Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid
by BlackPanther » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:54 pm
Route description: Sgòrr na Diollaid, Glen Cannich
Corbetts included on this walk: Sgòrr na Diollaid
Date walked: 03/12/2016
Time taken: 5.5 hours
Distance: 9.3 km
Ascent: 690m3 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).
My first encounter with Sgorr na Diollaid was in April 2008 and it didn't make a good first impression. Weather was nasty, strong winds, very cold and about 200m below the summit we encountered a snow blizzard. I was wearing a pair of leaky cheap boots, my feet freezing off, my jacket was not windproof... We turned back.
Blizzard conditions around the summit of Sgorr na Diollaid, April 2008:
But I'm one stubborn cat and I don't like to be defeated by mountains, so a few months later we returned to do the justice to Sgorr na Diollaid. It was actually the weekend of Highland Cross and no vehicular access to Glen Affric, so this was a good local hill to climb instead. This time weather was more cooperative and I could explore this hill as much as I wanted, jumping over puddles, scrambling over boulders and simply gazing in the distance...
Posing with the view to lower Glen Cannich. Back then I was a beginner by WH standards and much slower on the ascent, but I always enjoyed the solitude of Corbetts, the fact that most of them are much less popular that Munros. Indeed we never met anybody on Sgorr na Diollaid, even in summertime.
It is a hill to come to if you want to organize a picnic on the summit! Superb views for only a 650m climb!
Loch Monar and upper Glen Strathfarrar from the top:
In the last 8 years we visited over 100 Corbetts, from Glen Coe to Sutherland, Skye to Braemar. Many were more difficult and possibly more exciting than this wee hill above Cannich, but Sgorr na Diollaid has a special place in my heart and last Saturday we paid it another visit.
As I mentioned, we modified WH route by traversing to the lower top, this is a better way to descend, less steep and on much easier ground so especially on a wet day, it's worth following the ridge from the summit to the 777m top:
Since our last visit to this glen, a new metal bridge replaced the old wooden one:
We parked just before the bridge (space on the grass for a few cars), crossed the bridge and began the ascent straight up the steep slopes. There is a path to start with and it's worth to follow, as it avoids the highest heather (though it's a bit overgrown and wet in places).
It was early in the morning and the sun was still behind the mountains on the other side of the glen, but the world was slowly waking up to a nice day...
Affric Munros in the morning:
At the height of 300m or so, the path crosses a small burn (not marked on the map) and continues up towards the prominent rocky lump at 496m. It was surprisingly warm as for December and we enjoyed the climb:
I was glad when we walked into the sunshine Just below the 496m lump the path disappears, but the slopes are easy to walk on, low heather mostly:
The view behind us was splendid - upper Glen Cannich framed by Affric hills, though not much water in Loch Mullardoch:
We stopped on the rocky knoll for a lengthy photo session, we had lots of time and no need to hurry today. I admired the morning mist lying low in Strathglass:
A wider view to lower Glen Cannich, Carn Gorm to the left:
From the 496m lump we aimed due north, across some boggy ground. Higher up it was drier underfoot and I gave up the idea of putting on gaiters, despite wearing my brand new Craghoppers trousers. Indeed, It was pleasant walking on grassy ground, it felt more like spring than early winter!
Panorama of Affric and Mullardoch peaks:
The next stop was on the 652m lump (lots of lumps and bumps on that ridge!), where we turned back during our first attempt. At least, weather was perfect this time and I wouldn't turn back for all it's worth. The final climb looked easy enough. The summit is to the right, the lower 777m top to the left.
What we were looking at was not the true summit, as the final 50m of the slope is hidden from view, but any crags can be avoided (unless you don't want to, like in my case )
Not much snow anywhere, only the highest peaks and by now it's probably even less (14*C in Beauly today!):
Zoom to Sgurr na Lapaich (the Mullardoch one):
We continued across a flatter area, scattered with peat hags. Suddenly, as I was crossing a tiny stream, my foot was sucked into the wet ground, muddy water flying into my boot. Oh, b***er! I had to take my boot and sock off, to clean them. My brand new trousers were all smeared over with mud now, they have been properly christened!
I quickly put the unpleasant incident behind, as Kevin spotted a small shiny object reflecting the sun - wow, UFO has landed!!!!
It's just the sunlight reflecting in a small loch, but it looked like UFO to me! Now, where is Mr Mulder, time to investigate!
Obviously, Mr Mulder was busy chasing UFOs somewhere else and we had better things to do, like rock games:
There's plenty of easy, optional scrambling on the upper slopes of Sgurr na Diollaid, I couldn't ask for more!
The true summit is marked with two rocky knolls, I call them "devil's horns":
Looking south-east to Beauly Firth, Kessock Bridge and Inverness:
Over more rocky playground, we reached the final steep climb to the rocky knolls. I was never sure which one is higher, they look the same height to me. We climbed the northern one as it has space to sit down on the top. It was Lucy's 33rd Corbett - at least someone is up in statistics!
Would be better with more snow in the background, but she was still a happy sheep
From the summit we could admire the long ridge of Strathfarrar Munros:
Western panorama, with Affric hills, Sgurr na Lapaich and Glen Strathfarrar:
Panther posing with the southern rock behind:
A couple of panos:
After a hot cuppa and something to eat, we left the summit to traverse to the 777m top - not much extra ascent but worth adding to the walk. We wanted to stay on the ridge a wee bit longer to enjoy the views.
Two shadows and a wet puddle:
On the ridge between the two tops, with the summit of Sgorr na Diollaid behind me:
We met a rather shy local, already dressed up for Christmas
The traverse didn't take long and soon we were on the lower top, this one is even a better viewpoint towards Strathfarrar Munros. Kevin's panos:
Me on the lower top:
After more faffing about on the 777m top, we began the descent, easy enough on grassy ground. We aimed for the 496m lump. Once we reached it, we bypassed the crags to the right and continued the descent on more heathery slopes:
Lower down we found the path we had used on the way up and followed it right back to the road. Sadly, Kev's GPS was playing up and didn't record the route properly so the map is drawn manually. This little circular can be easily done in less than 5 hours, the ascent even including the lower top, less than 700m.
This may only be a half day hill, but it has a lot to offer. Shame it's neglected by most visitors to this area. One of the hidden Scottish gems I think.
I hope we get one more chance to visit the hills before festive time, but in case weather plays nasty and I have nothing to post - Merry Christmas Everyone
by weaselmaster » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:57 pm
Good to see we won't need the snowshoes
by Cairngorm creeper » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:52 am
by kevsbald » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:17 pm
by jamesb63 » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:36 pm
that would be awesome ,I walked them about 6 weeks ago and Glen Strathfarrar
is one beautiful Glen so tranquil and stunning
by Alteknacker » Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:51 pm
by BlackPanther » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:35 am
Compleating on the 4 Strathfarrars is only a loose thought at the moment, still 82 Munros left to tick off so we may change our mind somewhere along the way. But it would be a spectacular thing to do.
by BobMcBob » Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:33 pm
by Alteknacker » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:11 pm
BobMcBob wrote:Now that's interesting. I paid my first visit to Cannich and Glen Affric a month or so ago and I was distinctly underwhelmed, couldn't see what the fuss was all about....
Think you might change your mind also if you went up one of the munros - I thought the views from more or less any location on the ridge north of Loch Mullardoch were really fine (I had the good fortune to be up there on a superbly clear day, and with a Highlands-wide cloud inversion to boot; I could see as far as the Cuillins and beyond Torridon); not bad on the south ridge either.
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