Stay at home
Scotland is under national lockdown. People are asked to stay at home except for essential purposes.
Click for details
Pensioners Affric Adventure
by Fife Flyer » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:53 pm
Route description: Sgorr na Diollaid, Glen Cannich
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich
Corbetts included on this walk: Sgorr na Diollaid
Date walked: 15/10/2018
Time taken: 17.3 hours
Distance: 53 km
Ascent: 3100m9 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).
My colleagues for the adventure were the 2 usual suspects George & Parminder.
George did all the booking of the Cottage and typing out a list of things we 'may' need as usual when you are going to the unknown you take anything that is lying around - just in case.
We had a few logistical plans to sort out, George would be in Kintail overnight on Saturday and would meet us at the start point for Sgorr na Diollaid so that was one car that would be utilised, Parminder had booked yet another holiday in Dornoch and had arranged to meet/pick up "The WIFE" in Inverness as she was travelling north by train.
George's list also had meal plans, which included all meals. That plan was good on paper and the plan was to eat out at least once in Cannich, but the drive from Cannich to the Cottage was not exactly a 5 minute drive. It is approximately 16 miles and about 5 of those are on a rough track.
For any future Strawberry Cottage visitors I will try and briefly cover what facilities are already on site. There are 10 single beds and a double (which is 2 beds side by side), all beds have a matress which is plastic covered. There are a few blankets and pillows. Electricity is supplied by 8 solar panels on the roof and plug sockets are in short supply (2) in the main area. Heating is a wood burner, wood is supplied locally. Water is stored in an outdoor tank and is not drinking water, photo's of how the water gets in the tank will appear later. There is a single toilet but is to be used 'sparingly'. The main living area has plenty of space and doubles up as a kitchen with 2 separate gas hobs, there is also umpteen pots, pans, plates, cups, glasses and crockery. If anyone has any questions please PM me and I will answer any questions.
Moving onto the walking itself, Parminder was picking me up at 7am and we were planning to avoid the need to carry lunch by having "brunch" at Dobbies in Inverness. This would be a first for Parminder and he was introduced to the 10 item breakfast with toast and tea of course and it worked a treat.
I updated George on our progress north and he let us know when he left Kintail and I was expecting to see him waiting for us, as it transpired we arrived at the start point / parking area first and was wondering if George was elsewhere. If he had we had a bit of a problem as we were in the internet wilderness - nae signal of any sort and we were on different networks.
After I had taken a few photo's of the surrounding area George appeared on the horizon, phew!
Sgorr na Diollaid
Distance - 8km
Ascent - 727m
Time - 3hrs 40mins
Little pockets of cloud lingering
River Cannich looking the other way from the bridge
Once we were kitted and booted we hit the hill. We had a rough idea of where we were going and like most Corbetts paths are anything but obvious. As usual we opted to take the more adventurous route uphill and we felt quite at home wading through lovely deep dying bracken, having said that is was pretty tough going.
Low level look back down towards the road
A brief path
Now we are having fun - honestly
I bet everyone is really jealous
Looking west towards Loch Mullardoch Dam
We have gained a bit of height now, looking down on the road
One of the twin summit peaks, cracking views on offer
George trying to pose
The descent was fairly rapid and we even descended via the preferred route. As we were back at the cars by 3.30 it was too early to think about dinner, so we decided to head to our home for the next 3 nights and explore in daylight.
Locked gate that leads to Strawberry Cottage and the rather bumpy track
Here it is Strawberry Cottage
Looking down on River Affric and towards where the cars are parked 200m away
Looking west down River Affric
Nice evening shot looking towards the cottage
Where does the name originate from?
As it took us about 45 minutes to get to the cottage from Cannich we didn't fancy returning and made an executive decision to eat in house, especially as we brought enough food to feed a passing army.
Toll Creagach, Tom a' Choinich, Carn Eige, Beinn Fhionnlaidh and Mam Sodhail
Distance - 31km
Ascent - 2360m
Time - 11hrs 46mins
We planned to have a very early start, with a view to walking at first light. My alarm went off at 5.30 and Parminder volunteered to be in charge of breakfast, we had to really rough it for the next 3 days - bacon, egg, sausage and anything else we fancied. We left the cottage about 6.30 (in the dark) and the plan was to leave Parminders car for the next couple of days at the large car park near Chisholm Bridge.
I should mention, that George was starting to eventually chip away at his red balloons, his first new one for many months was conquered on Saturday and these 5 would also be brand spanking new, leaving him just a mere 9 left. If you say it quickly it sounds easy but the remaining 9 are spread out a bit and compleation won't be happening until next summer.
Another thing to mention is Beinn Fhionnlaidh happened to be Parminders half way mark - he forgot to tell us until later, which amused us as his description of BF was not exactly complimentary when we looked down on it from Carn Eige, more on BF later.
Just to prove we were up early, taken from Parminders Beemer whilst doing about 5mph
George about to open the gate to let us out
Parking area near Chisholm Bridge
For anyone who is planning to start walking from Chisholm Bridge in future, the old parking area has been 'landscaped' to prevent parking. There is now a proper parking area which is on the right hand side and has a sign.
Nice reflection on Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin
2nd one of these we came across
Nice new track to begin
Someone will be able to explain?
