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Fersit 4 - Long circuit of Loch Treig
by jimbell21 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:11 pm
Route description: Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
Munros included on this walk: Chno Dearg, Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, Stob Coire Easain, Stob Coire Sgriodain
Date walked: 24/08/2020
Time taken: 11.3 hours
Distance: 34.5 km
Ascent: 2203m4 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).
Days off once more, and with one decent day of weather forecast, followed by two days of rain, I was keen to get my money's worth on day one. After a late check of the weather on Sunday night, I decided on a long circuit of Loch Treig and the twin sets of munros either side. I managed to recruit my brother in law (Euan) for company, despite him having hiked Beinn a'Ghlo the day before.
We arrived at the car parking area at the head of the Fersit road at 8.20am and were immediately plunged into midge doom as soon as we opened the car doors. I quickly deployed the midge net and cursed myself for forgetting the smidge spray! Sake. We got our boots and gaiters on in about 10 seconds flat and sped off along the track towards the farm buildings, keen to escape the wee bitey ones. I succeeded in being bitten about 10 times in the first few minutes, not the most relaxing start to a long day. Passing the sheep pens, we turned south and followed a faint, soggy track towards our first target of the day, Stob Coire Sgriodain. The faint grassy path was wet, but not a complete bog disaster. Neither of us wanted to stop at all until about an hour in when we gained some height towards the ridge and finally paused for a drink. There wasn't a breath of wind, a theme that continued all day...
Once we gained the rockier ridge, progress was fairly swift and we reached the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain at 10.05am. The cloud was lifting all the time, and only the tops of the adjacent Easains remained in cloud around us. Annoyingly there still wasn't a breath of wind on the summit, and our midge friends remained with us as we stopped to take in the views. Our route to Chno Dearg and then south to the end of the loch and back to the Easains looked absolutely ridiculous at this point, absolutely miles!
The ridge to Chno Dearg from Stob Coire Sgriodain
Euan near the summit at a cracking viewpoint
After faffing about taking some pictures, we were chased from the summit by our midge pals, and started negotiating the rough ground towards Chno Dearg. It's slightly further than it looks due to some hidden ups and downs along the way, but it's pretty quick walking on hard ground for the most part. With a couple of clothing and photo stops along the way, it took 50 minutes to reach the summit of Chno Dearg (11.25am).
Chno Dearg summit. Halfway in terms of summits, but in terms of distance, we had barely started!
The views were superb to the east, out towards Loch Laggan, Creag Pitridh etc, and all summits were now clear of cloud. After a sandwich stop we then depressed ourselves by noting the fact we were less than a quarter of the way round our route! Eyeballing the Stob Coire Easain, we guessed that it would be a solid 4 hours before we reached it's summit, our next target. It certainly looked a loooong way!
Our route towards the south end of Loch Treig just followed the ridge line all the way until the final descent towards the railway line/track underpass. The views towards Glen Coe were in our eye line the entire way, with Ben Nevis popping up to our right, along with the Mamores and Grey Corries looking sublime.
Glen Coe, Mamores, Ben, Grey Corries, Easains panorama from our long ridge descent
Ben Nevis zoomed
View towards Corrour Station and Rannoch from the steep descent from Bealach an Easain Duibh
Even this ridge is a long way, and took us 1hr 50 mins to the railway line (1.35pm). The final descent off the shoulder was steep and pathless and we were grateful to eventually have firm ground underfoot again. Progress was suddenly rapid along the landrover track which would eventually take us past the end of Loch Treig and around 5km to the lower slopes of Stob Coire Easain. Thankfully the midges had gone to bed for a while under the now hot afternoon sun.
Tempting looking pool from the bridge over the Allt Crunachgan river
Now satisfied to see how far away Stob Coire Sgriodain looked on the right....but also how far away the Easains looked
We walked past a couple of tents that were pitched around the old sheep pens/croft ruins, but never saw any occupants about. We hadn't seen a person all day either. The landrover track suddenly ends and an ATV track continues, which is still easy walking.
What a waste, amazing location
Moving on, we crossed the footbridge over the gorge and Allt na Lairige river (NN 30809 69274) and picked our away along a deer track above a very steep sided gorge. Probably not the best path in hindsight, but the bracken was waist high and a bit of a nuisance. Shortly after, I got fed up with the bracken and decided to start a long diagonal up the grassy/boggy/bracken heavy slopes. This ascent was the toughest section of the day and was very steep, pathless, wet and tiring. Our aim was the broad ridge that turns into the Irlick Chaoile ridge higher up. Progress was slow, and you guessed it, the midges were back. The non-existent breeze was actually quite remarkable, stopping just wasn't really an option, as much as we needed some respite from the steep slope. We both stopped for water at one of the many streams we crossed, but I gave up filtering the water after one bottle as we were both getting eaten alive!
