Glen Achall Gorge Scramble, Ullapool

7 11 2015

On one of my days off around Ullapool this summer, where the weather wasn’t really suitable for the higher hills, I took to my usual favourite glen – Glen Achall. This can be used as a long route to Seana Braigh but I just cycle to the end of the landrover track and back – about 8 miles each way. This time, on the way back, I had a look at a gorge scramble I’d been eyeing for a while…

Ullapool Hillwalk-Glen Achall1

(click on photos for full size-resolution – photos are from several different visits and a mix of digi and film)

The way to get to the glen is to cycle out of Ullapool heading north on the main road. Just as you exit the town (by the 40 zone sign I think), there is a right turn up a gravel and tarmac track to the quarries – this is also one of the routes to the ‘Ullapool Hill Walk’.

It’s a bit boring and non-scenic up through the quarries and this is the only real ascent and descent on the route – once you’ve got past them in a mile or so, you descend into the glen and it’s then a superb cycle all the way to East Rhiddoroch Lodge. At the lodge, there’s a fun swingy suspension bridge which I always park my bike up and have a play on. No idea what they think at the lodge as I just walk across it and back, bouncing all the way and grinning, then get back on my bike and cycle off again! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Needless to say, I have no photos of the boring section through the quarry but here is one of the river in a little gorge as you cross it to start the glen…

Glen Achall River Bridge

The path then descends slightly to Loch Achall which is long and lovely…

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(taken with Richard’s digi-camera as he’d turned back so I stole it off him!)

Loch & boat
(my proper camera again on another day)

Looking back to Beinn Ghobhlach…

Private glen to Beinn Gobhlach

The tarmac ends just at the drive to the big house but it’s still a great cycling track, even for my little fold-up…

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Richard’s digi-camera

I was cycling down the glen one red-hot day and, it being such a quiet glen, I’d taken my t-shirt off and was happily cruising along in my bra. Suddenly, round one of the corners, the lady of the house appeared in her Volvo. She stopped and wound down the window and I wondered what she was going to say. She just said hello and that it was a lovely day wasn’t it and carried on. I had to have a laugh at that!

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The little bike having a break (digi-photo)

This latest trip down the glen was in quite moody weather and alternated regularly between dark and dramatic, and sunny…

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Richard’s digi camera

Sometimes the hills down the end of the glen don’t seem to get any nearer…

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Richard’s digi-camera

After my bounce on the lodge’s bridge at the end of the track, I set off straight back along the glen – the weather went much more moody for a while…

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both Richard’s digi-camera
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I then headed off for my gorge at the top of which is the spectacular waterfall of the Eas a’ Chraosain. I’ve seen this gorge each time I’ve visited the glen and it looked very dry, blocky and scrambly – now I was to find out…

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(all gorge photos Richard’s digi camera)

I parked my bike up behind a wall after cycling some very flat, short turf across to an enclosure…

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On reaching the gorge I found it actually had water gushing down it this year – it has been a really wet summer. It was pretty blocky and route finding was very interesting indeed, especially remembering what I’d done on the way back down!

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The amount of loose rock was a little worrying and I wished I’d brought a helmet – the crags towering above had a lot of very loose stuff on them! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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Two shots looking back down…

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I tell ya – I’ll take Richard’s digi-camera anywhere! (but not my precious Zenith film SLR) ๐Ÿ˜‰ He didn’t know where I was going though so not to worry. He wouldn’t have come up the gorge anyway…

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Eventually I came to the stop point for me – without wanting to get very wet I wouldn’t have got up here (not sure whether I would have anyway). Time to turn back I think…

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I headed back down having to scratch my head quite a bit above the larger blocks to try to remember how I’d got up them and which side. It was all easy enough though with a bit of thought… I was quite sorry to leave the gorge but the bike was missing me!

