Travel and Coronavirus
Temporary Coronavirus restrictions and travel advice applies until Monday 26th October.
Click for details
Fantastic views and where to find them
by BlackPanther » Mon May 15, 2017 6:47 pm
Grahams included on this walk: Creag Dhubh Mhor
Date walked: 01/05/2017
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 723m4 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).
It was the May bank holiday and after walking around Loch Affric the day before, I felt I needed some cheering up. The forecast was blowy but dry and sunny, so we picked what we assumed would be an easy half-day climb. In the end, we spent a couple of hours exploring the ridge and all its secrets, but no regrets. Creag Dhubh Mhor is worth visiting in good weather conditions
There are a few different combinations for a satisfying traverse. We picked the longest and most interesting option, including the whole length of the ridge, but one can shorten this walk using the existing stalkers paths.
The walk starts in the village of Achintee, just south of Strathcarron. Parking in the village may be an issue, there is space for 2 or 3 cars by the power station:
The beginning of a path to Bedronaig bothy is signposted, but we agreed to do the circuit clockwise, which meant leaving the Bedronaig path as a descent route.
It was a lovely spring morning, breezy but warm, gorse flowering everywhere, the air had a distinctive sweet fragrance... But sadly, it was hazy, even to the hills across the glen:
Shortly past the gate, we turned left onto another path, this one seemingly leading into the wilderness...
...over a stile...
...and across a small stream, overgrown with gorse. The air was sickly sweet...
...but as soon as we started gaining height, the breeze was back. Forecast suggested, the wind would drop in early afternoon which we took for granted, we believed by the time we reach the top, conditions should be manageable
Lovely views down to the village:
We walked past an interesting little gorge...
...and soon spotted the ridge of "our" Graham on the horizon...
...but our appreciation for the wild landscape was suddenly and brutally put to stop. The path merged with a jet runway, leading to one more hydro scheme, this one still under construction...
I don't know what the hell is happening in Scotland??? Everywhere we go, hydro works pop up like mushrooms after heavy rain. This one, thankfully, is a small investment and the jetway style track only goes for a short distance, but it's still messy enough
After roughly 1km of marching along the bulldozed track, we reached the end of it and the hydro dam - it looks tiny, hardly worth the hassle, I wonder is there enough water in this river to justify this building?
The original stalkers path should be just to the right of us, so after consulting the map we began to look for it...
The old path turned out much better than expected, a bit wet in places but it can easily be followed along the edge of the Eas na Creige Duibhe Moire gorge - lovely walk in with some nice waterfalls en route. Not much water in the stream though...
As we gained height, we spotted the top of our target hill popping up:
The gorge from above:
We stopped to refill our bottles from one of countless small tributaries, studying the crags above our heads and wondering which way up would be the easiest? Kevin pointed at a wide, grassy gully just to the left of the summit and said - this looks good!
We left the stalkers path and began the ascent, to our surprise we found a faint path (or maybe it was just an animal track, hard to say). Higher up, the wind was getting quite unpleasant and I was glad I was wearing my hoodie!
When we emerged onto the main ridge, we were some 350m east from the true summit. I loved the undisturbed views in all directions, especially to the north to some Torridon peaks:
Also Lurg Mhor and Cheescake are close:
From the eastern top, we began the traverse by heading towards the highest of many lumps on the ridge - the summit of the Graham!
The summit cairn is perched on a large rock, soon I was posing for my traditional photo with wee Lucy. Graham no. 74 for me, a round no. 40 for my little companion
The summit is a superb viewpoint, such a shame that the hazy air spoiled the distant views, but I was far away from complaining. It was sunny, dry and relatively warm - good enough for Scotland!
View down to Loch Carron, Applecross cliffs on the hazy horizon:
I was particularly interested in southern views, we would love to do Beinn Dronaig this year, and maybe Lurg Mhor and Cheesecake, too.
One more hydro scheme and this one seems huge
Zoom to Liathach:
Filming on the summit - it was so windy I struggled to keep my camera steady!
