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Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror


Postby Cuillin » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:13 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Fraochaidh

Date walked: 13/12/2009

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 10 km

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Hill(s): Fraochaidh
OS Map(s): 41
Date: Sunday 13th December 2009
Weather: Light winds, high cloud and sunny spells
Walkers: Myself, H,J & WD
Distance: 10.8km
Ascent: 853m
Time: 6hrs but with a lot of summit oggling!
Dog Friendly?: Yes, apart from a 1 metre fence near the top of the trees
Parking : Room for 6 cars on the forestry track at NN 005 552

We’d originally had Sgurr Nan Eugallt as our target hill for the day but concerns about the state of the Loch Garry/Quoich road with no Sunday gritting service caused us to change our minds en-route. Luckily I had thought that this might be the case and had brought the OS 41 maps with us, as well as uploading GPS waypoints for the Fraochaidh route.

I’d always had a hankering to do a route other than the long haul from Ballachulish and inspiration from RW and LB allowed me to come up with what I thought was the route from the west through the dense conifer forest. Very straight forward to get to the start point as you just head down the Oban road from the Ballchuilish Bridge towards Duror and then look out for a brown sign towards the Achadh nan Dharach caravan site and then keep left until you reach the forestry car park.

Duror Forestry Car Park
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You can take either branch of the track seen in the previous picture as both will take you to NN 006 549. We thought the right hand track was easier.

From this point on it’s just a pleasant walk for about 1.7km before you turn right down towards a bridge which is not marked on older versions of the OS maps but is on Memory Map v.5.

Bridge Over River Duror at NN 017 538
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The Forestry had made every effort to discourage walkers because of felling operations but as it was Sunday we just carried on, even though we had to cross over two saplings which had been deliberately felled to block the path.

The path quickly turns back on itself to go steeply uphill and you then need to keep your eyes out for a small burn which you cross before seeing a waypoint marker just below where the path levels out in a more open area at NN 01442 53717. Initially we couldn’t see how you would access the narrow break through the forest and then H noticed the all important 10cm cairn by the track.


Cuillin by marker cairn for forest entry
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From now on it was fairly easy, as after entering the forest we found that branches had been cut back by the Forestry to create a narrow corridor between the trees and amazingly every tree and stone had red paint on it to guide you through the maze! 8O

H immediately after entering forest
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It’s quite steep going as you gain 100m in about 250m of level walking.

Gaining more open area in forest
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Wyvis in open area with Beinn a’ Bheithir gully behind
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Nearing fence and exit from forest
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The last hurdle is a low fence which WD managed to wriggle under and it probably wouldn’t be impossible for larger dogs to scale as there are two very large boulders each side of the fence.

H & Cuillin at forest exit
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We were dead chuffed that we’d found this route as it would easily knock off 1-2 hours for the trip compared to the Ballachuilish route, which was important for a short winter’s day.

How did we get through that lot? !
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The exit is at NN 01407 53437 and it would be wise to take a GPS mark here, although a fence post with a red paint mark is nearby and there is white tape on all the small trees to guide you here along the fence line.

Sgorr a’ Choise (Graham) zoom shot
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The next shot shows why most people do Fraochaidh from Ballachulish and I’ve never seen hills with so many conifers on them.

Gross afforestation
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The ascent has no great difficulties other than being a wee bit steep in places. Nice views started to open up as we got higher.

WD posing with Beinn a’ Bheithir behind
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Looking back from ridge to Kingairloch
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This side of the hill is obviously rarely frequented and it was only once we got higher up that we could see some evidence of flattened grass but certainly no path. :D

Pano view towards Fraochaidh’s summit
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With the low winter sun, we’d pretty much been in the shade up to this point but then the sun and the views started coming and coming!. :D

Early view of Lismore & Mull
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I don’t know how dogs do this but WD headed towards the one and only snow patch on the hill for some light self entertainment.

WD having a roll in the snow just below the summit
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As the SMC guidebook says, the summit cairn isn’t pretty with all the old fence posts and ironmongery but the 360o views were fantastic. 8)

J and H at summit
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J and Cuillin at summit
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Photographers and Beinn Fhionnlaidh
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Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamach & Sgurr na h-Udlaidh
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Aonachs & Grey Corries with Mamores and Pap of Glencoe in front
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Island pano with Paps of Jura faintly visible in back left
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Ardnamurchan peninsula pano
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Click Here For Full Size Ardnamurchan Pano

We could even make out all the individual peaks on Rum, as well as Ben Cruachan and what looked like Kintail.

