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And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:36 am

Munros included on this walk: A' Chailleach (Fannichs), Am Faochagach, An Coileachan, Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich, Meall a' Chrasgaidh, Meall Gorm, Sgùrr Breac, Sgùrr Mòr, Sgùrr nan Clach Geala, Sgùrr nan Each

Date walked: 22/07/2018

Distance: 81 km

Ascent: 4774m

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Last weekend's unexpected bonus trip to Torridon meant that I had only 7 Munros left - the three Eastern & 2 Western Fannaichs, Am Faochagach and Mull's Ben More. years ago we had tried to do the 7 Eastern Fannaichs from Fannaich Lodge but were beaten by the weather and only managed a meagre three. I had decided we'd have another go, this time making it the full nine, as well as a motley collection of Sims along the route. Too much for one day for this old man, we'd take the tent and aim to get to Nest of Fannaich at the end of day one. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't going to bless us this time either - not quite the gales we had to contend with last time but a forecast for rain and fog would come as an unpleasant contrast to all the recent fine conditions. I decided that we'd better take the more robust tent, rather than my ultralightweight Hexamid - some 3kg difference :(

We drove up to Grudie on Thursday night, leaving a sunny warm Greenock and arriving around 9pm in a light drizzle. We started to walk in and found a suitable spot to camp after a few km to pitch for the night. Needed the light of the headtorch to read for the first time in weeks. A quiet night however, refreshing to get a good sleep after a long drive. We could hear the rain pattering on the tent in the morning - never an incentive to get up early. When we did emerge, clouds were down low and the conditions were very dreich.

Thursday night walk in
ImageP1200089 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200090 by Al, on Flickr

Friday morning
ImageP1200091 by Al, on Flickr

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

Our aim was to climb the Sim Faire nam Fiadh on the ridge leading to An Coileachan then do the circuit of 7 the standard way which is pretty much what happened. It was very wet, to the point where I could barely see anything through my glasses. My newish, surprisingly waterproof (til now) boots did not cope well with water running down my legs (waterproof trousers were not put on initially, but proved not up to the task when they were called upon) - meaning that I had wet feet for the remainder of the trip. We saw nothing in the clag - let's just say it was not one of the more pleasant days out we've had.
The strange chambered cairn on the way to the summit of Meall Gorm; the nice little ridge out to Beinn Liath Mor Fannaich, the big cairn on Sgurr Mor then a boggy section going across to Meall a'Chrasgaidh. Nearing the summit of the latter we heard strange voices in the mist and encountered a couple of ladies who were counting steps down from the summit. We talked for a bit - they hadn't found a cairn nor a path and we were not sure where they were off to (Sgurr Mor or Sgurr nan Clach Geala) but we later heard them on the pathless western slopes of Clach Geala so they hopefully were on track or thereabouts to where they wanted to be.

An Coileachean
ImageP1200092 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich
ImageP1200095 by Al, on Flickr

There is a cairn on Meall a'Chrasgaidh!
ImageP1200097 by Al, on Flickr

We had managed to find the path up Clach Geala and enjoyed the clarity of something definite to follow after all the murk. We met a group of 3 guys descending, who'd come in from A'Chailleach and planned the Eastern 4 the next day. We summited Sgurr nan Clach Geala with its dismembered trig point and onwards to Sgurr nan Each, no let up in the clag but the rain became a little lighter. The plan from here was to continue southwards along the ridge to Sgurr a'Chadha Dheirg (Sim) then head west over the final Sim of the day, Sail Mhor, before descending to the Nest of Fannaich. The two Sims proved easy going, although the descent was steep and crags necessitated some zigzagging. Fortunately we dropped below the cloud and had visibility for the first time that day. Loch Fannaich looked severely depleted of water, sandbanks showing right around the western end. We spotted some trees over by two buildings that looked suitable for camping, although as we got closer the ground seemed a bit uneven. We decided to make for the footbridge over the Allt Leac a'Bhealaich where there was some flattish looking land that we hoped would be dry enough. It was, we pitched and enjoyed our noodles sitting outside, the rain having ceased.

Sgurr nan Clach Geala
ImageP1200098 by Al, on Flickr

West end of Loch Fannaich
ImageP1200102 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200104 by Al, on Flickr

Dry overnight, but cloud was down to around 600m when we got up. Plan for today was to do the horseshoe circuit of Sgurr Bhreac, A'Chailleach and round to An Sguman around the Nest of Fannaich, but including the Sim of Ceann Garbh Meallan Cuaich, then walk back out to the car. A steady slog up the southern shoulder of Sgurr Bhreac, the mist thinning as we got to the summit cairn and revealing glimpses of Sgurr Mor. On to Toman Coinnich, struggling to find the path at times in the clag then back up to the summit of A'Challeach. Again we were tantalised by snatches of view down to Loch a'Bhraoin and beyond to the Fisherfield hills. We followed the ridgeline south - the Sim was away to the west and involved a detour of 4km and more than 300m re-ascent...if the weather had been as bad as the previous day I'd have passed on it, but was glad to have gone across, not least as it was my 1000th HuMP. :lol: We followed the old fencepost line steeply up to the summit, then had a moment of indecision - was the point we were at the top, or was it the trig point st the southern end (which would add another 1.5km to the trip). The map suggested we were at the summit (and that was later checked and confirmed on Hill-bagging to my relief) as we had decided to go no further. We lunched at the top, looking out on the Fisherfields, Slioch and Beinn Eighe.

