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From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter


Postby rockhopper » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:55 pm

Route description: Beinn Dearg - the Four Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Am Faochagach, Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Seana Bhraigh

Date walked: 12/04/2012

Time taken: 19.5 hours

Distance: 40.6 km

Ascent: 2690m

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Thursday 12 – Friday 13 April 2012

Munros: Seana Bhraigh, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Am Faochagach

Distance: 40.6km
Ascent: 2,690m
Time: 19.5hrs approx (excl camp)
Attendees: me

Ever since I first saw photos of Seana Bhraigh and Beinn Dhearg, I’ve wanted to get up to this area to explore for myself. Because they’re spread in a linear fashion, they tend to be climbed in separate two or three day trips. However, with the help of a bike, it seemed to make sense to combine them all into one trip with an overnight camp. I suspect the fitter among us could cover it all off in one day but there was no way I was going to attempt that especially given the wintry conditions I was likely to encounter.

The advantage of starting from the south would have been to reduce the ascent by 300m against going from the north. However, that would mean the river crossing early on in the walk and a finishing cycle of 17km mostly uphill which I didn’t relish. Accordingly, I opted to start at the north end at Inverlael.


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I stopped briefly at the western end of Loch Glascarnoch to hide my bike in the wooded area beside the road locking it to a tree. I then drove up the walkers car park at Inverlael just beside the phone box.

Got ready for the off and shouldered my big rucksack. Despite only starting off with 1litre of water, it still weighed just on 19kg because I was carrying additional winter equipment. Managed to reduce that a bit later on due to the weather and having to put on the waterproofs. In any case, the bioflex system in the rucksack helps transfer the load well and made it seem not as heavy.

I set off up the good track signposted for Beinn Dearg until I reached a detour due to timber felling. Switched over to the north side of the river and kept going – the detour wasn’t resignposted and I was making such good progress that I missed the crossing back over the river. Didn’t lose too much time fortunately but did have to go back a bit.

Headed up past the ruins at Glesguaib

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Then split off the main track and headed more steeply up into the hills. The rain/snow started at this point so I’d to stop for waterproofs – it was a shame as the weather had been good up to this point.

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I then followed the stalkers tracks eastwards across fairly boggy land – managed to lose and regain the track several times. There were several water crossings required but managed these with dry boots so no problems really.

Higher up the weather was worsening significantly with some fairly heavy snow and strong winds. I was beginning to wonder whether I could manage the route as planned but decided to complete Seana Bhraigh first then make a decision.

By now I was up around the 700m mark and walking past the small lochans through Coire an Lochain Sgeirich.

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More snow and some frozen surfaces but in between showers there were some views of the surroundings. The track came to an end and I headed NE towards the top of the Coire Glas which drops down to Loch a Chadha Dheirg. Still snowing quite heavily, I left the rucksack against a large rock and covered it with the rain cover. Taking some essentials and my ice axe, I headed off down the corrie. There was a large slab of snow which I walked round then down over boggy ground close to the Allt.

I then made my way round the head of Cadha Dearg just north of the loch and headed up towards the 906m top. Given that I couldn’t see much, I decided against the top and veered round towards Seana Bhraigh – down to flatter ground then up the reasonably easy slope to the top.

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The summit affords great views not only of the surrounding hills but also the steep cliffs leading up to it. It’s perched up high almost at the very edge so I’d to be careful not to go too close.

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Fortunately the weather cleared up and I could see a lot more than before.

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I then retraced my steps back down and round the head of Cadha Dearg taking more photos on the way.

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Approaching Coire Glas, I could also now see more of the way back up.

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Got to my rucksack, brushed off the snow and put my ice axe away. With the improving weather, I now decided to keep going albeit realising that it was lightly to be mixed.

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I headed off SW across fairly open and boggy ground. I could clearly see the route to approach Eididh nan Clach Geala and picked a route up through the rocks to get to the ridge.

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The rocks seemed to be in lines so I headed slightly further east to try to avoid too many “ups and downs”.

With the improving weather there were more views of the hills to the north and closer at hand.

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It was then just a matter of walking SW across varied ground before the final climb up to the summit of Eididh nan Clach Geala.

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I now had better views of where I was going next – towards Meall nan Ceapraichean. I could also see Beinn Dearg in the distance but would hold off on a decision until nearer the time.

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Headed off towards Meall nan Ceapraichean with some further views to the west.

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It’s a straightforward walk round the head of the corrie above Lochan a Chnapaich and it wasn’t long before I was at the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean.

