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Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage


Postby Helen Bruce » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:51 pm

Route description: Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail

Date walked: 26/05/2013

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 21.5 km

Ascent: 1725m

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Thought I'd put up a trip report of our walk around the fabulous Carn Eighe (Carn Eige??) threesome, since we started/finished from a different place than the WH route. The start point was Strawberry Cottage, the club hut about 8km from the car park, part way to Alltbeithe youth hostel and opposite the bothy at Althnamulloch. You can easily cycle to this point and the walking distance is then about 6km shorter than the WH route, though you do have a 16km round trip cycle to contend with! Not much difference in terms of height gain, but it makes a change! Here's the route:

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We were staying in the lovely Strawberry Cottage (thanks to An Teallach MC!) with our walking group for a weekend. Four of us tackled the 'Sgurr nan Chrysanthemum' group of 3 Munros the day before (that's Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan) - it had been a 31km, 12-hour circuit from Strawberry Cottage and lots of ascent, full sunshine but plenty of soft snow still around. So we were pretty tired when we set off next day at 9am and didn't push the pace. The Bruce and I headed off alone to do the Carn Eighe Munros, a shorter day but still a strenuous one. (Hats off to those who walk in from the car park, a long day indeed!)
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Strawberry cottage, our line of ascent in the background

It was a cloudy start but forecast was good for the cloud to get above Munro height.
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Having a rest, view down Glen Affric to the west

I never particularly enjoy the first stages of initial height gain on a walk, a case of gritted teeth and getting on with it really, enjoying the view as you go! Love it when the summit ridge is reached.
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Fairly steep grassy slopes to the summit ridge.

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Summit ridge at last, cloud lifting

Stopped just below Mam Sodhail for lunch around 12.30 by a wee howff, wonder what the history of that place is? We then carried on and scooted past the summit cairn without stopping, it wasn't very conducive to a long break. Cornices on the eastern side of the corries were spectacular - I had vaguely thought about heading down this way, returning down Coire Leachavie, but there was no way you could get through the snow to the path.
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Wee howff on the way up Mam Sodhail, our first lunch stop

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Carn Eighe looms out of the mist

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The Bruce strides out for #3, Beinn Fionnlaidh

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View down Loch Mullardoch from the summit

It was at the summit of Beinn Fionnlaidh, reached about 2.30, that the trip became more interesting - with some marital conflict arising. I wanted to return the way we'd come, along the ridge but just bypassing the 2 summits, then taking the path down to Bealach Coire Ghaidheil. The Bruce, on the other hand, is totally allergic to regaining height once it has been lost, and wanted to skirt around to the Bealach on a traverse of about 850m. I fully admitted that his route would result in less height gain, but it would be dull - no views, no lovely airy ridge walk (and the clouds had lifted up high by now, great views to Torridon and surrounding mountains), and traversing is so hard on the side of the feet! We're both pretty stubborn - who would win?

Well, he did, of course. The Bruce isn't a Munro-bagger, though he's done a good few now. He mainly comes along at my behest, so I finally felt it was up to me to compromise or he might not come up another mountain with me. And as suspected, the route back wasn't as straightforward as it looked from the far summit.
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The traverse, Bealach just seen in the distance

Yes, sore feet from 4.5km of traversing, lots of steep gullies to climb in and out of (many full of snow which we had to totally bypass by climbing higher - could hear water running underneath and didn't fancy falling through), and lots of corries to walk around. By the time we reached the Bealach, The Bruce admitted that, just possibly, it would have been easier and quicker to go along the ridge. Ladies, I don't know how I managed to stop myself from saying 'I told you so' ...
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Putting a brave face on it! Nearly at the Bealach

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Finally at the Bealach, path homewards beckons

Anyway, marital harmony semi-restored, we finally got there and trudged down the path to the main track along Glen Affric. The last 2km back to Strawberry Cottage seemed to last forever, got back 6.30pm for a huge group meal of pasta - with wine. Great hills, really good day out (and no rain!).
Last edited by Helen Bruce on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:32 pm

excellent stuff, Helen - enjoyed that and glad to hear you're back on speaking terms :lol:

you mentioned a lot of soft snow on this day and the day before - could you tell me if there's much up on the ridge or is it mostly on the slopes please and is it mostly patches which could be avoided ? cheers :)
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby Helen Bruce » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:43 pm

Hi Rockhopper, many thanks for your comments.

And apologies - I forgot to set the right date on this trip report, we did the route on 26th May (I've just edited the report to the right date). There was plenty snow when we arrived in Glen Affric on 24th - you may remember that the Lecht road was closed due to snow on 22/23 May) but it was very soft and we didn't need to use crampons or ice axes at all. The weather has been so warm since then that I suspect there's a lot less snow now. The main snow issue with this route was the cornices on the east side which made it impossible to climb up from the corries, but walking along the ridges - as in the WH route - would have been fine. The summit of Sgurr nan Cearmthrean (spelling??) was covered in soft snow domes which were slightly hairy to walk across but again I suspect they have much receded by now.
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:49 pm

Many thanks Helen - that's good to know. No need to apologise ! - something we've all done. Your report was certainly very timely and useful and info on the ice axe is helpful. Thanks - :)
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:57 pm

Enjoyed that :D

Mrs C likes summer munros always complains about my route choice , I always tell her "just over the next wee bump" ... does the trick every time :lol:
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby BoyVertiginous » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:04 pm

I can tell you a wee bit about the history of that wee howff, Helen. Way back in September 2012 it provided sufficient relief from incessant, driving rain and 70-80mph winds to psych us up for the traverse back to the bealach, having baled on Carn Eighe.

Stunning area and will gladly return for Fionnlaidh.

Did you know you can also get down into the cairn on Mam Sodhail?

Big couple of days there, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby Helen Bruce » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:15 pm

Thanks for the comments.

Collaciotach, it's great walking with your partner but I also have a Munro-buddy and she is so much easier to walk with sometimes! No egg shells to tiptoe over if the weather is c**p or a route turns into something of a route march/slog; we know we both want to be there. I have decided to just take The Bruce up on days when we are pretty much guaranteed a grand day out!

BoyVertiginous - can imagine the howff is a Godsend sometimes! Sounds like quite an experience you had.
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby kevsbald » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:14 pm

Excellent stuff.
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Re: Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Postby Helen Bruce » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:27 pm

Thanks Kevsbald! Enjoyed your recent report of Beinn nan Aighenan, by the way, great photos.
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