Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Coulags

Driving through Garve with 1cm hail stones battering down turning the road white in a minute & followed a few minutes later by heavy rain flooding the road I wondered whether the forecasters had got it wrong!

The plan I had was to complete a round of all the Munroes & Corbetts (bar one) within the Coulags Forest over 3 days, not a straightforward route but one that I thought doable & enjoyable.

I finally set off from the Coulags bridge around 6pm after suffering the first midge attack of the year & headed up the well maintained stalkers path & in about an hour arrived at the Coire Fionnaraich bothy, a splendid place.

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I was surprised that no-one was in residence, with 4 large rooms there’s lots of space but I guess the proximity of the road doesn’t promote its use by Munroe baggers.

A 7am start following the stalkers path up to Bealach a’Coire Ghairbh with the weather looking as though the forecast was actually going to be right.

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From the bealach it’s a short traverse around to the start of ascent of An Rudh Stac, a fine looking mountain.

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I dropped the pack & headed for the summit just carrying the basics plus a windproof jacket.  I made my way straight up the rock slabs rather than tackle the loose scree path, it looks intimidating but it’s pretty easy going.  No fantastic views across Loch Torridon from the summit today, just billowing clouds.

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Once back down & the pack retrieved it was a short walk back to the bealach from where the ascent of Maol Chean-dearg began, I dropped the pack again a little way up the slope & headed for the summit lightly laden.

The weather seemed to be improving with the cloud lifting some, Loch Torridon was still screened by cloud but to the view to the east was opening up nicely.

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Back at the bealach it was time for elevenses & the decision of which route to take, either East or West around Maol Chean-dearg; the West won just because although it’s slightly longer it’s a ‘nicer’ tourist route & I was in no hurry.  One advantage of the western route is that it provides a nice view of the isolated Corbett Beinn Damh off to the north; there’s a couple of scrambling routes up the southern ridges but the normal walker’s ascent is an easier line from the other side.

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Took a stop for a late lunch by Loch an Eion, a nice spot to kick back & watch the clouds float by.

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I finally located a spot to pitch up bout 5km further on just off the stalkers path in Coire Grannda (NG 954516)

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It did take a while to find the ‘right’ spot, typical Torridon ground conditions; bog or boulders.  I think I managed to find a place on the cusp of both & it was really lumpy.  But at least the view was nice & there was no midge.

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A bit of a late start after a chilly night, I had had to don the fleece at 3am after awaking cold, & the old back was definitely suffering from the lumpy ground.  I finally got away about 8am with low cloud drifting around the coire & completely screening the tops.

The ascent of Beinn Laith Mhor started from the minor lochan just above the coire which was where Plan A started to unravel; I went to dig out the windproof only to find it was missing………lots of nasty words muttered all the way to the cloud drenched summit……..another cairn in the mist.

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Plan A was to head NNE over the Corbetts of Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine & Sgurr Dubh before descending to the Tea House Bothy.  I’d worked out ‘exactly’ were I’d left the windproof, Bealach a’Coire Ghairbh sitting on a rock in its stuff sack.  Plan A was scrapped, Plan B; forget about the 2 Corbetts & complete the next day’s route returning to the bealach to pick up the jacket.

I retreated to the bealach for elevenses still cursing but watching a heavily laden D of E group trudging along the stalkers path did lighten the mood a little.

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It took an hour to reach the summit of Sgorr Ruadh, the cloud had broken up significantly & I enjoyed a nice view across Loch Torridon

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& back across Beinn Laith Mhor

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The descent to Bealach Mor proved straight forward if a little bouldery & the bealach provided a pleasant spot for a late lunch stop; I did note a few good spots to pitch up in the area.

I dropped the pack before climbing up steep loose scree of Craig Mainnrichean, not difficult just unpleasant.  The amble around the coire rim to the summit of Fuar Tholl made it worth it, the NW of Scotland at close to its best.

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The descent back down to Bealach Mor felt less unpleasant than the ascent, perhaps I found I different line, & was soon re-united with the pack & heading off west down the stalkers path hoping it led further downhill than the map showed.  Well sometimes maps don’t lie, disappointingly it ended abruptly right where the map showed it to & it took nearly an hour to get down the next 2km of heather/ boulders strewn slope.

Afetr wading the river I joined the stalkers path just after 4pm, plenty out time to ‘nip’ up the 400m climb to Bealach a’Coire Ghairbh & see it the jacket was still there.  I expected the wind to have blown it perhaps 10’s of metres from its location but it was within 0.5m from where I’d left it….lucky.

I was back at the Coire Fionnaraich bothy by 6pm having decided on the descent that I couldn’t be bother with the 160-mile drive home (3hrs+), I’d just stay over.  A few people called into the bothy coming down off the hill but none stayed more than the 5 mins it took to have a look around & headed off.

A relaxing end to the trip but a bit disappointing that the plan had been foiled by my own incompetence.

Coulags (Large)

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2016 by in Trip Reports and tagged , .
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