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A Paddle in the Scaddle

A Paddle in the Scaddle

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:58 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn na h-Uamha, Càrn na Nathrach, Fraochaidh, Meall Lighiche, Sgùrr Dhomhnuill

Fionas included on this walk: Sgòrr a' Choise, Sgùrr a' Chaorainn

Date walked: 14/07/2019

Time taken: 29.5 hours

Distance: 78.6 km

Ascent: 5065m

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With a weather forecast suggesting west was best, time to roll the sleeves up and get some of the tougher hills done. I had three Corbetts left in Ardgour, plus a number around Glencoe/Glen Etive (although I'm not driving down Glen Etive til the summer's over and all the "wild campers" have disappeared). Of the three in Ardgour - Sgurr Dhomhaill, Carn na Nathrach and Beinn na h-Uamha, we'd done these from Strontian last time over a couple of outings. I noted a few folk had posted a route using Glen Scaddle to get all three at once in a neat horseshoe. Having never ventured up Glen Scaddle before, this approach appealed. I reckoned we could walk up on Thursday night, pitch somewhere near the Estate bothy; do the hills on Friday and walk out Saturday morning, leaving the tent pitched while we were up in the hills to avoid having to lug all our gear.

scaddle3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Thursday was a thundery day, with very heavy rain forecast sometime between afternoon and early evening, with a suggestion that we might miss it in the west. Drove up to the Corran Ferry, which was just loading when we arrived (gotta love good timing). We ate our tea whilst sailing across and drove up to the start of the walk at Aryhoulan. Plenty of parking by the farm drive. The rain hadn't come, although it still looked overcast as we set off - we hoped we were not going to be in for a deluge :roll: Good landrover track follows the River Scaddle for a few miles then dips into forestry for a bit before emerging and crossing the river (with a bridge). There's a tasty looking Marilyn on the north side of the river (Druim Leathad nam Fias) then the Graham of Stob Mhic Bheathain which we approached from Cona Glen but might think about the two from this side next time. We passed sheep, then a herd of irritable cattle - I tried singing to them as cows reputedly like music, but they didn't like my Elvis impression (and who can blame them :lol: ) A warm golden glow suffused the evening air and, as I've said before, I enjoy an evening walk in when the weather's fine.

ImageP7110086 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7110087 by Al, on Flickr

Carn na Nathrach ahead
ImageP7110089 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7110090 by Al, on Flickr

We came to the large estate bothy Tighnacomarie which was presumably locked - it had several notices on the windows saying an "overnight shelter" was available 10 minutes further up the glen. Having brought our own shelter, we found a vaguely flat piece of grass by the river, just past the bothy and set up for the night. 10.5km and 300m ascent, it had taken us just over 2 hours to walk in.

We passed a quiet night, the flow of the river soothing and meditative. Morning sun streamed into the tent, making it very warm, but midges had mustered outside and were awaiting our emergence. I boiled the Jetboil with one hand sticking out of the tent mesh to hold it, then swiftly brought the boiled water back in for our coffees. We left all the kit we didn't need for the day in the tent and set off along the track towards the lower slopes of Carn na Nathrach. Pretty quickly the track deteriorates into rough ground. We did pass the "overnight shelter" which looked like a corrugated iron manger - we didn't peek inside. Across the stream on a bridge then onto pathless ground. Clouds were hiding then revealing the surrounding tops, with Dhomhnuill to our left appearing steep and stern. The summit was reached after a couple of hours and we began looking for a suitable descent route towards the bealach with Druim Garbh.

Setting off - midge net in place
ImageP7120093 by Al, on Flickr

Nathrach & Druim Garbh
ImageP7120094 by Al, on Flickr

The "overnight accommodation"
ImageP7120095 by Al, on Flickr

Stob MhicBheathain
ImageP7120097 by Al, on Flickr

Dhomhnuill & Druim Garbh
ImageP7120098 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Nathrach
ImageP7120099 by Al, on Flickr

It was relatively easy to pick a path down the steep grassy slope, aiming for the little lochan nestled at the foot of the hills. Legions of frogs lurked in the wet grass, one leaping out from underfoot with almost every step one took. A fascinating range of colours and sizes - from deep green/black with white speckles to light khaki, tiddlers to toad sized. They were everywhere. Didn't see any nathrachs though... We paused by the lochan for our lunch, needing energy before the steep pull up Druim Garbh, a deleted Corbett itself (drop only 141m). Nothing too difficult on the way up - I'd think it an easier ascent than descent, especially in poor visibility. We had disappeared into mist at the top and struggled a little to find the right line to take us on to Dhomhnuill - a big descent then - a bigger ascent :roll: No views either from the top of this one, sadly.

