopped for us - but then again she didn't know what nice folk we are!
by Johnny Corbett » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:40 pm
by dogplodder » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:46 pm
Johnny Corbett wrote:I plan to do these two the exact same route so it's good to see how good that road looks as i'll be biking along it
I am very jealous.
But on the other hand I have the moral high ground doing it all without the aid of wheels!
by ScottishLeaf » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:17 am
Literally a marathon trek, well done
by basscadet » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:24 am
I never have any toenails either.. we should start a club
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:29 am
ScottishLeaf wrote:Why do they have a gate if it MUST be kept closed at all times?? Surely a fence would suit this purpose better. lol
That's what we thought.
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:30 am
basscadet wrote:I never have any toenails either.. we should start a club
Not the most attractive look though.
by dooterbang » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:50 am
Thats a big day - well done.
The smiles on yer faces always prominent, appears you enjoyed yourselves.
so a bike is on the wish list
by adamarchie » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:59 am
by RTMcB » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:04 am
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:43 am
dooterbang wrote:The smiles on yer faces always prominent, appears you enjoyed yourselves.
so a bike is on the wish list
Yes, we enjoyed it - even the long walk out. My only concern was having no signal to phone hubby to let him know we were off the hill so he wouldn't worry or be tempted to call out rescue!
I'm not sure about bike on wish list as it's so long since I've been on one I would probably make a pig's breakfast of riding on potentially rough tracks with rucksack on back!
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:45 am
adamarchie wrote:Great to see how nice that track is: it'll hopefully make my bike very happy someday soon
Oh you lot and your bikes!
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:48 am
RTMcB wrote:Excellent report, and thanks for showing how great that track is! Will make our attempt of 7/9 Fannichs that much easier. Nothing worse than trudging through bog before and after a hardcore Munro bagging session! looking forward to getting the bikes out
Agree about the bogs - but not yet another biker!
You going to compleat the Munros then Kathleen? not really that far off it now