Euan battering up the lower slopes
The Glen Coe hills back in view as we slogged our way upwards
The Irlick Chaoile ridge and our targets finally looking within touching distance
It was a big relief when we reached the Irlick Chaoile ridge, the gradient eased dramatically and we could enjoy the views again with a wee sandwich stop now we had escaped the latest midge festival on the lower slopes. A final few minutes walk and we were finally on the summit of Stob Coire Easain at 4.55pm, over 5 hours since leaving the summit of Chno Dearg! From the footbridge at the gorge, the ascent had taken us just over 2 hours of hard graft.
Euan on his way to the summit with stunning views of the Glen Coe hills in the distance
Mamores, Ben, Grey Corries pano, with the Lairig Leacach bothy visible if you zoom in
I don't think I have felt greater satisfaction in reaching a summit than I did here. Around 16km had passed since Chno Dearg, and a lot of effort along the way. On the plus side, my legs were still feeling pretty strong and I had enjoyed the tough ascent (minus the midges) and ground that we had covered. The views were absolutely stunning, with very clear air. The distinctive shape of Sgurr na Ciche was easily visible, with the South Shiel Ridge and north to the Fannichs and Ben Wyvis were all easily visible. An outstanding 360 degree viewpoint, one of the best in this part of Scotland surely?
Our final objective: Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
Feeling the morale boost of overcoming the biggest hurdle of the day, we started the downclimb towards the bealach with Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin. It looked really close, and my half hour estimate actually proved to be conservative.
Euan on the final ascent to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, with Stob Coire Easain behind.
Stob Coire Easain pano
After 25 minutes walking, we stood on the 4th and final summit of the day. Elbow bashes all round on the cairn, I think we were both fairly relieved that it was all downhill from here. The air clarity was getting better and better, and the light over Glen Coe was stunning.
Summit scenes from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin.
Zoomed towards the Bookles in Glen Coe, and Anoach Eagach far right.
Stob Choire Easain and the Irlick Chaoile ridge
On leaving the summit, the descent feels like an absolute skoosh, nice easy ridge walking at a very easy gradient. I hadn't research this section of the route in great detail, but on checking the map, it was apparent that we were about to walk off a cliff a couple of km along the ridge at Meall Cian Dearg.
Plain sailing down the gentle ridge, with our morning summits across Loch Treig.
We knew it was coming, but the steepness of the descent was a bit of a shock after such an easy ridge. After a long day, this is a pretty brutal ending! Minor scrambling at times, loose rock, bog, streams, this section had it all. Oh aye, and the midges were on full revenge mode after some high altitude respite. Absolutely zero wind, midges, and very slow going terrain makes for a questionable experience. Once again, stopping wasn't a good idea, so it was head down towards the random concrete pillar and bashing away as quickly as we could until reaching the track at the sheep pen.
The one photo I took on the descent... Euan negotiating some steep ground.
After reaching the lochside landrover track, it was a plain sailing 2.5km back to the car. The midges were out, but as long as we kept moving, they weren't too bad. I was full on dreading the car though....parked feet away from bracken about 6ft high, in a sheltered location As it turned out, they were actually worse than I could have expected when we reached the car at 7.40pm. Even taking off our boots was a non-starter so we both dived into the car, without the slightest pause for water, stretching etc, and drove out of the midge hell. In the 5 seconds the doors were open, we invited about 100 midges into the car, so drove off with all windows down, trying to suck the wee buggers back into their homeland
I had taken pot noodles for a post-hill snack but there was absolutely no danger I was cracking the stove out to sit and cook them up anywhere nearby. We reached Dalwhinnie before stopping by the Loch Ericht Hotel (more out of hope that they were still open and serving actual food) and cracked the Jetboil out for a much needed snack before driving home.
Luxury dinner at Dalwhinnie
Midges aside, the walk was absolutely brilliant. I enjoy a tough, rewarding route when you have to find your own way up the hills. The views were absolutely tremendous the whole day and we both covered the distance no bother. A long day, but well worth the effort. Amazingly, we never saw a single person on the hills all day! Our 11 hours 20 minutes included a fair few lengthy stops on the summits and it was a superb way to spend a full day ahead of two days of yellow weather warnings for rain!
Hopefully the tent will be back in the bag next trip...
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by ScotFinn65 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:27 pm
by jimbell21 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:36 pm
ScotFinn65 wrote:Fantastic, descriptive report. Thanks for sharing. I want to do this circuit but l fear it is a bit long for me, so plan an overnight at Ossian hostel.
Cheers Scott, that's a great shout, we were saying how tempting it would be to dive into the hostel for the night with a couple of beers . You could then easily do Beinn na Lap on your way to the hostel. I stayed there in February in very different conditions (deep snow) - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=95665.
Loved the hostel, I hope you get good weather whenever you choose to do it. Cheers!
by pawzmunro » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:12 pm
by jimbell21 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:48 pm
pawzmunro wrote::clap: well done boys ,too long for me that circuit, 2 at a time would be my limit, brilliant report and photos , all that talk of midgies got me itching , away to plan ma next trip up the hills, hopefully the cooler weather takes care of the wee midgie
Cheers Paul, was certainly a big day out! Gutted we were too late for a chippy tea in Dalwhinnie! The midges can ram it, looking forward to their demise. Already planning my next trip too
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