Travel and Coronavirus
Please check current coronavirus restrictions before travelling within or to Scotland.
Click for details
Meowing on Mialach
by BlackPanther » Mon May 12, 2014 1:42 pm
Route description: Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach
Munros included on this walk: Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach
Date walked: 25/04/2014
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 1258m4 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Weather was not as good as the day before, patchy cloud and a bit windy, too, but decent enough to tackle a shorter climb. Kevin suggested Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach, the last two Munros in Loch Quoich area, we haven't done yet.
These have been "on the list" since time immemorial, but somehow, we managed to climb everything around them (Sguur a'Mhaoraich, Gairich, Sgurr nan Eugallt, South Glen Shiel) before the Twin Day eventually arrived I always called G&SM "Loch Quoich Twins" since they are inseparable and always climbed together.
The recent hydro works on the slopes of G&SM have made parking a bit iffy, especially on a working day when the heavy equipment is on the move. The small parking area next to the start point of Gleouraich path is used by diggers/tractors/whatever as a turning place, so we didn't fancy leaving a car there (could end up with some unwelcome dents and scratches). We drove about 2 km further to the bridge over Glen Quoich and parked there (some folks camped by the bridge that Friday, but usually, there is enough space for a few cars:
Weather looked unsettled - lots of fast moving cloud, but some blue sky, too, it was hard to predict how the day would shape up. We just kept our fingers crossed for any views at all
Our route for the twins was therefore 4 km longer than the classic version, but the additional distance was walked on tarmac road, so not much difference in difficulty:
At the moment, the cloud base was very low:
I must mention that there is another building site nearby - most likely a new road/track? is being constructed along the eastern shore of Glen Quoich outlet. On Friday morning, the work was going on on site and we heard the roar of the diggers all the way up on the ridge So much for peace and tranquillity in this secluded area of Scotland...
The noise didn't seem to disturb the Monarch of the Glen, who greeted us with a very firm pose...
Can you spot him far above us, guarding the mountain?
We found the beginning of the stalker's path to Gleouraich without any problems, walked through the jungle of rhododendrons and headed uphill. We picked this path for the ascent as it was said to be well-made and dry, whereas the approach to Spidean Mialach has a reputation of being a bit boggy... The Gleouraich path confirmed what we hoped for - it is an excellent piece of work and makes climbing so much easier!
Looking down across Loch Quoich, cloud still low...
The one thing I DIDN'T like about this approach was the sight of the recently bulldozed track:
I understand, that all land belongs to somebody and the owner has the right to build whatever they wish on their property, but every time I see virgin landscape scarred like that, it makes me feel so sad Can't hep it. A path is one thing, but a brutal yellow-brick-road just doesn't fit. Such damage should be a criminal offence. And was the tiny hydro station up there really worth it??? Sorry to be so direct, just expressing my personal emotions.
Luckily, once we reached the zigzags higher up, we lost the sight of the nasty track and just as well. Even on a cloudy day, there is always something to enjoy, something to make you stop and look and admire. Like the cloud over Loch Quoich - seemed to be alive...
Moving cloud over the ridge of Sgurr nan Eugallt:
Up into the cloud:
As we patiently gained height, our hearts started to beat faster, not just due to exercise, but also for hope... The cloud seemed to lift and blue sky appeared again - in places As we reached the less steep ground along the ridge of Druim Seilleach, we witnessed an absolutely stunning spectacle. Hard to describe in words, perhaps photos will speak better:
South to Gairich - the summit still invisible:
East towards the dam:
A bit further up the path, we looked down and saw the bridge and a tiny red spot which was our car (too small to spot in this photo):
Sgurr a'Mhaoraich across Glen Quoich:
The path traverses just below the ridge and it is said to be exposed, very close to the steep edge, but I didn't really notice the exposure - is it just me gaining confidence?
There was very little snow higher up, we only had to leave the path once and walk around a patch of snow. By now, I guess, it will have all melted for sure.
We expected the cloud would lift altogether, but sadly it wasn't to be. Just before the end of the stalkers path we stopped for a short hydration break. I stood there, watching the cloud moving over the summit of Gleouraich:
Hocus-pocus! Cloud - go! Naaah... Not even Harry Potter could help here... But climbing in the clag has a positive side, too, especially for vertigo sufferers. One can't see the vertical drops below!
Another advantage that can be gained in cloudy conditions - you never know, what the fluffy stuff will do. It can behave in a weird way, forming strange shapes. I remember once on Beinn Fhada we watched the cloud slowly lift from the inner corrie - it reminded me of a "cooking pot". Today, the cloud formed a "wall" on the edge of Fraoch Choire, the NW corrie of G&SM ridge - looks interesting enough to me!
Just below the summit, we entered the clag zone and all views disappeared for good:
We traversed the first top (slightly lower than the main summit) and continued along the easy ridge to the cairn. OK, another Munro ticked off, but where are the views?
Luckily, the cloud was thinning and SOMETHING started to emerge...
I was surprised at the amount of snow still left in the northern corries. Here, view back to the summit of Gleouraich with the huge cornice stuck to the steep slope:
Thankfully, the cornices were not a part of the traverse, even in cloudy conditions the path is obvious and the traverse is easy enough. I enjoyed it regardless of the cloud:
Is it going to clear? Or is it not?... Loch Quoich below:
The melting snow in the northern corries formed many strange shapes. We stopped quite a few times to photograph these weird figures, some good examples below:
The Hand of Nature pointing down:
The descent to Fiar Bhealach is steep and the path is a bit tumbly in places, but as we lost height, we gained the views Weather was eventually clearing, it just took a bit longer than we expected:
Spidean Mialach from the slopes of Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich:
Descending on the zigzaggy path, Gairich across the loch:
At last we could see something! We slowed down again and took plenty of photos.