We must have been up at the summit for the best part of an hour and we were all delighted with how our day had worked out.

Sunny descent
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With great visibility, navigating our way back down to the break in the trees wasn’t going to be difficult but for reference you should first of all aim for the two lochans marked on the map at NN 013 529, although we could only find the south easterly one as the other seemed to have drained dry.

Nearing SE lochan on descent
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Lochan and Beinn a’ Bheithir
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Final view back to summit
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Loch Linnhe over Ardsheal Hill
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No problem finding the break in the forest but in the late afternoon light it was more difficult to find the red paint marks for the descent route and you needed your wits about you. Once back down at the wee marker cairn, I cleared some heather away from it so that the forest entrance route would be more visible to other walkers.

Now it was just a pleasant and short walk back to the car.

J and H on the track back to Achadh nan Darach
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Late sun on Beinn a’ Bheithir
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I have to say that this was a wonderful hill which lived up to all my expectations but here’s what the hill critics said:

H – “I discovered when doing my stats etc that yesterday was my 150th Corbett - couldn't have wished for a better one!!”

J – “Top drawer stuff”

WD – “No Grouse or Ptarmigan to chase on this hill but Cuillin’s roast turkey sandwich was rather nice!”


This is a classic Corbett which I will definitely return to and I commend this route to you for some stunning views.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby gaffr » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:00 am

hello,
Very interesting to see the approach from 'the other side'...looks like a tough fight through the trees which reminds me of similar fights with conifers in Galloway!! Good images of the surrounds. The wee dog would certainly qualify for SMC membership....in times gone by the old boys used to strip off and roll about in the snow on the mountain tops...probably a ritual toughness thing? Hope you don't mind the inclusion of a wee image from the Balachullish side when you merely make contact with the trees. By the way....any signs with distances given in kilometers at the Duror end?
At 650m on Fraochaidh Glencoe peaks behind.jpg
HPIM0292.jpg
approach from the lochan below .718
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby foggieclimber » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:12 am

Hi Cuillin :)

Good to see an alternative approach to this hill.
The ascent through the trees does look 'interesting'.
Handy for anyone wanting to cut a few km off the standard route.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Cuillin » Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:53 pm

foggieclimber wrote:Hi Cuillin :)

Good to see an alternative approach to this hill.
The ascent through the trees does look 'interesting'.
Handy for anyone wanting to cut a few km off the standard route.

It was actually quite straightforward Foggie and I'd recommend the route, although the lower winter light levels weren't the best on the way down. We had a great day and it's a very credible alternative which also gives superior views compared with the Ballachuilish route.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Paul Webster » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:35 am

Great report as well as unusual route. I still haven't done that hill even the usual way - which is best :D
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Cuillin » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:45 pm

gaffr wrote:Very interesting to see the approach from 'the other side'...looks like a tough fight through the trees which reminds me of similar fights with conifers in Galloway!! Good images of the surrounds. The wee dog would certainly qualify for SMC membership....in times gone by the old boys used to strip off and roll about in the snow on the mountain tops...probably a ritual toughness thing? Hope you don't mind the inclusion of a wee image from the Balachullish side when you merely make contact with the trees. By the way....any signs with distances given in kilometers at the Duror end?

Thanks for the pictures gaffr and it looked as though you had a great day coming in from Ballchuilish. :D

No signs with distances at Duror but I can confirm the following vital statistics based on Memory Map measurements:

Ballachuilish approach - 20km round trip with 1,204 metres of ascent
Duror approach - 10.8km round trip with 853m of ascent

As for the trees on the Duror approach, it only takes 15-20mins to follow the Forestry corridor which is very well marked by red paint on boulders and the trees themselves. We didn't have any diffilculty following the route in good light, although the descent in later afternoon winter light ineeded more care. It is certainly not a fight through the trees as any branches have been cut back. I also think that the western views from the Duror approach are very fine indeed and are visible soon after you exit the forest. The Ballachuilish approach would appear to hide these views until you get to near to the summit cairn but gaffr will be able to better inform us.

