Poolewe to Kinlochewe via A'Mhaighdean (and 3 meat pies)
by KeithS » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:29 pm
Munros included on this walk: A' Mhaighdean
Date walked: 29/05/2012
Time taken: 12.5 hours
Distance: 42 km
Ascent: 1450m5 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).
So it was therefore that Leigh was now with me in Scotland preparing to keep his part of the bargain. We were also with Clive(grif), who loves the area as I do, and Andy, a friend of Leigh, who was also working his way through the Munros.
Having climbed A'Mhaighdean twice before I had thought it would make a good challenge to do the walk as a traverse of Fisherfield, starting from Poolewe and ending at Kinlochewe. Clive and I had discussed a route and thought it may be prudent to include Beinn Tarsuinn in the crossing, partly because this is also a special mountain, with wonderful views, including down to An Teallach, and also because we were unsure how easy the shores of Lochan Fada would be to negotiate.
The previous day we had warmed up by walking round the back of Liathach on the old path and had taken a spectacular detour up to the Corrie Mhic Fhearchair to introduce Leigh to the delights of the Highlands, and Torridon in particular. I think he was sold on the area.
This also meant we had two cars with us so we stopped off at the Kinlochewe Hotel and asked if we could leave one there and made sure they were serving food the next day. Apparently the chef went home at 8.30pm but the landlord, who was most obliging, said that if we ordered (and paid for) meals then he would keep them for us if we were late. Thus three meat pies were ordered and would provide us with a suitable incentive to reach our target, as if we didn't already have enough.
And so, at 6.00am the next day the four of us were in the car park at Poolewe next to the bridge at the end of the River Ewe. Andy's intention was to cycle part way to Carnmore and then walk with us up A'Mhaighdean and return the same way to collect his bike on the way back (hence only three meat pies), whilst we continued on our mission.
The walk in to Kernsary is one I have done many times and was a good way to warm muscles up. We then headed along the forest track through the woods, nearly missing the next turn off to the right due to lack of concentration. Andy, who was trying to cycle at a walking pace had just popped up ahead of us up the hill past the gate and Leigh had to go chasing up the hill to find him. Back together again we stayed on the track until we hit the path which took us out of the woods and onto open countryside all the way to Carnmore. This is now a very easy path compared to the first time I had taken it many years before. The Letterewe Estate was bought by Paul Van Vlissingen, a Dutch billionaire who was a very popular landowner (or guardian of the land as he classed himself) and he had encouraged free access to this wilderness in return for responsible behaviour by walkers. He had helped put in the very good path which we were now on. Sadly he had died a few years ago but the Letterewe Estate was still in his family, having been passed on to his daughters.
Andy stashed his bike at the point where the path cuts through the gap to Loch Maree and we continued towards Carnmore. The views of Beinn Lair and A'Mhaighdean beyond the causeway opened up as we made our way deeper into this very special part of the country.
A Mhaigdean in the murk
There is a nice shingle beach on the approach to the causeway which was lapped by the gentle waves from lovely Fionn Loch, my favourite freshwater loch. I had explained to Leigh how it was possible to disappear into Fisherfield for days without seeing a soul. Today however was different as we must have seen at least ten people on the walk in. At the causeway we saw a young foreign couple who had picked a spectacular camping site at the end of the loch. We then crossed, having completed the first section of our day.
Andy, me and Leigh crossing the causeway
We took a short breakfast stop just before Carnmore, although we didn't bother diverting to the house or bothy itself. Suitably chocolate barred up we started the long but steady climb up to the lochs at the base of Ruadh Stac Mhor and A'Mhaighdean. We took many view appreciation stops (which are not rests you understand) especially appreciating the views back over Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch.
Our initial intention had been to try the North West Ridge, as neither Clive or I had tried this route before. However, the tops were all in cloud so there seemed little point in going that way, so we just turned right and kept on the main path to the left of the next loch which nestles between the two Munros. The path steepened and became stony as we made our way higher up the corrie, meeting yet more people on the way, wilderness indeed! The last part of the climb to the col between the two Munros was quite steep and we took it steady, partly for Leigh's benefit as he was not used to such walking, and partly as we were pacing for the whole day.
Andy kept an eye on the cliffs to our left as his plan was to take in Ruadh Stac Mhor on his return route, looking for the tricky way up through the rocks. As we turned right towards A'Mhaighdean itself we headed into the clouds and the views were lost. I seem to be fated on this hill. This was my third ascent and on each occasion I have gone into cloud on the upper slopes. This was very frustrating, partly for me but mainly as I had been promising Leigh this was possibly the finest viewpoint in the country.
