Monday, May 14, 2007

Glen Shiel Hills: A' Chralaig (33) and Mullach Fraoch-choire (49)

Walk date: 12/05/07
My Munro #'s: 129 and 130

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
A chraalik - basket or creel - 1120m
Moolach froech-chora - heather-corrie peak - 1102m

Duration - 07:15-12:00
Distance - 15.5km
Total ascent - 1209m
Weather - low wind but it still had an influence on temperature, light snow/cold rain at height.
Team - solo
Other hikers: none at height, 2 in glen not going for the hills, 4 on way up from afar

A wider route down, but otherwise on track:

Hiking Expedition '07 - Glen Shiel area - Day 9 (Sun 13th)

With this pair including the highest and the third-highest of all the hills from this Glen Shiel break, it perhaps shouldn't be a surprise that I left them until last! With an expected five hour duration and then a drive back to Aberdeen it also required a 07:15 start!

The route itself is straightforward enough; from the carpark beside the forest just to the east of The Cluanie Inn, walk along the road for a brief spell before turning onto the farmer's track that heads up An Caorann Mor. However, the time to get to know this track is later on. For now, look for a big white stone on the first turn, literally just a few metres in, as beside it a thin path begins to tail off NE up Fuaran Mor Chluain. The path is so thin that it cannot be easily seen from the framer's track, but it does offer a rapid ascent onto the broad ridge, which then provides easy walking and ascent, taking you all the way to A' Chralaig, the last 100m of which on this day featured a non-negligible amount of snow underfoot, but thankfully the path itself stayed obvious and clear.

First signs of the white stuff on A' Chralaig:

A thin path in snow with big drops? Excellent!

The mighty 3m tall cairn of A' Chralaig:

The ridge is then followed without difficulty to Stob Coire na Cralaig and its small cairn and then a steep descent and rise again to Na Geurhain and Mullach Fraoch-choire. Despite having seen this scary looking section from Sgurr nan Conbhairean on day one, and my guidebook talking of scaling pinnacles, the route onwards actually offers no real challenges as the path gently weaves its way around the impressive features. On a clear day the no-doubt steep drops all around might add a little more interest of course!

Pinnacles, outcrops, but a good path too:

I'll take the safe path around this lot:

After a good hug of the cairn, the last for this expedition, I returned to the col between the summit and Stob Coire na Cralaig where a cairn-marked path descends into An Caorann Mor. This becomes indistinct at times, but is quite fast and leads to the also indistinct path along the glen, which fortunately at the sheep pens marked on the OS 1:25,000, turns into the aforementioned farmer's track, and then a rapid stomp home to Munro victory!!

Cairn and shelter of Mullach Fraoch-choire:

The obligatory self-portrait at my last Glen Shiel cairn:

On returning, a safer path does off to the right here:

Finally below the cloud, looking north to Fionngleann:

Deer on the lower slops of Mullach Fraoch-choire:

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