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Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric trio

Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric trio


Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:05 am

Route description: Càrn Eige and Mam Sodhail

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Càrn Eige), Càrn Eige, Mam Sodhail

Date walked: 30/05/2014

Distance: 28 km

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Met up with Huff_n_Puff (aka Roger & Liz and their spaniels Biggles & Bertie) at Glen Affric car park and gave them a lift back to Chisholm bridge, leaving their car behind in the car park. We were thankful for this move when we were footsore and weary later in the day! :wink:

Set off on the good track up Gleann nam Fiadh in beautiful morning sunshine.

Cone-like peak of Sron Garbh is where we were heading once we'd passed Tom a' Choinich
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Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh and Sgurr na Lapaich
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The path follows the river and when it forks you take the right fork towards Sron Garbh. If you lose the path around the point it crosses the stream (which we did) you aim for the grassy shoulder straight ahead and as height is gained it becomes more distinct.

Path leading to bealach between Sron Garbh and An Leth-chreag
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Rocky staircase of Sron Garbh straight ahead
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From the bealach there's a first view of Loch Mullardoch to the north. We met someone at the bealach who had camped overnight high up. His rucksack looked improbably small for all I imagined you'd have to carry for an overnighter and when I commented on this he said he didn't have a sleeping bag - and yes it was cold! :shock: I suppose it's a choice between a warmer night or a lighter pack to carry! From the bealach the route goes up a steep rocky section with a loose path. But thanks to WH we knew to look out for a rocky man-made staircase built by stalkers on the crest of the ridge, which was preferable to going up steep loose gravel.

At the top of Sron Garbh is a level grassy area which was great for Jack and Tess (who are approaching geriatric canine status) to lie down and chill out and the young spaniels Biggles and Bertie to have a race around investigating every new smell. I don't think I've ever seen dogs who wagged their tails so vigorously all day and even after 17 miles those tails were still wagging! :D

Does the fact you are sitting down by any chance mean food is about to appear? :angel:
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Loch a' Choire Dhomhain
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View south west (zoomed)
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Ridge snaking west over Stob Coire Dhomhnuill to Carn Eige, at 1183m the highest point north of the Great Glen
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Across Gleann nam Fiadh to Mam Sodhail - where we would end up later
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This next stretch was for me the most enjoyable part of the day - fantastic views, glorious weather, narrow ridge path, a little bit of scrambling and still with a spring in my step! :D

Ridge path
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At the pinnacles there was a choice of over the top or the bypass path.

Bypass path
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The trouble with going over the rocky crest was the dogs would try to follow!
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It was somewhere about here we met a couple who had been dropped off by the boatman who ferries walkers along Loch Mullardoch to the foot of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. They commented we had a very long walk ahead which coming from a young fit-looking pair did give me some pause for thought. Had I bitten off more than I could realistically chew? :?

Mam Sodhail and Carn Eige - first climbed with my two sons in 1998
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It was good to be back! :D
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Next target was Beinn Fhionnlaidh
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Coire Lochan
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Descending Carn Eige, Liz and I lost the path and had to negotiate a stony section. I should have checked the WH instructions which said to keep to the crest of the ridge as it slowed us down walking over awkward shaped rocks and by the time we reached Roger in the bealach he looked like he'd been sitting waiting for quite a long time. 8)

North side of Carn Eige and wide grassy Bealach Beag
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We would have to reclimb most of Carn Eige to reach Mam Sodhail on the way back
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It was through commenting on each other's walk reports Liz and I first floated the idea of meeting up. When Liz said they were planning to do the Affric trio she thought I wouldn't be interested as I'd done Mam Sodhail and Carn Eige before. But I jumped at the chance as I'd not done Beinn Fhionnlaidh and apart from getting a lift up Loch Mullardoch by boat the only other way was to repeat the round. 8)

As we walked we talked. We discovered that not only had we both spent many years living in Dundee, but as children had both lived in North Yorkshire within a few miles of each other and, had it not been for the questionable policy of the local authority, would have been at the same secondary school, just one year apart. Amazing. :D

Back to the present. Having been caught out on the Mamores I had carried extra water for the dogs and so had Roger and Liz. But we didn't need it as there were convenient rehydration points scattered along our route which our pooches were happy to use for quenching thirst, cooling off and in Tess's case retrieving rocks by sticking her head under for a long time until she found them. She still has her rock fetish and carried one in her mouth for most of the day. :roll:

At the bealach there were several peaty pools in which Jack had a good wallow in an apparent attempt to join the pack of black dogs he had become an honorary member of for the day. :lol:

Jack trying to pass himself off as a black dog :-P
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I felt I made heavy weather of ascending the steep grassy slope of Beinn Fhionnlaidh and realised I hadn't done enough over the past few months to prepare for a day like this. The gradient eases near the top and I was very pleased to reach the cairn and bag a new one, and a remote one at that, but was feeling a bit concerned by the amount of ascent that still had to be done and how long it was going to take to get back to the car. :o

Loch Mullardoch from Beinn Fhionnlaidh summit
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Biscuit time
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Liz's pic of summit cairn with Mullardoch An Socach behind
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It was cooler now so we decided to drop down a bit to refuel for the long return. A few minutes into the descent I noticed I didn't have on the buff I'd been wearing and wondered if I'd left it lying at the cairn. Liz immediately turned to go back to look for it until I called to her I'd found it in my bag. She must have been feeling pretty tired too but knowing how exhausted I was she wanted to save me having any extra ascent. That was such a kind thing to do and for the whole day I found Roger and Liz such thoughtful walking companions and a pleasure to walk with. :D

We had already discussed the point at which we should bypass the top of Carn Eige - along a grassy terrace running below the boulder field Liz and I got mixed up in on the way down. It was easy to see from far off but when we got nearer it was easy to convince oneself that grassy terrace was lower down, especially since we were motoring along a nice easy path on the level and heading south in the general direction of Mam Sodhail. But it wasn't high enough and Roger rightly climbed the grassy slope to the correct point and waited. By this stage I really had lost the spring in my step and had to pause every few minutes to get my breath. It was then I decided that if the map showed no obstacle I wasn't going to go to the very top of Mam Sodhail. I'd been there before, didn't have to go there again, and would save myself and my dogs that last bit of ascent by traversing round to join the top of the stalker's path we were planning to use for our exit down Coire Leachavie. It somehow helped me mentally to think I had a choice and some control over my situation (not that I had much!). 8)

Liz wasn't all that keen on the idea as the cloud had come in and she didn't want us to split up. Fair enough, she was right of course. So I continued on up the zig zag path. Then just before the final pull to the summit the cloud cleared and I could see a knoll sticking up slightly over to the right, which is where I reckoned I wanted to be. I convinced the others I could easily take myself there and gave them a sample blast on my whistle for locating me if the cloud dropped again.

It only took about ten minutes level walking over grass and stones to reach where I wanted to be and I saw the stalker's shelter I knew to be at the top of the stalker's path we were going down. I saw Roger and Liz arrive at the massive summit cairn, ghostly figures above me in the mist, and sat down to text Pete to tell him we were on our way down and not to wait up as I'd be late. I felt some relief after doing that. :wink:

I heard their voices as they descended the south side of the summit cone towards me, saying they could see Jack - because despite his best efforts he had not succeeded in becoming a black dog! It's not the first time I've been thankful for how visible Jack is on the hill when visibility isn't good. We were quickly reunited and I congratulated Huff_n_Puff on their 150th Munro. :clap:

We then had a look at the map, found our path and headed off to start the long soggy descent.

Coire Leachavie, our chosen descent route
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I didn't remember this being a boggy path when I came up it in July 1998, but with all the snow melt it was certainly sodden this time. Not long after dropping from the lip of the corrie the path disappeared under a swathe of very thick snow and being unsure how stable it was on such a steep slope we avoided going over it, carefully edging down wet grass to rejoin the path lower down. This was the pattern all the way down - following the path then losing it but always picking it up again, sometimes looking more like a burn than a path. :?

