walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch round

Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch round


Postby mrssanta » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:36 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Affric), An Socach (Mullardoch), Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Mullach nan Dheiragain, Sgurr na Lapaich, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich

Date walked: 13/07/2016

Time taken: 72 hours

Distance: 67 km

Ascent: 5100m

9 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).

One of the problems of living in Englandshire is that it is a long way away from the big hills. Especially when you have to plan your holidays in advance. This was the week for our annual "epic" and our plan was to do the Mullardoch round over 3+ days then some smaller trips to complete the week. With CWH (now 17 and not so keen on backpacking with the parents) on a trip away we dropped her at the bus on Wednesday morning and got away in good time to drive North. Unfortunately the weather had not realised it was our holiday and the forecast wasn't great, but we had not come all this way for nothing so let's go! We stoked up on haggis suppers in Drumnadrochit before starting our trip - bit early for supper but gets a good calorie load on board.
We parked at the South end of Mullardoch dam and left the car at about 6.30pm. We quickly realised that there is no way across the dam. You have to go down and up. There is a track which leads to a stile, then you ford the first outflow of the dam, then across another stile. At this point you should turn right to gain another track, then continue away from the dam and the track leads round and up to the other end of the dam.
P7130691.jpg
the Gates of Mordor. Don't get so close!

If you turn left like we did you end up right under the gates of Mordor- then a rather exciting descent through oxter deep heather and pine saplings to the second outflow and up to a deer fence. And that's before you even start the walk proper.
Anyway once back on the correct road we took the track alongside the loch where there is work going on. Something, possibly hydroelectric, is being built at the ruins of the old Mullardoch settlement. From here we picked up a wet path which took us up into Glas Toll. Eventually the path petered out and it was a rough ascent as far as Loch Tuill Bhearnach where we pitched the tent for the night. We decided against going up Carn nan Gobhar that night as we'd considered but had a brew and were soon asleep.
P7130706.jpg
evening sun on the hills

P7130714.jpg
camp spot by the loch, a pleasant morning

Thursday was forecast as a fairly quiet day and we ate our breakfast and left the tent for the climb up and down Carn nan Gobhar.
P7130719.jpg
Rudolph on Munro no. 1, Carn nan Gobhar

Returning to the tent we packed up and set off up Sgurr na Lapaich.
P7130726.jpg
When you see snow you have to go on it apparently

A steep climb but the top reached quickly. 2 clear summits.
P7140732.jpg
looking back to our campsite by the lochan from the summit of number 2 Sgurr na Lapaich

P7140736.jpg
Distant views into Torridon. We could still see them later in the day but it became more hazy

The descent to the next bealach was straight forward and the next part of the walk was the lovely ridge of An Riabhachan which was a treat.
P7140745.jpg
Here we are on the top of An Riabhachan taken by a gentleman we met on the summit, who had come up from Glen Strathfarrar.

P7140747.jpg
from the ridge of An Riabhachan to An Socach

We stopped in a sheltered spot near the top for a brew and food. Hard boiled egg and cheese slices in a wrap for me. Oatcakes and babybels and hard boiled egg for Rudolph. I really recommend hard boiled egg. Relatively heavy but tastes really fresh and not chewy like everything else you eat on backpacking trips.

P7140752.jpg
a bit of interesting ridge

Eventually the lovely ridge ends with the steep descent to Bealach a'Bholla and the ascent up the other side which were harder work than we had expected. Eventually however we made it to Munro number 4 of the day all cloud free.
P7140757.jpg
me on top of An Socach

We could see Mount Doom in the distance with its wreath of smoke (OK cloud) but all the other tops were clear. Bit hazy for photography but better than the forecast.
P7140759.jpg
distant Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan/Mount Doom with its smoke (cloud) cap - it is our furthest point and once we reach this, we turn towards home

On the long descent down An Socach we caught up with a lady who had just done her penultimate Munro. We hope your compleation on 27th August goes well.
We managed to cross the river without getting wet feet. We were pretty tired by this point but decided that we could find a decent camp spot halfway up the Allt Cam and this would make tomorrow a much more manageable day (ha ha with hindsight). There is a bit of a track for a while which gets you started. In retrospect it was just as well that we got this head start, and we found a lovely dry flat spot just the size of a tent in the middle of the bog at 630m. A rain free night ensued and a good rest.
P7140767.jpg
night night. Tops clear. hopeful for a good day tomorrow. What could possibly go wrong?

