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Fisherfield wilderness backpacking22-25 April 2016
Fisherfield is one of the wildest and remotest areas in the UK. On this April weekend, Emma was leading a group backpacking into the wilderness, here's her tale...
Brian, Keith, Lynn and Emma met at Corrie Hallie for the walk into Shenavall with good views towards An Teallach and later Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and Beinn Dearg Mor. The mountains were looking decidedly wintery with more snow forecast. After a stop for refreshment in the bothy we opted for a camp in Gleann na Muice. The first river crossing of Abhainn Strath na Selga was unusually straightforward and we negotiated the bogs beyond to make camp opposite Larachantivore on a green, grassy strip of land. Tents were set up by 8pm and we enjoyed our first night of outdoor cooking surrounded by the Fisherfield mountains, with a particularly fine view of the south side of An Teallach dominating camp.
A cold night followed with fresh snow down to glen level by morning. Heavy snow showers were passing through on the unforgiving climb up Beinn a' Chlaidheimh with patches of old hard snow creating some interesting conditions in places. As we climbed higher the snow showers receded leaving fine views all around and we felt incredibly lucky to be experiencing the Fisherfield mountains in excellent winter conditions. We made our way onto Sgurr Ban, our first Munro of the trip at 989m and sadly said goodbye to Brian who rightly decided that his recent calf injury meant an early end to his day and an afternoon in camp. The climb up Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, 1018m, was in a tremendous monochrome landscape with the contrast of the white snow against the dark rocks making it very atmospheric. Some steep snow on the ascent added to our amazing location and we had the mountains completely to ourselves all day.
We paused for refreshment in the col before climbing Meall Garbh, 851m, which is often bypassed on a circuit of the Fisherfield 6. The final climb of the day took us to Beinn Tarsuinn, 947m, with dramatic views down Gleann na Muice to our campsite. The ridge beyond the summit was enjoyed by all as we stuck to the crest with some easy scrambling over the Torridonian sandstone pinnacles. It was a group of very satisfied, tired walkers who returned to camp that night. Sunday morning dawned chilly with bright sunshine and further fresh snow on the mountains. Our day started with our second river crossing, a boot off choice for most with the water reaching just over knee depth, an excellent way to wake up before the day's hike.
Good stalker's tracks took us all the way to the col between A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor. We were the only people on the hill and couldn't believe that we had an even better day than the day before! The sunshine was warm as we broke trail through the snow and the view from A'Mhaighdean, 967m, superb. A day to savour, we spent an hour on the summit taking in the scenery with a 360 degree panorama encompassing the entire length of the Outer Hebrides, Skye, Torridon, the high mountains of Affric, Mullardoch and Strathfarrar to the extensive snow covered Cairngorm plateau, the Fannaichs and north towards the Beinn Dearg group, Ben Kilbreck and the peaks of Assynt. Two ravens set up a golden eagle from its eyrie, and we were lucky to be standing above as the eagle soared directly below us, absolutely unforgettable.
Some glissading down the softening snow slopes took us back to the bealach for a short, steep climb up Ruadh Stac Mor, 918m. The wind was chillier now, however, the views equally impressive and it was with some reluctance that we left the summit to make our descent back to camp, making the most of the snow fields on the north side of the mountain as we lost height. A perfect last evening in camp followed as we relaxed and cooked supper. Overnight the weather deteriorated as winds picked up and frequent hail and snow showers pushed through the glen. We paused for tea at the bothy on our walk out kindly offered by a father and son-in-law who had arrived the previous night, a good way to warm up before the climb back across the moor to Corrie Hallie and the end of our adventure.
A few more photos by Emma are up on Flickr.
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