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Gulvain: when the going gets tough

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:29 pm
by BlackPanther
Still catching up with my summer reports... This time a trip from three weeks ago. After two visits to Corbetts and Grahams, we wanted to do a Munro even if it was going to be a repeat. Weather forecast was best for the south-west so Kevin suggested revisiting Gulvain. It's been a while since our previous climbing experience on this hill and we had already forgotten about the long and steep slog up this particular Munro...

The middle of August is the worst time not only for midges but also for keds. As we walked up Gleann Fionnlighe, they constantly attacked us in swarms and we spent more time plucking them out of each other than taking pictures :lol: :lol: As a matter of fact, we brought half a dozen of these annoying beasties home with us. They are very good at hiding in the creases of your clothing!

Many Munros offer multiple routes and combinations, but Gulvain is usually climbed from Gleann Fionnlighe, unless one wants to do a multi-day traverse or maybe add Braigh nan Uamhachan for a circular, but for us the amount of ascent for the Munro only (over 1200m!) was enough to drop any ideas of adventurous routes.

Track_GULVAIN 22,8KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We parked in the large layby by the viaduct and crossed the A830 to pick the track into Gleann Fionnlighe. The morning was rather cloudy but forecast suggested some sunny spells later in the afternoon so we were full of hope for good views from the summit - when we eventually get there!
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Looking south to some of Ardgour peaks:
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Not much to say about the walk-in apart from one expression:
Bl****dy keds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: :evil: :evil: :evil:
Fionn Lighe - the layer of the beast!
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I was glad to see the bulky shape of Gulvain in front of us - maybe on higher ground we would be free from the wee black army!
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I charged up the well-worn path hoping that keds would not follow. Well, some of them did but thankfully, the light breeze on higher ground prevented them from attacking in swarms.
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Again, I can't say much about the long slog up the southern slopes. The official WH route defines it simply as "a steep grind of over 700m" and I don't think I can find a better description.
The going gets tough:
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The main positive of the long push up Gulvain are the views. The panorama of Gleann Fionnlighe with the Ardgour tops on the horizon makes up for the pain and tears...
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Higher up, the ground becomes more rocky, but a well worn path is easy to follow:
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After what felt like neverending march up the green slope, we reached what we thought was the southern top, but it turned out, we were still another 100 m below it... The true summit can be seen to the right hand side:
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Views from the 855m shoulder:
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Looking back south to Gleann Fionnlighe from just below the southern top:
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The lower top (961m) is marked with a trig point, not the only Munro with a trig not on the true summit. The only other one I can think of at the moment is Slioch but I'm sure there are more examples.
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OK, after a short snack break on the lower top, we continued to the true summit. After the long, painful slog up the lower top, the ridge traverse was pure pleasure.
Summit in sight:
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Meall a'Phubuill, one of the lesser known Corbetts which is unfair as this is one of the more entertaining ones (if you walk the whole length of the ridge from Glen Loy):
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The final ascent:
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Kevin on the summit with Lucy (her 129th Munro):
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It was surprisingly quiet on the summit, no wind at all, but it was, as we were soon to experience, a silence before the storm :wink: We sat down by the cairn to have some tea and a sandwich, but within seconds, we were attacked by both midges and keds (as if they joined forces to make our life a misery!). We quickly swallowed our lunch and got up. Only by moving around constantly, we could keep the wee black army away...
Running around the summit:
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Kevin in his element, despite grey cloud he took some interesting photos.
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The lower top and the southern views, including Loch Shiel:
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Isle of Mull?
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Zoom to Streap, another cracking Corbett:
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Panoramic snap - the peaks of Ardgour and Glenfinnian:
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Panther on the move :lol: :lol: :lol: The western and northern sky still cloudy:
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Clag lifting off Ben Nevis:
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Heading back to the lower top - at least as soon as we started descending, we were back in the breeze and the wee black army retreated back to the summit fortress :lol:
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We retraced our steps back to the southern top then started the long, knee-jerking descent back to Gleann Fionnlighe, followed by the 6km walk down the glen to return to the car. Keds still chased us, but at least midges were less active in the afternoon sun. Only after returning home, we realized that we climbed over 1200m (I don't know how but GPS said we did!) so no wonder our muscles were screaming.
I think we were unlucky to find ourselves in the middle of the ked hell that day :lol: but it seems the ked season is slowly heading for an end, well, I hope so!

Two more TR's still to write, both on entertaining, scrambling routes, so watch this space, still more to come from the meowing one :wink: