walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

NW Scotland 2nd - 14th June 2019, part 2 (Fisherfield)

NW Scotland 2nd - 14th June 2019, part 2 (Fisherfield)


Postby al78 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:40 am

Date walked: 08/06/2019

Time taken: 52 hours

Distance: 48 km

2 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).

Starting from Poolewe campsite on Saturday morning 8th June, the aim was to cross the Fisherfield forest to Dundonnell hotel where I had booked a nights accommodation, with one night wild camping and one night in Shenavall bothy. I was hoping to bag some munros en-route, but that didn't work out thanks to the clag.


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Arrived at Poolewe on Friday evening, got set up at the campsite, and watched the sun go down.

Loch Ewe, Poolewe.jpg


WP_20190608_002.jpg
Looking towards Fisherfield from Poolewe


Set off around 9:30 am along the path which passes close to loch Kernsary. I was apprehensive about the weather as the forecast from the mountain weather ionformation service forecast rain most of the day, the Met Office forecast cloud but only small amounts of rain, and the man at the campsite said it would be dry until mid afternoon (which was the most accurate in the end).

WP_20190608_003.jpg
Looking back to Poolewe


The walking is easy with modest ascent, and it doesn't take long to reach the wall of mountains that lines the northern shore of loch Maree. Weather still holding fair, no sign of rain (yet). Nice views ahead of the ampitheatre of peaks which surround Dubh Loch to the east.

WP_20190608_005.jpg
Looking towards A Mhaighdean


A well made path all the way and a great feeling of remoteness, with occasional glimpses of Fionn loch on my left. Eventually I crossed the causeway and took a small detour to Carnomre bothy, a barn with a metal roof, where I stopped for lunch. It was about this point the rain started,.and it made quite a noise on the roof. I would not fancy trying to sleep here during a wet night.

After lunch I carried on along the path, which climbs up at an angle to the slope, heading for a small high side glen. This was the wettest part of the walk, as I got rained on for about half an hour. I was glad that so far the weather had been much better than expected. The path climbs up to about 450m then turns NE along a small glen, with great views looking back down the glen towards the direction of Dubh loch.

WP_20190608_007.jpg
Heading up the Alt Bruthach an Easain looking back along the glen.


Eventually the glen dissipates to more open terrain, and there is a path which heads towards Ruadh Stac Mor, providing access to both the Munros here. I had to make a decision to either climb the Munros or carry on ahead heading directly to Shenavall. Given the clag at Muinro height and the possibility of deteriorating weather I decided to forgo the Munros and carry on ahead to Shenavall. I passed by Lochan Feith Mhic-illean which had some small beaches on its shoreline. As it was evening, I decided this would be a good spot to pitch camp, camping on sand should be ok, and the surrounding ground looked lumpy and soggy. It took a couple of attempts to pitch camp because tent pegs do not hold in sand, so had to collect some bnig stones to hold them in. At some point in the evening I heard a couple of people walk past on the path but other than that, not a soul since leaving Poolewe.

The evening weather was actually decent, and the munros of Ruadh Stac Mhor and A Mhaighdean were clear. I started to wish I had gone up the other path and at least attempted climbing them.

Ruadh Stac Mor & A Mhaighdean.jpg
Ruadh Stac Mor and A Mhaighdean


Fisherfield Munros.png


I slept ok, not perfect due to being on a slight slope. The next morning the clag was down (again), so decided it would have been pointless taking the high route. I carried on along the path towards Shenavall. This is where I started to get the proper OMG views. The shape of the terrain around there is fantastic, and I got superb views despite taking the lower route.

Fisherfield towards Shenaval.jpg
Near Clach na Frithealaidh, looking towards Shenavall.


The path descends into a glen and follows a steam which takes me down to Gleann na Muice, where there is a bigger stream which flows into Loch na Sealga. After looking at this stream it did not look in spate, so shouldn't have a problem getting across the river to the bothy.

The weather was dry, although the high summits were still in cloud, but it is a fantastic area to walk through, being so remote and full of big shapely peaks.

Eventually I reached the nottom of the glen and had to cross the river the best I could to get to the bothy. I managed to cross somewhere the Abhainn Gleann na Muice and Abhainn Srath na Sealga met. The river looked a biut braided here, and I had to cross about three water courses. It was about shin deep at worst, and the flow was nowhere near enough to knock mew off balance. The only issue was soaking wet feet, and knowing I would never get my boots dry anytime soon.

I reached the bothy early afternoon, and had lunch. Someone popped in briefly in passing. After thinking whether to press on or stop here for the rest of the day and night, I decided to stop because otherwise I would reach Dundonnell hotel a day too early. After lunch I walked west to the loch and collected some wood. I planned to get a fire going as it was a bit chilly, and wanted to attempt to dry my boots. It didn't work, because although I got a fire going, I couldn't carry enough wood in my hands to fuel it for more than half an hour, so it did little to warm the place. The other issue I had was half the smoke went into the room instead of the chimney, so had to open a door and window for ventilation. Later in the day a German couple arrived who were doing the Cape Wrath way and had walked in from Kinlochewe, taking a route which didn't involve getting wet feet. During the evening with the sun out I admired the surroundings, and the evening sunlight on the hills.

