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Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Affric), An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Mam Sodhail, Mullach nan Dheiragain, Sgurr na Lapaich, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich

Date walked: 17/08/2015

Time taken: 32.25 hours

Distance: 85.8 km

Ascent: 7038m

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When Allison and I did the Mullardochs a couple years back we were forced to cut the round from 12 to 10 due to Allison having a suspected injury on the first day, meaning we missed out Mullach & Ceathreamhnan. I'd always felt a little cheated by that. On my week off, I could now atone for that shortcoming, and add in the Munro Tops on the circuit. There are a lively 22 Tops in the round, in addition to the 12 Munros. 10 had been done first time round as they're essentially on the route, but 12 remained to be visited. The challenges were the 4 Tops on the western spur of Ceathreamhnan and Sgurr na Lapaich, a full 4km from its parent, Mam Sodhail. I'd looked at various options for an entry point - Affric, Iron Lodge over in Kintail, but eventually settled on the standard approach from Mullardoch dam. I was aware it was right in stalking season and had meant to phone the stalker before setting out, but my hastily re-arranged plans didn't really allow for that. I decided to head up onto the ridge on the Sunday night, when stalking wouldn't be happening and stay to the ridges through the walk.

I had intended to be in Shiel Bridge for the 2 Saddle Tops I needed today, but the promise of a good forecast for 48 hours prompted me to bring forward the Mullardochs. This meant that I didn't have my sac packed when I arrived at the dam about 4.30pm and had to spend the best part of an hour, beset by midges, transferring all the stuff I'd need. I'd routed out a walk of about 80-85km with around 7000m ascent, by far the longest I'd done solo, and was unsure whether I'd need 3 or 4 days. So more food had to go in, resulting in the pack weight being substantially heavier than I'd have liked. Humphing it onto my back, I set off directly from the car park, up the slopes of Coire Eoghainn. This was steep grassy boggy ground and I was struggling a bit. A chipotle tortilla wrap helped and after a couple of hours I'd got to the first Top on the circuit, Creag Dubh. I had hoped to get as far as the bealach between Carn nan Gobhar and Lapaich this evening, but the ground was so beautifully soft and mossy I decided to stop here. I was trying out my new tent - a Hilleberg Enan - wonderfully light at 1.1kg but I did wonder how it would stand up to winds at altitude, since I was likely to be high camping all round the circuit. Verdict - great wee tent, easy and very quick to pitch, roomy but prone to condensation (solved by opeining the outer flap as long as the rain's no coming in at you that way). Can't comment on wind resistance as I had 3 perfect evenings :D

The Prelude

mull1.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Up onto the high ground
ImageP1090503 by Al, on Flickr

Carn nan Gabhar & Sgurr na Lapaich from top Creag Dubh
ImageP1090514 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090518 by Al, on Flickr

A wee whisky before bed
ImageP1090520 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090524 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090527 by Al, on Flickr


[Now I'm annoyed cos the cat's just stood on the computer and deleted the next section of this report that took me an hour to write. Like MacArthur Park I may never find that recipe again :( ]


I sat drinking whisky and looking out at the sunset then curled up inside the tent and listened to the utter silence of the night. Nothing disturbed the stillness - not a breeze, not a meteor. Around 4am I started to hear the occasional thud of deer hooves in the ground quite nearby, then more silence. Light began to filter into the tent inner about 5am and I stirred myself to rise and look out at the new morning. Pink tinged fluffy clouds float high above the hills. Sgurr na Lapaich - the second Munro on my agenda - catches most of the attention as Carn na Gahbar, just up the slope is a featureless rise in the landscape. Packing up the tent I'm at its top in less than 20 minutes, then down into the bealach with Lapaich. Loch Tuill Bearnach lay smooth as beaten silver at the base of the impressive cliffs. I followed the path up, crossing boulders near the top then stood at the cairn gazing around. To the north lay the Strathfarrar hills, further west the mighty flanks of Maoile Lunndaidh plunged into Loch Monar.

