Mullardoch- a round of 9 and crossing on a Therm a Rest
by Mountainlove » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:36 pm
Route description: Tom a' Choinich and Toll Creagach, Glen Affric
Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Mam Sodhail, Sgurr na Lapaich, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich
Date walked: 17/08/2015
Time taken: 23 hours
Distance: 42.8 km
Ascent: 3782m20 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).
The Mullardoch Munros ...never had I so much trouble deciding how to tackle these Munros. What I knew that I did not fancy them over 3 days, but completing all 12 in 2 (or even 1 day gulp) wasn't an option either. I must have had at least 3 different route planned in the past, but due to different factors never managed it.
It all changed when I swam across Loch Quoich and started to look at lochs in a slight different way
It was clear from looking at the loch that there is a short way across it. So what about combining a round with a swim? Oh I liked the idea! Doing some online research I learned that Loch Mullardoch used to be 2 separate lochs and that the crossing I was looking at used to be part of a burn which connected the two lochs, until the construction of the dam started and the area was flooded.
The old map which show the 2 lochs
Planning my route I realized that my swim would not really save time, but at least it would add some adventure.
Not fancying a 20 kilo backpack by taking my wetsuit and lilo, I knew both had to stay home, but this would leave me with no floating device. Checking the distance on the map it was a short 180m.
My head was racing until I thought about my Therm a Rest! Hardly a lilo, but surely it would float and carry my backpack?
Speaking to my dad on the phone, he thought I was mad, but happily told me that back in his army days he used to hold on to a log to cross water, with his gear stuffed in a waterproof canvas sheet. Explaining that finding a log big enough seemed less possible that giving my Therm a Rest a try, he agreed. So all I needed was a bikini and a combination of dry and bin bags to get my gear over the loch.
On Sunday late morning I made my way towards Cannich. Stopping at The Green Welly I met Bod and Val who were on their return trip from their Completion Weekend. Its always nice to meet other Walkhighlanders and I stopped for a wee chat. Setting off I continued up north and by the time I arrived I set up camp at the great camping and caravan park in Cannich.
The evening passed quickly and before I knew it was time to start my round during the next morning.
Leaving my car at the small car park, I walked towards the left hand site of the dam and walking up a path marked private I soon realized that it was the wrong way- great start! Not bothering to return I walked through thick heather in order to find a path. 15min into the walk I got lucky when I reached a boggy track which lead me alongside the burn and through the lovely forest.
It wasn't like the path I had expected and once I was out of the trees the path frizzled out pretty quickly. Keeping to the left hand site of the burn, I continued up the heathery/grassy hill site.
Covering distance, but not height I was getting fed up and decided to head up in a direct line towards my right. It was steeper than I had thought, but at least I was on my way up Once I reached the bealach between Creag a Bhaca and Toll Creagach a faith path continued all the way up Toll Creagach the first Munro of the day.
The start of the walk (trying to find a path)
Across the loch
The boggy path
Out of the trees looking back down
Time to find some kind of path
Looking back towards the loch on my climb up towards the first Munro
Toll Creagach summit
Once I reached the cairn I only stopped for some photos and walked towards Tom a Choinich Munro No 2. There were quite a few people and having a chat with an energetic chap of 62, he told me that he swapped scuba diving for hill walking 5 years ago and like most of us had gotten the hill walking bug. Continuing everyone seemed to be in a good mood and when I reached second Munro I had some well-earned lunch before it was time to continuing towards Carn Eige.
The ridge in front of me seemed endless and to make out the next Munro was impossible.
On the scramble up Sron Garbh I met a young foreign couple who seemed knackered and wanted to know if it was possible to head straight back down the hill. Checking the hill site I told them it was, but that they had to expect rough ground until they reached the path again. Saying my good byes I watched them on their decent before moving along myself. As tiring the constant up and down with a heavy backpack was, the views were amazing and I had to stop and stare many times. These where the Mullardoch views I had imagined.
Finlly Carn Eige appeared in the distance like a junction wedged between Mam Sodhail and Beinn Fhionnlaidh.
