Letterewe and Fisherfield

Date walked: 07/06/2011

Time taken: 32 hours

Distance: 57km

The nine and a half hour drive in sparkling sunny weather up the spectacular west coast mountain scenery was inspiring
The view from the campsite over Gairloch Bay was stunning with Baosbheinn and the Torridon Peaks majestic

The team were set for exploration of “The Letterewe and Fisherfield Forest”

The most remote Munro in Scotland – with overnight “wild” camp

The challenge! :D

As previous experience of overnights “in the wilds” had been a couple of uncomfortable bivi’s on the Cuillin Ridge some 30 years before and various late night dosses on the handiest appropriate soft ground (or otherwise!) in various corners of Snowdonia or the Lake District or other such secluded parts of Scotland, suitable “equipment” was not only out of date but by now non-existent.

Thus the purchase of a cooker and pan-set and a “tent” and the team were prepared.

The “tent” was a true bargain – Tesco “Value” - £4.99 – with bendy joined together poles – and even had a pre-expedition trial erection in the back garden!

Just the job ….. all three inside, no bother :wink: :D

8.00 a.m. saw a departure from Poolewe on a bright sunny morning – with “experienced” leader overshadowed by the two 6’2” and 6’1” fifteen year olds ……

Poolewe Start.JPG
Poolewe 8.00 a.m.

Recent scouring of Munro guides and other such associated literature had widened the view to the Fionn Loch causeway and famous Carnmore bothy.

Judicious map reading saw us negotiate the forest track at Kernsary and break out on to the open moorland heading for Carnmore, with the mountain panorama before us.

Glorious weather - couldn't be better.

Carnmore Approach 01.JPG
Approach to Carnmore

The bothy was reached in 4 hours from Poolewe with the peak of A’ Mhaighdean – the most remote in Scotland - looming at the head of the valley
Carnmore 01.JPG
A'Mhaighdean Looming

An exploration of the famed Carnmore bothy – now bestowed with (albeit second hand) divan beds and sprung mattresses (ex the Lodge).
Carnmore Bothy 01.JPG
Carnmore Bothy

Lunch gave the stove it’s debut (successful!) and a welcome half hour breather. Then – with a degree of trepidation over the “enormous” rucksack – up the very well defined stalkers path to the bealach looking over to the lochan and down to Gleann na Muice Beag.

Joes Pics 021.jpg
Stalkers Path

Weather perfect - with a gentle breeze to avoid overheating on the uphill work.
On cresting the ridge between Ruadh Stac Mor and A’Mhaighdean some 300 feet above Fuar Loch Mor the face-on view of the North West Ridge was apparent - “The Molar” staring down at us

Joes Pics 024.jpg
North west Ridge

Unfortunately to get to the start required a traverse round the shores of Fuar Loch Mor - so a cursed descent of a couple of hundred feet and a pathless trog across the heather choked boulders eventually brought us to the outflow of the lochan and the start of the North West Ridge.

The afternoon was pressing on, the blue sky had disappeared, the cooling breeze was now a chill wind …..

The steep pathless grass slope at the start of the ridge kept the blood flowing and the first onset of dissention in the ranks – “where’s the path?”

“There isn’t one – come on!”

On cresting the ridge the wider panorama was opened up with the mighty bastions of Beinn Lair across the valley and the expanse of Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch stretching back to the sea at Poolewe

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Ridge View

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Ridge View

Impressive country……..

It was then that the snowstorm struck!
Oh, how pretty – fluttering flakes!

Far from “fluttering” and as the driving snow was driven into our faces various degrees of waterproof attire were rapidly donned by the team and progress was continued up the straightforward rock steps until The Molar.
“Direct” would be interesting (and the boys thought I was serious!) – but some nice scrambling circumvented the obstacle and up a loose’ish runnel to the summit slopes.

As the summit cairn was approached the snowstorm abated and we basked in “the best panorama in Britain”

Summit of A' Mhaig with Loch View 02.JPG
Best Panorama in Britain

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Summit View

An Teallach pinnacled ridges clear and sharp to the north, Fisherfield Four to the east, Beinn Lair as impressive as imagined and a cloud free Slioch (unlike our ascent a few years before in company of The Slioch Hill Race – made for an entertaining day!)

After the obligatory photographs and as the snowflakes melted on our waterproofs, we departed the summit and descended “off piste” once more to the beallach beneath Ruadh Stac Mor. Thirty minutes up the sandstone boulder slope saw the mandatory tick of the second summit of the day with views out over to An Teallach.