Day 1

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Sgurr na Lapaich from Carn nan Gabhar
ImageP1090537 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090539 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090541 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090543 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Monar, Maoile Lunndaidh
ImageP1090544 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr nan Clach Geala from Lapaich
ImageP1090548 by Al, on Flickr

I travelled down to the bealach with the Munro Top, Sgurr na Clach Geala, left my pack and walked unfettered to my second Top of the trip. Next it was down the lush grassy hillside, all 300-odd metres drop of it to Creagan Toll an Lochain, frogs propelling themselves in panic around my feet. i stopped to drink from one of the several springs coming from the mountainside itself - pure and sweet. I was minded that there are limited places to fill up on water as it's mostly high level walking, so this was a good place to drink my fill and top up my bottles. I turned up out of Coire Gnada onto the long ribbon of An Riabachan - a thoroughly enjoyable high level promenade. This was the easiest part of the day. Next came a steep descent to Bealach a'Bholla before the brutal 200-odd metre re-ascent to An Socach. Puffing a bit I gazed out over to Cheesecake (looking distinctly squat rather than pointy from here), Lurg Mhor and Beinn Dronaig. As I walked along the ridge I noticed the scalloped side of Aonach Bhuide - one I haven't been up yet. Strange to think how close I was to Kintail despite the 100-mile drive to get to Mullardoch.

Loch mullardoch, looking west
ImageP1090552 by Al, on Flickr

An Riabhachan
ImageP1090554 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Mor/ Lapaich
ImageP1090558 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090560 by Al, on Flickr

Steeply down to the bealach
ImageP1090564 by Al, on Flickr

An Socach
ImageP1090567 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090571 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Calavie, Beinn Dronaig
ImageP1090572 by Al, on Flickr

The big curve to Meall Shuas
ImageP1090575 by Al, on Flickr

Ahead of me stretched the wide curving arm of the west ridge of An Socach ending in Meall Shuas and the part of the day I was dreading - completely losing all my height and returning to starting level (albeit 250m at Loch Mullardoch) then immediately heading back up to 1000m. i'd speculated on which way to head up to the southern range - either up Ceathreamnhan, covering the 4 west tops in the process then down the whole length of Dheiragain and back, or vice versa. It was less miles to do the latter route and I studied the best way up Dheiragain as I descended the boggy slopes to the loch. It looked best to head up alongside the Allt Cam. Reaching the Gobh-Alltan I crossed nimbly on stepping stones then sat, trying to summon up the energy and motivation to slog it back up. I watched the gress stems bending in the breeze, flowering heads occasionally crowned by a visit from a Scotch Angus butterfly. Eventually I girded my loins and set off, passing a ruined sheiling and following the river on its west bank. Surprisingly I came across an ATV track which gave me heart - I always find it easier to climb uphill if there's a path to follow, no matter how boggy and prone to dematerialising. It was a bit of an ordeal and took me a couple of hours to make it up into Coire Aird, where the awaited Top of Mullach Sithidh rose to the right. Breathe, step, slog - got there eventually. I looked back over the hills I'd come over today, then on ahead to the mighty pyramid of Ceathreamnhan rising ahead, with its long west ridge.

Fhionnlaidh
ImageP1090578 by Al, on Flickr

The way ahead - Mullach nan Dheiragain
ImageP1090579 by Al, on Flickr

Scotch argus
ImageP1090581 by Al, on Flickr

Crossing the river
ImageP1090582 by Al, on Flickr

Boggy ATV track up Dheiragain
ImageP1090585 by Al, on Flickr

Up to Coire Aird
ImageP1090589 by Al, on Flickr

Looking towards summit of Dheiragain. Tops of Ceathreamhnan to the R
ImageP1090592 by Al, on Flickr