Path uphill - of sorts
Gaining height slowly, looking back
Early morning long shadows
Looking west, looks a bit like Stob Ban in the Mamores
Looking down, not far to the first summit
Summit cairns and trig appearing
Trig on Toll Creagach
Loch Mullardoch eastern end
Mullardoch western end, shadows everywhere
After Toll Creagach it was time to head west to Tom a'Choinich, this involves following a well trodden path with the usual ups and downs but not too severe.
Looking back to TC
Looking ahead to the shoulder up Tom, looks easy from a distance
A few photos of the local herd, the stags were certainly letting us know they were watching us - what a noise
All the above zoomed
Parminder leading the way to our 2nd summit
George utilising the pointy bit to assist his pose
Forced to pose whilst holding a brunch bar
After leaving Tom a'Choinich it was unknown territory for me as my previous visits were split into a two and a three (hills). I needn't have worried as there was a good path, having said that it is quite a distance to reach Carn Eige, with plenty of undulating bits and it was probably the best part of the day, hopefully the photos will back me up.
The way ahead
Parminder leading the way
Looking back to Tom & Toll
Our lunch spot
Loch a Choire Dhomhain, quite spectacular
Looking north towards Mullardoch
The way ahead
George really enjoying the ascending
A few photos of a nice ridge leading to Carn Eige - eventually
Carn Eige on the right and Mam Sodhail on the left
Interesting rock formations
Spotted these in the distance, zoomed of course
Still on the ridge
Parminder leading again
George at the rear
Looking back to Tom & Toll
Parminder striding towards the 3rd summit of the day - Carn Eige
Looking across and down towards our 4th target - Beinn Fhionnlaidh
Arty shot, trig on Carn Eige with BF in the background
Another shot of Beinn Fhionnlaidh with Coire Lochan on the right
The descent off Carn Eige is a bit demoralising and you certainly lose a bit of height, during the descent George and I discussed avoiding the reascent of Carn Eige as it seems pointless climbing a couple of hundred metres only to lose the same two hundred almost immediately. The path across to Beinn Fhionnlaidh is very obvious and the ascent was a wee bit tougher than George and Parminder were expecting.
A good posing spot
Gleann a' Choilich - stunning
Still looks pretty easy ascent - doesn't it George?
Loch Mullardoch western end, lovely shadows on the hillside
Summit pose on Beinn Fhionnlaidh
Casualty on Beinn Fhionnlaidh, one of my baskets on my poles split on the descent
Looking back or should it be to the way ahead, Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail
The descent off Beinn Fhionnlaidh was easy and pretty rapid, we were going to traverse round the side of Carn Eige and pick up the route again on the bealach at the foot of Mam Sodhail. As it turned out it was a good shout, the traverse wasn't difficult as the western flank of Carn Eige isn't too steep.
Looking back at my colleagues on the traverse of Carn Eige, bit of loose scree but fairly easy
The unique cairn on Mam Sodhail, only way in is over the top
As we reached the summit of Mam Sodhail the weather that had been superb all day changed dramatically for the worse, it was when we started descending I realised I hadn't downloaded a route to descend back to Strawberry Cottage - stupid mistake. So I got my compass and map out and we now had to do some serious navigating. The cloud base had dropped considerably reducing the visibility. The plan was to head WSW and pick up a track/path that would take us to Bealach Coire Ghaidheil, we had a couple of wanders in the wrong direction but after getting a reading off George's GPS and plotting our position on the map we finally found our way down to the bealach and below the cloud.
The view from the bealach of the track that would take us south and onto the main track between the youth hostel and Strawberry Cottage. It looks a bit on the damp side
Our main concern now was reaching the main track - still about 3 miles away before it got dark, we all had head torches but I didn't fancy walking on a soggy path in the dark. So it was now time to get a wiggle on.
A shot in the dark
One thing for sure I was really pleased to see the lights of the other cottage on the other side of the River Affric, I was absolutely knackered, that was compounded by an awful nights sleep the night before. We all leapt into action when we got back, George was on dinner duties, Parminder in charge of the fire and I was the general dogsbody.
Monday's route (roughly)
Finally Tuesday, none of us were too keen to hit the high ground, it was wet and windy outside so we decided to have a low level walk.
We decided to head west to the Youth Hostel, this would also give us some idea of how long it would take with a view to our return visit next May. We left the cottage with jackets on and no rucksacks, we had walked about half a mile and someone was heading towards us and to prove that it is a small world we recognised the walker instantly "guinessman" aka Steve Kerr. He had spent the night in the shelter at the rear of Alltbeithe having been on Skye, he was planning to walk to Cannich which was only about 20 miles or so, not my idea of fun, but well done Steve especially as you had a huge pack and wet feet.
The track to the youth hostel, there are plenty of watery diversions
The most remote Youth Hostel in the UK and is closed until April 2019
The interior of the emergency shelter at the back of the hostel, bit like a posh bothy
Another interior shot
Plenty of electricity supply
The walk to the hostel took us about 3 hours, with plenty of loitering and we weren't in any rush. the afternoon was spent restocking the cottage with wood for the fire and attempting to transfer water from the river to the water tanks. The former was successful, the letter wasn't, but that is a long story.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Affric adventure and huge thanks go to George for organising almost everything and to Parminder for - being Parminder. Two things we discovered about Parminder, he is hopeless at cards and even worse at Perudo (Steve Smith take note).
We had so much fun we have arranged to return in May, one thing for sure it will - or should be warmer.
by dibs » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:59 pm
by Guinessman » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:26 pm
by parminder » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:46 pm
Walkhighlands community forum is advert free
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?