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Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaoraich


Postby Graeme D » Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:43 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Date walked: 15/10/2019

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 13.9 km

Ascent: 1180m

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Two cracking days in the Mamores on Sunday and then in Glen Affric yesterday had led me here today - down the Kinloch Hourn road to the little parking area just west of the bridge over the northern appendage of Loch Quoich.

As I crossed the Bealach Toll an Easa yesterday on the fine high level promenade between Tom a'Choinich and Toll Creagach, I had spent a great deal of time gazing northwards across Loch Mullardoch to the four Munros on the far shore and had harboured serious thoughts about going for them the following day. Indeed, when I returned to the car in Glen Affric, I drove back to Cannich and then along the tortuous minor road that led, in the descending darkness, to the Mullardoch Dam, where I established camp for the night. This is not a drive for the faint hearted, what with the deteriorating state of the road and the increasing size and ferocity of the potholes the further you go, and things were not helped when I almost ran into a huge, malevolent looking black cow just before the stalkers house. The cow gave me a long, hard, indignant stare and made it plain that it was not impressed. Even allowing for the language barrier, I was in no doubt that it was not for moving. I had to very delicately negotiate a way past the beast before carrying on my way, wondering just what kind of wildlife would be the next to pick a fight with me and my vehicle. Already that morning I had gone eyeball to eyeball with a pheasant as it bounced off my windscreen just south of Invergarry and then sent what I presume was a bat spiraling off into the thick stuff in the encroaching dusk as I drove out of Glen Affric! :shock:

I still wasn't sure that I was going to do the Mullardoch Munros the next day, but wanted to be at the start of the walk just in case. When morning dawned, I was a little bit on the tardy side getting myself together and well aware of the size of the undertaking for a day less than a fortnight from the onset of winter hours. The weather also looked undecided but even as I drove back out to Cannich (thankfully without further encounters with the native wildlife), it became clear that it was going to be a cracking autumnal day of clear blue skies. Oh well, I had made my decision now, so I was just going to have to live with it. I was headed for Loch Quoich to do Sgurr a'Mhaoraich. On two previous drives along the narrow, winding Kinloch Hourn road to tackle the Loch Quoich Munros, they have never let me down. In April 2016 on Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach and again in July 2017 on Gairich the Weather Gods had looked favourably upon me, and today they were in an equally benevolent frame of mind. Some areas just seem to treat you badly as far as weather is concerned. I have never really been very lucky in the Arrochar hills in that respect, but the Loch Quoich Munros had always been a happy hunting ground and that pattern would continue today.

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I love this drive along the Kinloch Hourn road!

I got a good close up look at the scar left behind by the recent massive landslip and the shiny new section of road and crash barrier just at the corner of the dam before driving on through the mass of rhododendron bushes around the Gleouraich/Spidean Mialach parking area before finally pulling in to the empty parking area just west of the bridge.

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The Sron a'Chuilinn ridge of Gleouraich across the bridge from the parking area

I wanted to do the circular route via Glen Quoich and the long ridge of Am Bathaich rather than the straight up and down and a quick spur of the moment decision saw me heading west along the road the short distance to the start of the path up onto the ridge of Bac nan Canaichean to tackle the route clockwise. A solitary white car was parked on the verge right at the foot of the path so maybe I wouldn't have the place to myself today! :o

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This character was happy to pose for the camera and was polite enough not to pick a fight with me or my vehicle! :lol:

I turned off the tarmac and onto the narrow, boggy path as it began the long climb up the Bac nan Canaichean ridge. Something told me that today was going to be one of those days that would live long in the memory! 8)

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Across Loch Quoich to Gairich from the boggy, early stages of the ascent

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Across Sron Lice na Fearna to the hills to the north of Glen Dessarry

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Sgurr a'Mhaoraich beyond Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach

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Down to the bridge and across to Gairich

As I picked my way up the long ascent ridge in the glorious autumnal weather that would not have been at all out of place in high summer, I began to reflect on the passage of time. A couple of recent and upcoming events were probably responsible. Firstly, yesterday in Glen Affric had seem me hit 219 Munros so, barring unexpected mishap of some sort, possibly involving wildlife of some description :lol: , today would see me onto the 220 mark.

