Finishing The Fannaichs

31 10 2012

June 2010

My first priority for my 2010 Ullapool trip was to finish the Fannaichs – quite a hard day for the first walk of a trip but it was the one I most wanted to get done so I decreed that was where we were going!

We got just about the last place in the popular carpark at the end of Loch Glascarnoch by 0905, had a chat with a guy who kindly moved his van up a bit for my Sunny and were off by about 20 past… He and his dog were going all the way out to An Coileachean as he still had that one to do – don’t think I could have that long plod both ways just to do An Coileachean myself.

After going briefly down the track and passing the weather station, a good path heads roughly SW along the burnside of the Abhainn a’ Ghuibhais Li which is very pleasant walking indeed. After about a mile and a quarter, another burn, the Allt an Loch Sgeirich, is reached on the right with a path on the nearer bank – we set off up it. This too was pleasant as it ascended until it flattened out further up – then it started the climbing up and down the banks routine as the terrain got rougher. We couldn’t really see where the path was aiming for so in the end we got fed up and just crossed the burn and climbed onto the ridge of Creag Dhubh Fannaich.

The ridge to the summit of this hill was easy and we were soon heading down for the col between that and Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich. It was an easy but fairly dull and stony ascent of the first Munro and, as we reached the summit, it clouded in and started to rain. That’s it for the day I thought… The summit was in the wind and cold so we didn’t stop at all – just continued off in the direction of Sgurr Mor – the route to which starts with a well-placed cairn…

It was a very steep and bouldery descent to the col but we found a wonderful natural shelter between the boulders at the bottom where we decided to stop for a coffee and a bit of Richard’s famous tea-loaf. As we sat it started to clear and we saw a chappie descending towards us from Sgurr Mor. He came our way and we had a quick information exchange – he was a Yorkshireman too and had come up from the Loch Fannaich side so Beinn Mhor Fannaich was an add-on to him. I’d find it hard to break off from the main ridge to add it on if I’d come up from that side – it’s not exactly a great hill, in fact it was our least favourite of the day…

We went our separate ways and we started what I thought looked a long and hard ascent to Sgurr Mor… not so! It was done in no time and very scenic all the way. Sgurr Mor looks stupendous from this side and I took quite a few photos of it (in fact it also looked stupendous from the later ridge so I took quite a few more). Unfortunately, the wind really picked up on this bit so I was staying well away from the edge!

Sgurr Mor from Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich col

Sgurr Mor & Carn na Criche

Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich from Sgurr Mor

Looking Across Sgurr Mor’s Crags

On Sgurr Mor, Richard sat hidden from the blasting gale behind the cairn while I set off with my camera to try to capture the exciting descent to Meall na Crasgaidh but couldn’t really get far down the ridge for the buffeting, nor keep my camera still enough for photos! It was even worse coming back into the wind – I had to crawl back up the last bit – I think the conical shape of Sgurr Mor was speeding the wind up as it wasn’t problematic on the ensuing ridge at all!

Meall a Chrasgaidh from Carn na Criche

Sgurr nan Clach Geala’s crags

The Easy Descent from Sgurr Mor

We quickly descended over the top of Meall nam Peithirean and into the lee of Meall Gorm. We were just about to bypass the small lump of Creachan Rairigidh on the path when I suddenly felt sorry for it and detoured across to visit its insignificant summit – Richard just continued on the bypass and looked for somewhere to shelter for another short break.

Meall nam Peithirean

Meall Gorm with Creachan Rairigidh in front

Across to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich

We had another quick coffee and more cake and continued… Meall Gorm looked easy I thought… wrong! Probably because I thought it was going to be a doddle it seemed quite a hard climb after all.

