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Mullardoch Round (Radio Edit)

Mullardoch Round (Radio Edit)


Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:37 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Riabhachan, An Socach (Affric), An Socach (Mullardoch), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Carn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch), Mam Sodhail, Sgurr na Lapaich, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich

Date walked: 07/09/2013

Time taken: 24.5 hours

Distance: 53 km

Ascent: 4508m

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The last long weekend of this year and a chance to do something long and involved. Of course, right in the middle of stalking season meant an added complication. I had the options of the Mullardoch round or the Fisherfields in mind, with the preferred option being Mullardochs as there were more hills and it really needed 3 days. Had to wait to speak to the stalker, Mr Fraser, late on Thursday night to be sure, but he OKd the route as long as we kept to the ridges. Yay - a dozen munros lay within our grasp.

I had some apprehensions about the remoteness of the western section of this route - it was going to be a long way from anywhere if we hit problems. Having been up in the Monadh Ruadh for several days and having managed longish walks with full packs did give some comfort however. The weather forecast, which had been great at the start of the week, had steadily worsened to being an occluded front, where basically anything was possible, so that was also a cause for some unease. Set off about 3.30 on friday afternoon for a leisurely drive up to Cannich then 9 miles of windy single track road out to the Mullardoch dam. There were a few cars and tents already there when we arrived just gone 8 and we decided to pitch near to the car parking area, dogding the cowpats :lol: Just as we got the tent up the rain started and the wind got up. Great!

Saturday morning found low lying cloud and a high chance of rain. The forecast had promised showers, but we got fairly consistent wetness ranging from drizzle to pouring.

Through the gate past the dam
Image
P1040104 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The Chisholm Stone
Image
P1040105 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Our route took us along the Allt Mullardoch rather than heading up Mullach na Moile and on paper this had looked a gentler route of ascent. However, the price to pay for more gradual climbing up Carn nan Gobhar was trudging through wet boggy heather over disappearing tracks for what seemed like eternity, towards a target that you couldn't make out for clag.

Image
P1040108 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking back down our route up
Image
P1040109 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Eventually, after about 2.5 hours we made it to the bealach between Creag Dhubh and CnG and it was a relief to find firm stony ground under our feet. Visibility was poor and the wind howling around us as we got to the summit. I'd read that the true summit was the second one you came to but I could see no sign of another cairn in the clag. Decided the one we were at must be the right one and after a very brief photo set off north to make for Sgurr na Lapich - the hill of the bogs, great name! After about 5 minutes toiling through clag I decided that we needed to go back and check that we'd got the right cairn... :roll: Retraced our steps and yes, indeed, according to the satmap we'd been right (the different route from WH description meant that we didn't hit the 980m cairn on the way up). Relieved, we tracked back to the spot we'd dumped the sacks and trudged on in the mist.

Terra Firma at last - up the spine of CnG
Image
P1040110 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The correct summit cairn...
Image
P1040111 by 23weasels, on Flickr

An initially rocky descent gave way to grassier paths and occasionally a momentary window would open in the clag and show us there were hills and things out there. It was pretty miserable going, though, and I hoped it wasn't going to be like this the whole of today. A fairly steep rocky climb brought us out onto the narrow top of SnL, followed by a steep descent to Bealach toll an lochain. The path seemed to lead to an almost vertical scree slope, so we contoured SW and found an easier route. By this time the clag was starting to clear and we got more frequent views up to An Riabhachan ahead and the hills to the North. I could make out the imposing shapes of the Torridon hills - an area yet to be explored for me.

Claggy wetness
Image
P1040113 by 23weasels, on Flickr

There are some hills out there!
Image
P1040116 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit SnL
Image
P1040119 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Beag & Mor
Image
P1040122 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Views N to Loch Monar
Image
P1040129 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040130 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ahead to An Riabhachan
Image
P1040132 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Calavie
Image
P1040137 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Monar
Image
P1040138 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sickly Child wondering just how much further to top of AR
Image
P1040139 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"That's it on the crest ahead!"
Image
P1040140 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View along to An Socach
Image
P1040142 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040144 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ridge from AR to AS
Image
P1040145 by 23weasels, on Flickr

N to Torridon
Image
P1040148 by 23weasels, on Flickr

S across Loch Mullardoch to Beinn Fhionnlaidh & Carn Eighe
Image
P1040149 by 23weasels, on Flickr

An Socach
Image
P1040152 by 23weasels, on Flickr

W to Meall Shuas & Kintail
Image
P1040154 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View N from AS
Image
P1040155 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040157 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit AS
Image
P1040158 by 23weasels, on Flickr

On the last stretch up to the summit of AS we were overtaken by a couple that had started out a couple of hours after us and were planning to head over Mullach na Dheiragain & Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan before ending up at the Altbeithe Hostel ( and presumably coming back over the remaining 6 the next day) - as it was already after 5pm by this point I didn't fancy their trek much. Stopped at the top to admire the stunning views out to the Cuillin ridge and those wonderful Torridon tops.

