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The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Mialach

The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Mialach


Postby Graeme D » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:50 pm

Munros included on this walk: Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach

Date walked: 02/04/2016

Time taken: 5.1 hours

Distance: 10.7 km

Ascent: 1230m

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Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach was the answer to the question posed at the end of my last report - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=61302

After coming off Creag Dubh, I drove back to the Commando Memorial to review the situation and make a decision.

I am not a particularly religious person at all, but various life experiences have certainly given me pause for thought in this regard, and instilled in me a certain belief in a faith of sorts. There are reasons after all why my daughter's middle name is Faith. I have alluded to the fact in various reports over the years that the mountain landscapes of Scotland cannot have been the result of creationism, but rather the results of billions of years of evolution and geological forces beyond comprehension. Anyway, that is to digress. What about faith? And what about the weather and the often mentioned but much maligned in hillwalking and climbing circles "Weather Gods"?

Hillwalking in Scotland at any time of year requires an element of faith, sometimes downright blind faith. Unless you are 100% flexible AND very lucky to boot, you cannot always cherry pick the best weather days. Most of us, we mere mortals, just have to go with it and hope for the best.

I have had many days when I have wavered about whether to follow through with my intended route. On some of these occasions I have pressed on and ended up wondering why I bothered. On others I have pulled the plug and been rewarded at some future date when I have returned in much better conditions. And on others still I have been rewarded for my seemingly blind faith with a stunning day that hadn't looked likely at the outset. Today would be one of these days.

Decision made and blind faith trusted, I pulled out of the Commando Memorial car park and turned north up the main road, the famous Road to the Isles. I wouldn't be going all the way to the Isles today, just beyond Invergarry to the Kinloch Hourn road turn off which would lead me along much of its single track length to Loch Quoich and my two targets on the north side of the loch.

I was glad to see that the road works at the crumbling section of the road alongside Loch Lochy in the shadow of the two Munros are gone, and that long straight section of road is now once again an absolute joy to drive along.

Memories of lunch stops at the Invegarry Hotel en route to Skye flashed through my mind as I passed by, but no such indulgences today.

I turned onto the Kinloch Hourn road and I was now on new territory. I had never been along this road in my life before (to the best of my knowledge in any case) but was surprised at the quality of the road. Yes, it is meandering, in typical Highlands single track road style, but it is in decent nick and fortunately, I only met two vehicles coming towards me the whole time I was on it, and both of these quite early on before we left "civilisation" proper.

Gairich soon begins to dominate the view ahead, and I wondered whether I would pitch camp by the side of Loch Quoich tonight and maybe grab Gairich (and possibly Sgurr a'Mhaoraich as well) tomorrow. I stopped to take some pictures of the solitary Munro looking like it was about to keel over into Glen Kingie, before continuing on past the dam to the start of the stalkers path up onto Gleouraich.

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Gairich - west along Glen Garry from the Kinloch Hourn road

If I didn't know already that my faith was going to be rewarded in spectacular fashion, I knew it before I was much more than five minutes up the winding path alongside the Allt Coire Peitireach.

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West along Loch Quoich shortly after setting off

The views west along Loch Quoich towards the wild lands of Knoydart and south across the water to the mountains around Glen Kingie and Loch Arkaig were sublime from the outset, and they just got better with every switchback in the stalkers path.

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Ascending towards Sron a'Chuilinn with Sgurr an Fhuarain and Sgurr Mor across Loch Quoich and Sgurr na Ciche prominent straight ahead

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Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach and Sgurr Mhaoraich

These views were soon complemented when I reached Sron a'Chuilinn by views down to and along the thin northern arm of Loch Quoich and as I climbed higher along the Druim Seilleach ridge, the drop into the trench below became more precipitous and views opened up to the less familiar side of the South Glen Shiel Ridge to the north.

