Sgurr Mor from the east

Fannichs from the south

Hillwalking route on the Munros in the Fannaichs from Fannich Lodge

This route taking in all nine Munros in the Fannichs mountain range makes for an epic day out and begins (and ends) with a 12km cycle up a private road in the peaceful land surrounding Loch Fannich.



Route outline


  Map base ©OpenStreetMap
Munros

Sgurr Mor

Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Sgurr Breac

A' Chailleach

Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich

Meall Gorm

An Coileachan

Walk ascent 2850m (9350ft)
         distance 37km (23m)
         time 13:30hr
Bike ascent 200m (650ft)
         distance 24km (15m)
         time 2:00hr
Start/finish Lochluichart
Grid Ref : NH313626
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


From the roadside, Fannich Lodge is around 12km away. Most of the route to the lodge is on tarred road with a gentle incline for much of the way, therefore use of a bike is recommended. There is one section of around 2km of untarred road, so perhaps a bike equipped to cope with rough surfaces is preferred.

Away from Fannich Lodge, fine tracks lead along the lochside into the heart of a wilderness. Beyond the tracks, there's not much in the way of paths on the hillsides and slopes, but once on the mountain crests, well-worn paths can be followed and occasional sections of fence-lines aid navigation.



Route map




Route description


1. Getting to start near Grudie

The route to Fannich Lodge begins by the A832

Around 40km north-west of Inverness, the A832 does a loop from the A835 trunk road near Garve up to Gairloch, around the coast to Poolewe and Aultbea, then down and back to the A835 at Braemore junction.

From the junction just north of Garve, around 8km west on the A832, just after Lochluichart and just before Grudie power station is the access road to Glen Fannich. Opposite this entrance there is a long layby which was formed from the remains of the old single-track road on which there is room for around 10 vehicles.


2. Fannich Lodge

Fionn Bheinn seen from Fannich Lodge

Ideally on a bike, head up the private tarred road through forestry. Initally fairly steep, the road climbs and heads over a cattle-grid through a deer-fence. The gradient easies and ahead a rough mountain can be seen above the trees - this is Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich !

Out of the forest, the road passes the house at Aultdearg , then follows the River Grudie towards Loch Fannich. The impressive eastern corries of An Coileachan come into view and the road reaches a junction , the route to Fannich Lodge is marked off right.

The tarred road is left behind and for the next 2km the track is fairly rough. Turning around the south-eastern slopes of An Coileachan, the track turns back to a tarred road and travels for a further 3km towards Fannich Lodge .

Through a gate just before the lodge, a sign points a route off right avoiding going through the gardens of the lodge. Now heading uphill on an estate track, continue for around 500m to the highest point on the track at a sharp turn - this is the return point from An Coileachan, so leave bikes here.


3. A' Chailleach

A' Chailleach above the ruins

Now on foot, follow the track westwards for around 500m or so. At this point, rather than continue on the rough track that twists and turns, I decided to leave it and drop south-west over soft ground aiming directly for the main track, joining it 1km west of Fannich Lodge. This track heads westwards, then climbs up into some forestry. Through the forestry, the track emerges and travels towards some sad ruins - the stables remain in remarkably good condition !

Beyond the ruins, the track deteriotates into a rough path which heads northwards. The path comes to a bridge over the Allt Leac a' Bhealaich - cross this, then leave the path and head north-north-west over grass-covered ground. The route to Bealach Toll an Lochain is pretty direct, pathless and climbs gently up grass-covered ground avoiding some rocky crags on route.

From the bealach, a path follows a line of fence-posts as it continues up the crest of A' Chailleach's eastern shoulder. Just to the south of the crest, an easier line on softer ground keeps out of any prevailing westerly winds. Both routes converge by a tiny lochan just east of A' Chailleach's summit, from where the small cairn on the top is just a couple of minutes away.


4. Sgurr Breac

Toman Coinnich and Sgurr Breac from A' Chailleach

Retrace your steps does to the bealach , from where you'll see a path heading directly up the minor summit of Toman Coinnich ahead. You can opt to head up and over this, though to reach the near bealach, Bealach a' Choire Bhric , it's actually more direct to contour around Toman Coinnich. In mist, compass work might be needed as there are no path to follow on the contour route !

Upon reaching Bealach a' Choire Bhric , follow a rough path zig-zagging a route up the western shoulder of Sgurr Breac. A cairn comes into view and the ground levels out, the summit is a couple of hundred metres further on.


5. Sgurr nan Each

Sgurr nan Each from the wall on Sgurr Bhreac

On Sgurr Breac's summit plateau, the path follows the crest, however this causes a dog-leg in the route. So instead take a bearing eastwards from Sgurr Breac's summit cairn and begin to lose height on grassy slopes. There is no path to follow, but after losing around 100m of height, you'll meet up with the path again as it crosses the faint remains of a wall. The path sticks to the crest of the south-eastern shoulder of Sgurr Breac, turning eastwards before the last drop to cross a bealach at 548m.

A path crosses the bealach north-to-south - this can be used for an escape route back to Loch Fannich.

From the bealach head eastwards and begin climbing up grassy slopes - there are some burns in which to refresh water-bottles on route. Above and ahead there is a line of faint crags - head to near the right end of this - fairly easy to negotiate. Higher up Cadha na Guite - the bealach between Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each - is reached on which a path follows the crest line southwards. Follow this path above a fine coire with crags falling eastwards. On the final approach to the summit, a direct line slightly to the west of the path takes a route over softer ground. Sgurr nan Each's summit is reached with fine views over Loch Fannich and to the remaining Fannich peaks.


6. Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Sgurr nan Clach Geala from Sgurr nan Each

Re-trace your steps back to Cada na Guite , from where the the ascent up Sgurr nan Clach Geala looks daunting. Sgurr nan Clach Geala is a most impressive mountain, substantially loftier than Sgurr nan Each, but the ascent up its southern shoulder is easier and less daunting than expected !

From the bealach, simply follow the well-worn and obvious path uphill. The climb is continuous and just shy of 300m and levels out by some rocks south-east of Sgurr nan Clach Geala's summit.

A sharp turn left (north-west) is made, as the path cuts a line over a grassy crest above the impressive crags of Eagan Tuill Bhig. A small cairn sits on Sgurr nan Clach Geala's summit with the shattered remains of a trig-point a few footsteps to the north.


7. Meall a' Chrasgaidh

Meall a' Chrasgaidh from the south

If windy or wet, the descent down Sgurr nan Clach Geala requires a bit of care !

From Sgurr nan Clach Geala's summit, follow the path on the crest above Eagan Tuill Bhig as it turns north-eastwards. There are a couple of slabby bits that may be slippy if wet and it may be advisable to keep a distance from the coire's edge if windy.

After losing height of around 100m, leave the edge and aim due north encountering a few patches of boulderfield. A faint path can be traced passing the western side of a lochan before meeting a large erratic boulder (a fine spot for a lunch stop). The route then crosses a damp bealach , where stepping stones can be found to hop over the wettest sections.

Beyond the bealach the path becomes more obvious as it climbs up the southern slopes of Meall a' Chrasgaidh, though it does seem to try to hug the top of the coire above Loch a' Mhadaidh and I found it easier to aim more direct for the summit. A rough cairn sits on Meall a' Chrasgaidh's summit just above a stone shelter circle with enough room for 2 or 3 people to hide out of easterly winds.


8. Sgurr Mor

Sgurr Mor from Meall a' Chrasgaidh

From Meall a' Chrasgaidh's cairn begin to return towards the bealach and upon approaching it, keep to its northern side - it's much drier than the route taken earlier ! This also makes for a fairly direct route towards Carn na Criche .

After crossing the bealach, a gentle climb up grassy ground gains the crest of Carn na Criche. You might be tempted to try and by-pass this minor summit, but crags on the southern aspect prevent this, so best to simply head over the summit using a faint path.

On the other side of Carn na Criche's summit, the path drops slightly, meandering a route between rocks. The foot of Sgurr Mor is arrived at and the climb ahead tooks substantial.

The path begins up the slope obvious enough, then comes and goes as it encounters rocks and boulders. And just when it looks like the summit is ahead, another appears beyond - there are a few false summits on the way !

Abruptly the large cairn on Sgurr Mor's true summit appears. Superb views from are enjoyed from this loft peak on clear days.


9. Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich

Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich from Sgurr Mor

Leaving Sgurr Mor's large cairn behind and follow an obvious path southwards around the top of Coireag Barr an Fhialaidh. The path turns eastwards as it drops down grass-covered slopes. After losing around 150m of height, the path drops to bouldery ground and meets with a wall, in which is embedded a small stone shelter .

Beyond the shelter, the wall disappears and a faint path travels north-east over delightful grass-blanketed ground. The damp ground below Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich is gained - water-bottles can be refreshed here.

Although a constructed stalkers route heads north-east from the bealach, look instead for a less obvious path climbing eastwards up between boulders. After a short climb up boulders, a direct route is made to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich's summit on which there are two small untidy cairns.


10. Meall Gorm

Meall Gorm

Retrace your steps to the small stone shelter . Beyond this and initially following the path back up towards Sgurr Mor hike until you come to a small cairn. This indicates a junction in the path - you probably wouldn't see this earlier descending Sgurr Mor ! Heading off left, a very obvious path curves and contours around a coire and leads onto the south-eastern slopes of Sgurr Mor - note that in winter conditions, or even into late spring or early summer there will be a cornice in this coire, so you'll have to climb a bit rather than just contouring.

Once on the south-eastern shoulder of Sgurr Mor, hike over the bump of Meall nan Peithirean . Drop south-east and pick up a path and faint traces of a wall going around Creachan Rairigidh.

Beyond this the path leaves the crest (it's a stalkers path and returns to Fannich Lodge, so a handy escape route !), so instead of following it, leave it and begin ascending grass and occasional bouldery sections on Meall Gorm's north-western shoulder. It's not long before the small untidy cairn on Meall Gorm's boulder summit is reached !


11. An Coileachan

An Coileachan's summit

Continuing eastwards from Meall Gorm on a wide flat crest without much in the way of path to follow, you'll come to the remains of an old stalker's refuge (the roof blew off in the early 90's, therefore there is now only shelter out the wind here). Past the shelter the crest continues to a minor bump (marked 922m on OS maps).

From this bump and on clear days, An Coileachan is ahead and there is an opportunity to pick out a descent route for later in the day, which follows a heathery break through boulderfields !

Leaving the minor summit behind, begin to lose height while aiming south-eastwards. Further down, keeping slightly to the right of the crest avoids rough ground as a descent to Bealach Ban is made.

Begin the climb up An Coileachan, no matter which route you take some boulderfield will be encountered and there's not much in the way of path. The northern shoulder of this Munro is grass covered for the last bit of ascent to the summit . An Coileachan has a well-contructed cairn on the top, from where superb views can be appreciated on clear days.


12. Return to Fannich Lodge and Grudie

Back down to Fannich Lodge

On more pathless terrain, turn south-west and follow An Coileachan's wide south-western ridge. Keeping slightly to the right (north) of the crest, you should be able to meet up with the top of the heathery gap in the boulderfields.

Descend down the break, then drop over more heather ground then thick grass to meet up with a fence-line above Fannich Lodge. Clamber over the fence, then return to the track where you left your bike . Return to Grudie retracing your route earlier in the day.





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