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Glen Quoich and Gleouraich

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Gairich and beyond to the western Loch Arkaig hills

This would be significant because I well remember back in my "early days" of 2008, when I had almost simultaneously discovered the Munros and this web site, my then colleague and great friend Robin (no longer colleague but still great friend) used to bemoan the fact that his Munro count was "becalmed in the 220s". At the time, having done my first two back in 2003 and my third in March of 2008, I was still in single figures. In fact in all probability, he used this line when we visited Skye in July of that year and did Bruach na Frithe - my sixth Munro. And now here I was, 11 years on and two days short of the eleventh anniversary of registering on this site, on the ascent of what would be my 220th......... and Robin is still "becalmed in the 220s"! :shock:

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Gleouraich and Loch Quoich

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Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach - beginning to show her true character now, with the descent route over Am Bathaich in shadow in the background

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Little old me in shadow bottom right

Then there was the fact that in four days time, I would celebrate another birthday and with it, would commence my 50th year on this lump of rock hurtling through space. There was a time, not that many moons ago, when I thought that maybe my 50th and my Munro compleation might coincide, but even with the milestone of 220 about to be reached and the auspicious date still a year away, I knew now that this was not going to happen!

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Sgurr a'Mhaoraich looming large

And then there was my visit last week with my wife and daughter to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, which was still fresh in my mind and in a setting such as this, with the wild, rough and mountainous landscapes of Knoydart, Dessarry and Kintail opening up around me with every step, the incomprehensible birth of our planet and the forces that have shaped it in the immense span and passage of time since then is there to be witnessed in the very features of the land.

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Back over Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach to Gleouraich and the eastern end of the South Glen Shiel Ridge

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Across Am Bathaich to the majesty of the South Glen Shiel Ridge - was that epic day really 8 years ago!!!??? :shock:

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Back along the scalloped ridge line from the beginning of the rock band and ledge that leads to the final pull to the summit

As I neared the top of the long grassy ledge below the rock band a short distance below the summit, I spotted a figure descending towards me. He stopped at the top of the ledge to let me past before descending himself and we exchanged a few words about what a cracking day it was. As we chatted he told me that he had just ticked off his final Munro and told me his story. He had started back in 1981, when I would have been 10 or 11 years old. What was I saying earlier about reflecting on the passage of time!!?? :shock: He and a friend had got to around the 250 mark when his friend was knocked off his bike one day and ended up in a wheelchair. He was now finishing them off without his friend but after each hill day, he would return home and give his friend a detailed account of his route and the events of the day. This guy had just completed a 38 year journey and was heading back to his hotel where his wife was waiting for him. I shook the guy's hand and congratulated him on his journey, before suggesting that there was also a pint with his name on it waiting for him back at the hotel. 8)

I completed the short pull up to the summit and spent a good 10 to 15 minutes wandering around the cairn and taking in the breathtaking views of, well, empty wilderness to be honest. To my north was Glen Shiel and the hills of Kintail and Affric beyond. South lay the hills of Loch Arkaig and Glen Dessarry and the big hills of Lochaber beyond. But the eye and the mind were mostly drawn westward, towards Knoydart, the so called Rough Bounds, that magically remote and desolate finger of land wedged between Lochs Nevis and Hourn and home to fabled Munro peaks such as Ladhar Bheinn. One day soon I will get in there. It's clearly not going anywhere in the meantime and with the counter now at 220, that day will come sooner rather than later.

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220 up - Robin, I am coming for you!

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The SGSR and Gleouraich across Glen Quoich

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Loch Hourn and Knoydart with the Skye Cuillin in the distance

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Gairich across Loch Quoich

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Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach

I eventually pulled myself away from the summit and descended the initially grassy slopes that soon gave way to steep rocky slopes down to the high bealach between the Munro and the western slopes of Am Bathaich, where I found a wee sheltered spot to settle down for lunch with stunning views westwards to Loch Hourn and eastwards down into Coire a'Chaorainn and Glen Quoich.

