Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre
by AnnieMacD » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:58 pm
Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach)
Date walked: 04/10/2014
Time taken: 10.55 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1233m14 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).
Moving Time: 5 hours 21 minutes
Stopped Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
I'm not sure how the GPS figures out moving versus stopped time and I'm sure much of my snail-like pace on the ascent must have counted as stopped time
I want to acknowledge Alteknacker's and Torridon_snails' walk reports while formulating my route as I really wanted to descend via Liathach's west end and used their write-ups and maps for relevant info.
I had done Spidean a'Choire Leith in July and really wanted to do the Mullach this year before the snow/ice arrived. I hope to do the whole ridge next year but was interested in investigating both ends first. The forecast for Saturday wasn't bad even though the wind-chill indicated -3C - brrrr!
I set off quite early and couldn't have wished for a better day.
Early morning view across Loch Torridon to Beinn Dearg and the west end of Liathach.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-1 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
I parked amongst the trees about 700m east of the Countryside Centre (room for three vehicles) and was a bit worried about finding the path but discovered that it actually starts about this spot. Most people come down this way so no-one has bothered to build a cairn to mark the start of the path. After an easy walk on path and slabs there is a proper stile with proper steps (ie easy to get over) then the real ascent begins. However with the views opening up one could only feel happy on such a wonderful morning.
Annat with the east end of Beinn Damh behind and Beinn Shieldaig to the right.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-2 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Further up - Seana Mheallan to the left, Beinn na h-Eaglaise to the right with Beinn Damh behind. Maol Chean-dearg is in the centre. The morning sun wasn't co-operating for the photos.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-3 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
I noticed three people a bit behind me and wondered why they weren't catching up as I kept stopping at every opportunity to take photos. Turns out they were path builders hired by the National Trust and this was them on the morning commute! Eventually they passed me but I passed them again when they stopped for their morning snack. What a fantastic job they were doing working at 750m moving huge stones and making drainage channels for us spoilt walkers. They were very unassuming and just said they were paid for it but they also said that most walkers thanked them for being willing to work in these conditions. Thanks again, guys!
Lovely waterfall just before entering the Toll Ban.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-4 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
I was going to take a photo of the path-builders from above but the slope was so steep that they were out of sight almost immediately.
A bit of the rebuilt path and a red bucket just above where the path-builders were working. It's pretty steep here.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-5 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Further up and nearer the ridge there are many branches of 'path' through the sandy scree and I don't think it matters much which one chooses. Although it's very steep, I didn't find this bit difficult in any way. Personally I think going down here would be much more difficult than ascending.
Near the ridge on the sandy scree. I was entering the cloud here
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Summit Mullach an Rathain.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-7 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
I couldn't see a thing at the top and it was pretty cold so I took a peek along the approach to the northern pinnacles and then headed east to look for some shelter and have lunch. A couple of hundred metres along the ridge a spidean sticks out to the south so I found a great perch there out of the wind. As it was 100m down from the summit it was also out of the mist and got pretty good views too.
From my look-out I could see the guys working on the path 200m down (to the right and down from centre).
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-8 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Seana Mheallan across Glen Torridon and behind (L to R) Sgurr na Lochan Uaine, three humps of Beinn Liath Mor, Fuar Tholl, Sgurr Ruadh, Maol Chean-dearg and An Ruadh Stac
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Zoomed in to the Coulin hills.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-10 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
The Pinnacles and Spidean a'Choire Leith now clear of cloud. Sgurr Dubh is on the right.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-11 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
But the break in cloud was not to last.
A shower coming in from Maol Chean-dearg. Ruadh-stac is to its right and Beinn na h-Eaglaise foreground-right.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-12 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Two walkers on the ridge with Am Fasarinen behind.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-13 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Well, I couldn't stay there for ever so packed up my lunch box and headed back for the summit. The mist was swirling around and this time around I could see the outline of the Northern Pinnacles and Meall Dearg. To my surprise there were a couple of deer on the Pinnacles. Hmm, wonder how they got there?
Deer on the Northern Pinnacles.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-14 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
As I was pondering how the deer got up there I saw it - my first Brocken Spectre! I was so excited I was scared to move in case it would disappear. I took loads of photos but won't bore you with more than two!
My first Brocken Spectre photo - where better than looking towards the Northern Pinnacles?
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-15 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
This was as clear as it got for viewing Coire na Caime and Beinn Eighe.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
The Northern Pinnacles, Meall Dearg and Coire na Caime.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-18 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Then back up to the summit and chatted to a couple of groups of walkers. I also got my first view of the descent route down the west ridge.
