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Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid


Postby 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: 690m

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Sgorr na Diollaid is our local Corbett. Kevin climbed it regularly during his Cannich years, I have been up three times now so I thought this hill deserves a proper trip report. It's one of those peaks climbed mostly as a half-day jaunt on the way to/from Glen Affric. Nobody bothers with it apart from a few locals and dedicated Corbett baggers, as there are so many higher, more exciting mountains around! But those skipping Sgorr na Diollaid will miss a superb opportunity to see a great panorama of Strathfarrar Four (I'm warming up to the idea of leaving these 4 as our final Munros - what a way to compleat it would be!). SMC Guide to Corbetts describes the slopes of SnD as "pleasant walking", but it depends how steep you like your mountains - this one comes with some steep terrain and high heather. Still, it's a lovely hill, good for short winter days. It could be combined with the nearby Graham Carn Gorm and that would make a full day's traverse, but it's a bit too long for December, so we decided to stick to the straight up and down route, with a small detour to the lower top.

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:
sgornadiolladh 044.JPG

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...
sgurrnadiollaidh 046.JPG

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.
sgurrnadiollaidh 060.JPG

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:
sgurrnadiollaidh 090.JPG

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 :D 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:

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


Since our last visit to this glen, a new metal bridge replaced the old wooden one:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 001.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 012.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 015.JPG

I was glad when we walked into the sunshine :D Just below the 496m lump the path disappears, but the slopes are easy to walk on, low heather mostly:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 030.JPG

The view behind us was splendid - upper Glen Cannich framed by Affric hills, though not much water in Loch Mullardoch:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 027.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 033.JPG

A wider view to lower Glen Cannich, Carn Gorm to the left:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 034.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 041.JPG

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.
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 055.JPG

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 :wink: )
Not much snow anywhere, only the highest peaks and by now it's probably even less (14*C in Beauly today!):
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 047.JPG

Zoom to Sgurr na Lapaich (the Mullardoch one):
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 053.JPG

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!!!! :lol: :lol:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 060.JPG

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!
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 065.JPG

Obviously, Mr Mulder was busy chasing UFOs somewhere else and we had better things to do, like rock games:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 071.JPG

There's plenty of easy, optional scrambling on the upper slopes of Sgurr na Diollaid, I couldn't ask for more!
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 076.JPG

The true summit is marked with two rocky knolls, I call them "devil's horns":
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 086.JPG

Looking south-east to Beauly Firth, Kessock Bridge and Inverness:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 094.JPG

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! :lol: :lol:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 109.JPG

Would be better with more snow in the background, but she was still a happy sheep :lol:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 110.JPG

From the summit we could admire the long ridge of Strathfarrar Munros:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 111.JPG

Western panorama, with Affric hills, Sgurr na Lapaich and Glen Strathfarrar:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 112.JPG

Panther posing with the southern rock behind:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 120.JPG

A couple of panos:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 124.JPG

2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 122.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 134.JPG

On the ridge between the two tops, with the summit of Sgorr na Diollaid behind me:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 136.JPG

We met a rather shy local, already dressed up for Christmas :D
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 155.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 168.JPG

2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 170.JPG

Me on the lower top:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 178.JPG

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:
2016-12-03 sgorr na diollaid 188.JPG

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 :D
Last edited by BlackPanther on Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BlackPanther
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:57 pm

Whets my appetite nicely BP - driving up to Cannich for the weekend - intending on doing Diollaid's neighbour, Carn Gorm as well as a wee jaunt along Glen Strathfarrar to Beinn na Muice :D
Good to see we won't need the snowshoes :wink:
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:52 am

Another great read BP. It is so nice to have a local hill :D . And this one looks very inviting.
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby kevsbald » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:17 pm

The strathfarrar fower are vey underrated. What a way to compleat indeed.
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby jamesb63 » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:36 pm

Excellent report BP and great set of pics ,regarding the Strathfarrar 4 to complete
that would be awesome ,I walked them about 6 weeks ago and Glen Strathfarrar
is one beautiful Glen so tranquil and stunning
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:51 pm

On the evidence of these pics, definitely a place for superb views. :clap: :clap: :clap: I now might try to fit it in with the leisurely Mullardoch round we're planning for early summer...
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:35 am

Thanks for comments, everyone! :D We didn't do any climbing this weekend as we had other commitments, hopefully winter comes back for Xmas!

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.
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby BobMcBob » Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:33 pm

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. But there's some views in those photos there that give me a reason to revisit. Thanks for that, that's what walk reports are all about.
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Re: Looking for snow on Sgorr na Diollaid

Postby 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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