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Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Cona', a Mheall best served at half time


Postby Beaner001 » Thu May 28, 2015 12:25 pm

Munros included on this walk: Am Faochagach, Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall

Date walked: 23/05/2015

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 27 km

Ascent: 1551m

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First a little explanation of the title, Cona’ Mheall was my 141st Munro, officially half way or as im a football man its half time. Having had the weather knock back my plans last weekend I was determined to get at least two Munros this weekend, I wanted to get to 141 come hell or high water. Well high water may be a relevant saying given this bog march. I had previously done two of the other Deargs a few years ago with mates and we had to pull out of Cona’ Mheall and Beinn Dearg due to one of the party feeling ill. As I had already gone in from Inverlael for these previous two and I would no doubt be going in that way in the future for Seana Bhraigh I decided to incorporate the outlier Am Faochagach and go in from the Dirrie Mor and do a loop round and back. If you are like me and spend ages looking at maps for route information, then it looked doable on paper but… I wondered had anyone else done this route? I noticed Rockhoppers fine report where he did all the Deargs so noted points of interest on his account which were relevant for me. My two main thoughts were the crossing of the Allt Lair and the steep ascent up to Cona’ Mheall from the West after the crossing, as the map indicated rocks. Rockhopper said in his report he managed the crossing at the South of Loch Prille on some rock ledges over the outflow, also I felt the worst case scenario would be to go round the North of Loch Prille and double back if the water was too high. The answer to the next problem came via Talk Highlands on Facebook, someone (I forget their name) had done this route a couple of weeks ago and posted pics on Facebook so I commented asking about the route up to Cona’ Mheall, they confirmed it was tough but would be ok with some route finding. Great, game on. My dad confirmed he was able to come late in the week, it was him that got me addicted to this malarkey a good few years ago on Bynack More so whom better to accompany me to my half way point on this wonderful journey???


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We parked up in the spot after the bridge and crossed the road and over the style onto the open moor heading for the Abhainn a’Ghrabainn river.

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Looking back to the car and distant Fannichs from the style we crossed into the open moor

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The distant Am Faochagach and route ahead


This section was extremely boggy and we had to detour off the worn route a good few times to avoid the wet. On reaching the Abhainn a’Ghrabainn river we soon realised we’d need to wade across it, however we ventured north looking for shallower/slower water to cross over. We found the section beside the outflow of the Loch to be the easiest as there was a wee island half way to break up the crossing. Boots off and tied round our necks we braved the freezing water, it was agony to cross in bare feet, dad had to coax Billy, his Terrier over as he’s not fond of water like the Springers. After much faffing we got over safe and dry.

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Dad coaxing Billy the Terrier over the river


Having made our way over more bog towards the right of Meallan a Bhutha the ascent up towards Drochaid a Ghlas Tuill started. Looking behind us we could certainly see the forecast changing and the clag was rolling in over the highest of the Fannichs. This was expected but not this early in the day, it was only gone 12 noon. The rest of the ascent to Am Faochagach was relatively easy and passing just one couple on their way down gave it a real feel of remoteness. Behind us we could see a few more people heading along the ridge but we were a fair bit ahead.

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Lochy and Roy with our other targets Beinn Dearg (Left) & Cona' Mheall (Right) behind

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Looking back towards the Eastern Fannichs

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Am Faochagach summit in distance


On the summit dad broke the news that he just wasn’t feeling it today, dam and blast had I pushed him too hard and made him feel forced to join me on this trip when he’d maybe not been feeling 100%? We sat down and had a bite to eat and dad eventually decided he’d like to continue as long as I didn’t moan at him if we took ages. Brilliant and no I’d not moan.

