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.

Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie


Postby Mal Grey » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:20 pm

Route description: Sail Mhor, from Ardessie

Corbetts included on this walk: Sail Mhor

Date walked: 02/03/2017

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 10.2 km

Ascent: 775m

6 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).

After our wonderful few days in the Fisherfield hills (viewtopic.php?f=9&t=70502), Nigel and I moved just round the corner to base ourselves at the excellent Sail Mhor Croft hostel (http://www.sailmhor.co.uk/), run by Lynda and Dave.

The forecast for the Thursday wasn’t quite as good as we’d enjoyed at Lochivraon, but it was good enough to plan a hill day. We decided to stay local, walking down the road to Ardessie before climbing alongside the stream and up onto Sail Mhor. It only took 15 minutes to wander to the start of the path, where we turned uphill on a slightly boggy trail.

I’d read about Ardessie’s waterfalls on this very website, but hadn’t really appreciated just how special they are. Looking uphill, a scoured line of bare rock plunges down the hillside in a series of steps and gorges, with glimpses of tumbling white water peeking between the rocks. Beyond, Sail Mhor squats over the brown hillside, its massive flanks looking steep and forbidding. Fortunately our route bypassed all the difficulties by following the stream up before swinging round the back of the hill into a shallow corrie.

For now, though, we had the joy of a simple climb up alongside the falls. After every rise, we were drawn towards the water again, where clefts, slides, pools and cascades fascinated us with a different view at every turn.


Image


Image


Image


Image


Image


Image



The most prominent falls are a lovely pair of watery curtains dropping into a clear pool alongside smooth, comfortable-looking rocks, where you could imagine lying on a sunny day…being eaten alive by midges. Beyond, more falls, foam curling over the lips before plunging to the pools below.


Image


Image


Image


Image



Turning our backs on the waterfalls it was time to get climbing. For now, the summit remained cloud free, but the weather was threatening and the clouds dropped frequently.


Image



We reached the crest of the lower slopes, and ahead of us the vista opened out. To the left, the lowest outliers of might An Teallach.


Image



On our right, signs of devastation lined the river banks. Clearly there has been a mighty flood, and this also explained why the sides of the Falls had been so scoured clean. Dave at the hostel later confirmed that there had been a huge downpour a couple of years earlier, bringing down a huge amount of rock-filled water.


Image


Image



We climbed higher above the eroded edges, planning to cross the stream higher up. Ahead, the impressive spur of Sgurr Ruadh looked forbidding and difficult – it would make an interesting and different approach to the pinnacles of Sgurr Fiona and Corrag Bhuidhe. And as we climbed, the silhouette of Being Dearg Bheag appeared.


Image


Image


Image



Now it was time to cross the river, easy in these low levels, and start our ascent into the corrie after a brief stop for soup and sandwich. A strongish wind made me decide to avoid the ridges flanking the bowl, and take some shelter from them as we climbed, by going straight up the middle.


Image


Image



The conditions were constantly changing, different shades racing across the white hillsides, and now we were approaching the cloudbase. It was all suitably atmospheric.


Image


Image


Image



Whilst the snow wasn’t deep, it was still hard work. Like on Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair a few days before, it was unconsolidated and slippery.


Image



Higher up, the route ahead disappeared as the inevitable shower came through, timed to steal our summit views away. I grabbed a compass bearing straight to the cairn and continued upwards, Nigel following close behind.


Image



Soon enough, we were on the top. The views were predictable. It was also pretty bleak and cold, so we turned immediately around intending to stop in the corrie for a break.


Image



In the end, we kept descending, as the shower was the longest of the day. It wasn’t long before the hills came into view once again though, wild and uncaring, oblivious to our prescence.


Image


Image


Image


Image



We stopped at the stream, sitting on the exact same rocks we’d used for a quick snack on the way up. The sun came out, albeit briefly, warming us a little, before we moved on with a quick stagger from rock to rock across the flow.


Image


Image



We were returning by the same route. Once again, we were drawn to the edge of the roaring stream regularly, sometimes to now familiar falls, sometimes to find ones we’d missed on the way up. The first of these turned out to be a massive initial drop into the gorge, spectacular and well hidden.


Image


Image


Image


Image


Image


Image


Image



These falls are truly magical, one of Scotland’s best kept secrets, I can imagine they are different every time you come. I could happily lose a whole day just pottering up and down beside them. I tried a few slow shutter speeds by balancing the camera on the end of the walking pole, but I really needed a tripod.


Image


Image


Image



Near the bottom, a figure straight out of a Dr Seuss book gazed out over the cascade.


Image


Image



Back at the road, the last fall is one of the most impressive, and here the parapet gave me a better solid surface for my lens.


Image



It was then just a simple wander back along the road as the afternoon brightened. It had a been a good short day, the magical falls of Ardessie balancing the wild weather on the hill.


