It was a stunning spring morning as I drove west towards Corrie Hallie. An Teallach dominated the views from the ‘Destitution Road’ and I had to make a few stops to take photos of some of the classic views of the peak against a clear blue sky!
Glas Tholl, An Teallach from the A832 just south of Coire Hallie
As I wandered up Gleann Chaorachain spring was in full swing with fresh buds on the trees and a constant accompaniment of bird song. By a plantation near the top of the glen I saw a couple of young golden eagles swooping high above the trees. It was a steady climb up the glen with a big pack on but worth the effort on reaching the high point by a large cairn where the track emerges onto high open moorland and the peaks of the Fisherfield Forest burst into view ahead. From there I headed off on the rough path to Shenavall Bothy in Strath na Sealga. The bothy stays out of view until the very last minute, only coming into sight as you drop down to the bottom of a small side glen, but when it does appear, it has to be one of the finest views in the Highlands.
With time against me but conditions looking good I decided it would be good to get out west to Assynt and take in the relatively accessible summit of Cul Mor in winter conditions before the thaw sets in at the weekend. There was much more snow around than I expected, the snow line was around 300m on the way across and there was a slow thaw during the day. It was a beautiful morning, but more of a mixed bag in the afternoon.
I took in an anti-clockwise circuit of the summit and Creag nan Calman. There was deep, soft snow on the upper part of the hill and tricky conditions in places crossing boulder fields obscured by snow.
It was a good ascent, with stunning views of Suilven, Canisp and the hills behind Inchnadamph. Part of the way I met another John from Ullapool. It was good to have some company on the way up and I got some good practice higher up breaking trail.
Suilven from Cul Mor
After a nice summit/lunchtime chat we headed different ways and I had to navigate a little to find my way round to and then off Creag nan Calman. There was a brief break in the cloud giving an atmospheric view of Cul Beag.
Cul Beag catching some nice light
Picking up the outward route just west of Meallan Diomhain I was lucky to catch some amazing late afternoon winter light, bringing out all the different shades of orange and brown wonderfully and casting long shadows across the land. Unfortunately some drizzle set in about 1km from the car but it wasn’t enough to dampen a great day in Assynt.
The weather for Monday was looking like the best for a wee while and with the day free I decided it was time to get and out and enjoy some of the early season snows.
Strathcarron seemed like a good venue and I was keen to take in a route that was different from the standard route up this pair of hills, which is a little steep and boggy (to say the least!), so I set off from the car park at Craig shortly after 9. My plan was to traverse the former Munro, now Corbett Sgurr nan Ceannaichean and then onto Moruisg. It’s a fairly lengthy walk-in up a track from here but you gain height quickly and the view back to the Coulin Forest, in particular Fuar Tholl, just gets better and better. Its not long before you feel like you are properly getting into the mountains.
Near the first wire bridge over the Allt a’ Chonais I opted to take an old path across the hillside to cut the corner of the track. This is quite boggy and indistinct in places and propbably not worth the bother. However, it does bring you right to the start of the path up Sgurr nan Ceannaichean which is quite handy. And what a path it is! It is a bit grown-over in places and also lost in some places due to subsidence, but this is a properly old skool stalker’s path zig-zagging up this steep hillside making for an enjoyable the climb. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it.
Just after starting up, a C130-Hercules came over the Bealach Bhearnais and flew by at eye level which was quite cool. I reached the first snow around 650m, then at 730m the path comes to an abrupt end. Its a steep climb from there up wide slopes to the summit of SnC. The view along the ridge to Moruisg was stunning.
Moruisg from Sgurr nan Ceannaichean
I met about 8 people on this top, the only people I saw all day.
After lunch I wandered along to Moruisg in about 45 minutes. It was a lovely walk along an easy ridge with great views north to Torridon and Fisherfield. There was really only a dusting of snow on top but it was good to be on some snow for the first time this season. It was really noticable how much more snow was in the north on the likes of the Fannaichs and Wyvis but it was quite localised.
View back to Sgurr nan Ceannaichean from Moruisg
After another summit break to take in the scene down the strath and out to the Cuillins which had appeared for the first time all day, I wandered down ESE to the 874m top ESE and then headed south to pick up another amazing old path, equally winding, for a knee friendly walk down to Glenuaig Lodge.
Maoile Lunndaidh from the decent to Glenuaig Lodge
From Glenuaig it’s about 8km back to the car. A long-way, but it’s a good track through some of my favourite hill country so I was quickly lost in my thoughts and didn’t notice the distance.
There were a lot of red deer knocking about the glen which were fun to watch, but a bit too far away to take a picture. I was back at the car just as it got dark and the temperature was already dropping quickly. Hopefully it stays cold for some more snowy action later in the week.