Our blog - Mullardoch, 9-10 Jun'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Mullardoch Munros

9-10 June 2018
Weekend of guided hiking up the Munros north and south of Loch Mullardoch. Steven Fallon was leading....

Day 1 - North Mulllardoch Munros

Myself and our group of keen hikers arrived at the dam at the eastern end of Loch Mullardoch early this Saturday morning. The forecast for today was for little wind, warm with bursts of rain developing into thunderstorms !

We'd booked Angus, the Loch Mullardoch Ferry owner, for 8am so as to ensure we got everyone back in plenty of time for something to eat in Cannich or wherever they were staying. The loch was calm and the boat-trip along it was a breeze. With the water level being pretty low, Angus had to negotiate the 'narrows' to get us to our landing. Once there, a gentle haul up on a faint trod took up into the mist on the slopes of An Socach. As we gained height, we began to break out of the mist, our efforts being rewarded with a glorious view to other peaks above a cloud inversion. We also were beginning to hear the faint rumbles of thunder in the distance to the south-east of us. Up to the summit, time for some eats and a grand vista !

A hike along An Socach's easterly ridge, narrow in places, gradually got us down to the col below An Riabhachan. We met a few other folk coming in the opposite direction. Some more narrow ridge walking and up to the broad crest of An Riabhachan, I could feel the tingle of the electricity in the air, the thunder getting nearer.

We didn't stop on An Riabhachan, I felt more inclined to get further down, the thunder getting nearer and louder. Down to the next col, time for more food and little search for water (it's been a very dry June so far). The last big pull of the day was next - Sgurr na Lapaich, a full 300m ascent (1,000ft in old money). On our way up, the cloud came back in, and aparantly a lightning flash was seen by others behind me, followed by more loud thunder. I'd checked our options for escape routes, best route was to continue up, or it was going to be a long detour along the northern shores of Loch Mullardoch (which I know from previous experience is a tiring walk). But we reached the summit in good time, tho didn't linger, but bounded over the rocks on the south side of the mountain to join the path over grass to the bealach below.

Carn nan Gobhar was our final Munro of the day, the cloud now having lifted, leaving a light drizzle and fine views. We took some summit photos (some hair-raising with the electricity in the air), then hiked down some delightful grassy slopes (eastwards) to drop to the new track below to follow back to the dam.

An eventful day, especially since most of us hadn't seen the electric hair thing before !

Day 2 - South Mulllardoch Munros

We started today much the same as yesterday, meeting with Angus and heading west along Loch Mullardoch in his boat. Unlike yesterday, the loch was a bit choppy and the cloud was higher. Angus couldn't get us through the narrows (his radar/sonar thing to tell the depth of water was impressive !), so landed us at a more easterly point than on previous events.

Out of the boat, a gentle and gradual climb through long grass took us over Allt Coire an Lochain to the foot of Beinn Fhionnlaidh at around c500m, from where a steep climb led to the summit. Looking back to the loch (lovely view), we could see Angus had dropped another group and they were heading uphill - would we have some chat with them later ? Onto the summit, in clear conditions, we downed some foot as we sat enjoying the vast views all around.

Leaving Beinn Fhionnlaidh behind, we began heading south aiming for Mam Sodhail next, bypassing Carn Eighe on the way which lurked in cloud. In the main we stuck to grassy slopes and made fairly rapid progress up towards Mam Sodhail, leaving our sacks at the col between this and Carn Eighe. Time for some posing on the summit ! The cloud on Carn Eighe had now lifted and we could see it's impressive ridge, but also the huge distance which lay ahead (gulp !).

Hiking without rucksacks does feel a little like cheating, but the boost you get from not carrying the weight brings a smile to your face and some relief to knees. We were back to the col where we picked up out sacks and began the 100m hike uphill to Carn Eighe's summit. On the way, we met up with the other group - they'd gone over Carn Eighe first before aiming for Mam Sodhail - I guess they'll have to retrace their steps back up Carn Eighe. Up to Carn Eighe's summit and time for some lunch proper.

Eastwards from Carn Eighe is interesting - the narrow ridge on Stob Coire Dhomhnuill with its shattered boulders needs negotiating (easier than it looks), beyond which the crest line twists and turns as it travels. After hiking over all this, it was weird to find remains of the steps put in on some the descents (just a few left) before a grassy pull up to Tom a'Choinnich's grassy summit.

Toll Creagach, our final Munro of the weekend, lay ahead. Descending off Tom A'Choinnich, we had to stick to the ridge-line as snow was hanging on in the eastern facing coires - a little bit of fun on some easy scrambling. Onto a vast grassy plain, a gentle ascent up Toll Creagach was a fine way to take our last ascent, following a line of occasional fence-posts and faint path.

In my opinion, the drop to the Mullardoch Dam is best taken with a dog-leg to the next col and following the eastern bank of the Allt Fraoch-choire, as a hike north-east from Toll Creagach over Creag a'Bhaca ends up on chest-deep heather. We followed the burn, bounding over grass, bog, peat and heather to reach the edge of the woodland below with fine examples of large scots pine. Above, we could see the other group took the Creag a'Bhaca route ! Back at the dam, relieved to be on tarmac and exhilarated with our achievements, we said our goodbyes, looking forward to more adventures up high.

A great weekend in fine company. The weird hair-raising weather will never be forgotten !

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

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