Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Fannaichs and Ullapool Hills: Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich (209), Sgurr Mor (43), Meall Gorm (215) and An Coileachan (266)

Walk date: 20/06/08
My Munro #'s: 153, 154, 155 and 156

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Byn leea voar fannich - big grey hill of the Fannich - 954m
Skoor more - big peak - 1110m
Myowl gorram - blue hill - 949m
An kilyachan - the little cock - 923m

Duration - 09:45 - 18:45
Distance - 28.9 km
Total ascent - 1795m
Weather - Cloudy with periods of strong winds on top. Periods of heavy rain and two bursts of strong stinging hail but with even dry time between showers to keep you happy.
Team - solo.
Other hikers: 2.

Although not advertised, the northern approach is fine:

Paul P and George Ullapool Hills 2008 - Day 7 (Fri)

After the previous day's epic, and with the prospect of a 4-Munro day ahead, Paul decided to play a cautious hand on this day and stay in Ullapool to rest his knee and ankles. Thus, I set out from an exposed car park on the A835 and started looking for the path up alongside Allt a' Mhadaidh. My book had actually recommended a start from Loch Fannaich which would have required a 8km bike ride up a private road but after the day on Meall a' Chrasgaidh/Sgurr nan Clach Geala/Sgurr nan Each I had eyed this alternative route in from the north and in any case favoured any route now that didn't include the use of a bike!

Predictably I was immediately faced with a river crossing, this time of the shallow but slimy variety. This crossing led to another river but remarkably one with a bridge attached. After crossing this one the path was good and obvious and rose to meet a hydro power station track which had come up from the end of Loch Droma.

I stayed on this track until its end where a path then continues in the same line and presents yet another river crossing, this time with a comedy cairn on the far side. Without too much trouble I got across but soon had to leave the path as it was clearly continuing straight to Loch a' Mhadaidh while I needed to make a break for the slopes of Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich. Once on its slopes the familiar slow rise on rough and rocky ground began but was rewarded with grand views below.

Once on top the wind immediately made its presence known and made normal walking difficult. After touching the summit I quickly dropped SW to the col for some protection and set myself up for more with some refreshments. It was fortunately I had taken that opportunity as within minutes a strong hailstorm came in from behind Sgurr Mor and made things truly unpleasant, even turning my thoughts to a retreat once I'd taken in this second hill.

This was a day of changeable weather however, and as soon as I started climbing on Sgurr Mor the sun came out again making for a very enjoyable visit to this tall peak being an excellent vantage point to its fine neighbouring hills.

From Sgurr Mor easy walking takes you to the shallow crest of Meall Gorm and then down and up onto the back of An Coilleachan, which offers superb views of Loch Fannaich and the rest of the ridge down to it. This would be a fine route onto these hills but for me it was a slope too far and after taking in the grandeur of the location I set about re-tracing my many steps back. A great set of hills that offers a fairly easy day out once the work of the initial ascent has been done.

Well, may as well start the day with a river crossing hey?

But only one to start with as some nutter has built a bridge!

A subtle cairn marks the branch between the Hydro road and the path:

You know you're going to have to cross this Allt a' Mhadaidh:

No betting on a path up onto Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich:

Views north from the grassy back of Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich:

Loch a' Mhadaidh just making an appearance to the NW:

The onward route to tall fella Sgurr Mor:

Looking back to Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich:

Now that's what I call a shelter!

Serious drops off Sgurr Mor:

And then some:

A fine cairn for the fine hill of Sgurr Mor:

Over to Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each:

Down to Beinn Laith Mhor Fannaich:

And the onward route south with Loch Li and Loch Fannaich in view:

Looking back to Sgurr Mor:

Loch an Fhuar Thuill Mhoir and Loch Li:

Onward to Meall Gorm:

And finally to An Coilleachan:

A good cairn marks the day's furthest point:

Looking all the way back north:

Tempting lush slopes continue on down to Loch Fannaich:

The remote western end of Loch Fannaich:

With Slioch just visible in the distance:

And now with the full panorama:

A tombstone on An Coilleachan reminds us of potential dangers:

An example of some fine Scottish weather as I returned to Sgurr Mor!

Snow and cloud close the day:

A helpful summit-avoiding path on Beinn
Laith Mhor Fannaich:

Another grand Ullapool evening:

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