In the Clouds on Foinaven
by Yettie » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:47 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Foinaven
Date walked: 10/08/2010Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The weather forecast was for sunshine and showers, so I set off to walk the Foinaven ridge hoping to get some views. The last time I tried, the cloud hung around the summits all day. My plan was to walk in along Strath Dionard and camp somewhere at the head of the strath. Then I would be able to get an early start and leave plenty of time for the ridge walk.
The walk along the strath was a bit of a slog, but it gave good views of some of the amazing geology of the area. I made good progress on the track, but the ground was boggier than I expected when I reached Loch Dionard and the going became much more difficult. By the time I got to the other end of the loch the light was beginning to go and I had to look for a camp-site. I found a spot on a bit of raised ground, which was a bit drier and unlikely to flood. With hardly any breeze, I hadn't been there long before the midges found me and I had to retreat under cover.
The midges were just as bad in the morning, so I decided to get moving and stop later for breakfast. I set off across more boggy ground until I reached the track which leads over to Achfary. I continued uphill and, by the time I reached Beallach Horn, I was up into the cloud and I wasn't too hopeful of getting the views I wanted. At this point I left the track and headed off northwards over heather and rocks, towards An t-Saìl Mhòr and then on to Stob Cadha na Beuchaich.
The cloud was still thick and I seemed to have arrived at the top of sheer cliffs, with no obvious way down. It was only by using the map and compass that I managed to find the top of the path that leads down to the beallach. It didn't actually look like much of a path. It was more like a pile of rocks, but I could just see the eroded traces of a route. The surface was very loose and I was constantly watching out for bringing rocks down on top of me, as well as trying to avoid slipping.
When I reached the bottom I stopped for a break and took in the surroundings. The cloud cleared a bit and I could see that paths led down on both sides to lower ground. This was presumably an old route from one side of the mountain to the other. I found a stone shelter which probably dates from those times as well. I didn't go in; it was a tight squeeze and didn't look very comfortable inside.
Ahead was a steep climb up to Lord Reay's Seat, but the rock was a bit more stable here. I was soon up in the cloud again and followed the rest of the ridge without the benefit of any views. Tantalising breaks in the cloud revealed glimpses of dramatic rock scenery and sweeping corries. It was hard to get a sense of distance and it seemed a long way to the summit on Ganu Mor. There was a bit of a shelter wall at the cairn, so I got out of the wind and heated up some soup.
There didn't seem to be far to go now: Just a short bit of ridge to Ceann Garbh, a descent to the moor, and then a walk back to Gualin House where I started from. It didn't turn out to be quite as easy as that. There was no path off the mountain and I had to pick my way down through a boulder field and wet slippery grass. The moor was easier on the knees, but still slow-going, with lots of back-tracking and diversions to get through the bogs and lochans. I was quite glad to reach the road eventually at the end of a long day.
I didn't get the views I hoped for, but I'll definitely be back to try again. Next time though, I think I might start from Lochstack Lodge and take the path, which goes around the west side of Arkle, and up onto the ridge at Cadha na Beucaich.
by Graeme D » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:50 am
Loved the stone shelter - many a time I could have done with one of those!
by malky_c » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:22 am
I'm definitely going back here again to try some alternative routes on this hill.
by gaffr » Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:39 pm
by Yettie » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:38 pm
Graeme Dewar wrote:Looks like there is every reason to go back to that one again Yettie! I'd love a week or so to wander and wild camp up in that neck of the woods but I've missed the boat for this year. Maybe next year.....
Yes you should get up there, the geology is incredible, making a dramatic landscape. Just be prepared for the midges!
by Yettie » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:46 pm
malky_c wrote:You may have missed out on the best summit views, but I'm impressed with the photos of Creag Urbhard and the waterfalls at An Dubh-Loch. Because of my route choice, I didn't see these close up and didn't realise they were so massive.
I wasn't expecting much from the route along Strath Dionard after reading some negative comments from other people. They made a lot of how the bulldozed track has spoilt a wild glen, but now that it's there it lets you walk along and look at the views instead of where you're putting your feet. On a good day the northern corries of Foinaven must be well worth seeing.
by Yettie » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:52 pm
gaffr wrote:How time flies by......it was just forty-one years ago almost to the day when we camped very close to where you camped The area is very fine to visit.....we reached the top by a different route to yours....much better weather in those days The waterfalls crashing down over the crags are an indication of the weather this summer. You will most certainly enjoy the way into the two other Corbetts from Lone, through the rock portals, on the Loch Stack side.
Yes I've used that route onto Arkle. I love those rock portals; they are like a gateway into a magical mountain world.