Image



The forecast for the next day was good. Almost too good to believe. Beinn Dearg beckoned, but that will be another story…

...told here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=70565
Last edited by Mal Grey on Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2992
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby litljortindan » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:33 pm

Amazing falls.
User avatar
litljortindan
Walker
 
Posts: 1744
Munros:111   Corbetts:55
Grahams:26   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:47   Hewitts:12
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Dec 11, 2011

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby JEfoundmybootsagain » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:11 am

We were on that road in October last year. Wish i'd known about those falls then, they look amazing and I would also be happy to spend hours bumbling around the falls. We stopped just along the road at Maggies tea room Camusnagaul. Good excuse to go back there, spend time at the falls and coffee and a fine piece after. :D Love the foties.

John
JEfoundmybootsagain
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 38
Munros:59   Corbetts:8
Grahams:7   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:12   
Joined: Aug 27, 2016
Location: aberdeen

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:41 am

Amazing waterfalls, and you got some great shots of them.
User avatar
Cairngorm creeper
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 676
Munros:140   Corbetts:21
Grahams:6   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Jun 4, 2013
Location: Nr. Grantown-on-Spey

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby jmarkb » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:50 am

Some great pictures of the falls there! Much better than my efforts the last time I was up that way.

The flash flood was in August 2014: there are a couple of photos of it here which look pretty scary: https://floodforecastingservice.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/berth-storm.png
The front face of Sail Mhor isn't as impossible as it looks: an interesting alternative ascent is to keep to the west bank of the burn (there is a faint path, and good views of he upper falls in the gorge). At the top of the falls, head up rightwards onto a shelf and from the end of this climb up steeply alongside a gully to reach the shallow col about 400m SE of the summit.

I have used the Ardessie approach to the Sgurr Ruadh ridge: we avoided the steep end of the ridge by gaining it a bit further east, though I think it's only a Grade 1 scramble to take it direct. It does indeed make an interesting alternative round of An Teallach, though the section beyond the spot where you crossed the burn is very rough going for a couple of miles.
jmarkb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3910
Munros:241   Corbetts:92
Grahams:78   Donalds:29
Sub 2000:41   
Joined: Oct 28, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:17 pm

litljortindan wrote:Amazing falls.


They are indeed, a special place.


Cairngorm creeper wrote:Amazing waterfalls, and you got some great shots of them.


Thanks.



JEfoundmybootsagain wrote:We were on that road in October last year. Wish i'd known about those falls then, they look amazing and I would also be happy to spend hours bumbling around the falls. We stopped just along the road at Maggies tea room Camusnagaul. Good excuse to go back there, spend time at the falls and coffee and a fine piece after. :D Love the foties.
John


Thanks. Sadly Maggies was closed at this time of year…but we had our own cake so life was still good!


jmarkb wrote:Some great pictures of the falls there! Much better than my efforts the last time I was up that way.

The flash flood was in August 2014: there are a couple of photos of it here which look pretty scary: https://floodforecastingservice.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/berth-storm.png
The front face of Sail Mhor isn't as impossible as it looks: an interesting alternative ascent is to keep to the west bank of the burn (there is a faint path, and good views of he upper falls in the gorge). At the top of the falls, head up rightwards onto a shelf and from the end of this climb up steeply alongside a gully to reach the shallow col about 400m SE of the summit.

I have used the Ardessie approach to the Sgurr Ruadh ridge: we avoided the steep end of the ridge by gaining it a bit further east, though I think it's only a Grade 1 scramble to take it direct. It does indeed make an interesting alternative round of An Teallach, though the section beyond the spot where you crossed the burn is very rough going for a couple of miles.


Thanks. Those photos of the flood are frightening. That bridge must have been exceedingly well built!
I did consider finding a snow gulley or mild scramble, but snow conditions and wind suggested it was a bad idea on the day.
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2992
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby dogplodder » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:03 pm

Like the look of this and must get up there soon. 8)
User avatar
dogplodder
 
Posts: 3539
Munros:227   Corbetts:53
Grahams:16   
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:9   Islands:21
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:28 pm

Excellent report, and wonderful photos of the falls - definitely a place to spend time. I tend to rush things rather, but last Spring bank holiday I walked round the base of Beinn Alligin with my son, and we stopped at the allt that drains Loch Toll nam Biast for a proper coffee brewed up using his jetboil, and it was very therapeutic just to enjoy the environment in a relaxed way. This looks like an even better place to do the same :)

IMG_2796 red.jpg


I still have to get this far North, but I will soon.... Compared to you, I have no tenable distance excuse at all really :oops:
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2780
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Hewitts:205
Wainwrights:78   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:31 am

I really don't want to rub it, but such a shame you didn't get the summit views... SM is a wee gem. But I think the falls in their full glory made up for the cloudy top! :D

If you're lucky... This is what you see...
Image
An Teallach:
Image
We don't really get many days like that, with crispy snow, blue sky and low winds. Especially on the western coast, it always rains there :lol:
Cheers, BP
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3298
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:44   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Sail Mhor and the tumbling cascades of Ardessie

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:58 pm

Thanks DP, AK and BP

BP, it was partly your report which inspired this ascent, so you are forgiven being slightly smug about the views you had!!! :D :D :lol: :lol:
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2992
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

6 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).



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: PeteR and 55 guests