Looking down to Druim Garbh
ImageP7120100 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120101 by Al, on Flickr

Druim Garbh
ImageP7120102 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120103 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120104 by Al, on Flickr

Sometimes there was a path, sometimes it disappeared, but we made it up to Sgurr na h-Ighinn. The descent from this was more tricky, with various crags to be negotiated and at one point I had to remove my bulky rucksack to turn and descend a section facing in. I rolled it ahead of me but it picked up a fair amount of momentum and bounced off down hill - Allison who was behind me somewhere hadn't realised I'd removed it and thought for a moment it was me taking a tumble :lol: We made it down to the bealach with Sgurr a'Chaorainn then began the long slog back up - this is the joint highest Graham at 761m and its partner along the ridge, Beinn na h-Uamha is the joint lowest Corbett at 762m. Curious :wink: As it was we had little view from the Graham either, but before we could go along to its partner, we had some Simm business to do - the Peak of the Mare just down to the south of the summit. From here we did get good views to Beinn na h-Uamha - we contoured round at about 600m elevation following deer tracks til we reached the bealach then set about climbing Uamha.

Sgorr a'Chaorainn
ImageP7120105 by Al, on Flickr

Simm of Sgurr na Laide
ImageP7120107 by Al, on Flickr

Uamha from Laide
ImageP7120109 by Al, on Flickr

We were both flagging a bit by this point and needed some additional sustenance to get us to the top. From here it was a simple matter of following the north east shoulder back down into Glen Scaddle and our tent. There were some more ups and downs to be negotiated, much to Allison's displeasure, including the summit of Meall na Ruadhlag. I though this was probably a Tump (thirty metres prominence) and therefore useful in my weekly stats. But I wasn't sure if it made the necessary relative height or not - Allison was apoplexic at the thought of being trailed over a Tump (or even worse, being trailed over a summit that might not even be any kind of "tick"). However we went, and it turned out to be :lol:

Summit Uamha
ImageP7120111 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120112 by Al, on Flickr

Meall na Ruadhaig
ImageP7120113 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120114 by Al, on Flickr

From here we dropped into the valley and headed in a fairly straight line for the bothy - crossing the river was alright and it was a welcome relief to get back to the tent. We doffed our shoes and socks for a paddle - oh the cool water was a delight on the toes - then had our meal. There was enough breeze to keep the midge menace at bay and we were able to sit outside for some time enjoying a lovely evening.

ImageP7120117 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7120118 by Al, on Flickr

(Doesn't include the walk out - Add 10.5k and 150m ascent)
ImageP7130119 by Al, on Flickr

Another sunny morning, another hot tent. Packed up and set off back along the track, being intermittently harried by clegs. Back at the car in just over 2 hours - as I was driving the few miles along to the Corran Ferry I knew it was going to be busy - changeover morning for the local holidaymakers. And indeed it was mobbit. I guessed it would take at least 3 ferry loads to clear the queue and allow us to get on - so turned right around and drove up Loch Linnhe/Eil instead - 50 minutes to get back round to the other side of the ferry and definitely quicker than sitting waiting. We had hills to climb!

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

I'd looked at Meall Lighiche and Fraochaidh - they were combine-able into a longish loop - just over 30km. However as we were starting at lunchtime, there was no way we'd get that fitted in today; I didn't fancy taking a big pack either and camping halfway. So I opted to split them up - we'd do Meall Lighiche today (short), camp somewhere in the vicinity and Fraochaidh tomorrow. We lunched in the car before setting off, then headed along the track past the holiday cottages. We could see our hill ahead, flanked by the triangular slopes of Beinn a'Bheither to the right. Across the river, easy today with low water level, then up a faint track up to Creag Bhan. Lots of flowers in the grass, the overcast sky slowly opening to let the sun through. As we reached the summit ridge there was a lange hunk of fleece over a fencepost, looking rather like a judge's wig. Allison suggested I try it on - I declined :roll: Up to the cairn, pause for a coffee then off to the Simm of Meall an Aodainn to the west - fine views of the surrounding hills from here, including Fraochaidh out to the west.

