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The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four


Postby PeteR » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:59 pm

Route description: The Loch Mullardoch Munros

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Mullardoch), Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Sgurr na Lapaich

Date walked: 08/09/2013

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As I continue my slow, steady plod through Sir Hugh’s list (well, the Nth revision of his list anyway) many of the summits or walks left might be considered as classics. Not only great hill days………but in some cases long hill days too. And this was to be a long hill day :D

Usually I keep the long hill days for a Saturday……..that way I have Sunday to recover before work again on Monday :lol: So you might wonder why I chose to tackle the gentle stravaig :roll: over the four Munros north of Loch Mullardoch on a Sunday :crazy: I’ve got to say there were certainly times I was wondering that myself on that long walk back beside the Loch :lol:

But the forecast for Sunday was definitely better than the Saturday and so it was that I was leaving the house just after 10 p.m. and heading up overnight to the remoteness of Glen Cannich. It felt very eerie in the total darkness (well, I did have my headlights on :lol:) as I wound my way along the single track road deep into the Glen, to the small parking area underneath the dam at a tad before 3 a.m. :shock:

Looking heavenward I was struck by the simply awesome view of the starlit night sky 8) A magnificent sight 8) Sadly one I couldn’t capture on camera :(

After a few hours uncomfortable sleep on the back seat of my car I was up and away soon after 6 a.m. There was a definite nip in the air that morning. Winter is coming me thinks!

I was heading slightly earlier than I had planned, but oh how I was to discover later in the day just what an excellent decision that turned out to be :shock:
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At the start of the day

The initial part of the walk was decent with views starting to open up. The cloud was a bit low still, but I set off hopeful that it would lift in time to bless me with stellar views from the summit :wink: In the meantime the path was, in places, to provide a wonderful precursor of the delights to greet me later in the day :D

At the ramshackle hut the first obstacle of the day stood in front of me. If you like your ascent to be steep, predominantly pathless and @$%& hard work then can I say that the climb up onto Mullach na Maoile will be right up your street :thumbup: It’s steep, predominantly pathless and @$%& hard work :lol: :lol:

But there was nothing for it other than to grit teeth, gird loins and get on with it :shock:
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The route up onto Mullach na Maoile

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Views opening up behind me

In truth, despite its initial steep steepness, predominantly pathless nature and the fact it was too huffing early to be slogging up such a steep huffing slope, once the worst was over it was a nice stroll to the top of Mullach na Maoile with Carn nan Gobhar, the first target of the day, coming into view ahead of me. Sgurr na Lapaich had an atmospheric covering of mist shrouding it, which I was hoping would clear before I arrived :D
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The first and second targets of the day

From here it was a pleasant walk up on to the summit of Carn nan Gobhar. The mist kept drifting in over the summit, but thankfully I was able to claim a cloud free summit when I arrived at the first of the summit cairns. Between there and the true summit the next band of clag had rolled in, but seemed to be moving fast enough, so I hung around in the hope of some views. I didn’t quite get the views I’d been hoping for, with mist continuing to roll in around me, and Sgurr na Lapaich stubbornly holding on to a veil of cloud. But I still got enough for me to class it as a cloud free summit :D
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First (not the summit) cairn on Carn nan Gobhar

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An Teallach

Heading down off Carn nan Gobhar toward Bealach na Cloiche Duibhe and Loch Tuill Bhearnach framed by the cliffs of Sgurr nan Clacham Geala was an impressive sight 8)

I was hopeful of a second cloud free summit as I started the climb up Sgurr na Lapaich; the cloud base seemed to be lifting and the waves of mist reducing :wink:
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Sgurr na Lapaich

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Strathfarrar

I quite enjoyed this climb :D It didn’t strike me as steep as I had expected and soon enough I was on the summit.
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The route up onto Sgurr na Lapaich

Sadly, I arrived as a large clump of cloud settled on the top :( No views for me on summit number two then :(

In the cloud it was definitely breezy. And with the breeze came the cold. I have to admit, standing there on a cloud encased summit, with no views, a stiffening breeze and a definite chill in the air my spirits dropped :( Why I was standing on the top of a summit in the middle of the “middle of nowhere” in the clag? With no chance of the cloud lifting I didn’t hang around for long and was soon on my way off toward An Riabhachan. With my spirits on the wane it was a bit of a forlorn trudge initially, but then things started to improve :D

I’m not sure if it was the fact I was descending or the cloud was lifting (or both) but I was soon enjoying views toward my third target of the day. And there seemed to be a good chance I would be back in the cloud free summit zone :D That got my spirits back up :D
P1010302.JPG
Cloud finally lifting as I head off to target #3 - AnRiabhachan

I should add a note of caution on the descent from Sgurr na Lapaich. I found myself on a path leading me toward steep, near vertical, slopes to the northwestish :shock: I was tempted to take a look at how steep and vertical the slope might have been, but thankfully common sense prevailed and I went in search of the “proper” path to my left. This was soon located and a few yards further on connected with another “proper” path which dropped easily to the Bealach Toll an Lochain. So who knows what the proper path is here :?