Waking in the morning there was little wind and the cloud base was about 800m. We did not have an up to date forecast but hey it's the middle of July it'll be fine!
We plodded up Allt Cam for a bit and were pleased to reach Mullach na Dheiragain where we saw Scotland's Favourite View again.
P7140771.jpg
Scotland's Favourite View

It started to rain. From here to Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan is about 4.5 km of ridge which was in clag and with some breeze here and there but with occasional glimpses through the cloud of what was round about us. We stopped at the summit, out of the wind, for some lunch, then turned East towards home!
P7150774.jpg
Frodo and Sam reach Mount Doom - but we decided to keep the ring. The only flames on this mountain were the ones from our wee stove!

Now the wind was behind us and by this time the rain was quite heavy. The ridge here is quite complex with lots of up and down and water all over the place in every direction! However we were pleased to reach An Socach, the second so named of the trip and now we have been up all three An Socachs.
P7150779.jpg
Summit cairn of An Socach, this time with gloves on!

At this point we successfully turned north east. One more Munro for the day but a big ascent from about 725m at Bealach Coire Ghaidheil to 1181m for Mam Sodhail. At the bealach we briefly came out of the cloud and it lifted for a moment to show us the ridge leading to Beinn Fhionnlaidh. This was however just a tease. We were hit by a strong wind which helped us nicely up the stalkers path climbing usefully up the western face of the two intervening peaks and we stayed on this path until it stopped climbing. We then left the path and continued to ascend at a similar angle aiming for the bealach below Mam Sodhail. By this time my 1:25000 map was needing refolding but as it was blowing a hoolie and raining hard by this time we didn't bother, but stuck with Rudolph's 1:50000 backed up by the electronic gadgetry aka Etrex and Viewranger. Visibility was pretty poor now but we were very pleased to reach a bealach just where we expected one. Setting off uphill we made a schoolboy error in not checking the compass. After a few metres we realised we were going wrong and the wind appeared to have gone round 180degrees. Another careful check of the map showed we had set off over a 10m lump and down the ridge towards An Tudair. Setting off again back in the right direction the wind was getting stronger and suddenly I got blown over. We sat down behind a rock to have a think. Although we were only 100m vertically from the summit it was madness to continue. Even if we got over Mam Sodhail without being blown away our wee summer tent would never survive in this wind at Bealach Beag where we intended to camp. There was nothing for it but to descend into Glen Affric. Fortunately we could see the stalkers path down Coire Lechavie which took us a loooong way down to the track around Glen Affric. Down we went, still pretty windy, and as soon as we could find a sheltered spot we stopped, opened out the maps and thought about how to get back to our car. We decided that even if the wind remained strong we would be safe enough going up over the top of Toll Creagach with the wind behind us, as it is a round lump with nothing too craggy to get blown off. Decision made, and feeling confident we would probably live, we carried on down into Affric to find a camp spot.
P7150789.jpg
Out of the clag at last!

Initially it did not look hopeful as the ground was very lumpy, heathery and wet, but about a km along the track we spotted a suitable relatively sheltered camping spot among the pines where we pitched the tent and spent the next hour or so having a lie-down before cooking up a freeze dried dinner and rolling into bed. During the night the gale continued with huge gusts which we could hear coming down the glen shaking the trees and continuing away to the East.
P7150798.jpg
sunshine at last at our little camp under the trees

In the morning we woke to sunshine! It was still windy and gusty but not as bad as yesterday. We set off to Affric Lodge in good spirits. The sunshine didn't last but it was good while we had it.
P7150809.jpg
Beautiful Glen Affric

We took the track uphill from Affric Lodge which goes over the moor East of Sgurr na Lapaich and is beautifully made to take us almost dry-shod across what would otherwise be a fearsome bog. Unfortunately the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh had a lot of water in it and I got a wet foot :( although Rudolph didn't :D.
We stopped in a sheltered spot next to Allt Toll Easa for lunch sharing the last hard boiled egg.
P7160815.jpg
Happy Mugs on a beautiful mossy rock by the burn

