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Fantastic views and where to find them

Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby 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: 723m

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Creag Dhubh Mhor may be one of the lowest Grahams, but what it lacks in height, it gains in complexity of the ridge. There is everything here for playful cats to lurk around: rocky outcrops, gullies, hidden wee lochans, countless small tops, even some optional scrambling if one likes challenge. Sadly the day we visited this Graham was very windy so any scrambling was out of question, but even in strong gusts pushing us about we still enjoyed this hill a lot!

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 :D

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.

Track_CREAG DHUBH MOR 01-05-17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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.
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 002.JPG

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:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 004.JPG

Shortly past the gate, we turned left onto another path, this one seemingly leading into the wilderness...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 006.JPG

...over a stile...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 011.JPG

...and across a small stream, overgrown with gorse. The air was sickly sweet...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 017.JPG

...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 :D
Lovely views down to the village:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 025.JPG

We walked past an interesting little gorge...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 028.JPG

...and soon spotted the ridge of "our" Graham on the horizon...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 035.JPG

...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...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 042.JPG

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 :(
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 045.JPG

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?
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 050.JPG

The original stalkers path should be just to the right of us, so after consulting the map we began to look for it...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 054.JPG

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...
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 069.JPG

As we gained height, we spotted the top of our target hill popping up:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 076.JPG

The gorge from above:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 079.JPG

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!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 089.JPG

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!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 113.JPG

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:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 125.JPG

Also Lurg Mhor and Cheescake are close:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 128.JPG


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 :D
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 154.JPG

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:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 148.JPG

I was particularly interested in southern views, we would love to do Beinn Dronaig this year, and maybe Lurg Mhor and Cheesecake, too.
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 179.JPG

One more hydro scheme and this one seems huge :(
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 165.JPG

Zoom to Liathach:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 139.JPG

Filming on the summit - it was so windy I struggled to keep my camera steady!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 171.JPG

The western pano, the rest of the ridge, all the fun yet to come!

View north:

Kevin on the summit:

The eastern pano:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 186.JPG

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:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 187.JPG

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!
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 192.JPG

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:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 201.JPG

Coire Odhar and Loch a Choire Odhar (left):
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 205.JPG

One more pano, with Lurg Mhor in the distance:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 214.JPG

An attempt from me to strike a funny pose, but it was too windy to keep my balance :lol:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 215.JPG

Looking back at Creag Dhubh Mhor and the lochs below from the way up Carn Geuradainn:
2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 222.JPG

There are scrambling routes here if one wants to play...
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 229 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...but we were too busy photographing... I love hidden rocky sanctuaries, always full of surprises :D
Image2017-05-01 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:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 251 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The sanctuary of Coire Odhar once more:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 244 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
One of the outlying tops with Strathcarron Munros behind:
Image2017-05-01 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:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 267 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking north-west, we could see more lochs and lochans:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 269 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
...and this is our way down! More ridgewalking, something right up my street!
Image2017-05-01 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!
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 274 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 281 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The "long" panorama with both summits and most of the bumps in the ridge included:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 290 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I don't want to go home...
Image2017-05-01 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 8)
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 303 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Descending west to the Bedronaig path:
Image2017-05-01 creag dhubh mor 310 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The gorge of Eas Ban is impressing!
Image2017-05-01 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!
Image2017-05-01 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:
Image2017-05-01 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 :D
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 :lol:
Last edited by BlackPanther on Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mountain Walker
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Re: Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby mrssanta » Mon May 15, 2017 7:39 pm

ooh that does look good. CAn see that Kevin is braced against the wind in the summit shot.
hopefully these hydro schemes will look tidier in a few years time.
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Re: Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby Mal Grey » Mon May 15, 2017 9:03 pm

Superb knobbly little hills, how fantastic!

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....
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Re: Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Mon May 15, 2017 9:24 pm

That looked a great walk, especially the "rocky. Sanctuaries' and views across the Torridons. definitely one to try. It is hard not to get depressed the hydro works, but useful to share photos as it raises awareness of how many are really out there.
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Re: Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby Alteknacker » Mon May 15, 2017 10:38 pm

I see exactly what you mean: absolutely stunning country (once beyond the excavator...).
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Re: Fantastic views and where to find them

Postby BlackPanther » Wed May 17, 2017 9:35 am

Thanks everyone :D This Graham needed some advertising, it's virtually unknown and most baggers just nip up to the summit and back the easiest way... But really worth the extra time, exploring all the nooks and crannies was the best part of the day!

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 :D
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