Beinn Loinne and more distant, Meall Dubh:
South Glen Shiel Ridge:
An interesting triple-topped ridge on the horizon. Not sure which mountain it is - Beinn Bhan?...
Sgurr na Ciche still with cloudy head
Views were superb, even with patchy cloud. I was happy to pose with the rugged landscape in the background... Wild mountains, wild cat:
Looking back from the col to Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich. It's actually a Munro top:
Sgurr nan Eugallt and Ladhar Bheinn peeking out from behind:
We started the final push with big smiles on our faces and though the climb to Spidean Mialach is steep, there are no technical obstacles (zigzaggy path most of the way, a few small rocky bits to hop over, no scramble). At some point we glanced back to the ridge back to Gleouriach - wow, it cleared!
The climb is steep up to the fist top, from then it's an easy walk along the ridge, with superb views down to the northern corries, still plenty of snow down here:
But as we turned around... There it was, mootin' porn again, wow, that's a killer view! I felt like meowing and made some strange, squeaky noises! Luckily, all other walkers we met were traversing the Twins anticlockwise, we had met people earlier, somewhere just below the summit of Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich. So... there was nobody around Spidean Mialach now and I could meow as much as I wanted
Sgurr na Ciche. Not sure how to pronounce it in Gaelic, but in Polish the word "ciche" means "silent" - so a Silent Mountain it is for me. It won't be silent if (when) I climb it, that's for sure!
Back to Spidean Mialach... I didn't dare stepping on the snow, but I wouldn't be myself if I didn't test it - just out of curiosity...
Looking west along the ridge, S Glen Shiel to the right:
The porn picture once again:
A small patch of cloud was still lingering over the summit, but I was desperate to finish the business...
...and pushed up only to discover, that there was another top further along the ridge - definitely this must be the main summit! How many more false tops to go?
View north-east towards Beinn Loinne and Loch Loinne, weather still gloomy over there:
Glen Shiel hills:
This IS the summit:
Coire an Spidein from just below the summit:
The cloud descending once again...
A couple of almost-on-the-top panoramas, taken maybe 50m away from the summit cairn:
As you now see, the cairn itself was misty and pretty windy as well, so we didn't linger here for long - just a traditional summit snap:
We found a sheltered spot on the rocks below the summit to rest a bit and have a cuppa/sandwich break. Then it was time to head back down. To begin with, the path crossing the steep slopes is more than obvious...
...and descending when facing such views just adds to the day
One more zoom to the Silent Mountain:
Lower down the path became quite boggy. Many small burns run down the slopes and the ground around every one of them is squelchy. Definitely not as good an approach as the stalker's path on Gleouraich, but manageable.
Soon we found ourselves in Coire Mheil:
The path crosses Allt a'Mheil at some point and then it continues in SW direction towards the road, but we noticed that a new path has recently been worn out by many feet, this one heading towards the new bulldozed track - you can see the "upper reaches" of this track in the middle of this photo:
We headed towards the track mainly because it looked an easier option than the very squelchy path. We crossed Allt a'Mheil without any problems and then followed the A9... sorry, the hydro track down to the road. No pictures from this stage, because we didn't really like the track. Just as the other one, it is a brutal scar in the landscape and I have better things to photograph. So no mountain-masochism here
Back on the road, we finished the day by returning to the car (remember we parked by the bridge!) and fully enjoyed the walk along the quiet Loch Quoich (the work around the hydro scheme has finished by now). We were happy to add two new Munros to our list and to confirm, that even hillwalking in cloud has its bright side The ascent for these two (over 1200m) looks painful but it didn't really feel that much. And because there is no big walk-in to the Twins, they can be walked at a slower pace, savoured and appreciated. Of course, getting the views is always a bonus. Meow!
Saturday was cloudy and miserable, so we took a day off hillwalking to do some DIY at home. The next trip came on Sunday. No big peaks this time but if you like sea and wildlife, don't miss my next TR...
by AnnieMacD » Mon May 12, 2014 3:15 pm
PS See my comment on Malky's Dun Cann post after yours!
by BlackPanther » Mon May 12, 2014 5:06 pm
AnnieMacD wrote:These look like two great hills, BP. I can add them to my list now Have you caught up with all your hilladays reports now? Don't want to miss any.
PS See my comment on Malky's Dun Cann post after yours!
Thanks Annie - and no, I'm far from catching up. I've got...wait a minute... 4 more reports to write, 3 of them about hills. And if next weekend is good, there may be more...
We're planning to go to camping to Skye in June, so maybe we'll tackle GBM/Belig traverse, though it looks steep... But I suspect you''ll get there first
by scoob999 » Mon May 12, 2014 5:46 pm
Love the photos, really moody
by The Rodmiester » Mon May 12, 2014 6:21 pm
by Fife Flyer » Mon May 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Agree totally with your views about the 'blots' on the landscape. I understand the requirement for green energy but surely someone can come up with better solutions, wind farms aren't the answer either, unless they are out at sea
by goth_angel » Mon May 12, 2014 9:55 pm
I agree that the tracks are an eyesore though suspect I will still use them when we go back to do Spidean Mialach.
by BlackPanther » Wed May 14, 2014 11:39 am
A few more words about the "motorways"... Last year we climbed Gairich and I took some pics of the hydro works on G&SM. It just looks nasty
I have exactly the same feeling about Beauly-Deny powerline. It's not the pylons that hurt my eyes, it's the access roads, brutally bulldozed in wild landscape.