A proclamation from Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
by simon-b » Mon May 30, 2016 4:20 pm
Route description: Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan group, Alltbeithe
Munros included on this walk: An Socach (Affric), Mullach nan Dheiragain, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
Date walked: 23/05/2016
Time taken: 14.2 hours
Distance: 48 km
Ascent: 2126m3 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).
And I'd walk five more Affric miles
Just to avoid An Caorann Mor
To be the man who climbed 6000 feet
To fall at his car door
In June 2014, I was staying in Kintail and thinking of climbing these 3 hills in a day walk from the Cluanie Inn. During that week, Jimmy (Jones) and I climbed A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire from the Cluanie and returned along the An Caorann Mor, a proper bogfest which I would not enjoy at the beginning and end of a very long day. So my plans to do the Ceathreamhnan 3 that way were abandoned. Approaching from Glen Affric would mean an extra 8 km in total, but a much more dry and pleasant walk. So that's what I decided to do.
A self catering cottage near Beauly meant the option of suitably early breakfasts for epic hill days, and I'd already spent a week there. The weekend (21-22 May) was wet and gave me the chance of a rest, and to get ready for Monday. On Sunday evening there was a torrential shower and thunderstorm, but the forecast for the coming days was much better, especially for the west. So I wanted an early start on Monday, not only for the long day, but to finish in time to get to bed to be ready for another walk on Tuesday, which had a particularly good forecast! I was driving towards Cannich at the crack of dawn, then into Glen Affric on a Monday morning with mixed brightness and fog. It was just about sunrise when I started the hike, and what a beautiful time to walk it was.
Leaving Loch Affric behind, the low level fog had cleared and the sun was shining, although the Kintail mountains in front still had their heads in cloud. When I reached the bridge over the Allt Coire Ghaidheil, it occurred to me that climbing via the ridge onto An Sornach could make a shortcut to An Socach, saving distance and ascent. But on probably rough and pathless ground, it might mean no real saving in time and energy, the main factors on such a long day. So I stayed on the easy path. Also, in such a remote area, staying on piste should mean being easier to find by the MRT, if something were to go wrong.
Not surprisingly, the first people I encountered all day were at Alltbeithe Youth Hostel. We had a quick chat...
...and then the proper ascent began. A good path took me alongside the burn up to Coire na Cloiche, which wasn't too boggy at the time. A little later the bealach was reached.
I'd already decided to go for An Socach first. There was a minor top to pass over on the way; easy enough, but could be a sting in the tail if An Socach was left as the last hill of the day. Anyway, I made it to the summit in good time.
En route back to the bealach, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan was mist free, but the sky was overcast above it. I thought, "Should I make a dash for Ceathreamhnan while it's clear, in case the cloud lowers later?" But I stuck with my original plan to go for Mullach nan Dheiragain next. Just past the bealach, two small cairns indicated where a path heading NW dropped off the ridge. This was steep, boggy and sketchy, but did its job. As the gradient eased, the terrain became lumpy and pathless. My GPS recorded track suggests that I paddled through Loch Coire na Dearcag then fell into it backwards, but this wasn't the case . Fairly rough, grassy ground but an easy gradient took me to Bealach nan Daoine, then the walking became more enjoyable along the ridge path. I marched off towards Carn na Con Dhu and Mullach nan Dheiragain, with nice views to be had.
At one point there was a boulder field to cross, but that was soon out of the way.
In time my target was in front of me, and the ascent to it wasn't too steep. I reached a summit cairn, but then saw another one, some distance ahead! A quick check confirmed that I was on top of Mullach nan Dheiragain, and the next top was Mullach Sithidh, a little lower. So this was as far as I was going .
It had been an enjoyable walk out to here, but I was also glad to have got the remote Munro out of the way as I made the about turn towards Ceathreamhnan.
Back over Carn na Con Dhu and its boulders, back to Bealach nan Daoine, and I was ready to tackle Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. And what a mountain it is. There was a steep but exhilarating pull up the NE ridge.
This became one of those hills which have surpassed my expectations. The summit was still clear when I reached it, a grand airy perch with magnificent views. It's a proper summit, small and pointed.
I couldn't stay there forever, of course, and so the descent began.
There were some tops to cross on the route down along the east ridge...
...but in time I was back at the bealach above Coire na Cloiche, then heading back down towards the Youth Hostel.
As I approached Alltbeithe and the path swung right, I felt I could make a shortcut by keeping straight on across grass to the Affric track. But I didn't know how boggy this might be, so once again I stuck to plan A and went via the hostel on the distinct paths.
Of course, there was a long walk out ahead, but it was a beautiful late afternoon, and I had no issues with the march back to base.
On the last bit of the walk, there were one or two light showers, the first rain of the day, but not even enough to put on waterproofs. When I made it back to the car, I was naturally quite tired, but not really ready to collapse. It was 7:00 pm. Time to get into the car and back to the cottage, sort out the gear, cook, eat, wash up, shower and get to bed. The forecast was too good to miss any days on the hills ! So...
When I wake up, and it's only half past three
It's cos there's something I know I gotta do
And if I get drunk, then I know I'm gonna be
The man who's havering about the two-eight-two
But I'd walk five more Affric miles...
by Fife Flyer » Mon May 30, 2016 4:33 pm
Your suggestion of cutting out the YH on the way back, that is exactly what I did, but it was dry when I did it.
I agree with you Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan really is a superb hill, nice to see some of the snow still lingering on the summit.
by Guinessman » Mon May 30, 2016 7:23 pm
by simon-b » Tue May 31, 2016 6:41 pm
Cheers, Guinessman. I see Martin's report hasn't put you off cycling in for these! Good luck when you go there, they're great hills.
by Emmanuelle » Tue May 31, 2016 10:08 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:40 am
by dav2930 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:22 pm
Glen Affric is a real beauty isn't it? - especially at sunrise, as your photos show! And Ceathreamhnan does look a very fine hill; I'm looking forward to these ones. I was thinking of cycling in from Killilan and doing the round from Glen Elchaig, taking in the Falls of Glomach. Sometime!
by basscadet » Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:43 pm
Caravan is a dark brooding number isn't she? but what a brilliant hill.
Wasn't aware there was a shortcut to Dhiergan either, although remember thinking it wasn't too much descent as I thought about camping down there, but ended up along by Ben Fionnlaidh in the end. Brilliant ridge, I'm sure you are itching to go back soon
by simon-b » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:51 pm
Thanks dogplodder and dav. You should enjoy these when you get to them.
Thank you BC, it is a superb hill. I've not heard it called Caravan before, I'll remember that next time I get stuck behind a Ceathreamhnan on the A82. Walking all that way became a bit more appealing after reading Martin's report.