It was another enjoyable climb up Creagan Toll an Lochain and onto what must be the longest summit ridge in the Highlands :crazy: Soon enough I was at the middle, summit, cairn enjoying stellar views all round :D By now the cloud had lifted……permanently and the views were simply sublime 8) 8)

Fanniachs, Monar, Torridon, Skye, Kintail. Affric. It was all there on show :D :D :D A veritable smorgasbord of delights to feast the old “mince pies” :D
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View toward Loch Monar and the Fannaichs

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Loch Monar and the Strath Carron Munros

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Skye Cuillin

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View toward Alligin and Liathach

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Beinn Eighe

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Beinn Sgritheall

At last I had a chance to text MrsR and let her know I was still alive :lol: (no reception on the other two summits you see). Met the only other walker I met all day, just as I was preparing to leave the summit. Met him two further times – once when he waltzed passed me about 10 minutes later and then when he returned down of An Socach en route back to Strathfarrar :shock:

There is a nice right hand turn to An Riabhachan, with an initial steep drop down to a narrow ridge leading to a minor top. It was then another steepish drop down to Bealach a’Bholla and the short, steep pull up onto the pleasant ridge of An Socach :D
P1010394.JPG
En route to #4 of the day - An Socath

Had I not been on a timetable and had the joints not started to complain by the time I was dropping down off An Riabhachan, I might have enjoyed this section a bit more :( As it was I was starting to suffer and flag a bit :lol: (well, quite a lot really). The enormity of the route I’d chosen for a Sunday was starting to kick in with a vengeance :lol: :lol: An Socach would see me a long, long way from my car and as I would find out soon enough I had a tortuous the walk back out still to come :shock:
P1010416.JPG
Maol Chean-dearg

Before then though there were still great views to enjoy! :D :D Enough to keep my spirits up at this point, despite the protestations of my aching, aged limbs :lol:
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The Affric Munros

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The short An Socach ridge

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View back to An Riabhachan from An Socach summit

A time was I had once had delusions on undertaking a full round of the Mullardoch Munros as part of a three day adventure 8) Standing on An Socach looking across to the impressive summits of Glen Affric it was clear to me that it would have destroyed me :shock:

Looking across to the eight Munros on the Affric side the enormity of such an undertaking really hit home. I was completing just four big hitters, albeit in a single day, and the eight on the other side of the water looked every bit as formidable, if not more so. All I can say is, standing on the crescent ridge of An Socach, I felt massive, massive respect for all those who have taken on (or plan to take on) such a challenge :thumbup: :thumbup: I’m quite happy to carry on picking these hills off and turn red balloons blue in twos, threes and fours :lol:

The descent off An Socach, via Meall a’Chaisg was an easy, gentle affair. Great views toward Affric, with Loch Mullardoch also taking centre stage 8) 8)
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Loch Mullardoch and the Munros of Glen Affric

Then came the delights of the peat hags of Coire Mhaim :shock:
P1010465.JPG
View back to An Socach from the glorious peat hags

I made a slight boo boo at this point :lol: I will put it down to old age :lol:

I was striking a direct route through the hags that would have taken me over the small incline of Meall Bac a’Chul-dhoire. What I should have done apparently is taken a slight turn to my left once I’d dropped off Coire Mhaim and cross the Allt Coire a’Mhaim to pick up a stalkers path down to the lochside. Discovering my error (eventually) I opted for an early river crossing in order to correct my mistake and get myself on the correct side of the water as soon as possible. Got a wet foot doing so :(

Then a few hundred yards further on and I came across a footbridge that would have taken me across anyway......keeping my feet dry :lol: :evil:

After that it was plain sailing to the lochside :D

Now it was just a matter of the long walk out :shock:

Oh, and how it was a long walk :lol:

In all my research into this route on walkhighlands (well the reports that weren’t by those who CHEATED and paid the ferryman :lol:) I clearly got that this path is tough going. But nothing in any of the reports I’d read that described this return route truly described just how tough it is :shock:

For those that don’t do words
:wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf:
Just about sums it up……..What…….the…….F…. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Setting off though I was thinking “It’s not too bad”. “What’s all the fuss about?” “It’s a piece of piddle” :D

Then it got boggy :(

Then it undulated :(

Then it was boggy and undulated :( :(

Then sometimes, having skirted too close to the lochside, small sections of landslip meant it wasn’t there :shock:

Then there was the wading through bracken and all the risks that brings with tired legs :(

Sometimes it might have been there, but I apparently wasn’t on it :lol:

Energy sappy, will braking.