Summit of Sgurr Bhreac - Sgurr Mor just about visible behind
ImageP1200107 by Al, on Flickr

Loch a'Bhraoin
ImageP1200113 by Al, on Flickr

A Chailleach on a'Chailleach :wink:
ImageP1200114 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back on a'Chailleach
ImageP1200117 by Al, on Flickr

Ceann Garbh Meall Chuaich - HuMP #1000
ImageP1200118 by Al, on Flickr

Eastern Fisherfields
ImageP1200120 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back to the south ridge of a'Chailleach and An Sguman
ImageP1200121 by Al, on Flickr

Slioch and Torridon backdrop
ImageP1200124 by Al, on Flickr

Back across to the ridge we'd left and onto the little tufty top of An Sguman before descending steeply down into the Nest of Fannaich, following in the steps of a large herd of deer we'd unsettled. Back at the tent around 2pm, packed up dry, much to my relief (a wet tent being heavier). Now it was onto the track, all 12 miles of it back to the car. We passed the burned out shell of the old Nest of Fannaich bothy - such a beautiful location at this end of Loch Fannaich. The byre beside it still has an intact roof, but those seeking shelter should prepare to share their refuge with the rotting corpses of at least 4 deer :sick: The Nest was reckoned to be one of the finest of Scottish Mountain Bothies before the fire in 1991 and old photos suggest its loss to be a sad one. The initial section of the track was very pleasant - tranquil ambience, old Caledonian Pinewoods, larksong, the droning of bees. Then onto spruce forestry on our way to Fannaich Estate. The road did undulate a bit, but was good walking. After the estate buildings, there's a new Hydro scheme. Heavy lorries have destroyed the tarmacked road for several miles - cracks and fissures are everywhere. That's going to be an expensive repair job, particularly once this season's ice and snow get to work on it.

ImageP1200129 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200130 by Al, on Flickr

Heading up An Sguman
ImageP1200131 by Al, on Flickr

Strathconon hills in distance
ImageP1200133 by Al, on Flickr

You can clearly see why An Sguman ("the tuft") gets its name
ImageP1200134 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Fannaich
ImageP1200135 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Bhreac and the eastern wall of the Nest of Fannaich
ImageP1200136 by Al, on Flickr

Ruined Nest of Fannaich bothy
ImageP1200139 by Al, on Flickr

Mighty Slioch
ImageP1200140 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200142 by Al, on Flickr

The start of a long walk
ImageP1200143 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200144 by Al, on Flickr

The miles were passing by- I was undecided what we should do. We could camp in the same spot as we had on Thursday, leaving 4km to walk out in the morning, but that would mean we'd be short on food (and more to the point, we had no whisky left). On the other hand, I didn't know any particularly good spots to camp near Am Faochagach - being near the A835 was unlikely to be peaceful. We opted for the first option and decided to forego the Scotch. As we pitched the tent the rain threatened, but didn't amount to anything. We had our tea and retreated under covers early, planning to get up at 6 the following morning. Hopes of a quiet night were dashed however, as the wind got up and whistled through the trees, beating against the tent. Around midnight we were also disturbed by what I took to be a huge dog, from the depth of its bark. I imagined that someone from the nearby house was taking it out for a last walk and it was going crazy with our scent. But it seemed to be on one side of us, then the other - I couldn't work out what was going on. I lay still and after 15-20 minutes the hoarse barking stopped. I was rethinking whether my support for the reintroduction of wolves in the Highlands would be such a good idea after all :lol: In the morning, mindful of the possibility that we might encounter the Baskerville beast on our way out, I mentioned the "dog" to Allison who laughed and told me it was 2 stags barking to each other, presumably saying "there's stinky humans near here". That made sense, but I guess my automatic association with "bark" is "dog"

Back at the car we breakfasted on individual apple pies and custard (bliss) then switched over the rucksacks and drove the few miles to the Torran Dubh bridge to nab Am Faochagach. I had drawn a nice looking route in from Black Bridge, that missed out the river crossing and included a couple of Sims, but that was for another day as it was almost 30km and we needed a shorter hill today. So the standard route it would be. The river crossing was ok, managed to get over with dry feet. Rain was never far behind us - we could see the clag and wet mist over the Fannaichs again, and as we climbed to around 700m we were ourselves enveloped in clag and drizzle. Quite a contrast to the first time we were here, when we were in mist initially and emerged into a lovely inversion around the same height.

Walking in to Am Faochagach
ImageP1200146 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200148 by Al, on Flickr

Still looking wet in the Fannaichs
ImageP1200150 by Al, on Flickr

We followed, lost, refound and lost the path that snakes to the summit, a longer way than it seems. At the cairn I allowed myself a small smile - one left! then continued to curse the rain on my glasses. We returned to the bealach with Sron Liath and ate lunch before descending in better weather back to the car. Finished by 1pm and a fine drive back down the road, getting in at a very reasonable hour. Can you guess where we might be headed next weekend?

ImageP1200152 by Al, on Flickr

One to go
ImageP1200153 by Al, on Flickr

Bit nicer on the way down
ImageP1200154 by Al, on Flickr
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Re: And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Postby zatapathique » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:33 pm

Well done, and all the best for next weekend. :-)

It's amazing how green the Fannichs now are. When I walked the 5 Western Fannichs in the end of May, it was all still very brown and yellowish.
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Re: And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:12 pm

Your some pair for the hills :)

Good luck with Ben More , i see her most days on my rounds in Morvern she is a fine final summit for round 2 :clap:
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Re: And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:02 pm

Heck, I do admire your persistence. I just don't have the mental fortitude to visit summit after summit in clag...

Love the mushroom/toadstool pic :thumbup: .
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Re: And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:44 am

Good luck next weekend, may the weather gods be kind to you!

Shame it was so cloudy for the Fannichs, they are spectacular hills, we're lucky to have them so close to home!

We tried to escape the iffy weather last weekend by driving south to Glen Falloch, it was dry there but still cloudy and we saw zilch from the summit of Beinn Chabhair :(
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