ImageP7130120 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Lighiche
ImageP7130124 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn a'Bheither
ImageP7130125 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7130126 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7130127 by Al, on Flickr

Aonach & Bidean
ImageP7130135 by Al, on Flickr

Sheep wig
ImageP7130137 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7130138 by Al, on Flickr

Meall an Aodainn
ImageP7130139 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7130140 by Al, on Flickr

We returned to the bealach with Lighiche and contoured round the north of the hill, following deer tracks where possible, having some scrapes along the forest fence before rejoining our outward path. Stopping once again to dangle our hot and tired feet in the Allt na Muidhe. Back at the car in five and a bit hours. I had thought of going along to the Squirrel, but the idea of pitching beside the hordes on a sunny Saturday night in Glencoe really wasn't doing it for me, so we looked at wild camping options near the layby we were parked in. I cooked the tea in the car boot, fortunately the midges weren't in evidence, and we traipsed off to a spot we'd located across the road. I was keen to give the Ultralight sleeping bags I'd bought out of Aldi last year another try - we'd used them (at altitude) a couple of times and they'd been too cold - maybe they'd do for a sea level camp on a warm night. We found a spot with a great view across to the Aonach Eagach and settled down. At first the bags were perfect. However, as midnight came and the temperature dropped they were...a bit cold. Indeed Allison was having a dream that she was cold in a sleeping bag and woke up to find that, yes, she was :wink: Eventually the sun started to warm the tent up again, in which state the sleeping bags were very comfortable :lol: I think they are sleeping bags basically without any filling and could be useful if yo wanted to sleep in your tent on a hot summer's day. I don't think they'll be getting an outing again. I apologised to her for ruining her sleep.

ImageP7130142 by Al, on Flickr

Not a bad view
ImageP7130144 by Al, on Flickr

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

We returned to the car for breakfast, then drove along to Ballachulish for the start of our walk to Fraochaidh. This had been our Corbett Completion hill last time round, having approached it from Glen Creran in the south - it's a lot shorter that way but not a very pleasing route. So was ambled along the right of way past Sgorr Dhearg and Schoolhouse ridge, across the River Laroch and up the heathery hillside making for Mam Uchdaich. That's a hard slog, especially if you are wearing shorts :wink: . Once we gained the back of the hill we were onto a grassy path and the going was much easier. We did have a couple of Simms to do - but they were both encountered on the route going up - no additional distance required.

Sgorr Dhearg
ImageP7140145 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140146 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140148 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Lighiche, our route yesterday contouring round visible
ImageP7140151 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140152 by Al, on Flickr

It was a scorching morning, sun relentless overhead. Great views though, without the usual bluish haze. We could see the summit of Fraochaidh still looking a long way ahead. Descending from one of the many dips and rises along the way we met Ian, from Fife, who was on his way back from the summit. He recognised me - must've been the beard :wink: and we chatted for a while- he'd completed his Munros last month and was now grasping the challenge of the Corbetts - and thoroughly enjoying it too. He wasn't sure whether he was going to include Meall Lighiche in today's round or not.

Continuing on, we paused for lunch before the final rise to the summit. A small iridescent green beetle landed on my arm. I tried to take its picture - however it was not co-operating, walking about under my arm. Frustrated I blew it off, saying it had lost its chance of fame. The beetle wandered off, feigning indifference. Setting off again we followed the fence line up to the summit. From the top there were great views out to Jura, Mull and Rum as well as behind us to the Glencoe hills. We could just about see where we'd walked in from last time, amid all the forestry works and roads in the glens to the west. We walked back along, gently frying in the sun. I suggested we tag on the Graham of Sgurr a'Choise, which is really the termination of the long dorsal ridge of Fraochaidh - to be honest I didn't want to have to do that steep bracken-infested climb from the river again when we got round to the Grahams. However, the process took longer than anticipated, with false summit after false summit appearing before we finally made the top. From here I'd thought of dropping down to the northwest and following the tree-line back to the river - however Allison reminded me of Graeme D's experiences in there and we chose instead to retrace our steps a bit and head down the steep heathery flanks towards the river, where some cool streams to top up the drinking bladder were appreciated. Back along the track, dragonflies zipping through the air, squadrons of small back flies rising from the hot rocks they'd been resting on. I came to a large spider's web, woven right across the path. It hadn't been there in the morning - what a prodigious amount of work to put into a bad choice of location - my walking pole had already snagged the edge of the web and sadly the web collapsed.

ImageP7140153 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140154 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140157 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140159 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140160 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140161 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140162 by Al, on Flickr

Heading for Sgurr a'Choise
ImageP7140165 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140166 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7140167 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the car around five thirty - we nipped into the Co-op for something to eat before what I was sure would be a long slow drive back home - a very sunny Sunday down Loch Lomondside usually a recipe for hell. However there was barely any hold up at all - curious.
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Re: A Paddle in the Scaddle

Postby iain_atkinson_1986 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:16 pm

Was a pleasure to meet you both!

I didn't head on to Meall Lighiche in the end - combination of having run out of KitKat chunkies and wanting to get back home for a reasonable time.
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Re: A Paddle in the Scaddle

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:06 am

Good result for the weekend. Was up the Glen Scaddle route last year - took the bike which turned out to be harder than I thought as the track goes up and down a lot. Had similar feelings about the alternative shelter - not sure I'd want to spend a night in it. Thanks :)
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