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Druim Fada: our finest hours :)

Druim Fada: our finest hours :)


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:00 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Druim Fada (Corpach)

Date walked: 25/02/2018

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 16.3 km

Ascent: 858m

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Stob a'Ghrianain, aka Druim Fada, has been on the radar for some time. Due to its location, it's been kept on the list "to do on a sunny day to see all the wonderful views around". I never anticipated climbing it in winter conditions, but Kevin suggested it as a good option for a sunny Sunday, with cold, high front well settled over Scotland. We suspected we'd have to use our crampons this time and indeed, we did. Not only we reached the summit, but also spent a couple of hours wandering along the ridge. Those hours have been our finest ones so far this year. Weather was perfect and the surrounding panoramas could not have been any better... So here comes the story of true winter wonderland ;)

We decided to approach the hill from Glen Loy (Inverskilavulin), where there is limited parking by a forest gate (NN126831). The usual route for the nearby Corbett Beinn Bhan also starts from here. When tackling from the east via Coire an Lightuinn, one can reach the summit of Stob a'Ghrianain in 2 hours or even less, leaving the rest of the ridge as an option, depending on weather, snow conditions, daylight left, etc. As the day was fantastic, we not only claimed the summit, but also spent some time exploring the ridge, testing our crampons on crunchy snow :D

Track_DRUIM FADA 25-02-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


One word of warning for all folks interested in this route. Extensive tree felling activities are taking place is Glen Loy forest as we speak. The access to Beinn Bhan is not affected, but the route to Stob a'Ghrianain via Coire an Lightuinn is closed to the public due to trees being cut in this very area.
Warning signs:
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We decided to carefully carry on - only because it was a Sunday and there seemed to be no activities in the woods. Later we spotted one small excavator tractor working at the opposite side of the corrie, but we sneaked carefully up the officially closed path and thankfully, we were not in any danger neither did we disturb any forest workers. But during the week this site would be very busy, including stick lorries passing through the gate where cars are parked, so at the moment, best to avoid the area or check before planning a walk :D
The path up the corrie follows the edge of the felled area and it hasn't yet been destroyed by heavy equipment, but the signs leave no doubt about the awaiting danger:
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On the path, sneaking up quietly:
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The forest is gone :(
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Once past the second gate and out of the woods, we were fine now and could enjoy the rest of our adventure. Of course, we'd have to return this way later on, but as apart form that one small tractor, there were no signs of any activities today, we were positive that we'd do no harm to anybody on the way back.
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Tractor far away:
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After a short march along the path into the corrie, we spotted a hidden bridge:
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Past the footbridge, we followed a faint track up the northern slopes of the corrie, walking was easy (the ground might be squelchy on warmer days), soon we reached the first patches of snow:
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As soon as we gained a couple of hundred meters, the views came out and they were a revelation. Simply magnificent. From the north the wider pano was temporarily blocked by the bulk of Beinn Bhan, but to the east it was our highest mountain - white and proud!
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The ridge up Druim Fada narrows higher up, but it only adds to the fun. I couldn't wait to get to the edge of the cliffs, see the overhangs (without getting too close, of course :wink: ):
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Higher up, we stopped to put our crampons on, as the snow was very hard and we quickly got tired of kicking steps in. Kevin took the opportunity to take another bunch of panoramic photos. I had a hard job picking the best ones for this report, here they come.
Gulvain ridge:
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Nevis and friends:
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Views to the north, South Glen Shiel I think:
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Panorama of the climb to come:
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All photos are a bit misleading, showing the wide ridge as easy walking, but the angle was steep enough to make it dangerous to climb on hard snow without crampons. One could easily end up sliding down the slope. Thankfully, with spikes on, we marched up quickly, with big Cheshire cat smiles glued to our faces :D :D :D
Panther in her element!
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With Beinn Bhan in the background:
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Strange shapes of the cornice above:
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View east and north-east, from Nevis to Glen Spean:
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Zoom to Loch Linhe and Fort William:
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Panorama to the north - Knoydart, Quoich and Shiel hills:
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What a day! For the first time this year, we had perfect winter conditions and we were on a hill that (despite its modest height) gave us the most magnificent views plus more attractions on the ridge to come! I was already in the state of ecstasy, ready to meow madly in all directions! Thank heavens we were the only people on this mountain!
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Him who always knows what he is doing :lol: He does not meow. He is just getting ready to roarrrr!
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Just before reaching the summit, the angle eases off and walking becomes even more pleasant :D We passed a couple of tiny lochans (frozen solid) and aimed for the true summit, which is marked by a small cairn, perched at the edge of the cliffs falling down to Corrie Dubh. This was a superb viewpoint (surprise, surprise!) and we decided to take a longer break, enjoy the sunny weather and take some snaps followed by tea and snacks!
Lucy's 53rd Graham!
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There are two bumps on this end of the ridge, we visited the other one later. The lower "top" is marked with a small, vertical rock, making it look like a trigpoint from the distance:
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Posing on the summit, Graham no. 86 in the bag. Behind me the ridge continues:
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Glen Roy hills and Megi group:
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View west:
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Zoom to Streap ridge:
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Moidart oddities:
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It was still early hours so we calculated, we had enough time to wander along the ridge, admire the snow shapes and the superb views. The whole length of Druim Fada (from Stob a'Ghrianain to the final minor top at 635m) measures at 5.5km, we walked about 2/3 of the ridge, the highest and the most interesting part of it. It would be wonderful to do a full traverse of this mountain once, from Inverskilavulin to Fassfern, but two cars (or a friendly driver) are needed for this version of the route.
The mighty cornices - stay safely away from the edge!
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Loch Eil and the hills beyond - so much yet to climb!
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The stroll along Druim Fada is almost flat. Overall, only 100m of drop/reascent altogether, and spread nicely over long distance:
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One girl and Ben Nevis:
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Looking at the length of the ridge from the 730m top:
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The northern pano:
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Back to the summit:
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We agreed, upon reaching the edge of Coire an Fhuidhir, that we had enough time to go to the next top (729m), visible here to the left of the photo:
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Thanks to crampons, we moved very quickly on the hard snow and didn't have to worry about slippery surface. Soon, we could admire the buttress below the 729m top, reminding me a little of Welligton's Nose on Fuar Tholl, just a mini-version of it:
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The final, short ascent brought us to a large cairn, marking the highest point on this end of the ridge. It's not a listed top (a TUMP I guess, but who does collect TUMPS???) but it's worth spending some extra time to add it to the tally, as it's an excellent vantage point to the west, even better than the summit of the Graham:
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Again, far too much time was spent photographing the landscape, but could you NOT take pictures with so much natural beauty around???
Fassfern Grahams and the Glenfinnian mountains beyond:
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The two remaining tops (716m with trig point and 635m) which we didn't bother going to:
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Wider pano west:
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North to Loch Lochy hills:
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East to Ben Nevis and the Mamores:
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Back east along the ridge:
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Wide pano:
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Ben Nevis - zoomed:
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We lingered on the 729m top, reluctant to leave such a mind-boggling viewpoint behind. But Kevin reminded me that we still had to retrace our steps along the whole ridge back to Stob a'Ghrianain and then down through the forest and I agreed with him, that we didn't fancy descending through the woods in darkness.
Ready to go back:
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At least, we still had the fantastic mountains around us to admire, all the way back along the ridge!
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Kevin could not stop taking panoramas:
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On the return route, we took a short detour to visit the lower top of Stob a'Ghrianain and wasted even more time snapping photos from there:
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Sgurr na Ciche, I presume:
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Our descent route:
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The happiest cat in the world at this very moment!
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The final descent on the snow was made easy by crampons, later we took them off and scampered down the dead grass and scratchy heather to the path in the corrie, then walked back through the forest to the car. There was no tree feeling activity at all in the afternoon so no problems on this side, but I'll repeat once again, at this moment the described route should not be considered on weekdays. It's possible to take an alternative approach from Strone viewpoint and up Sron Liath (more info here).
Overall, this is one of those mountains that doesn't need to be high to be brilliant, if I may suggest anything, take time and explore the ridge to the full, best to be saved for a sunny day like we had. Definitely, our fines hours of 2018 so far.