Approaching the summit, with the west ridge down to Sgorr a'Chadail.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-19 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Back to the east ridge and Spidean a'Choire Leith.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-20 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
From the summit to Sgorr a'Chadail was such a pleasurable and easy walk. I zig-zagged a bit to get the views over the rim on each side and got caught in a heavy hail shower but this could not dampen my spirits.
The west ridge of Mullach an Rathain. Alligin village is down to the left.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-21 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-22 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Torridon Village is a long way down! Beinn a' h-Eaglaise on the left, Beinn Damh on the right.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-23 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Zoomed in to Beinn Alligin horns and Baosbheinn.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-24 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Further down looking back to Torridon and the Coulin hills.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-25 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
There are two cairns on the ridge - one at the 701m point and then this one on Sgurr a'Chadail. It's then the real descent begins!
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-26 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Beinn Alligin again.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-27 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
I decided I wanted to go down facing the loch if possible. This side of the hill (SW) is terraced and I had to back up on myself a couple of times to get past dead-ends or cliffs. There are deer paths all over but sometimes it seems the deer go on to a ledge to sleep and then return the same way - or they got to a dead-end too. I really enjoyed this bit as there was an element of the unknown in it!
Below Sgorr a'Chadail.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-28 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Double rainbow over the terraces.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-29 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
It took me quite a while to drop down to the tree-line and at this point the road looked tantalizingly close. However, the most difficult and slow part of the walk was yet to come. The undergrowth was terrible and, although I was on a deer path, I couldn't see where I was putting my feet and it was very rocky and very, very steep. It was also wet and slippery but I did eventually manage to get to the road without falling. I came out on the Alligin road just at the hairpin bend.
The view made up for the unpleasantness of this stretch of the descent!
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-31 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
Emerging battle-worn but unscathed on to the road.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-32 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
All that was left now was the long walk back along the loch and through Torridon to my car.
Moon over Sgurr Ruadh.
Mullach an Rathain, Liathach-33 by anniesmountains, on Flickr
What a fantastic hill day. Next year I plan to walk the whole ridge - we'll see. This has to qualify as one of the best hills In Scotland.
by rockhopper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:27 pm
by Collaciotach » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:40 pm
I ve yet to do Liathaich and hope to take An Cu with me over the Pinnacles
by BlackPanther » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:54 am
You never cease to deliver on interesting routes, different approaches to the same mountain... So many of us just bag the hill via the easiest, most obvious way, then move on to the next one...
We descended via your ascent route and I can confirm it is horrible on the way down... especially the upper part of it
As for GPS stopping time - sometimes it shows silly numbers. I remember during our winter climb on Ciste Dhubh/Am Bathach, it showed over 3 hours of stopping time, whereas we only took two 10 min breaks on the two summits plus time to put on/take off crampons. No way that added up to 3 hours. Obviously, we were moving slow due to knee deep snow so the GPS registered a lot of short 30-sec breaks and added them all up
by weaselmaster » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:07 pm
Am booked onto a winter mountaineering course in feb and hoping to re-visit Liathach then in her white coat, maybe even get up onto the northern pinnacles with a bit of luck. Have not seen any of the Torridon hills in winter conditions and excited at the prospects of seeing them transformed. I do envy you your proximity to these places
by jepsonscotland » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:57 pm
What a simply stunning day.
How lucky are we to live in such a beautiful country?
First 'Brocken spectre', perfect. It's almost electrifying watching it, isn't it.
A BIG fat tick on the 'bucket list'.
by malky_c » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:59 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:12 pm
by Fife Flyer » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:59 pm
Rainbows are very plentiful at the moment, we had quite a few at the Corries
by neilist » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:04 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:49 pm
by Silverhill » Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:36 pm
by tweedledog » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:07 am
- Mountain Walker
- Posts: 181
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- Location: Argyll
by Torridon_snails » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:29 pm
Glad our write-up was useful!
We've been meaning to post to you for ages - sorry it's taken so long. The day you were on Beinn na h-Eaglaise, we were walking round the base of it (through from Strathcarron station - Coulags - Bealach na Lice to Annat): we even saw the same hill cloud on Maol Chean-Dearg and the same rainbows in Glen Torridon! Sadly we've only been back to Torridon once since then - hoping to return soon... and hoping to post something more here although not sure we got anything really up to it.
Thanks again - lovely to be reminded of the Mullach (perhaps our best ever day out) with your great images...
All the best,
Daniel and Clare (Torridon_snails)
by dogplodder » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:28 pm