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Back along the ascent route from the start of the descent to the bealach

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Across Am Bathaich and Sgurr Thionail towards Kintail

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Breathtakingly beautiful

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Loch Hourn and Knoydart

I took my time again over lunch - who would want to rush in such a staggeringly beautiful place on such a glorious autumnal day??!! 8) Then I picked my way up the craggy slopes of Am Bathaich before turning east for the high level walk along the twisting, undulating ridge that would eventually drop me down into Glen Quoich for the walk back round alongside the norther arm of Loch Quoich to the bridge and the car.

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Am Bathaich and the SGSR seemingly merging into each other

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Lunch looking west

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Lunch looking east

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I could sit here for the rest of time

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Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from the ascent of Am Bathaich

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Onto the ridge and an easier gradient

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Eastwards along the snaking ridge of Am Bathaich

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Looking west back towards the bealach

The drop down from the high ground of Am Bathaich into Glen Quioch proved to be a tortuous affair on a wide grassy path that followed a seemingly never ending series of carefully choreographed hairpin bends. I made it about three quarters of the way down before I lost the will to live and cut off the path onto a rougher but more direct route down to the Allt Choire a'Chaorainn where I picked up the track for home.

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Gleouraich from the bridge over the Allt Choire a'Chaorainn just before it joins the River Quoich

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Almost home - Gairich across the bridge

It had been a brilliant day - maybe not the epic Mullardoch experience I had turned my back on but in hindsight, probably the right choice of route for today.

The first three days of my four day pass were up and I had notched up 5 new Munros. I drove to Glen Etive with a view to doing Stob Dubh tomorrow before heading for home but the following morning dawned miserable, wet and clagged in right down to the soles of my feet, so I quit while I was ahead, having finally joined Robin in the 220s, and headed for home a very happy chappy. Let's hope I do not remain "becalmed in the 220s" for as long as he has! :lol:


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby PeteR » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:36 pm

This really is a stunning hill and your photos really capture that :clap: When I look back at my hillwalking days so far then my day on this hill has to be up there as one of the best I've had (not that I necessarily like to have favourites of course :lol: ).
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:52 pm

50th birthday, I remember that day, then before you know it you will be 2 months shy of your 60th :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That looked like a brilliant walk.

Happy 50th when it comes round Graeme.
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby maxie23 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:04 pm

Cracking report Graeme.

Loved the photos.
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby Sgurr » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:48 pm

Gordie12 wrote:50th birthday, I remember that day, then before you know it you will be 2 months shy of your 60th :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That looked like a brilliant walk.

Happy 50th when it comes round Graeme.


50-60 goes fast
60-70 goes faster
70-80 is even worse.


Back pedal if you can.

The problem is that if I tell you to keep on enjoying the hills, that is a sure recipe for speed. Maybe a few more malevolent cows would do the trick.
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:56 pm

Sgurr wrote:
Gordie12 wrote:50th birthday, I remember that day, then before you know it you will be 2 months shy of your 60th :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That looked like a brilliant walk.

Happy 50th when it comes round Graeme.


50-60 goes fast
60-70 goes faster
70-80 is even worse.


Back pedal if you can.

The problem is that if I tell you to keep on enjoying the hills, that is a sure recipe for speed. Maybe a few more malevolent cows would do the trick.


Thanks for that Sgurr :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby kevsbald » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:57 am

Fab as always, Mr D.
Let's get planning Knoydart in the bothy.
Let's make 2020 a perfect vision for Knoydart.

Other terrible jokes will follow on Saturday.
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:18 pm

"This character was happy to pose for the camera and was polite enough not to pick a fight with me or my vehicle! :lol:"
Yes I recognise him. he was one of the ones I ordered to kick off my compleation walk :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Where does time go? Marking milestones on Sgurr a'Mhaora

Postby Grisu » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 pm

May be it wasn't an epic walk but it felt like reading your report and getting absorbed in your pictures - Time Out! thanks! :thumbup:
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