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New Year, new hopes

New Year, new hopes

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:32 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Meall Doire Faid

Date walked: 01/01/2019

Time taken: 4.75 hours

Distance: 11.75 km

Ascent: 646m

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Weather on New Year's Day looked all right, if a bit cloudy in the north of Scotland. We had a longer walk planned for the 2nd of January (one of our favourite Munros) but it seemed a shame to waste a decent day. On the other hand, we just couldn't be bothered to get up in the middle of the night to drive 200 miles to a new hill, so out of necessity, it was going to be a repeat. Yet repeating a hill didn't necessary mean a boring walk. You can always try a new route and hope to discover new, interesting features of the already "ticked" mountain.

That's why we ended up returning to Meall Doire Faid, a rather obscure Graham near Braemore Junction just south of Ullapool. Originally, we climbed this hill in winter conditions (actually, it was during Christmas hols 3 years ago) and used the shortest route, from the car park at the junction, using the path to Home Loch. It was only a quick nip to the summit (report HERE) without exploring the long southern ridge of the Graham, so we knew we were going to return some time to give this small yet very interesting hill the justice it deserves.

SMC Guide to Grahams suggests a circular of Coire Leacachain. For a longer walk, it is possible to include the nearby Corbett, Beinn Enaiglair - and we will definitely return to do exactly that. We both enjoyed this outing very much and it's only a short drive from home, a perfect route for snowless winter/early spring.

If concentrating on the Graham only, one can make use of good stalkers path most of the way. When going clockwise, the initial climb to Meall nan Doireachan is a bit squelchy, but once on the rockier upper reaches of the ridge, the going is easy and views (if you're lucky with weather) very extensive. I'll say, well worth saving this hill for a good day :D

Track_MEALL DOIRE FAID 01-01-19.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We started from a large layby about 2km SE from Braemore Junction (A835), just opposite a forest plantation. There is no obvious path up but at some point we picked a vague ATV track. After an initial boggy slog, we enjoyed pleasant walking on easier, rockier terrain.
Climbing up the squelchy ground, Loch Droma Plantation behind me:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 004.JPG

There was no snow anywhere (what a surprise ha ha ha) but this route wouldn't present a big problem in proper winter conditions, just a shame that the current winter is more a "winter" in inverted comas :(
Getting ready to tackle Meall nan Doireachan, the southern top of the Graham:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 008.JPG

We soon realized, we were in the land of deer...
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 009.JPG

The Fannichs from the north, Sgurr Mor in the middle:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 013.JPG

Beinn Dearg with a thin layer of snow, making it look like a sugar-covered Christmas pudding:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 016.JPG

Meall nan Doireachan looks pretty craggy from below. It is possible to practice some scrambling on the steeper slopes, but all difficulties are avoidable.
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 025.JPG

Looking towards the Fisherfields, Loch a'Bhraoin in the middle. The morning was a bit hazy:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 029.JPG

The "Happy New Year" pose from BP:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 024.JPG

UFO over Beinn Liath Mhor a'Ghiubhais Li, which we visited only three days earlier:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 038.JPG

A wider pano to the south, Loch Glascarnoch and Ben Wyvis in the distance:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 039.JPG

Once on the ridge, the nippy wind picked up and we found some snow (just a thin layer) to make it feel like a winter walk. Beinn Enaiglair behind me:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 042.JPG

The western pano from Loch a Bhraoin to An Teallach:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 047.JPG

Somebody here feels like flying!
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 048.JPG

Indeed, it felt great to be out and enjoying the first day of the new year surrounded by the mighty mountains. The ridge between Meall nan Doireachan and the summit of Meall Doire Faid turned out to be a pleasant, almost level walk on easy ground and when we reached the true summit (which is marked by a small cairn), Lucy was first to pose on the top of her 77th Graham. Maybe she just wanted to show off a bit, in her new winter hat :lol: :lol:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 070.JPG

We rested by the cairn for a short while, drinking hot tea and enjoying the views. Spectacular, even on a hazy day with high cloud, especially to the west into the wilderness of Fisherfields:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 058.JPG

