Taking my time on the hills

Route: Sgùrr Chòinnich and Sgùrr a'Chaorachain

Munros: Sgùrr a' Chaorachain, Sgùrr Chòinnich

Date walked: 21/04/2022

Time taken: 13 hours

Distance: 20.5km

Ascent: 1251m

To do this walk it took me almost twice the time given in Walkhiglands, not to mention the time needed for sleeping. A wonderful way to slow down!

For this walk I decided to travel by train to my destination and travel back the next day, to make the whole event a more relaxed outing. Taking an early train I could devote all my attention to enjoying the beautiful scenery while having my coffee – what more can you wish for?

I got out at Achnashellach railway station at 10:45am, unfolded my fold bike and cycled to Craig, where the walk begins. It took me half an hour, going slightly uphill, on a more or less level road. I knew cycling back the next day when I would be tired would be even easier.
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Achnashellach railway station 10:45

The railway level crossing was easily found. The landrover track that sharply bends left after the crossing took me down to the bridge over the River Carron and there I chained my bike to a fence, because from there on the track climbs too steep. No problem for mountain bikes though – the next day returning I met a couple on mountain bikes miles up on the road. I should someday buy one myself!
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The bridge over the River Carron

Taking the left track I soon saw the corbett Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean in front of me and looking back admired the beautiful mountains across the glen that Walkhighlands speaks of. Ignoring all paths branching off as told, the track took me to a pass at about 280m where I got my first sight of Sgùrr Chòinnich and Sgùrr a'Chaorachain.
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Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean

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Sgùrr Chòinnich and Sgùrr a'Chaorachain

Time to pause and make a decision. Garry Nicolson had forecast a chilly easterly wind 20-30 mph at the tops with downslope gusts. I was beginning to feel them. This strengthened my resolve to do the walk clockwise instead of counter clockwise as Walkhighlands describes it, so I would have the wind in my back on the ridge.

I continued following the landrover track that skirts Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean and goes in a wide arch to the left, ignored the little cairn that indicates the path going up to Bealach Bhearnais and continued along Pollan Buidhe. The slope of Sgùrr a'Chaorachain on my right that I was going to ascend looked a bit intimidating with lots of crags, but further down the glen I noticed a stretch that seemed mostly grassy. The path gradually climbed and at a higher point where the glen was a bit narrower I left it, crossed a few peat hags and started the ascent.
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A stretch that seemed mostly grassy

My assessment proved correct, it was all grassy and going up diagonally, roughly NE to SW, made steady progress, greatly helped by my walking poles. My path was just above the burn Allt an Lubain Bhuidhe which has many waterfalls and close to the top of the ridge I paused and took some pictures of the highest waterfall. The gradient eased and I started following the very broad ridge. So my route was about a kilometre further east than the route that Walkhighlands suggests.
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Quite steep, but easy going

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The highest waterfall

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On the ridge

I had stunning views north of the ridge with Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean of Moriusg and south of Maoile Lunndiadh, Bidean an Eòin Deirg and Lochan Gaineamhach. Meanwhile the chilly easterly wind made me move on and I was relieved to find a windless sheltered spot where I had a much needed rest. My 12 kilo backpack and 1.5 kilo camera were taking a toll and I had ascended much slower than I’m used to when on daytrips. It was 5:15pm when I reached the cairn of Sgùrr a'Chaorachain.
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Ridge with Sgùrr nan Ceannaichean of Moriusg

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Bidean an Eòin Deirg and Lochan Gaineamhach

Descending towards the baelach, about 25m below the summit I found a windless spot to cook dinner. It took me 10 mins to bring water to the boil, 1 min to stir in my home-dried food package and 10 mins to eat it, while being bathed in warm afternoon sunlight and admiring the views. It was now 7:00 and I had still to walk the entire ridge an descend to Bealach Bhearnais to find a camping spot before dusk. I managed to get a text message through to my wife asking for the time of sunset and while already well on my way received her delayed reply: 8:38.
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The ridge of Sgùrr Chòinnich

The views were stunning and I stopped all the time to take pictures. The sun was casting long shadows when I reached the tiny cairn of Sgùrr Chòinnich, but I wasn’t worried: only 150m further down I would reach the baelach.
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Looking back to Sgùrr a'Chaorachain

Just after sundown I found a level and dry spot with the only disadvantage it was exposed to the wind and pitched my tent. Time to chill down but not too much because of the chilly downslope gusts! Contented I went to sleep at 9:30 in my four-season sleeping bag, laying on my inflatable mattress with down insulation. The bursts of gusty wind at irregular intervals didn’t disturb me and I trusted my Hilleberg tent.
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Tent pitched in the baelach

Waking up at 5:00am it took me a while to overcome a lazy mood, then took pictures of a beautiful landscape in soft light and finally packed, feeling ravenously hungry.
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Good morning sunrise

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Moon over Meall Mor

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Sgùrr Chòinnich in early morning

The path down was easily found. A bit further down this boggy path I found a sheltered spot and cooked a delicious pot of porridge and made a pot of tea. The early morning sun was warm on my face and I felt life was good.
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Looking along Allt Leathad an Toban

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Finally a windless spot to cook breakfast

Walking down the path in a lazy pace, being kind to my weary limbs, I finally reached the ford that also had a wire bridge with the sign: “You use this bridge at your own risk”. Of course I took this risk, knowing that if I failed I would get wet feet at worst because the water was low. The top wire was quite loose and both leaning down too much, or leaning back too much would certainly have given slapstick effect!
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A risky bridge

The walk back to my bike was easy on the landrover track and I took a lot of time to pause and enjoy nature. The cycle back to the railway station was comfortably downhill and I didn’t mind I had to wait for almost two hours for the train to arrive at 2:00pm, eating my leftover bread, making tea and basking in the sun.

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Comments: 1

Hugo Klip

Location: Findhorn
Interests: Scottish nature, photography
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Ceilidh Place, Ullapool
Mountain: Beinn Eighe
Place: Findhorn
Gear: Brasher boots
Member: none, but I walk regularly with an informal group
Camera: Nikon D500
Ideal day out: Walk of a few days with tent, climbing a few mountains and taking plenty of time to enjoy nature, preferably in good weather
Ambition: Beautiful walk compleater

Munros: 63
Tops: 32
Corbetts: 28
Grahams: 10
Sub 2000: 6
Islands: 15

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Trips: 1
Distance: 20.5 km
Ascent: 1251m
Munros: 2

Joined: Jun 22, 2014
Last visited: May 23, 2022
Total posts: 1 | Search posts