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Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:52 am

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Chabhair

Grahams included on this walk: An Cruachan, Carn na Breabaig

Date walked: 23/09/2018

Distance: 71.6 km

Ascent: 3811m

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We've been picking off the Mullardochs in bits and bobs over the last year, leaving Allison with An Socach and An Riabhachan to climb. Not the easiest pair to reach. My reservations about the lochside "path" from Mullardoch dam were not aided by Dogplodder's recent report and the various comments made by people there about it - "avoid at all costs" seemed to be the theme. Doing the 4 Munros from the east then returning over the tops seemed a bit much for this time of year. I might even have thought about taking the boat in, had it still been running. An approach from Glen Strathfarrar, had one been able to leave the car overnight at the Power Station in Gleann Innes would have been fine, but too far to complete in a day with the need to get back before the gate closes. So an approach from Killilan would have to do.


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We'd looked at this when doing the Grahams Carn an Breabag and An Cruachan a couple of years ago, our camping blighted by the worst midge swarm we've ever experienced {{{shudder}}}. The forecast was for 30-40 mile an hour winds, which should at least keep us midge free this time. Drove up Thursday night to Shiel Bridge and set off from Killilan at 8am on Friday, dull skies and recent rain. Some of the track in has been recently resurfaced, nice easy going. The path goes on and on - I forget how many times I've walked it now. Past Loch na Leitreach, with craggy Carnan Cruithneachd across the water; past Iron Lodge and gently uphill by the Allt na Doire Gharbhe. We pitched the tent at the eastern end of Loch Mhoicean, finding a dry spot on top of a peat hag, surrounded by its own moat, and huddled inside to eat our lunch as the rain came on.

The road stretches ever onward...
ImageP1200619 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200620 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Mhoicean
ImageP1200621 by Al, on Flickr

Carn na Breabag
ImageP1200622 by Al, on Flickr

Tent under Aonach Buidhe
ImageP1200624 by Al, on Flickr


It was just gone 12, we'd done 17.5km already and had enough time to do the Munros today rather than leave them til tomorrow - I had thought we might do Aonach Buidhe and the adjacent An Creachal Beag if time was short today. We set off up the steep slopes of Meall Shuas, making for Bealach Pait. An Socach curved onwards, short grass heading for the clouds. The wind grew as we left the shelter of the valley floor and by the time we reached the trig point on An Socach, an icy wind was ripping through us. The summit brought Allison down to 12 needed, and me to 141 on my third round.

An Creachal Beag
ImageP1200625 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200627 by Al, on Flickr

The back of An Socach
ImageP1200628 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Kintail
ImageP1200629 by Al, on Flickr

Towards An Riabhachan
ImageP1200630 by Al, on Flickr

Cheesecake, Lurg Mhor, Ben Dronaig
ImageP1200632 by Al, on Flickr

An Socach summit
ImageP1200633 by Al, on Flickr

Halfway again
ImageP1200634 by Al, on Flickr

An Riabhachan lay 4km away to the east, along an undulating ridge. To the south lay the pointy mass of Beinn Fhionnlaidh and the northern slopes of Ceathramhnan and Dheiragain. Well we wouldn't be going that way today. We continued along the ridge, sunshine interspersed with showers. To the north lay Cheesecake and Lurg Mhor, Ben Dronaig and, beyond, the southern Torridon hills. All rich dun colours, autumn is here. Clag descended as we made the summit of An Riabhachan and began the return leg. I had thought we might include An Cruachan - a remote Graham but easily reached from Bealach a'Bholla and avoiding a 200m re-ascent of An Socach. However time, and more importantly, weather was against us - a very dark band of cloud rapidly moving our way from the northwest. We decided to just return over An Socach, where at least there was a path.

Beinn Fionnlaidh
ImageP1200636 by Al, on Flickr

An Socach, more shapely from this side
ImageP1200637 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Torridon
ImageP1200638 by Al, on Flickr

An Riabhachan
ImageP1200639 by Al, on Flickr

Return along the ridge
ImageP1200641 by Al, on Flickr

Weather coming our way
ImageP1200642 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200644 by Al, on Flickr

Sunshine on An Cruachan
ImageP1200646 by Al, on Flickr

Hailstones whipped against us as we neared the summit for the second time. Heading back towards the tent, we were facing into the wind. Hailstones turned to sleet/snow and I was sheathed in slushy sleet. These are the days you just love on the hillside (after you have got somewhere dry and warm). We traipsed down the hillside back to the tent, crawled inside and shed our wet outer layer. I set about making our tea in the somewhat cramped confines of the tent porch, while the wind and rain battered outside. And it kept on battering, twighlight came quickly and sleep was hard to come by with the wind tearing at the tent.

