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Weasels climb a Munro!

Weasels climb a Munro!

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:22 am

Munros included on this walk: An Coileachan, Meall Gorm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: An Cabar, Cnoc Ceislein, Cnoc Mor, Creag Loch nan Dearcag, Sgùrr Marcasaidh

Date walked: 09/08/2020

Distance: 80 km

Ascent: 3186m

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Back at the start of this ill-starred year, my Hill Goals were to get to 1000 Marilyns and to make a sizeable dent in the number of Munros remaining in my third round. I knew that was likely to be a big ask, but hadn't reckoned on the Covid situation with all of those prime hill walking weeks rendered defunct. Allison has been going on at me recently saying she'd like to do some "proper hills with paths" - ie Munros - before she expires. And as regular readers know, I always like to accommodate her wishes... :wink:

The forecast for the weekend being positive, and with the A83 rendered impassable by yet a further landslide, I drew my planning eyes away from Marilyns north of Inverary and thought we might venture further north. I had spied a walk by Malky capturing two quite remote Subs from Ullapool and thought that might be worth hearing out for, before talking season puts another kibosh on that sort of activity. We could do Cnoc More beside Strathpeffer on the way up and maybe, just maybe, venture into Loch Fannaich. The drive up on Thursday was remarkably civilised and we arrived at Knockfarrel at around 8pm. I hadn't really paid attention where the walk begun - I had looked at the WH route, unusual for Subs that there is one of those - and expected to be starting from south of Strathpeffer, but in fact we drove to Knockfarrel, where there's a small car park for the hill fort. A solitary tent was pitched there. We, of course, were going to pitch at - or around - the summit of the hill, so we lugged the big packs out of the boot and set off. The tent seemed unoccupied as we passed it by.

2020-08-06_2037 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The walk up was a perfectly pleasant amble up through pine trees, with occasional muddy patches. 2km to the trig point at the summit. I was a little disappointed that trees were going to impede our view, but I couldn't be bothered trying to find a clear point on the hillside - instead we pitched amongst the trees near the summit. Something quite nice about pitching in the trees, as long as the midges leave you alone - and thankfully there was enough wind to dispel those creatures. A restful night was spent, if not a sound sleep, and we loved the fiery red ball of the sun coming up at dawn - would have been better if we could have seen more of it however. In the morning we packed up and meandered down the hill, passing the tent occupiers, who were Dutch and looked like they were in the middle of a domestic.

Image84243C71-D612-44BC-8866-1F81FD5BE368_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Cnoc Mor
Image21FE6A74-46D1-49B4-AA09-2B2D142628CA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image08010F67-D8C2-498C-BAE7-3740FEEA0127_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Fiery sunrise
Image883B6B12-C22F-44D8-A337-29AE2C041DF6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

2020-08-07_0904 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I reckoned we could head out to Lochluichart Dam and do another of Malky's routes, Sgurr Marcasaidh and Creag Loch nam Dearcag. On the map it looked like quite a tough round - Malky had done them in winter - we would have the additional problem of bracken to cope with. We took the small road out of Continuers, past Loch Achilty and along to the power station, where there's ample parking. Looks like quite a popular spot with fisherfolk. We set off north along the road towards, then crossing the dam. Being a Malky route, straight ahead up the hillside was the suggesting: - we found a track that we followed for a bit then struggled our way steeply up a fence-line, being almost drowned in bracken. As we rose, the ferns slowly diminished in height and by the time we met with the fence line heading north west the vegetation was quite manageable. There's a track that comes up to the fence junction from the north east - no idea where it has come from, but might be a way of bypassing some hideousness.

ImageE88C4276-BA02-432C-8B87-80EB2BAD685C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE8D6DCE1-BF69-4DBB-82E9-799FB78EB4FA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The steep nose of Marcasaidh
ImageF56D92FC-7F32-4755-B714-4E3EE05A5015_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The next challenge was the steep rocky nose t the east of our first hill. This involved 250m of sustained steepness following deer tracks, quite a while since we've had to cope with this sort of terrain :lol: It was quite enjoyable, but definitely easier in ascent than it would be trying to come down this way. Once at the 506m spot, it was easy going on grass over to the summit a couple of kilometres away. There were good views of those two smashing Strathconnon Corbetts to the southwest of us. From the trig column we picked a descent route towards Loch a'Chairn Dubh. We noticed a good track coming in from the dam that continues much further west than shown on the map - could be a route in to do these two hills in a "T" shaped route if wished.
Anyhow, we rounded to loch on its west side, climbing a deer fence and walking through some trees - not too closely spaced, thank heavens. I'd originally been making for the rather nice sloping ridge up to Meall Bhad Ghaineamhiach but on reflection this was going to add quite a it on to the route we had for no very good reason, so we aimed instead for the beach between Meals a'Choire Liath and Dearcag and made rather soggy progress upwards.

