I used walkhighlands reports a lot to help me plan this, so here is my report, hopefully will be useful for anyone else planning similar.
We set off from the road at Garve on the bikes at 0920. This was the midgiest place all trip! I was pleased to wedge my pack onto the rack on the back of the bike as cycling with a pack on really hurts my neck. J , being young and indestructible just went for the traditional way. Cycle route up really nice, mainly tarmac, just one bit of landrover track. My bike has 28 mm tyres and managed fine.
We locked the bikes together and left them just past the bridge at 240658. The online site says the route via point 787 is always OK for stalking but I checked with the factor as I wanted to leave the bikes as far West as possible to minimise the long walk out
We started walking about 1000. It was a bit of a slog up to An Coireachan with the big packs on ( 12kg for me, 9 kg for him) but we were there by 1200 and the ridge was then clear in front of us. We had driven up and started a day early to catch the better weather and I was really glad for that. There were a couple of people up there "doing the four" and another coming up.
It was a bit of a faff coming down through the boulders but then easy up to Meall Gorm for lunch at about 1400.
The scenery was amazing all along the ridge, with great views of the back end of the Torridonian hills, An Teallach and the hills N of Ullapool. We contoured round Sgurr Mor on the the stalkers path and dumped the packs by the little stone shelter where the path joins the E ridge. I had brought a lightweight fold up rucksack and we stuffed a few bits in there and walked out to Ben Liath Mor Fannaich. It was beautiful to walk without the packs, it was like a rest. The stalkers path took us almost to the summit, with just a little branch off right up through the boulders to gain the summit. Nice and easy back too.
Although Sgurr Mor looked like to was going to be a big haul up, in fact it went pretty easily and we were "on Munro 4 at 4"
From there we had a little look and a think and a plan. I had the excellent walk notes from Steven Fallon's website, and we saw the big rock by the lochan at the foot of the N ridge of Sgurr clach nan Geala. We went to that and dumped the packs. Out came the little rucksack again and we bimbled over to Meal a Chrasgaidh and back. J told me the whole story of the book he was reading which filled in the time for both of us. I had anticipated that going up Sgurr clach nan Geala at the end of the day would be a haul up, but the book telling helped for the first bit,and the the ridge narrowed up and was great so no distraction was needed. On the summit at 1830. Sun getting lower in the sky, fantastic quality of light and feeling of solitude.
Slightly sore knees heading S off Sgurr Clach nan Geala, and someone had done a big poo and left bog roll to greet us at the lochan in the bealach where we left our packs (a decent distance from the poo). Third outing for the little pack and along the ridge to Sgurr nan Each, with the sun setting over tomorrow's peaks as we returned.
We had planned to camp in the big bealach, probably just N of the highest point. However, about 50 m above it we came across a nice flat bit of ground with a nearby streamlet so we plonked the tent there (177706), rather than using the last of the light looking for something that was "completely perfect". By this stage we had been biking/walking for 10 hrs so I was keen to get the stove on and get some Cup a Soup on the go, and within minutes we were getting down the first course of our meal. I was glad I had brought the piece of tin foil as a lightweight windshield as it was breezy. But that breeze kept us completely midge free.
In bed by 10. Fantastic full moon in the night.
After one of those slightly interrupted sleeps of a wild camp we had breakfast of Granola and instant Horlicks and set off with some bits in J's smaller pack, for the next 2 Munroes. Going up the E ridge of Sgurr Breac was easier than anticipated, because of
a) leaving most of the weight back at camp,
b) the good path and
c) the fun very slightly scrambly bits, including walking up a sloping slab sticking out of the hillside.
It was very windy as we got onto Sgurr Breac at 10 am. We contoured round Tom Coinnich and I really wondered whether to bin out and leave A' Chailleach for another day. That grumbly little warning feeling starting in my gut. You are just a bit more risk averse when you're walking with your kids. However J seemed OK so I thought we could just plug on, we could see the summit from the bealach. Got to the top, (tick), and then straight back off, moving to windward of the path so as not to be too close to the ridge. The N ridge of A'Chailleach looks beautiful.
I debated contouring back round Sgurr Breac but from the map it looked like we might end up on some difficult ground so we went back over the top, and paused there to really enjoy the last peak of the day. Still great views despite the wind.
Back at camp we packed up and crossed the bealach (again) to gain the stalkers path on the W side. We headed S towards Loch Fannich. This is a bit dilapidated and boggy in places but still makes for easily the best route out of the bealach. We crossed the river on a slightly old wooden bridge at 162687 and set off along the path. Its not a motorway but the path is clear, and there are some nice bits through the forest, where we discussed pine air fresheners.
We were both pretty tired and footsore by then so it was a disappointment to be diverted N round Fannich lodge at 205660, but hey, it's their estate and they're letting us walk on it so, no problems.
I was really glad to get back to where the bikes were, and the ride back was a freewheel nearly all the way.
Overall a brilliant expedition for a Dad and his 13 year old son, who never grumbled the whole way round and who carried his share. Great chats between Man and Boy and brilliant highland scenery, what more of an adventure could you ask for?
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