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The Final Five - The Beginning of the End

The Final Five - The Beginning of the End

Postby jax159 » Mon May 26, 2014 10:21 pm

Route description: Am Faochagach

Munros included on this walk: Am Faochagach

Date walked: 16/04/2014

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 24 km

Ascent: 850m

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After 24 years I had hoped to complete my munros towards the end of 2013. With only 14 summits left I was quietly confident. That year started well with trips to Loch Arkaig, Coulags and Fisherfield. A week in Strathfarrar in June helped things along nicely with outings to Maoile Lunndaidh from Loch Morar, Beinn Fhionndlaidh, Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail from Loch Mullardoch and A’Chailleach (which I’d been blown off many years previously).

At the start of the year what I hadn’t accounted for was buying a new house. When I say new I mean new to us but actually old. Old meaning it needed lots of work. Between picking up the keys at the end of June, not counting a week in the Dolomites, I climbed one solitary Corbett in Galloway.

When 2014 arrived I found myself with 5 munros left. Surely this year it would happen? The annual Easter trip was in the diary so the only question was where to start. With a trip to Loch Arkaig pencilled in for the end of May and Ben Nevis being saved until last that left Am Faochagach and An Socach at the Iron Lodge. My previous trip into the Iron Lodge wasn’t without its difficulties so being early in the season I opted for Am Faochagach.

Having read many accounts of the route from Loch Droma I didn’t fancy the wet approach which is probably why this hill has been left until the tail end. My partner has a dislike of walking anything longer than 15 km which discounted the route from the Loch Glascarnoch dam. This left the approach up Strathvaich.
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With the B&B booked, it was all down to the weather and the forecast was rubbish. 60 mph gusts, rain, low cloud and fog. I’ve never been a fan of walking inside clouds so I looked at this as more of an investigation than any real prospect of reaching the summit. The night before the forecast changed to an East/ West split and fortunately we were on the good side.

So much for an early start to beat the low front that was coming in from the west. It was 10:30 before we were on our bikes. The cycle up Strathvaich was straightforward, metalled all the way to the dam. The first wheatears and stonechats of the year were spotted during the ride in and the larks were singing. There were a few short uphill sections, but not enough to force me to walk. Within 30 minutes we had the bikes tied up and were ready to walk.

We set off along the track running along the west side of the loch. This isn’t shown on the 1:50,000 maps but is on the 1:25,000.
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Loch Vaich
The track was very wet and not very good at all but it was definitely better than finding our own route along the shore. After a short while we crossed the Alt Glas Tol Mor with its pretty waterfalls and turned west as the track started ascending through a section of Caledonian pine forest up one of the eastern ridges. Away from the loch the track was a lot better. We followed it to its end at around 550 m. The plan had been to make for the ridge and follow it to Meall Gorm. Due to the wind I decided it would be better to keep below the ridge line which meant we had a few peat hags to contend with.

The walk to the Meall Gorm wasn’t the most exciting I’ve ever done, some would (and did) say dull, dull, dull. This part of the great Scottish wilderness was pretty empty with only a few distant deer and some golden plovers and ptarmigan for company. The most interesting thing was coming within touching distance of a mountain hare just sitting there.
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Bunny Hare
It must have seen us but just sat there doing its "you can’t see me" thing.

Once on Meall Gorm it was a very straightforward walk over to the summit. On this section we were exposed to the full effects of the wind which was beginning to worry me. The forecast was for it to strengthen and I was already having trouble walking in a straight line. This route gave us great views into the eastern corries which were holding a lot of snow even though the rest of the hill was clear.
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Summit Ridge
There were some interesting ridges running along the top of the corrie. I’d never thought of Am Faochagach as the type of hill to have snow filled corries, more of a boring lump.

Much to my surprise the summit was still clear.
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As well as Beinn Dearg and the Fannichs we had good views over Seana Braigh to Assynt, and over to An Teallach. No sign yet of the low cloud, rain and mist. Conscious of the forecast we gave ourselves 10 minutes on the summit to grab some food and take pictures. All the effort that went into planning the trip and the time spent getting to the summit for 10 minutes? Doesn’t seem fair. The wind was so strong that we lay on our backs beside the small cairn. Not much shelter. We retraced our steps back the way we came. Walking head on into the wind was actually a great help. Far better than having it gusting behind us as it was on the way up. I had considered following the more southern ridge over Sron Liath and dropping back down to the bikes at the dam but we decided it would be best to get as low as possible as soon as we could. Once back at Meall Gorm it was a pleasant walk back down the ridge and through the forest.
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Alt Glas Tol Mor
The trail along the loch was a bit of a slog but it improved the closer we got to the dam.

This was one of the few hills we’ve had to ourselves. No sign of anyone else even in the distance. It was very welcome as our next outing is to Scafell Pike. I expect we’ll run into a one or two people there.

I would recommend the route through Strathvaich. I’ve read many reports describing this hill as a boring lump or a tick on a list. Coming in from the east opens up a more interesting aspect of the hill even with the dull section in the middle. It might not be so tedious later in the year when there’s a bit more colour about. Taking bikes was a great help. It wasn’t a complete freewheel on the way out but it was so much better than walking. There were lovely views at the dam along Loch Vaich and over to Beinn a’ Chaisteil. Had the weather been better they would have been quite spectacular. It’s always nice to walk in the old pine forests.

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Munro compleatist
Posts: 4
Munros:282   Corbetts:35
Fionas:13   Donalds:25
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:87
Wainwrights:177   Islands:43
Joined: Mar 1, 2010

Re: The Final Five - The Beginning of the End

Postby pigeon » Tue May 27, 2014 7:14 pm

Good report jax,quite enjoyed this hill although we took the standard route ,had some fun trying to cross the burn near the start :lol: Good luck on your last few Munro's :wink:
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Munro compleatist
Posts: 1496
Munros:282   Corbetts:140
Fionas:41   Donalds:40+7
Sub 2000:23   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:1   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 29, 2010
Location: Linlithgow
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