W to the Cuillin
Image
P1040159 by 23weasels, on Flickr

N to Torridon
Image
P1040160 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Back along L Mullardoch
Image
P1040161 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Cruoshie
Image
P1040164 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Torridon again
Image
P1040166 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Grassy ridge down to Meall Shuas & Kintail beyond
Image
P1040169 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sunrays on Kintail hills
Image
P1040172 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View up L Mullardoch from Meall Shuas
Image
P1040173 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The descent down Meall Shuas seemed to take forever - a mix of thick heather and boggy peat underfoot - a few slips on the rear end were "enjoyed". My knees were sore after the day's exploits, Allison's were much, much worse. It had taken a lot longer than anticipated to cover the ground today - I'd hoped to be finished around 5-5.30, but it was after 7 by the time we chose a campspot in the sandy flats of L Mullardoch.

Snail's pace day
Image
P1040175 by 23weasels, on Flickr

This posed a couple of serious problems. Firstly was the state of the Sickly One's knees - she was really hurting and I wasn't sure she was going to be able to manage another 2 days of full pack walking. In the remote parts. To her credit she reckoned she would, but that she'd "just be slow". This left us with problem number 2 - we only had another 2 days to finish the outing and get back home - what if we set off into darkest Killian forest and failed to get back in time. Day 2 was a real committer as there was no easy route out if things went wrong. Seemed to me we had 3 options - head back along the loch shores tomorrow and do no more hills; just go for the route we'd originally planned and take a big chance on her knees holding out; or cut the route short and miss out MnD & SnC which would mean not venturing so far off the beaten track. We decided to sleep on it and decide in the morning.

Pitch
Image
P1040176 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of sleeping done as the wind, which was menat to be slight, got up considerably overnight and changed direction so that it was hitting us broadsides in intermittent but powerful gusts. Allison was still feeling her knee sore in the morning, but reckoned she could do something. We had a look at the map and saw a stalker's path heading up Gleann a Choilich towards the bealach between An Socach and Mam Sodhail. This looked like a reasonable ascent and would allow us to do the 5 eastern hills, plus perhaps An Socach, whilst avoiding the foray into the wilds around Ceathreamhnan. Sorted! Although we'd promised to keep out of the coires, it was sunday so stalking shouldn't be happening anyway. Let's go for it :D

The start of this section involved wading through the 2 rivers to get to the eastern side of Abhainn a Choilich. Both up to mid-calf, so yay! wet boots from the outset :roll: We stopped at one of the streams to replenish our water supply (the last chance we'd get for 2 days) and headed the 6 or 7km up the valley. One thing to note is that what seems to be a stalker's path and has been used by ATVs isn't necessarily the stalker's path on the map :oops: We discovered this and had to gain about 200m to keep on track, which was a bit of a blow, especially as the going was squelchy and slow through that choice combination of heather and bog. Eventually we flopped over onto the bealach and took stock of the situation. We reckoned we'd be able to dump the sacks and head on over the kilometre or so to An Socach without risking too much knee trouble, then head back towards Mam Sodhail and the others. It was a relief to shed the pounds and head over the 906m top before the ridiculously insignificant peak of AS, dwarved as it was by the towering presence of Ceathreamhnan. We trotted back to our packs and reloaded, ready to take on the might of Mam Sodhail.

Abhainn a Choilich
Image
P1040178 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Path up the valley
Image
P1040180 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View back to our start point
Image
P1040184 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
Image
P1040186 by 23weasels, on Flickr

N from the bealach
Image
P1040188 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ceathreamhnan from summit AS
Image
P1040192 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Beinn Fhionnlaidh and L Mullardoch from AS
Image
P1040194 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe beyond
Image
P1040195 by 23weasels, on Flickr

N from MS
Image
P1040197 by 23weasels, on Flickr


MS is a big hill, rising almost 550m from the bealach, but a good path cuts up the side of the hill at a steady pace, so we didn't get too puffed out on the ascent. We bypassed the 1068 top, crossed the1102 one with great views to An Tudair then made the summit of MS, past a strange ruined building near the top up to the massive walled edifice that marks the summit. I gather that MS was the principal trig point for the NW of Scotland when OS were doing their original mapping - had hoped there might be something inside the walled area, but no, just flagstones :(

East to An Tudair
Image
P1040196 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Torridon hills from MS
Image
P1040199 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ruin near top MS
Image
P1040201 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit MS, Cuillin beyond
Image
P1040202 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Carn Eighe from the huge trig point/cairn on MS
Image
P1040205 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We started down the descent to Carn Eighe, meeting an old timer who was on his way up, having done Fhionnlaidh & Eighe already. The path down was quite steep and rocky in places, but not too much height was lost before we once again started heading up to Carn Eighe - another massive hill.

