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Sgurr Marcasaidh from Loch Luichart power station

Sgurr Marcasaidh from Loch Luichart power station

Postby gld73 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:41 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Sgùrr Marcasaidh

Date walked: 15/07/2019

Time taken: 4.4 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 650m

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I'd seen this hill across Loch Luichart when I was up the nearby smaller hill of Carn Faire nan Con, and had immediately put it on my mental list of local hills to do, surprised when I looked it up that it fails to make the threshold for a graham by about 30m.

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I parked at Loch Luichart power station, though it turned out I could have parked further up the road towards the dam (or even at the dam itself if I'd been out by 5pm). Walked up the single track road to the Loch Luichart dam, crossed it and followed the track rather than heading straight up the bracken-covered hillside. That bracken route might be okay in winter, but in summer I'd have been wading thigh deep through the stuff.
Loch Luichart power station

Passed these massive dishes on the walk to the dam, pointing in the direction of the hill which has a couple of other pieces of comms infrastructure on its slopes

Loch Luichart dam. The slope immediately in front would be one way to get up on the Sgurr Marcasaidh summit ridge.

Carn Faire nan Con, another sub2k hill next to Loch Luichart. A nice wee hill which can be done from this side or Garve (I've only done the latter route).

The track from the damn reached a T-junction with another track - on my return route I took the one heading left here, but heading to the hill, I turned right and walked along the good track to the buildings at Glenmarksie. The track then continued down the glen, parallel to the base of Sgurr Marcasaidh all the way, and making you realise what an impressive hill this is for one with 'just' sub 2k status. The track passes though a couple of gates, eventually reaching the point mentioned in heatheronthehills 2013 report where a burn cross the track and there's a sheep fold on the left of the track. The hillside here has less bracken on it than the eastern end, so looks as good a place as any to start on the steep ascent.
Approaching the buildings at Glenmarksie

The good track down the glen runs along the base of Sgurr Marcasaidh

The strange thing that looks like a giant tv screen (relay transmitter?) that features in the walk reports of people who walked up to the ridge from near the dam is visible from the track...

...as is another set of giant dishes further west along the ridge

I left the track at this point next to the burn to start heading up the steep southern slopes of Sgurr Marcasaidh

I followed the burn up this steep initial section, some occasional traces of path for very short sections, but perhaps deer tracks rather than hillwalkers. This bit is quite steep, rocky and heathery, so it was a surprise to come out at a grassy, boggy plateau, giving an easy stroll over to the next part of the steep ascent. I didn't follow the burn any more, just headed up the steep hillside by any route which avoided the worst of the crags and bracken. Coming up this route meant I avoided the mysterious comms apparel on the east side of the hill featuring in the other walk reports (and which I'd seen from a distance from my walk in), but this part has a big dish on its ridge; Sgurr Marcasaidh is a useful hill for someone or something, in addition to being a good walk!
Rocky and heathery on the initial steep part beside the burn

Looking down on the boggy plateau part way up. I left the burn to head straight up.

Slioch coming into view

Being a beautiful, clear day, it was easy to see where the summit was once I made it to the ridge/plateau area, as the trig point was visible across to my left (west). I dropped down to cross a wet, grassy area, then up to the summit. The full length of Sgurr Marcasaidh's plateau would be a good walk, I might come back and do that on a clear sunny day in winter conditions.
I came out on the ridge/plateau just west of the comms apparel

With this good visibility, it was easy to see the summit a bit further west. Might be a tricky hill to navigate in poor visibility.

Ben Wyvis had its top in a cloud, but the views around were impressive, with Slioch and the mountain of Torridon visible as well as the nearer Strathconon hills.
View west from the summit

View east, back along the length of Sgurr Marcasaidh

Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis

Pano to the west

For my descent route, I decided to head west towards the lochan to avoid completely retracing my steps. The terrain was okay, though steep in parts as I headed down and back to the grassy plateau (where I looked back up and saw a herd of deer now watching me from further along the ridge). I made my way along to the same burn, refilled my water bottle from it, then headed back down to the track at the same point I'd left it.
Descending from the summit west towards Loch a Bhealaich

Probably should have used zoom on my camera to show I was being watched by deer and not ants

The only variation I did on the walk back to the car was after Glenmarksie, rather than go back over the dam, I took the right branch of tracks and headed down though the forestry area. Peaceful walk back to the single track road, where I turned left and followed it the short distance back to the power station.
Left here would have taken me back over the dam, I carried on the main track here to the right just to vary the route

The track comes out on the minor road between Little Scatwell and Luichart power station. This is looking back at the entrance to the track, with some forestry warning signs

This is a really interesting hill, and offers some variety in the routes which could be taken, so I may well come back to try it in winter. (Or again in summer to have it as a post-Covid lockdown walk to get my hill legs back?!)
View of Sgurr Marcasaidh from Carn Faire nan Con taken previously
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Re: Sgurr Marcasaidh from Loch Luichart power station

Postby PeteR » Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:57 pm

I remember enjoying the view of this hill from Carn Faire nan Con last year. It does look impressive and as you say it's hard to believe it's only a sub 2000. Definitely one I have on my to-do list when I am back up that neck of the woods for a few days.
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