The day's toll is telling...
ImageP1090594 by Al, on Flickr

It was only a short distance to Mullach na Dheiragain summit, making me cross that I hadn't nipped over to the Top when climbing Mullach the first time. I intended to head to the bealach between Carn na Con Dhu and Ceathreamnhan and camp, but by the time I'd reached the top of Carn na Con Dhu I had run out of energy and pitched right there. I rationalised that it might be stonier down the way, but really I was just done in. It was about tea time and I made my noodly repast. After eating this and some chocolate I felt somewhat revived. I could either sit the evening out or I could head off to the Ceathreamhnan tops tonight. I knew my tomorrow-self would welcome the latter course of action so I took a few essentials into the sac and headed off. Clag had come down, covering the western side of Ceathreamhnan, and it looked like rain was coming. Ach well. It wasn't too bad climbing up to the main summit, then there's a wee scrambly bit over to the West top. The Kintail hills stretched away to my left as I followed a line of fence posts along the ridge, visiting the line of summits in turn. It is a fair way (10km there and back to the tent) and I was cursing the final top, Stuc Fraoch Coire at 918m for not being 4m shorter so I wouldn't have had to climb the bloody thing. However on the return leg the sky began to turn to gold and the dying sunlight caught the west-facing flanks of the hills bathing them in a roseate glow. On the way back I was cursing me decision not to pitch at the lower bealach as I had another 100m or so ascent to get back to the tent. By the time I'd returned the light had faded away and I simply crawled into my bag and crashed out - three and a bit hours that trip had taken and another 1000m ascent but I was really glad I'd got it done tonight.

Pitch on Carn na Con Dhu
ImageP1090599 by Al, on Flickr

Up Ceathreamhnan
ImageP1090601 by Al, on Flickr

Over to Kintail
ImageP1090603 by Al, on Flickr

West Top
ImageP1090604 by Al, on Flickr

The ridge to the other Tops
ImageP1090608 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090612 by Al, on Flickr

The final Top in sight
ImageP1090613 by Al, on Flickr

Ceathreamhnan turning red
ImageP1090621 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090622 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090626 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090629 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090630 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090631 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the tent
ImageP1090635 by Al, on Flickr

Another fine morning dawned through the screen of the tent, another peaceful night despite the altitude of 950m. It occurred to me that I could bypass Ceathreamhnan by contouring round Coire nan Dearcag and rejoining the ridge before Stob Coire na Cloiche. This had the added advantage of providing another water-fill up point. Back on the ridge it was follow the path along to An Socach (Affric variety) and away down to Bealach Coire Ghaidheil with fine views down the side of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. next up was the oblique path up the side of Mam Sodhail - it's another 400m or so, but the gradient of the path makes it seem much easier than otherwise. I diverged from the path at the 1068m point then headed out to the first outlier, Creag Coire na Each. Back along the coire rim and to the 1108m point, out again, this time to An Tudair. Over to my left stretched the long limb to Sgurr na Lapaich. I wasn't sure if I should leave my sac for that length of time. i sat and had lunch at the top of the spur, watching an industrious spider on the grass by my side. Hell, let's just leave it, what's the worst that can happen in 8km rucksackless? I did worry about it rolling over the edge into the deep deep coire, or being molested by a stag but that's just irrational.

day 2

mull3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



ImageP1090643 by Al, on Flickr


ceathreamhnan
ImageP1090646 by Al, on Flickr

An Socach top
ImageP1090648 by Al, on Flickr

Creag Coire nan Each
ImageP1090655 by Al, on Flickr

An Tudair & Sgurr na Lapaich
ImageP1090660 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Lapaich
ImageP1090668 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090669 by Al, on Flickr



