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Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice


Postby BlackPanther » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:59 pm

Route description: Ben More Coigach

Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir

Date walked: 12/08/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 11.3 km

Ascent: 1092m

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Assynt may not have many M mountains to climb and therefore some Munro baggers only visit it for a short jaunt to tick off Conival & Ben More Assynt twins. What a mistake!!! There is plenty to explore here, both on lower and higher levels. Each hill has a different character, but they all are weird, strangely shaped and sometimes mind-drilling :lol:
I had such an issue with Suilven, called it my menace until I eventually climbed it and put the ghost to sleep. Having done the difficult one, I moved on to conquer some easier ones, Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Glass Bheinn, Braebag... Then the mighty Quinaig. Ben Mor Coigach was always on the list as well but I kept it in mind for a good summer day. I wanted to have lots and lots of time to explore this intriguing hill.
BMC is indeed a whole complex of hills rather than one, and it consists of 6 prominent tops, two of which are Grahams. An adjoining third Graham, Beinn an Eoin, could also be added to the traverse if you're extra-fit. We left it for another day and as it turned out, we still did over 1000m of ascent. Our route was the reversed version of WH walk, with an addition of one top, Beinn nan Caorach.

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It may seem crazy to some people that the day after our Glen Affric epic we were still able to run up another hill, but that's the way we are, forget sore legs and grab the opportunity when weather still allows.
It's almost two hours drive from Inverness to the little village of Culnacraig, but the day was lovely. The only obstacle we met were a few sheep lying on the road :lol: The car park below Stac Polly was packed full when we drove past it, but in Culnacraig only four cars were parked along the road, two of them in a small quarry just above the village - a convenient place to start our climb.
The car park:
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The slopes looked quite steep from below:
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After crossing some boggy ground, we picked a sketchy path going up along the little stream, Allt a'Choire Reidh. Soon, we saw the first target of the day, Beinn nan Caorach:
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Ben Mor Coigach is superbly situated on the edge of Assynt and unusually, its southern cliffs plunge straight to the sea. But this bit we left for later. Already, there were enough fantastic views to savour and we were only at the very beginning of our walk:
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The ridge of Garbh Coireachan looked quite intimidating from this angle:
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The wind was much stronger than on Saturday and just as well, it kept midges away and made it easier to walk in warm weather. Quicker than expected, we reached the summit of Beinn nan Caorach:
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From the top, the first glance at the weird world of Assynt:
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The first of the two Grahams, Sgurr an Fhidhleir:
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On the summit of Beinn nan Caorach, with the infamous southern ridge behind me and more distant, over the sea, Beinn Ghobhlach:
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Looking north-west, the Summer Isles. I spent some time studying them through my binoculars but didn't see the Wickerman... :lol: :lol:
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Close-up, still no wickerman in sight!
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Beinn Ghobhlach, Sail Mhor and mighty An Teallach:
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OK so the steep ascent up was now done and what was left? All the exploring, hiding and lurking among the rocks!
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We took a longer break on the col between the two tops, sat on the rocks and enjoyed the lovely day. Eventually, we set off for Sgurr an Fhidhleir:
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Only when we approached the very edge of the cliffs, we could appreciate the real beauty of this mountain. Very few places could match up to this unique, breathtaking scenery...
Stac Pollaidh and Suilven behind it:
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The north top (unnamed on 1:25k map, 648m) and the vertical cliffs:
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Just a few more steps to the summit!
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On the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir, looking south:
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Our next target, another unnamed top (713m):
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Simply stunning... Looking down these big cliffs really left me speechless:
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Lochan Tuath, Beinn an Eoin and Cul Beag in the distance:
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One more snapshot, this time with Stac Pollaidh in sight:
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Cul Mor:
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Busy filming... How could I waste such an opportunity?
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There is something special about this hill. Some views look more like aerial shots:
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I wish I could spend more time on the summit of the first Graham but we had to move...
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We descended to another col, still close to the cliff edge and the magnificent panoramas:
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I spotted a bird of prey circling above and tried to film it, no luck, it was too fast!
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Kevin managed to take one photo before the raptor disappeared behind the corner of the cliff, here it is after some cropping and sharpening (and it's NOT a painting :lol: :lol: :lol: ):
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We continued to the next top:
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Some more Assynt beauty, enjoy:
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Suilven:
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Stac Pollaidh:
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An Teallach:
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We took one more detour along the cliffs simply to get more views. I was happy to pose on the edge...
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...and so was Kevin!
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Now we could see all the way to the east and south as well, water, water all around and distant big hills:
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From this unnamed top we walked along the wide, grassy ridge towards the summit of the second Graham, Ben Mor Coigach itself. We were just above the vertical almost straight-to-the-sea drop:
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The ridge of Garbh Coireachan:
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Another minor top, 737m, has a small cairn...
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...and fantastic views back to Assynt, slightly different perspective but just as great:
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The terrain became more rocky but I had such fun jumping from rock to rock...
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We walked to the summit of Ben Mor Coigach and though it was already half past three, we took another loooong break here, just couldn't resist the beauty of the mountain!
The afternoon sky was turning red and it offered us some unusually coloured pictures, like this one, looking south from the summit cairn, towards An Teallach and Fisherfield hills:
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The ridge to cross, the sweet bite left for dessert :D :D
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Time for a nap...
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Twenty minutes later...
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I woke up eventually and we set off for the final climb. "Piece the resistance" of BMC traverse is the scramble-ish southern ridge. To start with, it was just a walk on big, flat boulders...
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...with a few obstacles that could be omitted but I preferred to climb over:
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Views down to Loch Broom:
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A cruise ship leaving Ullapool:
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Sinking in the beauty of the landscape...
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So far, it was an easy walk, not much scrambling and great fun:
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Looking back east along the ridge:
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Unusually eroded rocks:
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We came across a bigger obstacle, at first it looked unclimbable but Kevin started walking his way up... I went around it to the bypass path but turned back after a short distance. The bypass was so easy and boring, that I thought I'd rather do some scrambling!
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Good decision! The climb was hardly a scramble, very easy and not even too exposed. So here it goes, my appeal, if you visit Ben More Coigach, don't take the bypass path on Garbh Coireachan!
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There are actually a few bypasses, each one going along the slope on different levels, but the best way to traverse this is to stay on the rocky crest:
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In places, the ridge is more grassy then rocky:
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Soon we reached the highest point of the ridge, Speicein nan Garbh-choireachan:
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It has two summit cairns...
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...and stunning views down to the sea and small islands. I didn't see the wickerman altogether, but I was now beginning to understand the true nature of sacrifice! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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I didn't want to go down, not just yet, it was so nice to sit by the cairn in the early evening light...
One last glimpse to Ben More Coigach:
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Before we left, we caught one more lovely view, the Outer Hebrides Ferry coming in to Loch Broom:
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Close-up:
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The descent is steep at first but the path is obvious:
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Lower down, we crossed grassy slopes and descended along Allt nan Coisiche:
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Looking back up to Garbh Coireachan:
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The evening was beautiful:
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The path down along the gorge is easy to pick:
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Not much water in the fall:
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Looking towards An Teallach, we saw the cruise ship again:
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Soon we were down in the village:
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Posing with the slopes of Ben Mor Coigach:
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The circle may only be just over 11 km but it took us the same time to traverse BMC as Quinaig earlier this year. It's definitely a hill to savour, to explore, to have fun on! I'm sure we will come back here, if only for the exhilarating views. Another day to remember and hundreds of photos in my albums. So good to have a touch of summer. Meow!
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BlackPanther
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby soulminer » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:19 pm

