Melancholy thistles, Ospreys and the Gaick & Feshie Corbetts

Corbetts: An Dùn, Càrn Dearg Mòr, Leathad an Taobhain, Maol Creag an Loch (A' Chaoirnich), Meallach Mhòr

Date walked: 21/07/2024

Distance: 80km

Ascent: 2900m

I had hoped to be going to either Torridon or Knoydart this weekend to edge closer to finishing things off. The weather wasn't suitable for what we need in Torridon and was too miserable to make going to Knoydart acceptable. I had a scout around what we might do instead, preferably in the central/eastern bits of the country where the rain was to be less. Allison needed the Gaick & Feshie Corbetts, so I put these together into a circular walk, with the odd Simm thrown in for good measure and crossed my fingers that it would be dry enough to enjoy.

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I'd previously done a big (104km) loop that featured these hills along with a number of Simms going in from Glen Bruar. This time I though the could try going in from Dalnacardoch and loop them that way. I've not actually walked through the Gaick Pass, as last time I went up high over some Simms on the west of the lochs. We set off, as usual, late on Thursday afternoon, parked the car at the start of the road to Trinafour, ate our meal and set off around 7pm. My intention was to walk in to Sronphaudraig Lodge where we could camp the night and get started on the steep fortress of An Dun first thing on Friday.

It was a pleasant evening. We passed a number of un-jaggy thistles as we reached the A9 - these are "melancholy thistles" apparently, probably because they haven't got the jags to do damage. maybe Eeyore ate them. No-body around on the track, just various invertebrates eating - this must be the time of day when they feast. Black slugs were nibbling flowers and murshrooms, fox-moth caterpillars were eating something on plant stalks and black beetles were crunching away any invertebrate road-kill - caterpillars, slugs and other black beetles. Lots of gentianella plants studding the roadway, not quite ready to open in flower yet. We reached the lodge and pitched on a flattish area of grass near the river. Last time we camped up here some stalkers drove up after dark and started shooting, none of that tonight, thankfully, and we slept quite well.

Melancholy thistles
ImageIMG_2643 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2644 by Al, on Flickr

An Dun in the distance
ImageIMG_2645 by Al, on Flickr

A bit of light rain overnight and an overcast morning with cloud down low on the hills. We set off for the start of A Dun, where there's something of a path through the peat bogs, then a windy path up the steep flank of the hill. Intermittent showers, windy. Reached the summit, yes, it's the first cairn reached, continued across to the second and caught some views up Loch an Duin and beyond. Descended steeply down the eastern flank making for the ford across the river - this avoids plodding over boggy ground if you take the slightly less steep route down the nose of the hill as WH suggests. Anyway, once we were on the track it was a matter of track walking for the next few hours.

ImageIMG_2646 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2647 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2648 by Al, on Flickr

The Gaick Pass
ImageIMG_2649 by Al, on Flickr

The day cleared up quite nicely as we walked up to Loch Bhrodainn. As we turned the corner of Sron Bhuirich, a white tailed eagle flapped out of the trees and circled around above us several times, before heading over to the trees to he north. Cross the ford of the Allt Gharbh Ghaig, which was fairly shallow and onwards past the neatly maintained grounds of Gaick Lodge where Allison stopped to pat the ponies. We passed two bikes at the bridge by Coire Liath - probably folk out doing Leathad an Taobhain - and enjoyed the walk up Loch an t-Seilich. This was helped by a plethora of tiny wild strawberries all along the track which were deliciously sweet. As we walked past the woods before the Tromie dam we heard a bird call we didn't recognise coming from the trees and saw a white-underbellied raptor fly over us. The Merlin App identified the call as an osprey - must have been a partner or juvenile to the one we saw fly overhead. Haven't seen (or at least recognised) an osprey before.

