Bonkers way up An Coileachan

Munros: An Coileachan, Meall Gorm

Date walked: 24/04/2021

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 30.6km

Ascent: 1124m

Kevin had a few extra days off to use in April and I spent hours online, looking for interesting routes, printing maps and hunting for grid references to crash sites. In the end, I produced a big pile of printouts and a large folder of GPS routes, all with hope that weather cooperates. Sadly, the warm, sunny spell ended after the first two days and for the rest of the week and the mayday long weekend, we had to ditch our hopes for multi Munro traverses in favour of shorter walks. 10 years ago we would have gone for it even in cold, showery conditions, but we are too old for it now and prefer to keep the "biggies" for good weather. That doesn't mean we didn't have fun. Quite the opposite, we enjoyed what we did so much that I can't wait the final week of May when my husband gets his last spring hols. By then, I will be busy writing reports, 8 new TR's covering 8 listed hills (3 new) and a remote crash site. It may take some time so bear wit me, please, if the reports aren't posted fast enough 8)

OK, lets get on with it. As our "starter" we picked a re-visit to the Fannichs, An Coileachan and Meall Gorm specificially. These two are usually added to the Sgur Mor traverse, but having done the eastern approach in the past, we felt like we needed a different take on them. Two weeks before, when Scotland endured a short return of winter, we climbed An Cabar, a very intriguing Sub'2000-er on the southern side of Loch Fannich and we were intrigued by Garbh Choire Mor, the south-eastern end of the Fannichs ridge. In particular, we studied the northern spur of the corrie, leading straight to An Eigin. Of course, we didn't even consider climbing INTO the corrie, as this would be a route for rock climbers only, but the steep, rocky slope separating Garbh Choire Mor, and Garbh Choire Beag seemed crazy enough for us :lol: :lol:
I did some research on WH and other walking blogs but couldn't find any trip reports using this route. The Loch Fannich approach to An Coileachan is quite popular but all TR's I found described climbing either up Coire nan Laogh or along Alltan Milis. I bet that somebody must have been up this slope before us, yet we felt a bit like pioneers! :lol:
We worked our way up to An Eigin, traversed An Coileachan and Meall Gorm, finally descending via Creag a'Choire Riabhaich:

Track_LOCH FANNICH2 30.6KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Started early in the morning from Grudie and walked quickly up the track to Loch Fannich. In the hurry of leaving home, we forgot to take walking poles, but it didn't deter us at all! Weather was splendid and I was so excited about this new, bonkers route!
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 022.JPG

On closer inspection, it didn't look that steep at all (the slope in the middle of the photo below):
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 018.JPG

We followed the track until it crossed the pipeline, then went off piste. I simply couldn't get enough of gazing into this fantastic corrie, so beautiful yet usually overlooked...
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 029.JPG

Panoramic version of Garbh Choire Mor from Kevin's camera:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 055.JPG

The ground was relatively easy to walk, low heather, grass, scattered boulders. Higher, the angle steepened. We didn't want to get ourselves into trouble by taking the direttissima up the rocky face, but I hoped we might find some easy scrambling up there.
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 085.JPG

Kevin ad the cliffs of Garbh Choire Mor:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 314.JPG

Not drastically steep, but certainly challenging (wet ground, loose rocks):
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 327.JPG

Having spent enough time photographing the corrie, it was time to tackle the 300m push to the summit of An Eigin. Kevin was first to investigate:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 339.JPG

...but I soon overtook him in a quest for boulder-hopping :lol:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 101.JPG

The first glimpse of Beinn Dearg and friends:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 104.JPG

This snap shows well how steep it was, thankfully higher up the ground was dry so easier climbing:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 351.JPG

View back down to the eastern end of Loch Fannich and the dam:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 099.JPG

The final 50m leading to the top were more rocky, but by now we were powered up the slope by our summit fever :lol:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 359.JPG

Kevin proud of himself for discovering this route :wink:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 357.JPG

