A long one in the Loch Garry and Loch Ericht hills
by malky_c » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:53 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Mholach, Stob an Aonaich Mhoir
Grahams included on this walk: Creag a'Mhadaidh
Date walked: 24/11/2012
Time taken: 10.3 hours
Distance: 43.5 km
Ascent: 1450m3 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).
Grahams: Creag a' Mhadaidh
Distance: 32 km (walking), 11.5 km (cycling).
Ascent: 1390m (walking), 60m (cycling)
Time taken: 10 hours, 20 minutes.
Weather: Cold and calm. Lots of clingy cloud with the odd breakthrough of sunshine. Deep soft snow throughout.
Corbetts have taken a bit of a back seat of late - mainly because I'm running out of new ones close to home. These would be my first since Sgurr Dhomnhuill in June. I had just over 12 hours available between dropping Gill off for the Aberdeen train in the morning and picking her up in the evening, and my initial thought was to head back to Ardgour for some more bobbly goodness. Weather forecast suggested better east though, so I went with that. I had always intended to approach these hills from Dalnaspidal, but I had been saving them for an overnighter when I could use Duinish bothy. Since I've pulled out of that trip numerous times in the last two years, I decided they would be doable as a day walk. I took the bike to speed up progress down the shores of Loch Garry.
On the bike at 8:40 am and the weather wasn't quite as promised. This was a shame as Ben Rinnes and the Cairngorms had been crisp and clear on the drive down - maybe should have gone to Braemar instead. Despite planning to do the day in shorts, it was miserably cold outside the car, so I put my overtrousers on for the first time since February.
Down Glen Garry towards Calvine:
Meall na Leithrach across Loch Garry:
An easy cycle down the lochside, although some of the wooden bridges were a little frosty, and I was soon ditching my bike for the boggy walk over to Gleann Shallainn, which I planned to follow a long way up towards my first summit. There were a few deer about and the path went a little further up the glen than the map showed. While the sun was threatening to break through, it didn't quite manage, leaving the conditions white an eerie. There were a couple of pleasant minor waterfalls in the glen.
Bridge on Allt Shallainn:
In upper Gleann Shallainn:
The shortest way to Stob an Aonaich Mor would have been to continue west through the col north of Glas Meall Mhor, but I fancied escaping the claustrophobia of the valley. Ultimately I would have liked to have crossed Glas Mheall a Chumhainn, but this was a little out of the way, so I aimed for Meall Odhar Loch Monaidh instead. Along with Stob Loch Monaidh, this provided the first views of the day, with the moorland between Loch Pattack and Loch Ericht glinting in the sunshine. A descent over a tiring flat peaty area took me to the private Corrievarkie road.
Glimpse of the Pattack hills from Meall Odhar Loch Monaidh:
Beinn Mholach and Glas Mheall Mor:
Loch Monaidh and the Pattack hills:
The road to Corrievarkie Lodge:
Across this, I followed the south bank of a burn up onto Stob an Aonaich Mhor. I hit the ridge a short way north of the summit in the hope I could stroll along it admiring the views. I was partly rewarded with some breaks in the cloud and an impressive look north up Loch Ericht, but once on the summit the cloud had blown back in.
Summit of Stob an Aonaich Mhor:
Loch Pattack and Loch Ericht:
Beinn a Bheoil, Carn Dearg and Geal Charn:
I had lunch on the summit in the hope that it would clear again, and even descended south a short way, but other than the odd fleeting hole in the clouds, it never did. A slight disappointment as the view across and along Loch Ericht was one of the main draws of this hill. Still, at least I saw something. Despite the short description, it had taken me 4 hours to get here from the car, and I still had two more main summits to go, not to mention some minor bumps. Maybe I had underestimated this route slightly!
I made an error in the cloud and was too lazy to take a bearing until too late. I ended up contouring back round the summit and crossing my ascending footprints without even noticing. Soon I had sorted out my mistake and was headed back for the private road.
I spotted a figure climbing up through the peat hags just above the road and changed direction slightly to go and say hello. It was a guy who had cycled up from Loch Rannoch to climb the same hill - neither of us had expected to see anyone else out here today. He had abandoned plans to do the second Corbett, and I wished him luck in getting some views - not sure that he would have done though. Back on the road I passed his bike before hitting the moorland on the other side for the long trek over to Beinn Mholach.
Looking towards Loch Laidon and Rannoch Station from Meallanan Odhar:
Typical weather on the plateau:
Though the cloud was thin, it was clinging to the hillside, and I hauled out the map and compass again to avoid making any more blunders. I was crossing over ridges rather than following them here, but everything was so peat haggy that it didn't make much difference to the going underfoot. I hadn't minded the snow earlier on, but it was getting quite trying now. In a way I was grateful for the lack of consolidation as I'd left my axe and crampons at home, expecting these kind of conditions. Despite not being able to see anything, the conditions were pretty atmospheric, with the sun almost burning through. Better than dull greyness anyway!
Approaching Beinn Bhoidheach:
I had another break on the summit of Beinn Bhoidheach as it appeared to be clear of the cloud, and enjoyed the views to Loch Rannoch, Shiehallion and the Glen Lyon hills. I could even see the wall of the Bridge of Orchy hills on the far side of Rannoch Moor, although they were not entirely free of the cloud. Beinn Mholach still clung stubbornly to a cap of mist though, but at least it finally looked close by.