Descent to CE
Image
P1040207 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit CE
Image
P1040209 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Fhionnlaidh & Coire Lochain
Image
P1040211 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Bealach beag and Fhionnlaidh
Image
P1040212 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We had another decision to make here - where were we going to camp? One of the problems about doing this section is that there's nowhere low level to set up, unless you head down into the coires and lose masses of height. I'd originally planned to camp on bealach beag, between Fhionnlaidh and Stob coire Lochain. However this would mean descending with full packs, pitching and having to re-ascend Carn Eighe the next morning fully laden before we got on our way. There was next to no wind and I looked around for other options. Just over the top of CE, towards the bealach with Stob a'choire Dhomhain, there was a flat area with a couple of wee lochans - looked OK and was on tomorrow's route. We could leave the sacks at the top of CE, head down and back to Fhionnlaidh unladen then pitch for the night. As long as the wind didn't get up later on, we'd be fine :lol:

The descent from CE was rocky in places, but Fhionnlaidh was a stroll - a nice grassy lump that we breezed up. Good views from the top over to yesterday's hills and Loch Mullardoch.

View back to CE from bealach beag
Image
P1040213 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Mullardoch from top of BF
Image
P1040215 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Last for the day
Image
P1040218 by 23weasels, on Flickr

N to Torridon
Image
P1040221 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Towards Stob a choire Dhomhail from slopes CE
Image
P1040224 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040225_Panorama by 23weasels, on Flickr

We re-ascended CE, collected our packs and gazed at the fantastic panorama of hills all around, before heading down over the top of CE to our chosen spot. Still no wind! I've never really high-level camped before and this was at 1104m, which is quite high :lol: I was a bit worried that should a storm start up during the night we had very few options for escape, so I secured the tent with some boulders and kept fingers crossed. However, not a breath of wind all night, amazingly enough. Lay and watched the sky turn pink and deer appear then disappear on the horizon.

Pitch behind summit CE
Image
P1040229 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View from the tent
Image
P1040231 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View down to BF
Image
P1040233 by 23weasels, on Flickr

One thing about high-level camping was the temperature! Although there had been no windchill the temp had dropped pretty low overnight. I had decided against packing the 4-season sleeping bags, as they hadn't been needed at "normal" level, but it took a bit of persuasion to get out into the cold air. Fortunately it was a braw morning.

Image
P1040235 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Allison's knees didn't seem to be much the worse for yesterday's efforts - probably cos we'd been able to dump the sacks for some of the route. Today's walk looked an easier one, with only the rounded summits of Tom a Choinich and Toll Creagach to surmount. We did have the interesting looking ridge down to Sron Garbh to encounter first though.
Loading up sacks which were lighter on account of us having eaten most of our food already (and having drunk most of our water too) we set off around 8.30.

Packing up
Image
P1040237 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We trotted along towards the jaggy teeth of the ridge between CE and Stob Coire Dhomhail and enjoyed a wee scramble over them, with good views down into the coire below, where a number of deer were congregated. A thoroughly enjoyable ridge walk.

Image
P1040242 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040243 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040245 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040247 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040249 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking N over L Mullardoch
Image
P1040254 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View to Tom a Choinich
Image
P1040255 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View back along the ridge
Image
P1040256 by 23weasels, on Flickr

A steep stony scramble down Sron Garbh with good views south to Nevis and Glen Affric.

The Ben
Image
P1040259 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr nan Laipich across L Mullardoch
Image
P1040261 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Another view back to the jaggy ridge
Image
P1040264 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Top Tom a Choinich
Image
P1040265 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Zany clouds over Glen Affric
Image
P1040267 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Affric
Image
P1040268 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View to Toll Creagach
Image
P1040270 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Lovely spongy, mossy walk to TC
Image
P1040272 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Toll Creagach was reached without much additional effort and rewarded us with some fine views over to the Strathfarrar hills. Dark clouds were rising around us and we wondered if we'd make it down before the rain hit. Had an early lunch at the summit (trig and cairn here), I allowed myself the last of my Old Pulteney to celebrate another 10 hills.

