A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire scramble
by HighlandSC » Wed May 11, 2011 10:46 pm
Route description: A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire
Munros included on this walk: A' Chralaig, Mullach Fraoch-choire
Date walked: 30/04/2011
Time taken: 5.75 hours
Distance: 12.8 km
Ascent: 1240m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Date - Sat 30/04/2011
Title - A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire scramble
Route - Start at Loch Cluanie. Anti-clockwise circuit- hills and ridge first, returning through glen
Weather - Dry & sunny / breezy with some strong gusts
People - Me / Barry
Time - 5h 45m
Distance - 12.8km
Ascent - 1240m
Max Altitude - 1120m
To kick off another perfect weekend a trip to Kintail was on. Had my eye on this route for a while since doing a winter skills course on the slope of A'Chralaig last year. An old friend joined me for the first time today- Barry, out for his first walk of the year. As a teenager in the early 90's he clocked up all but 3 of the Munros alongside his walking mad old man, before life got in the way and he never finished them (he will do in the near future). Checking his copy of the Munros book on the way, his notes in it tell him he last did this pair of hills in 1992! We both really enjoyed this route, the highlight being some short scrambling over the pinnacles on the Mullach Fraoch-choire ridge, not to mention the weather and views
The beginning is harsh- straight out of the car and into a steep ascent up to about 750m to pick up the south ridge of A'Chralaig, after which it's slightly easier going and on the ridge proper to the summit at 1120m.
Soon after starting I felt like I was going to collapse, but brushed it off blaming lack of fitness and the unrelenting steepness from the off. By this time Barry was thundering up the hill at a good pace. Next thing I knew I got that sickly feeling all that mattered was throwing off my rucksack and sitting down, head between knees.... Seconds later my McDonalds breakfast was now littering the hillside! But I instantly felt 100% and ready to go. I only had myself to blame- eating McD's junk before going out. I wouldn't have minded- but it was only a bagel and Philadelphia! Go for the full breakfast bagel meal with hash brown and you deserve what you get. Anyway...... I'll stick with me porridge next time.........
Gaining height quickly, the view over Loch Cluanie to the South Glen Shiel Ridge opens up. Click to open large
Final section of ridge toward A'Chralaig summit
Cracking views opening up in all directions.
Looking W toward Knoydart
S to Ben Nevis
Approaching A'Chralaig summit
A'Chralaig summit (looking N along ridge to Mullach Fraoch-choire)
From here it's an easy enough amble along the ridge, with some small ups and downs, to the 1008m top Stob Coire na Cralaig.
Leaving A'Chralaig summit
Approaching Stob Coire na Cralaig
The fun ahead
The ridge narrows increasingly but it's got a thin path all the way and isn't too exposed. The rocky towers can be bypassed easily enough with nothing more than careful footing needed using the bypass paths (there is a decent drop mind you... but no worries). That said, during our return there was a guy who stopped at the start of a bypass path, shouting to his mate that he wasn't sure and wanted to look at it. His mate (who had already completed that section) coaxed him over with shouts of encouragement! We decided to take the bypass paths on our way to the summit and scramble over the pinnacles on our return.
Off we go. The col ahead is the usual descent route- on return from Mullach Fraoch-choire you'd drop off to the W into Coire Odhar for the decent into the glen (we changed plan slightly)
Bypass to E of pinnacles
You then cross over the W side of the second of the 2 main pinnacles.
Looking down from the W side bypass into Coire Odhar
Mullach Fraoch-choire summit
A bit hazy, but we could see across west to the Cuillin ridge on Skye
NE to Glen Affric
360 pano from Mullach Fraoch-choire summit. Click to open LARGE
We had a rest and lunch at the summit, joined by a couple through from Aberdeen. Discussing the route with them, they mentioned their plan for descent- considering it ourselves, we decided we'd take the same way: Instead of dropping into Coire Odhar, we'd stick to the ridge and go back up to the 1008m top Stob Coire na Cralaig
and follow it's SW shoulder off down into the glen- easy in dry conditions-would avoid in anything else due to some of the steeper bits.
But first we wanted to get stuck into some scrambling on the pinnacles. The other couple were sticking to the paths, and being fast movers, were soon out of sight.
Up to the first airy top
From that top over to the other towers- Barry is on it just right centre. Another walker on bypass path below- his mate (out of shot) would arrive seconds later and think twice about that path- but cross it with no bother.
