Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby 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: 1233m

14 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).

Track_2014-10-04 Mullach an Rathain.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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 :lol:

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.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Summit Mullach an Rathain.
ImageMullach 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).
ImageMullach 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
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Zoomed in to the Coulin hills.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-12 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Two walkers on the ridge with Am Fasarinen behind.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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?
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-15 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

This was as clear as it got for viewing Coire na Caime and Beinn Eighe.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The Northern Pinnacles, Meall Dearg and Coire na Caime.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-19 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Back to the east ridge and Spidean a'Choire Leith.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-21 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Beinn Alligin.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-23 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Zoomed in to Beinn Alligin horns and Baosbheinn.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-24 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Further down looking back to Torridon and the Coulin hills.
ImageMullach 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!
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-26 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Beinn Alligin again.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-28 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Double rainbow over the terraces.
ImageMullach 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!
ImageMullach an Rathain, Liathach-31 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Emerging battle-worn but unscathed on to the road.
ImageMullach 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.
ImageMullach 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.
Last edited by AnnieMacD on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Posts: 789
Munros:25   Corbetts:15
Sub 2000:8   
Joined: Jun 25, 2013
Location: Applecross

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby rockhopper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:27 pm

I've just been watching a couple of episodes of Muriel Gray's munro show including an interview with Tom Weir in which he talks about approaching the same munro in different ways and in different seasons. Similar in a way to your approach which means you cover it from various angles and enjoy the experiences even more - nice one, Annie, I enjoyed your report (and you saw so much more than I did on a rather claggy day :roll: ) - cheers :)
User avatar
Posts: 6486
Munros:282   Corbetts:207
Grahams:63   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:40 pm

Glé mhath :clap: :clap:

I ve yet to do Liathaich and hope to take An Cu with me over the Pinnacles :D
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 1776
Munros:282   Corbetts:133
Grahams:31   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:21   
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Gaidhealtachd an Iar

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:54 am

It was a perfect Saturday for rainbows - we also saw a few over Glen Coe :D but rainbows over Torridon, well, that's a double bonus!

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 :lol: :lol:
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 3411
Munros:260   Corbetts:164
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:07 pm

Lovely stuff, Annie.
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 :wink:
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 1873
Munros:208   Corbetts:44
Grahams:75   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:307   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby jepsonscotland » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:57 pm

Fantastic report. :clap: :clap:
What a simply stunning day. :D :D
How lucky are we to live in such a beautiful country?

First 'Brocken spectre', perfect. It's almost electrifying watching it, isn't it. :D :D :D
A BIG fat tick on the 'bucket list'. :lol:

User avatar
Posts: 331
Munros:282   Corbetts:8
Grahams:1   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:1
Joined: Jan 2, 2014
Location: Broughty Ferry

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby malky_c » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:59 pm

Nice :D . Got a couple of possibilities planned on Liathach - Northern pinnacles are one, with a full circuit of Coire na Caime, but your descent route has also long interested me. Great photos as ever.
User avatar
Posts: 5939
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:267   Hewitts:256
Wainwrights:104   Islands:34
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:12 pm

Marvellous report and quite stunning photos as ever Annie. Yet another on the never ending list :D
User avatar
Posts: 3175
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:59 pm

Nice one Annie, your photo's are top notch :clap: :clap:

Rainbows are very plentiful at the moment, we had quite a few at the Corries :wink:
User avatar
Fife Flyer
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2371
Munros:181   Corbetts:40
Grahams:16   Donalds:20
Sub 2000:120   Hewitts:2
Joined: May 15, 2013
Location: Guess?

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby neilist » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:04 pm

Wow brilliant. Fantastic photos. Have only been to Torridon once for Beinn Alligin. Its a long way away for me but need to get back. Cheers.
Posts: 23
Munros:129   Corbetts:11
Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Location: Dumbarton

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:49 pm

Lovely. I'd like to do any repeat Munros by differant routes and may try this one in the future. :D
User avatar
Johnny Corbett
Mountain Walker
Posts: 2941
Munros:18   Corbetts:207
Grahams:160   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:271   Hewitts:1
Joined: May 14, 2010
Location: Livingston

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby Silverhill » Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:36 pm

Just marvelous! 8)
User avatar
Posts: 1291
Munros:282   Corbetts:4
Grahams:5   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:7   
Joined: Jan 13, 2013

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby tweedledog » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:07 am

Lovely report on a lovely mountain. Thank you. About 20 years ago I did the reverse of your route. As you might imagine, going up was a rather long slog...
User avatar
Posts: 255
Joined: Jan 20, 2013
Location: Argyll

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby Torridon_snails » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:29 pm

This is another lovely report from you - photos are fab, and you capture the light beautifully as always.

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)
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 109
Munros:22   Corbetts:9
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:17
Joined: Jul 21, 2011
Location: Kirkstall, Yorkshire

Re: Magical Mullach delivers a Brocken Spectre

Postby dogplodder » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:28 pm

Your photos are as usual spectacularly good and the route so attractive sounding I decided then and there I wanted to do it. Only negative the final descent which sounds a bit like the overgrown one off Sgritheall - or is it worse than that one? :wink:
User avatar
Posts: 3630
Munros:227   Corbetts:55
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:9   Islands:23
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

14 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).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mikedavidson, the_northumbrian and 103 guests