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Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt


Postby Mountainlove » Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:49 pm

Route description: Cul Beag

Corbetts included on this walk: Cul Beag

Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir

Date walked: 19/04/2019

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Assynt as many of you will agree, is a spectacular landscape. I am not sure how others see it, but for me the view while standing on top of a mountain, out towards the Atlantic is the most rewarding. With hundreds of wee lochans and fascinating mountain shapes in all directions, its simply amazing and something I don't think I will ever get tired of gazing at.

Over the years I have treated the mountains up there like a box of expensive chocolates. Enjoy them one by one, apart from climbing them all in a short period of time. For me there are simply too special. Thanks to it, I have quite a number of un-climbed hills left and during Easter it was time to venture out, but not just to climb hills, but also to snorkel around the Assynt coast and see the area from a viewpoint I have not yet discovered.

Ben Mor Coigach
The great wall of rock which can be seen from Ullapool, was something I never really paid that much attention to, until I saw a trip report a few years ago. It looked amazing! The weather however was not good when we set off the long road around Coigach, low clouds were covering most hills, but I was positive that they would disappear, one I was up there. :roll: :lol: We arrived at the small car park and with only one other car parked there, we did not expect the hill to be busy. Walking towards the tiny settlement along the road, really showed how far flung this part of the world really is.

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The far flung village
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Little emperor moth, first time I came around one of those...absolutely stunning

The faint path up the hill started just behind a house and we climbed steadily up Garbh Choireachan. By the time we reached Speicein nan Garbh Choireachan, the clouds were so thick, that we only had a few meter viability in front of us. :( Walking along the ridge was pretty pants, with no views and I had already made a mental note to return.
Reaching the summit we had a bite to eat and my spirits had lifted, after all I can't stay grumpy for long while hill walking :)
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The last views before the clouds rolled in

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The summit


To navigate to Sgurr an Fhidhleir we had to rely completely on my GPS. Its easy navigation, but with no obvious path, it would have been also possible to walk to the complete wrong direction in the thick cloud. The downhill walk was pretty enjoyable and spongy. When we reached the bealach between the two hills, the clouds suddenly started to lift a bit and we saw the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir. Would the clouds lift by the time we reached the summit?

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Hello views

Climbing up the slope, views towards the lochan Lochan Tuath opened up and OH WOW...

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Lochan Tuath trough the clouds

it looked amazing. Stopping to take some photos, we met a couple of other guys who just returned from the summit and said that they had no views at all :( Continuing we clouds however seemed to breaking up even more and when we reached the summit, the clouds allowed spectacular views in windows. I walked towards the end of the mountain to explore and the nearly vertical drop from the top down to the bottom was amazing. I walked down the slope, until I reached a comfortable platform and sat down. The spectacle in front of my eyes was amazing...clouds were racing across the sky and covered and un-covered the landscape around me. As much as I love clear sky's, there is something magical about clouds.

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Lochan Tuath and the wee loch to the left I called Loch Scallop and OMG this mountain is vertical :shock:

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Windows of visibility in the clouds


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Stac Polly still in the cloud in the distance

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Stunning

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I stayed for a good half an hour mesmerized and trying to take it all in while taking hundreds of photos. So beautiful! Dragging my self away, I climbed up the summit again and we made our return. On our descent the two guys we had seen before, had decided to re-climb the hill, as they saw the clouds lifting...great decision and I hope they had equally good views.

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On the return walk with the summer isles on the horizon

Cul Beag
Two days later during Easter Monday the sun was out and the sky was cloud free. It was time to drive home, but not before climbing Cul Beag .There are two ways to climb Cul Beag, a short steep path from the bottom straight up, or the longer walk in across the moor. As I had never known about the short route, the longer route was already pre-planned, so I decided to follow it.

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Perfect weather

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The stalkers path and Cul Beag

This time we were the first car and setting off, the path which was easy to follow. It changed when we left the stalkers path end entered the endless moor. It was hard not to stumble, as my views were constantly distracted by the mountains around. Cul More to the right, Ben More Coigach to the left and Arcle and Foinhaven dominated in the distance.

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Cul Mor

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Myself on the way up

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Ben Mor Coigach

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Arcle and Foinhaven in the far distance


The climb to the false summit of Meall Dearg was steep, but excuses to enjoy the views were plentiful. From the summit we walked down to the wee lochan Uaine and had lunch. It was so peaceful and a perfect camp spot.
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Lochan Uaine

Packing up I walked around the side of the mountain, so get my first glimpses of Suilven in the distance. It was impossible to walk without a break, as I constantly had to stop to take photos :lol:

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First view out towards the sea , Suilven and Stac Polly

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Myself

Once I reached the summit I realized it's a spectacular view point. All the beautiful hills of Assynt and Sutherland show themselves picture perfect and the landscape of a hundred lochans frame every single hill perfectly. We walked to every point of the hill and simply could not get enough of the views. So so beautiful.