Overall the scrambling isn't too hard, but there is varying exposure. This is probably the crux section- a few careful moves next to some nice drops- great stuff...but it's over too soon.
Difficulties over, all that's left is a careful footed walk off the last pinnacle to rejoin the path, continue down to the col, and back up to Stob Coire na Cralaig where we would descend from SW into the glen.
A last look both directions along the ridge from Stob Coire na Cralaig:
S to A'Chralaig
N to Mullach Fraoch-choire
Descending SW from Stob Coire na Cralaig into glen
On any other day we'd have stuck to the shoulder we were on all the way down, but because it was so dry and relatively easy going (albeit steep in places) we opted to cross the Allt Coire a' Ghlas-thuill and continue on down from the other side of it.
Deer in the gully (close to the only water I'd seen on the entire route)
Presumably the waterfall is usually a lot bigger! I was surprised there was even this much water in such dry conditions
After crossing the Allt we pressed on down the grassy slope
and made our way out of the glen toward Loch Cluanie
The usual big layby just up the road is closed due to forestry operations. This put pressure on the limited room shown here, and there was many more cars out of shot parked on the grass right next to the road. There was one guy waiting in a car to get a space (he was off on an overnight bivvy) - luckily for him we were vacating the best space.
A quick stop at the Cluanie Inn followed to round off one of the best days this year
Full flickr set of pics
by ChrisW » Wed May 11, 2011 11:13 pm
by Stretch » Wed May 11, 2011 11:18 pm
by houdi » Wed May 11, 2011 11:21 pm
Feelling the pace a bit on the ascent
The walk out was a bog last year.
by malky_c » Thu May 12, 2011 11:00 am
by HighlandSC » Thu May 12, 2011 11:19 am
Stretch wrote:Brilliant stuff! Not sure if I could coax myself up the pinnacle that your pal is on, but it's nice to see a shot of the bypass path
The pinnacles are where the fun is! Best few mins all day were on those
monty wrote:Feelling the pace a bit on the ascent
Should have went faster to burn off the McD's junk food before it made it's own way out!
malky_c wrote:Your mate must have been running WolfofBadenoch close for compleating at a ridiculously early age (my guess is he finished his first round at about 15 ). Which 3 does he have left?
Sounds about right. My mate would have been about 14/15 when he stopped the walking (and like many of us....discovered other joys...girls...drink...cars...you know! ) His remaining ones are all in Skye, not sure which but not the hardest ones, however- he needs to check revisions to the tables which have changed since he was actively bagging. I think he was aiming for 279 (?), but may have already done whatever tops/hills were promoted.
by BlackPanther » Thu May 12, 2011 2:31 pm
It looks like we are drawn to the same areas at the same time We were in Glen Shiel on 29th, the day before you. We considered doing A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire, but eventually we went for The Brothers Ridge just around the corner... Similar conditions, great fun. If you'd like to compare, my report is here:
by HighlandSC » Thu May 12, 2011 2:58 pm
BlackPanther wrote:Hi HSC, another great report. Are you never tired of getting out and about?
Don't be fooled by my recent walking spree! That's followed many months of not getting out anywhere near as much as I'd like- time well spent though- planned my wedding then we honeymooned in Norway and all over Scotland in Feb/Mar which was great- so no complaints really! I have some more reports from Mull and Glencoe to do which I’ll get to eventually- hopefully more nice weather will mean I’m out on the hills and not getting a chance to write about them!.
by BlackPanther » Thu May 12, 2011 4:05 pm
And (a bit late) congratulations on getting married
by Paul Webster » Thu May 12, 2011 7:25 pm
by LeithySuburbs » Thu May 12, 2011 7:28 pm
by skuk007 » Fri May 13, 2011 11:32 am
Is there a path up that initial steep slope?
by HighlandSC » Fri May 13, 2011 11:58 am
LeithySuburbs wrote:This is a great report mate . Surprised to see you in jacket though - I was up Blaven the same day sweating away in shorts and t-shirt. You were probably up earlier in the day though .
Yeah we were walking by 8.30. My friend does have a jacket on in most pics- it wasn't really cold, but you needed something over your arms- I just had a very thin jacket on. After the scrambling we were both in T-shirts all the way back- despite facing a (very welcome) blasting wind coming up the glen.
skuk007 wrote:Is there a path up that initial steep slope?
Yes. It's thin and faint in places but there most of the way, zig-zagging up to gain the ridge.
by Graeme D » Sat May 14, 2011 2:31 pm