It is indeed a great way up the southern Fannichs, maybe a bit bonkers considering the acute angle of the slope, but having done Beinn Sgritheal and all Munros around Glen Shiel, not to mention Liathach which is nearly vertical by my standards, this wasn't that scary!
I'd definitely recommend this way up to all of you looking for some extra excitement, but remember that in very wet or winter conditions this slope could be lethal. Please, proceed with care :wink:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 132.JPG

the advantage of this line is that it takes you straight up to An Eigin (864m) , the lower top of An Coileachan. the Munro summit is now only a stroll away, but it is worth taking a few minutes break first, because on a good day like we had, the views are second to none!
Lucy posing on the summit cairn with Ben Wyvis in the background:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 362.JPG

Strathconon Corbetts and the Strathfarrar Munros behind them. It all looked like summer then...
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 369.JPG

Kevin and Fionn Bheinn:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 371.JPG

Beinn Eighe and Slioch:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 150.JPG

Garbh Choire Mor from above:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 377.JPG

The summit of An Coileachan didn't take long to re-bag:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 154.JPG

One for the collection "me and my mountain lamb" :lol: :lol: :lol:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 394.JPG

We took a longer break on the summit of An Coileachan, weather was excellent and we wanted to enjoy the day for as long as it lasted. We discussed different approaches for Sgurr Mor and eventually agreed on a route from the north, which will allow us to bag a Fannich top we have missed so far.
Kevin posing in front of the main bulk of the Fannichs with Sgur Mor and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala the most prominent of tops:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 391.JPG

Looking north to Beinn Dearg:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 169.JPG

The traverse to Meall Gorm was now a formality, following the wide ridge connecting the two Munros:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 175.JPG

We met several other walkers walking in the opposite direction but it was surprisingly quiet in this corner of the Fannichs, especially considering it was a Saturday and weather was great. Maybe the big crowds were still on Sgur Mor :lol: :lol:
View back to An Coileachan with two walkers going in opposite direction visible on the col:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 399.JPG

Panther studying the last remnants of winter (or what I thought to be the last remnants before winter returned with vengeance):
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 191.JPG

On the summit of Meall Gorm:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 200.JPG

Sgurr Mor and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala from the summit of Meall Gorm:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 203.JPG

Zoom to Slioch behind Sgùrr nan Each ridge:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 219.JPG

We thought that the best descent route would be down the wide ridge of Creag a'Choire Riabhaich which has an old stalker's path and would take us down to the road near Fannich Lodge:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 245.JPG

Sgùrr nan Clach Geala and another intriguing ridge, Druim Reidh, right in front:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 235.JPG

We saw several pairs of ptarmigan, now changing their plumage to summer colours. I love watching ptarmigan in their natural surroundings (sometimes they are hard to spot!):
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 252.JPG

Panoramic view of Meall Gorm (right, Sgùrr nan Clach Geala (right) and Sgor Mor (middle) from half way down the descent route:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 271.JPG

The stalkers path had a few boggy sections but overall it offered good going, and views were still superb:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 277.JPG

We spotted two tents pitched near the lodge - this is a popular area for wild camping and would be a good spot to start/finish a big round of 6-7 Fannich Munros (or all of them indeed if you are superhuman :lol: ). We were more than happy with the two we did today. We will definitely return here for more explorations, but first we had to walk all the way back to Grudie...
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 294.JPG

Towards the end, Kevin developed blisters on his feet so we had to slow down and took more time than expected to get back to the car, but we didn't really care about beating any records. It was more important to keep Kevin's feet usable for the coming days!
Garbh Choire Mor in the late afternoon light:
2021-04-24 fannichs 2 295.JPG

We had a fantastic day, great route, a bit bonkers but so much fun! I was waiting for more on Sunday and got what I wanted on the Hill of Adders. TR to come soon!

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 4

The ridge that nobody climbs

Attachment(s) Munros: Sròn a' Choire Ghairbh
Date walked: 17/04/2021
Distance: 16.1km
Ascent: 1077m
Comments: 1
Views: 465

An Cabar - winter returns

Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: An Cabar
Date walked: 11/04/2021
Distance: 16.9km
Ascent: 487m
Views: 132

Spring picnic close to heaven

Attachment(s) Munros: Fionn Bheinn
Date walked: 03/04/2021
Distance: 12.5km
Ascent: 839m
Views: 194

Affric-an Easter: Càrn nan Gobhar

Attachment(s) Munros: Càrn nan Gobhar (Loch Mullardoch)
Date walked: 02/04/2021
Distance: 15.1km
Ascent: 991m
Views: 142

Affric-an holidays: Aonach Shasuinn

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Aonach Shasuinn
Date walked: 19/03/2021
Distance: 20.3km
Ascent: 935m
Views: 177

Affric-an holidays: Càrn Mhic an Toisich

Attachment(s) Grahams: Càrn Mhic an Toisich
Date walked: 18/03/2021
Distance: 23km
Ascent: 672m
Views: 105

Affric-an holidays: Carn nam Bad

Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Càrn nam Bad
Date walked: 17/03/2021
Distance: 12.3km
Ascent: 520m
Comments: 3
Views: 252

Affric-an holidays: Wellington T2707

Attachment(s) Date walked: 16/03/2021
Distance: 31.7km
Ascent: 568m
Comments: 2
Views: 829

Affric-an holidays: Creag Dhubh

Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Creag Dhubh (Affric)
Date walked: 15/03/2021
Distance: 15.5km
Ascent: 564m
Views: 169


User avatar
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire
Interests: Hillwalking, cycling, jogging, mushroom picking and many other outdoor activities, meowing on mountain summits included :P
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Beinn Eighe
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: well... my husband ;)))
Camera: FujiFilm Finepix HS10
Ideal day out: Anything - from beach strolls to scrambling up icy slopes. Just bring it on!
Ambition: Tick off all Munros...

Munros: 260
Corbetts: 167
Grahams: 114
Sub 2000: 53
Long Distance routes: Dava Way    Moray Coastal Trail   

Filter reports



Trips: 20
Distance: 351.1 km
Ascent: 13525m
Munros: 5
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 7
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 56
Distance: 929.5 km
Ascent: 37157m
Munros: 11
Corbetts: 12
Grahams: 10
Sub2000s: 10


Trips: 68
Distance: 1137.3 km
Ascent: 57105m
Munros: 28
Corbetts: 32
Grahams: 15
Sub2000s: 4


Trips: 72
Distance: 1239.15 km
Ascent: 65343m
Munros: 42
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 27
Sub2000s: 17


Trips: 60
Distance: 1128.6 km
Ascent: 55244m
Munros: 24
Corbetts: 26
Grahams: 27
Sub2000s: 6


Trips: 48
Distance: 868.9 km
Ascent: 41748m
Munros: 24
Corbetts: 16
Grahams: 18
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 57
Distance: 894.2 km
Ascent: 44112m
Munros: 30
Corbetts: 25
Grahams: 16


Trips: 51
Distance: 932.2 km
Ascent: 44288m
Munros: 36
Corbetts: 20
Grahams: 3
Sub2000s: 4


Trips: 53
Distance: 822.6 km
Ascent: 37086m
Munros: 30
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 5
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 76
Distance: 955.1 km
Ascent: 44087m
Munros: 37
Corbetts: 18
Grahams: 7
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 58
Distance: 645.95 km
Ascent: 30393m
Munros: 33
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 4


Trips: 17
Distance: 215.6 km
Ascent: 9756m
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 8
Grahams: 1


Trips: 2
Distance: 30.9 km
Ascent: 2414m
Munros: 3


Trips: 2
Distance: 35 km
Ascent: 2267m
Munros: 4

Joined: Nov 02, 2010
Last visited: May 07, 2021
Total posts: 3575 | Search posts