What I learned in Fisherfield
by Helen Bruce » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:41 pm
Route description: Fisherfield 6, from Shenavall
Munros included on this walk: A' Mhaighdean, Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ruadh Stac Mor, Sgurr Ban
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn a'Chlaidheimh
Date walked: 31/05/2012
Time taken: 14 hours
Distance: 29 km
Ascent: 2254m5 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).
The Bruce and I left the car at Dundonnell at 7.30pm, after a quick dinner cooked by the roadside nearby, and it took us two and a half hours to get to Shenavall. We didn't rush it and our bags were heavy, so we were enjoying the sunset across Loch na Sealga by the time we approached the bothy.
There were about ten people there already, some were camping nearby and others were settling down in the various rooms inside. Unfortunately there was no wind at all and the midges were ferocious. Lots of swearing while putting up the tent, then we just piled inside and tried to go to sleep. By 3am the first people were already getting ready to set off, going in and out getting water from the burn and chatting away (the joys of bothy life), then others followed over the next couple of hours, so eventually we gave up trying to sleep and set off ourselves just after 6am.
I also learned that you can't rush your walking partner if they are having a bad day! It wasn't a good start for us. Lots of stopping and starting, and The Bruce was really suffering - just not one of those days for walking, as far as he was concerned, after a midgie, sleepless night. I was getting stressed too, as I knew how far we had to go, and we seemed to be getting nowhere. It took us three and a half hours to get to the first summit, Beinn a'Chlaidheimh, arriving 9.40am.
The first three are a real roller-coaster ride, with steep ups and downs but we managed to plod along. It was hard to get a rhythm going since there was a lot of scree and rock to cover and we really didn't want to go too fast and turn an ankle in this location. There was some low cloud early on which burned off but it was cool and we were quite relieved to have some cloud cover - better than being too hot and sunny as it had been earlier that week. It actually was a lot better than it looks in the photos!
By the time we got to number four, Beinn Tarsuinn at 2pm, I began to relax and realise that we would indeed get around the route after all, even if it was going to take us longer than planned. Luckily there wasn't a problem with route-finding in this weather and even the peat bog after Beinn Tarsuinn was dry.
The most interesting thing I learned is that these hills are amazing geologically and all so different. I don't know much about rocks but loved the variety - we scrambled up one side of number 3 on white scree and sand while the other side was red rock; each mountain had such an incredible shape, then on A'Mhaighdean, halfway up there is a rocky pavement section of sandstone "concrete", all kinds of rock fused together. Fascinating stuff.
It seemed to take forever to reach the summit of number 5 but it was worth it - amazing views over the coast and Fionn Loch, Letterewe, Slioch. And what a relief that there was only a short descent/ascent to Ruadh Stac Mor, again a very different hill from the others.
Finally a very long walk back - 3 hours to Shenavall from the final summit, but we were soon on a good stalkers' path. Sore feet, sore knees, stiff back, thirsty and tired but a good sense of achievement. The Bruce had even perked up enough by this time to collect some wood washed up by the side of the burn to take back to the bothy - hopefully others will appreciate having wood there on a cooler evening than we had.
It took us 14 hours all in all, we got back to the bothy at 8pm. I'd hoped to do it much quicker but as I said before, sometimes you can't force the pace if someone in your group isn't feeling too good that day, and luckily there was no pressing need to hurry. The weather was perfect, the ground as good as it could be, and we still managed to get back for a quick dinner, a quick soaking of the feet in the burn, and we were in bed by 10.30pm.
The bothy was quiet by the time we left next morning at 9am. What a beautiful setting it is in. It took us under 2 hours to walk back this time, having much lighter packs. A great trip, but I don't think I'd do the 6 in one go again. I'm intrigued by the walk in from Poolewe through Letterewe to do A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor - but it might be a few years before I'm back! I've learned that you CAN have too much of a good thing sometimes.
by jimandandrea » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:49 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:26 am
by Graeme D » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:24 pm
by Lenore » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:30 pm
by dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:41 pm
by Helen Bruce » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:22 pm
Dogplodder - yes, Shenavall is probably the most comfortable bothy I've ever been in, even though we just used it for having our meals in. It's well used but also well looked after. We took a tent as you never know how many people will be in a bothy (or how bad their snoring might be), but the midges outside were horrendous on the first night so we may have been better off inside. Fortunately it was really breezy for the second night.
Johnny - I saw your report of the same day and realised it must have been you in the bothy. Sorry not to have said hello properly and put a face to a name but I'll know you next time!
by KeithS » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:42 pm
It was nice to see your picture of the view from the top of A'Mhaighdean. I wondered what it looked like.
On Tuesday, just before you were there, we walked from Poolewe to Kinlochewe over A'Mhaighdean but we were in cloud on the summit so still no views (even after my third visit). Looks like I'll have to go back again.