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Seana, oh Seana!
by BlackPanther » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:56 pm
Route description: Seana Bhraigh
Munros included on this walk: Seana Bhraigh
Date walked: 07/06/2014
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 28.2 km
Ascent: 1244m4 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).
I have successfully recovered from my earlier health problems, but it never rains... June has arrived with all its flowers and among these there is something that gives Kevin hay fever. Nothing too painful, just annoying. Plus the fact that he can't take allergy pills... because they contain bl***dy lactose!!! Well, if you have to choose between sneezing and... to say it politely, visiting every bush on the way up, what would you choose?
So my poor chum was a bit slower than he wanted to be, he kept falling behind hence I was still surprised we managed the whole route in 9 hours and this with a few decent, long breaks and some lurking. Seana Bhraigh is not a hill to simply run up & down, it's another one to savour every minute... even if it is full of sneezing
We had discussed the Strathmulzie approach before, but in the end we tackled Seana via the most popular route from Inverlael car park:
The day started with plenty of sunshine and it looked like we were in for another "scorchio"... From the car park, the cliffs of Ben More Coigach still held on to some cloud:
The main track towards the forest is obvious and sadly, large chunks of the forest itself have recently been felled (and replanted - that's the good news ):
The maze of tracks in the woods can be misleading and the WH walk description was a great help . We had no problems reaching the bridge just before Glensguaib:
Trees gone from this bit and we turned left onto the steep track up Druim na Saobhaidhe. The sun was boiling us alive...
The main track (seen here from above) is the route for Beinn Dearg and friends - Kevin keeps saying "If I had done it, you can do it, too" - I can't wait for the day I'll be meowing on the Red Peak!
The track is rough and wouldn't be suitable for cycling (unless you are a madman) but it offers a quick ascent to about 450m. Of course, Kevin was sneezing and I was gasping for breath... I should have dressed in a white t-shirt...
We reached a gate in deer fence, stopped to look behind, and enjoyed a fine panorama down into the glen...
...plus something familiar on the horizon:
Steep slopes of Gleann na Sguaib, the Fannichs and the Fisherfields beyond:
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Will I ever get around to begging the Fisherfields?...
...at the moment, I'm on my way to bag one just as remote... Once on the flatt-ish plateau, the track crossed a small area of peat hags and then reduced to a path:
The path is much drier and we picked up speed. Seeing the river made me smile - at least we could drink as much as we wanted and here was a refill spot!
Obviously, drinking from the boggy puddles was not a good idea, as they were alive with tadpoles and young newts! The first newts I saw in Scotland:
Crossing Allt Gleann a' Mhadaidh is said to be difficult in spate, but as we reached the banks of the river, we were glad to find it low:
We crossed the river, refilled our water bottles, snapped a few more photos and continued on the path, ascending gently towards Eididh nan Clach Geala. The latter could be added to the round, but we worked out we didn't have enough time if we wanted to be down before the forecast storm.
An Teallach was still a prominent feature:
The path climbed over the northern slopes of Eididh and at some point we caught a glimpse of our target hill - the top to the very left in this photo... looks so close but there is no straight walk to it - soon you'll see why...
View north-west to an an outlying peak, Meall nam Bradhan, and on the horizon to the left - Conival-Ben More Assynt ridge:
One last view back to The Forge, Sail Mhor to the right, Beinn Dearg Mhor to the left:
We reached Lochan Sgeireach and the beginning of the long pass through a glen with no name. The path seemed to peter out here and it took us a few minutes to locate it again on the other side of a small stream flowing out of the lochan.
As we entered the "passage" we were suddenly hit by a strong wind - it was blowing like crazy, obviously the glen served as an air-tunnel It wasn't very cold though and I was glad - I left my windproof jacked in the car! Luckily, just a thin long-sleeved top was enough to keep me warm, but my hairstyle fell into pieces
The path was still good at his point, but walking against the wind didn't exactly make us any faster I hoped once we were out in the open again, conditions would improve... At the moment, the only interesting view was back to the line of little lochans at the bottom of the passage:
Steep, steep face of Coire an Lochain Sgeirich:
High cloud was moving in and I was beginning to worry that we might get a shower much earlier than the forecast suggested. Kevin said he was hungry so we stopped for a longer time to have something substantial to eat - we were maybe 2/3 way into the walk and still the remotest stage to tackle, so we needed power!
View from our picnic spot:
As we left the passage, the path became less obvious, for some distance we managed to follow a line of small cairns:
...but then the most confusing part of the walk began. As soon as the cairns/path ended, we headed NE to find the top of the gully below Meall a' Choire Ghlais (the 806m top on 1-50k map) but we came out a bit too far east and above vertical cliffs. Can you see me (the little pink and blue spot) gazing down the cliffs?
We walked past the gully and it was now to our left, with the 806m top beyond. We investigated it closer and - to be honest - didn't like it at all. The descent into the gully looked very steep and "bogfeasty", so we said thank you very much
I had another good look at the map to find another way to get across this confusing plateau, and Kevin took the opportunity to do some more snaps. From where we were standing, we had a superb panorama towards Assynt hills:
Stac Pollaidh and Cul Beag:
We decided to walk south along the cliffs until we found a suitable place to descend, the map suggested this vertical drop ends at some point... I only hoped it would be less steep and less boggy than the gully below Meall a' Choire Ghlais...
Looking south into Gleann Beag:
Eventually, we found the very place where it is possible to descend to the Gate of Ca'-derg. And - surprise! - there was even a faint path down the slope here, suggesting that many other walkers use this route...