...but also to the Fannichs:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 059.JPG

The easiest way to retreat would be either to return along the ridge or to descend steeply SW to pick the path by Loch Droma, but we wanted to do a circular of Coire Leacachain, and for that we had to drop to Bealach nam Buthan to the stalkers path passing below Beinn Enaiglair. To do that, we traversed a short distance east (to avoid the crags just below the summit) and then carefully made our way down the steep, grassy ground:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 073.JPG

Looking back at the slope we descended from the stalkers path. Does not look so bad from below, but in wet weather it's very slippery:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 079.JPG

Now to the easy part of this route. The path traverses a high ridge from Bealach nam Buthan to the minor top called Meallan Mhiurchaid, with very little reascent, but a lot of nice views.
Panoramic view of the whole length of Meall Doire Faid ridge, with Loch Feith nan Cleireach to the left:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 088.JPG

The path follows the ridge with some excellent vistas towards Beinn Dearg:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 089.JPG

Beinn Dearg in panoramic snap. We caught a short moment of good light, when the sun decided to peek out from behind the cloud and brighten our day:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 098.JPG

The ridge never drops below 550 until the final top and has to be one of the nicest diversions I took after bagging the main target of the day. Really worth the detour, if only for the unusual views of the western side of Beinn Dearg. I was a happy bunny with a huge smile glued to my face:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 094.JPG

The path continues...
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 104.JPG

A sunny moment:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 106.JPG

Beinn Enaiglair and Iorguill, the outlying top of Beinn Dearg, in the afternoon sunshine:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 115.JPG

A shelter for lost hillwalkers:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 113.JPG

A look into Coire Beinn Dearg:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 117.JPG

Looking south to the final part of the ridge, Loch Glascarnoch to the right, Meallan Mhiurchaid to the left:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 122.JPG

Because we started a bit later than usually (I think we didn't set off till ten o'clock), it was already getting late and the surrounding landscape looked fantastic in the sunset mode:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 123.JPG

Beinn Enaiglair and Meall Doire Faid from Meallan Mhiurchaid, with an additional silly pose from Black Panther:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 130.JPG

The ridge of Meall Doire Faid - very mouth-watering for any ridge walker!
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 134.JPG

Sunset over Loch Glascarnoch and Loch Droma, with Beinn Liath Mhor a'Ghiubhais Li in the background:
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 140.JPG

We considered adding Meall Leacachain to the route as it's little additional ascent, but it was getting late and we wanted to get back to the car before darkness.
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 153.JPG

We dropped to Beaalch na h-Imrich and then into Coire Leacachian, where crossing Allt Leacachain provided some more fun and games...
2019-01-01 meall doire faid 163.JPG

...before waving goodbye to the lovely views around us and descending to the road over the squelchy ground near Loch Droma Plantation.
This particular route can be extended by adding both Beinn Enaiglair and Meall Leacachain, we might do it next time. Overall, a good start to 2019. The New Year brings new plans and new hopes... On the list is getting closer to Munro compleation, reaching half-way on Grahams and having fun in winter conditions. The last wish may not happen if weather stays mild, but it's still early days for snow and frost... Last year The Beast arrived in late February, so anything is possible :D
The following day we climbed one of our favourite M's. TR coming soon.
Last edited by BlackPanther on Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Year, new hopes

Postby jmarkb » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:53 pm

Nice! We were on Ben Mor Coigach on the 1st and had that same band of clear skies come overhead.

BlackPanther wrote:This particular route can be extended by adding both Beinn Enaiglair and Meall Leacachain, we might do it next time.

I can recommend that - we went anticlockwise. Meall Leachachain is another pleasantly stony top. You can either go straight up the E ridge of Enaglair, or follow the path round the north side. Just after crossing the Allt Craig Bac na Faire there is a fainter branch (not marked on the map) that heads towards Bac na Faire then up some zig-zags to come out just E of the summit - a bit longer but a bit more interesting.
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