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Last look back

I then cycled back off down the glen singing – what a great day out I’d had ๐Ÿ™‚

Private loch-into sun
nice evening light on the loch (Zenith film SLR)

Back at Ullapool all was calm and peaceful…

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Richard’s photo

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34 responses

7 01 2016
3 Trips Thursday #55 - walkwithtookie

[…] Glen Achall Gorge scramble Ullapool. […]

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17 12 2015
fedup

Looks a worthwhile bike trip. I only usually stop off at Ullapool for the ferry or to visit the supermarket (or fish & chips ๐Ÿ˜€ ) but this might make an interesting distraction.

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18 12 2015
mountaincoward

It’s an absolutely superb bike ride – it’s not even boring having to come back the same way. I do it pretty regularly – well, whenever I’m up at Ullapool which isn’t that regular I suppose.

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18 11 2015
McEff

I enjoyed reading that, Carol. I’ve been to Seana Braigh (which is one of my favourite mountains) from two different directtions but I don’t think that was one of them.
It’s good to have a break from the high tops now and then and go exploring other stuff. I tend to think we miss a lot of interesting features when we just head for the summits.
Cheers, Alen
PS Next time I see a woman hurtle past me on a bike and wearing only a bra I’ll know who it is!

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19 11 2015
mountaincoward

Ha ha! I’m not likely to be over in Spain though ๐Ÿ˜‰

That is the most unused approach to Seana Braigh. You probably did the Inverlael approach (which I did) and also the Strath Mulzie one where you park up and then have around a 5 mile landrover track which takes you to a corrie and a bothy.

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19 11 2015
McEff

I can’t remember the names and I haven’t got a map to hand. The first one I did from Oykel Bridge, which was a long bike ride and short walk. Then when I walked the Cape Wrath Trail I came from the south, I think from Inverlael, and over a broad col. Both were enjoyable.

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19 11 2015
mountaincoward

Oykel Bridge is the Strath Mulzie route – I’d like to do that sometime. If you were on the Cape Wrath trail, I think you’d have been more likely to have come down this glen? if it’s a set route and not a ‘pick your own’ route, most folks take that glen. It is really nice walking around there ๐Ÿ™‚

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19 11 2015
McEff

Looked into it because it was niggling me. Down Strath Mulzie the first time, then up from Inverlael on the Cape Wrath Trail the second time (on a hideously wet day). Oh, the joys of walking.

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19 11 2015
mountaincoward

can you choose your own route on the Cape Wrath then?

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19 11 2015
McEff

It’s not a rigid footpath, or at least in wasn’t in 2007-08. I followed a very basic and rough and obscure route I found on the internet. I discovered, while walking it, that many features were out of date โ€“ in particular a very important footbridge had been washed away years earlier. But I enjoyed it!

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11 11 2015
45degreesmc

Never been up, that Glen, though walked around Ullapool many times – its now on the list!

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11 11 2015
mountaincoward

Comes out the other end at Strath Mulzie I think. It’s a lovely glen but very long if you didn’t have a bike. I believe it’s on the Cape Wrath Trail.

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10 11 2015
Rowena

Looks a good scramble that. I backpacked down that glen when I did the Cape Wrath Trail. It was a grim day that day I recall so didn’t notice your gorge, but there are two fantastic bothies further down. We stayed in The Schoolhouse bothy which was lovely.

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10 11 2015
mountaincoward

Are those the white cottages before Rhiddoroch Lodge? I realised since googling that gorge that that route is on the Cape Wrath Trail – must be a good walk that. Think I’m probably getting a bit past it now though – I’m certainly struggling more this last couple of years.

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11 11 2015
Rowena

No they’re a good bit past the lodge. One is Knockdamph bothy, the other is the Schoolhouse, which was lovely.
That part of the walk was not one of my favourites, although one of the easiest days it was hard going on the feet and I couldn’t wait to get off that track.

