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Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby PeteR » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:58 pm

Route description: Càrn Eige and Mam Sodhail

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Càrn Eige), Càrn Eige, Màm Sodhail

Date walked: 20/04/2014

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A week late in posting this report, but work’s such these days that I really don’t get the time to write up any reports. But this walk was something special, so deserves that extra bit of effort. Hopefully my words and photies will do it some sort of justice :D

My plan originally had been to revisit the Deargs near Ullapool and either pick off Cona Mheall, which I missed off when I originally visited those hills, or perhaps get a shot at the outlier Seana Bhraigh. But with the forecast set so fair for East Sunday I decided instead to head deep into Affric for a quite superb threesome – Mam Sodhail, Beinn Fhionnlaidh and Carn Eige 8)

Given the distance I needed to travel just to get to the start of the walk, let alone the time to do the walk and get home this was going to have to be an early start. So I was up and out by 1.00 a.m. :wtf: for the ????? hour drive to Chisholm Bridge. Arrived at the bridge just after 5 a.m. A quick kip later, followed by some breakfast, and I was eventually on my way just after 6.30 a.m.

It was a beautiful clear, if quite cold, start to the morning. There was no breeze and my head was filled with the sound of silence and complete stillness, save for the odd bird tweeting and twittering here and there. The waters of Lochs Beinn a’Mheadhoin and Affric were glass like in their stillness, with just a hint of mist floating low on their surfaces 8) What a start to the day :D :D

Loch Affric

I was doing this route in the reverse to the WH suggestion, heading first up the Munro that was, isn’t any more, but really should be!!!!! C’mon boffins, do the right thing and re-instate the Affric Sgurr na Lapaich back to a well deserved Munro status :thumbup: It’s a super hill :D
The Munro that isn't any more

The route to the Affric SnL is a bit of a mixed bag, if truth is told. A stunning walk to close to Affric Lodge, at which point I took to the landrover track up on to high level moor. All good so far. By now the sun was getting up and the early morning chill had been replaced with a very agreeable warmth :D Time to strip off some layers as I continued up the track. Eventually I had to leave the comfort of the track and head across the moor to the foot of the hill. If there is a path, I wasn’t on it :lol: (no change there then :roll: ) And the ground was a bit pants in places. Still, the lure of the Affric SnL was enough to make relatively short work of this section.

Loch Affric pano


Eventually, somehow, I don’t know how, I located the path that would take me all the way to the summit :D Suddenly life was good again. It did make me wonder, as many routes do, how you can go from no path anywhere to what looks like a well defined, well trodden path - in the blink of an eye. A strange hill phenomenon, but I wasn’t complaining (well not once I was on the path that is). It made the ascent so much easier and likely more pleasurable :D
Toward Kintail

Some nice views on the ascent of the Affric SnL, as well as from the summit, especially back the way I had come and looking steeply down onto Loch Affric :D

And then there was the view ahead :D
The route ahead

It was a lovely stravaig across the ridge, up and over Mullach Cadha Rainich and onto the first “official” Munro of the day – Mam Sodhail 8) Even this late in the season there were the remains of some impressive looking cornices. I wasn’t particularly rushing the walk at this point. It was simply too good to rush, so I was taking my time as I ambled on to the summit plateau of MS.
Pano down SnL

The well-known cairn is somewhat “understated I think :lol:
Mam Sodhail

More great views from here, but I was suffering my first breeze of the day and the temperature dropped significantly at this point. So it was back on with one layer and after a short stop I was off toward what looked like a tiny second Munro - Beinn Fhionnlaidh
Carn Eige and Beinn Fionnlaidh


Big underestimation of the effort required to bag this remote little hill. Initially the descent off MS and the traverse across Carn Eige seemed very straightforward, even if I wasn’t on the path I think I should have been. It was the point I arrived at the other end of this traverse that I got a bit of a shock. It’s a fair amount of height had to be lost as I dropped down to the Bealach Beag. I remember thinking at the time as I dropped down to the bealach “I’ve got to climb back up this, and some more” – or words to that effect :lol: :lol:
Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail behind

The short climb up onto Beinn Fhionnlaidh turned into something of a slog for me. Despite stopping often for what I generally describe as a “photo opportunity” - to allow heart rate to return to normal and lungs to settle back into chest cavity – I didn’t take many photos at this point.

And then I was at the summit.

A good opportunity to take a short break, soak up some great views and ready myself for the delights of the climb back up on to Carn Eige :D :D
Loch Mullardoch

If truth be told the re-ascent was better than I could have expected, even if soles of feet and calf and thigh were starting to complain :( I can’t say I was fast. I wasn’t :lol: But eventually the summit cairn came in to view and then I was there. Atop my third Munro of the day and yet more great views :D 8)

Met a chap doing the full round of the 5 who I had met at the parking area. He was clearly much faster than me, as his car was gone by the time I got back down. After a quick chat at the summit he was off to BF. Then another chap arrived from SM and we had a quick chat before he returned from whence he’d come to coax his wife off the hill.