Me on Tom a Choinich Munro No 2
The endless up and down can begin
Views back towards Tom a Choinich and Toll Creagach
Carn Eige in the mist
Loved this part
Once I reached Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail seemed really close in comparison to the endless ridge I just had covered. Dumping my backpack next to the path, half way down the mountain I climbed towards the summit. It was bliss! The cairn at the top of Mam Sodhail is enormous and only my curious nature made me climb it and realise that there is a percept square shelter right inside it. Not lingering long I walked back and scoobed around the left hand site of Carn Eige. It was steep, but at least if saved me the second climb to the summit. Climbing over some big boulder fields I was glad when I finally met the path again and saw Beinn Fhionnlaidh looming ahead. A lot farther away than the previous Munro, but at least it would be the last mountain for the day.
Carn Eige summit
A short distance towards Mam Sodhail
Mam Sodhail I was surprised to see so much snow
Looking back towards Carn Eige and the ridge to the right and Beinn Fhionnlaidh in the distance towards the left
The cairn on Mam Sodhail
Only by climbing to the top you will see the inside
From the cairn looking back. It is possible to keep to the left hand site of the mountain to avoid the top when you climb towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh
I was feeling really thirsty, as my water supply was long gone and I had had no chance to fill my bottles up. Looking at all the lochs below was taunting, but knowing there would be a lovely stream of cold water at the end was the saving grace. I reached the conical summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh and the views down towards Loch Mullardoch were amazing. From the top a natural ridge went down the right hand site of the mountain which I followed. The decent on the grassy slope was pretty steep in places and required the use of my hands to hold on to bushels of grass. Scanning the ground for berries or water I had no luck and sticking my tongue out in the wind made me (apart from looking completely stupid) at least develop some saliva which helped with the thirst haha.
Finally I reached a set of lovely waterfalls. The first half a litre went down in one go and water had certainly never tasted better. Drinking some more water I looked around and had to say the combination of waterfalls were stunning! The loch was still some distance away, but at least I was feeling better.
Beinn Fhionnlaidh cairn
And more importantly at this stage the walk down and the easy crossing far below
The walk at the start was easy
More waterfalls and top of Beinn Fhionnlaidh
At the waters edge
11 hours after setting of I reached the loch much to the delight of millions of midges. Slapping on some midge repellent, I looked at the distance I would have to swim. Much to my delight it was far shorter than the map had indicated and I started putting my gear in a combination of dry bags and black bin bags and blew up my Therm a rest. Getting changed, my clothes, boots and walking poles were the last things to get packed which left quite a substantial amount of bags.Putting my Therm a Rest on the edge of the waters, I started to load my bags on it , thinking that I really should have tried it beforehand. Once everything was loaded on the mat I gently I pushed it into the water and held my breath- it floated yeah!
Packing my gear and putting my Therm a Rest into a new use
Ready to go
Perfect time for a swim
By the time I was standing in my bikini on the muddy shore the sun was setting and covered the sky and the water into a lovely pink. What an amazing time for a swim I thought. Pushing my Therm a Rest gently further into the water I stepped into the freezing cold water. Once I was waist deep inside, I let out a scream and went under. Ught Ahhh, Bloody hell it was cold and with the sudden movement I had pushed a wave of water over my gear. I would have to be more careful! There was no time to hang around and with long strokes I started the swim. Holding onto the mat was no option as it soaked my gear, so I used my head to push the mat in front of me. It worked and with all sorts of sounds due to the freezing water I swam across to the other shore.
Stepping out of the water I had originally planned to walk further, but was too knackered. Unpacking my gear I decided to stay and digging out my soap I went back to the loch to have a wash Clean and dried up I put my jammies on and set up my tent and got settled for the night ahead.
On the other side
The short distance covered
Time to say good night
I woke up during a beautiful morning and was eagerly awaited by clouds of midges. Getting dressed in my tiny tent is always a struggle, but it was better than getting attacked by the midges outside.
Once dressed and packed a light breeze started which gave me the chance to eat breakfast in piece. While I tried to walk I realized that I got a set of blisters underneath my feed, thanks to not having worn my boots in 6 months. Swallowing some pain killers I set off, past the old ruin of Am Mam and up the grassy slopes. Tired and sore the climb up towards the first Munro was a struggle and took forever. But once I reached the cairn, the views towards Skye and Torridon let me forget all the struggles- simply amazing and possible even better than the previous day.
