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Lovely Loch Quoich

Lovely Loch Quoich


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:43 pm

Munros included on this walk: Gairich, Spidean Mialach

Date walked: 10/03/2018

Time taken: 12.5 hours

Distance: 25.7 km

Ascent: 1852m

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A forecast of winds, some snow and avalanche risk - getting all too familiar. Loch Quoich was to be our destination, taking me back to one of my favourite parts of the country, from the Quoich dam along to Kinlochhourn kindles very fond memories. I reckoned we might manage Gairich one day and Spidean Mialach/Gleouraich the other. Drove up after work on Thursday, nice to have light until almost 7pm again. Rain accompanied us for much of the way up - it stopped after we left Spean Bridge but sadly started again as we turned in at Tomdoun. Pulled up just short of the dam and found a nice spot to pitch by headlights, in the rain. Doesn't take long these days, so we were snug and dry in a few minutes. Very dark out here, the gushing of the dam outlet giving watery dreams.

Woke up around 3am and found to my horror that it was snewing. This fuelled various nightmares about being trapped 15 miles from a proper road and having to resort to cannibalism to survive. When it grew light I was happy to see that the snew was very wet and wasn't lying on the road anyway - whew! I decided that we'd do Gairich today, meaning we could walk from the tent and leave it pitched with the car beside it - for some reason this is much more acceptable to me than leaving the tent standing on its own. As we started out the sky was starting to clear, with blue patches spreading. Forecast was for snew showers, but these didn't come our way.

ImageP1180477 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180478 by Al, on Flickr

Such a photogenic hill, Gairich
ImageP1180479 by Al, on Flickr


I was a little worried, looking at the steep peak section of Gairich, that avalanche risk might be substantially raised by the overnight snew. We'd gone prepared with snowshoes for the long flat section and indeed these were helpful. My memories of Gairich are of very squelchy bogs, but the going wasn't too bad today, some of the ground was frozen. As we dropped to the first bealach, crossing the Allt Torrain Dharraich we heard the piercing, glacial scream of an eagle, and could make out the receding shape of the bird round the hillside. Upwards by the fenceline then onto the long back of the mountain, snowshoes on when the snew became deeper than was comfortable in boots alone. Across the loch were Spidean and Gleouriach, looking as if they were holding a lot of snew on their south slopes. Ahead rose the slightly intimidating "summer head" with laden steep slopes. We lunched in a hollow then spent some time looking for the best line up.

ImageP1180480 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180482 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180484 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180486 by Al, on Flickr

Gleouriach & Mialach
ImageP1180487 by Al, on Flickr

Pressing on, leaving our snowshoes and poles by a convenient rock just before the steepness began, we armed ourselves with axes and started up the slope. We made for a crag line where it looked possible to cut along protected from the snow-laden slope above. However, once we reached the crags, we were faced with the possibility that we might descend into an unseen cleft - didn't look a great place to be after all. I cut down and round to the left, not much liking the soft thick snew with evidence of snowballing around. Heaving myself over some rocky outcrops we haltingly made progress between 750-850 metres. There were a couple of times I thought about turning back, mostly due to the perceived avalanche risk, but after last weekend's no summits I was more reluctant than usual to give up. I was relieved to feel the snew firm up as I approached the summit, where we were blessed with fine views of the Glendessarry mountains and onward towards Knoydart.

Hmmm...
ImageP1180488 by Al, on Flickr

Glen Kingie
ImageP1180489 by Al, on Flickr

Our way in
ImageP1180490 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180491 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180492 by Al, on Flickr

Made it
ImageP1180493 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180494 by Al, on Flickr

General relief
ImageP1180495 by Al, on Flickr


We now had to retrace our steps, which was a little bit hairy in places, but soon enough we were back at the rock where we'd left our snowshoes and could enjoy the walk out knowing there were no risks attached. The sky was blue, the sun warm and we ended up walking in baselayers. Had some fun building a small snew guardian on the way down. Back at the tent we were able to sit in the sun enjoying a salty snack until the shadows lengthened and the sun fell below the horizon.

Allison descending one of the steeper sections
ImageP1180496 by Al, on Flickr

The Ben rears its head
ImageP1180498 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180499 by Al, on Flickr

Mialach
ImageP1180500 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180502 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180503 by Al, on Flickr



mialach.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Overnight there was a hard frost, which pleased me as I reckoned this would firm up the snowpack on our hills. Up fairly early just after 7 and ready to start up Spidean Mialach by 8.30. Rhododendrons have really taken over the hillside - tenacious little fellows, ousting even gorse bushes in their pursuit of hillside domination. The path was iced over, a little difficult to follow where the snew was thick, but we pressed onwards. I wanted to climb the Sim of Meall a'Mheil on the way, which was achieved by a steep snowy ascent. Wind was considerable at 600m which didn't fill me with comforting thoughts as to how it would be at 1000m.

