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The Dessarry trip

The Dessarry trip


Postby basscadet » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:15 pm

Route description: Sgurr na Ciche: 3 Munros from Loch Arkaig

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor, Gairich, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich), Sgurr na Ciche, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glen Dessary)

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgurr an Fhuarain

Date walked: 26/07/2013

Time taken: 28 hours

Distance: 54 km

Ascent: 3837m

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So this weekend, Dougie and I had tagged a couple of holidays on, to go on an epic.. but we chickened out of that some time ago.. :? With holidays booked, we decided to do some other hills. We met up on the Laggan road, late on Thursday night, for a car camp. We had intended a couple of the fersit ones for Friday, but were up too late, and the weather was too hot anyways.. So we decided to go for the Aonachs at the last minute.. Mostly because I was excited that we would get to go on the gondolas :thumbup:
Dougie hadn’t bagged them yet. I had been up them before from the CMD bealach, with a knee injury from a fall down the a*se end of Nevis, in slushy snow and clag.. Aye, wasn’t one of my best days on the hill :lol:


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So we arrived at lunchtime, and up we went on the gondolas.. :) Slightly disappointing compared the the chair lift round in Glen Coe, but saved on effort :D It was a real hot day, even with some clag about on the tops, so a slow plod took us along the track.

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Common sense would say that walking over to the far side of the ridge would be the best option, but we chose to follow a burn up instead. If we hadn’t had the recent heatwave, it would have been a bad plan, because it was pretty boggy, but we gradually gained height, taking frequent stops to try and stem the flow of sweat.. Oooh hot work. :shock: Halfway up, we came across a wee ski hut where we stopped for some snackage, and watched workers higher up, mending the ski fencing. The hut would make a decent bothy – leccy, lighting and heating!

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I was a steep boggy pull from there up to the ridge..

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During which time, the heavens opened and we were pummelled by heavy raindrops for 20 minutes – at least a little bit cooler than the baking heat! :roll: Once on the ridge, it was an easy walk to the Summit.

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The descent from there was gentle, and the pull up the other side, not nearly as long or tortuous as I remembered.. Just goes to show what difference the conditions make. We were soon on Aonach Beag, sat for a while, enjoying the scenery, before heading back the way we came.

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Another shower hit when we were going up Aonach Mor, but it was a lot lighter than the pelting we had received earlier. This time, we took the more usual ridge path back down.

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It was a horrible path, so took us a while to descend, but made it back and down the gondolas by teatime. Only 6.5 miles and 880M ascent, but a fine afternoons legstretch.. :thumbup:
We glamped it up, at an actual, proper campsite on Friday night in Invergarry :o hot showers and hairdryers? I must be going soft :lol:


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Saturday, we were in no rush to get going. There was a faff with positioning cars in the correct places, then we were on the big dipper Loch Arkaig road, getting nearer and nearer to Glen Dessarry. :D It was another scorching day – I wasn’t looking forward to getting my big pack on, but it had to be done :? so we set off down the track, bumping into Kevsbald a couple of hundred yards from the car park. Nice to see a friendly face :D

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We wandered down the track, just round the corner into Glen Dessarry, Dougie full of stories about his last excursion round these parts. It was really hot though, and the pace slowed to snail-like :? Past the lodge and up onto the path above the treeline, just melting! :( The trouble being, that every time we stopped, the midges caught up with us. The trees, with their shade seemingly taunting us, just out of reach beyond the deer fence. :roll: Bonny scenery, but very hard work for a fairly flat boggy wander up a glen!

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Eventually we got up to the fork and started the climb, by this time, it was late enough for the sun to be a bit lower and there were a couple of pockets of shade on the steep path up to the shoulder of Sgurr na Ciche.

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Still a complete sweat fest! We arrived at our campspot, just below the rocky gorge that takes you up to the ridge. 5 hours for a fairly flat 7.5 mile walk – nae good going!

