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What I learned in Fisherfield

What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby 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 Mòr, Sgùrr Bàn

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn a' Chlaidheimh

Date walked: 31/05/2012

Time taken: 14 hours

Distance: 29 km

Ascent: 2254m

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The first thing I learned is that if you decide to do all these mountains in one go, then you just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and you will eventually get there. It helps if there is no pressure of time, and if the ground is bone dry with rivers easy to cross. I would strongly recommend waiting for a nice settled period of dry weather. I also learned that spending two nights at Shenavall makes good sense. It IS a long day, no doubt about it, but with almost unlimited daylight at the end of May you can really enjoy the amazing views and the fitting together of the jigsaw pieces of what you can see around you, realising that finally you're walking in that area that you have been looking at for so many years - from Slioch, An Teallach, the Fannichs ... Camping out along the route would be fab but I don't think my back could cope with carrying a full pack more than just the 8km from Dundonnell.

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.
May 12 Skye 196.jpg
Sunset over Loch na Sealga

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.
May 12 Skye 203.jpg
Looking back to Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and An Teallach

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!
May 12 Skye 206.jpg
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Beinn Tarsuinn. That faint scar is the path up!

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.
May 12 Skye 219.jpg
View west from A'Mhaighdean

May 12 Skye 226.jpg
The Bruce on Ruadh Stac Mor looking across to earlier hills

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.
May 12 Skye 230.jpg
Heading back to the bothy

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.
May 12 Skye 234.jpg
Farewell to Shenavall
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby jimandandrea » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:49 pm

An epic - good for you. A grand day out. Still to do this area. :clap: :clap:
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby Johnny Corbett » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:26 am

We did this walk the same day as yourselves and spoke briefly to you both as we left. It was a great day for it and well worth the effort :)
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby Graeme D » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:24 pm

Stunning piccies of two nights in paradise! 8)
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby Lenore » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:30 pm

Oh that sunset! What a stunning picture!!! :clap:
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:41 pm

Beautiful photos making me champ at the bit to do these - although I'd definitely not do them all in one go. Many years ago I walked in to the bothy and was amazed by how homely it was. I've never stayed overnight in a bothy but reckon this would be a good one to start with! :D
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby Helen Bruce » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:22 pm

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

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!
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Re: What I learned in Fisherfield

Postby KeithS » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:42 pm

Well done on a very long walk in an amazing area (on a pretty hot day).

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. :)
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