Sgurr na Ciche
ImageDSC00835 by Al, on Flickr

Some of my favourite hills
ImageDSC00836 by Al, on Flickr

Approaching Meall a'Mheil
ImageDSC00839 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00841 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00842 by Al, on Flickr

Mialach - still reasonable visibility, but not for long
ImageDSC00844 by Al, on Flickr

We came off Meall a'Mheil, avoiding the cornicing, and looked for the safest line up Mialach. There looked to be a shoulder between Coire Dubh and Coire Glas where there was at least some ground showing through the snew - however by the time we got above 650m we had entered {{The White Room}} and saw nothing from that point on. It was a little hair-raising, walking into blankness with no idea if there were drifts above that might give way. As we climbed some windslab started to come away - not much but enough to rack up the tension. The main concern was the summit of Spidean being a narrow triangle, with steep drops on the other two sides...I was relieved to see some rocks under the snew in the last 50m or so and we made it to the almost buried cairn solely by GPS. High wind, cornices and {{The White Room}} - a triumvirate of devils which meant there was no sense in trying to make for Gleouriach today.

Gleouriach
ImageDSC00845 by Al, on Flickr

Spidean Mialach - in the white room
ImageDSC00847 by Al, on Flickr


We turned back, found our footprints had almost all been erased by the wind in the couple of minutes we'd been at the top, and stepped off again into the white, following the GPS route down. Came out of the clag about 700m, stopped for lunch then headed back to the car. There's no sadness at not getting along to Gleouriach today - this part of Scotland is somewhere I'm always happy to re-visit. Just need to choose a good day next time :wink: Uneventful drive back down the road - some very tame deer heading back towards Tomdoun. Horrible weather going through Glencoe with driving rain and a really strong wind blasting the car about on the road. Felt sorry for any poor blighters out on the Glencoe hills, which - from the look of the car parks- there were some.

Some visibility again - around 750m
ImageDSC00848 by Al, on Flickr

More weather coming in
ImageDSC00849 by Al, on Flickr

Rhododendron take over
ImageDSC00850 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00851 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00853 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Lovely Loch Quoich

Postby gaffr » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:02 am

Hello, I see that you have made friends with 'wee spikey' the very friendly or hungry little male red deer. :) This wee fellow along with the young females have been regular visitors to the houses around this area during the winter. In fact most, if not all of the retired folks in the area, seem to have sacks of the feeding pellets to feed the young deer...very harsh winter for the deer this winter. I would guess a fair loss of numbers perhaps. These deer around the houses I think are the ones from the Kingie East estate or maybe even Quoich East? ....as you drive out of the Glen the terrain of the left stretching out towards the Loch Loyne perhaps
The deer of the Kingie Estate, the buildings around the area of where you stopped with your motor are reached by crossing over the Loch by boat i.e. on the slopes of Sgurr Mor, Fhuarain and Gairich etc. ....also in the mix of buildings there is the base for another Estate whose name escapes me for now and I guess the land for this one is on the Mialaich and Gleouraich hills?
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gaffr
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Re: Lovely Loch Quoich

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:17 am

gaffr wrote:Hello, I see that you have made friends with 'wee spikey' the very friendly or hungry little male red deer. :) This wee fellow along with the young females have been regular visitors to the houses around this area during the winter. In fact most, if not all of the retired folks in the area, seem to have sacks of the feeding pellets to feed the young deer...very harsh winter for the deer this winter. I would guess a fair loss of numbers perhaps. These deer around the houses I think are the ones from the Kingie East estate or maybe even Quoich East? ....as you drive out of the Glen the terrain of the left stretching out towards the Loch Loyne perhaps
The deer of the Kingie Estate, the buildings around the area of where you stopped with your motor are reached by crossing over the Loch by boat i.e. on the slopes of Sgurr Mor, Fhuarain and Gairich etc. ....also in the mix of buildings there is the base for another Estate whose name escapes me for now and I guess the land for this one is on the Mialaich and Gleouraich hills?


He was a most unusual looking fellow :D Yes, the deer looked like they were eating food pellets on the grass, certainly not scared of humans.
We drove along past the Tomdoun Hotel (as was) - looked as if the external works are all complete - do you happen to know if it is now a private house or if it's to be a hotel again?
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weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
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Re: Lovely Loch Quoich

Postby gaffr » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:08 pm

Tomdoun.....As far as I know it is on its way to become dwelling house....but whether for a resident of as a holiday house I am not sure.
I'll try to get some info on this. Must admit we quite liked it as a stopping place for a snack and a coffee after being on the hills. I guess it had a history for folks travelling to the isles in the old days....but the damming to produce the enlarged Loch Loyne brought about the current 'new road' to reach the Cluanie Inn area. The end of the old road to the Isles.
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gaffr
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Re: Lovely Loch Quoich

Postby rockhopper » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:43 am

Great area in cracking conditions like this - looks like you got the best of them - cheers :)
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