Descent down the steep flank of An Dun
ImageIMG_2650 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2651 by Al, on Flickr

Gaick Lodge
ImageIMG_2653 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2655 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2656 by Al, on Flickr

Tromie Dam
ImageIMG_2658 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2659 by Al, on Flickr

After another few kilometres we were nearing Meallach Mhor, which we'd been able to see ahead of us for some time. Got to Bhran Cottage (derelict) - I remembered something about not being able to find the path last time I was here and right enough - you can't find the path that's marked on the map that leads up Meallach Mhor. It's all hideously overgrown. We did find vestiges of the old track in the undergrowth, like sleepers over a stream. I managed to put my foot in a very wet hole, hidden by heather. Fortunately we could see the ATV track heading up the hillside, so we waded our way through the vegetation aiming for that.

A helpful ATV track this, taking you right to the bealach between Bheag and Mhor. Sadly there's another 150m to get to the summit, which never seemed to be getting any closer. It was about 6.15pm by this time and we had to decide where to pitch for the night. There was a strong southernly wind, too strong to comfortably pitch high. I hoped we might find a spot north of Meall a Dubh-Chadha but the ground was sloping and sodden. We continued along a wet ATV track heading down towards aonach Mor, one of the Simms I wanted to do in the morning - surely we'll find someplace? We got an acceptable spot at the bottom of the track, just before the river and put the tent up with relief.

Dead mole
ImageIMG_2660 by Al, on Flickr

Meallach Mhor
ImageIMG_2661 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Meallach Mhor, looking back to Loch an t-Seilich
ImageIMG_2662 by Al, on Flickr

A long way to the camp spot
ImageIMG_2663 by Al, on Flickr

Saturday started quite late, as we were late getting finished on Friday. I intended to climb Aonach Mor and Meall Buidhe then head over to Carn Dearg Mor. Once again, missing paths got in the way. The path on the map, along Gleann Chomhraig, has largely been obscured by new tree plantings and there are some good new tracks, not marked, which don't go the way I wanted. Tussocks, bog and heather instead. I found an ATV track up the western flank of Aonach Mor while Allison headed for the track at Feith Mor - we'd meet at the woods after Coire Odhar. The ATV track rose helpfully most of the way up Aonach Mor - I headed over to Meall Buidhe then returned to the summit of Aonach Mor before heading down, once more through new plantations to the track where A was waiting.

Aonach Mor - my 1900th Simm
ImageIMG_2665 by Al, on Flickr

We continued on track to the north end of Carn Dearg Beag where there's supposed to be a track up to the back of the hill....becoming a frequent problem this - more new plantings and no track. We sat and had lunch - A picked an ants' nest to sit on and had to quickly move away. We backtracked a bit to an ATV track I'd noticed and used that to gain the spine route up to Carn Dearg Mor instead. As we began our descent, we could see a couple of walkers on the track below, looking for the track that used to pass to the east of the (now cleared) plantation - only it isn't there either; new trees have been planted. We passed them ascending through the brash as we were descending through the same.

Carn Dearg Beag to Mor
ImageIMG_2667 by Al, on Flickr

view across to Glen Feshie
ImageIMG_2668 by Al, on Flickr

Braeriach plateau in the backdrop
ImageIMG_2669 by Al, on Flickr

Càrn Dearg Mòr view to Leathad an Taobhain
ImageIMG_2671 by Al, on Flickr

Onto proper track once again heading for Leathad an Taobhain. We neglected to refill our water at the first stream that crosses the track, before finding that the next two streams we should have encountered were dry. Had to fill up with extremely peaty water at the dip before the very steep pull up Taobhain. From the summit we could see rain coming in from the south - not long til it reached us. The forecast suggested winds of only 10mph tonight, turning westerly from the current southernly, so I reckoned we could risk a high camp. I was intrigued by the "shelter" marked on the map to the south of A'Chioch and thought we could try making for that. We did cross a spring at Minigaig, which allowed us to swap our brown water for nice clear stuff. The rain was increasingly heavy, clag coming down, and we were keen to get under cover for the night. What could the "shelter" be? Allison thought a basic hut (locked) while my fans ran to a wood panelled shepherd's cabin. As we got nearer we could see it was a rough stone enclosure, too narrow to even pitch the tent inside! You might be glad of it in a blizzard, but it wan't going to help us tonight.

