Am Faochagach

Am Faochagach from Loch Glascarnoch

Hillwalking route up Am Faochagach from Loch Glascarnoch

A direct hillwalking route up Am Faochagach following faint paths for much of the way over soggy ground lower down and ATV tracks higher up on wide grass-covered crests.

Route outline


Am Faochagach

Ascent 780m (2550ft)
Distance 15km (9m)
Time 5:00hr
Start/finish Abhainn an Torrain Duibh
Grid Ref : NH277743
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

This is the most direct hillwalking route up Am Faochagach and begins from the western end of Loch Glascarnoch. For much of the way, the route follows a combination of faint paths and ATV tracks. Most of the lower ground is fairly soggy leading up heather-clad slopes to wide grass-covered crests higher up where there are a few boulderfields and sections of stoney ground to be crossed.

There is a significant river crossing to be made over the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain - crocs or similar are recommended for this. If this river is in spate, it may be possible to cross the narrower burns that feed into Loch a' Gharbhrain. However, even this may also not be possible and it may be more prudent to begin the route from Strath Vaich instead.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Glascarnoch Weather Station

By the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh

By the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh

Around 12km south of Ullapool, the main A835 trunk road meets with the A832 by Braemore junction. Corrieshalloch Gorge Visitor Centre and the Falls of Messach are close to the junction - a visit to these via the constructed footpaths and viewing platforms is highly recommended.

This route starts from around 7km further south-east of the junction on the A835, where just west of the head of Loch Glascarnoch, there is a weather station and some hydro works. There is off-road space for a few vehicles to park here, with another layby fairly close by.

2. Am Faochagach

Below the morraine south of Loch a' Gharbhrain

Below the morraine south of Loch a' Gharbhrain

From the weather station, cross the A835 and follow a faint path heading north-east to a fence. Over the fence, the path tries to travel north-east for a further 500m or so, though due to the damp ground, this may be tricky !

The path turns northwards and just under 1km further on, meets with the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain . In most conditions, this should be fairly straightforward to ford, though you're likely to need to take boots off to ensure dry feet beyond the crossing.

If the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain is in spate, instead of attempting a dangerous crossing, follow the course of the river northwards and pick up some tracks by Loch a' Gharbhrain. By some shieldings, there are two smaller burns that feed into the loch at its northern end and these are likely to be easier to cross.

Beyond the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain the path becomes more obvious as it heads around a morraine then crosses some soggy ground to reach the base of a climb .

Over grass and through heather, the path then follows the Allt na h-Uidhe uphill. Higher up at around a height of 450m , the path veers away from the Allt na h-Uidhe and travels up the fall-line of the hillside ahead. Just below the crest of Drochaid a' Ghlas Thuill, the path becomes vague as it enters ground peppered with rocks and boulders.

Once up onto Drochaid a' Ghlas Thuill , Am Faochagach's southern shoulder, follow ATV tracks travelling along the crest.

Follow the ATV tracks northwards as they climb for around 100m before levelling out on a higher grass-covered crest. The tracks continue for another 1km before hitting some boulderfield as ground begins to climb once more. The tracks disappear , but a faint path can be found in the boulderfield climbing another 50m or so before gradient eases.

Nearing Am Faochagach's wide crest, Fannichs beyond

Nearing Am Faochagach's wide crest, Fannichs beyond

Some more boulderfield while aiming north-east to begin the final climb to Am Faochagach's summit where less stoney ground is crossed. The gradient levels out and the small untidy pile of stones on Am Faochagach's summit is met.

Nearing Am Faochagach's wide crest, Fannichs beyond

Nearing Am Faochagach's wide crest, Fannichs beyond

3. Return

Crossing the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain

Crossing the Abhainn a' Gharbhrain

From Am Faochagach's summit, most hillwalkers will be happy to about-turn and re-trace their steps back to the roadside at Loch Glascarnoch.

An alternative is to extend the route down Meallan Ban over to Cona' Mheall and return by Loch a' Choire Ghranda and Loch nan Eilean. This gives a fine circular route with the option of scrambling on Cona' Mheall's southern shoulder and a decent (if rather soggy) path for the final 3km or so back to the roadside by Loch Droma.

4. Personal thoughts

Sunrise above Ben Wyvis and Loch Vaich seen from the eastern slopes of Am Faochagach

Sunrise above Ben Wyvis and Loch Vaich seen from the eastern slopes of Am Faochagach

The first time I'd aimed up Am Faochagach, on an early start on a crisp March morning, I headed up the western side of Loch Vaich from the dam at its southern end.

There was a vague path through woodland with a rickey bridge over the first burn, the Allt Coir' a' Chliabhain. No such luck for crossing the Allt Glas Toll Mor further on - so some rough hillside needed climbing before being able to get to a faint path Am Faochagach's south-eastern shoulder and onto Meall Gorm to continue to Am Faochagach's summit.

On Meallan Ban looking to Seana Bhraigh

On Meallan Ban looking to Seana Bhraigh

This was the start of a fairly epic day out, heading over to Seana Bhraigh followed by the Corbett Carn Ban and returning over Beinn a' Chaisteil before dropping back into Strath Vaich.

On Meallan Ban looking to Seana Bhraigh

On Meallan Ban looking to Seana Bhraigh

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Alternative and nearby routes »

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