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Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach


Postby dogplodder » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:46 pm

Route description: Beinn Ghobhlach

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Ghobhlach

Date walked: 11/04/2016

Distance: 11 km

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The forecast for Ullapool looked good with BBC Weather giving a big fat sun for most of the day - although I probably should have paid closer attention to the predicted wind situation than I did ie the possibility of buffeting from the east such that it could impede ease of walking. So lured on by the promise of sun and no rain we made a plan to climb Beinn Ghobhlach - the hill across Loch Broom from Ullapool.

I met Liz (Huff n Puff) and Janice (Towser) at the forest car park in Contin and we travelled the rest of the way in Liz's car. Thanks to Liz for driving that single track road! Half way along towards Badrallach we were stopped in our tracks by a flock of sheep completely blocking the road and looking hopefully at us, as if they thought we had driven along with the sole purpose of unloading delectable sheep treats to them - and they weren't for moving until they'd got them! So out I got to usher them off the road but they weren't for budging and it took a fair amount of walking in front of the car flapping my map at them before they moved off. Janice did kindly take photos of this operation but along with the ones she took of me climbing from behind I feel I should spare readers the visual assault of too much viewing from the rear of the rear!

When we reached the end of the road at Badrallach there were a few cars already parked, but we didn't meet a soul all day. We wondered if folk from Scoraig parked here before the long walk home along the coastal path.

Sail Mhor from Badrallach
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It's a good path with lovely views along little Loch Broom towards Scoraig and the open waters of the Minch. Out of consideration for ground nesting birds and lambing time Liz and I had decided not to bring the dogs and although we didn't come across any more sheep I think later in the day we were glad we hadn't brought them. Certainly my two wouldn't have relished the strong east wind buffeting we had to deal with higher up.

Coastal path to Scoraig
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We had decided to follow the WH route, but in reverse, which is the way the SMC Corbett book suggests doing it. We all agreed we prefer to tackle steep slopes in ascent. And steep it was. Just after a short downward section of pitched stone on the path we saw a stream coming down from the right and Janice pointed out this was where we should head up. There was a faint path to start with but it soon fizzled out and it was just a case of picking one's way over tussocky grass and heather and weaving around the occasional craggy section in an upwards direction.

Steep pathless climb from coastal path (photos with me in them were taken by Janice)
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The steepness levelled out and we got our first view of the hill we were climbing beyond one of the two lochs we expected to find. I couldn't understand why we didn't immediately see both lochs and wondered if the one we could see was the more easterly one (Loch na Coireag). But Janice rightly pointed out there were contours between the lochs and we just weren't seeing the easterly one yet.

Beinn Ghobhlach beyond Loch na h-Uidhe
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We made for the east end of Loch na h-Uidhe and found a tiny beach of golden sand where we stopped for a bite to eat and thought how tempting it would be on a warm summer's day to go for a dip. While we sat there the wind strengthened and the surface of the loch became quite choppy - but still we had no idea how strong it would be at the top!

Duly fortified we set off on the second stage of the ascent, zig zagging up round the rocky outcrops towards the dip on the ridge.

Start of second stage of ascent
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Looking back at Loch na h-Uidhe (the westerly one)
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Loch na Coireag (the easterly one)
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An Teallach and Sail Mhor
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South west to Skye on the horizon
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View south west from the ridge
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West to end of Scoraig peninsula
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North to Ben More Coigach
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During the short climb over Torridon sandstone 'pancake' rocks from the ridge to the summit we were completely sheltered from the wind and had no idea what was about to hit us. I'd just said to Janice we'd not seen Ullapool yet, then we saw it and at that moment were hit by a blast that literally took our breath away. Only a few times do I remember such fierce wind on a hill (one time was on Beinn a Ghlo which has a reputation to keep!). I staggered to the cairn, touched it with my pole and staggered on to the windshelter. The others followed and we huddled inside for a drink and a sandwich with the only possibilty of conversation being by sign language. It was difficult to pour a drink and the only way I could keep my camera still was by resting it against the top of the shelter - hence the blur at the blottom of the next photo.

Ullapool from windshelter
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If we crouched right down the low wall shielded us from the worst of the wind but even with all our layers on it still wasn't a place to hang about with that degree of wind chill. I was first to make a break for it, to get lower down and head round the ridge in the direction of the northern summit - just because I was too cold to stay in the euphemistically named windshelter any longer.

Looking back at summit
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Zoomed south to An Teallach
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Round the ridge and a bit lower down we found some rounded sandstone rocks facing into the sun which did give some shelter so we huddled in beside them to regroup and make a plan. We agreed the wind gusts were too strong for any exposed walking and we should abort the plan to ascend the northern top for the views out west. But we did want to get a closer look at the Summer Isles so we would make for the foot of the northern top before starting our descent down Coire Dearg. It was while sitting there we worked out our combined age was exactly 200 years, which put like that sounded a bit concerning. Here's hoping what we lack in youthful fitness is compensated for in stubborn determination. And anyway nothing can beat those views!

Zoomed north west to Summer Isles
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West to northern top and end of peninsula
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Braving the wind
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We weren't sure if the island we could see was Harris or north end of Skye. I thought Harris.
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Our descent route from Coire Dearg
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Once far enough down to be out of the full blast of the wind we sat down in a grassy hollow to finish the lunch we'd aborted in the summit shelter. Then Janice took a bearing on a rock the size of a cottage and we headed in that direction.