The next step - crossing the stream flowing into Loch a'Cadha Dheirg, but it was easy enough, not much water in it:
The summit of Seana Bhraigh was now looming above us, but what stunned me was not the top of the mountain itself, but the enormously HUGE cliffs of Cadha Dearg. I stood there, gazing across the grassy slope to the big drops, and suddenly I felt an irrational wave of fear. Not vertigo, not confusion, but fear. Why should I be scared, there was no reason! It was a good day, we have successfully manoeuvred across the most confusing part of the route, I even noticed people far behind us, following our footsteps (another group aiming for Seana). OK, Kevin was sneezing and it was windy, but that shouldn't be enough to scare the s*** out of me...
It's just the sheer drop, the very shape and size of Cadha Dearg, it took my breath away for a few seconds, and as the wave of fear rolled through me, I couldn't move But then the sudden rush passed as fast as it came and I was myself again... Smiling and posing with the SCARY stuff behind me
I waited for Kevin to join me and together we walked closer to the big cliffs. The wind was actually pushing us into the oblivion so we stayed safely a few metres away from the drop. Some photos will hopefully illustrate the nature of this landscape and maybe, just maybe, my fear can be explained...
Gazing into the glen, 300m of vertical drop, feels like looking down from a plane:
On the way up:
To the summit of Seana:
Looking back at the confusing area. Our way to avoid the cliffs on the descent to the Gate of Ca'-Dearg (the vertical rocks seen in the middle of the photo) is to the left, whereas the WH route suggest descending the gully to the very right. Whichever option one takes, careful navigation is the key here. I'm so glad we didn't have to tackle this on a cloudy day - would be a nightmare!
We continued up, now a straightforward albeit a bit boggy climb, views still superb and the best was YET TO COME!
One more minute spent gazing down into the oblivion...
We picked a faint path again as we passed just below the lower top (905m), didn't bother to bag this one, because we could now see our main target just a few minutes away!
An Teallach popped out again, plus interesting views back to Beinn Dearg group, but sadly the blue sky was now gone, replaced with high and rather scary-looking cloud:
Having gotten to the edge of the cliffs on the other side all I could say was a loud Meow! As if Cadha Dearg was not enough, now we were served more... more... more vertical drops!
The big cliffs again! This time it's Luchd Choire, 350m of vertical wall...
Kevin wandered along the edge of the cliffs, taking pictures at all possible angles. I had a hard job choosing the best ones for the report Here's one of me (again, a tiny figure), just to show the size of this hole in the ground!
Creag an Duine. Shame we didn't have enough time to investigate it closer, but with the bad weather coming we had to hurry...
The final climb to the summit is easy and soon we were resting by the stony shelter - it was still windy and my hair suffered even more damage as this picture shows
Beinn Dearg, Fisherfields and even distant showers:
Moody An Teallach:
Assynt from ben More Coigach to Canisp:
Weird cloud over Torridon:
Creag nan Gobhar, the northern shoulder of Seana Bhraigh:
View down into the big drop again:
Ahm.... One more:
My Munro no. 136! 5 left to the half way point! Bring on good summer and I'll be meowing even more!
As we finished our cup of tea, other walkers started arriving. Kevin clutched onto his precious sandwich box
The summit of Seana Bhraigh is a superb viewpoint and one could sit here forever, but as we wanted to get back to the car park at a reasonable hour, we had to head back over all the lumps and bumps again We returned to the col between the summit and the lower top, where I spent more time lurking along the vertical drops:
Just to illustrate the size of this cliff:
Face to face with the giant:
Can you spot people on the summit?
The return route was easier, as we simply retraced our steps down to the Gate and then around the problematic cliff, back to the stalkers path. Once on the path, it was all plain sailing. The sun came out again and the wind dropped, so we enjoyed a nice walk back with great views, especially to An Teallach. Despite Kevin's hay fever and all the navigational obstacles, we still managed a reasonable time of 9 hours and finished the walk well before the rain actually arrived.
So one more Munro in the bag and I have at last caught up with my backlog of TR's Don't know what the next weekend will bring, is it going to be another mountain, I hope so! As for Seana Bhraigh, a long walk it may be, but a rewarding one. Having visited this remote spot nad gazed down the vertical cliffs, I can now say - veni, vidi, vici, meow!
by MunroMadMen » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:09 pm
by Shug » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:31 pm
I've heard eating local honey helps prevent some of the symptoms (dunno if its true or a nice bit of marketing from the honey industry ) but you'd need to buy a lot of different honey in advance of hill walking!
by weaselmaster » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:47 pm
That vista of the Assynt hills you see from Seana is just awesome, isn't it?
by dogplodder » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:49 pm
Thanks for this most helpful report as Seana is on my short list for the long daylight.
by Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:13 pm
Sounds like quite a long trek but those cliffs do look quite impressive
by Steve B » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:17 pm
by rockhopper » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:05 pm
by AnnieMacD » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:05 pm
by Huff_n_Puff » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:29 pm
by Sgurr » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:42 pm
by BlackPanther » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:41 pm
Sgurr wrote:(Some confusion over the dates...suppose it isn't possible to edit them now, in the text it says 7th, but the heading gives 11th.)
Ahh apologies for that, wrong date popped up in the heading. We did it, as said in the text, on Saturday the 7th. I think I can still edit that and put the correct day in. My computer knowledge is somewhat restricted
Huff_n_Puff wrote:does the honey trick work?
Haven't tried it yet, I have to buy some local honey - Kevin is all for it, he likes sweet tea At the moment, Beconase spray seems to work - at least it soothes the symptoms.
weaselmaster wrote:That vista of the Assynt hills you see from Seana is just awesome, isn't it?
Yes, definitely, and I kept SB for a good day, I wanted to see these views in full colours. When we did Am Faochagach earlier this year, the day was a bit hazy and we could hardly make out the shapes of Assynt hills. The vista from SB is much better, anyway - plus the cliffs as a bonus
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:47 pm
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