And all the time it just went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and………………..on…… :lol: :lol:

Thankfully the Allt Taige crossing was a breeze when it arrived, so I avoided and trials and tribulations there
P1010483.JPG
Allt Taige

But that there path fair near broke me :shock: :lol:

As much as I was tempted to give up, perhaps it was the knowledge that I hadn’t CHEATED and paid the ferryman that kept me going………..purist that I am :lol: Yard, by tortuous yard I chipped away at the last few miles of that return as I slipped, stumbled and tripped my way along the path.

It seemed like a lifetime since I had first struck off up toward Mullach na Maoille from the ramshackle hut. Finally I was back there. Now I knew it was just a short walk back to the car :D
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Mullardoch Dam - It seemed a long time since I was there earlier in the day

Arriving at the car though I was pounced upon by a swarm of hungry midges :shock: :shock: And oh how they feasted :lol: If the profusion of midge bites I‘m now sporting are anything to go by I must be tasty, tasty very, very tasty :lol: :lol: :lol:

Midge bites aside though this was simply a fantastic day :D 8) Four great, great hills that rightly deserve their reputation for providing a tough, rewarding day :thumbup: Despite the walkhighlands GPS download suggesting a walk of 17.8 miles and my very best efforts to keep to the route I somehow managed to clock up 19.75 miles on the day :? Not quite sure how that happened, but it perhaps explained why I’d taken an hour longer to complete the walk than I had budgeted for :lol:

I might have taken a few more than 25 photos on this trip, and if you're up for the challenge the full set can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/beardybaldybloke/sets/72157635452629501/
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PeteR
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:05 pm

Super stuff again Pete. I never saw some of the views you got as we got a thunderstorm during this walk. A tough walk these for and that was with us getting the boat in as well :wink:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby pollyh33 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:08 pm

Mighty, Magnificent report PeteR :clap: :clap:

Your photographs are awesome, so so good- loved them :D :D :D
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:29 pm

Johnny Corbett wrote:Super stuff again Pete. I never saw some of the views you got as we got a thunderstorm during this walk. A tough walk these for and that was with us getting the boat in as well :wink:


Cheers JC. Not sure I would enjoy being that high up in a thunderstorm :shock: I was very lucky the day I was on these four as the day really improved for me after SnL. And the views just seemed to get better and better :D

Disappointed to hear about the boat though......... :lol:
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PeteR
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:33 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Mighty, Magnificent report PeteR :clap: :clap:

Your photographs are awesome, so so good- loved them :D :D :D


Cheers polly. I recently invested in a new toy (after much deliberation it has to be said) and have to say I'm impressed with the results on the few walks I've taken it out on so far :D
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:24 pm

A grand read altogether :clap:

How long did it take you ? :wink:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby PeteR » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:28 pm

Collaciotach wrote:A grand read altogether :clap:

How long did it take you ? :wink:


Cheers Colla.

Too long :lol: I'd planned for about 12 hours, given my plodding style. The additional 2 miles and that path back alongside the loch added to my time and I was back at the car a little shy of 13 hours :shock: Fitter, faster perople could slash a fair bit off that time I'm sure :wink:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:31 pm

Cheers Pete
Enjoyed your shots of the hills - and having some correctly identified, like Meall Chin dearg & Sgreathall which I saw on the walk but didn't know what they were.
There is a way to avoid that long tough walk down the loch-side, you know - just involves nipping up beinn fhionnlaidh and returning along the carn eige ridge :lol:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby PeteR » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:10 pm

weaselmaster wrote:Cheers Pete
Enjoyed your shots of the hills - and having some correctly identified, like Meall Chin dearg & Sgreathall which I saw on the walk but didn't know what they were.


Cheers Alistair. I wouldn't always trust my knowledge of the hill names, but hopefully I got those two right :D

weaselmaster wrote:There is a way to avoid that long tough walk down the loch-side, you know - just involves nipping up beinn fhionnlaidh and returning along the carn eige ridge :lol:


:lol: :lol: :lol: One day I'll get a wild camp in, but I think I need to work my way up slowly to be ready for a return to do the Mullardoch circuit. I'll leave such multi-hill adventures to you and your good lady :lol:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby Bod » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:47 pm

Cracking report Pete, a fine read and great pictures, thank you. We took the ferry man a couple of years back, loved the walk back over the hills :lol:
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Re: The Mighty, Magnificent, Mullardoch Four

Postby PeteR » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:53 pm

Bod wrote:Cracking report Pete, a fine read and great pictures, thank you.


Cheers Bod :D

Bod wrote:We took the ferry man a couple of years back, loved the walk back over the hills :lol:


:lol: :lol: Boats and now bikes :roll: :roll:
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