It's a long way out, but easy enough going. There are good views down to Affric and The Ben was silhouetted in blue against the skyline. I saw a group of folk up on Carn Eighe - the first (and only people I saw on the whole trip). Walking back from the Top, Carn Eighe looked most impressive, with Loch Uaine below the huge curve. I met up with the group of walkers at the Cairn on Mam Sodhail - they were doing a through walk through from Affric to Kintail, which sounded good. Looking out from the cairn I could see the outline of Skye with nary a cloud sitting on the mountaintops. Typical!!
I had been intending to head down to Beinn Fhionnlaidh and camp on the fine smooth plain that is Bealach Beag - but that did mean having to lug my pack back up 400m to the top of Carn Eighe in the morning. A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel (sorry Blackadder) occurred - I could see a few spots of grass in the bealach between Mam Sodhail & Carn Eighe - at 1050m that would leave me a small ascent if I pitched there. I scouted around when I got down and found an almost possible spot, pitched and set off with a minimal pack to contour round the side of Eighe, heading down to the Top of Stob Coire Lochan, a mere pimple before the more meaty rise of Fhionnlaidh. Scooted back the same way, stopping to collect some water from the good spring on the side of Carn Eighe. Back at the high bealach I noticed a better spot for the tent about 10m further along and moved kit and kaboodle. The midges were quite bad, so I was forced to retreat inside the bug net. Missed the sunset as I didn't dare venture out and had pitched to greet the dawn not the dusk, but could see the inner of the tent turn red as the sun sank. It's funny how your body clock adjusts so quickly to the natural rhythms when you are out in nature alone - up with the sunrise, sleep with the sunset - so right.

Looking back to Mam Sodhail
ImageP1090671 by Al, on Flickr

Glen Affric
ImageP1090675 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Eighe
ImageP1090676 by Al, on Flickr

Fhionnlaidh & Stob Coire Lochan
ImageP1090684 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090686 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090689 by Al, on Flickr

Another perfect morning, greeted with a welcome bark from a stag laying in the coire nearby. Great cloud formations over Sgurr na Lapaich from the vestibule and when I went outside there was Skye pink against the western vista and the valleys filled with foamy white seas of cloud. Spectacular. I was up on top of Carn Eighe before 7am, just drinking in the beauty around me, knowing that I had the rest of the walk in the bag. Off over the flat back of Carn Eighe then the fractured pinnacles and on over the sinuous lenght of this fine hill. I was flanked by a Sgurr na Lapaich on each side - one the northern Munro, one the southern Munro Top, both fine hills. It was just a pleasure heading over the mossy back of Tom a'Choinnich and on to Toll Creagach. Eventually I reached the top of Fraoch Coire and set off down into boggy, tufty terrain. I kept to the right of the Allt, trying to avoid subterranean streams and other holes hidden in the foliage. After a while I got to the Scots Pines at the bottom of the coire and followed the deer fence round (I should have gone through the gate, but didn't) and managing to extricate myself eventually by a wee scramble over the fence by the power station. Onto the tarmac and wow - the heat! Trotted the few km back to the car, baking in the sun. Unfortunately there were numerous clegs waiting at the car, which made getting changed somewhat perilous, but managed to avoid getting bitten as I changed shirt and trousers in the car park and rejoiced in the memory of three fine days in a most beautiful part of the country. It was as if summer had been distilled into these few days, and what a perfect time for it to have happened.

Dawn on Carn Eighe
ImageP1090706 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090710 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090712 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090715 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Eighe
ImageP1090716 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090717 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090718 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090719 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090721 by Al, on Flickr

looking along Carn Eighe
ImageP1090723 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090724 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090728 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090729 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090730 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Lapaich (N)
ImageP1090734 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Lapaich (S)
ImageP1090735 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090740 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Mullardoch
ImageP1090751 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1090755 by Al, on Flickr

Oh for a Lilo...
ImageP1090756 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:21 pm

Great stuff :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:26 pm

That was a brilliant read and the photos are wonderful, particularly on your final morning there.

Well done Al, superb :clap:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby Backpacker » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:52 pm

Brilliant Al, you do know you're nuts? :lol: :lol:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:01 pm

Backpacker wrote:Brilliant Al, you do know you're nuts? :lol: :lol:


Oh yeah!!
But it's a harmless kinda nuts :wink:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:24 pm

Great report, great pics :clap: :clap: :clap: . I particularly like the sunset sequence starting with pic 622 - also the amazing dawn pics.

Glad you had good weather for it. I was on Arran on Sunday you started, in part motivated by your report earlier this year, and other reports on WH, and the weather was great; but I recall that it was more iffy for Monday and Tuesday. Sometimes you clearly just have to get out there, even if the forecast's not so good...