Looking to the summit of Marcasaidh from the 506m point
Image8364AB9B-7217-4FA6-8BCE-861DA6D9D3CE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Slioch popping up in the distance
ImageD4718204-FDF9-471D-96A0-DB1DFFEA291A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Not a bad viewpoint
ImageE46AAF81-9F14-4BC3-85FB-46B7C7613360_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Descent towards Dearcag
ImageD12996DE-196B-4F88-812F-5134384E81B7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image386CCF6A-649F-4F4D-A760-0197EA115F6B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF887859E-1D34-4801-B60E-6B3EE12F545A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Strathconnon Corbetts
ImageAD666B72-EEC6-4627-AD0E-AD874A1C0B75_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5CBF9390-9F21-481F-998E-AFCEB21FE570_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Malky's route continues east along the ridge-line for 4-5km. I considered dropping back down to the central track to the north, which although not any shorter in distance, would have been easier going. Up and down, up and down to get to Torr a'Bhealaidh, albeit with pretty views down to Loch Meig, then a rather grim descent through head-high ferns til we eventually got to the road. There were deer tracks hidden under the foliage, if you were lucky enough to be able to find them. Definitely easier in the wintry months, this bit. Once we were on the road it was good going again, some nice buildings at Little Scatwell before we got back to the car. One of the better Subs-circuits this one.

Image73009061-FF86-4B0D-A2F5-A979C36F1DA0_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageBDB9930F-5562-4B33-8BA2-FD3B689E799E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image80B5332F-75E8-4FB9-876B-7CAFF6212E3F by Al, on Flickr

What would we do now? Ullapool or Fannaichs? In the end I decided to make for Grudie to walk into Loch Fannaich as I couldn't really be bothered driving all the way up to Ullapool. The sky was looking overcast and indeed rain, heavy rain, hit us as we pulled up in the big lay-by to park. This wasn't in the script! We waited til it abated and got our packs prepared for what was going to be a double overnighter, something we've not done for a while. Plan was to walk up to the little wood that we've used for camping before, tonight, then continue along to Fannaich Lodge and head up for Meals Gorm and An Coileachan tomorrow, then scamper up An Cabar and maybe Carn na Beiste on Sunday morning. Allison wasn't sure how she'd cope with a Munro ascent and a big pack, so we'd have to see on that front.

2020-08-07_1734 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The rain came to nothing on the way in, and we sopped at our spot and pitched just before 6pm. There were a number of tiny newts on the road in. Found an interesting branch that looked like a sea monster where we stopped to pitch - we left it to guard over us. Midges threatened a little then the wind dispersed them. A wonderfully quiet night - last time we'd camped here the barking of deer had wakened me with a fright, but tonight it was all quiet. A bright moon illuminated the sky, burning out the stars. In the morning I wakened and in that semi-dosing state wondered why I could hear the low drone of a swarm of bees nearby. Well, that wasn't no bees - that was midges :shock: We managed breakfast without too much bother, but did get bitten to bits taking the tent down.

Carn na Beiste on the walk in
ImageFFE8B8A1-8E64-4343-9B79-F8F6A2BC734C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image295844FF-1176-4CCD-97DE-2228AF4B9A60_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Our guardian Sea serpent
Image552AA502-9C41-458F-9E87-778501D566CA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Shouldering our packs we walked along the loch side towards Fannaich Lodge. We've done An Coileachan twice from here - today I had decided we'd use the stalkers' path to go up Meall Gorm and descend by An Coileachan, all very civilised. Uppermost in our minds was our first foray to the Fannaichs in February '14, in the midst of a storm, when we were fairly new to the hill-game and desperately trying to make every weekend count towards our Munro tally. We'd walked in along the loch shore in grim weather and arrived at the Keeper's Cottage about 9pm, drookit and tired, chapped at the door to ask where we might be able to pitch the tent for the night (we had yet to develop our skills in finding pitch spots). Our plans had been to do all 7 of the eastern Fannaichs in one day, in February, in snow. We had a lot to learn :lol: Anyway, as we approached the gate before the cottage, there was a sign up asking walkers to report to the keeper's cottage between 1st August and the end of October. Surprised, not thinking that any serious stalking had begun yet, we went along to the cottage and spoke to the keeper's wife (presumably) who was outside with some friendly, boisterous dogs. She apologised for the sign, saying they would need to cover it up as it was only from the start of September that notification was required. We chatted, mentioning the time we'd come in the stormy February, then set along the road back to the gate and prepared for the upward march.