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An Teallach

Swiftly down and then further into the “wilderness” as evening calm drew on. Again pathless ground descending steep – thankfully bone dry – grassy slopes lead us on and on into the remote country beneath the shoulder of Stac a’ Chaorruiun and the West Ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn

Amid pleas for a campsite by certain team members a much welcome site on the tinder dry ground , of what would usually have been very boggy land., by the gentle sparkling stream of Allt Pollan na Muice was found very suitable

All was calm.

With trepidation that the “value” tent would be “at one” with the wilderness, camp was pitched. The chefs tucked into the kitchen duties with a gusto to produce a reasonably foul concoction of midge and pasta soup.

Wildcamp 01.JPG
The Campsite

The nearest suitable rock formed the bar and the forthcoming beer was exceedingly well received (having chilled in the stream) and was unquestionably well worth the carry.

Awesome surroundings!

An early night - the team snuggled down by 9.00 p.m. on the springy turf – and it did not take long before there were three soundly sleeping “explorers”

5.30 a.m. and bright morning light with clear skies inspired a lightweight 6.00 a.m. departure for Fisherfield Four and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.

The “Monarch of The Glen” supervised our early morning activities from a lofty vantage as we left camp and headed to the col between Beinn Tarsuinn and A’ Mhaighdean

Joes Pics 036.jpg
"Who are those creatures in my garden?"

On cresting the ridge overlooking Lochan Fada, the Slioch bastions in early morning light gave a great vista back towards Kinlochewe

Slioch from A' Mhaig.JPG
Early morning light on Slioch

The pathless early morning slog up the steep slopes of Beinn Tarsuinn was arduous and not enlivened by the increasingly glowering skies and descending clag. The early promise was dispelled as the tops were wreathed in cloud.
Spits of rain ….

Across the valley we watched as the summits of A’Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor were gradually engulfed

However, on reaching the crest of the west ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn the way was more defined (a path!) so a resolution was agreed upon where we would continue to the summit and then – if still enshrouded in mist – return to strike camp.

The “Tennis Court” presented a swirling misty playing surface and on arrival at the summit cairn visibility of 20 metres sealed the resolution and a return was beat to the encampment

Wild Camp View 02.JPG
Return to camp

A deftly struck camp and at 9.00 a.m.. the sacks were donned for the return to Poolewe

In brightening weather the saddle between Beinn Tarsuinn and A’Mhaighdean was re-gained and a grand vista over Lochan Fada to Slioch.
Steeply now in warm sunshine down to the lochside sandy beach and the wonderfully wild and scenic and pathless route along the loch, until the lower reaches of Gleann Tulacha were gained under the imposing ramparts of Beinn Lair

Slioch from shores of Loch Fada.JPG
Slioch from shores of Loch Fada
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Loch Fada

What a wonderful culture shock to not have man made paths to lead one on – just rely on natural instincts and route finding experience – and make sure you don’t break your leg in the boulders!

(We “dead ended” just once in all the day where we had to circle back 40 yards to avoid a bottomless bog)

True wilderness!

The long haul up Gleann Tulacha to the Bealach a Chuirn promised “civilization” at Carnmore.

View back down Loch Fada.JPG
View back down Loch Fada

In brightening blue sky and sunshine a path was finally gained and a timely lunch halt

Return View of A' Mhaig.JPG
Return view to A'Mhaighdean

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Return to Carnmore

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Return to Carnmore - lovely sunshine

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REturn to Carnmore 02

Then the long, long, long return – with sunburnt noses and aching feet – from Carnmore to much savoured and well deserved refreshment in the Poolewe Hotel

Poolewe Hotel 01.JPG
Poolewe Hotel

The rest of the country had suffered the downpours for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

But sometimes – just the odd time – you get lucky!

Gulf Stream? Climate change?

Our little corner of north west Scotland was glorious :D :D
(with a snowstorm thrown in for good fun!)

A fine effort from the team with big sacks over summit of A’Mhaighdean – “The Most Remote Munro”
:clap: :clap: :clap:

Perhaps a different approach to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair next time.

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Comments: 1

John Hassall

Activity: Rambler
Pub: Sligachan Hotel
Mountain: Ben Nevis
Place: Skye
Gear: Mera Peak Goretex Jacket
Member: None
Ideal day out: Cuillin Ridge!

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