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Dogs on Am Faochagach summit

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Seanna Bhraigh in the distance

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Beinn Dearg (left) in the cloud now & Cona' Mheall (right)


In life I can always relate most situations to my experiences when playing football and like a football match a hillwalking day is full of ebb and flow. Rarely when you play football at a decent standard does any one team completely dominate a game and you need to be prepared to be on the defence. In a hillwalking day I always feel that there are points where you ask yourself why am I doing this, this is the part where you are on the defence. This can be overcome when you train your mind to accept that these harder sections will test your mental and physical strength but will eventually lead to easier sections. Perhaps a summit view, a beautiful waterfall or some other feature of note likened to a goal or good move in football, and that’s why we do this.

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Cona' Mheall left and far right Loch Prille

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Beautiful Loch Prille


We set off down towards Meallan Ban and it’s huge summit cairn, once over its top it was down to the end of Loch Prille to cross the outflow. I reached it about 10 minutes ahead of dad and got across using my walking poles and balancing on the rock ledges that were sticking out of the water. Me and the dogs sat at the other side and got a few pics of the waterfall beyond where we crossed which falls down into Creagan na Still and a wee hidden loch a couple of hundred metres below us. Dad followed over with Billy and we had a rest and more food before the ascent up to Cona’ Mheall.

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Dad looking to me and dogs having crossed the outflow

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The outflow of Loch Prille where we crossed

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Rocks we were able to cross over

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Dogs with the backdrop at edge of Loch Prille, the crossing below to left of photo

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Cona' Mheall up ahead

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A fair drop and lovely waterfall over the outflow


We found a grassy chimney to ascent up just after the crossing and then the steeper ascent up towards the crags of Cona’ Mheall. Picking our way carefully towards the shoulder and the snow line we made decent time. It was here I started stretching the gap between me and dad so I was trying to wait long enough for him to close the gap and have a wee rest but not get too cold myself.

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Reaching Summit ridge to Cona' Mheall

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Looking back down to dad coming up Cona' Mheall


I reached a couple of snow fields below Cona’ Mheall and broke trail through them and reached the rocky section just below the lip of the summit, once up onto the lip the summit was in sight, my 141st Munro. I raced onto it with the dogs and we waited for dad, he appeared around 15 minutes later and I got a few summit pics. Great feeling but the clag had caught up with us so not summit views, typical, it did not however take away anything from my joy.

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Me and dogs summit of Cona' Mheall (my 141st Munro)

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Dad summit Cona' Mheall


We stayed on the summit a good 20 minutes and ate; the rain had come on full force by now so we huddled behind the cairn. The descent off Cona’ Mheall towards the bealach between it and Beinn Dearg was torture, the boulders were wet and slippy so we took our time and then had to cross another couple of snow fields before reaching the famine wall where we took a break out of the rain and wind. Once recharged we started the ascent up Dearg next to the wall, it was easier to stay on the right hand side of the wall as the wind/rain was coming from the left. The path was covered in snow in sections forcing us to ascend up the snow, I kicked steps and dad followed. We had to stay close to each other now as the clag was so thick that we did not want to get separated. Soon we reached the huge summit cairn of Beinn Dearg, the weather on top was ferocious and we did not stay long.

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Smudgy picture me in heavy rain summit Beinn Dearg

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Smudgy picture dad in heavy summit rain Beinn Dearg


Our route off was to the south down a shoulder and over Creag a Choire Ghranda. However due to the clag and the really horrific boulders underfoot we descended straight down south aiming to get out of the clag and reassess, luckily we found a huge snow field to aid the descent by around 80 meters. Once out of the clag we figured the best bet was to descend down via Creag Dhubh Mhucarnaich and the beautiful waterfalls of the Allt Mhucarnaich.

