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Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.

Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.


Postby mrssanta » Sat May 13, 2017 8:44 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail

Date walked: 02/05/2017

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 29 km

Ascent: 1950m

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Last July we attempted the Mullardoch round over three days. the weather got rough on the 2nd day with gale force wind and rain, and I was blown over just 100 vertical metres short of the summit of Mam Sodhail, causing us to rename it something a bit less polite :shock: We had to abandon Mam Sodhail, Carn Eige and Beinn Fionnlaidh, and retreat to Glen Affric, giving us a long walk back to Glen Cannich the following day. So it was a matter of some pride that we bagged these three on this trip. here's a link to that trip report if it is of any interest viewtopic.php?f=9&t=64899
We'd planned to do this walk over two days with a camp either in the corrie below Sron Garbh or at Bealach Beag below Beinn Fionnlaidh. But because of a change of plan occasioned by being blown off the Strathfarrar Four on the Sunday, our timings were all different. Also there was one day of gorgeous weather promised, then it was possible the wind would get up again. So we decided on a different cunning plan, which was to walk a bit with overnight packs, camp for the night, then do the circuit of the Munros with day packs and return to the tent for a second camp. It's a really long walk with a lot of ascent and we could take all day to do it.
After leaving Glen Strathfarrar at 7pm (viewtopic.php?f=9&t=72150 )we drove to Chisholme Bridge, hoping to leave the car there for two nights, but it was clear that the engineering works for the new hydro scheme were rather taking over the car park, so we continued to the road end where there is a large parking area complete with very clean and useful toilets. Here we packed up our rucksacks and headed to Affric Lodge and from there up the track onto the moor, stopping as soon as we found a suitable flat place with water, not far above the Lodge. We were really hungry and it was getting dusk so we just ate our tea and rolled into bed.
We were up bright and early the next morning and set off before 8am. I wasn't really in the mood for breakfast but managed to eat some, and it was a misty start but with some brightness up above which made us think we might get an inversion to enjoy.
P5021646.jpg
foggy morning

We followed the track across the moor to meet the path which comes up the glen from Chisholme Bridge. As we walked a fogbow appeared on our left, followed by the ghostly outline of Sgurr na Lapaich inside the fog bow. It looked much more stunning than the pictures but I have made an attempt to show it.
P5021653.jpg
Sgurr na Lapaich and the fogbow

As we walked on the mist rose so we didn't get our inversion, but it turned into haze which made far visibility a bit indistinct. But it was turning into a gorgeous day with little wind and wall-to-wall sunshine, could not be more different from the last time we were here.
P5021657.jpg
looking up into Gleann nam Fiadh

P5021660.jpg
we head up the ridge to the hanging corrie

P5021664.jpg
like this (I'm always at the back)

We lost the path after crossing the first burn out of Coire Mhic Fhearchar but found it again fairly soon and wondered why it had been so elusive. After this it was a lovely climb into the corrie where we topped up our water, then to the bealach below Sron Garbh and then up the ridge where was a slightly hairy bit with some big loose bouldery bits although we did find the amazing steps right on the crest of the ridge - from halfway up!
P5021665.jpg
fascinating folded rocks

P5021666.jpg
looking back down the glen towards Chisholme Bridge

P5021670.jpg
in the corrie now

P5021676.jpg
looking down the stone staircase on the ridge Gulp!!

P5021677.jpg
and going up!!


Rudolph was thinking I was going pretty slow and I was feeling quite tired and a bit nauseous, but he gallantly took most of my stuff and that helped. Mostly by slowing him down a bit. We stopped here and there to top up with nuts and dried fruit but planned our lunch stop at Bealach Beag.
From Sron Garbh it is still quite a decent walk to Carn Eige along an interesting ridge with a few mild scrambly bits and some snow clinging to the path in places. Enough to be fun but not scary. We met an Englishman in a wide hat and a Dutchman in shorts and running shoes. Both had already completed all three munros and looked quite fresh! I embarrassed myself by misnaming the ridge off Stob a' Choire Dhomhain as Beinn Fionnlaidh - but to be fair my map was in my rucksack at this point!
P5021678.jpg
ooh that does look beautiful, from Sron Garbh looking towards Carn Eighe which is the one at the back

P5021681.jpg
it gets better and better!

P5021683.jpg
Mam Sodhail on the left, Carn Eighe on the right

P5021687.jpg
nice snowy bit

We reached the summit of Carn Eighe almost exactly five hours after leaving our campsite.
P5021693.jpg
top of Carn Eighe at last

P5021695.jpg
Next target, with Mullardoch An Socach behind

Contemplating the long detour to Beinn Fionnlaidh was not getting us there, so down we went, quite a lot of boulders, discussing at what point we should dump the bags. The obvious plan was to leave them at the bealach after stopping for our lunch.
And here is a cautionary tale. Rudolph lit the stove and went to find water leaving me to make the brew. After a minute or two I realised there was a little bit of smoke and noticed that although the stove was carefully set on a rock, a small tongue of moss had caught fire. it was tinder dry and although I noticed pretty quickly and blew it out easily it carried on smouldering and smoking and I had to douse it with a litre of water before I was confident it was absolutely safe. A reminder always to take care with stoves and watch them all the time. We heard later that there had been two big wildfires the same day in different parts of Scotland.
P5021703.jpg
oo dear.