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Beinn Dearg was now even clearer being just the other side of the bealach.

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Also had a view out over Loch Broom.

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Looking backwards I could see Seana Bhraigh in the distance.

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I then started to head off southwards towards the bealach beneath Beinn Dearg.

View east towards Loch Tuath.

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and over to Beinn Dearg

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Not long before I got to the bealach beneath Beinn Dearg. On the way down Meall nan Ceapraichean, the cloud and snow had rolled in again and it was still snowing on and off. I had hoped to get further round before setting up the tent but decided that with the deteriorating weather and a plentiful water supply close by, now would be a good time. Beinn Dearg could wait until tomorrow.

I found a place slightly further down the track and set up the tent. The ground underneath was quite rocky but I managed to get the tent pins secured. Filled up my collapsible 2l water bottle and got into the tent as quickly as I could. When I’d found the spot originally, it was sheltered from the wind. However, the wind was now getting up so fingers crossed that the tent would hold.

Cooked up dinner and relaxed. The wind and snow were off and on but not constant and not particularly strong although it did seem to have got a lot colder. I’d brought a new gas canister with me but it didn’t like the cold at all – I had to keep shaking it to get it to work so brewing up took a bit longer than expected.

Stuck the camera out the tent and took a quick photo just before retiring for the night.

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The next morning the weather seemed to have cleared a bit. Not too much snow had fallen and the little there was on the tent was easily shaken off. The top of Beinn Dearg was in clag though.

Couple of photos of the view from the tent towards Loch Broom and immediately below Beinn Dearg.

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I’d put the gas canister in the bottom of sleeping bag overnight to keep it warm. This worked a treat for a short time – the stove fired up well then dwindled away again due to the cold so had to keep shaking the canister again. Had breakfast and got packed up.

Headed up towards Beinn Dearg – view eastwards from higher up on the bealach.

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I left the rucksack beside a large boulder at the head of the track and set off for Beinn Dearg. The weather had closed in again so it was basically a case of following the wall upwards. Being early and the sun not showing, the track beside the wall was very icy so I’d to follow close by it instead. Further up I crossed over the wall to head more directly towards the summit.

Got to the summit with no views at all.

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I then headed back down but this time went to the south of the wall for much of the way which seemed a bit easier and less icy.

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The wall or dry stone dyke runs up and right along the summit ridge of Beinn Dearg and is known as the famine wall. I gather it was built in the mid 1840s during the potato famine by starving crofters in return for food – the belief was that providing assistance to the crofters without getting anything in return would result in some form of moral degradation so the wall was built in return for the assistance. Lowlanders seem to think that the crofters weren’t suffering from the failure of the potato crop but instead they were idle and didn’t work hard enough !

View back as it started to clear up

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Got down, picked up my rucksack and headed off towards Cona' Mheall past the small lochan on the way.

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Straightforward walk up Cona' Mheall

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with further views including down to Loch a Choire Ghranda.

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and back where I’d been

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Arrived at the summit of Cona' Mheall and could see the remainder of the day in the distance

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Looking back again

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I now had to descend Cona' Mheall to get to the head of Loch Prille. This was the section of the walk about which I’d been most concerned. I’d read that it was very steep to begin with and difficult to find a line down through the crags. This certainly turned out to be the case. In the end I had a fair bit of upping and downing to find a way down and on several occasions was extremely glad I had my ice axe due to the levels of accumulated snow on the steeper sections. With snow in places, the ground was steep with slippery grass and rocks and took somewhat longer than I’d hoped to descend but got there in the end.

This is the view back up Cona' Mheall – still not entirely sure how I got down !

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View over the top of the waterfall at the head of Loch Prille

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and further down towards the lochs and the Allt Lair

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Looking back to Cona' Mheall from lower down

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I stopped for a break and some food on a ledge overlooking the waterfall.

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Back up Cona' Mheall

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Had a good view of the waterfall and could’ve sat there all day but had to get on. It looks as though there’s only a narrow stretch to cross the waterfall where the Allt leaves Loch Prille but just back from the start of the drop there’s a set of rocky ledges which I used to cross carefully using the poles for balance. Dry feet at the other side and I then had the easy walk southwards.

First up and over Meallan Ban which has a rather large well built cairn and good views all round.

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Then off on the short walk down to the bealach and up Am Faochagach.

Reached the top in a relatively short time.

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I could see some more bad weather rolling in and set off on the final return leg.

