Ben More Coigach and Sguur an Fheidler from the east side
by gld73 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:43 pm
Route description: Ben More Coigach
Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir
Date walked: 15/04/201812 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).
The parking area at Blughasary is signed for Dun Canna walkers - a sign gives info on the coastal walk, saying it is a tough walk, not as easy as it looks on a map. I did think a circular walk combing the ascent of Ben More Coigach from this side, then the Walk Highlands route from BMC to Sgurr an Fhidleir and back down to Culnacraig, then returning to Blughasary by the coastal route might be a good route, though I didn't end up doing it.
Anyway, from the parking area, I headed over the bridge, and where the route to Dun Canna goes left, I took the estate track to the right. It's an easy couple of kilometres on a good track - where the occasional section of ruts were wet and boggy, I was hoping they stayed that way, for the sake of the impressive frog spawn in them!
I continued up the track past the first small loch (Loch a' Chlaiginn), getting the impressive views of Speicein Coinnich, the aim of my ascent route. I left the estate track about half way between the first small loch and Loch Eadar Dha Bheinn to try and head straight over to the ridge - this was a mistake. I bog hopped my way as far as the burn between the 2 lochs, then couldn't find anywhere to cross - although not particularly wide, it was surprisingly deep - easily waist deep on me by the looks of it. In hiking boots and with tussocky uneven ground on either side giving a dodgy take off and landing, I didn't want to risk jumping across, so followed it up towards Loch Eadar Dha Bheinn. This wasted a good 20 minutes at least, compared to if I'd just stayed on the estate track, as the only decent easy crossing point was right at the Loch. Nice stepping stones made crossing the (at this point) shallow outflow a doddle!
So then it was just a case of heading north up on to the ridge, then west along the ridge. No real right/wrong route to take, as the good visibility meant it was easy to see the target of Speicein Coinnich and to just head up towards it. It was one of those ascents where it flipped between "looks straightforward enough" to "hmmmm, is there route up this?" depending on distance and angle I was looking at it from, but as I went up, I eventually started to see traces of a path. This route became clearer as the ascent went on, as the wide ridge funnelled down to a narrow path/scramble (any short sections of scrambling were easy).
The final section resulted in one of the best moments of my hillwalking .... I came up over a rocky section to the top area of Speicein Coinnich (too busy looking at my hands and feet to know I was reaching the top) and came face to face with a golden eagle! Well, it was about 2 to 3m away, no more, sitting on the craggy rocks, my sheltered approach from below must have masked any sound. Not sure which one of was more surprised! (Well okay, yes I do, it was me!). The eagle took off gracefully and I just watched it, gobsmacked. Didn't have my camera to hand as I'd been needing my hands for that part of the ascent, but frankly I didn't care, I'd rather see a golden eagle up close myself than fumbling around trying to look at it through a lens. I finally did get my camera out, hoping it would do a fly past at least, but no such luck. Still, the views of An Teallach and all around were worth a few snaps
Ah well. After that excitement, it was a case of heading towards Ben More Coigach's summit - visibility was perfect which made navigating ridiculously easy; might be tricker up there in cloud. The ridge along to Garbh Choireachan looked impressive, so I walked part way along there before coming back, then down and up to the summit shelter of Ben More Coigach. That was the windiest point of the whole walk, despite still being in sunshine, I quickly had to don hat and coat to stay warm.
Being a sunny Sunday, I'd expected to see a few people who'd come up Ben More Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidleir from the other side, but there wasn't a soul to be seen anywhere. Anyway, it was then off to the second Graham of the day, Sgurr an Fhidleir, with descent and ascent not too punishing as the terrain is easy enough on the legs. Reaching the summit, again I was greeted by fantastic views across Assynt, including Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Canisp and Suilven
Time to head back down, and it was decision time as to whether to do the full circular route or to go back the same way. The hope that the eagle had returned to its lofty crag lured me back the same way. That did mean heading back down to the bealach and back up to Speicein Coinnich, so adding ascent to the route - the Walk Highlands route from/to Culnacraig might have a slightly longer drive to the start point, but has the benefit of a nice route straight back down from Sgurr an Fhidleir!
No luck with the eagle unfortunately, it was nowhere to be seen. So down I headed, keeping an eye on the loch so I could aim for the correct location to cross this time. Once across the stepping stones, I just headed straight on to hit the estate track again. This drainage pipe was at the point I returned to the track - so if you ever do this route, this is the place you want to turn off the track to get to the crossing point! (There is a similar pipe a lot further down the track, but too far away to get confused as to which would be near Loch Eadar Dha Bheinn).
So this route meant a shorter drive than the one to the Culnacraig start point, but then a longer walk with more ascent. But it was perfect weather, so it was a good option on this occasion as it suited me to be outside longer rather than in a car!!
by Mal Grey » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:07 pm
The eagle moment must have been fantastic. They're amazing things. Once had a fly past about 10-15m out as we climbed the back of a corrie, but never been within such a short distance of one!
by gld73 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:51 pm
(won't hold my breath for any golden eagle close-ups though; think that's my one for this lifetime!)
by weaselmaster » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:01 am
Moments like you describe with the eagle are - I find anyway - really memorable, I've had the "close encounter" of being within touching distance on a couple of occasions, once when we were sat at the cairn of Meallan nan Uan having lunch and an eagle flew right round from behind us; the other when up near Cape Wrath and, like you, I disturbed him or her when i rounded a corner. A real privilege to be that close (doubt the eagles think of it that way though )
by EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:24 am
by malky_c » Tue May 01, 2018 9:23 pm
by Sgurr » Fri May 04, 2018 11:27 am
by gld73 » Fri May 04, 2018 11:44 pm
by GillC » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:02 am
by jmarkb » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:31 am
GillC wrote:considering this route as I don't fancy the long drive round to the coast.
The extra 40 mins drive is really worth it: the round of all 7 tops is a superb day out!
by GillC » Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:01 pm