Well, I finally reached the halfway point (in fact I passed it by one) of “munrobagging” (reaching the summit of all 284 of Scotland’s munros – mountains over 3000ft).
I left work in Reading, UK at 6pm on Thursday night, drove until 1:30am when I reached Crianlarich Youth Hostel and met my brother Dougie (needed him to open the Hostel front door as they shut and lock them at 11:30pm.
ASIDE: Youth Hostels are a fantasitic way to experience Scotland, a bargain at around £11 – £13 per night (per person), hot water, extensive cooking facilities, warm bed – everything you need. Much more comfortable than our old method of ‘tent’ which now has comparable costs in many places
Anyway, back the trip report…
We stayed at Ullapool Youth Hostel on Friday night. Saturday morning we got a nice early start and drove South, dropping a car off at the bend in the Wester Ross coastal road from Garvie (GR-NH161760) – there is a fairly big (10 car) parking area just on the roadside on this bend. We jumped in the other car and headed further South (and then West) to Grudie where we left the car by the Picnic area about 100M East of Grudie Hydro Electric Power Station (GR-NH313624).
The road to Fannich Lodge was unlocked and we could have driven up it, but we didn’t know if it might be locked the next day when we eventually returned for the car – best not risk it….
So, we set off at 9:30am and walked the 7.5Km from Grudie on the Fannich Lodge road to the head of the dam at Loch Fannich – this is actually a pleasant walk and a good warm up for the day.
From the track we simply headed up the hillside onto the obvious knoll and then kinda contoured around and up onto the ridge to get an easy route to the summit of An Coileachan (923M GR-NH241680). This summit was in cloud unfortunately.
On and over to the next munro Meall Gorm (949M GR-NH221696) and a bite to eat for lunch. From there there is a small top on the ridge, the cloud cleared and the views from the ridge for pretty much the rest of the day were fantastic – Corries, Lochan, steep drops, wilderness, deer, it had everything !!
The next munro on the ridge is Sgurr Mor (1110M GR-NH203718) with a bit of a pointed summit, but to the East of this, out on a ridge lies Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich (954M GR-NH220724), also a munro (so it has to be bagged).
To do this, we contoured on a (slight) path about 100M below the summit of Sgurr Mor (1110M GR-NH203718), got onto the East ridge, dropped our rucksacs and nipped out and back.
There is a small Howff by the path (GR-NH207716) – stone built, completely enclosed – looks like someone put a fair bit of work into it, probably only fits two people sitting up.
Coming back along the East ridge, we picked up our sacks and climbed to the summit of Sgurr Mor (1110M GR-NH203718). Again, incredible views from here, we could almost see the car we’d left at the Northern point, Loch Fannich to the South and the whole ridgeline in between.
We had planned to nab the most Northern munro on the ridge on the first day, but by this stage we were getting a bit tired and so decide to head straight to our overnight camp spot by the small Lochan (GR-NH189721). This turned out to be a great spot, we set up the tent, got our sleeping mats and bags out, dived in and got some soup on (We always go for Baxters Crofters Thick Vegetable).
Had the weather held, we would have nipped out to Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934M GR-NH185733) after our soup, but as it turned out it started heaving it down with rain so we snoozed instead.
Before we knew it it was 10:05pm, we forced ourselves away and put on evening meal (Spaghetti, Chicken and a Tomato Sauce) – this turned into a disaster (see next post)
Anyway, back to sleep and an early start the next morning (6:30am), jumped out of our sleeping bags and nipped out to Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934M GR-NH185733), nabbed it and back to the tent for an hour long leisurely breakfast (1 munro bagged before 8am, not bad going)
After breakfast we packed up the tent etc and climbed the formidable looking (from our campsite) Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093M GR-NH184715) – it turned out to be much easier than we expected, topped out, nice views of our planned route for the day and the whole area around us. headed South on the ridge to the low point (dropped our rucksacks) and then continued on to bag Sgurr nan Each (923M GR-NH184697). After this it was back to the sacks and then off the low point of the ridge to the bealach on the track from Loch Fannich to the boathouse at the head of Loch a’ Bhraoin (GR-NH174705) at an altitude of 500M, meaning another 500M climb the other side.
From this bealach it was heads down and into the climb, after a short time I was suprised to see the summit of Sgurr Breac (999M GR-NH158711) coming up (again much easier than I had anticipated). It was a bit of a relief getting to this summit as it was the penultimate and the last real big climb of the day. It was also the mid way point for me in terms of munros bagged (142)
If I remember correctly it was in a bit of cloud and there wasn’t a great deal of visibility at this stage so we carried on to a lower top, Toman Coinnich (935M GR-NH149713) between this and it’s Westerly neighbour. Here we left the sacks and nipped up to bag the last of our 9 Munros, A Chailleach (997M GR-NH136714). Quickly, we hurried back to the sacks and then off on the ridge to the North.
This is a nice wide ridge with a somewhat faint path, we followed this and were getting a bit sceptical as it seemed to head directly over the edge of the ridge into what was marked on the map as crags – however when we got there the path became more pronounced and picked it’s way through the crag and down the hillside to a small (ricketty) bridge at the head of the Loch. Cross the bridge (GR-NH159750), follow the track past the boathouse and on to the road and that was us – back at the car.
Day one started at 9:30am and we got to the mid camp at around 6pm (at a fairly leisurely pace)
Day two started at 6:30am and we completed it at around 3:15pm (including about an hour or so at the camp for breakfast)
All in all this was a succesful trip, very enjoyable, strenuous but not over taxing. Enough distance and climbing to make it challenging but not so much that we didn’t get to savour the surroundings.
Here’s a Google Earth view of the area we covered.