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Affric Outing Day 2: Mullach FC One, Bearsden Choirboys Nil!

Affric Outing Day 2: Mullach FC One, Bearsden Choirboys Nil!

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue May 29, 2018 9:52 pm

Munros included on this walk: Mullach Fraoch-choire

Date walked: 22/05/2018

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 9.5 km

Ascent: 965m

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This was the second day of a planned three-day Munro-bagging extravaganza to the remote Alltbeithe Youth Hostel in Glen Affric.
Having successfully gotten the remote group of three hills to the north of the hostel (Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan etc.) ticked off the previous day in pretty rotten weather, we had high hopes of the weather improving a tad for the Tuesday. If we did get semi-reasonable weather, we thought that we might have a look at the long loop of four or five hills to the south-east of the hostel, starting with Mullach Fraoch-Coire, then A'Chralaig, then following the high connecting ridge over Bealach Coire a'Chait to Drochaid an Tuill Easaich and thence to Sgurr nan Conbhairean, then northwards to Sail Chaorainn and back home to the hostel, with the option of a detour to Carn Ghluasaid if things were going REALLY swimmingly... We actually got ourselves quite enthusiastic about this plan on the Monday evening, picking the brains of Hannah the Warden (who clearly knows these hills like the back of her hand) for her route tips.
I think Hannah found the three of us quite amusing: she was certainly entertained when she asked us shortly after we arrived whether we were all in the same Walking Club, only to be told that no, the three of us were in fact all in the same choir :? ... Surreal but true.
Sadly, Tuesday dawned raw, dreich and cloudy :( . Although it wasn't actually raining at ground level (which was a slight improvement from the Monday), there was a bitter east wind, and the hostel's wind turbine was birling round even faster than it had been on the Monday :? !
WR1 - Hostel Wind Turbine still birling round.jpg

Best laid plans of mice and choristers gang aft agley, and all that :lol: ... needless to say the double whammy of the weather plus our knackeredness after the previous day's outings got the better of us, and in the end we only managed to get one Munro bagged ... and that took us a rather embarrassing six hours :oops: !

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We set off south from the hostel, crossing the rather scenic and only mildly shoogly bridge over the River Affric, to tackle the sheep-infested swamp on the far side, keeping high along the fenceline to enter the northern end of the An Caorann Mor pass.
WR2 - Bridge over the River Affric.jpg

Just after the first big ladder stile over the end of the deer fencing, we headed uphill to pass through a gate in the higher line of fencing, and then tackled the Mullach's pathless and relentlessly steep western slopes head-on. It was a truly thigh-busting slog up onto the ridge, and the gradient really didn't ease one iota until we were right up at the top, but at least it was steep grass with no crags or rocks.
As we got up into the Clag, it started to drizzle steadily ... then to rain more seriously... and when we eventually topped out on the ridge, we were hit by a sledgehammer of an east wind, complete with driving sleet :roll: . Before long, we were soaked to the skin, for the second time in two days :( . A shame, because even the wee bit of ridge that we walked up to the Mullach's summit cairn and windshelter looked as though it could have been very shapely in better weather.
By the time we did reach the summit, however, we were completely drookit and thoroughly chilled by that bitter east wind.
Mullach F.C. One; Bearsden Choirboys Nil :lol: !
WR3 - pained expressions at the summit.jpg

All three of us at the summit, trying to muster a smile:
WR4 - all three of us at the summit wind-shelter.jpg

Mullach Fraoch-Choire is "The Summit of the Heathery Corrie", which is the sort of vague descriptor that could pretty much apply to any Munro in Scotland :lol: - a tad more imagination from those early cartographers would have been appreciated when it came to mountain nomenclature! It's a fine hill in better weather, by all accounts, with its best feature apparently being the rocky connecting ridge to A'Chralaig ... which of course we completely missed out on today :lol: ! I promise myself to come back and do these two in better weather someday.
As befits a fine West Highlands peak above 1100 metres, it has two large cairns, one of which is a windshelter job (which we were very glad of on a day like this :roll: ), and the second of which is a well-built cairn which I think marks the true summit.
WR5 - well-built summit cairn plus windshelter.jpg