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Down to the bridge across the thin northern arm of Loch Quoich at the foot of the Bac nan Canaichean ridge of Sgurr Mhaoraich

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Looking back to Sron a'Chuilinn

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The northern extremity of Loch Quoich and the rear end of part of the South Glen Shiel Ridge

It was a still day with barely a breath of wind and as I climbed beyond the high point of Druim Seilleach and began to drop down into the dip, I became aware of voices carrying on the still air. Eventually I spotted their source high above me, descending the steep snowy slopes from the summit towards me.

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Gleouraich summit approach from the dip in the western ascent ridge

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Druim Seilleach with Sgurr na Ciche prominent beyond the western end of Loch Quoich

Beyond this point the snow became markedly deeper and with it being fairly soft in most places, the going became a bit difficult as the steep approach towards the summit kicked in.

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Glen Quoich and the western half of the South Glen Shiel Ridge

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Back down over the ascent ridge of Druim Seilleach

I passed the two guys on descent and we stopped and chatted for 5 minutes or so before going our separate ways. They had summited Gleouraich but decided not to continue to Spidean. They said they had walked in the previous day from Barrisdale (but didn't say to where exactly or where they had spent the night) when some of the river crossings had been quite treacherous and many of the paths themselves like rivers.

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Sgurr Mhaoraich across the end of the northern arm of the loch with the Forcan Ridge visible in the far distance on the right

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Final pull to the summit of Gleouraich

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Gairich, Sgurr an Fhuarain and Sgurr Mor

Eventually I arrived at the significant summit cairn of Gleouraich which certainly wasn't living up to the meaning of its name (The Roaring) today. I wasn't complaining. Although the name probably refers to the roaring of stags during the rutting season, I could equally well imagine days when the roaring might refer to gale force winds and blizzards howling across the summit. Today could not have been further from that alternative reality.

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East from the summit of Gleouraich with the first part of the onward route in the foreground and Loch Loyne in the background

I took countless summit view photos and few of me sitting atop the cairn before carrying on for what I expected to be the highlight of the route - the walk between the two Munros along the corniced edge of the ridge above the three vast, rocky northern corries that take huge bites into the northern aspects of these mountains.

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The western part of Loch Quoich with a panorama of hills from Gairich on the left to the Druim Chosaidh on the right and through to the western Loch Arkaig Corbetts in the background

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From the summit looking north west up Glen Quoich with Sgurr Mhaoraich on the left and the western end of the South Glen Shiel Ridge on the right

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Summit special

The ridge walk did not disappoint. After a short spell where some low cloud drifted in over Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich and hung about for ten minutes or so, nothing more than a minor irritant to be fair, the traverse between the two Munro summits was a joy. There were but the merest signs of footprints, long since almost entirely covered over by fresh snowfall but that aside, it was virgin snow.

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Dark cloud banks massing over Glen Dessary and out towards Knoydart

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Looking back to Gleouraich

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Momentarily threatening to clag in

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Gleouraich and some chunky cornicing

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Descending off Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich

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Skirting the edge of Coire na Fiar Bhealaich

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Back to Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich

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Approaching the 977m minor top

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Back along the ridge

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The spur jutting north from the spine of the ridge between the corries of the Allt a'Choire Leacaich Mhor and the Allt an Fhir-eoin from the 977m spot

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Spidean Mialach from the 977m spot

The summit of Spidean Mialach does not give itself up quickly or easily, with the detours around the edges (although not TOO close!) of the vast corries and numerous minor bumps and high points to negotiate en route, but eventually I was there.

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Final approach to Spidean Mialach

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West from Spidean Mialach summit - connecting ridge to Gleouraich to the right with Sgurr na Ciche and the western reaches of Loch Quoich to the left

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Number 189 - Gleouraich by my left shoulder

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Gairich centre stage

It seemed even more quiet and still here than it had on Gleouraich and after a spot of photography and a bite to eat, I sat down on a wee ledge provided by one of the cairn stones and shut my eyes. I must have dozed off before the chill seeping in from the stones awoke me. I was not wearing a watch and had not checked my mobile for the time since setting off from the car, so I had no idea for how long I had nodded off or what the time was now. I could sense that it probably hadn't been much more than about 10 minutes, so after a wee wander around the summit area to shake off the chill, I sat for another 10 minutes or so and took it all in, eyes open this time.