Saturday morning - the rain continued and it was hard to crawl out of bed into another foul day. So we were a bit late up. I had hoped to do An Cruachan, then Aonach Buidhe/ An Creachal Beag. We set off for An Cruachan first, utilising the "path" that continues along Coire nan Each. Replace "path" with "quagmire" and you have a better idea of the terrain. We'd been here before - only on that occasion we were enclosed in a cloud of vicious midges, so it had to be better than that. Up to the bealach to the south of An Cruachan, then a steep grassy 200m climb to the summit. Rain and wind conspired to make the occasion challenging. It had also taken longer than I'd reckoned to reach the top. Back down the same route. By this time I was having second thoughts about Anoach Buidhe - it would have been possible to go up the long northeastern spur of An Creachal Beag but that involved crossing the Allt Coire nan Each, not an easy task with today's rain. So I suggested we abandon this for another day, return to the tent and pack up for the long walk out.

Looking back on Aonach Buidhe
ImageP1200649 by Al, on Flickr

An Cruachan summit
ImageP1200650 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200651 by Al, on Flickr

We returned to the tent in a brief spell of dry weather and got things stowed away before the rain returned. Allison, conscious of my not getting a hill target, kindly suggested we return over Carn an Breabag, with was en route back to Iron Lodge. This involved another grassy hillside on the eastern side of Loch Mhoicean then the traverse of a system of peat hags that would have served well as defences on a Great War battlefield, before we finally got to the drier land of Breabag's shoulder. At the summit I was feeling warmly reminiscent about the Grahams and enquired if Allison was feeling the same - she fixed me with one of her death glares and said that she was most definitely not.

Towards Carn na Breabag
ImageP1200652 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200653 by Al, on Flickr

Moody An Cruachan
ImageP1200654 by Al, on Flickr

Autumn colours by Iron Lodge
ImageP1200656 by Al, on Flickr

We continued west over Breabag, descending to meet the track that leads to Iron Lodge and from there back to the track for the long walk out. The alternating rain and sunshine continued, the winds died down as we walked closer to Killilan. What now? We had no more Munros left in the area and had decided to pick off either Beinn Chabhair or Meall Glas on Sunday - go back to Shiel Bridge or drive a bit of the way down the road. I decided we'd drive down as far as Roy Bridge, usually a guaranteed quiet night, which I was looking forward to after the stormy weather had kept me awake last night. Arriving there, we enjoyed a wonderfully hot shower and hot food, before settling down to sleep, only to be kept awake by a group of Pakistanis sitting outside their tent and chatting loudly in Urdu. One of them did have an endearing high pitched giggle, which lessened my homicidal urges a bit.

More rain overnight, we packed away a sopping tent and set off down the road, arriving at The Drovers about 10.30. Although I had a route on my GPS I still managed to go up on the south side of the waterfall, taking the Beinglas Falls path and having to scramble through the trees and cross the falls to get onto the WH route. I'd done the same the last time too - clearly memory isn't what it was. Anyway, we got onto the track proper and prepared for the usual bogfest. We were not disappointed in that.

ImageP1200658 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200660 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200663 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200664 by Al, on Flickr


The hill seemed to take longer than I was expecting - I'd look at the altitude on my GPS, thinking we were 1-200m higher than we turned out to be. Hill was busy today - including a large group of students we met coming down from the summit. At least the weather was better than the last two days - rain threatened a couple of times but stayed elsewhere and it was warm when out of the biting wind. Good views across to Ben Lui and Ben/Loch Lomond. Return was by the same route - although we did take the correct route down past the falls.

ImageP1200665 by Al, on Flickr

Pointy Ben Lui
ImageP1200666 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200667 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200669 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Lomond
ImageP1200670 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200671 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200672 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:28 pm

"only to be kept awake by a group of Pakistanis sitting outside their tent and chatting loudly in Urdu. One of them did have an endearing high pitched giggle, which lessened my homicidal urges a bit."

haha thats the second laugh out loud and get strange looks from my good lady moment tonight while reading reports (Quote : First one Jaxter's traffic lights) :lol: :lol: :clap:
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby dogplodder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:34 pm

Good plan to strike from the west and looks a scenic route. 8)
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:33 pm

The fine pics make it look like the weather was rather better than you describe it having been - obviously chose your photo opportunities well :D .
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:58 pm

dogplodder wrote:Good plan to strike from the west and looks a scenic route. 8)


It's not a bad walk down that glen - an easy cycle for those that use bicycles and worth keeping in mind for those doing Ceathreamhnan and Dheiragain too - a nice horseshoe that takes in the 4 Tops on Ceathreamhnan.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:00 pm

Alteknacker wrote:The fine pics make it look like the weather was rather better than you describe it having been - obviously chose your photo opportunities well :D .


It was just a day of rapid changes from sunshine to heavy showers and back again. Taking pictures in the rain/clag/sleet generally doesn't return much in the way of viewable photos for me, so I've kinda given up. I think my waterproof Lumix is on the point of giving up too - was making some strange grinding noises at the weekend :shock:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Grim Weather for the Western Mullardochs

Postby malky_c » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:44 pm

Some nice autumnal colours in there between the deluges :) . Glen Elchaig is nice - must go up there again.
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