Late start for an Ardgour traverse
by malky_c » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:12 am
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn na h-Uamha, Sgurr Dhomhnuill
Grahams included on this walk: Sgurr a'Chaorainn
Date walked: 14/06/2012
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 21 km
Ascent: 1300m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Grahams: Sgurr a' Chaorain
Date walked: 14/06/2012
Distance: 21 km
Ascent: 1300 m
Time: 8 hours
Weather: Warm and partly sunny. Cold breeze high up.
After too long messing around on imaginary Corbetts, it was time to come back and do some more of the real thing. There are so many great places to walk in the vicinity of Glenfinnan that it was hard to know where to start. Top of my list for a while has been a visit into the middle of section 10A, having only nibbled at the edges previously.
Long ago (in the mid '90's really), dad and I had climbed Sgorr Mhic Eacharna, Beinn Bheag and Garbh Bheinn in a classic horseshoe of Coire an Iubhair. That had been a grand day out, but Sgurr Dhomhnuill had been prominent throughout. Despite dad's preference for shorter walks these days, I thought I might persuade him to join me on Sgurr Dhomhnuill. I wasn't wrong, and Laura (my sister) decided to come as well.
We settled on the Strontian approach, getting dropped off some distance up the road to Polloch to give us a bit of a height advantage at the start (about 250m). Despite my best efforts to have an early start, we didn't leave Glenfinnan much before 11:30 am. Going round the western way was probably a mistake as it was longer, and resurfacing work was taking place at Loch Moidart, with the road only open for an hour at lunch time. Mum dropped us off on the Polloch road before retreating to the nature reserve walks down at Ariundle, but we still weren't walking until 1:40 pm. Not the best time to start such a rugged peak, particularly as I knew we wouldn't be going that fast. Oh well, at least we had daylight on our side.
Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Sgurr na h-Inghinn and Sgurr a' Chaorain from near the Polloch road:
A track led us to a cattle grazing area, from where we headed uphill to gain the high ground. At this point it could barely be called a ridge. First obstacle was an electric fence, but there were crossing points built in and anyway it was only a single strand of wire - easy to shimmy under. Another 10 minutes took us to the trig point of Druim Glas, a good spot to observe the best route ahead.
...and again from Druim Glas:
While Sgurr Dhomhnuill didn't actually look too far away from here, the intervening ground didn't look like it would give speedy walking! Luckily the conditions underfoot were much drier than normal, so despite the numerous ups and downs, the walking was easy. A number of lochans also enlivened the route. As we joined the Druim Garbh, we contoured the initial summit before Lochan a Ghille Dhubh to the south, saving some ups and downs. Lochan a Ghille Dhubh actually has a small dam at one end, perhaps suggesting that it was a water supply for the old lead mines below.
From a lochan lower down the Druim Garbh:
Laura and Dad on the Druim Garbh:
Small impoundment at Lochan a Ghille Dhubh:
Once past Lochan a Ghille Dhubh, the 803m summit of Druim Garbh finally began to look reasonably close. As the sides steepened up, the views improved and the sun came out.
Sgurr Dhomhnuill finally getting closer:
Back to Loch Sunart and Ben Resipol:
South to Garbh Bheinn and Sgurr nan Cnamh:
Sgurr Dhomhnuill peeking through a gap in the ridge:
North across Carn na Nathrach to the Corryhully horseshoe and Gulvain:
Laura and dad were lagging a little (this was Laura's first hill in a few months) so I suggested they contour the 803m summit slightly while I went over it. It didn't save much, but time was ticking on. Descent to the col below Sgurr Dhomhnuill was mainly straightforward, with a couple of short steeper sections.
Sgurr Dhomhnuill from the summit of the Druim Garbh:
East down Glen Scaddle to the Ben:
The final ascent from this direction is about as steep as it is possible to get without scrambling. Indeed the SMC book suggests that this ridge is a fine scramble the whole way up, which is a bit of an exaggeration. It is possible to scramble on the odd outcrop (which Laura did, as she hates steep grass), but there isn't a continuous line.
The summit towers over the col:
Laura and Dad on the final ascent:
Finally there, and what a spot! There was a chilly wind coming from the south so we found a place to shelter just to the north of the summit. We arrived at about 5:30pm - that didn't leave me much time for my planned addition to the walk.
