Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Dundonnell and Fisherfield Hills: Slioch (170)

Walk date: 15/06/08
My Munro #'s: 145

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Slee-och - a spear - 981m

Duration - 10:45 - 17:00
Distance - 19.4 km
Total ascent - 1350m
Weather - Cloudy but with a lot of sunshine getting through. Cold wind for a time on top.
Team - with Paul.
Other hikers: about 6.

A long walk-in, but worth it when you get there:

Paul P and George Ullapool Hills 2008 - Day 2 (Sun)

Having both welcomed Paul to the Highlands and fired myself up on a caramel macchiato at Inverness Airport, we ventured quite some way in the car along the A832 to this outpost of hill action for the week, the mighty, imposing, Slioch. I had seen this hill many times when I had had my Torridon week back in 2006 and I was quite excited to be finally making out for it.

After parking at Incheril, which is just a short track away from Kinlochewe, we started along the unavoidable but pleasant enough 4km of walk-in until Abhainn an Fhasaigh is met in the impressively deep gorge of Gleann Bianasdail with the serious cliffs of Beinn a' Mhuinidh overhead. At the far side of the bridge the path splits immediately after the crossing. Take the harder to see right (north) branch for Slioch. We actually started out on the more obvious NW path on my reasoning only to be forced to cross some bog and heather to get literally back on track.

The path, once you're on it, rises well and progress is good with fine views opening up below to the head of Loch Maree. Before long, the incline flattens out and you're into the secret corrie of Coire na Sleaghaich. Paul and I actually decided that Slioch's top resembled a Yorkshire pudding (with one bite taken out) as from each of the other sides it looks solid without a hint of this corrie within it. Do not be tempted to climb any of the steep inner sides straight away but instead stay with the path for a while as it eventually switches back on itself to climb onto the SE ridge just to the east of the eastern lochan.

Once on the ridge the lofty path continues steeply but safely to the summit plateau where a short stroll takes you to the actual summit point which in clear weather provides a hard to beat view with serious drops down to Loch Maree and commanding views over to the isolated region of Fisherfield. As we sat there, we eyed the remote peaks of Ruadh Stac Mor and A' Mhaighdean enviously and came up with a plan to set out for them the next day whilst we still had sufficient hunger for the seriously long trek it would entail.

Anyhow, with a chill setting in we couldn't sit there forever and so we pressed on along the sharp but easy to walk ridge of Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. Onwards we made our way down a path that disappeared amongst rocks leaving us to ponder the best return route to the corrie. Of course I was immediately attempted to go direct which predictably led to a steep and slow route over heather and rock. A better plan would have been to carry on SE and come down much gentler slopes before crossing the corrie to the main path again, but taking our time, our route worked out fine.

Back at the car, I took us to Ullapool along the impressive coastal route fully savouring this grand grand landscape and becoming eager for more of it, although maybe after a few beers!

A long but pleasant walk-in along side the Kinlochewe river:

First sight of our mighty target, the imposing Slioch:

The very, very impressive cliffs of Beinn a' Mhuinidh:

The good path meant height was gained quick over Loch Maree:

A nice spot for a stroll:

The view getting better:

Into the high corrie Coire na Sleaghaich:

Getting steep, the path climbs a corrie wall:

Here comes the summit, onto the top of Slioch:

Back (SSE) toward Kinlochewe:

WNW showing a more 'tricky' side to Slioch:

Paul modeling the impressive views:

Get some raw cairn action:

Nice spot for lunch:

Loch Maree looking good:

And then some, NW toward the coast:

Loch Garbhaig and deep into Fisherfield:

Loch Garbhaig, Lochan Fada and far Munros
A' Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor:

The full panorama of that summit view:

Taking the northern descent to Sgurr an Thuill Bhain:

Nice elevated view back to Slioch:

Sorry I couldn't stop taking pictures of Fisherfield:

The southern end of Lochan Fada was pretty good too:

A few choices of descent back into the corrie, but keep patient!

A nice evening back in Ullapool to return to:

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