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Lovely waterfall on Allt Mhucarnaich


The ground was wet but taking our time we made ground and lost height quick. Soon we reached the glen out, and it was here we encountered the boggiest continual ground I have ever experienced in my life, the water came half way up my boots on every footstep and my feet were soaking. This became tedious and rather unenjoyable and with the clag shrouding the hills behind us we never got any views back of our fantastic day. The dogs threatened to chase a huge heard of deer but tiredness got the better of them, I would love to know how many km’s they walked/ran with all their shooting on ahead and returning. We reached the loch, luckily we were the correct side of the Abhainn a’Ghrabainn river meaning no crossing, we re-joined the boggy path back to car, no attempt to avoid the wet on the inward route, just trudged through it as the rain had come on hard now and we just wanted back to the car, arrived back a tad under 12 hours.
I can’t thank my dad enough for joining me on this milestone and for also introducing me to this great hobby. Also well done to him for fighting through the urge to return after Am Faochagach and continuing to help me celebrate on Cona’ Mheall, a hill I’ll now always be fond of, he’s not doing too bad for 62 years old. Here’s to the second half, I hope I can enjoy it as much as the first……….
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby BlackPanther » Thu May 28, 2015 12:53 pm

Many congratulations on your half-way mark! Now you can start counting them "downwards", how many you have left to do rather than how many done :lol: :lol: :lol:

Shame about the weather playing tricks, but a grand route! It seems you crossed the AG in the same place we did, when going for Am Faochagach :D

I'm still to do the Dearg Four, my husband has climbed them once with his parents during their quest to complete M's. He also didn't get much of a view due to low cloud, so he is all eager to guide me all over them again :wink: Hopefully June and July will be better than May. Honestly, I'm fed up with rain, wind and cold, bring on the heatwave!
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby dogplodder » Thu May 28, 2015 1:11 pm

Well done you on half time and even more well done your dad for keeping up with crazy son. :lol: I like your comparison with highs and lows of a football match - most apt and I'm assuming the homeward slosh through water and mud was one of the lows. :wink:
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby electricfly » Thu May 28, 2015 2:14 pm

Well done on reaching "Half-Time"! :lol:

We just missed you, we were up to do Am Faochagach the following day (Sunday). We had cr*p weather and no views. Was snowing at the summit. :shock:

My tactics for crossing rivers is to wear trail shoes and fast drying trousers then just wade across. :lol: It was almost up at my nicky nacky noos! Looked for somewhere a bit more shallow on the return leg though. :lol:
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby Beaner001 » Thu May 28, 2015 4:47 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Many congratulations on your half-way mark! Now you can start counting them "downwards", how many you have left to do rather than how many done :lol: :lol: :lol:

Shame about the weather playing tricks, but a grand route! It seems you crossed the AG in the same place we did, when going for Am Faochagach :D

I'm still to do the Dearg Four, my husband has climbed them once with his parents during their quest to complete M's. He also didn't get much of a view due to low cloud, so he is all eager to guide me all over them again :wink: Hopefully June and July will be better than May. Honestly, I'm fed up with rain, wind and cold, bring on the heatwave!


Aye, im a bit sick of this lingering winter.......
Cheers :D

dogplodder wrote:Well done you on half time and even more well done your dad for keeping up with crazy son. :lol: I like your comparison with highs and lows of a football match - most apt and I'm assuming the homeward slosh through water and mud was one of the lows. :wink:


That homeward leg was horrible, definitely the wettest part of any walk I've ver done, although im sure everyone else has their own wettest walk :lol:
he's a hardy sole, just keeps plodding at his own pace, it can get frustrating having to wait as I get cold but the benefits of having him there far outweigh that :wink:

electricfly wrote:Well done on reaching "Half-Time"! :lol:

We just missed you, we were up to do Am Faochagach the following day (Sunday). We had cr*p weather and no views. Was snowing at the summit. :shock:

My tactics for crossing rivers is to wear trail shoes and fast drying trousers then just wade across. :lol: It was almost up at my nicky nacky noos! Looked for somewhere a bit more shallow on the return leg though. :lol:


Ah that's a pity Eric, would have been good to meet up. Have to try to get a meet up soon or else you'll be finished :shock: I'll keep you posted on plans on messenger in case we can do a joint expedition..... :D
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby martin.h » Thu May 28, 2015 5:51 pm