Anyway, after about three femtoseconds of hot debate, we decided that enough was enough, and that it was time to head straight back down again before somebody died.
WR6 - definitely time to get going back down again.jpg

However, in our haste to get back downhill out of that east wind, we quickly became separated on descent, and I took a bit of a wrong line down from the Mullach's 983m north top, heading down the north-east ridge rather than down the north-west ridge. This is very easily done in Clag, as the lie of the land tends to lead you down the wrong ridge if you aren't paying attention (I wasn't :oops: !). When we got back to the hostel, we discovered that Malcolm had encountered exactly the same problem.
In my case, however, it cost me an almost brand-new pair of trekking poles :( ! As I got further down the north-east ridge, I realised that the landscape was unfamiliar and that the topography didn't match the map, so I stopped at a large rock to check my compass and GPS, and fairly quickly worked out what I'd done wrong. Off I set uphill again to traverse round to the north-west ridge instead ... but of course, my usual absentmindedness then kicked in and I forgot to pick up my trekking poles :roll: ! This is a real party trick of mine: honestly, I should have them on a chain round my neck or something :lol: . By the time I realised, I was a good ten minutes back up the ridge, and although I headed back down and wasted a good half hour fannying around looking for them, there must have been at least a hundred large rocks on that section of ridge, and I was unable to locate the right rock again in the Clag. Ho hum; this now makes the third pair of trekking poles I've managed to lose on a hillside. (For the record, the first pair was lost on Meall Glas in Glen Lochay when I dropped them scrambling down a stream gully and couldn't safely retrieve them; the second pair was, I think, left at the summit cairn of Beinn Bhreac, a S2K Marilyn in Arran.) I promise to leave some money in my will to the John Muir Trust and/or the National Trust for Scotland, to try to atone for the environmental damage that I've no doubt caused by littering Scotland's hills with trekking poles :? !
Anyway, I had no option but to head down the north-west ridge sans poles. I had jelly legs by now, and I made slow work of it, although it was a real relief to drop westwards down the ridge and get out of the clutches of that east wind.
A bit lower down, I dropped back below the Clag, and managed to get some semi-decent views along the glacial trench of An Caorann Mor.
Looking straight downhill to the floor of the Caorann Mor, with the meandering Allt a' Chaorainn Mhoir looking rather pretty:
WR7 - hazy view down into An Caorann Mor on descent.jpg

The view southwards towards Am Bathach, the Corbett that stands sentinel on the west side of the south entrance to the glen:
WR8 - view S down An Caorann Mor to Am Bathach.jpg

And looking north, to the ends of the north ridge of Ciste Dhubh and the long east ridge of Beinn Fhada:
WR9 - view north to ends of Ciste Dubh north ridge and Beinn Fhada east ridge.jpg

And, a bit lower down, a final look south towards Am Bathach, now with its head completely free of the Clag:
WR10 - view north again to Am Bathach now with its head out of the Clag.jpg

In my haste to get back down to ground level, however, I ended up quite a bit further south in An Caorann Mor from the spot where we'd begun our ascent ... meaning of course that I got to relish even MORE of that famously boggy track that runs up the east side of the Caorann Mor to the Youth Hostel :lol: !
Not much more I can say about this outing - a huge relief to get back to the hostel and dry out in its cozy kitchen :lol: !
Last edited by bobble_hat_kenny on Tue May 29, 2018 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Affric Outing Day 2: Mullach FC One, Bearsden Choirboys

Postby mrssanta » Tue May 29, 2018 9:59 pm

But well done for bagging one in those conditions! At least the rain kept the midges and clegs away!
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Re: Affric Outing Day 2: Mullach FC One, Bearsden Choirboys

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue May 29, 2018 10:02 pm

mrssanta wrote:But well done for bagging one in those conditions! At least the rain kept the midges and clegs away!

Thanks! Aye, always look on the bright side of life, as they say ... I can honestly testify that we never saw a single midge for three consecutive days on this outing :lol: !
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