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Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more!

Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more!


Postby dogplodder » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:46 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Clach Geala, near Braemore

Munros included on this walk: Meall a'Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr nan Each

Date walked: 04/09/2010

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On 23rd May 2009 Evelyn and I set off with Jack and Tess to climb the Sgurr nan Clach Geala ridge. MWIS said it would be wet in the morning and clear in the afternoon so we decided to do the low part of the walk first and hopefully we'd have some views by the time we were on the ridge. :wink:

We left the car at the parking bay on the A832 just beyond the forestry plantation and the track for Loch a' Bhraoin. We followed the good path towards the ruins of the old boathouse a the edge of the loch, then left and over a bridge. Soon after the bridge you have to watch for a left turn on to a muddy path which leads boggily to a footbridge over the Allt Breabaig. The first time we came we missed this left turn and ended up boulder-hopping the burn which was okay and I'm not sure which way I would recommend as better. Either option you risk getting wet feet! :roll:

Allt Breabaig
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Crags of Sgurr Breac from east side of the Allt Breabaig
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Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093m) is the second highest of the Fannichs and many claim it is the finest peak of the group with its east facing corrie and pointed buttresses. It's not easily seen from any public road being situated right in the centre of the group and the best views are from Sgurr Mor across Coire Mor.

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It stands in the centre of a north-south ridge between two other Munros, Meall a' Chrasgaidh and Sgurr nan Each.

Sgurr nan Each and Sgurr nan Clach Geala
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Despite the prediction of morning rain from MWIS we walked up the east side of the Allt Breabaig in the dry and it was only as we started climbing the steep grassy slopes to the bealach at Cadha na Guite that the heavens opened. By the time we reached the ridge visibility was down to a few metres and we were drookit. :( We turned right and followed the path as it curved right and then left to reach the summit cairn at the far end of the ridge. Even in the clag I remember thinking it must be a photogenic ridge but we got zero views from the top. :thumbdown:

Summit of Sgurr nan Each
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When we got back to the bealach we couldn't see Sgurr nan Clach Geala and it was so cold and wet even the dogs voted to get down out of there! So we retraced our steps back to the path along the Allt Breabaig, although by this time the torrential rain had swollen all the burns running off the hillside making for some tricky crossings we hadn't had a few hours earlier! :shock:

I seem to remember this was the day that despite her new Paramo jacket Evelyn was wet to the skin while I with my old Lowe alpine was still more or less dry - resulting in Evelyn taking her new purchase back to the shop. :?

Evelyn and I returned in July 2010 to finish the ridge. MWIS said tops would clear by afternoon so we left the car at 9.30, walked up the Allt Breabaig path and this time climbed grassy slopes to the bealach between Carn na Criche and Sgurr nan Clach Geala. This area is known as Am Biachdaich meaning 'the place of the fattening' on account of the lush pasture where deer often feed.

On this occasion we didn't see it, but Sgurr nan Clach Geala's best geological feature is its eastern cliffs, which are the highest in the Fannichs and fall 400 metres to the head of Coire Mor. These schist cliffs attract winter ice climbers, the best known routes being Skyscraper Buttress and Gamma Gully.

Am Biachdaich and the eastern cliffs from Carn na Criche
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Drainage from this mountain reaches both coasts of Scotland - rainfall on the west and northern slopes going via the River Broom and Loch Broom to reach the west coast at Ullapool and from the south and east going south to Loch Fannich to eventually reach the east coast at the Cromarty Firth.

The day we were up there it felt like there was enough rainfall to reach both coasts - yet again! :shock: At the place of the fattening we found a large rock not far from the lochan and sheltered there from the wind and rain to have a bite to eat. For the second time it was not the way we'd hoped to experience this ridge! We followed the winding path up the narrowing ridge to the summit in thick cloud so didn’t get the views and once again MWIS was wrong in its timing as the tops did not clear. The name means the peak of the white stones on account of the quartz around the summit but it was so miserable my hands were numb and I didn't take the camera out so have no summit pics to prove it. :(

By the time we got back to Am Biachdaich we were cold and wet so left Meall a' Chrasgaidh for another day. Back at the car I wrung the water out of my socks and decided my new boots should have performed better than that so it was my turn to take a new purchase back to the shop. :? On this occasion the boots were tested and found to be watertight and the conclusion was my gaiters had wicked water down into them and to be fair they have kept my feet dry since then provided I don't use gaiters over my waterproof trousers when it's raining! :roll:

A few weeks later on 4th September Evelyn and I were back to finish the ridge. This time we had blue skies and fluffy white clouds and decided on a short day so I could be back in good time to visit Moira in hospital. I felt torn about this walk. I had already agreed to walk with Evelyn but just five days earlier I'd been with Moira when she broke her ankle climbing Beinn Mheadhoin and was air-lifted to hospital where she still was. I felt that out of respect for her I should cancel plans to walk so soon - but when she heard the way I was thinking she insisted I go.

We had a leisurely start leaving after 9.00 and took the now familiar approach via the footbridge over the Allt Breabaig to find the stalker's path going up the glen. From the path we struck out left to climb the lower slopes of Meall a' Chrasgaidh. We picked our way over grass and round the occasional boulder as we reached higher ground.