Faire nam Fiadh ripping the stomach from a passing cloud
Image5B4E6020-74CB-4281-8CD7-5B6DF59D9A4A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Fionn Bheinn and Beinn Ramh
Image421822E7-8C5B-471F-9A45-089470BB8D99_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The track beside the cottage has been upgraded sine we were last here, with a new track going off into Coire Riabhach. Sadly, the original stalkers' path up the hillside hasn't received any attention for a while and is boggy for much of the way uphill. And it is a long way up, must be over 3km to the top of Meall Gorm. The path, whatever its deficiencies did make for much easier ascent than the slog through heather up the side of An Coileachan. We spotted a couple of diggers in Coire Beag, probably tree planting. We neared the summit, passing a well contorted, many chambered wind shelter where we left our packs and walked along to the cairn.

Western Fannaichs
Image9ECC242C-7056-42F4-ADB9-69F4057219F4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Mor
Image462851C9-F643-401C-A544-E62554541B0B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Meall Gorm summit
ImageB98CB04C-E017-4810-AFE7-0D476501DF14_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Cause for a smile!
Image10BA4A8F-D83D-470E-AE97-A91520059194_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

After months of little obscure hills, the view was one of those "Wow" moments: past the admittedly impressive remains of the western Fannaichs was the vast ring of the Torridon mountains from Liathach round to Slioch. Deprived of such sights for way too long, our eyes thirstily drank in the vista. There was, I admit, a wish to just keep walking northwest and enter the magical kingdom, but somewhat reluctantly we set off back to the wind shelter for some lunch. We'd seen a couple of walkers pass us heading for An Coileachan when we were coming up the last section of Meall Gorm - our walk over to An Coileachan was positively sociable today. First we met a man from Cornwall with his sleek black Belgian Shepherd dog who had come up here at the start of the month do do Ben Hope and as many mountains in the northwest as he could. He would head home "when he felt like it" which did make me feel envious, although climbing the Fisherfields, Torridon, the Northwest Munros etc all in one go seemed like glutting yourself on too fine a feast. But I guess. if you live in Cornwall, getting up to the Northwest is not the easiest of tasks. Then at the summit of An Coileachan we met an older couple who we'd met last year on Garbh Bheinn, and on our descent met a young couple from Inverness who were doing their first hill in two years since having their first child, making the most of a toddler free day.

Image69C0B333-A73F-48F0-B5FE-9479ECC197BF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

An Coileachan
Image86BCA71A-7717-4BF1-9C98-D396ECB74BBA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Descent route
ImageB5E096D8-4DD2-48BA-8757-C868FCED5E60_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

There's that view again...
Image2647F7F9-6E31-4C52-9BC2-CEC008D68D84_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Our descent back to the track was quite hard going over boulders and heather, with numerous holes to avoid. We stopped for water by the Alltan Milis, where the clear water was indeed sweet, then continued slowly down to the track. We were intending to head to the other side of the dam to climb An Cabar, probably tomorrow morning, and spent some time looking at the dam itself and wondering if we could get across there, saving a bit of a walk around - we decided probably not and trudged around the path anyway. Camp-spots were not easy to come by on this side - either tussocks and marsh or very stony ground. Eventually we spotted a place frequented by the deer which would do and pitched. If the campsite was mediocre, the view was lovely, right down the length of Loch Fannaich with Beinn Eighe/ Meall a'Ghuithais at the end of our line of sight .

Looking back to An Coileachan
Image40B59539-8014-4D49-8B31-12880CC1EECD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Not a bad view from the tent
Image44C6D19B-6F30-4CB0-81FA-47496B9441A6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image444FBE61-5770-4EBD-8CF2-80F22CA0A1B5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

It was still quite early and the sun was hot - after tea of noodles and tofu I suggested taking a walk up An Cabar tonight. Allison consented, if with a tiny groan, and we set off over quite boggy ground up into the coire. 45 minutes later we were standing at the trig column looking down on the loch. I said I'd head over to Carn na Beiste, Allison, having little interest in Marilyns and even less in HuMPs said she'd go back to the tent. A romp through the heather and peat hags delivered me safely to the top of this shapely hill, which I decorated with a two foot long cuboidal rock I'd found just below. The descent was gloriously easy although I didn't manage to find any flowing water on what was a wet hillside. Arriving back at the tent I was horrified by the sea of midges gathered around it - Allison being inside providing them with reason to congregate in large numbers. Not a breath of breeze - I donned my midge net, loosened my boots and dived inside as quickly as possible, taking as few of the blighters in with me as I could manage. The sun beat down relentlessly, until it sank behind the shoulder of An Coileachan, the midges thrummed against the tent mesh even more relentlessly until it grew dark and cooler, when they must have decided to head for bed. We lay sipping Bowmore and eating cheez and oatcakes as the sun went down and enjoyed another restful, quiet night. Pictures of the sunset I'd hoped for were ruined by the presence of the winged beasts as I poked the camera lens out of the mesh inner.