3 of these pictures are similar but the light kept changing on Sgurr Mor…

Sgurr Mor from Meall Gorm ascent

Sgurr Mor and Peithirean’s crags

Sgurr Mor & Clach Geala

We puffed across to the rocky summit and the lovely long, grassy ridge opened up ahead. To me it was a really delightful hill – exactly my sort of thing as I’m a ridge-walker by heart (and I don’t mean pointy narrow ridges!) It was springy and grassy with good views either side and I was in my element as I romped along – I don’t think Richard was all that fussed about it though. The top at the far end is one of those obliging tops which actually stands on your route and takes no effort at all – not one of your detour miles out of the way jobbies! The descent and ascent to An Coileachean didn’t look bad from there either…

Meall Gorm to An Coileachean

Our Round Starting from Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich in the distance on the right…

We were soon on the col and puffing up to An Coileachean, attempting to avoid most of the boulderfields on the way up. I found this the only really hard ascent of the day – but perhaps we were starting to tire? The wind hit in again near the summit but it is a lovely rocky place with plenty to hide behind so we had yet another break as it was such a lovely sunny day. Five minutes later we were heading back to the col.

An Coileachean’s Stunning East Ridge

The Descent Col

I’d worried ever so slightly about the descent from the col as there was no defined route and it looked pretty steep. We peered over the nearer edge and it looked do-able so we made our way down carefully as there were the odd small crag bands below us. It was pretty boggy all the way down but then we were pleased to see a path setting off from the bottom rising along the side of Meallan Buidhe.

Loch Gorm

Meallan na Saobhaidhe across Loch Gorm

The Round from Meallan Bhuidhe

We set off along the nice path and, as we bypassed below the summit, I again felt sorry for the hill and its probable lack of visitors so said I was just popping up to the top – Richard continued on the path. When I caught him back up he was no longer on a path but floundering across bogs and peat-hags! He said the path had disappeared just after I had.

We floundered on intending to follow the ridge of Meallan Buidhe to its end and then descend back to the Abhainn a’ Ghuibhais Li but soon got fed up and decided instead just to descend to the burn (I briefly refound the path but it petered out again). There was a very rough burnside path to start with and Richard slipped at one point and twisted his knee. I advised him to rest it for a few minutes (works wonders) but I think he just wanted to get back so he continued on. We did seem a very long way from the start at this point!

We eventually reached a bridge and crossed it as I suspected the path was better the other side of the burn – it was. We made slightly better progress now but Richard was clearly fed up – it was very hot down in the valley… After another mile or so, we reached the bridge which goes over to the path back through the forest but we continued along the burn as we wanted to go back on the nice path we’d come out on. Fortunately, after this bridge the path markedly improved.

Soon we crossed the burn we’d gone up at the start of the day and the path became wonderful again – it seemed to have grown in length though – I think it was the heat. I had Richard stop so I could get a drink of water from his pack (I carry the hot drinks) – unusually for me, I had quite a glug – it must definitely have been hot!

When we were about 20 minutes from the end of the walk I pushed on ahead as I just wanted to get my packs off and sit down really – I was also hoping to catch Tesco’s in Ullapool but we never made it. Richard was quite grumpy I didn’t walk with him for the last bit but I’m fairly unstoppable when I see the car or the road and really speed up – a bit like a horse going back to its stable! It had been a great day but neither of us really enjoyed the long walk out.

Stats: 17.5 miles, 4460 feet of ascent, 7 hours 50, 4 Munros, 2 tops and every other bump I saw…




6 responses

1 11 2012
Paul Shorrock

Monster day out! Just checked it on the map, and I’ve only ever driven through that area, never walked there.
ANOTHER one for the bloody ‘tick list’ 🙂


1 11 2012

Monster but superb day out – I really did enjoy it and it didn’t seem as hard as many I did last year when i was really going for it on the ‘remote’ Munros…


1 11 2012

‘nice’ , ‘delightful’, ‘easy’ – even the weather was on your side !

Will have to follow these on the map & with adjectives like those might even persuade (bribe) my kids to join me 🙂


1 11 2012

It was great. It would be okay doing it on your own in nice weather – it’s probably an awful walk in mist though as it’s pretty long…


1 11 2012

I did the Fannichs years ago in grim conditions.Didnt fancy them much.It was just bagging.5 then 4 if I remember.Nice to see in your photos the ground I actually travelled across as a howling wind kept the eyes watering and the hood pulled down most of the time.I,d imagine It would be nice to experience them in summer though.


1 11 2012

I really like the Fannaichs and really liked that walk. I’d do a shortened version of the main ridge from Loch Fannaich again another time. We did have great weather though apart from one episode of clouding in. The only Fannaichs I didn’t really care for were Sgurr Breac and A’ Chailleach – love the rest!


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