The western pano, the rest of the ridge, all the fun yet to come!
Kevin on the summit:
The eastern pano:
After all the fun and games with wind on the summit, we began our traverse to Carn Geuradainn, the lower top. Rather than aiming straight into Coire Odhar, we descended less steep side towards a group of wee lochs:
And this is where all the magic begins! the traverse from Creag Dhubh Mhor to Carn Geuradainn takes the walker into a hidden sanctuary of countless rocky outcrops, lumps, bumps and dips, some filled with lochs and tiny lochans, each one on a different level! Truly magical!
View west to Carn Geuradainn (second top from the left) across one of the lochs. Most of them have no names on 1-25k map:
Coire Odhar and Loch a Choire Odhar (left):
One more pano, with Lurg Mhor in the distance:
An attempt from me to strike a funny pose, but it was too windy to keep my balance
Looking back at Creag Dhubh Mhor and the lochs below from the way up Carn Geuradainn:
There are scrambling routes here if one wants to play...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 229 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...but we were too busy photographing... I love hidden rocky sanctuaries, always full of surprises
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 241 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Some steep flanks above my head, but the top of Carn Geuradainn can be reached without any problems:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 251 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The sanctuary of Coire Odhar once more:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 244 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
One of the outlying tops with Strathcarron Munros behind:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 258 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Carn Geuradainn is 18m lower than the true summit, but it has a trig point - must be an old one as it's build from stones rather than made out of concrete:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 267 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking north-west, we could see more lochs and lochans:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 269 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...and this is our way down! More ridgewalking, something right up my street!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 272 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We continued along the ridge, stopping virtually on every lump and outcrop for photos, we absolutely loved this experience and completely lost the sense of time!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 274 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 281 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The "long" panorama with both summits and most of the bumps in the ridge included:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 290 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I don't want to go home...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 285 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Before we finally said good bye to this superb ridge, we stopped on the last outcrop for a last look back. What a day we had! Sometimes the smaller hills are more entertaining than the big ones
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 303 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Descending west to the Bedronaig path:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 310 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The gorge of Eas Ban is impressing!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 315 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The last 100m of descent before reaching the path were quite steep, but grassy - no problems here. The path is obvious (some boggy bits, but fast walking in general). We kept stopping and looking back at the great ridge behind us - we definitely didn't regret swapping bigger hills for this wee gem!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 327 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The final descent to Achintee was sweetened up with lovely views of south Torridon Munros across Glen Carron:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 332 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
It's hard to believe, this amazing ridge is virtually unknown and visited only by dedicated Graham baggers... This route has everything that's needed for an entertaining day: fantastic views and interesting hidden sanctuary for lurking around. The hydro scheme on the way up is the only low point of the traverse, but at least it's small and can be left behind pretty quickly. We enjoyed this hill so much we will be coming back here for sure, possibly on a less windy day for even more lurking
My next TR will be (at last!) about our Fisherfield trip. The main theme of the story will include slabs... more slabs... and torn trousers
by mrssanta » Mon May 15, 2017 7:39 pm
hopefully these hydro schemes will look tidier in a few years time.
by Mal Grey » Mon May 15, 2017 9:03 pm
I've walked the stalkers track you used to ascend, to get to Bearnais bothy. Its lovely. Though boggy the other side of the pass....
Its great to know I can one day go back, turn right at the top of the track, and follow your footsteps over the lovely rocky, lochan-studded, summits. And I thought I'd nearly "finished" the Torridon/Strathcarron area after about 20 visits....
by Cairngorm creeper » Mon May 15, 2017 9:24 pm
by Alteknacker » Mon May 15, 2017 10:38 pm
by BlackPanther » Wed May 17, 2017 9:35 am
Since most of our Munros and Corbetts to-do are down south, we are working our way through northern Grahams and it's a fantastic journey, discovering places like this one... Last Sunday we found another local gem, Beinn a'Mhuinidh. Maybe we should concentrate on compleating the M's, but we enjoy the lower hills too much