An Cabar
ImageFF096043-4234-4E58-A8B0-8C9A04F26319_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2A8EC191-7996-410E-B7BF-F2A235708E68_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFAD67DC9-27F7-4148-9857-0317763B052C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Across to Carn na Beiste
ImageF9756CEC-5D4B-4831-879E-2A6BFAE0C686_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Summit with cuboidal stone
ImageE4B7011B-52B8-482A-AE45-63A1A5F3A325_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image1469242C-19E7-4EF8-A30C-2489FCBBC7AA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

If you zoom in the horror of the midge is revealed...
Image6F78B3F7-5D36-481A-B752-426FE59C054F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Damn creatures ruining my shots
Image6E75ECDF-0794-40D1-A5FE-9378C4F0079C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

In the morning the drone of bees was back, although I knew this time it wasn't bees but midges. Yes, they were all back again, just waiting to get stuck into us. Allison asked what time it was - 6.45 says I, time to get going. She wasn't very keen... Breakfast was managed without any need to go outside and we were able to get packed up with minimal horror by covering up as much as possible and using Smidge on our hands. Once we started walking along the track there was enough breeze to keep us beast free. It was a beautiful morning, hot already as we headed back to the car. I pondered what we should do - there were a couple of Subs south of Loch Broom, which would mean driving in the wrong direction but would give even closer views of the holy mountains around there - or we could head to Alness and do Cnoc Cieslein, 12 km but all on path, in the right direction for going home but bereft of the beauty of the west. Oh, decisions, decisions. I opted for Ceislein out of practicality and compassion for my co-pilot's knees which had had to bear the brunt of a big pack for much of the weekend.

Morning - walk out
ImageEC138BC1-F2A4-404C-83C3-1D75363820C4_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFDCC43BA-D5DA-45C2-ABA5-C2DB21E139FC by Al, on Flickr

We drove east and arrived at an already busy car park for the Fyrish Monument. Allison said she'd been up to the monument before, although the hill we were to climb was another three km behind the one the monument sits upon. It was odd for us to be walking up a tourist trail, with, well, tourists. The monument has grand views over the Firth, although its origins are less savoury - it was commissioned by Sir Hector Munro (who appears to have been related to our Sir Hugh, I think) in 1783. Hector had been a General in the British Army in the rush to colonise India and the monument is a representation of the gates of Negapatam, where the first significant battle of the seven years war to wrest control of India from the French and Dutch was fought. The monument was also constructed using famine-labour. Hmm.

2020-08-09_1020 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Image4966567F-10D9-4D17-8B59-04F6B9FC1C78_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image208408FD-5AED-478F-A6D9-7486CDC9D7D3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We left the madding crowd behind and set off on the track for Cnoc Ceislein. Descent! yes around 100m, prompting a bit of hope that maybe Cnoc Fyrish was a HuMP (it wasn't :( ) then onwards and upwards again to the grassy rounded top of Cnoc Ceislein. Good views across to Ben Wyvis from here, and out into the Cromarty Firth, full of oil rigs today. We returned by much the same route as on the way out and had a hot journey home in the continued sunshine. Was more than good to get back to the land of the real mountains this week - and even to get back to a Munro or two...maybe we'll end up doing some more of those soon :wink:

Carn Ceislein
ImageC57D99DC-2048-47FD-ADC7-FA2D0714F7F6_1_201_a by
Al, on Flickr.

Local resident
Image02059C70-BE73-4C74-ABF7-8DAEFEA05108_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image83AFFAD3-87F4-47B8-9BB0-979EC095CBE9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8C5E8D75-2A55-4A98-9F65-1533B6D33437_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5045AFCB-5F96-417F-A91C-B4E6AB28E97E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8F62C019-A85B-49EB-A03C-CA2377F55937 by Al, on Flickr.
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Re: Weasels climb a Munro!

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:32 pm

I'm glad we were not the only ones fighting the bracken jungle on Creag Loch nan Dearcag! We used the very same Malky's route but in reverse. I think the poor man is gaining bad reputation on the forum :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Weasels climb a Munro!

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:36 pm

BlackPanther wrote:I'm glad we were not the only ones fighting the bracken jungle on Creag Loch nan Dearcag! We used the very same Malky's route but in reverse. I think the poor man is gaining bad reputation on the forum :lol: :lol: :lol:

I think his reputation for shall we say "mental"routes used to be well deserved! He seems to have settled down a bit now :lol:
Allison just calls him a machine - as in the terminator I think...
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Re: Weasels climb a Munro!

Postby Bod » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:45 pm

Great stuff Weasels, impressive efforts indeeds and fine pictures :D :D :clap:
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Re: Weasels climb a Munro!

Postby Sgurr » Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:08 pm

Marilyns are best done before the bracken grows as we had rediscovered to our cost on too many occasions. Alison is right. Though you can always go on holiday in Shropshire and get very many low hanging fruit in a day. on civilised paths.
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