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Far below the road towards Stac Polly
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God's country
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Posing with Stac Polly

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Kevin at the summit

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Stac Polly

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Looking out towards Ben Mor Coigach

We must have stayed for a good hour, until Kevin reminded me that we had a 6 hour drive home ahead of us. Some places are hard to leave and with some last views out towards sea, we returned the same way we came from, happy that summer had only just started and that hopefully we would be back up again in the near future.

Snorkeling
Having started snorkeling in Scotland last year , I have seen some amazing areas. Hill walking takes you inland, but snorkeling takes you out to some beautiful coastal areas. Staying in Ardmair, we had planned 2 days in the hills and 2 days out at sea. Staying at the great Ardmair Point campsite , meant that we could get changed in the tent and walk to the water, as the beach is just a stone throw away. The water in April is a chilly 7-8C, impossible without a warm wet suit, hat and gloves, but even fully equipped, the first few minutes feel as if you stepped into an ice bucket of water.

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Myself with the wall of Ben Mor Coigach behind me

I really don't like being cold, but what you can see underwater makes me forget all cold each time I step into the water. The waters off Airmair were amazing, I fell in love with the beautiful (but deadly to fish) Dahlia anemones, which had a variety of colors and I never seen in such abandonment before. Swimming along the cliffs and snorkeling into sea caves, hundreds of dead men's fingers (another coral) covered the underwater cliffs and lots of star fish were all over the ground. As beautiful as Assynt is over water, underwater is it equally stunning.
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Dahlia anemone
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A garden of anemones
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Close up

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Underwater world

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Sun star star fish

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Plumose anemones

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Plumose anemone on wall

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Hermit crap

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Egg ribbon of the Highland Dancer sea slug

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Highland Dancer sea slug

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Kelp

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Scorpion fish

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Sea urchin

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Deah men's fingers

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Seven armed star fish

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Kelp
Once we have covered about 1.5 kilometers along the cliffs I was getting rather chilly, so to warm up we swam across the sea to the Isle of Martin which is a 1 km away. During our swim 2 curious seals followed us, but were to far, to take good photos, but it is a lovely experience seeing them out at sea. On the other side kelp was predominately around the edge of the island, but also an abundant of scallops. It was an opportunity to good to miss and so we free dived and collected 6 large ones for dinner that night.. 2.5 hours after setting off the cold finally drove me out of the water and after 30 min of standing under the hot shower, my body temperature was back to normal and the feeling returned to my toes :lol: :lol: Preparing the scallops and cooking them that evening was the best and tastiest dinner I had in a very long time and it felt rather satisfying having caught my own food.
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Fresh scallops for dinner
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Mountainlove
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1227
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Postby Mal Grey » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:26 pm

Fantastic! The photos looking down the Nose of the Fiddler are brilliant, really give a sense of the drop, something very hard to do in photos. The underwater ones are special too, such variety!

We were somewhere in your pictures, paddling or carrying canoes across the bogs!
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Mal Grey
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Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:17 am

Really lovely fresh report of a very special area. Glad your Cul Beag day gave you great views. And love the snorkelling angle! :D
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EmmaKTunskeen
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:50 pm

Wonderful report on every level - I love the underwater stuff you do from time to time as much as the hills stuff. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Boy, did you have the most fantastic weather in which to enjoy the glories of Assynt!!
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Alteknacker
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Postby Anne C » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:36 pm

Wow - what amazing photos, the underwater ones are a revelation too! :clap: :clap: I always enjoy your reports.You have such a great way with words (and the camera.)
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Anne C
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Re: Ben Mor Coigach, Cul Beag & snorkeling in Assynt

Postby Mountainlove » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:19 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Fantastic! The photos looking down the Nose of the Fiddler are brilliant, really give a sense of the drop, something very hard to do in photos. The underwater ones are special too, such variety!

We were somewhere in your pictures, paddling or carrying canoes across the bogs!

Paddling in a canoe across Assynt sounds equally amazing, although not so sure about carrying it across bog 8) :lol: Its something I always wanted to do as many of the waterways ed up in really remote places which is so appealing. Was quite surprised that the photo of the Fiddler worked out so well...too many time the steep slope I took photos of looked rather easy. |Saying that climbing up the Fiddler from that angle must be quite a challenge

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Really lovely fresh report of a very special area. Glad your Cul Beag day gave you great views. And love the snorkelling angle! :D

Many thanks :D

Alteknacker wrote:Wonderful report on every level - I love the underwater stuff you do from time to time as much as the hills stuff. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Boy, did you have the most fantastic weather in which to enjoy the glories of Assynt!!

Thanks and yes the weather was just amazing...fingers crossed there are more days like that this summer, I am planning another week up north and a few days of glorious sunshine would be marvelous

Anne C wrote:Wow - what amazing photos, the underwater ones are a revelation too! :clap: :clap: I always enjoy your reports.You have such a great way with words (and the camera.)

Aww thanks Anne :D Its always lovely to read that others enjoy reading my reports and seeing the photos :D
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Mountainlove
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Joined: Feb 2, 2010
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