An Socach, Glas Tulaichean, Carn an Righ, Beinn Iuthern Mor

Date walked: 03/07/2012

Distance: 40km

Inspired by reading some of the great reports about these hills, my good pal Andy and I finally got the opportunity to experience what many describe as tough and remote walking conditions over often featureless and boggy terrain – I wasn’t to be disappointed.

We arrived at the car park in Inverey at 5.30pm having already bagged the three Cairnwell Hills from the ski centre that same afternoon. This proved to be a good leg-stretcher ahead of the main challenge that lay before us. We exchanged our day packs for larger rucksacks including our camping gear, wobbled slightly before setting off along the easy path into the scenic Glen Ey where the landscape opened up before us.
Altanour Lodge

The conditions at this point were near perfect and we reached the peaceful Altanour Lodge ruin which indicated that we should leave the path and head due South towards the first hill of the round, yet 4th of the day, An Socach. Unfortunately for me, I stumbled whilst crossing the burn resulting in soaked feet – the investment in new gaiters, thoroughly nikwaxed boots and performance socks were no defence when the water goes to knee height on both legs!

This made the steep climb through the heather and boggy ground quite an arduous experience, particularly carrying 18kilo packs on tiring legs. The misty summit was eventually reached and with no further ado, it was straight on and down the steep rocky south side towards Loch Nan Eun. As we descended An Socach we had our first of several navigational issues but the GPS, compass and map combined with a wee discussion got us on our weary way once again. The time was now approaching 9pm and we were eager to get to Loch Nan Eun for rest, food and a deserved, if not indulgent glass of wine.

By now in poor visibility and lack of any obvious path, we used the GPS to get us to the Loch. I was amazed by how many seagulls there were flying overhead, although you could only hear them as it was far too misty to see anything at all except for a vague shape of athe loch through the gloom. We set camp and ate our wayfarer chilli con carne followed by sticky toffee pudding and a wee bottle of wine each – ok, extra weight and all that, but the morale boost was well worth it! I was however now reflecting on my wet boots that had no chance of drying off in these conditions as the first droplets of rain began to fall on the tent. Loch nan Eun is a spectacular place to pitch a tent. The feeling of remoteness is incredible as the mist sweeps across its still waters. Wining and dining by its east bank must rank up there with some of the best restaurants in the land.
The tranquil shore of Loch nan Eun

eerie and atmospheric

After a very good sleep – that would have been even better but for the seagulls – we were up and packed ready for the off by 8.30am. It was still very misty with a persistent drizzle that looked on for the day. The fresh pair of socks became wet as soon as they touched the inside of my boots and off we plodded towards the 1st munro of the new day, Glas Tulaichean. This was a real test of navigation as we could not see a thing for the mist. The combination of long grass, boggy peat and undulating ground that seemed to go in a mainly ‘up’ direction really did sap our strength and I can honestly say, I'd rather have been anywhere else at that point. We were thankful of possessing not great, but reasonable navigational skills and after some stumbling about and one wrong turn we finally reached Glas Tulaichean, much later than we had anticipated. Again there was no point hanging around the summit in the mist so with gritted teeth we set off for our next munro of the day – Carn an Righ.

Was it wishful thinking or was the mist gradually beginning to clear? We pressed on and decided to leave our bags at the foot of Mam nan Carn as we would be coming down the same way following our ascent of Carn an Righ – the ascent was on grass slopes that soon became very rocky towards the summit, but with no difficulties – I like the fact that these hills require no scrambling, although the rugged terrain and long distances compensate for any technical issues. Having ascended and descended without our rucksacks, we felt invigorated, when suddenly the mist cleared for the first time since climbing An Socach the previous evening to reveal a wonderfully mountainous landscape. We celebrated with lunch of sausages and beans, then rejuvenated, traversed the obvious path –more obvious now the mist had more or less cleared – over Mam nan Carn and the pleasant climb of Beinn Iutharn Mhor. At this point it was such a relief not having to keep checking the GPS and compass as the sky was turning blue and the sun began to shine. We could finally see where we were heading to and what lay behind us as well as the magnificent views below us.

On reaching the summit of Beinn Iutharn Mhor (BIM) around 4.30pm, we truly were feeling the effects of the exertions of the last 24 hours. I had blisters on both feet, compounded by wet boots so the thought of negotiating the featureless, boggy peat hags between BIM and Carn Bhac was certainly not floating either of our boats. We therefore took an easy and unanimous decision to leave BIM down its north east ridge towards the Altan Odhar river that cuts through Glen Ey and onto our outward route back past Altanour Lodge. This was a pleasant descent although quite steep a bit lower down on a boggy path through the heather. Very tough on our worn knees but the poles did help. Reaching the river was greeted with relief and we eventually got back to the car. Never before has a Saab estate looked so appealing!

Not completing Carn Bhac did not dent our sense of achievement as we sank the first of our 2 beers that night at the B&B. We had another potentially challenging walk the next day up Beinn A’ghlo which proved a delight without the camping gear in clear conditions. We climbed Mount Keen on our final day to have completed 11 munros in four days and many miles of walking that certainly lived up to the description of ‘tough’ and ‘remote’.

I salute all my fellow Walkhighlanders particularly on this forum who through their reports have inspired me to experience the highs and lows of these expeditions. I hope this, my first walk report has a similar effect.

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Comments: 3


Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: Clachaig
Mountain: Lochnagar
Place: Torridon
Gear: goretex trousers
Member: NA
Ideal day out: Epic ridge walk

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Trips: 1
Distance: 40 km

Joined: Jun 12, 2012
Last visited: Nov 10, 2012
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