(Almost) lost in a forest, all alone

Sub 2000s: Tom nam Fitheach

Date walked: 12/05/2019

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 6.56km

Ascent: 318m

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This was one of those moments when you look back and think: "What on Earth were you up to you big eejit."

Tom nam Fitheach is stuck away in the middle of north Mull, beside the road between Dervaig and Salen. It's surrounded by forestry, some old, but mostly plantations, and isn't that hard to climb. At 275m, Hillary and Tensing's reputation can rest easy for another day.

Most reports I could find suggested parking near the house at Achnacraig and taking the old track into the forest before turning left along the gentler south east slopes. However, I was confused to find new forestry tracks and a great big turning circle not marked on the OS Explorer map.

What should I do?

Here's what I should have done

Park the car out of the way in the turning circle (this was a Sunday, so no problems), then press on north east up the (seemingly) new track before taking a left turn up the hill to the summit. Once there, enjoy the views, have some breakfast and head the same way back down.

Here's what I did

I parked the car out of the way in the turning circle (this was a Sunday so. . . ). I decided to stick with the map so headed up the road towards Achnacraig, picking up the old track into the forest, which turned out to be very pleasant

Up the road towards Achnacraig

Old forestry track

The path continued, with a few boggy patches, deep into the trees until it came out at a large area that had been excavated from the hillside and then joined a track coming in from the right - in the direction of my car.

Here two streams meet the track and it seemed best to scramble up the bank between the two and make my way through the trees uphill, the first real ascent of the walk. Taking a roughly diagonal route over short grass between the mixed forestry, it was easy going until I reached an ATV track heading along a gap in the forest, roughly in the direction of the summit. With a lot of young bracken coming through, I suspect it wouldn't be so easy later in the year.

Uphill through the trees

More trees, but the going is good

I followed the ATV track for a few hundred yards before leaving it to join what seemed to be the ridge to the top. It wasn't and brought me out on the same ATV track. :shock:

I stuck with that as it brought me gradually onto open hillside and I finally reached the first of several contenders for the summit of Tom nam Fitheach. I visited them all, but the furthest west is the highest.

Repeat after me "stick to the track, stick to the track"

When in doubt, keep going up

Ooh look! More trees. Speinne Mor makes its first appearance of the morning

Looking up at the summit area on Tom nam Fitheach

Central Mull hills from Tom nam Fitheach

Loch Frisa from the summit

After a smashing half-hour at the top, I headed back much the same way I'd come until spotting a break in the trees I realised led straight to Achnacraig. I could drop down here and take the road back to the car, couldn't I? Well. . . I could. . . I suppose.

I clearly hadn't been paying attention as I drove in because this wasn't a great idea at all. The ground was a bit rough as it dropped steeply down alongside a stream that was pretty much dried up after a long spell without rain. I followed this for a few hundred yards before being presented with an almost vertical drop down to the road.

The trees were thick either side so there was nothing to be gained by heading that way and there was no way I was heading back up, so hands, poles and bum it was as I scrambled down (who the hell scrambles on a 275m hill? Me, obviously).

It was dry enough following the stream bed, apart from the three holes I managed to step into. I picked up a few bumps and scratches on the way before the ground levelled ever so gradually and I was able to make my way upright like a normal human being.

Finally reaching the road, I dusted myself down looked around hoping nobody had seen me embarrass myself and set off for the half-mile back to the car.

It seems "don't try to be clever" is good advice for any hill. Take my advice and keep in simple on Tom - you'll thank me.

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Comments: 1

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Location: Westray, Orkney
Activity: Walker
Place: Westray
Ambition: Finish Orkney's Marilyns

Munros: 3
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 30
Islands: 18
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 5
Distance: 27.93 km
Ascent: 824m
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 4


Trips: 7
Distance: 61.67 km
Ascent: 1526m
Munros: 3
Sub2000s: 4


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Distance: 7.8 km
Sub2000s: 1

Joined: Jul 07, 2017
Last visited: Oct 18, 2019
Total posts: 20 | Search posts