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We filled up our water, and I dunked my head and clothing in the stream in an attempt to cool off.. Felt so good to be cool! We decided the best camp spot was a couple of hundred yards back and had a rocky flat table/seat right outside, so we sat watching the changing views and had our tea.. Just bliss.

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We were awoken in the middle of night by the pitter patter of rain on the tent – I ran outside to rescue the gear left out there.. I woke up a while later to hear that the pitter patter had turned into a deafening roar! Oh I hoped it would end before morning.. :shock:
We awoke to find although the rain wasn’t off, it had reduced down to drizzle, :) so we set off up the rocky gorge. The going was difficult and slippy with the big packs, and we must of crossed the stream a dozen times, back and forth. :crazy:

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Soon up at the bealach, things turned proper dreichit. We dumped the packs for our ascent of Sgurr na Ciche, glad we could do that because the path is very steep and slippery up by the boulderfield. Dougie didn’t actually come to the very top, after he saw the clag rolling in as he had climbed it before.

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I reached the Summit, went over to the broken trig, and like someone was watching over me the clouds parted long enough for me to see Loch Nevis and Knoydart spread out before me. Breathtaking is all I can say! Just got a few seconds before the clag curtain shut again, but I was happy with that, even if I didn’t have time to get the camera out. :roll:
So I retraced my steps, rain in the face now, :( I found Dougie where I had left him at the top of the boulderfield and we carefully picked our way back down to the bealach.
So next was Garbh Chioch Mhor. The path follows the wall very closely, which I commented to Dougie was silly because there was probably an easier route without the scrambly bits. He reminded me that the path was probably originally worn out by the wall builders! :lol: So up we went in the pishin rain, the clag beginning to clear, until when we made the summit, we were actually starting to get some views :D
There then came a really fun bit of the ridge, no trickiness or anything, but you definitely had to watch where you were putting your feet all the time!

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We seemed to be doing as much uphill as down as well.. Quite lumpy! Took us a while, but we made it to the bealach for a stop, in brightening conditions. The clouds lingering on the hills looked spectacular, and it was actually cool enough to walk properly for the first time in a couple of months. I was in 7th heaven..

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So upward to Sgurr nan Coireachan, just a slog really – we were beginning to tire a bit, and we had only been going about 4 hours :? Made it to the Summit and had another Breather.

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We met a couple of people on the way down. Its quite a hairy ascent with a few scrambly bits and with the packs pretty heavy trying to knock us off balance, we found it pretty tough, but it’s a high bealach there, and it wasn’t too much of a climb of An Eag.

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The pace was definitely slowing, the descent a killer, with knees creaking, and tricky ground underfoot. Dougie I think thought we would be camping at this bealach, but I knew we had to get further to make it over Gairich the following day, and I geed him on. We were really starting to tire now, and the long, easy ascent of Sgurr Beag seemed to take ages.. The descent was even worse - tired enough to start tripping over a bit too frequently. At least the rain was off and the sun was threatening an appearance. That’s all we need, blazing sunshine to tire us further I thought. Its quite a significant lump on the ridge, I think the bealach is only a few metres too high for Sgurr Beag to be a corbet. Do corbet tops exist?
The coll beyond was a good camp spot, but was a bit too sheltered, and midge infested, so I managed to convince Dougie that we had to walk over Sgurr Mor to catch the breeze at the bealach after. He wasn’t happy about it, but we trudged on, the views now spectacular, taking some of the pain out of my aching tootsies.

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We had met the Victorian built, hand dug path that zig-zagged up the hillside in a very pleasant manner – thank goodness for some easy going, and some daydream time where we didn’t have to concentrate on every step. :wink: Half way up though, Dougie said he couldn’t go any further, and as luck would have it, we were on a flat piece of ground, with a spring nearby, so we decided this would be perfect. I wanted to get as far as we could, and I guess this was it :D Just an amazing campspot anyways..

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We awoke the next morning to thick clag. I think I pushed Dougie a bitty too far the day before, as he really wasn’t too well :o So it was a late start at 10AM - Not ideal. Camped at 870m though, it wasn’t far to the summit, although no views in the clag.