I had the delights of the snaking ridge off Carn Eige to look forward to :D (and an as yet unrealised sting in the tale :shock:)


Thoroughly enjoyed the walk over Stob Coire Dhomhnuill and onto Sron Garbh. Some good scrambling opportunities for those who are so minded :wink: I would have loved to, but I have a note from MrsR to say I’m aff it :lol: :lol: So it was bypass paths for me.



Pano back down to SnL and ridge to Mam Sodhail

Beinn Alligin

The Ben

And there was that sting in the tail :shock:

The descent off Sron Garbh.

In all my research I’d missed any reference to this little gem :roll:

If you pick up the correct line at the top you apparently hit the old stone staircase. I imagine it must be not too bad to drop down off in that case. I wasn’t so lucky (it wasn’t until I did my usual post-walk checks that I realised the staircase existed anyway :roll: :lol:), ending up on steep, loose scree. Actually I’d say it was steep, loose, unstable scree :shock:

At one point I had a short (and I mean short) traverse across a piddling bank of snow to what looked like better ground. But the angle was close enough to vertical to my eyes to make no difference, and one slip and this report wasn’t getting written :shock: Enjoy it I did not, even though it was no more than a dozen or so steps.

Once across old “jelly legs” here needed to gather himself before the final drop to the safety of the saddle and the easy bog trot back to the car. Sitting on a rock, composing myself, I was looking around, only to discover I was now sitting on the very stone staircase I was blissfully unaware existed :crazy: :lol: Nice.
Sron Garbh

Once safely on the saddle of the Garbh Bhealach it should have been plain sailing. The ground was boggy though and soon after being passed by a chap jogging off the hill with his dog (:wtf:!) I managed a stylish slip on the boggy ground :oops: Ended up flat on my back, with my walking pole and my right arm trapped under my back. With my rucksack and all, with free arm and legs flailing in my attempt to get back up I was clearly doing a bad impersonation of an upside down tortoise :lol:
The way home

Eventually righted and back on my way with a muddy, wet, bum and somewhat dented pride it was then a long, long, long trek back to the car. Legs really were feeling it now and this was more a mental test than a physical one. The car wasn’t coming to me, so it was head down and press on. But the boggy track sure did its best to wear me down. Once on to the track proper the final mile or so was much easier and my car was a sight for sore eyes……..legs………shoulders :lol:

By now I was probably just a sight…… :lol:

But aching bones aside, this was a great day that will live long in the memory. Three great hills in the midst of a veritable smorgasbord of hills 8) Worth every effort and I look forward to picking off the three nearby neighbours later in the year :D
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby rockhopper » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:38 pm

Superb right enough Pete :thumbup: Not often that you get days like this - makes it all the more worthwhile especially for these hills. You do like your long days..............but getting up at 1am takes the biscuit :crazy: :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby Silverhill » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:33 pm

Saying that I'm envious is an understatement!!!
What a great trip, well worth the early start and a stylish slip :D
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby kmai1961 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:49 pm

Nice, Pete, and some great photos. You are one crazy dude, though, with the hours you keep. :crazy:
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby Fife Flyer » Sat Apr 26, 2014 7:00 pm

Another great entertaining report Pete with some stunning photo's especially the first couple :clap: :clap:

Will get the map out & maybe pencil these ones in for the near future :wink:
I won't be getting up at 1am though, Mrs Flyer would think I had lost the plot :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby pigeon » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:54 am

Great stuff Pete,know what you mean about wee Findlay,it looks so close but it needs a fair effort to reach it,the walk out's an energy sapper too :lol: Hope they don't make Sgurr na Lapaich a munro any time soon,we snuck round the back of it on a roasting summers day last year :wink: Still ,would be a great excuse to go back.
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby Frigate » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:38 pm

Well done Pete, that looked really worth the effort of getting there.
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby scottishkennyg » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:53 pm

Well done Pete..some grand snaps there..
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:09 am

great report and photgraphs :clap: heading here for the 12 hoping its at least dry :D
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby BlackPanther » Thu May 01, 2014 8:39 am

As a big fan of Affric's Sgurr na Lapaich, I'm glad to see a fellow walker enjoying it, too :D The ridge linking SnL to MS was one of the best ridgewalks for me so far, the views ahead are simply stunning - even better in your pics with snow! I couldn't find the path up SnL either and just climbed straight up the slope, I don't think this path exists at all :lol:
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Re: Enjoying a superb Glen Affric Threesome

Postby PathfinderPaul » Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:48 pm

During Lockdown just written up this route from 2014!!!!!! Read your report & discovered we struggled to find the "stone staircase" & nearly killed ourselves coming down the ridge!!!!!! A relief we are not the only ones struggling with navigation!!!!!
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