Leigh took his time, tired but determined, taking plenty of well earned rests until we finally emerged onto the summit plateau with swirling clouds giving plenty of atmosphere, but still no view. After a short, but fairly pointless, diversion to a small cairn on the summit plateau, I joined up with Leigh again just short of the summit where he proudly climbed up to the cairn, and we rejoined Clive and Andy who had made it there a little while earlier. What a Munro to claim as your first, well done Leigh.
It was so frustrating to be here in the cloud yet again. Tiny hints of what lay below kept appearing for brief seconds, only to close up again. One second it promised to clear, only to dash our hopes the next. There was a cooling wind so we took shelter on the leeward side of the summit cairn and took in our sandwiches. We were met by a young lad on only his second solo Munro trip away from his Dad.
The Top. Me wanting a view and Leigh wanting a sandwich (and young lad)
I was in no hurry to leave. I was desperately hoping for the views to come but they stubbornly refused to oblige.
Having accepted the fact that the clouds would not budge we had to face the small problem that we were sitting on one of the remotest mountains in the country and it was a very long way back to civilization. We needed an incentive to get us going. Andy made the first move and bid his farewells and headed off for Ruadh Stac Mor and his long return trip.
So Clive, Leigh and I focussed on meat and potato pie, with chips and beans and a refreshing pint of beer. By concentrating hard we could just smell the delicious aroma of our promised meal. We had the added incentive that the later after 8.30pm we got to the pub the drier and less appetising they would be as the landlord had promised he would keep them on a hot plate until our arrival.
Finally resigned to the fact the clouds were not lifting we set off down the southern slopes of the mountain. The descent was relatively easy, having had a good rest and, frustratingly all too soon we dropped out of the clouds although the top behind us remained hidden.
Ruadh Stac Mor
A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor
After an emergency blister repair stop, we kept a line just to the right of Beinn Tarsuinn. Our original intention had been to go over this summit. I could sense that Leigh was hoping we had forgotten this plan as the mountain loomed higher and higher above us the closer we got to it. Bearing in mind the two reasons for taking in this extra climb were for the views from the top and to avoid the boggy ground near Lochan Fada, as the top was in cloud and the ground condition was very good, we decided to abandon the detour and continue directly down to the shore of the loch. Leigh's sigh of relief was quite palpable and he strode purposefully towards the far end of the loch, quite happy to be going on the flat or downhill, just not up! The ground was much better than anticipated as we rounded Beinn Tarsuinn losing height, aiming for the loch. Looking back the top of A'Mhaighdean was now clear. Clive suggested I pop back up if I wanted the views I had kept saying would come if we waited. I politely declined but we did enjoy the views back and over to the magnificent cliffs of Beinn Lair, and the beautiful Lochan Fada.
The loch end never seemed to get closer but we did finally get there, having made very good time, and I suggested a rest stop as I was pretty knackered by this point. The others seemed quite happy to take a rest and I'm sure we were all getting weary and they were not just humouring me. The little waves lapping the stony beach were addictive to watch and it needed the full pull of the lure of meat pie to drag us away from this stunning beauty spot. A couple of men we had met on the summit who had been camping near to the loch passed us again on the path as they had now collected there bikes and had the enviable advantage of a very long downhill run, initially on good footpath, and then on the even better track as we all headed down the valley towards the Heights of Kinlochewe, taking a last look back at A'Mhaighdean now frustratingly free of cloud, taunting us to return.
The way down
Meeting the private road to the house gave a false sense of finality yet we still had several miles to go, on the hard surface which pounded our feet and seemed never ending, come on pies, we'll be with you soon, don't dry out. Clive led the way out and we dutifully followed his freshly starched white hat, finally reaching the road, by now with very tender feet and weary legs.
Beinn Eighe with its head in the clouds
We hobbled the last few hundred yards to the hotel and, at 6.30pm, twelve and a half hours after setting off we made it to our finish and our reward. Recovering fresh clothes from the car we changed in the toilets and found a table. We went to the bar to claim our prize only to be told, by a different landlord to the previous day that, as we had booked for 8.30pm we couldn't yet order, even though the pub was not busy and we had a table, although they would let us eat at 7.30pm. So we had to wait another hour, we should have walked slower! Consoling ourselves with a pint (or two) we let our legs rest and then, at last, finally, thankfully our prize came and certainly lived up to expectations.