ImageIMG_2672 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2673 by Al, on Flickr

The shelter
ImageIMG_2674 by Al, on Flickr

We ended up pitching on flat ground by the track at almost 900m elevation. Once inside we divested our wet clothes and got the tea on. Rain beat hard on the tent sides until about 11pm. Then the wind direction did change - it got much colder and the speeds were way more than 10mph - the tent got a right battering. Needless to say no sleep, until about 3.30 when it started to quieten down. I planned to get up early, as we still had about 25k to do to get back to the car, and at 6 I started on the breakfast, which A was less than enthusiastic about.

ImageIMG_2675 by Al, on Flickr

It was a dry morning, although rain didn't look far away, and the wind was cutting and icy. We had various options about how to get back to the track - I chose the longer one, just following the track we were on, which ultimately took us down the zig zags of the stalkers' path where we'd seen the bikes parked on Friday. The path is very overgrown, but still serviceable. Last night's rain had increased the water level at the fords quite significantly although still easy enough to cross if you chose carefully. We had one more challenge for the day - the ferociously steep northern nose of A'Chaornich. There is a cairn marking the way up, but no path to follow - just 300-odd really steep metres until the incline begins to level out a bit. With no sleep and big packs this was quite an ask today. We made it, eventually and sat at the cairn, in the very un-July like temperatures, having lunch before heading back down to the track we'd walked in on.

ImageIMG_2676 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2679 by Al, on Flickr

Descent zigzags
ImageIMG_2680 by Al, on Flickr

Steeply up a'Chiornich
ImageIMG_2681 by Al, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2684 by Al, on Flickr

This is really a spectacular part of the country, with so many glaciated features, and few people about either. I'm glad we got pretty good weather for the most part to enjoy it, and the wildlife. It's also been good to do the Feshie Corbetts by four different approaches (Glen Feshie, Glen Tromie, Glen Bruar and this one)

ImageIMG_2685 by Al, on Flickr.

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Location: Greenock
Occupation: Idle and old
Interests: Searching for meaning
Activity: Ambler
Mountain: Foinaven
Place: Assynt and beyond
Gear: My tent.
Camera: iPhone 13
Ideal day out: One that lasts at least 72 hours...
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Corbett rounds: 2
Fiona rounds: 2
Donald rounds: 2

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Tops: 223
Corbetts: 220
Fionas: 218
Donalds: 75+31
Wainwrights: 15
Hewitts: 33
Sub 2000: 395
Islands: 33
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Cape Wrath Trail    Hebridean Way   

Filter reports



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Distance: 1737 km
Ascent: 77443m
Munros: 17
Corbetts: 25
Fionas: 63
Donalds: 35
Sub2000s: 2


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Fionas: 163
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Corbetts: 193
Fionas: 34
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 27


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Ascent: 206176m
Munros: 271
Corbetts: 16
Fionas: 10
Donalds: 9
Sub2000s: 32


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Distance: 2994.86 km
Ascent: 175243m
Munros: 67
Corbetts: 12
Fionas: 72
Donalds: 81
Sub2000s: 97
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 12


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Ascent: 124390m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 5
Fionas: 142
Donalds: 71
Sub2000s: 24
Hewitts: 15


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Distance: 2453.94 km
Ascent: 164961m
Munros: 77
Corbetts: 126
Fionas: 17
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 2


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Ascent: 166291m
Munros: 109
Corbetts: 112
Fionas: 16
Donalds: 10


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Ascent: 127277m
Munros: 219
Corbetts: 17
Fionas: 4
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 1


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Distance: 254.33 km
Ascent: 16304m
Munros: 26
Corbetts: 5


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Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1

Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Last visited: Jul 22, 2024
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