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11 11 2015
mountaincoward

I wouldn’t fancy walking the glen at all – only cycling. It’s a damn long way, would be very hard on the feet like you say (I’m not a fan of hard walking tracks) and the scenery wouldn’t change very fast on foot. I’d love to see further down the glen though so next time I’ll cable the bike up and go in search of your 2 bothies ๐Ÿ™‚

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9 11 2015
tessapark1969

Scrambling eh? Aonach Eagach next!! You will have to change the blog title at this rate!

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10 11 2015
mountaincoward

There was absolutely no exposure anywhere and it was all pretty easy. Route-finding was the most difficult thing so I enjoyed the challenge.

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9 11 2015
underswansea

Hi Carol. Sounds like a fantastic day! I enjoyed all the photos. Very nice looking waterfall. It looks like you will have no problem finding places to hike once you are finished bagging all the tops on your list. By the way, Lisa is a believer of stripping down to a bra on long hot hikes. Take care. Bob

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10 11 2015
mountaincoward

I often do strip down to my bra on walks – I get half frowns and half admiring looks (not that I’m aiming for either – I just don’t care about exposing bits of my body as I find it all completely natural). Some of the frowns are from men believe it or not!

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11 11 2015
underswansea

Ha ha ha! In the mountains around here you could walk around with as little on as you want, because it is rare to run into people. Lisa and I have had the bears look sideways on occasion! ๐Ÿ™‚

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11 11 2015
mountaincoward

I have to admit most of our mountains are very busy indeed! No bare bears though ๐Ÿ˜‰

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13 11 2015
underswansea

Bears or bares?

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13 11 2015
mountaincoward

bare bears ๐Ÿ˜‰

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8 11 2015
Blue Sky Scotland

You are getting bolder Carol.(No pun intended) It will be the scrambling guide to Lochaber next after the Munro tops. That’s a new gorge for me but it looks a cracker.

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8 11 2015
mountaincoward

I googled afterwards to see if anyone else appears to have done any scrambling in that gorge and there’s no mention anywhere – shame I didn’t get to the top – could have been a first ascent! ๐Ÿ˜‰

To be honest, I’d probably always have had a go at things like that as there was no exposure at all – but now I have the climbing skills and mindset to figure out how to get up it…

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7 11 2015
smackedpentax

That looks like a nice place for a cycle ride…I pick up my new bike tomorrow…looking forward to a sore bum and deadly traffic…๐Ÿ˜Š

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7 11 2015
mountaincoward

Yeah, the deadly traffic and fumes aren’t quite so much fun. You can go from Steeton to Leeds on the canal bank (or anywhere in between) and it’s good riding and you can get your bike on the train from Ilkley to Shipley.

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7 11 2015
smackedpentax

It is a whole new world bought a rack for the car so i can drive somewhere with it…maybe find some cycle tracks somewhere…I haven’t been on a bike for 40 years…

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7 11 2015
mountaincoward

Must admit I hated having the bikes on the outside of my car – I was always afraid they’d fall off and kill someone behind when I was driving. It gave me the creeps…

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7 11 2015
Simon Howlett

A lovely adventure Carol. The suspension bridge sounds a lot of fun, will have a play on it myself next time I visit Ullapool! Great to see the photos from your Zenith film SLR. Did Richard get his digi camera back?

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7 11 2015
mountaincoward

Yeah I handed it back to him when I got back. If he does come and I don’t have my camera, I sort of direct him – you know – take this photo exactly like this etc. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The bridge and the gorge are both great but I’ve just seen some photos of the waterfall at the top of the gorge and I’m pretty sure you can’t get right up it and out the top end so good job I turned back!

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7 11 2015
Simon Howlett

If there’s a waterfall involved I’ll have to photograph it next time I’m up that way. From the photos I’ve seen in previous posts you’ve done a good job of directing Richard ๐Ÿ˜‰

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7 11 2015
mountaincoward

he’s very amenable – to be honest, he doesn’t take many photos for himself, he mainly takes ones for my blog if he comes with me.

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