walkhighlands

Quinag: 3 Corbetts, 2 Heavy Packs & 1 bout of Vertigo

Route: Quinag: three Corbetts

Corbetts: Quinag - Spidean Coinich

Date walked: 18/04/2015

Time taken: 8 hours

More glorious weather was forecast for the north-west Highlands last weekend, and with the intention of searching out a good hillwalking / wildcamping combo, my walking buddy Fiona and I scoured the Walkhighlands walk reports for Assynt (where our last two outings have also been based).

Assynt offers so much to amateur hillwalkers like us, looking for remote and rugged camping spots with stunning views and a not-too-challenging climb as we build up our experience, fitness and confidence levels :clap:

An early start on Saturday made for a quiet drive up to Quinag from Beauly with two excited and boisterous collies in the back of the car, along with two enormous packs containing camping and cooking gear :lol:

We chose Quinag because: a) we could achieve three summits with one walk, b) we both love Assynt, c) I'm a keen photographer and I knew the weather would afford some incredible views and Spring Highland colours, and d) we're not very experienced hillwalkers and - how hard could it be??? :shock:

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Setting off from the roadside information board (the area is owned and managed by the John Muir Trust who have done incredible work here), the path soon forks at the cairn marker and fields upward climbers off to the left to meet the foot of the gentle incline up the hillside towards the first of the three Corbetts, Spidean Coinich :thumbup:

You really don't have to walk very far before the incredible views start to unravel behind you. In fact, in this weather it was all I could do to focus on the path ahead for stopping to gaze out across Assynt 8)

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The geology here is quite amazing and the ascent gives good going underfoot on big, hefty, wide, flat boulders which make it easy to grip and climb without too much of a problem. The boulders give way to smaller, more uneven rocks as the summit gets closer.

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At around 600m there is a brief respite as the ascent levels out and then dips down into a wee rocky bealach with a sparkling lochan, providing a cool watering hole for the dogs and a good place to rest your bones before the final push up the steep hillside to the Spidean Coinich summit at 764m.

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For a hill with Corbett status, Spidean Coinich is a really impressive peak giving staggering views - down to Loch Assynt, over to Edrachillis Bay, along to the Summer Isles, up to Kylesku and across to Suilven and Canisp - to name just a few of the iconic Assynt landmarks clearly visible from Quinag :clap:

By this time, Fiona was having one or two concerns about the fact that we hadn't carried out a huge amount of research about this walk, and it was becoming clear that some aspects of the route - such as the views off the edges, steep drops and general exposure - were challenging her fear of heights. in fact, I hadn't realised the fear had been gradually bubbling up quite to the degree it had been :sick: :shh: :oops: :think: As a long-time sufferer of an occasionally debilitating fear of heights, I had been coping quite well - however as soon as I became aware that my walking buddy was about to experience a small meltdown, I switched into total control-freak 'coping mode' and started providing Fiona with what must have been an extremely irritating running commentary of the walk, one footstep at a time :roll: :lol: I assumed this would prove to be incredibly helpful :roll:

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After quite a few minutes of me lapping up the views, soaking up the sunshine, taking a few lugs on some cold water and Fiona stoically trying to control an overwhelming urge to allow a full-scale panic to take hold, our attention turned to the next part of the walk - what can only be described as a leap of faith off the corner of the Spidean Coinich summit onto a thin, rocky, slippery 'path' which winds down the cliffedge in a brief but steep descent to a flat plateau - a lovely grassy suntrap 8) :lol:

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This is a perfect spot to recover from wobbly legs, the uncontrollable sweats and associated vertigo nausea, at which time I tried to describe the stunning views to Fiona without using expressions like "wow look how TINY everything looks".... :shock:

From here, the view back towards the Spidean Coinich summit does look very impressive, and we both enjoyed a brief moment of pride and gloating about how lucky we are to live so near here and how jolly well we were doing :clap:

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OK so this really is where the walk turned - from a challenging Corbett round which led us both to encounter and face issues with vertigo, carrying improbably heavy 80l packs on wobbly, inexperienced mountain legs - into an almost-hysterical and desperate scramble to find a quick way off the hill and down to the safety of the loch below (Lochan Bealach Cornaidh) which had already been identified as a good camp spot (if we could avoid the bogs which are protected by the John Muir Trust) :shock: :think: The very reason for lugging the packs over the Corbetts was to avoid the protected boggy path we would need to use to ascend to the loch in order to pitch our home for the night before the walk :crazy:

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Inch by inch, teetering between slippery rocky pathways, jutting boulders and areas of steep descents giving way to horrifyingly impressive open views where miniscule vehicles travel along the A837 glinting in the sunlight like tiny shiny ants , we made our way to the Bealach a'Chornaidh which is the 'junction' between the three Corbetts in this round. We had long since decided that one Corbett would be more than enough for today, thank you :clap: :cry: :oops:

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"Let's not speak of this to anyone", I said. "Ever".

On jelly legs we lurched awkwardly across the moorland to the edge of the loch where we managed to erect the tents and make a well-deserved cup of coffee while the sun set :clap:

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Sunrise makes everything better :lol:

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The walk away from Quinag in the morning was full of highs and lows..... highs from the achievement of one hell of an impressive summit, the conquering of so many fears, the sheer exertion of carrying enormous hefty packs with us up and over Spidean Coinich and bearing witness to such a beautiful sunset and sunrise. The lows were to have never reached the other two summits on this trip and the feeling of having been defeated by such an iconic group of hills.

Next time for sure - without the bags, with a lot more knowledge and a little less fear - we will do this thing :clap: :wink:

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We are refusing to dwell on the failure to summit Sail Gharbh and Sail Gorm, instead we are reminding ourselves that often, we just don't give ourselves enough credit :wink:

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Highart13


User avatar
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire
Occupation: Administrator
Interests: Photography, walking :)
Activity: Walker
Mountain: Slioch
Place: Wester Ross
Gear: Boots
Ideal day out: Wandering round Scotland taking photographs.


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Statistics

2015

Trips: 3
Distance: 9.75 km
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1

2013

Trips: 1
Distance: 5 km

2012

Trips: 9
Distance: 51 km


Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Last visited: May 10, 2018
Total posts: 39 | Search posts