A calm morning (100000 midges liked that)
Home for the previous night
Amazing trees (or whats left over)
Beinn Fhionnlaidh across Loch Mullardoch
The ruin at Am Mam
The Cullin ridge in the distance
Some pretty rough ground further below
An Socach summit ridge
Views towards the far west
The Hebrides in the far distance
Once upon the ridge the walk towards An Riabhachan was long , but far more enjoyable than I had imagined. Probably due to the lovely views which ' forced' me to stop and stare in more than one occasion.
Close to the second Munro I had once more finished my water supplies and not wanting to get as dehydrated as the previous day I looked for some water. My eyes fell upon a tiny lochan and climbing down towards it I noticed a lot of deer hoof prints around it.. While I filled up my bottle, I tried hard not to think about how many deer must have peed in the puddle, or how many larvae of god know what were in the water. Yuck! Just as well I carry water purification tablets. Popping a tablet in the bottle I made sure that I waited double the amount needed and added some fruit squash to mask the taste.
Regardless how I tried to like the end result, it was discussing, but at least I had something to drink!
The Culin ridge again
The walk ahead
The ridge and looking for water
The tiny lochan (in the middle of picture) was my water supply
Looking back again
Not the summit yet
An Riabhachan summit
The Torridon beauties
Moving on I met the first hill walker of the day. Sitting down for a chat he told me that he aimed to complete the round in 2 days, which would leave him only 1 Munro left before he completed his first round.
(If you read this I hope you managed it!) The distance between An Riabhachan and Sgurr na Lapaich is yet again much shorter, as you will lose quite some height before the climb towards the summit. Walking the last few hundred yards towards the summit I noticed a strong animal smell which reminded me of deer. Keeping an eye out for any deer I certainly did not expect what I saw when I approached the summit of Sgurr na Lapaich. A large herd of feral goats! Now that was cool! Snapping away some photos, I walked closer, but unfortunately the deer started to walk away. Anyways it was a first and I loved the pictures of the goats against the mountain backdrop!
Sitting down at the cairn my body was feeling the pain of the previous two days and trying to stretch as well as I could I suddenly heard footsteps approaching. Looking up it was person I had met the previous day and who told me that he planned to drive around the other site to camp and complete some more Munros during the next couple of days.
An Riabhachan and the steep drop between the mountains
Sgurr na Lapaich cairn with some feral goats
There should be goats up each hill!
The herd moving along
Views from the summit of Sgurr na Lapaich
I had been looking out for him and sitting down next to me we shared mountain stories until I realised that I better move on, if I wanted to get back before darkness. I left with some tips on how to get down Sgurr na Lapaich. It was a rather steep descent, but I managed to find the path which stayed away from the rocks.
Once down at the bealach it was a half an hour walk up to the final Munro of the day. Proud that I completed my round I stood for a while but time pressed me on. With all my breaks I had already taken so much longer than I has planned.
Carn nan Gobhar
Looking back from the bealach
The rocky summit of Carn nan Gobhar
During the walk down the endless slope I finally came across some ripe Cloudberries. Something I had wanted to try and sample for a while. Crossing one of the bridges next to the burn, a boggy path continued for the last 3 km until I reached my car again.
The rough walk back
The end is in sight
by ceaser » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:09 pm
by dooterbang » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:25 pm
Looking at the map confirmed swimming across the loch gained no distance, but what a way to add somerhing different to a walk. You must have felt energised, or at least fresh, after the swim. I was actually thinking about your Loch Quoich swim when I was in Grunaird Bay the other day and went for a swim, although mines was more Baywatch compared to yours.
Great stuff, highy entertaining as usual
by scoob999 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:27 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:33 pm
by The Rodmiester » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:39 pm
by Lmitch » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:11 pm
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by hopper68 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:03 pm
by litljortindan » Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:56 pm
by Collaciotach » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:18 pm
ach s' math a rinn thu .... but well done
I had issues with water on this round but managed to squeeze by without lochan's
by goth_angel » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:50 pm