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A long easy descent – I was glad we hadn’t made it over the previous night, because there was no water there. :problem:

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A quick stop in the bealach, watching the cloud cover clear, saw us on the long easy ascent of Sgurr Fhuarain.

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Dougie was really struggling – he could hardly eat, but there was no easy way back to either car, so just had to keep going.. :( We struggled up to the Corbet, relief at reaching the top almost overwhelming.

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We sat a while and considered the best way down to the glen between it, and Gairich. We chose to go right, we should of gone left I think :lol: There were some really steep bits, although there were ledges that eased the going that may of been a path long overgrown. We saw a path going accross the glen to our left, but it looked like it took a long rounded route, so we decided just to head for the main path at the end of the ridge. We reached the wee bridge over the burn and met an estate worker who we chatted to for a while about the awful cleg situation, and the weather - apparently it was supposed to be raining according to the weather forecast :shock: It had brightened up considerably, and the chances seemed remote, but just moments later, it started raining :lol: Just a light shower though, so we sat and ate and talked about our options.. Dougie, although feeling a bit better, wanted to take the low path, I wanted to go over Gairich, as we haven't completed a trip for ages.. We eventually spun a pointy stone to decide.. We were going up the hill 8)
So just a short walk to the start of the fine old path, the shower was still going, but the sun had also made an appearance and was beating down on us. Luckily the path takes wide zig-zags and requires minimal effort. Quite a few of these beauties about

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We were soon up to the plateau, where we stopped for a rest.

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There wasn't much of a path going up the summit ridge, I spose less people go up this way. We could see a huge bank of cloud heading our way, which made we want to get to the top quickly while there was still views to be had, but there were so many false summits, it was demoralising :lol:

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We didn't make it before the dreichit weather - canny win them all.

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Felt good to be on the final summit. Unfortunately, the clag wasn't thick enough to hide the distance to the dam - looked soooo far with achey feet :(

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Nothing for it but to get going, so with the rain on heavy, we descended the well worn path down the very steep ground. It soon leveled off, and then followed one of the wettest, boggiest walk out ever. We needed to eat, but there wasnt even a bit of ground, puddle free enough to rest the rucksack down to get anything out to eat, let alone somewhere to sit.. So we staggered on, finding a rocky outcrop a bit further on. We laughed heartily at our situation. Just nasty :lol:
made it down into a glen, and started up over the shoulder to the dam. The insects were insane, midges driving us crazy, we skelped clegs off each other, occasionally breaking into a jog when they all got a bit much, despite our fatigue. :lol:

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We passed a bonny lochan, and then we saw the dam! 8)

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now pretty close, we headed straight for it, not caring about the bog with already waterlogged footwear. Ahh good to be back.

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It was 8PM, and we still had to go get Sunny from Loch Arkaig, and she took a couple of dozen tries before she would start :shock: so it was 2.30AM by the time I got back to Aberdeen.. Way too late for a school night, paid for it yesterday :lol: Been meaning to do this trip for ages, and absolutely loved it - magical hills these - apart from the Gairich bog from hell that is!
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basscadet
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby Steve B » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:27 am

That was some walk, well done :clap: :clap:
I had an overnight at a similar spot to you having been up Sgurr Mor in the near dark and headed the opposite way the day after. Have to agree the walk back down Glen Dessarry was a slog and not a lot of fun.
New tent purchased and awaiting the favourable alignment of time and chores etc to test it out. This report gives some good motivation.
Thanks for posting. :clap:
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby rockhopper » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:14 pm

Image basscadet wrote"...we would get to go on the gondolas...
Dougie hadn’t bagged them yet"..... Image Image :wink: :wink:

Big trip through a cracking area :thumbup: - pity about the weather but well done both for keeping going esp when not feeling well.

