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Mini-adventure in the Mamores.

Mini-adventure in the Mamores.

Postby IanEzzi » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:35 pm

Munros included on this walk: Binnein Beag, Sgurr Eilde Mor

Corbetts included on this walk: Leum Uilleim

Date walked: 23/08/2014

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 42 km

Ascent: 2400m

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(please note above 'stats' aren't completely accurate, time taken was for the Saturday only, but the distance was the total distance over the three days, I don't think I can do 42km in 7 hours over the mountains!).

After a two year hiatus working, biking and backpacking in British Columbia, I had returned to Edinburgh to settle back into my old routine, which happily has always involved planning over-ambitious routes in the highlands, typically incorporating train journeys and bothies.

Buoyed by the success of two weeks backpacking on Vancouver Island, I felt sure I would be fit and tough enough for a short night time hike into Meannanach Bothy from Corrour train station on the Friday, followed on Saturday by the four most north easterly Mamores, Sgur Eilde Mor, Binnean Beag, Binnean Mor and Na Gruagaichean, and 5km cross country to Loch Chiarain Bothy, finishing with a triumphant ascent of Luim Uilliem and return to Corrour on the Sunday.

Friday started well, the train journey from Edinburgh was as enjoyable as ever although I had a Burger King in Glasgow and couldn't wash the smell off myself for the rest of the journey, what do they put in that Mayo?! Was amused by the 'special' treatment the Corrour passengers got as we all had to pile out of one particular set of doors, and there were a fair number of us also.

Corrour by night.jpg
Corrour Station at night.

The walk down to Loch Treig was uneventful, although once on the shores I almost instigated a minor disaster by turning up the wrong glen (Gleann Iolairean) but a quick map check and a sense that the scenery (such as could be seen at 10:30pm...) was not as expected saved me from too much wasted time.

I hugely enjoyed the dark walk up the Abhainn Rath once I was on the correct path but did lose the path a couple of times when the going got marshy, the beam of my headtorch was not strong enough to pick up the path at the other side of some of the bigger marshy bits so I just had to keep going, confident I would find it again eventually, which I did.

Finally I reached Staoineag. I was slightly daunted by crossing the stepping stones in the dark, but I was even more daunted by trying to find Meannanach Bothy in the expanse of boggy marsh I knew it inhabited, so I chose the stepping stones, which proved to be no trouble.

Staoineag bothy in the morning.

A pleasant night in the bothy ensued and I awoke ready for the main event. I planned to climb the NE ridge of Sgur Eilde Mor directly from Luibeilt and stuck to this plan, which was relatively straightforward once I found the banks of Allt Coire nah-Achlais. The ridge itself was easy going and the final pyramid of the summit presented a pleasing target. First Munro in two and half years and I was feeling fit but worryingly my knee was getting sore, I thought all my backpacking would have left me with bulletproof knees, but I obviously hadn't backpacked up any sustained tussocky climbs!

Sgur Eilde vertigo.jpg
Sgur Eilde Mor descent

The descent off Sgur Eilde Mor was slightly ginger, although made all the more interesting by the mini-scramble down the front of the spur pictured above, unexpected bonus!

At this point I was already debating continuing, as I was commited to the 5/6km hike to Chiarain and the hike over Luim Uilleim the next day, I didn't want to aggravate my knee further, also mindful of the Bealach na Ba cycle event I was doing the following week. However, so as not to consider the day a complete write-off, I figured I'd push on to Binnean Beag, that way I could at least do the two most awkward Mamores in one route, plus the weather was still glorious (sunshine and showers making for a dramatic sky at times) so it seemed a shame not to.

I followed the usual route, admiring the ridges up Binnean Mor the whole time.

Gear and Garbh Aonachs.jpg
View from Binnean Beag

Coming back down, I enjoyed some spectacular views of the Glen Coe hills, also enlivened by the shifting weather.

Loch Eilde Mor.jpg
View across Loch Eilde Mor

I have always found the land above Kinlochleven fascinating, as a mountainbiker I have always been curious about the network of stalker's paths, and as an engineer and reader of 'Children of the Dead End' I find the waterworks above the town fascinating also. I got to satisfy both these whims by following the path from Loch Eilde Mor to Loch Chiarain Bothy.

The path was mostly great with some minor boggy bits, and the weather held out with one passing shower. I did however meet an older gent with blood all over his shirt and dried blood on his face. I wondered if I should offer him any assistance but he was hiking strongly and gave me a cheery hello, and since I have at least twice in the past presented similar tableaux to other hikers after minor mishaps I didn't think much more of it. However, further up the path I met a younger guy from Northern Ireland who was retracing his steps after meeting the same bloodied gentleman, concerned that he was concussed and worried that he might not make it back down to Kinlochleven. I felt a bit ashamed that the same thought had not occurred to me, and that I hadn't thought to quiz the older guy a bit more. I guess it's sometimes too easy to convince yourself not to 'get involved' in other people's problems, but in this case I probably should have. Something to remember for future.

The Buachailles from Allt Tom Ailein

Allt Tom Ailein

Finally I reached Loch Chiarain and Loch Chiarain Bothy. As it's late and this post is getting a little long for such a relatively short walk, I'm just going to post pictures from now on, although one final comment: if you had planned to arrive late at a bothy, have your tea and go straight to sleep, then do not, on any account turn up 4 hours earlier than planned with no book, no whisky, no company and no desire to set foot back outside in the midgies. Very boring!

Mega and mini fauna.jpg
Loch Chiarain wildlife

Loch Chiarain reflections.jpg
Loch Chiarain reflections on Sunday morning

Chiarain Stepping Stones.jpg
Loch Chiarain stepping stones, not quite as intimidating as the midnight Staoineag stepping stones...

Loch Ossian.jpg
View from Luim Uilliem
Corrour by day.jpg
Corrour in the daytime, waiting for the train.

Last edited by IanEzzi on Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting re-acquainted with the Mamores.

Postby kev_russ » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:57 pm

Looks a great walk and some braw pics :)
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Munros:155   Corbetts:54
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Re: Getting re-acquainted with the Mamores.

Postby Silverhill » Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:14 pm

Me likes! Great way to return to the highlands! :D
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