Hope this helps you too Paul.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby munroist3308 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:53 pm

I plan to do this Corbett early January. Thanks Cullin for an excellent posting I was going to do it from Ballachulish but after reading this report and seeing the photos of the forest I will now think about doing it from Duror.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby bootsandpaddles » Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:58 pm

Thanks for describing this route. I was going to do this hill from Ballachulish in February, having been put off the Duror approach by tales of impenetrable forest, but I am now going to follow your route. The Ballachulish route looks very long for a winter day. :clap:
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby John Paton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:44 pm

Thanks for the information on this route. 2 Members of the Capelrig club followed your instructions and had a great day out on 9th April. More felling around the forest entry makes careful navigation essential - and following your advice and photos. Three other groups used this route that day, and a further group chose to descend this way to avoid the walk back to Ballachulish.

Hopefully the Forestry Commission will restore the already good marked route when the felling is complete.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Cuillin » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:22 pm

John Paton wrote:Thanks for the information on this route. 2 Members of the Capelrig club followed your instructions and had a great day out on 9th April. More felling around the forest entry makes careful navigation essential - and following your advice and photos. Three other groups used this route that day, and a further group chose to descend this way to avoid the walk back to Ballachulish.

Hopefully the Forestry Commission will restore the already good marked route when the felling is complete.

I'm pleased the instructions were of use and enjoyed reading about your chance meet with another John at the summit in a report posted on www.scottishhills.com! 8)
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby ChrisW » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:11 pm

Great report and some beautiful pics :D
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby malcolm x » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:26 pm

Climb fraochaidh 7/7/2012 following cuillin route through forest to bridge 1.7k cross the burn go up hill for about 500 metres and most of the trees have been cut down. No forest to climb through 3 hours to top from car park this included taken in red throated divers on the lochan my mate must of took 50 plus photo's off.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Cuillin » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:56 am

malcolm x wrote:Climb fraochaidh 7/7/2012 following cuillin route through forest to bridge 1.7k cross the burn go up hill for about 500 metres and most of the trees have been cut down. No forest to climb through 3 hours to top from car park this included taken in red throated divers on the lochan my mate must of took 50 plus photo's off.

Back in February, I did the nearby Grahams Sgorr a' Choise and Meall Mor. I could see even then that there had been a huge amount of felling, so I'm not totally surprised to hear that there's a clear way onto the hill now. In one way its a shame, as part of the fun was in the planning and finding the corridor under the trees.

Well done on seeing the red throated divers and even better that you got plenty pics. 8)
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby JamesTweedie » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:10 pm

Update on access:

We walked in on 9th Feb 2015. The Forestry Commission have removed the bridge - giving "Health & Safety" as the reason and stating no access from one side to the other.
We crossed by the burn (it was very low) when we set off. The path is clear near the bottom but with saplings beginning to impinge just after the bend. Very pleasant further up until just before the burn that marks the ascent point. There are several large trees down across the path - they are passable with a bit of scrambling, crawling (removal of rucksacks necessary on one route). I suspect this is the real reason the bridge is removed. FC cannot be bothered to keep the path open.
Once past these trees the path soon reaches the cleared ground mentioned in another post and it's just a steep, treeless ascent up to a fence then over clear ground to the lochans and start of the ridge proper.
Our ascent/descent was in cloud so tested the navigation skills. Some light rain and snow thawing. When we got back to the river it was higher and still just passable - it would not be if in spate.

Shame :thumbdown: on the Forestry Commission for NOT keeping this path open - with the cleared trees it is an excellent route to this hill.
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Re: Fraochaidh - West Forest Route From Duror

Postby Collaciotach » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:34 am

Working Forests are exactly that , harvesting sites are dangerous places and should be treated as such .

That said the bridge in question was past best and not always possible to replace like for like due to monetary restrictions and other priorities.

The alternative route is to follow the (Duror) SUSTRANS cycle track South , then turn left (beside the old railway bridge at Acharn) onto the forest road which heads SE and onto a rough path about 150m above Glen / River Duror for around 2km . This meets the old path you describe roughly below A Cruach and a straightforward ascent onto the druim via Coire na Capuil from there :)
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