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Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest


Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:11 pm

Route description: Ciste Dhubh and Am Bathach, Cluanie

Munros included on this walk: Ciste Dhubh

Corbetts included on this walk: Am Bathach

Date walked: 29/10/2014

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 984m

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Some people might think we were asking for a serious dose of foot rot to cross a bog infested bealach and walk down a normally sodden glen just after 3 days of incredibly heavy rain, but, being a team that likes a challenge, that's what we set out to do :roll: . Admittedly there was a good weather forecast, and autumn days in the hills are not to be missed. The hills of choice were Am Bathach and Ciste Dhubh, we figured these would make a good walk now the clocks have gone back and the days are getting all too short.

A trip up A Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire in June had given us a good view of the Chest and its Corbett – we'd even wondered about tagging them onto the route we were doing – but in the event I'm glad we left them for a return trip in the autumn.

A pleasure about walking in Glen Sheil is no 'long walk in', just park the car and head up. We set off on a beautiful morning just at the back o'nine.

View of the Cluanie Inn nestled at the foot of the South Glen Shiel ridge
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I love the jewel-like colours of autumn, wonderful shades of copper, bronze, gold and green

Western end of Loch Cluanie basking in sunlight
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The WH directions for the path up Am Bathach seemed straightforward enough, but we managed to miss the path and ended up the wrong side of a deer fence – with no sign of a stile :roll: . Fortunately we spotted a place where the dogs could get under the fence and we climbed over it. After that bit of limbering up we headed up to the ridge we should have been on for a sight of A Chralaig with a dusting of the white stuff.
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Am Bathach is a lovely undulating walk, several false tops and enough steep bits to convince us that this was a bit more serious than the usual dog walk.

View of Am Bathach (ridge in the centre) taken from A Chralaig last summer
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Once we were high enough on the main ridge there were beautiful views of the route to our 2 goals of the day
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As well as views across to Mullach Fraoch-choire
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And over to the east end of the Brothers ridge
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It seemed like no time before we were at the top of Am Bathach and looking with pleasure at the sight of Ciste Dhubh
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(From the top of Am Bathach the Bealach Choinnich isn't visible otherwise the pleasure might have been somewhat spoilt. :( )

We paused for snacks and taking in the views.

Mullach Fraoch-choire with pinacles
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Beinn Fadda
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Although the sky wasn't the beautiful shade of blue it had been when we started the cloud was high and the tops clear, good to be out on the hills.

We didn't hang about too long – we wanted to be off the hills by 4pm, so we left Am Bathach (verdict - a very enjoyable Corbett) and headed over the summit towards Bealach Choinnich.

What can I say about this blasted bealach? Wet, wet wet isn't wet enough :shock: . I must be honest I groaned inwardly (while maintaing a face of calm stoicism) when I saw how wet it was and how wide it was. This is not somewhere to be lost in the clag.

Roger surveying the bealach on the way back
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We followed a path off Am Bathach and across the bealach without too much difficulty, losing it heading up the short steep section on the lower slopes of Ciste Dhubh – but that's because the path had turned into a water fall. Once above the crags the path was obvious again and the teraine much easier (and drier). The views ahead were stunning, with An Cnapach and Ciste Dhubh looking sooooo inviting. :D

An Cnapach
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Ciste Dhubh
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Both looking handsome in the autumn sunshine

The route to the top showing the bypass for An Cnapach
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We took the bypass only to save time – but An Cnapach would be a good little detour.

Looking back at An Cnapach and Am Bathach with colours glistening in the sun.
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Over to A Chralaig and Loch Cluanie
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Biggles eyeing up the route of the final ascent
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By this point I was really loving being out on these hills, they are beautiful, with their own drama and stunning vantage points for eastern Kintail and over into Glen Affric and points north and west. The path up to the tiny pointed summit of Ciste Dhubh was very clear – even Biggles was happy to bounce along it (probably relieved he wasn't going to be asked to leap up the cliffs).

Summit view (Biggles posing as mountaineer, Bertie looking for lunch)
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Even the odd spot of snow at 979 metres
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Over lunch we discussed plans for next year, to do a backpacking trek from Loch Affric to the youth hostel
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To climb the remoter Affric hills
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and then walk out to the west, perhaps including Beinn Fadda
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We were sitting facing north and gazing at the wonderful tangle of mountains in front of us
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enjoying the wonderful autumn colours so we hadn't noticed what was going on behind us …

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Mist rising up the glen of An Caorann Mor and just wafting over the lip of Ciste Dhubh's summit. There was no low cloud and no wind – this seemed to be a ground fog wafting up on thermals. It wasn't particularly thick – we could see it swirling around and moving quickly, dissipating once it got over the summit.

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Was this going to be our bad weather training day after all?? :lol: :lol:

We decided that since lunch was over and I'd had some fun with the camera it was really time to go face the boggy bealach and the wet walk down An Caorann Beag. (We could have opted to come of Ciste Dhubh to the east and walk down An Caorann Mor, but experience coming down this glen in the summer suggested it would be just as boggy.)