And respect for lugging your gear (light tent notwithstanding) all that way!

By the way, to my astonishment I bumped into Sick Kid on Arran! - the first WHer I've met on my walks.

Your report brought back some great memories from 2012 (even to the detail of a major cloud inversion). It's truly a wonderful place - it feels so far from absolutely anywhere. Sadly I only had an ancient steam-powered old Nokia mobile phone with me, so I was quite unable to capture the magic (like the Cuillins as clear as could be poking out of a sea of cloud).

So thanks for posting :thumbup:

I've just sent the link for your report to my son, in the hope of catalysing some action. Ever since I did it, he's being saying he'd like to do it also, but over a couple of days at least; and if this doesn't stir him into action, nothing will!!
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:34 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Great report, great pics :clap: :clap: :clap: . I particularly like the sunset sequence starting with pic 622 - also the amazing dawn pics.

Glad you had good weather for it. I was on Arran on Sunday you started, in part motivated by your report earlier this year, and other reports on WH, and the weather was great; but I recall that it was more iffy for Monday and Tuesday. Sometimes you clearly just have to get out there, even if the forecast's not so good...

And respect for lugging your gear (light tent notwithstanding) all that way!

By the way, to my astonishment I bumped into Sick Kid on Arran! - the first WHer I've met on my walks.

Your report brought back some great memories from 2012 (even to the detail of a major cloud inversion). It's truly a wonderful place - it feels so far from absolutely anywhere. Sadly I only had an ancient steam-powered old Nokia mobile phone with me, so I was quite unable to capture the magic (like the Cuillins as clear as could be poking out of a sea of cloud).

So thanks for posting :thumbup:

I've just sent the link for your report to my son, in the hope of catalysing some action. Ever since I did it, he's being saying he'd like to do it also, but over a couple of days at least; and if this doesn't stir him into action, nothing will!!


Thanks for the kind words.
I was so glad the weather was as good - made it a really special experience.
Sick kid was telling me of your meeting today whilst we were off doing corbett repeats - pity she didn't get more time on the hills on Arran
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby ancancha » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:53 pm

Some fabulous photos there weaselmaster and a lot of walking :clap:
Affric is beautiful :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby RiverSong » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:25 pm

Absolutely astounding :clap: :clap: :clap:

All the guys who post on this site after walking one, two or maybe five Munros must feel a right bunch of wimps :wink:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:54 pm

Lucky you to have such fantastic weather for the full round... Superb sunsets!

I'm banging my head against the wall as I'm writing this... Kevin is injured and it looks pretty serious, at least another MONTH of the hills!!! Now, when summer has eventually decided to give us a few good days! I'm going to go completely bonkers! Especially after reading too many reports like yours :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby David-Main » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:27 pm

Back of the net AL ..Superb :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby malky_c » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:38 pm

Not sure quite how you managed to order all of that good weather at the same time - I thought there was a quota of 1.5 days max before it started raining again :shock: 8) .

That's one of the best circuits I've seen of the loch - impressive sunsets and great light all of the way round. Some longish detours for tops as well...
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby mountainsofscotland » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:44 pm

BIG walk. Great pics from a great circuit. Well done.
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby Borderhugh » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:23 pm

Yet again hats off Al. Respect. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Doing the Mullardoch 12 a week on saturday. If I get half the weather I will be happy. That shieling at Gobh-alltan (western end of Loch Mullardoch) looks ideal for a bivvy.
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Re: Mullardoch Round - Full Metal Jacket

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:40 pm

Borderhugh wrote:Yet again hats off Al. Respect. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Doing the Mullardoch 12 a week on saturday. If I get half the weather I will be happy. That shieling at Gobh-alltan (western end of Loch Mullardoch) looks ideal for a bivvy.


Oh I hope you get good weather, Hugh - such a great place to be.
First time round we camped on the dried up peaty area just before crossing the Gobh-Alltan which was about the only low level spot on the circuit. The shieling would afford some protection also. Have a great time anyhow
Al
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