Loch a' Bhraoin from lower slopes of Meall a' Chrasgaidh
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Destitution Road
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Western Fannichs
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There is no path and it's quite hard work. I remember stopping a number of times to text Moira in hospital. I also remember being almost paranoid about how I placed my feet on tussocky ground so as not to risk going over on ankles! Being with someone with a badly broken ankle is a salutary experience. :(

Evelyn slogging up the slope
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Sgurr Breac and A' Chailleach to the west
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Top of Sgurr nan Clach Geala now visible
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The last kilometre levels off and makes for an easy stroll to the summit.

Summit of Meall a' Chrasgaidh dwarfed by Sgurr nan Clach Geala
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Loch a' Mhadaidh, Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, Carn na Criche and Sgurr Mor
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We met a guy at the top who had walked in from the dam at the west end of Loch Droma on the Ullapool road. He said he followed the Walkhighlands site but hadn't yet posted anything. So I challenged him to put a report on of this walk and he said he would. For a while I watched to see if he did but nothing ever appeared. Maybe the photo I took of him at the top was really bad. :lol:

Meall a' Chrasgaidh from the south
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Meall a' Chrasgaidh from Carn na Criche
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Summit cairn and Sgurr Breac
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After soaking up the views we missed on the two previous occasions, we had lunch at the top and began our way down, pretty much retracing our steps and enjoying views of An Teallach and the Fisherfields as we went. :D

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Destitution Road snaking away towards An Teallach
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Reflections on Loch a' Bhraoin
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View of plantation and western Fannichs from where car was parked
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So it was worth coming back and we got a great day in the end! :thumbup: We were back at the car by 4.00 so were home in good time and I was able to spend the evening with Moira in hospital - who five days after the accident was still waiting for the swelling to come down enough for her plaster cast to go on! :shock:

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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby pigeon » Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:43 am

Good stuff Dogplodder,also got beaten by the weather (and a few other factors :lol: )on my only visit to the Fanniachs last year so hoping to get up there in the Easter break to put things right.These hills are in my plans so cheers for posting,looking forward to it now :thumbup:
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby PeteR » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:41 pm

Another great report dogplodder :D A big effort for these three though. A testament to yourt persistence to keep coming back :thumbup: It's always good to see views from these thre. My day on them was a clag filled, rain soaked event, resulting in one of my frequent "temporarily misplaced" moments as I headed off on to Carn na Criche instead of Meall a Chrasgaidh :lol: :oops: Absolutely love the Fannaichs though and one day will definitely return to these three to (hopefully) enjoy the views :D
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby David-Main » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:42 pm

Well done you pair, nice pics.
I enjoyed my wee walk and chat today at coginafearn with you both, hope you enjoyed your wee jaunt.
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby dogplodder » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:08 pm

David-Main wrote:Well done you pair, nice pics.
I enjoyed my wee walk and chat today at coginafearn with you both, hope you enjoyed your wee jaunt.


I'd love to meet the man behind the amazing eagle shots but have to plead not guilty to this one as still confined to barracks with flu. :thumbdown:

You might have met Evelyn and Linda. Here's a recent shot of Evelyn looking more like herself than she was drookit on Sgurr nan Each! :lol:

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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:31 pm

Great report - glad you finally got some decent weather. :clap: :clap:
I love the views from these hills, and have vague plans about coming back and doing some of them from the south - which I think you've done. Roll on spring ...
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby dogplodder » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:48 pm

pigeon wrote:Good stuff Dogplodder,also got beaten by the weather (and a few other factors :lol: )on my only visit to the Fanniachs last year so hoping to get up there in the Easter break to put things right.These hills are in my plans so cheers for posting,looking forward to it now :thumbup:


Thanks Pigeon, hope you get the weather and the views! :D

I read somewhere that the Fannichs have a bit of a reputation for always being wet but I've only had two washouts to five good days - so can't complain too much about that. :wink:
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby dogplodder » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:02 pm

PeteR wrote: It's always good to see views from these thre. My day on them was a clag filled, rain soaked event, resulting in one of my frequent "temporarily misplaced" moments as I headed off on to Carn na Criche instead of Meall a Chrasgaidh :lol: :oops:


Cheers Pete - an easy mistake in the clag! :lol:
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby David-Main » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:56 pm

I'd love to meet the man behind the amazing eagle shots but have to plead not guilty to this one as still confined to barracks with flu. :thumbdown:

You might have met Evelyn and Linda. Here's a recent shot of Evelyn looking more like herself than she was drookit on Sgurr nan Each!

Hope you get well soon dogplodder, yes it was Linda and Evelyn, just your name was mentioned.
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby dogplodder » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:06 pm

David-Main wrote:Hope you get well soon dogplodder, yes it was Linda and Evelyn, just your name was mentioned.


Nothing bad I hope! :lol: :lol:

Your eagle shots are amazing by the way. :clap:
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby David-Main » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:11 pm

All good talk dogplodder, very fit ladies, thanks for the comments about the eagles. :)
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Re: Fannich ridge washout - but we kept coming back for more

Postby dogplodder » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:13 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Great report - glad you finally got some decent weather. :clap: :clap:
I love the views from these hills, and have vague plans about coming back and doing some of them from the south - which I think you've done. Roll on spring ...


It's an excellent route from the south. Bikes would reduce the time - but we did it minus wheels and lived to tell the tale! :thumbup:
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