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One to Eight in the Eastern Fannaichs

One to Eight in the Eastern Fannaichs

Postby old danensian » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:31 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Coileachan, Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich, Meall Gorm, Sgùrr Mòr

Date walked: 08/08/2015

Time taken: 9.15 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 1450m

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It was the time of year when solitary walkers coalesce. Normally lone figures morph into caterpillar trails of Gortex-clad conversation. And, somewhere in the back of beyond, the man collecting the recycling from the local bunkhouse wonders who on earth shifted all that drink.

My plan for stretching the legs while en route to the latest WH Meet began as a solo trip on Friday above Strathfarrar: it ended up being a jaunt for the Magnificant Seven. The gathering on Saturday saw a flash-mob of eight hit the four Munros on the eastern end of the Fannaichs: Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, Sgurr Mor, Meall Gorm and An Coileachan.

That’s the power of WalkHighlands.

A gloomy prospect for the day ahead from the Torrandhu Bridge

Weather forecasts weren’t promising and those returning from the same trip the day before appeared to relish describing how wet the route was. Predicted wind speeds threatened to do more than just blow the cobwebs away, and the probability of views from any of the four tops to be traversed was low. Clouds dragged their grey bellies across the summits and the day felt more like November than the middle of August. However, despite these portents, the mood of those gathering at the Torrandhu Bridge alongside Loch Glascarnoch was high.

A Tesco delivery lorry, with its trailer hanging precariously off the road on one of the bends, was one reason for smiles on our faces, extending the meaning of their slogan “You shop: we drop.” But more importantly, we knew the power of WalkHighlands: the day ahead was as much about the company as successfully touching the cairns we’d reach.

From the bridge and the met station, the initial path followed the meanders of the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, and lured us into a false sense of relative dryness. What were they on about? A bit damp; occasionally squelchy; but not as horrendous as we were lead to believe.

Improvement imminent - An Coileachan from the slopes of beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich

As the path turned to follow the Allt an Loch Sgeirich upwards it continued to be drier than expected, and once we had crossed the stream and struck out across the hillside towards Creag Dhubh Fannaich, it became rockier and even drier.

What had started as a stiff breeze now began to accelerate. Before we reached the shoulder Scoob held his “device” high and told us that we were merely experiencing the odd 15mph gust. What wusses. Once on Creag Dhubh Fannaich itself his “device” made a distinctly higher pitched whine: only 35mph we were reassured.

With jacket toggles dangerously lashing any exposed facial flesh we teetered across the increasingly stony ground to the top of Bienn Liath Mhor Fannaich, grateful that there were no plunging slopes to be blown down.

By now, the prospect for the day ahead in terms of visibility and threatened rain had improved significantly. The Beinn Dearg group even basked in the occasional shaft of sunlight. However, the increasingly windy conditions were still not conducive to hanging around for too long. Anyway, the steepling pyramid summit of Sgurr Mor loomed and lured in the west, so off we headed.

Stubborn wisps cling to Sgurr Mor - from Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich

Even a glimpse of sun in the north over Beinn Dearg and its companions

Apart from fighting against the wind on BLMF, this next stretch proved to be the stiffest test of the day: a short, sharp shock from the bealach towards the cairn that peeped down from high above. After plodding up, each in our own rhythms, we gathered at the summit cairn of Sgurr Mor.

It’s surprising who you meet out in the hills on blustery days. Alison and Alistair had climbed up from the other side and reported the demise and retreat of Team Fife in the jaws of the wind on the unpronounceable Munro to the west.

Gathering of the clans - and deciding which way Martin and his group got blown off

The last time I saw him he was being blown in that direction

With views in all directions I was grateful for the opportunity to revisit this Munro. Two winters previously I had experienced one of those frustrating days when the clag closed in on the approach to the top. On my own, and heading for BLMF in the snow and thickening clag, I’d struggled to find the right bearing to descend the correct spur.

But today, and fortunately for us, the wind had by now dropped significantly. From the highest point of the day, and with the steepest of ground behind us, the remainder of our day stretched out to the east in a series of gentle sweeping slopes and tops.

Meall Gorm - and the final stretch of the day towards An Coileachan

Someone's chuffed at a peach of a day - Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich from Meal Gorm

Eyeing up the approaching showers - or still looking for Martin out there somewhere

The exposed slabby rocks of Meall Gorm were reached in an easy saunter, and at last I was adding to my tally. By mid-afternoon spirits were up and the wind was down and the final group selfie was taken on An Coileachan.

Another gathering of the clans - on An Coileachan

But there remained the question. Where was all this wet stuff that had been complained about the day before? We found it soon enough.

Dropping down the northern shoulder of An Coileachan, we headed for the strip of land between Loch Gorm and Meallan Buidhe, optimistically hoping for the vestige of some sort of track to emerge.

What fools.

Once level with the tiny lochan we’d found the wet stuff. How did all that water defy gravity on such an angle? Before getting anywhere near Loch Gorm the forlorn prospect of finding drier ground by going over Meallan Buidhe rather than round it was being discussed. In the distance the Allt a Ghiubhais Li offered the hopes of a track on its far bank. But between us, it, and the positively arid conditions of our outward track lay the wet stuff.

It wasn’t long before any vague attempt at keeping dry boots was lost. We’ve all hit that stage in the day: earlier we’d have taken a massive detour to avoid anything remotely damp: now, in true Rhett Butler fashion, you just don’t give a damn. We didn’t even keep to the meandering path that traced the course of the stream: we just made b-lines.

At least some wildlife managed to find somewhere warm and dry - a young adder by the side of the path

And finally it did get drier.

And a sunny end to the day meandering down the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh

And finally wet boots and weary legs were folded into cars for the brief drive back to the bunkhouse.

And someone had meticulously picked up whatever Tesco had dropped that morning.
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old danensian
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Re: One to Eight in the Eastern Fannaichs

Postby tina bonar » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:18 pm

Eloquent as ever Nigel. Great day out with you again, see you at the next "do"
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Re: One to Eight in the Eastern Fannaichs

Postby Graeme D » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:16 pm

I have warned Scoob before about waving his "device" (if that's what he is calling it these days) on the hills! :shock:

A very entertaining read though Nigel. I haven't even started my report for this one and I had a 24 hour head start on you!
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