Good idea for a point to point - I'd also looked at that as an option but couldn't work out a travel solution - cheers :)
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby Collaciotach » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:41 pm

Oh dhia na grassain .... that is a big round :clap: pity you got poorer weather in Na Garbh Criochan my favourite place ,well one of them :D

I need to do Sgurr Mor and Coireachan been avoiding them till the beasties calm down ,hellish bad this year :shock:
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby PeteR » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:49 pm

I feel a confession coming on :oops: I too made use of the gondola up Aonach Mor. It was winter though :lol: Both Aonach's make for a great day though :D

Glen Dessary has to be up there as one of my top 5 days on the hills. Those three hills are something special in my opinion :D A real shame you didn't quite get the weather for them though.
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby mrssanta » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:57 pm

Glad to see that you used the gondolas! makes me feel better for using the chair lift up Meall a bhuiridh. we had a deadline, and it was fun!
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby basscadet » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:36 am

Och, I thought the weather was perfect.. OK, a few claggy bits, but If it is clear at this time of year, it's just too hot for me.. We never would of made it if it was like the first day for the whole trip.. :crazy:

As for the gondola's... I know there is a 'sea level brigade' who think you should start at the lowest level possible, but I'm definately not one of them! We all climb hundreds of hills, give us the novelty of a gondola or a ski lift once in a while, and it just makes the day more memorable and exciting imo ;)

Thanks for all your kind comments folks :thumbup:
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby malky_c » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:38 pm

basscadet wrote:As for the gondola's... I know there is a 'sea level brigade' who think you should start at the lowest level possible, but I'm definately not one of them! We all climb hundreds of hills, give us the novelty of a gondola or a ski lift once in a while, and it just makes the day more memorable and exciting imo ;)

Would Sir Hugh of Munro used this method etc etc etc :wink: . I'd rather find a less scrappy way up the Aonachs but it seems fair enough to me. I drove to the top of Wideford Hill on Orkney and still counted that :D .

Some nice sunset photos, and looked like a great trip. Bothied a lot in this area but never camped high yet.
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby basscadet » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:17 pm

malky_c wrote:Would Sir Hugh of Munro used this method etc etc etc :wink: . I'd rather find a less scrappy way up the Aonachs but it seems fair enough to me. I drove to the top of Wideford Hill on Orkney and still counted that :D .

Some nice sunset photos, and looked like a great trip. Bothied a lot in this area but never camped high yet.


Aye, I'm wanting to go up/down them from the grey Corries side.. Last time I was up the Aonachs, I hoped to go down that way, but in slippy, slushy snow, it looked affy steep and suicidal :shock: Maybe better going up that way.. Maybe better in different conditions.. One day I will be back to find out :D
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby kevsbald » Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:25 pm

I wondered how you'd get on - it is a big round you did. After having done the 2 Corbetts before my wild camp, all I could manage was Sgurr Mor, Fhuarain and Coireachan before deciding to call it quits in the heat.
Then again, I was blessed with a rather nice sunrise!!

http://www.munromadness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/sgurr-mor-and-sgurr-nan-coireachean.html

Let's hope for a decent experience this weekend.
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby ChrisW » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:58 am

Cracking report, shame about the bout of sickness for Dougie but good to see you continued anyway....as for the gondola....if they're there, take em :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Dessarry trip

Postby basscadet » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:17 pm

kevsbald wrote:I wondered how you'd get on - it is a big round you did. After having done the 2 Corbetts before my wild camp, all I could manage was Sgurr Mor, Fhuarain and Coireachan before deciding to call it quits in the heat.
Then again, I was blessed with a rather nice sunrise!!

http://www.munromadness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/sgurr-mor-and-sgurr-nan-coireachean.html

Let's hope for a decent experience this weekend.


Oh I couldn't of managed half the route in the heat you got that day.. Thankfully it cooled down a bit for us :D
Looks like a dreichit trip to Skye this weekend so far :? Have to up the booze allowance to compensate :lol:

ChrisW wrote:Cracking report, shame about the bout of sickness for Dougie but good to see you continued anyway....as for the gondola....if they're there, take em :lol: :lol:


Aye, poor long suffering Dougie.. Not much choice but to walk on, if you fall ill on the hill.. Been there myself a couple of times and it aint fun :?
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