Waterfall in Coire Leachavie
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It was a long way. But at last, at last, at last we reached the path that runs along the north side of Loch Affric and I felt like we were nearly home but of course we had about another 4 miles to go to reach the car. 8)

Loch Affric in the evening light
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A cuckoo flew over our heads giving it's trademark call and I wondered how many birds would hear that sound without knowing it could potentially mean the demise of their brood. Roger, Biggles and Bertie disappeared - those great wee dogs still doing their working cocker spaniel thing quartering the terrain with tails a blur. :lol:

That last 4 miles felt like a force march as Liz and I powered along as fast as we could, except that now Jack was going slower and slower and I had to coax him to keep going. We were encouraged to see Affric Lodge and to pass the holiday accommodation and felt it couldn't be much further when a car came towards us. It was Roger coming to meet us and we were ridiculously excited to see him! :thumbup: In no time we were back at Chisholm bridge where my car was parked and I only stopped long enough to change out of my boots into shoes, but keeping on my stinking socks for the drive home. :D

I had to do an emergency stop to avoid a deer hind that bounded out in front of me on the single track road, but apart from that the journey home was uneventful. Jack could hardly walk when he got out of the car and interestingly neither of them have been asking for walks in the last couple of days. It was too long and strenuous a day for dogs of their age, something I have to take on board with regret as I love having them with me on the hill and they love coming. But it will have to be less demanding walks with them from now on. :angel:
Last edited by dogplodder on Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:22 am

Brilliant report, it was a fantastic day, but I was numb the following day and B&B hid in case anyone wanted to take them for a walk :lol: :lol: Jack and Tess did brilliantly on such a long walk, I love the way they look out for you when the going gets tough :D

Been looking at the map, plotting the next one .... :shock: .... :D
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby shredder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:09 am

Well done all of you - that was some hike you did! :clap: :clap:
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby tweedledog » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:24 am

What a splendid gang of dogs! :D
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:35 am

Wow, Affric hills in full glory! :D :D
That rocky ridge between TC and CE looks great! I love narrow ridges with easy scrambling. We have done all Affric Munros (plus the top Sgurr na Lapaich) in different combinations, but somehow never tried this one. A good reason to come back!
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby jepsonscotland » Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:13 am

Great report and what a lovely day. :clap: :clap:
We really must get a dog for the hills, kids are pestering constantly!!
Spaniel or Collie...................
Maybe start a thread!! :lol: :lol:
Well done.
Chris
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:04 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Brilliant report, it was a fantastic day, but I was numb the following day and B&B hid in case anyone wanted to take them for a walk :lol: :lol: Jack and Tess did brilliantly on such a long walk, I love the way they look out for you when the going gets tough :D

Been looking at the map, plotting the next one .... :shock: .... :D


I think you're worse than me - which is saying something! :lol:

Yes, I'm going to miss J & T's company on the bigger days but do feel it was too much for Jack. If only dogs had the same life span as us! :?
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby Beaner001 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:05 pm

Nice report, again this will be useful for a future walk for me. Good to see the dogs all having fun together. Thats the thing with dogs, they would follow you into the depths of hell given the chance, it's really down to us to decide when they can/can't go on. Sure they will have a good amount of smaller walks in them before they hang up their boots :clap:
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:52 pm

What a fantastic walk by both humans and dogs. I can't imagine how tired you must have been but I'm sure it was worth it. The bodies soon recover ready for the next one! Hope the dogs do many more shorter trips with you.
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:13 pm

Great report and pictures, thats what I call a good day out :clap: :clap:
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby scottishkennyg » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:12 pm

Cracking day out there, well done and some great photos to capture the session. :clap:
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:27 pm

Funny enough my dog was out of sorts after the Mullardoch round ended up on the dog asprin for a sore back :o

When you think of it he probably covered 2 -3 times as more ground than me so no wonder haha

Good round :clap:
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:31 pm

shredder wrote:Well done all of you - that was some hike you did! :clap: :clap:


Legs stiff for 2 days - but so worth it! :D
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:06 pm

tweedledog wrote:What a splendid gang of dogs! :D


They got on so well. On the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh Biggles tried to get a little frisky with Jack (think it was a trying for dominance thing rather than celebrating being at the top!) but a low growl from Jack put paid to that idea and after that there was no problem at all. 8) :D
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Re: Jack & Tess join Biggles & Bertie for mammoth Affric tri

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:26 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Wow, Affric hills in full glory! :D :D
That rocky ridge between TC and CE looks great! I love narrow ridges with easy scrambling. We have done all Affric Munros (plus the top Sgurr na Lapaich) in different combinations, but somehow never tried this one. A good reason to come back!


BP you would love that ridge. We're so blessed to have such stunning hills virtually on our doorstep! :D
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