What a nice view you had from your bedroom 8) :lol:
One of the the finest mountain walks in the whole of Scotland is to climb Ben Mor Coigach- no matter which direction you take, stunning :D
I love Assynt/ Coigach, my favourite place 8)
Cheers for the reminder of loads of joy :clap:
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby jmarkb » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:35 pm

What a cracking weekend you had! I love BMC too: I've done it 3 or 4 different ways, but I think this is the best route :D
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby hills » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:40 pm

What a super report, cant wait to do this group, it looks superb. Thanks. :D
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby trekker53 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:58 pm

Good report. The scenery is outstanding. Will wait for a good day to succumb to it's delights.
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby HighlandSC » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:29 pm

Stunning 8)
Had my eye on this for a while.... but neighbouring Stac P and Cul Mor got attention first. Can't wait to be in this area again.... one of the best :D
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby Avocetboy » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:49 am

Cracking Photos, BP, from a wonderful place. Conditions were a bit kinder for you. I was there in May, crunching through the snow and abandoned my walk along the Coigach Ridge. Having seen you photos, I shall definitely try again next May.

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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby Lenore » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:33 am

Nice BP!!! Will keep this one in mind for my return to Scotland! Haven't read much about this area so great to see your report. Glad you had such a good day!
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby ChrisW » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:13 pm

What a beautiful circuit BP, I would love to make that hike one day. So many stunning views, rocky outcrops and ridges, what a hidden gem that really is :D I like the 20 minute snooze, that's my idea of hillwalking :lol:
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby Bruno » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:10 pm

Hi BP
Another great report.
I really enjoy your trip reports - always a lovely balance of text and photos. Keep up the good work.
Regs
Iain
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby Cuillin » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:31 pm

Really nice report BP with lots of images showing the heart of this classic walk. I'm looking forward to doing it even more now - thanks :D
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach - the true nature of sacrifice

Postby Mountainlove » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:18 pm

You are so right ...Assynt has so many lovely mountains and it is a shame thay many miss them (but maybe a good thing as they are pretty deserted and dont have the masses of Glen Coe eyc ) I kept Ben Mor Coigach for this year and it was lovelyt seeing photos of it...cant wait to return to the far north :D :D :D
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