Thursday, 16 June 2011

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever....

Another Wednesday, another chance to down tools and head out for a day in the hills. Well-timed this week as well, after the frustration of not getting out at all on Tuesday, glued to the PC trying to sort out a work issue.

The weather forecast was reasonable, but I awoke to rain and heavy grey clouds. The potential planned day out to Seana Braigh was dropped - I want good views when I go there. Instead, a plan formed to drive to the western end of Loch Glascarnoch and then, depending on conditions, either head south to a round of four munros, or north to the lonely munro Am Faochagach.

As it turned out, shafts of sunlight were bursting through the clouds by the time I parked by the weather station at the lochside and the clouds were noticeably lifting. So, decision made to head south, initially following the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, to its junction with the Allt an Loch Sgeirich, where I headed up pathless slopes to skirt Creagh Dhubh Fannaich to reach the bealach below the first munro Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, which was an easy climb up increasingly bouldery slopes.

The mist was swirling around the top, but there were some views to be had. But I didn't linger, instead heading west along the cliff edge towards Sgurr Mor. Here a decision had to be made. I'd been up Sgurr Mor before and it was completely hidden by cloud. On its lower flanks, an impressive stalker's path winds its way across steep slopes to emerge below Meall nam Peithirean. I decided to take that, although it looked as though it was perched precariously above the drop.

In fact, it was no such thing and was a joy to trot around. Soon enough I was climbing the slopes of the intermediary top of Meall nam Peithirean and looking back to gain magnificent views of Sgurr Mor, on which the cloud had now gathered in the northern coire and was billowing up across the top, looking like an active volcano.

The route continued south-east onto the flat-topped munro of Meall Gorm and then down to the Bealach Ban. If my understanding of that is right, it's the "fair" bealach or "white" bealach? If so, that would seem to come from the strip of very light-coloured grass which rings the top of the coire lip.

From the bealach, it was a short pull up to the final munro of An Coileachan, from where it was obvious that the weather was closing in quickly, low cloud inching its way across the sky and rain now falling incessantly. From the top, it was a pathless steep drop, avoiding the crags, to pick up a path on the eastern side of Loch Gorm, which eventually dropped down to join the burn and a boggy, tough run of around 4 miles back to the car.

A wonderful day out on wild, remote hills. Fantastic views down to Loch Fannaich and across to the hills of the great wilderness. Definitely somewhere I shall be returning to explore more.

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