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The Spear - Slioch

The Spear - Slioch


Postby incompleat » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:52 am

Route description: Slioch, near Kinlochewe

Munros included on this walk: Slioch

Date walked: 29/04/2012

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 20 km

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Slioch was a hill I had wanted to climb for a long time. After one aborted attempt due to snow a few weeks previous, we were back in the car and making the long trek back up to Torridon. Empty roads early on a Sunday morning meant good progress and we covered the distance from Alford to Kinlochewe in under 3 hours.

Image
Standard Tourist View by chimpaction, on Flickr

The start of the standard route to Slioch starts from a large carpark in the small village of Incheril. The path meanders along the flood plain of the Kinlochewe River for a distance of 5km before it reaches the shores of Loch Maree.

Image
Kinlochewe River and Slioch by chimpaction, on Flickr

Image
Approaching Loch Maree by chimpaction, on Flickr

The walk in is beautiful. We came across a large herd of wild Mountain Goats, grazing at the side of the loch.

Image
Mountain Goats by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Another Mountain Goat by chimpaction, on Flickr

Eventually, you reach a wooden bridge which crosses the Abhainn an Fhasaigh (you can see it in the picture above). Turning right immediately after the brige, the route starts the climb. Loch Maree is practically at sea level - from here it's almost 1,000 metres of ascent. Intially the route crosses moderate heathery, wet slopes past old sheilings.

After a kilometre or so, the terrain steepens and becomes rockier. The path picks a route between Sgurr Dubh and Meall Each, getting steeper until eventually we reach the corrie of Coire na Sleaghaich. We stop here for a short break, admiring the view back down to Loch Maree and the view across to the Fannichs, which are slowly beginning to reveal themselves.

Image
Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree by chimpaction, on Flickr

Image
The Fannichs by chimpaction, on Flickr

Image
Coire na Sleaghhaich by chimpaction, on Flickr

The path curves left into the massive corrie. From here, we can see a zig-zag path making its way up the corrie headwall towards the twin lochans. This seems like the logical ascent route. However, there are a few walkers in front of us and they're all making for a steep grassy wall to the left of the corrie. It's nearer and it will save us crossing the peat hags in the corrie bowl so we opt to follow the crowd. I don't like steep grassy slopes. Give me something to scramble up and I'll be fine but steep grass unnerves me. Nothing for it though, but to dig in and get it over with.

Image
The steep bit up from Coire na Sleaghaich by a-dinosaur, on Flickr

Image
Gaining the Ridge by chimpaction, on Flickr

Upon gaining the crest of the ridge, the views to the west opened out - Loch Maree, with Beinn Eighe towering over it, while the rest of the Torridon hills lurked in the background.

Image
Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Panorama by chimpaction, on Flickr

After a short rest break, we followed the wide ridge over a few undulations until the twin lochans sprang into view. The views from here were superb, lookin gup the length of Loch Maree towards Poolewe and Gairloch, with the Trotternish Peninsula of Skye and Harris in the far distance.

Image
Twin Lochans by chimpaction, on Flickr

Image
Twin Lochans Panorama by chimpaction, on Flickr

Another steep section next, following a badly eroded path to the right of the twin lochans. Every man for himself here- there's no single well defined route - lots of loose scree and wildlife tracks make for an abundance of possible footholds. Water was running low by this point so the patches of rapidly melting snow that were left made for a welcoming resupply. Looking back, we could see all the way to Incheril, and the start of the walk.

Image
Above the Twin Lochans by chimpaction, on Flickr

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All the Way Back by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Summit in Sight by chimpaction, on Flickr

The air was cold in the bowl of the summit plateau and the small lochan there still had a coating of ice on it. One more short pull and we reached the trigpoint. We had a bite to eat - staked by a raven which had been following us since we climbed out of the corrie.

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Frozen Lochan II by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Slioch Trigpoint I by chimpaction, on Flickr

The views from here were magnificent in all directions. The air was crystal clear and we could see for miles - Torridon, Skye, Harris, Lewis, Gairloch, An Teallach, Fisherfield, Ben Dearg, Ben Wyvis - superb! A short walk took us over to the true summit cairn.

Image
To the Islands by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Lone Walker by chimpaction, on Flickr

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To Fisherfield by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Lone Walker and An Teallach by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Ravenous by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Slioch North Top by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Into the Wilderness by chimpaction, on Flickr

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From North to South by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Slioch Summit Panorama by chimpaction, on Flickr

Originally, the plan was to retrace our steps and reverse the route back down to Loch Maree, but one look at the ridge to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain and the plan was changed. The ridge gave good walking. Initially broad, it soon narrowed down to maybe a foot in width. Some care was needed crossing the narrowest part of the ridge as it had a covering of slushy snow on it. In no time at all, we were on the summit of Sgurr an Tuill Bhan.

Image
East Ridge to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain I by chimpaction, on Flickr

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East Ridge to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain II by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Back to Slioch by chimpaction, on Flickr

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Sgurr an Tuill Bhain Summit by chimpaction, on Flickr

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The Slioch Circuit Panorama by chimpaction, on Flickr

A short break for coffee and time for the steep descent from Sgurr an Tuill Bhain back into Coire na Sleaghaich. Real ankle-breaker stuff - deep heather and scree mix - not a place to take a header down. Soon we crossed the peat hags and rejoined the path past Meall Each, making our way back down the 2km of hillside to the banks of Loch Maree.

The walk out felt much longer than the walk in. The temperature was still high and the 5km back along the glen was a grind - past the goats, across the bridges and past the cemetery until the car park came into view at Incheril, exactly 9 hours after setting off. All that was left was a 3 hour drive back home, with pit stops at Nairn for fuel and Forres for tea.
incompleat
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Re: The Spear - Slioch

Postby PeteR » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:12 pm

Superb report G.Scott :clap: :D I still have this hill to do, so will no doubt return for reference material when it does appear on my radar. Brilliant pictures too, which will also be helpful.

Couldn't help but notice lots of blue stuff in your pictures :? What's that called again? I know this walk was some while back, but are you sure there isn't a problem with your camera :lol: But seriously, it looks like you had a fantastic day for this beauty :D
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PeteR
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Re: The Spear - Slioch

Postby incompleat » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:10 pm

You mean the stuff that looks like water, but up in the sky? ;)

Cheers, It was a cracking day. One worth keeping for when the great ball of fire reappears in the heavens again...
incompleat
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Posts: 32
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Re: The Spear - Slioch

Postby Alan S » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:50 pm

Wow, Sunshine and blue sky,thanks for sharing :lol:

Nice report and pics, cant wait to do this 8)
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Alan S
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