A fitting celebration for little bro's first Munro.
I would like to thank Clive for all the photos for this report, and for his company, and also Daniel, my son and technical /computer advisor, for helping to compile the report.
by pollyh33 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:45 pm
Photographs are truly beautiful, although I must confess to liking your hiking gear. You look like a very dapper gentleman out for an afternoon stroll!!!
PS did you really mean to say 'Leigh wanting a sandwich (and young lad) !!!!!??
by KeithS » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:51 pm
pollyh33 wrote:Photographs are truly beautiful,
Thanks Pauline, I can take credit for the words, the pictures are Clive's.
pollyh33 wrote:PS did you really mean to say 'Leigh wanting a sandwich (and young lad) !!!!!??
I don't think Leigh had the energy for a young lad at that time.
by pollyh33 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:09 pm
Keith Sayliss wrote:pollyh33 wrote:Photographs are truly beautiful,
Thanks Pauline, I can take credit for the words, the pictures are Clive's.pollyh33 wrote:PS did you really mean to say 'Leigh wanting a sandwich (and young lad) !!!!!??
I don't think Leigh had the energy for a young lad at that time.
by madasa mongoose » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:40 am
Keith Sayliss wrote: many view appreciation stops (which are not rests you understand)
by clivegrif » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:46 pm
It had been a long time since I'd been that far in a day, and this was the first time I had been into the Great Wilderness from the Carnmore side. Definitely one to remember! I will have to explore the Carnmore side again, it is a fabulously atmospheric area.
To this day I'm convinced the 2nd Landlord thought we were secret judges from the 'Most miserable landlord in the country' competition - I've never seen one man put so many people on edge!
Most importantly - Congrats to Leigh - his first Munro is one of the most remote, it was a fine effort.
by Gavin99 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:02 pm
by Mountainlove » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:31 am
'View appreciation stops' I like that alternative description of a break
Congratulations for your brother first
by malky_c » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:00 pm
You might have missed out on the summit views but it looks like a great day was had. Lovely photos of Ruadh Stac Mor and Beinn Lair on the way down
Some great Munros for your brother's first as well - it will all be downhill now for him
by rockhopper » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:23 pm
by KeithS » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:41 pm
I have to confess that the dapper looking gentleman is my dear brother,pollyh33 wrote:You look like a very dapper gentleman out for an afternoon stroll!!!
I am the one with the belly and moobs
I will get there with views one day, determination does run in the familymadasa mongoose wrote:Your perseverance will be rewarded one day!
I haveclivegrif wrote: I've never seen one man put so many people on edge!
clivegrif wrote:Congrats to Leigh - his first Munro is one of the most remote, it was a fine effort.
Mountainlove wrote:Congratulations for your brother first
Thanks, I have passed on the messages. He likes downhill so he should be fine.malky_c wrote:Some great Munros for your brother's first as well - it will all be downhill now for him
I hope it was worth the wait.malky_c wrote:I was looking forward to this report, then I missed it!
rockhopper wrote:Lovely - enjoyed that !
monty wrote:Nice route Keith. Great photos. love the causeway.
Thanks, it was a great route, the weather was actually perfect for walking , other than the summit itselfGavin99 wrote:Lovely report and photos , I'm glad the pies were worth the wait !
Sadly too many pies, hence the belly and moobs. I will get a camera some day, until then, thanks again to Clive for the photos.
How about tomorrow? There are loads of places to disappear into there.clivegrif wrote:I will have to explore the Carnmore side again, it is a fabulously atmospheric area.
by clivegrif » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:50 am
How about tomorrow? There are loads of places to disappear into there. [/quote]clivegrif wrote:I will have to explore the Carnmore side again, it is a fabulously atmospheric area.
Would love to - Worcestershirs is dissappearing beneath the waves (of floodwater) again.....
I haveclivegrif wrote: I've never seen one man put so many people on edge!
That was a little poetic licence for our dear readers. In a past life I even met a bloke who turned the phrase 'Merry Christmas' into a threat!
by KeithS » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:22 am
clivegrif wrote:Would love to - Worcestershirs is dissappearing beneath the waves (of floodwater) again.....
Do you want to borrow a boat, it's only got a small hole in it?
by Collaciotach » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:13 pm