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The unpronounceable munro from Glen Etive

The unpronounceable munro from Glen Etive

Postby J888ohn » Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:14 pm

Route description: Sgòr na h-Ulaidh and Meall Lighiche

Munros included on this walk: Sgòr na h-Ulaidh

Date walked: 18/06/2016

Time taken: 5.8 hours

Distance: 14.45 km

Ascent: 892m

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The three on the west side of Glen Etive I have always considered an awkward three. To do them all in a day required a lot of distance to be covered over a long time, there was the option of doing them in 3 separate trips but that seemed like a waste of fuel so I settled on doing Sgor na h-Ulaidh with Beinn Fhionnlaidh and seeing how I felt after that to aim for Beinn Squlaird. Saturday was forecast to be the best day of the weekend and the wife was off work too so a family day out munro bagging it was :D

The problem with having a Saturday off is the real lack of will to get out of bed early :lol: We eventually got to Invercharnan at 11am and were lucky to get a parking space in one of the bays off the sharp left hand bend. The further we'd traveled north the better the weather had gotten and we now had a perfect day with clear blue skies. We set off along the forestry track towards the hills. This had really changed from a lot of the pics from previous years with all the forestry on the western side gone and the land quite ugly. We followed the road for just over 3km which was a constant gradual uphill. First view of the targets was very green and promising of a good day.

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The path to the hills was obvious from a sharp right hand corner in the road and we walked along this into the basin between Ulaidh and Fhionnlaidh. The path to Fhionnlaidh went off to the left and we spotted a large group making their way up the side of it to the summit. We'd decided to go as far away from the car as we could then work our way back and the path was easy to follow at low level. The ground was surprisingly dry despite all the rain we'd had during the week down in Stirlingshire. Almost as if it had missed Glen Etive out. This looked like a really boggy area usually but there was even a light grey crust on the ground that crunched under our feet. Very odd! The ground was covered with little single white flowers which were like bits of cotton wool on a stem. Manda was quite taken by them :)

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The flowers

Onwards we plodded with Mountain Mutt leading the way. He wasn't at his observant best this time as a deer passed close by and he was none the wiser. It was very still in this area and therefore very hot. There was no wind to take away the constant heat from the sun. This and the final climb up to the summit were going to effect our days plan. As we got closer to Ulaidh it was obvious we had to turn north soon and head for Bealach Clach nam Meirleach, the low point between Ulaidh and Meall a' Bhuiridh. This is where the path started to disappear and it was just a trudge across the undulations towards the old fence which is clearly marked on the map. Again this would be a bog fest any other time but on this day it was very dry under foot. Even the lochan marked on the map near the fence had mostly dried up.

Fortunately some kind person has made a series of large cairns to mark the route to the fence and up the steep rocks to the summit so we pretty much aimed for the one we could see then looked for the next one. Fhionnlaidh was always looming behind us and despite them being close together there really is a big drop and re-assent to do them both with little respite.

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Fhionnlaidh and one of the cairns

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Manda with Starav behind

We followed the fence up to where it turned north west to the summit of Ulaidh. From here on the route was steep, rocky and almost impossible to spot. Even our BCGPS (Border Collie GPS :lol: ) was more interested in the deer track he had just discovered (better late than never :roll: ) than doing his usual and finding the route. It was so steep my neck was getting sore looking up to find it! It's hard to believe when you look at the way the old fence takes but we did pretty much follow it with a bit of zig zagging around some of the bigger slabs of rock. Again the odd cairn helped but it was a proper pathless slog!

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Mountain Mutt wondering what was taking us so long and another one of the cairns

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The rocky ascent. None of the pictures I took actually did the angle of the slope justice

To add insult to injury doing the munro from this side it has several false summits so just when we thought we were getting there another bit would pop into view over the latest conquered rocky slope. We were both getting tired and hot but as we reached the summit we started to get the first of the stunning views out to the west towards Mull. This slog was going to be worth it. It took us just over 3 hours to make the summit and we took a long break to recover and take in the views. It was simply stunning. We could see pretty much everything in every direction. I'll let the summit pics do the talking......

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Panorama to the south and west

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Panorama to the north and east

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Ben Nevis in the distance

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The back of Bidean nam Bian

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Down Loch Etive towards Ben Cruachan

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Mull on the horizon

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One man and his Mountain Mutt

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Family summit pose

By now it was 2.30pm. I guestimated it would take us about 2 hours to get back to the car. Part of the plan was to go to The Clachaig at the west end of Glencoe for dinner. I looked at Fhionnlaidh and really couldn't be bothered with another pathless slog and Manda was pretty much done so the pub won and we headed back along the ascent route to the car. I tried to get a pic on the way down to show the steep slope and the false summits but it makes it look easy!

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The walk along the forestry path back to the car seemed doubly as long as the way in. Starav was now bathed in the evening light and was a good view to end the walk on.

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Starav on the way back

I'd read a report the week prior to this where someone had done Ulaidh and Fhionnlaidh in just over 5 hours, and called himself Captain Slow!!!!! Hats off to you. I consider myself to be pretty fit but would've been pushed to do that.

So now I have the task of joining Fhionnlaidh to Sgulaird which looks like a REALLY long day.
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Re: The unpronounceable munro from Glen Etive

Postby Borderhugh » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:58 pm

Looks like you got great weather as well for the unpronounceable mountain.

I am the Capt Slow in question. I think you might find Sgurlaid and BF is an even bigger day. All 3 are great mountains. Enjoy!
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Re: The unpronounceable munro from Glen Etive

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:29 pm

A lovely day it was. The sky was so blue it almost hurt my eyes... Had you continued to Fionnlaidh, we'd have crossed paths :D We climbed up BF from Glen Creran side. I haven't posted my TR yet, since I took so many pictures I'm still struggling to pick the best ones for my report :lol:

If you really want to challenge yourselves, try h-Ulaidh in combination with Meall Lighiche. We did it last year and it was one of the steepest, most punishing days in my hillwalking career... One of those I call "never-again routes". Now I'm brewing up an idea of combining Sgulaird with Creach Bheinn. Obviously, i didn't learn my lesson :wink:
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Re: The unpronounceable munro from Glen Etive

Postby skawt100 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:10 pm

I was leading the large group that spoiled your solitude on the hills for the remainder of the descent! I would recommend doing Fhionnlaidh from the Glen Etive side as there is more or less a clear, hard pack path all the way up once you battle the lower grassland after the fireroad which would be pretty wet in a rainy spell. You get a nice mix of terrain with two very small scrambly ledges to make it a bit more fun than just a plod.

BlackPanther wrote:A lovely day it was. The sky was so blue it almost hurt my eyes... Had you continued to Fionnlaidh, we'd have crossed paths :D We climbed up BF from Glen Creran side. I haven't posted my TR yet, since I took so many pictures I'm still struggling to pick the best ones for my report :lol:

Did you happen to meet 2 people who had just completed their first munro? We expected to see more people when we reached the summit given that it could be approached from two sides but we never did see anyone in our 40min lunch break up there besides these two people who arrived from Glen Etive side as we decided to move off the hill.
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