Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Stumbling Monar

Sunday 20th April 14 – 8.5km, 600m ascent

5:15pm kick off from the carpark at Auchnashellac, I deliberately arrived late to ensure I got a space, as it turned out there was only one spot free.  My simple plan was to ascend the Corbetts of An Sidhean and Bac an Eich but instead of the classic approach from the east I’d combine them with a bit more of a challenging route across the Munroe’s east of Bealach Bhearnais.  I was somewhat pleased to see that the snow cover was a lot less than expected and the micro spikes were swiftly dumped in the car.

It was a brisk yomp up the LRT on a really sunny afternoon, meeting a lot of folk heading down the hill, feeling a little over dressed in merino base layer top.

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At the wire ‘bridge’ over the Allt a’Chonais (NH 076466) I met up with Matt who was pitched up for the night and heading north on the Cape Wrath Trail (he’d even read my write up).  After swapping yarns for 20 – 30 mins I headed off up the hill hoping to get a nice sunset, I didn’t risk the ‘bridge’ opting for splodging through the river in the Terrocs (their first backpacking trip of the year).

I reached the Bealach Bhearnais just before 8:00pm with quite a stiff easterly blowing and quickly threw up the Trailstar before heading off 100m or so to pick up some water.

The sunset was that great but it was pleasant to be out again

Monday 21st April 14 – 25km, 1800m ascent

The morning looked very promising, the wind had got up from the east but the sky looked as though it would clear, even the Terrocs and socks were bone dry which was a bonus.

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The ‘plan’ was for today was a trundle across the tops to pitch up somewhere east of An Sidhean leaving Bac an Eich and an easy walk back up the Meig for tomorrow.

Map 1

I was packed and away by 7:45am on the easy path up to Sgurr Choinnich.  The weather didn’t look as favourable as I’d first thought, a raft of thick low cloud was moving in from the SE.

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Bearing in mind a possible change in weather I pressed the pace a little and I was soon over Sgurr a’Chaorachain an staring down the steep descent to Drochaid Mhuilich, enveloped in cloud

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The ridge line was an easy enough descent leading down into the murk.  The ascent of Carn nan Fiaclan and onto Maoile Lunndaidh was completed in low cloud reducing visibility to around 20m and accompanied by a biting easternly so there was no hanging around to admire views just head down into the wind while continually checking the compass.

I reached the outflow of Loch a’Chalidheimh (NH 152464) around 12:45pm, time for a lunch stop.  I soon found a spot on the river sheltered from the wind (I would have pitched up the Trailstar if I’d seen a likely spot), got a brew on and mulled over options.

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I finally decided to push on over An Sidhean to Drochaid Coire Mhadaidh and see there was a suitable spot to pitch up.

It took ½ hr of rough going to reach the track at Torran Ceann Liath, I followed the pony track up towards An Sidhean grateful for not having to stare at a compass for a while.  It didn’t take long for me to lose the path, or it faded out, and it was back to mechanistic cross country trekking on compass bearings; the summit cairn appearing out of the mist; a pair of lochans to the SE; east across another featureless plateau to Point 768m; NNE for 1km; etc.  I did use the GPS to get a spot fix on the final descent to the stalkers track ensuring I didn’t miss the bealach.

Map 2

5:00pm and I couldn’t see any obvious place to pitch up, so Plan B; up Bac an Eich, down the Coire Mhoraigein and pitch up by the River Meig.

It was a straight slog uphill the 300m to the summit trig point not seeing a thing; about turn and then down though the clag back down to the path.  Once on the north side of the bealach the cloud cleared and it was easy going down the glen.  I spotted a good look camp site by the ruins of an enclosure at ~NH 190499 and cut off cross country to have a look.

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It turned out to be a nice spot but I decide to wade the Meig and pitch on the north bank a little way downstream at ~ NH 189502.  It was 7:30pm and I’d been on the hoof for 11 hrs and was ready of supper.

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Tuesday 22nd April 14 – 22km, 1300m Ascent

A new day and a new plan; instead of a straight forward bimble up the Meig I’d decided on another cross country trek along the ‘ridge’ to Moruisg.

Map 3

It was finally 9:00am by the time I was on the road, a bit tardy but I reckoned with the prior day’s little excursion I deserved a sleep in.  I headed east down the glen a little way to pick up a gentler approach to the ridge and then started the pathless ascent.  At around 550m elevation I hit the cloud line, back to 20m visibility again, and it was out with the compass again; up to Point 700m; west down into a maze of peat hags in the bealach.

The ascent line from the bealach easily established by the thundering of multiple cascades down the Allt na Criche.

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Having passed over Carn Liath I eventually reached the summit of Carn Gorm at around 12:15pm, time for a spot a lunch hidden out of the wind.

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During the traverse west towards Moruisg the cloud occasionally broke enough to make navigation a little easier, at a minimum it allowed me to miss a few boggy bits and boulder fields that I’d have blindly stumbled into following compass bearings.

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On the final ascent to Moruisg the cloud broke and wind increased to 40+ mph making walking quite difficult, I did manage to duck behind the summit cairn and grab a photo of the Torridon hills

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And then the cloud dropped again just as suddenly as it had lifted and the rain started, not torrential but horizontal bullets; it was on with the full body armour for the trog over to Sgurr nan Ceannaichean; I’d only one thought…..get off this bloody hill as quickly as possible….  I finally took a break once down on the LRT back towards Auchnashellac.

By 5:30pm I was back at the car and the luxury of a Gehwol Extra and a dry pair of shoes and socks.  That last couple of days had been quite tiring, not exactly the sightseeing adventure I’d imagined but a pure navigational exercise.

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2014 by in Trip Reports and tagged , .
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