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The Grey Corries just 1
by ngm1scot » Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:37 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Choinnich Mor
Date walked: 20/06/2015
Time taken: 10.25 hours
Distance: 17.7 km
Ascent: 1268mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
So this is the first part of the walk as planned - from the car park to what could be a dry stane dyke or fence line just below Sgurr Choinnich Beag, which is the first night "camp site"
Next day (Saturday) is the main part of the trip - 4 munros and a very long walk back to the car
Needless to say things didn't go entirely as planned, although I have to thank [socialhiking]mountainlove[/socialhiking] for her inspired route nonetheless as she gave me the idea for doing the Grey Corries from this end.
Friday was a work day and as the "boss" you would think it easy to get away early. Wrong entirely. By the time I had got out of the office, got dog food and diesel, finally packed by backpack and made my sandwich for Saturday and dropped off my grandson, it was 5pm. Getting to Loch Lomond was easy enough but once past Tarbet the problems started - holiday travellers going at 30, admiring the views. I agree they are beautiful but I have to get to Fort William by 7pm.
After Inverarnan I managed to overtake the problem vehicles ahead of me and things went a bit better but I realised by then that a 7pm set off from the car park in Glen Nevis was now impossible! I didn't get to my start point till about 7.30 and was away by 5 to 8, already tired but ready for my walk. The first part through the gorge felt really difficult and technical - it isn't but it felt that way after a long hard week at work! The low cloud (and consequentially the wet rocks and steps did nothing to help me on my way quickly. The humidity was intense, almost like walking in a rainforest [I've never walked in a rainforest but that was how I imagined it would feel].
Soon though the breadth of the Glen presented itself and it was incredible to see the Steall falls. I thought I couldn't be impressed any more but it did impress me.
On the path it was a pleasant walk underfoot but the humidity was intense with little in the way of views to compensate. I had already determined my campsite location (by the fenceline/ dry stane dyke) and was heading towards it. There were a few other wildcampers in the Glen: one had already got a good space inside the Steall ruins and a few more had camped by the river and were having a jolly time.
However it was now almost 9.30 and I ought to have been at my destination by now based on our good friend Mr Naismith - even allowing for my slightly slower walking speed. Using the shape of the river as a guide, I reckoned I was still some distance [on the map] away from my fenceline and decided to call it a day and headed down across the grassy slopes to the river where the ground looked flatter. I found a nice non-boggy spot and quickly dragged ny tent from the backpack. And within minutes I was black with midges. It was the quickest tent putting up exercise ever and I threw everything inside the tent and battened down the hatches as it were. So now I had Dinner to consider: not for me sitting outside watching my dinner heat, beside the cooling stream; instead I assembled the ingredients inside the tent (I'd brought a bag of African Stew and rice with me to reheat), grabbed my stove and headed down to the edge of the river literally next to the water where I regularly doused my head and arms in the refreshingly cold water to clear away the midges. The food cooked quickly and once ready, switched off the gas and ran with everything back to the tent.
As I lay sprawled on my bed roll Roman Senator style, I noticed that a few midges had escaped into the tent with me but they seemed harmless simply crawling up and down the white tent liner. By 10.30 I was ready for bed and got into my sleeping bag and settled down for a good nights sleep.
In the morning (5am) I was up and hoping to avoid the midges but it was not to be - they were already circling and waiting for blood. Porridge made and eaten I then had to work out how to (a) get to the "toilet" (b) get me washed and my dishes (c) get the tent etc packed up. Who said wild camping was easy? Eventually I decided to head to the river still in my PJ's but with my boots on (what a sight that must have been) and once ablutions were completed, get packed as best I could then cover every piece of flesh in clothing that I could and achieve a world record in tent dismantling. A quick pic before the dismantling started:
There are two paths from Steall to the base of Sgurr Choinnich. As I was packing up I realised I had been camping on the lower of the two paths and so decided to carry on along that path as it joined up later on anyway. After an hour(!) I arrived at the famous "fenceline" to discover this:
So glad I camped when I did. Soon after (about 0820) I headed up on to the hill when I spotted the start of the "ravine" The ravine was an interesting spot and was to become much more interesting on the way back down! I became a point of interest for some of the locals on the way up Still a thick layer of snow inside the larger ravine. Not long after that the cloud began to lift and I got my first clear view of the summit : it was turning into a nice day as I got views of the bealach/hanging corrie between Binneins and An Gearanach I think. and up the glen towards Corrour .Still happy! and reached the bealach about 11 but by now I was an hour and a quarter behind schedule. But for the moment that paled into the background as I was met with Choinnich Beag and a good if cloudy view of the back of the Aonachs. It was worth stopping for!
Doesnt sound much but when I worked through my timings back from the fenceline to the car park, I realised that even if everything else today went according to plan, I wouldn't be back at the Car park much before 10.30 and with no mobile signal to let the family know of a change in plans, with regret, I decided to just do one of the grey corries!
So I dumped my pack and sped on up to Sgurr Choinnich Mor took a few pics and headed back down for lunch and then back down the hillside.
One crazy thing happened on the way back: I got to a couple of deep ravines and really wasn't paying attention to my map (I knew where I was going and I could see all the way to the bottom as the forecast cloud had all but evaporated. Anyhow I ended up in the middle one with nowhere to go except back uphill or take a shortcut down and up the other side. It looked potentially dangerous and the snow that lay at the bottom of it looked pretty solid but I didn't fancy dropping through it to the stream that ran about 10 feet below the snow. So I made my way down (overestimating the width of the path and then waded upstream to get to some grassy bits that gave me more of a chance to get up the almost vertical west side. More by luck perhaps than skill saw me at the top of the other side in about 10 minutes which is about how long it would have taken to safely walk round the top! Never mind, it was fun - if dangerous.....
On the way back I was determined to find where the top path split from the bottom but it proved impossible and so I headed back along beside the river and eventually rejoined the upper path here. You can see how difficult it is to recognise a path junction!
The Glen was cooled by a light breeze although the sun shone and there were periodic light showers but as soon as I entered the "forest" on route back to the car park, the tropical humidity returned and I sweated buckets again. Really weird.
Got back to the car just about 5pm
- Start of the forest back to the car park
- Heading back through the glen
- A happy walker despite the cloud
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