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Further down I saw two walkers in the distance and shouted a hello to them as they headed towards Am Faochagach. Then southwards over moorland and peat bogs until I reached the Abhainn a Gharbhrain where I knew there was no alternative but to get wet.

Boots, socks and trousers off, flipflops on with poles to balance and I crossed the river. The water only came up to about knee height and it wasn’t too difficult in the end.

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I now had to get back to the bike, cycle to the car and get back to Glasgow in time to pick up my wife and sons from their London trip. I went as fast as I could back to the road but had to detour westwards to rejoin the road by the bridge and avoid another river crossing.

Allowing time for the drive back to Glasgow, I now didn’t have enough time for the 17km cycle which meant I wouldn’t be back in time. I’ve never tried hitching a lift before but I crossed the road and stuck out my thumb as I walked the short section back towards the wood and my bike. Two cars and a van passed with no luck until I realised that one of the cars had stopped and was reversing back towards me. Turned out that the driver had been climbing in Glencoe, was on his way to Ullapool, had completed the munros a couple of years ago and had often been the recipient of lifts in the past. My luck was in and many thanks to him. As a result, I made it back to Glasgow in time (remembering to pick up the bike on the way past).

I’d been up here since late Sunday when I started with Fionn Bheinn in the rain. Very varied weather over the week but had a great time.
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:04 pm

Great stuff Rockhopper, you've had a busy few days Munro bagging :D Good to see you got a lift and made it back to Glasgow in time. I'm sure your wife would have understood if you were late, after all theres not many things more important than Munro bagging :lol:
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby monty » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:21 pm

Another Great report Rockhopper. Was up there on the 7th and went around in complete clag all the way so nice to see what i missed. Top effort for the week. :D
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby mrssanta » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:22 pm

That's the way to do it. I've been scheming routes for these and come up with something like this so it's great to see it. But I've no idea when I'll eventually do this, so many hills, so little time!!!
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:35 pm

Just new ther was a rockhopper epic trip on the way and here it is,brilliant RH.
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby Klaasloopt » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:52 pm

Great! I love this area, and I love your pics and enjoyed the report. Photo Competition stuff.
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby malky_c » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:55 pm

That looked adventurous :D . Good to see you're finally managing to hit some of the NW hills - these in particular are beauties. Unfortunately I now have a pretty poor internet connection so I seem to spend most of the time trying to upload my own reports rather than looking at other people's :? . Glad I waited for these photos to display 8)
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby FestinaLente » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:28 pm

End of June 2011 I walked Seana Bhraigh then overnight in bothy in Gleann Beag. Next day Am Faochagach and the trudge up to Cona Mheall and the long walk out to Inverlael. So with the bothy no great distance away the walk can be done without having to carry a tent.
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby simon-b » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:43 pm

I'm glad to see your plans for this area came off, Rockhopper.

It's interesting seeing all that snow in mid April after that warm sunshine I had up there in March. Your route from Cona' Mheall to Am Faochagach looks particularly adventurous. And the river crossing must have been colder than when I did it!

I'm glad to see you got views from most of the summits, and the air clarity looks good on your photos. It looks like you had a great trip, and thanks for an excellent report.
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby pigeon » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:53 pm

Well done rockhopper ,quite a week you had up there,an impressive amount of hills in trying condition :clap: s
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby dogplodder » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:09 pm

Wow. There's something so compelling about that photo of your tent looking down on Loch Broom. I've been there many times but never camped and just the thought of being there alone in wild weather is awesome! The only one of that bunch I've still to do is Seana Bhraigh - and for me doing that one on its own will be enough of an achievement! :lol:
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby kenny3760 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:10 pm

That was a really enjoyable report and pictures.
The difference in atmosphere in the pictures between when it was sunny and when it was cloudy and broody is great to see. Well done on camping up there in that weather, nnot something I really fancy.
Super stuff all round
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:24 pm

Grand report and some excellent photos gu dearbh :D

Not surprisingly i'm pleased you mentioned the famine wall ,along with the destitution road's these show the true suffering of the Gaidheal in "An Giorta Mor" in the 1840's .
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby dannyboy2003 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:31 pm

like monty we did this walk a few days befpore you...a lot less snow and about 20m visibility all day!!! these look like great hills will definately go back...i knew youd get better weather nearer the end of the week!

m
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Re: From Seana Bhraigh to Am Faochagach with an overnighter

Postby Scotjamie » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:33 pm

Impressive pics and simply epic stuff rockhopper - thoroughly enjoyed this WR
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