I'm not very good at forward planning when it comes to deciding where I'm going to walk - this summer especially, it's tended to be a last minute decision on the day whilst perusing MWIS and the Met Office mountain forecasts over breakfast. The only difference with this trip was that I had things to do in the morning, so it was a decision at lunchtime rather than breakfast to head to these 2 munros (living in the Highlands does make last minute munro-ing decisions easier I admit ). I had in my head that it would be too long a walk to fit into a day, so I'd been thinking Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor would be good ones to do when I just had an afternoon/evening free to walk in to the bothy, then a full day to do the mountains and walk back out - and the weather on these days was looking okay; possibility of a bit of cloud and some showers, but nothing too bad. (I walk at a decent pace though, don't stop to take high quality photos (as you'll tell from this walk report!) and tend to eat as I go rather than stop for a picnic .... so turned out I probably could have done it in a long day with hindsight - but I was happy with the overnight option I took )
I set off from the Attadale walkers car park, and followed the WH route description past the entrance to the gardens, and onwards to the industrial hydro track. The good thing about setting off after working hours was that, whatever work may still be going on in the area through the day, it wasn't going on in the evening, so there was no industrial noise and there were no vehicles on the track. (Well, one vehicle, but that was a pick-up truck driven by a couple of estate workers, with 2 dead stags in the back). Views weren't great, clouds were threatening, and there were a couple of heavy showers on the way, but it was an easy walk in, with a general rule of "if in doubt, stay on the left track" making finding the way easy. Eventually I came over the pass and the mountains came into view - or the bottoms of the mountains came into view, things were too cloudy for anything too stunning. The bothy and adjoining estate building were visible too, and with a downhill walk to them from that point, I was at my night's accommodation fairly quickly.
I had my first stay in a bothy earlier this year (Uags on the Applecross peninsula), and had it to myself. I wasn't necessarily expecting solitude this time, but mid-week and outside Scottish school holidays, I thought it would be pretty quiet. It was therefore a bit of a surprise to open the door and find ....... it was mobbed! I'd manage to coincide my trip with a Duke of Edinburgh expedition group being there, as well as a couple of other hill walkers. But everyone was very nice and they made room for me, and several of the DoE students actually slept in tents beside the bothy. A combination of someone snoring and my mat not being the thickest/comfiest meant I didn't get the best night's sleep, but I got enough to function the next day, and that's all I would ask from a bothy night
The next morning I was awake early, but I could see out the window that there was morning mist over the hills so I was in no rush to set off at the crack of dawn. The forecast had said cloud would clear through the morning, and it turned out to be fairly accurate. I continued down the good hydro track, crossed the bridge (no need to go over the rickety wire bridge, the other bridge is right beside it), then turned off on to the track on the right and headed to Loch Calavie.
The place to then turn off to head up to the bealach is fairly obvious, though there is a little cairn marking the spot too. I donned my gaiters at this point, ready for the first part of the long walk at last being on vegetation rather than the previous good track. As usual, I soon lost the faint path up and ended up just stomping up through the boggy grass and heather before aiming for the line the 2 guys up ahead were taking, as I assumed they were better at sticking to a path than me (most people are). As I caught up with them, we reached the bealach, and I turned off to the right to do Lurg Mhor first, whilst they headed left for Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich, taking a hill each for ourselves
These 2 hills may be remote and a long walk in, but they're not technically difficult, though I was glad the cloud was lifting as I was heading up, as it did make finding the best line easier. The initially boggy ascent turned into a rockier one, and then I arrived at the summit, free of cloud . The views were better than I'd expected given the low cloud when I'd started the ascent, and it was nice to look over and see the others had got a clear summit on Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich too.
So then it was back down to the bealach, passing the guys again as we swapped our mountains, and up to the Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich summit, which didn't seem to take very long at all. It's a nice small summit with no big plateau areas impeding on the views (not that Lurg Mhor was like that, but I was up Drumochter munros the next day and it was hardly worth getting my camera out!). Again, the summit was clear, though there were clouds still coming and going from the Torridon peaks.
I wasn't sure whether to head back down to the bealach and descend the way I'd come up as the grass was still quite wet from earlier rain, and I recalled a walk report saying the descent from the bealach would have been preferable to the steep descent down from Sail Riabhach in those conditions - but rather than re-trace my steps, I decided to have a change of scenery and head down and along the ridge to Sail Riabhach, passing a group of 3 who were coming up that way. Inevitably I lost the worn track and just made my own way, which ended up heading down the hill at some random and steep point and rejoining the track to Loch Calavie fairly near it's start point from the bridge, rather than the path in Coire na Sorna, but I could see the path and bothy and knew where I was heading.
Back at the bothy I transferred all my day pack stuff into the main bag I'd left there, swept out my "room" and had a quick look at the bothy in general, as it had been too full the previous night for me to see anything. It's a nice facility provided by the estate, and with such easy access to it now with the hydro track to its door, I'm not surprised it's a relatively busy one.
Heading back along the track to Attadale, I got much better views as the sun was now out properly, and there were definite bits of blue sky. Again there was no machinery /traffic on the track, though there was logging work going on on the adjoining slopes. I had a 5 minute break on the stretch of track which heads back to the holiday cottage and Attadale Gardens as I was fascinated by some Sexton beetles getting excited with their discovery of a freshly deceased slow worm!
So an enjoyable 1.5 days, and easier than I'd expected. Maybe I will get round to venturing out to the Fisherfields if all remote munros are like this!! Hydro tracks and conveniently located bothies do make things easier though!
Wed evening: Started out from Attadale 17:10, arrived at the Bendronaig Lodge bothy at 19:40.
Thurs: Set off from the bothy at 08:35, Lurgh Mhor summit at 10:55, Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich summit at 11:55, back to the bothy at 13:55. Left the bothy at 14:10, back at the car at Attadale at 16:50.
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