View of Corie nan Euan - Brothers Ridge
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The Michelin tyre woman on a walk
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We negotiated the bealach successfully and found a path we'd spotted in the morning which we guessed would take us out to the glen – we followed it and it did … not that it was a path really more of a burn. The walk out was clear from here – just go along this beautiful copper glen to the loch at the end.
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The Alt a' Caorann Beag is clear in the photo – the path isn't visible but it looked like the Alt's baby brother in a hurry to grow up. Hardly surprising really there were lots of wee burns running of the hillsides and the water needed to go somewhere – even if that somewhere was a path. At least we were walking down the east side of the glen – the west side had far more burns running off the hills.

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To be honest the walk out was not where near as much fun as the walk over Am Bathach and Ciste Dhubh, but the glen was beautiful in the autumn light, the dogs were happy to quater the ground and we were happy that they flushed out nothing 8) . These hills had really been worth the effort and we were back at the car by 4pm. Even better we'd had them to ourselves. We could guess from the wee car park that other people were out on the neighbouring hills but we met no one on this beautiful walk.

… and the threatened foot rot – just another media scare ... :lol: :lol:
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Huff_n_Puff
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby dogplodder » Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:26 am

These are the best photos I've seen of these two. Stunning hills aren't they? Glad you got a good day for it - the colours are lovely and you even make the bog look good. 8)
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Doghouse103 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:12 am

Lovely pictures and report, i just wish we were as luck as you with the weather, we done the Brothers Ridge and Ciste Dhubh 2 weeks ago in thick clag and drizzle the only view of the 9hr day was the return walk down An Caorann Bearg :(
We might have to return for that stunning viwes!!!!
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Beaner001 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:47 am

I love the colours you've captured of Autumn in your snaps :clap:
Still to go the this area for a trip, next summer is pencilled in for Alltbeithe for me too but pencilled very lightly as there's so many areas I want to visit and revisit :shock: :lol:
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:28 pm

dogplodder wrote:These are the best photos I've seen of these two. Stunning hills aren't they? Glad you got a good day for it - the colours are lovely and you even make the bog look good. 8)

Thank you - after reading some of the walk reports on these 2 (including yours) it seemed wise to leave them for a good day and they didn't disappoint :D

Doghouse103 wrote:Lovely pictures and report, i just wish we were as luck as you with the weather, we done the Brothers Ridge and Ciste Dhubh 2 weeks ago in thick clag and drizzle the only view of the 9hr day was the return walk down An Caorann Bearg :(
We might have to return for that stunning viwes!!!!

Thanks - I think these hills are worth the return trip - the veiws north into Affric are just amazing :D

Beaner001 wrote:I love the colours you've captured of Autumn in your snaps :clap:
Still to go the this area for a trip, next summer is pencilled in for Alltbeithe for me too but pencilled very lightly as there's so many areas I want to visit and revisit :shock: :lol:

I know what you mean about "ightly pencilled in" - the Altbeithe trip was supposed to have happened this year - so its one of the priorities for next summer :roll:
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby SecretSquirrel » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:09 pm

Fantastic pictures of amazing looking hills! I love the sharp grassy ridges with vertical rocky drops. I'm looking forward to getting up into the Affric & Kintail areas.
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby malky_c » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:54 pm

Some lovely shots with the early snow there :) . This has confirmed my recent thinking - Ciste Dubh is going to get another visit in the not too distant future.
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:42 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:Fantastic pictures of amazing looking hills! I love the sharp grassy ridges with vertical rocky drops. I'm looking forward to getting up into the Affric & Kintail areas.

Many thanks - I've only got to know this area over the last 3 years - its stunning, and to think I used to drive past these hills to get to Skye :D :D

malky_c wrote:Some lovely shots with the early snow there :) . This has confirmed my recent thinking - Ciste Dubh is going to get another visit in the not too distant future.

Worth the revisit - we drove past it again today - and felt a pang of pain that we were headed for another hill...

(which was brilliant too :lol: :lol: )
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby AnnieMacD » Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:59 am

Wow, amazing photos of the autumn colours. This pair are high on my list for the spring and I'll definitely wait for a good day - the views in your photos are astounding. Really enjoyed reading it with the rain pounding outside!
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Travellerontheway » Sun Nov 23, 2014 2:35 pm

Well these photos are truly inspiring and makes us want to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for sharing your day.
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Re: Bronze, copper and emeralds in the Black Chest

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:21 pm

AnnieMacD wrote:Wow, amazing photos of the autumn colours. This pair are high on my list for the spring and I'll definitely wait for a good day - the views in your photos are astounding. Really enjoyed reading it with the rain pounding outside!

Thanks Annie. I was really taken with these hills - you're right to save them for a good day :D


Travellerontheway wrote:Well these photos are truly inspiring and makes us want to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for sharing your day.

Thanks - I hope you enjoy these hills as much as we did :D
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