A good path goes all the way up this glen to the bealach. Halfway up we met a party of 8 coming down. They had planned a long day from Chisholme Bridge to include Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich and on to the trio of Carn Eighe but had bailed because of the wind. They reckoned we would be OK for Tom a'Choinich from the east side, so we dumped our packs at the bealach and dashed up and down in an hour. The wind was manageable all the way up the ridge until the last 15 metres on the summit plateau where the wind was so strong that forward progress was pretty exciting! There's a rock on the cairn that makes a seat for two and we sat and got our breath back and the clag almost lifted for a moment just as my camera battery died. The spare was in my rucksack.
P7160821.jpg
Taken from the summit cairn of Tom a'Choinich. I was not going to stand up and take a picture of the cairn for anybody! It looks like it goes up to the left because the camera is squint.

By now we were feeling like we might get home in one piece and the wind assistance was great up to Toll Creagach where again the cloud came and went.
P7160824.jpg
interesting pointy rocks on Toll Creagach, an otherwise unremarkable hill but it still gets a tick!

P7160828.jpg
Summit number 9!! all downhill from here now.

We descended East to the next bealach then down the hillside heading straight for the car park.
P7160830.jpg
Just to change the metaphor - we wondered if this was like the doorway in the Ministry of Magic that takes you to the next life - but it was stuck so we couldn't find out.

We avoided most of the peat hags but this was very rough with strength sapping tussocks and knee deep heather. We were very glad to reach the trees at last but then saw a deer fence- fortunately there was a gate which was not locked only a few metres uphill and then at last we were back at the car.
After our adventure we were very tired and really not in a mood for another camp. We just wanted a soft bed and a shower. As soon as we got phone signal we called Rudolph's parents in Deeside and after fish and chips in Beauly and a lovely drive over the Lecht were glad to be welcomed with a cup of tea.
Last edited by mrssanta on Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2984
Munros:245   Corbetts:10
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   Islands:8
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby mamoset » Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:35 am

Well done to the two of you, great report, shame the weather spoiled the pics a bit!!!! :?
mamoset
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1463
Munros:139   Corbetts:2
Donalds:1
Hewitts:116
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Feb 12, 2011

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:06 am

Well done for battling through what looked like some tough conditions, still looked like a great trip.
User avatar
johnkaysleftleg
Walker
 
Posts: 3074
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby basscadet » Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:49 pm

Ooh unlucky there with the wind. In the summer we spend half our time praying for wind for the midges, but then when we get it.. :lol: still looked like a good time was had, which is the main thing, and it will make a great story for the pub/bothy/bunkhouse :clap:
I felt silly for doing all these fine munros in a weekend anyway - now you have a proper excuse to go back :)
User avatar
basscadet
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2779
Munros:84   Corbetts:52
Grahams:18   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:34   Hewitts:13
Wainwrights:17   Islands:21
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:06 pm

Another fine effort looking forward to the next adventure from you already
User avatar
gammy leg walker
Walker
 
Posts: 3265
Munros:261   Corbetts:7
Grahams:3   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:2   
Islands:7
Joined: Jan 30, 2010
Location: Central Region

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby mrssanta » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:10 pm

mamoset wrote:Well done to the two of you, great report, shame the weather spoiled the pics a bit!!!! :?

thanks. we made up for it with a really hot sunny day on Tuesday though.

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Well done for battling through what looked like some tough conditions, still looked like a great trip.

Aye even greater in retrospect!

basscadet wrote:Ooh unlucky there with the wind. In the summer we spend half our time praying for wind for the midges, but then when we get it.. :lol: still looked like a good time was had, which is the main thing, and it will make a great story for the pub/bothy/bunkhouse :clap:
I felt silly for doing all these fine munros in a weekend anyway - now you have a proper excuse to go back :)

Yes indeed we'll be back! Only one midge bite all week and that was when I sat down under a bank of bracken!

gammy leg walker wrote:Another fine effort looking forward to the next adventure from you already

Thanks Gammy. Dunno when that will be

Just adding some gpx files as well. I have separate ones for the different days, dunno how to join them up.

Track_13-JUL-16 220328.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Track_14-JUL-16 205438.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



15 july simplified.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Track_16-JUL-16 191051.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2984
Munros:245   Corbetts:10
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   Islands:8
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:27 am

Nice report of a super route. This is brilliant country - it's just a pity that the weather didn't quite play ball! I suppose one just has to accept that every now and then one gets a lot of Scotland's favourite view!!!