Shenavall bothy.jpg
Shenavall bothy


Fisherfield from Shenaval.png
Beinn a Chlaidheimh


The next day, the weather was, surprise, surprise, cloudy with the summits in clag. Evidently I should have come here last year. With primary walking boots still wet I switched to my lighter trail shoes, which don't have the ankle support but do have the tread, so should be ok for a lower lever route. I originally had an ambition to climb An Teallach but with the clag, couldn't be bothered, and I wasn't sure I'd be up to it given the weight of my backpack, so I took the easy route to destitution road. There is a climb up from the bothy before reaching an open landscape with good views, but I lost the path up here and drifted opff course. I did realise my mistake before drifting too far but was heading for the road way further towards Braemore junction, so had to turn right and head on a more northerly direction. Some good open views across Dundonnell forest, and a few more people around, including a group of mountain bikers. Once I reacher the landrover track the hard work was done, and it was an easy walk gradually descending to the road through a lovely little glen. Once I reached the road at Corrie Hallie I had about two and a half miles of road walking to reach Dundonnell hotel, which wasn't that bad as the road was very quiet.

WP_20190610_001.jpg


WP_20190610_002.jpg


WP_20190610_003.jpg
An Teallach


Lessons learned so far:

1. I am not as fit as I thought, and age is now having a drag effect on my fitness.
2. As a result of 1., for future trips I need to choose between summit bagging or full day point to point backpacking, not both. Slogging 14-16 kg of gear up a Munro or three is a hell of a lot of effort.
3. I need to do some proper training prior to the trip, it is just a question of what when you live about as far as possible from any decent size hills in the UK. Day walks on the Downs aren't going to cut it.
4. I maybe need to find a way of saving weight, but it is not obvious how, given I used pretty much everything in my backpack during this trip apart from the first aid kit.
User avatar
al78
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 300
Munros:28   Corbetts:4
Donalds:1
Joined: Feb 1, 2018

Re: NW Scotland 2nd - 14th June 2019, part 2 (Fisherfield)

Postby rockhopper » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:02 am

A great area for a long walk but you've really not had much luck this trip. The weather actually looked pretty good for most of the time. Sometimes you head up the hills when all looks clear and find the summit in clag, sometimes the complete opposite; problem is that if you wait for perfect weather, you'll probably keep waiting for a long time.
Re weight of pack - on my first trips carrying overnight packs up munros, the overall pack weight was nearer 18kg; I've now got it down to about 13kg - 14kg which made a big difference. Key to it was moving to an Osprey Exos 58l which itself only weighs a little over 1kg.
Re fitness - I have a similar issue in that I can't get to the hills often so got a cross trainer for use in the house which helps
Re water crossings - I generally carry a basic, cheap, light pair of flipflops to change into for water crossings as I've had to cross water as deep as thigh level in the past; keeps the boots dry

Hope you have more luck next time - maybe just need to swallow hard and go for it - you never know, that clag you see might be an inversion :wink: :wink:

PS looks like you have a lot of experience already as your account shows that you've done 12 munro rounds :wink: :wink:
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6306
Munros:282   Corbetts:201
Grahams:59   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: NW Scotland 2nd - 14th June 2019, part 2 (Fisherfield)

Postby al78 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:30 am

rockhopper wrote:A great area for a long walk but you've really not had much luck this trip. The weather actually looked pretty good for most of the time. Sometimes you head up the hills when all looks clear and find the summit in clag, sometimes the complete opposite; problem is that if you wait for perfect weather, you'll probably keep waiting for a long time.
Re weight of pack - on my first trips carrying overnight packs up munros, the overall pack weight was nearer 18kg; I've now got it down to about 13kg - 14kg which made a big difference. Key to it was moving to an Osprey Exos 58l which itself only weighs a little over 1kg.
Re fitness - I have a similar issue in that I can't get to the hills often so got a cross trainer for use in the house which helps
Re water crossings - I generally carry a basic, cheap, light pair of flipflops to change into for water crossings as I've had to cross water as deep as thigh level in the past; keeps the boots dry

Hope you have more luck next time - maybe just need to swallow hard and go for it - you never know, that clag you see might be an inversion :wink: :wink:

PS looks like you have a lot of experience already as your account shows that you've done 12 munro rounds :wink: :wink:



I don't know why my account says I've done 12 munro rounds. I've done about 30 munros in total, plus a few munro high hills in the Lakes and Snowdonia. I'll have to correct that.

It definitely wasn't an inversion, you need anticyclonic conditions for that. The two weeks I was there the UK was under the influence of low pressure the whole time (hence the wet weather and flooding further south). Much of the time it was a moderate to heavy overcast, the photos I took were from the three days where there were breaks in the cloud. I think in one sense I was fortunate with the weather. Although I got some rain most days, it was showery light rain, not the hours of drenching that makes walking really miserable, and the weather in the highlands was better than in SE England.

My (lack of) fitness was enough of a concern that I decided against slogging up munros if I wasn't going to get any views. After walking for a few hours with a weighty pack, I felt sufficiently fatigued that I judged going up a munro with that pack would probably end in failure. It is rather disappointing because last year I did the Minigaig pass in a day and a half without feeling knackered, even on the climb up to the pass. I think in future I need to pitch the tent low down, leave most of the stiff in the tent, and climb to a summit with only what I need for an up-and-down hike.
User avatar
al78
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 300
Munros:28   Corbetts:4
Donalds:1
Joined: Feb 1, 2018

2 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).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: AHillTooFar, David232, dogplodder, R1ggered and 51 guests