Munros: A' Mhaighdean
Date walked: 15/10/2021
Time taken: 8 hours
Six weeks of poor forecasts hadn't led to much in the way of hillwalking and it felt like an age since I was over in Torridon back in August. So with a fairly calm day forecast for the Friday I took a day off and headed over on the Thursday night with the idea of heading into Fisherfield the following morning to hopefully get A'mhaighdean ticked off at last. I'd seen the route in from Kinlochewe used by a few others before and opted to go for that as a straightforward one hill day.
After a rather uncomfortable night slept in the car, I set off on the bike just before dawn up the heights of kinlochewe. The glen was alive with the sound of roaring stags in the middle of the rut, some of them so close I was beginning to question whether this was a good idea. After an hour of having multiple stand offs with stags on the path, and having pushed the bike most of the way up hill once past the fork in the path, I came across the infamous gate, known to be a bit of a pain for getting a bike through. In fact I struggled to get myself and my rucksack through it was so narrow. It was only on return later in the day that I noticed a huge hole on the fence big enough for an atv to pass through it!!!
Anyway, it was here I decided to leave the bike and worked out it would be 18/20km out and back walk to the summit, and I was happy to commit to the walk from this point.
A fairly straightforward trudge across a flat section of ground before the path began to drop down to the shore at Lochan Fada. A place of beauty! Slioch, A'mhaighdean and Beinn Tarsuinn looked magnificent from here and a real sense of solitude began to hit me. From here I'd follow the shore of the Lochan before heading across rough ground to the col in-between Tarsuinn and A'mhaighdean.
It had been really wet the day before, and the shore was waterlogged with the path submerged under the raised water levels of the loch in many places. I stumbled on for a mile or so, stopping to enjoy the silence of the place every now and then. At one point a flock of 20+ whooper swans flew high above, calling out as they went. Possibly migrating from Iceland for the winter perhaps. It was the only noise I'd heard other than the stags as there was not a breath of wind and it was a magic moment right out in a place as wild and remote as this!
Shortly after, I picked a line to the north and went for it, making across the waterlogged, tussocky ground in a rough direction towards Pollan na Muice in-between the two hills at the head of the Fisherfield 6. It went on for what seemed like hours as I stumbled through endless peat hags. More stags appeared, and quickly bolted, the sound of them calling echoing all around this incredible place, right across Lochan Fada and echoing off the walls of Sgúrr Dubh and Beinn Lair to the west.
It was a moment of relief finally reaching Pollan na Muice and the views to the north opening up to An Teallach, which had a faint dusting of snow on. I sat and ate some food here, miles and miles from anyone, but it finally felt as if I was getting somewhere and from here it was a relatively straightforward pull up A'mhaighdean's eastern facing grassy slopes onto the shoulder where I reached the snow line just beneath its summit.
After stopping to take a few photos looking across Gorm Loch Mor to Beinn Lair the weather came in shortly before reaching the summit. The mist came in and with it came the snow! As much as a viewless summit is a pain, it actually felt pretty good to be on the summit of a hill so remote in the middle of some pretty wild weather! A quick tap on the cairn and a few photos and it was back off in the direction I had come, knowing that I'd soon drop back out of the cloud!
As things became clear once out the cloud again, I could see how far the far end of the Lochan was and it was to be a long slog back to the bike. On descent of the eastern slope, I spotted a lone figure off near Pollan na Muice, heading off the hill. We must've passed each other in the cloud. It was the only person I'd seen all day and I was pretty surprised when he took almost exactly the same bearing as me back across the pathless peat hags. Not a route I'd think is used very often. I soon caught with him and opted to go by him as wide as I could as to not give him a fright appearing behind him in somewhere so remote. As I passed 100m or so to his south, he glanced at me and I glanced back. No acknowledgment was given by either of us. Both enjoying the solitude and wanting to be left to it perhaps? I was soon off back in the direction of the Lochan shore as he stuck to the foot of Tarsuinn and I stopped to eat on the beach at the eastern end of Lochan Fada. It felt good to get back to a path!
A few km's back along the fairly featureless section of moor to the gate where I'd left my bike and then the pure joy of being able to sit on my arse and roll down hill back to the junction at the heights of kinlochewe, albeit very bumpy!
The deer had scattered back into the hills higher up and it was an enjoyable cycle back out again past a few old abandoned houses and some wonderful autumnal colours. A fantastic day in a special area of remote wilderness, and will be back for the surrounding hills in the near future!
Back at the car for just before 2pm, just in time for more food in kinlochewe. A'mhaighdean before lunch, good going!
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- Activity: Mountaineer
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