Beinn Ghobhlach - the forked hill
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An Teallach and Sail Mhor from lower slopes
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I set off a bit before the other two (left them blethering in their grassy hollow) so kept stopping to check on their progress and didn't go on until I could see them. When I reached the rock the size of a cottage I could see them not too far behind so waited a bit then started on the steeper part of the descent to the coastal path. It was rough ground and a case of weaving between rocks but then I was drawn like a moth to a light by the sound of a waterfall.

Waterfall
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It didn't look a good plan to follow the stream straight down so from the waterfall I detoured a little to the west and found a way down between sandstone boulders to the coastal path. I'd last seen the others nearing the waterfall but when I reached the path there was no sign off them. The sky had clouded over and from where I was I couldn't see far up the hillside so I walked east to where the path was higher and had a better view. Then I sat down to wait, scanning the hillside for any glimpse of the colours they were wearing. After about 5 minutes I received a text from Janice to say they'd headed further west to find a less steep way down and after about another 5 minutes I saw them in the distance coming along the coastal path towards me.

It was then an easy walk back along the cliff-hugging and superbly engineered path to where the car was parked at Badrallach. At one point we were startled by a grunting sound to our right which turned out to be two hairy white goats with long beards who seemed a bit disgruntled to see us.

Janice's photo of a goat
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All in all it was an exhilerating day on a hill none of us had previously climbed (or thought we had climbed - Janice now tells me she actually had, but has no memory of it. Don't think she'll quickly forget her second time there!) As a Graham it doesn't have the height of some of the giants around it, but what it lacks in altitude it makes up for in character. A hill with attitude - especially in that wind!
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:33 am

Moira wasn't able to come with us on Monday but this shot of her on the summit of Sgurr Fiona shows two-topped Beinn Ghobhlach over to the right.

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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Towser » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:21 pm

Having said I had never done it before, I was intrigued that my husband said he thought I had, but he thought I was unwell "or something", and a friend said I had done it back in 2009, she thought. With that year as a guide, I looked back my Book of Hills, and sure enough there is an entry for Beinn Ghobhlach. It had been the first hill climbed following a bout of Shingles and the 'flu - no wonder I didn't remember it! But, stranger still, I climbed it on the 11th April 2009, the same date as I climbed it on Monday - 11th April 2016. My notes say I found it a bit hard going at the top - not surprising I suppose.
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:42 pm

Your report and beautiful photos reminded me of why I love this area and long to get back there. Thank you
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:47 am

Towser wrote:Having said I had never done it before, I was intrigued that my husband said he thought I had, but he thought I was unwell "or something", and a friend said I had done it back in 2009, she thought. With that year as a guide, I looked back my Book of Hills, and sure enough there is an entry for Beinn Ghobhlach. It had been the first hill climbed following a bout of Shingles and the 'flu - no wonder I didn't remember it! But, stranger still, I climbed it on the 11th April 2009, the same date as I climbed it on Monday - 11th April 2016. My notes say I found it a bit hard going at the top - not surprising I suppose.


Doing it after shingles and flu must have brought on traumatic memory loss. That explains why you were so sure about the position of the two lochs - even though you didn't remember your subconcious did! :wink:
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby litljortindan » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:52 pm

I hope I am going so well when I am two hundred divided by three.
I wanted to return here last December and this February but I just couldn't manage. First time round I felt short of time and second time round I was struggling with the hard ground and recovery from flu. A great hill though with fantastic views, particularly along that north ridge.
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby jamesb63 » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:41 pm

Fantastic report well defined and detailed :clap: :clap:
and the pics well what can I say simply beautiful ,and great weather to be out
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Bod » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:34 pm

Lovely report dogpodder and great pictures. Valerie and I were up Sail Mhor the following day so thanks for those views too :D :D :wink:
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:10 am

I've always thought this looks like a nice hill, it draws you from across Loch Broom. Your report proves it!
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:06 pm

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Your report and beautiful photos reminded me of why I love this area and long to get back there. Thank you


Thanks CC. :D
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:10 pm

litljortindan wrote:I hope I am going so well when I am two hundred divided by three.
I wanted to return here last December and this February but I just couldn't manage. First time round I felt short of time and second time round I was struggling with the hard ground and recovery from flu. A great hill though with fantastic views, particularly along that north ridge.


Sounds like a hill folk come to when recovering from illness but it's probably more demanding than they expect! 8)
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Graeme D » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:46 pm

Beautiful report. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

I have given this one some thought a couple of times when I have been in the locale but never done it yet. Why oh why!!!!????
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby Jaxter » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:49 am

This looks like a cracking wee hill, what amazing views :clap:

200 years of experience :wink:

Can't wait to get back up north again!
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:27 pm

jamesb63 wrote:Fantastic report well defined and detailed :clap: :clap:
and the pics well what can I say simply beautiful ,and great weather to be out


It was a great day to be out - despite the wind! :wink:
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Re: Sunshine, crazy wind and 200 years on Ghobhlach

Postby dogplodder » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:30 pm

Bod wrote:Lovely report dogpodder and great pictures. Valerie and I were up Sail Mhor the following day so thanks for those views too :D :D :wink:


After your report, Sail Mhor is next up! 8)
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