By this time I had completely lost my appetite and could not finish my tea or my oatcakes and cheese. What I really craved was lovely hot, creamy Cullen Skink or at a pinch Leek and Potato (much the same without the fish really). It was not to be but I knew it was not wise to try to get home on one and a half oatcakes. Fortunately I had a bag of Co-op Fruit Jellies which were easy to eat and kept the blood sugar up and I finished the walk on these and plenty of water. And a caramel wafer later on.
Dumping the bags (but remembering the satnav) we did the up and back to Beinn Fionnlaidh and then set off to find the traverse from Bealach Beag across the side of Carn Eighe.
P5021705.jpg
Me on Beinn Fionnlaidh, Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail behind

We met a senior couple who had just come that way and said that it was not too bad to find a way without too many boulders. They had been to Mam S and Carn Eighe before but had to come back for Beinn Fionnlaidh. We also met a Swiss man who was doing tops (running) and who said in his opinion paths are over-rated. It was actually a pretty nice traverse and we reached the bealach quite nicely and the final 150m or so to reach the top of Mam Sodhail at last was not so bad at all.
P5021710.jpg
Bealach between Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail. There is no way down here for normal mortals.

P5021712.jpg
hurrah made it at last, background is ridge towards Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan and Kintail hills

so now we had to decide whether to return via Sgurr na Lapaich or by Coire Leachavie. Sgurr na Lapaich looked nicer although a bit of uphill still had to be done. It would take us straight back to our tent without the tiresome walk along the track at the bottom of the hill. Also we noticed a bit of a cornice at the top of Coire Leachavie which looked a little bit scary to cross.
P5021714.jpg
this way please

It was an absolutely gorgeous ridge and we really enjoyed it. We stopped at Mullach Cadha Rainich for another brew and to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and knowing we would probably get home safe.
P5021718.jpg
the way to Sgurr na Lapaich. Maybe it will be a Munro someday. I think it should be.

P5021726.jpg
Coire Leachavie from our afternoon tea spot. Nice cornice over the path at the top

P5021727.jpg
Happy mugs

The path off the end of Sgurr na Lapaich is marked by a few cairns then becomes easy to follow down the steep bit. After that it is across the bog picking out the best route among the hags and promontories on messy ground. We were glad to follow the WH track which Rudolph had stored on his phone which saved us some thinking at the end of a long day and took us by a good route meeting the upward track exactly at the bend as it goes onto the moor.
By this time we had decided that we were going to head for Aboyne tonight. We got back to the tent, packed up quickly and headed for the car. At the car park we met the senior couple who had come down Coire Leachavie and told us that the cornice had indeed been a bit hairy - we'd watched them coming down it as we were sitting having our brew and wondered if it was them.
As soon as we got some phone signal we phoned Aboyne to ask them to keep the door open for us. We missed the Beauly chippie by just over an hour! but thanks to Google managed to find Macdonalds in Inverness which was still open.
A long day, but a brilliant way to finish the Affric Munros. If I come back, the ridge circuit without Beinn Fionnlaidh is a fantastic walk and well worth doing again. :D

mam sodhail et al simplified.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It's been hard choosing just 24 photographs, I might have to add some more later!
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mrssanta
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Re: Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.

Postby Alteknacker » Sun May 14, 2017 11:21 pm

Obviously a cracking week in the end. :) - the mugs seemed to think so!

These are really excellent hills - sadly I've only done the Munros among them.

I'd hoped to be up there with my son doing the Mullardoch Round on the earlier May Bank Hol, but there were blizzards last year, as you may remember, so it never happened.
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Alteknacker
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Re: Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.

Postby BlackPanther » Mon May 15, 2017 9:55 am

Always nice to see other walkhighlanders enjoying our neck of the woods :D :D

I'm a firm supporter of Sgurr na Lapaich becoming a Munro. Funny, it's probably the most photographed peak of Glen Affric, looming over the loch yet most likely the least climbed one.

Sadly, the hydro works are spoiling it all :( At least they are not visible from higher up!
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BlackPanther
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Re: Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.

Postby mrssanta » Mon May 15, 2017 7:35 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Obviously a cracking week in the end. :) - the mugs seemed to think so!

These are really excellent hills - sadly I've only done the Munros among them.

I'd hoped to be up there with my son doing the Mullardoch Round on the earlier May Bank Hol, but there were blizzards last year, as you may remember, so it never happened.


the mugs had a great time as always! Worth saving the Mullardoch for a good weather window, that's the trouble with us faraway people, we often don't get the choice.
BlackPanther wrote:Always nice to see other walkhighlanders enjoying our neck of the woods :D :D

I'm a firm supporter of Sgurr na Lapaich becoming a Munro. Funny, it's probably the most photographed peak of Glen Affric, looming over the loch yet most likely the least climbed one.

Sadly, the hydro works are spoiling it all :( At least they are not visible from higher up!


I thoroughly recommend that ridge - steep descent but a lovely way to round off a cracking day. And Sgurr na Lapaich is further from Mam Sodhail than a lot of munros from their neighbours.
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mrssanta
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