A Coigach overnighter - another autumn classic
by malky_c » Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:23 pm
Route description: Ben More Coigach
Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir
Date walked: 09/10/2016
Time taken: 8.5 hours
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 1380m8 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).
Date: 08 and 09/10/2016.
Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes over 2 days.
Weather: Sunny, sunny, sunny, warm, calm.
Another easy report to write, although it took some effort to get the number of photos down even to this amount! Walking home from work on Friday evening, it felt like the sort of evening to be out on the hills. The forecast promised more of the same over the weekend, so on Saturday, I negotiated the car and headed off to the north of Ullapool. There were a number of possibilities for summit camp, but I think Beinn Mhor Coigach was subconsciously always at the top of the list. Once I saw it from Ardmair, it was a definite.
Beinn Mhor Coigach from Ardmair:
I had left a bit late (the result of not making any proper plans or packing up the night before), so I decided to drive the extra distance round to Culnacraig rather than start from Strathcanaird as I did last time. By the time I had pulled up at the top of the hill descending to Culnacraig, it had gone 4pm. No worries, it was a pretty straightforward ascent, so I would be on top with plenty of light to find a tent pitch.
Garbh Choireachan from Culnacraig:
Once I had fumbled through the heather at the start and crossed the Allt nan Coisiche, it was a steady pull up into Garbh Choireachain. Although it wasn't quite sunset yet, there was a soft late afternoon light and everything was golden. This was turning out even better than last week's wander up Slioch.
Allt nan Coisiche:
Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Inverpollaidh:
Stornoway ferry coming in:
The ridge crest across Speicein nan Garbh-choireachan is a lovely walk - even with a heavy pack there is nothing difficult, but it has a nice airy feeling.
Speicein nan Garbh-choireachan:
North Uist – Eabhal, South and North Lee:
Back to Speicein nan Garbh-choireachan:
After a couple of hours I was at the summit cairn. I had hoped to camp right on top, but the flat bits were covered in slabby stones, and the nearby grass sloped away gently. In the end I descended a short way south to a flattish section of plateau. Slightly inferior views but pretty good by most standards.
From the summit of Beinn Mhor Coigach:
Pitch for the night:
Once the tent was up I opened a beer and went back to the summit to see what the sunset would do. As it happened, there was too much thick cloud out over the Western Isles and the final setting wasn't up to much. But I didn't mind as it had been more than perfect up to now.
Ben Mor Assynt:
Last Stornoway ferry leaving Ullapool:
Last light that my camera could cope with:
Once the sun was away, I went back to the tent to cook up some dinner. I had a couple of courses and took each one back up to the summit or the crest of the ridge to sit and look out over the Minch. Although the sun was gone, there was plenty to look at. I could trace the last ferry heading back out to Stornoway, not to mention at least another half-dozen boats. Then there were the lights of Stornoway itself, and the communities up past Tong and Coll to Tolsta. And also the lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis and Stoer. Although there was nothing I could capture on camera, this kept me entertained until it became too cold to sit still any more. I was in bed by 9pm.
While the corrie to the north had echoed with the sound of rutting deer, there was practically no noise on the plateau at all.
Time for dinner:
I had set my alarm for 5:30am but there was nothing to see at that time, so I snoozed for another 45 minutes. Finally there was some discernible light after 6am, so I got into my warm clothes and headed back to the summit again.
First light over Inverpollaidh:
After it became a bit lighter, I headed over to the main spine of the ridge to the south. I walked all the way out to the pimple of Specein Coinnich and some of the way back before the sun appeared over the horizon. This set me up in just the right place to catch the Alpenglow on Sgurr an Fhidhleir.
Sunrise over Ben More Assynt:
Stac Pollaidh, Suilvein:
From Speicein Coinnich:
Beinn nan Eoin:
Sun almost up:
Beinn an Eoin:
Alpenglow on Sgurr an Fhidhleir:
Beinn an Eoin:
Eventually I contoured back around to the main summit again, before dropping back to the tent. I had spent a good 90 minutes wandering about, and was now ready for some porridge, which I took to some sunny rocks to the south to eat.
Back over to the summit:
…then the tent:
Then south for breakfast (with crows breakfasting on summit):
By the time I had packed up, it was almost 9:30pm and getting quite warm. Time to dispense with the waterproofs! I carried my rucksack over the main summit for the last time, then contoured down to the col below Sgurr an Fhidhleir, which is the most impressive single peak in the range.
Loch Broom and Isle Martin:
Loch Tuath and Beinn an Eoin:
Sgurr an Fhidhleir:
A quick stop on the summit of Fhidhleir for the obligatory look over the prow, then onward to Beinn nan Caorach. I noticed that there was a fairly obvious path straight back to Culnacraig from Sgurr an Fhidhleir, but I was more interested in the western summits, which I had missed out on my last visit. Some deer were lurking around on various slopes. Some wanted to get away, while others were more curious.
North from the summit:
Beinn an Eoin:
Deer running away:
More curious deer:
The flat top of Beinn nan Caorach was worth another stop. The cliffs tail off to the west, but the views up the coast are better from here.
Loch Bad a’ Ghaill:
Quinaig, Suilven, Stac Pollaidh:
NE summit of Beinn nan Caorach:
Between the two summits of Beinn nan Caorach is a lot of sand and gravel, and the going feels more like a plateau in the Cairngorms. A cloud had moved over the sun while I was on the main summit, making things a little cooler. I wanted more sun and to look out right over the Summer Isles, so I decided to throw in Conmheall as well.
Gravelly beach on Beinn nan Caorach:
Achiltibuie and Polbain:
Heading over to Conmheall:
Crows on Conmheall:
The air was definitely hazier than yesterday, but Conmheall was a great spot for looking over the Minch, and had some relatively large crags on it.
Crags on Conmheall:
From Conmheall, it was a steep and heathery descent to the car, where I encountered the first bog of the walk in the last 5 minutes. The parking area unsurprisingly had another 3 or 4 cars in it - another great day to be doing this round.
I think I finally cracked how to stretch a walk out - a 5 hour circuit in 2 days! On the second day my sitting about to walking ratio was probably almost even with Trekpete's .
I carried the loafing theme on, stopping at a café in Achiltibuie before dawdling home via Altandhu, taking lots of roadside photos which mostly turned out to be poor.
What a great Autumn - another few weeks of this please!
by jacob » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:37 am
Fantastic set of photos Malky
This is one of the very few Scottish hills I was lucky enough to climb. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
by Collaciotach » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:42 am
by rockhopper » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:11 am
Turned out well - nice sunrise too - cheers
by larry groo » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:10 am
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by willsdad » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:21 pm
There is a trail called 'The Postie's Path' heads from Culnacraig following the coastline round to Ardmair. That may have been the worn path you could see.
A stunning route, if a bit treacherous in places when raining due to the fact you are traversing the cliff almost.
I may pinch your route when I'm up there next year. A beer on the summit while watching the sunset sounds good to me.
by Cairngorm creeper » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:00 pm
by dooterbang » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:08 pm
When I initially did this I also had in mind to camp at BMC but eventually ended up further round, I had plenty of time on my hands.
I also stayed up when the sun went, I watched the beam from the lighthouses.
The views are just sensational, I'm very jealous indeed
You are very fortunate to have this a short drive away.
Great report and great photos - cheers.
ps I'm now thinking a winter summit camp
by litljortindan » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:20 pm
by Jaxter » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:48 am