Loch Rannoch and the northern Glen Lyon hills:
Beinn a Chuallaich, Schiehallion and Loch Rannoch:
In fact the ground was pretty haggy until I was about halfway up Beinn Mholach, so like everything else today it took longer than expected. The summit cairn was well iced up but I managed to climb up it briefly. Finally I could see my last summits of the day, although the light was starting to go too.
Finally Beinn Mholach:
Glen Lyon hills again:
A steepish descent through some very thick drifts of snow took me to a flat boggy area, from where it was a gentle (and thankfully less snowy) walk up to the pointy summit of Gualann Sheileach. It was only approaching the upper section of this that I looked back and discovered an impressive sunset taking place behind. I had a quick 5 minutes on the top admiring this and having another bite before making a quick descent to the track to Loch Rannoch. The final climb to Creag a Mhadaidh would be in the dark, but I wasn't too worried about this, especially not with a full moon.
Some steep bits on the way down:
Gualann Shieleach and Creag a Mhadaidh with Beinn a Chuallaich beyond:
Sunset from Gualann Shieleach:
Loch Garry and the route home (getting dark now, so picture quality is decreasing rapidly):
Route up Creag a Mhadaidh:
More bog and heather, and typically a thin film of cloud drifted over the summit at the crucial movement, but for the most part it was perfect night walking, with moonlight glinting off Loch Rannoch and an immense sense of space (sometimes walking in the dark can feel very claustrophobic). In fact this was perfect - part of my previous bothy plans for this area had involved climbing Creag a Mhadaidh by moonlight on a crisp winters night.
On the summit of Creag a Mhadaidh:
This appears to be a more popular hill than you might expect - there have been 2 recent reports on Scottishhills - both re-visits, and there were footprints on the summit this evening, suggesting someone had been there earlier.
It was now 5pm and my thoughts turned to getting home. I still thought I could be back at the car well before 6:30pm at this point - how wrong I was! With the moon out and the track walking easy, I didn't get out my headtorch until shortly before Duinish bothy. The night was lovely and still, but I must have been dawdling, as I discovered that 45 minutes had already passed since the summit. I had wanted to have a nosy in the bothy, but I decided that there was no time for that, and pressed on. The boggy section north of Allt Shallainn was quite trying, and I realised that I was completely knackered, the long day and a couple of bad nights sleep finally catching up. The cycle was a bit trying as well as all of the wooden bridges had iced over and there was a thick mist at the northern end of Loch Garry. I finally rolled up to the car at 7pm, completely done in and late to pick Gill up too (unless I could teleport back to Inverness in 35 minutes). So, despite the weather not living up to the forecast, a memorable day all in all, and a reminder that there's no need to stop doing long days just because the daylight hours are shorter. On the downside, I was more tired than after any other walk in a long time, and returned home to the inevitable cold shoulder (both literally and metaphorically - it was about 1 degree outside the station at Inverness).
by IreneM » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:48 pm
Quite a marathon you had there Malky, but you've managed to get some very atmospheric photos - and I see you managed to capture the hill Hubby and I were climbing in one of them!
It's a small world as I'm a member of the same hillwalking club as the chap you met on Stob an Aonaich Mhoir!
We were all at a club meet near Loch Tummel this weekend, but Hubby and I took an easier option yesterday and climbed Beinn a'Chuallaich near Kinloch Rannoch.
Looking forward to doing these ones.......but being an exceptionally slow walker, we'll tackle them in summer!
PS .......hope the weather has warmed up a wee bit in Inverness!
by mountain thyme » Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:30 pm
did the same in the cairngorms on a summit munro in the snow and thought folk had the same boots on as us.. we were actually passing back over our own footsteps.
how far up can you cycle. how long were you on the bike for
by Johnny Corbett » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:17 pm
by malky_c » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:05 pm
IreneM wrote:It's a small world as I'm a member of the same hillwalking club as the chap you met on Stob an Aonaich Mhoir!
I had a feeling he would either be a forum member or someone on here would know him . I'm not in the habit of asking folk I run into if they are Walkhighlands members though - always feels a bit geeky (hey, are you Bob from the internet?)
Hope you had a good day on Beinn a Chuallaich - I gather there were some of your party out on the Drummochter hills too.
mountain thyme wrote:how far up can you cycle. how long were you on the bike for
Easy cycle - about 20-25 minutes takes you to the end of the loch (see where the route turns from red to blue on the map I drew on Scottishhills). Easy cycling up to here. You could probably go further but it gets so boggy that it wouldn't save you any time. Track gets good at the bothy again, so there is the possibility of coming in from the other direction (from Loch Rannoch).
by ChrisW » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:32 pm
Some great photos in pretty tough conditions for pics too
by mountain thyme » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:06 pm
mountain thyme wrote:how far up can you cycle. how long were you on the bike for
Easy cycle - about 20-25 minutes takes you to the end of the loch (see where the route turns from red to blue on the map I drew on Scottishhills). Easy cycling up to here. You could probably go further but it gets so boggy that it wouldn't save you any time. Track gets good at the bothy again, so there is the possibility of coming in from the other direction (from Loch Rannoch).[/quote]
cheers thats good to know
by malky_c » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:18 pm
monty wrote:Where's the shorts? I thought you were hard
Sorry, I have let you all down
Couldn't help but think of you guys when I looked over in the Glencoe direction. I still haven't looked at any of the reports from the meet as I know they will make me very slightly jelous that I wasn't there.
by gammy leg walker » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:26 pm
by LeithySuburbs » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:27 pm
by Graeme D » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:13 pm
by rockhopper » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:37 am