The Druim Fada excursion happened before the beast from the east hit Scotland. The far north was spared the havoc of 8ft snow and we could venture onto the hills on the first weekend of March. But it turned out that even if the beast can be tamed for a short time, it will not make things easy for hillwalkers. My next two TR's will tell the story of facing the monstahhhh :D
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BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3118
Munros:258   Corbetts:162
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Re: Druim Fada: our finest hours :)

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:59 pm

Grand stuff. I've looked at those hills and thought "I bet they've got good views". Now I know that they have indeed!


That was a perfect days weather, and the hard snow was simply fantastic to walk on with crampons. We were a few hours north on Fuar Tholl, it was stunning. Still faffing with photos...
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Mal Grey
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Re: Druim Fada: our finest hours :)

Postby malky_c » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:42 pm

Looks fantastic 8) . Reminds me of a brilliant day out from a few years back (completely different conditions though). As you say, it's well positioned for views.

Although I have to say I really recommend the other Druim Fada down the side of Loch Hourn even more if you haven't done it yet :D
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Re: Druim Fada: our finest hours :)

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:17 am

Mal Grey wrote:Grand stuff. I've looked at those hills and thought "I bet they've got good views". Now I know that they have indeed!

That was a perfect days weather, and the hard snow was simply fantastic to walk on with crampons. We were a few hours north on Fuar Tholl, it was stunning. Still faffing with photos...


Good views, yes, and a grand ridge to walk in spikes! This is indeed a very overlooked corner of western Highlands, no Munros (Gulvain is the nearest) but some absolutely cracking Corbetts and Grahams. Druim Fada was the last Glen Loy hill we ticked off. Beinn Bhan is a good "quickie" with grand panos, Meall a'Phubuill is another fantastic loong ridge to explore. The Fassfern Twins are very entertaining too (though we almost drowned in bog on the way down :lol: ).

We had been on Fuar Tholl twice (once in winter), never saw the full extent of the view due to cloud. Now you made me salivate like Pavlov's dog, just thinking about perfect climbing conditions in Torridon... We did one small hill in this area last Sunday and it was hell on earth, but I'm not easily discouraged :D

malky_c wrote:Looks fantastic 8) . Reminds me of a brilliant day out from a few years back (completely different conditions though). As you say, it's well positioned for views.

Although I have to say I really recommend the other Druim Fada down the side of Loch Hourn even more if you haven't done it yet :D


I've been thinking about the other Druim Fada for some time now. We had a good look at it when we climbed the two steeeep Arnisdale Corbetts (I ended up with blood blisters on my heels :shock: ). It's definitely on "to do" list but we'll probably wait for summer time and spend more time exploring the ridge.
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BlackPanther
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Posts: 3118
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