(I'd planned to do this route again with my son at the beginning of May, but the weather foiled us also, so I keep drooling over reports like this....)
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2736
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Hewitts:205
Wainwrights:78   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby rockhopper » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:51 am

A great read as usual but did sound challenging - pity about the weather but well done for keeping going - cheers :)

Does this help ?


mrs santa.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6401
Munros:282   Corbetts:207
Grahams:60   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: May 31, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby ScottishLeaf » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:46 am

wow, great read and a fab adventure. Well done on battling the hills and the weather. :clap: :clap:
User avatar
ScottishLeaf
Wanderer
 
Posts: 355
Munros:114   Corbetts:6
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Mar 13, 2012
Location: Stenhousemuir

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby past my sell by date » Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:44 pm

Bad luck having such poor weather on such good hilsl. Surprised you got past the Chisholm memorial without being swallowed by the mud - The first time in that area I ended up doing the dreaded walk down Mullardoch - the last bit was like Paschendale :lol: :lol: The second time (on the tops) I carried on East from Carn nan Gobhar over a Munro top and eventually descended directly to the car below the dam- much better!!
I also did most of my Munros from England - tried to do "dull Munros on dull days" - but I've never found a hill that wasn't worth ascending at least once.
past my sell by date
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 701
Munros:282   Corbetts:84
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:146
Wainwrights:159   
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby mrssanta » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:33 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Nice report of a super route. This is brilliant country - it's just a pity that the weather didn't quite play ball! I suppose one just has to accept that every now and then one gets a lot of Scotland's favourite view!!!

(I'd planned to do this route again with my son at the beginning of May, but the weather foiled us also, so I keep drooling over reports like this....)

I think when we go back we will have to pick a good day.

rockhopper wrote:Does this help ?

yes, fantastic! what software did you do that on?
past my sell by date wrote:Bad luck having such poor weather on such good hilsl. Surprised you got past the Chisholm memorial without being swallowed by the mud - The first time in that area I ended up doing the dreaded walk down Mullardoch - the last bit was like Paschendale :lol: :lol: The second time (on the tops) I carried on East from Carn nan Gobhar over a Munro top and eventually descended directly to the car below the dam- much better!!
I also did most of my Munros from England - tried to do "dull Munros on dull days" - but I've never found a hill that wasn't worth ascending at least once.

We certainly wanted to avoid the Lochside path and at least we did that!
I agree there is always something fine about going up a hill.
ScottishLeaf wrote:wow, great read and a fab adventure. Well done on battling the hills and the weather. :clap: :clap:

Thanks, it's good to be alive!
User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2984
Munros:245   Corbetts:10
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   Islands:8
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:07 pm

Really enjoyed reading that ... and congrats for doing so much in evil weather :clap: :clap: The whole of Strath Glass is wonderful country and there's no harm in sipping it slowly (although I do take slowness to extremes I guess :roll: ). I look forward to your next sortie from the south :lol:
User avatar
Huff_n_Puff
Walker
 
Posts: 897
Munros:249   Corbetts:16
Grahams:8   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:18   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:1   Islands:18
Joined: Apr 13, 2012

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby Beaner001 » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:48 pm

Aye another cracking report mrssanta :clap:
I remember crossing under the dam and thinking, I hope that huge valve doesn't open to let the water out the loch while we're crossing :shock:
You'll have another few trips North to come this year yet :D
User avatar
Beaner001
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 743
Munros:234   Corbetts:26
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:1   
Joined: Sep 17, 2013
Location: Aberdeenshire

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby Borderhugh » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:27 am

Planning a trip to Middle Earth next week. Well done you 2! :clap:
User avatar
Borderhugh
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 328
Munros:282   Corbetts:77
Grahams:41   Donalds:44
Sub 2000:13   Hewitts:91
Wainwrights:72   Islands:9
Joined: Feb 4, 2012
Location: Stirling :)

Re: Past the gates of Mordor to Mount Doom - a Mullardoch ro

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:48 pm

That reads like a a fun-filled but character-forming trip - thanks to the weather! :wink:
User avatar
dogplodder
 
Posts: 3513
Munros:227   Corbetts:53
Grahams:16   
Sub 2000:24   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:9   Islands:21
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

9 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).
Next



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Jessenom and 42 guests