Image
P1040274 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Strathfarrar hills
Image
P1040276 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Toasting the top
Image
P1040277 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Our descent route was to head along the ridge of Doire Tana, rather than the usual track down the Fraoch-coire, in case there was any stalking going on - adding a few km to the end of the day, and another bit of ascent. We hadn't heard any shooting the whole weekend, and it probably would have been fine to go the coire route, but I was going to go down the ridge. Made the 892m top, which had another substantial shelter built on it, as well as a rather naked trig point, then turned to descend down the shoulder of the hill through thick heather. A long haul down steep slopes, with the inevitable slips and stumbles, but we aimed for the houses we could see near the dam. Everything seemed to be going well until we hit - deer fence...Walked along it for a bit and found a gate, then had to find a way out of the enclosure - then we discovered we were in another fenced area - oh man, would we never get home? Finally we got alomst to the road at the dam to discover it was a fenced off steep drop of about 20m - no way down there. Managed to find the edge of the fence and squeeze round over a drop before getting back onto the road and walking the km or so back to the car parking area. Was much relieved to see my wee motor all in one piece. the descent had taken longer than I'd imagined - we'd been on TC at midday and I expected to be at the car by 2 at the latest, but it was 3 by the time we set off back down the road. An enjoyable weekend, even if we hadn't managed all the hills we'd set out to do, and the nice problem of working out which route to take to do Ceathreamhnan in future - from Glen Affric or Iron Lodge?

Dam
Image
P1040282 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Unnamed 892 top
Image
P1040283 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Skeletal trig
Image
P1040284 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Dam again
Image
P1040286 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View up L Mullardoch
Image
P1040288 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Mullardoch House
Image
P1040290 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View up L Mullardoch
Image
P1040291 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Deer fences everywhere
Image
P1040293 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Eventual escape!
Image
P1040294 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Sealbhanach
Image
P1040295 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Whew - it's still there!
Image
P1040296 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Trip stats (glitch due to changing battery skews the ascent)
Image
P1040297 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Rainbow over the Bookil on the way home
Image
P1040298 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Attachments

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Last edited by weaselmaster on Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby laconic surf » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:30 am

Fantastic, epic stuff WM.
But, seeing as you only took up hillwalking last year, it does beg the question what on earth did you do with yourself before? :wtf: -And will you go back to it when you compleat? :lol: :lol:
Tremendous effort :clap:
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:36 am

That was a long read -but a good one! Some fantastic long distance views of the surrounding hills and some wild looking country. I envy folk who haven't yet been walking in Torridon...
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby basscadet » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:07 am

Oh that looked fantastic.. You are fair chomping through the list :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:44 am

Hats off! That's some epic you did :clap: :clap: :clap:

Mam Sodhail was my first Munro and it still feels sentimental :wink: We never thought about tackling all these hills in one go, maybe because we live nearby so we keep coming back to take them "in chunks".
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby PeteR » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:24 pm

Yet another Alistair and Alison epic :clap: You really do like your big walks :lol:

I was actually near you both on Sunday, doing the 4 north Mullardoch Munros. I thought it was your car I saw parked up there. Glad you got back ok, even though you have two pesky Affric Munros to return too :roll:

I'd once had the idea of doing the round of Mullardoch like you as part of a three day hike, but standing on the Mullardoch An Socach it became clear to me that such folly would have destroyed me :lol:

So massive respect from me to the both of you on completing the 10 :clap: Super hills and great views :D 8)
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:45 pm

PeteR wrote:I was actually near you both on Sunday, doing the 4 north Mullardoch Munros. I thought it was your car I saw parked up there. Glad you got back ok, even though you have two pesky Affric Munros to return too :roll:

I'd once had the idea of doing the round of Mullardoch like you as part of a three day hike, but standing on the Mullardoch An Socach it became clear to me that such folly would have destroyed me :lol:

So massive respect from me to the both of you on completing the 10 :clap: Super hills and great views :D 8)


It's a small world, ain't it!
I'm sure you'd not have been destroyed, just a bit sore from lugging a big pack around :roll:
The views were great though - I was struck by the contrast of standing on Carn Eighe, looking east & seeing no hills, looking west and seeing nothing but hills. Amazing :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round (The edited version)

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:10 pm

Leugh gle mhath agus coisich mor gu dearbh ....... very good reas and a big walk indeed :clap:

Nearly 200 now a bhalaich :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round (Radio Edit)

Postby mrssanta » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:23 pm

I'd love to do this round sometime - but will be allowing a couple of "spare" days for it - we aren't very fast! That was great. so pleased the weather improved for you
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Re: Mullardoch Round (Radio Edit)

Postby ceaser » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:40 pm

well done Alistair and Alison ,another load of blue balloons in the bag ,everytime i see you have a new report up ,i have to make sure i have a spare half hour to read it :D
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Re: Mullardoch Round (Radio Edit)

Postby rockhopper » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:21 pm

Pity you didn't manage the 12 but a great result nonetheless - it's certainly hard going at times but you do get rewarded with some cracking views. As you say, water sources can be scarce but I can remember managing to find a wee spring to the SE of the bealach between An Socach and Mam Sodhail - also, on the lower west slopes of Carn Eige when skirting round it towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Have also just read your AE report - well done Allison on getting half way :clap: - cheers :)
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