Across Beinn na h-Uamha to Glecoe:
Sgurr a' Chaorain, Beinn Bheag and Garbh Bheinn from the summit:
Ben and the Mamores again:
Laura and dad had had enough ascent for the day, so were going to return via Sgurr na h-Inghinn, the lead mines and the Strontian Glen, but I had other plans. I didn't think it would take me much longer to do a full traverse to Loch Linnhe, so I left them on the descent and dropped steeply down the south face of Sgurr na h-Inghinn. This is one of those ascents where a bit of patience is needed to find a route between the cliffs, and one where you can't work out which way you went when you look back at it. It delivered me to the painfully low sub 500m col under Sgurr a' Chaorain.
Looking back to the summit:
Sgurr na h-Inghinn:
The descent off the south side of Sgurr na h-Inghinn:
Another outcroppy ascent to Sgurr a' Chaorain, but not as steep as the north side of Sgurr Dhomhnuill. The views to Garbh Bheinn and Sgurr nan Cnamh had been good for a while now, but they got even better from here. Despite the biggest crags on Garbh Bheinn facing into Coire an Iubhair, there is a vast expanse of rock and jumbled ground on the northern face.
Sgurr na h-Inghinn and Sgurr Dhomhnuill from Sgurr a' Chaorain:
Garbh Bheinn and Sgurr nan Cnamh:
Garbh Bheinn from a lochan on the west ridge of Sgurr a' Chaorain:
Beinn Bheag and Garbh Bheinn:
Ardgour doesn't do straightforward connecting ridges between summits, but the walk east to Beinn na h-Uamha manages a fair imitation. There were still a couple of steep sections, both on descent and ascent, but the going was fairly easy. Oddly, these summits have only 1m difference in elevation, Sgurr a' Chaorainn being the highest Graham and Beinn na h-Uamha being the lowest Corbett (although I think there are a few contenders for each of those positions).
East to Beinn na h-Uamha:
Down Glen Gour. Ballachulish horseshoe central:
Sgurr na h-Inghinn and Sgurr Dhomhnuill:
West to Ben Resipol:
Ridge to Beinn na h-Uamha:
The sun was now going down, making for more interesting lighting. I had a quick stop on the summit of Beinn na h-Uamha before descending the E and SE ridge into Glen Gour. Had we started a few hours earlier, I would have continued across A' Bheinn Bhan to Druim na Sgriodan and then onto Corran, but I was happy enough with Glen Gour.
West to Sgurr a' Chaorain and Sgurr Dhomhnuill:
Beinn Leamhain and Sgorr Mhic Eacharna:
Looking north across the rocky eastern end of Beinn na h-Uamha:
Straightforward terrain higher up led to more rock as I descended. After Stob an Uilt Dharaich, I got off the ridge to the east, another case of having to dodge the crags to find a way down. After some weaving about I picked up one of the many parallel depressions which led to the Allt an t-Sluichd, then across Glen Gour. I was able to walk a long distance across the floodplain to cut a corner and join the track, something which would have been very wet normally.
Beinn Bheag across Glen Gour:
West up Glen Gour to Sgurr nan Cnamh:
Lochan na Beinne Baine:
Druim na Sgriodan across A Bheinn Bhan:
Glen Gour and Beinn Leamhain:
Well folded strata:
A Bheinn Bhan:
It was now a good track all the way out to Loch Linnhe, with a nice sunset and the mountains of Glencoe turning redder and redder.
Beinn Bheag and Sgurr nan Cnamh up Glen Gour:
Loch nan Gabhar:
Last look up Glen Gour:
A call from dad suggested that they would arrive at Glen Gour at about the same time as me, their walk-out having been a bit slower. Good timing! I had told them to stop near the Gour bridge on the A861, so I headed left when I hit the loop of old main road. I walked all the way to the A861, then south towards Strontian, wondering where they were. Another call and I found that they had pulled in on the bit of old loop road just after I had left it. Some pointless extra walking, but I got some great views across Loch Linnhe, so it was well worth it.
South down Loch Linnhe:
The Glencoe peaks:
Ben Nevis, Beinn na Gucaig and Tom Meadhoin to the Pap:
Glad to have finally made a crossing of Ardgour, and I'm looking forward to more walks in this area.
by dooterbang » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:52 pm
Looks a great area, looking at the fab photies.
I honestly dont know where you find the time to do all these walks and write up trip reports...do you hire someone
by rockhopper » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:10 pm
by ChrisW » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:02 pm
by gaffr » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:10 pm
by malky_c » Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:37 pm
dooterbang wrote:I honestly dont know where you find the time to do all these walks and write up trip reports...do you hire someone?
Seriously thinking about it. The walks aren't a problem but trying to keep on top of the reports is getting painful!
by mountainstar » Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:09 am
by Gavin99 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:57 pm
................and I also now know what an impoundment is !
by Collaciotach » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:16 pm