A Fhada-stic day and my 2012 target achieved!
by BlackPanther » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:16 am
Route description: Beinn Fhada (or Ben Attow)
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhada
Date walked: 21/07/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 18.1 km
Ascent: 1105m4 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).
I'm that strange type of person who likes to work on a detailed schedule. Therefore I worked out a long-term plan, giving myself a distant target of the illusive 100 Munros by the end of 2013. I think I'm well on the way now and if I keep my pace I should get there as planned.
Last year I hit my rather ambitious target of 50 Munros in August, mainly thanks to multi-top trips like the Ring of Steall and the Glen Shee circuit. 75 by the end of 2012 looked a bit too easy then so I raised the bar to 80 - and regardless of the unsettled weather I kept pushing towards this number...
...yeah, sure, until June this year. Having successfully bagged mighty Liathach (with its two Munro peaks) on the Jubilee weekend I found myself only one shy of my annual target and I was looking forward to Isle of Skye holidays - it would be lovely to hit my target on the Cuillin ridge!
But sadly, it wasn't meant to be We all know how the summer turned out - wet, cold, cloudy and depressive most of the time.
I kept climbing lower hills and still enjoyed my lowland trips (all in all, it's not ONLY about ticking names off the list) but my Munro count stay put at 79, such an annoying number!!!
Eventually the window opened. Last Saturday, forecast said cloud level at about 1000m - hopefully it will stay over Munro tops, I thought. Hoooray! We're going Munro-bagging!
It would all be superb and rosy but for my husband's hay fever. He's allergic to some plant that flowers in July, the second part of the month being the peak sneezing time. Still better than being allergic to UV (like me, +50 factor all the time) but what an unnerving little problem. Poor Kevin started suffering already during the previous trip and by now his nose looked a bit.. reddish Still, he was eager to go out on the hills even if it meant dealing with a sneeze each step and carrying loads of tissues.
We decided on Beinn Fhada for many reasons. Firstly, it was another illusive mountain I saw so many times from the opposite end of Loch Affric and I wanted to conquer it at last. Secondly, Kevin had done it years ago but in a complete clag and he saw zilch plus zero and null So he hoped this time we'd be more lucky. Thirdly, it's a grand hill - a great one to celebrate your annual achievement
We started from Morvich, the National Trust car park near the caravan and campsite. As we walked along the tarmac road, the cloud was still hanging about the summits but hopefully... Hopefully it would be gone by the time we arrived there!
The route follows the Falls of Glomach path (signposted) for a couple of km:
A'Ghlas-bheinn, a rather secretive Munro just north of Beinn Fhada, reveals its grassy slopes:
Looking back to Morvich and Loch Duich. It might have been cloudy and a bit grey, but the day felt warm and down in the glen it was absolutely calm. At least it felt like summer, if only for a very short time!
The grassy meadows were buzzing with wildlife: bugs, beetles, butterflies. We took a break to watch a dragonfly lying eggs in the stream... Pics here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=23663
A glimpse of summer! I even dared to take off my long sleeved top!
The branch of the path leading to the Falls of Glomach:
We turned east and continued on the other branch, taking us deep into Gleann Choinneachain:
It's a quiet, isolated place, surrounded by high slopes:
The falls of Allt Choinneachain and the lower top of Beinn Fhada, Meall a' Bhealaich:
The path is well maintained and not too steep - a good route even for less fit and less desperate to bag a Munro!
View back down to Gleann Choinneachain:
At the foot of the big corrie, Coire an Sgairne, the path crosses another stream below an impressive fall...
...and then zig-zags up the grassy slope to Bealach an Sgairne:
This particular trip won't give you grand views until the very top of the mountain, but eve lower in the glens and corries, surrounded by steep slopes, one can admire the majesty of Beinn Fhada (aka Attow )
Well before the top of the bealach, we took an obvious turn right and followed the path along the western slope of Meall a' Bhealaich, slowly gaining height. The path can be seen here, on the left-hand side of the photo:
Across the big corrie, the impressive cliffs of Faradh Nighean Fearchair, which is actually the "backside" of Sgurr a Choire Ghairbh:
Coire an Sgairne, the main door to Beinn Fhada, is a double hanging valley:
The higher level of the corrie is littered with boulders and a bit wet, but the path avoids all the boggy bits. A nice place to take a short break:
Meow! I was in my element!