Sadly, eventually, it was time to head for the car and close the book on what had been another fantastic hill day. There are many things that make a hill day great and I have had great hill days at many different times of the year, but there is something about a good day in March or April, with an increasingly strong and warm sun shining in a largely blue sky and snow still plastering the higher slopes that takes a lot of beating.

I descended via the western side of Coire Glas at a fair old skelp and skirted the north western shores of Loch Fearna before crossing the Allt a'Mheil and picking up the increasingly industrial feeling track back to the Kinloch Hourn road and the shores of Loch Quoich, from where a short walk west along the tarmac returned me to my car.

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Descending Coire Glas towards Loch Fearna

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South east from Loch Fearna towards the Grey Corries, the Aonachs and Nevis

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Gairich and the Allt a'Mheil

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Industrial looking track lead me home!

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Gairich reflections


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Graeme D
 
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:21 am

Great report, what good conditions you had. I love those photos of the untouched snow, just makes me want to walk across it (not too close to the cornices!!)
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Jaxter » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:54 am

Impressive looking hills, these 2. Glad you managed to have a good day, those views are amazing! :clap:

I had a good laugh at you falling asleep at the top :lol: conditions aren't usually good enough for that :D
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Mountainlove » Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:11 am

Lovely report and yes faith plays a part of hill walking...and numerous weather forecasting sites and sometimes just giving it a go and think sod it. I love the area around Loch Quioch and you had some good weather for it. The mountains are special in this area and well worth the wait :D
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Graeme D » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:12 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Great report, what good conditions you had. I love those photos of the untouched snow, just makes me want to walk across it (not too close to the cornices!!)



Cheers Mal. Yes, it wouldn't be a wise move to get too close to some of them there cornices! :o
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Graeme D » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:13 pm

Jaxter wrote:Impressive looking hills, these 2. Glad you managed to have a good day, those views are amazing! :clap:

I had a good laugh at you falling asleep at the top :lol: conditions aren't usually good enough for that :D


True, but this was a rather exceptional day! 8)
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Graeme D
 
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Graeme D » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:15 pm

Mountainlove wrote:Lovely report and yes faith plays a part of hill walking...and numerous weather forecasting sites and sometimes just giving it a go and think sod it. I love the area around Loch Quioch and you had some good weather for it. The mountains are special in this area and well worth the wait :D


Thanks Maja! Yes, you have a bit of "history" with certain hills in that neck of the woods, don't you????!!!!! :lol:
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Gordie12 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:26 pm

Not sure about this falling asleep lark at the top of hills but apart from that............brilliant :clap: :clap: :clap:

Didn't you think about adding on......................
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby pollyh33 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:37 pm

Ahhhh now Graeme that report was a real treat.

I had a fantastic day on these hills but your photos make everything look even better.

When you were about 100 feet from the road did you have to go through rhododendron (yes I did need to look up the spelling) bushes? :crazy: :crazy: :crazy:
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby Graeme D » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:40 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Ahhhh now Graeme that report was a real treat.

I had a fantastic day on these hills but your photos make everything look even better.

When you were about 100 feet from the road did you have to go through rhododendron (yes I did need to look up the spelling) bushes? :crazy: :crazy: :crazy:


when I was about 3 feet from the road Polly!
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Graeme D
 
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby tombombadilio » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:29 am

Graeme, if you'd delayed your journey by only 9 days (and brought some binoculars and knew exactly what time to be there), there's a tiny chance I could have waved to you from the South Glen Shiel Ridge :D :

IMG_3293.jpg
Looking in your general direction to the south, I think...
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby basscadet » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:58 am

Ah, those hills are so amazing - and looks like you saw them at their best - brilliant 8)
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:10 pm

What a fabulous day in a stunning part of the Highlands - well showcased by your photos! :wink:
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Re: The Lord giveth - faith rewarded on Gleouraich and Miala

Postby JimboJim » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:04 am

Aye, that's "rubbing it in," alright :lol:

Nice one!

Jimmy
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