Well done Matt, congratulations on your "half time" and good on Dad for staying with you, lets hope the second half gives you yet more memorable outings. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Keep going friend, stay safe.
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby rockhopper » Thu May 28, 2015 9:09 pm

Congratulations on getting to half way and well done to your dad for staying the course :clap:
Interesting route, pity about the weather though. Finding a route on the east side of Cona' Mheall is certainly a bit of a challenge - glad to see you managed it OK. :thumbup:
As for the sore feet on the water crossings......flip flops :wink: ....they don''t weight much and you don't feel the stones through them :lol: - cheers :)
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby Gordie12 » Thu May 28, 2015 9:30 pm

Congrats on 50% :clap: :o :o

That was an interesting route, I've done the Beinn Dearg 4 so I've still to head back for Am Faochagach.

Can't relate to your weather on the day, when I did Beinn Dearg the main problem was the heat - I remember the climb up from the bealach being really hard work and I wondered if I would have the legs for the other three.
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby Beaner001 » Sun May 31, 2015 2:12 pm

martin.h wrote:Well done Matt, congratulations on your "half time" and good on Dad for staying with you, lets hope the second half gives you yet more memorable outings. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Keep going friend, stay safe.


Thanks Marts

rockhopper wrote:Congratulations on getting to half way and well done to your dad for staying the course :clap:
Interesting route, pity about the weather though. Finding a route on the east side of Cona' Mheall is certainly a bit of a challenge - glad to see you managed it OK. :thumbup:
As for the sore feet on the water crossings......flip flops :wink: ....they don''t weight much and you don't feel the stones through them :lol: - cheers :)


Cheers RH, defo be packing a cheap pair of flip flops in future, the mix of stones and cold water wasn't pleasant :lol:

Gordie12 wrote:Congrats on 50% :clap: :o :o

That was an interesting route, I've done the Beinn Dearg 4 so I've still to head back for Am Faochagach.

Can't relate to your weather on the day, when I did Beinn Dearg the main problem was the heat - I remember the climb up from the bealach being really hard work and I wondered if I would have the legs for the other three.


Cheers Gordie, I've to go back for Seana Bhraigh which will be a decent from Inverlael so that and the fact I need to utilise miles travelled more efficiently led to this route :lol:
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun May 31, 2015 3:44 pm

That was a fabulous read Matt - ok so the weather and the ground didn't play ball, but you chose an intriguing route for you half way mark, congratulations to you all :clap: :clap: :clap:

I sympathized with your Dad, and really liked your musings on football and hillwalking - yes there is always a point in any hill walk when I ask myself just why I'm doing this, usually when the huff and puff count has got really high and the route upwards seems to go on forever - although sometimes its just the route back to the car that I can't face. Then about half an hour into the drive home I'm planning the next trip :shock: :lol:
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby Beaner001 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:27 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:That was a fabulous read Matt - ok so the weather and the ground didn't play ball, but you chose an intriguing route for you half way mark, congratulations to you all :clap: :clap: :clap:

I sympathized with your Dad, and really liked your musings on football and hillwalking - yes there is always a point in any hill walk when I ask myself just why I'm doing this, usually when the huff and puff count has got really high and the route upwards seems to go on forever - although sometimes its just the route back to the car that I can't face. Then about half an hour into the drive home I'm planning the next trip :shock: :lol:


Haha, you get it too then. The drive home is defo when the mind goes bananas musing over future routes :lol:
Cheers,
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Re: Cona', a Mheall best served at half time

Postby ancancha » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:08 pm

Congratulations on making the half way mark :clap: :clap:

The water falls look great and would really like to see the run out from the series of lochs, Tuath, Prille, na Still, but not a fan of bog marches, so will wait till the summer sun has dried things out before I follow in your footsteps :lol:
Hopefully a nice sunny one as the view down into the lochs from the summit of Cona' Mheall locks fabulous; I'm into mountain lochs 8)
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