The final section looks steep but actually, it isn't too bad as the path again takes a zig-zaggy line up the slope:
Looking down from the path, just below the main ridge:
Beinn Fhada is full of surprises and the biggest one appears when one reaches the summit plateau (Plaide Mhor). Beautiful panoramas are suddenly revealed, including the full and unobstructed view to the remote giant - Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan:
To the east - distant Glen Affric and guarding its end, Mullach Fraoch-choire:
Close-up. One can see not only Loch Afric, but also the far end of Loch Benaveen:
The top of Beinn Fhada was now only a short distance away with the final climb on gentle slopes - here yours truly posing with the summit behind:
Plaide Mhor is an intriguing, flat area, with the big corrie cut into the side of the mountain - like a giant quarry:
A'Ghlass Bheinn from Plaide Mhor:
The Sisters of Kintail making their first appearance:
The ground close to the summit is quite boggy, a few marshy puddles to negotiate (a new sport for the Olympics - tuft jumping ), but soon we reached the top and I posed with the trigpoint, all happy and ready to meow Annual target achieved!!! Hooray!!!
It was much colder up here than in the glens and of course we had to wrap ourselves up in more warm clothing, but apart from that little inconvenience, it was a fantastic place to be. The summit offers unusual views like looking down to the remote Loch a'Bhealaich:
A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire ridge and, to the right, Ciste Dhubh:
The Brothers ridge:
One, two, three sistahhhhhs:
From Beinn Fhada, the Sisters look like a straight line of peaks, and at a closer look, quite steep from this side:
Kevin by the summit cairn, sneezy but happy to see the views at last!
The cloud lowered slightly, and at some point Coire an Sgairne looked like a huge cooking pot:
And on the other side, a patch of cloud formed into a pillar... A fake hurricane?
Affric Munros: Carn Eighe & Mam Sodhail:
All nice but I think it's time to go... I'm running out of tissues...
The pot has brewed
Cooking finished, time to move on!
Instead of returning the way we came, we varied our route by walking along the ridge to Meall a' Bhealaich, here seen with the more bulky A'Ghlas-bheinn behind it:
Looking back to the Attow summit from the ridge to Meall a' Bhealaich:
On the summit of Meall a' Bhealaich we sat for a while, sinking in the views before taking the steep route down:
A'Ghlas-bheinn was only a stone-throw away and it tempted me, I knew I could do it and I would probably have gone for it... But I felt sorry for Kevin, dragging his feet behind me and sneezing . He sat next to me on a rock and he didn't really look like another 400m of ascent would do him any good, so I gave up on my overambitious plans... The other Munro has to wait.
We set off eventually to descend to Bealach an Sgairne. The slopes here are very steep and slippery - I wouldn't recommend this route for less experienced hillwalkers, especially on a wet day. The reward though is worth the effort - fantastic views down to Loch a'Bhealaich:
Bealach an Sgairne passage:
The return walk still provided us with some interesting views. The passage between the two mountains is quite narrow:
...and though the cloud was descending again, we were now far beyond the reach of the bad weather:
Soon we joined the outward route in Gleann Choinneachain:
The last moment to admire Beinn Fhada... My Munro no.80 and an absolutely fantastic walk! Or should I say Fhada-stic?
Having now achieved my annual target, I can relax and hope for a good autumn (not much left of summer, anyway ). 100 Munros and 50 Corbetts seem quite possible now, but it's not the numbers that matter. It's being there and loving the experience. Fhada-stic. Meow!
by dooterbang » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:33 am
I'm positive that you shall reach those targets
by basscadet » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:17 pm
What a good idea to have targets like that.. I am somewhat more haphazard with the planning.. Last week I picked the hills for the weekend, by shutting my eyes, and picking a random map from the collection
by soulminer » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:09 pm
A memorable mountain for me- a double century Looking at your photos bring back some great memories Cheers.
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by ChrisW » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:32 pm
by mrssanta » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:31 pm
by BlackPanther » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:06 pm
Chris, these "cooking pot" pictures are my favourite snapshots from this walk too - the cloud was doing strange things over the tops
by gammy leg walker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:06 pm