On this weekend we had various levels of walks and scrambles taking place and this particular one was aimed at fitter hillwalkers with a good level of stamina. Unfortunately that meant we had a couple of enquiries from people who would just not enjoy the day due to its taxing nature. We'll be doing it again next year at a more leisurely pace and spreading it over 2 days.
Ann, Dave, Richard, Chris and myself all met at the midgie-infested road-end at the western end of Loch Arkaig. The sun was out, but cloud blew rapidly over the summits. As we intended to bag at least 4 Munros from the outset, we would be doing one large circular route clockwise and therefore couldn't use bikes to cut down the journey time. We heading along the track up to Upper Dessarry and onto the wet path. We had overtaken a couple of guys earlier on, but a few minutes on the path, I looked back and saw we were about to be overtaken ourselves by a rather fast moving runner. This turned out to be Mark Higgingbottom (you may have seen him and his missus winning the Highlander Mountain Marathon on The Adventure Show earlier this year) and after a brief blether he head off, leaving us in his wake. Over the rest of the walk we could make out his Inov8 Mudclaw prints in the mud !
The path contoured around the lower slopes of Sgurr nan Coireachean and reached the base of Garbh Choich Beag, where is meets up with a ploughed track aiming uphill. We followed this for a bit, then contoured a bit more to the gorge heading up to the col between Garbh Choich Mor and Sgurr na Ciche. Into the mist and on slippy rock, we scrambled up the gorge. Arriving at the bealach, it was time for a spot of lunch and hope for improving weather.
We left our rucksacks (hoping no-one would move them !) and headed up Sgurr na Ciche's last few metres to it's top. Such a shame, the mist didn't lift, as Sgurr na Ciche is a superb pointy mountain with wonderful views from the summit over to Rum, Eigg and Skye.
Back down to the col, rucksacks on and up Garbh Choich Mor. The mist threatened to lift, teasing us with glimpses of views down into the glen below and back over to Eigg. Munro #2 bagged without much event and on we continued. Now following a wall (and on a well defined path), navigation was a breeze. The cloud lifted and we could see our peaks ahead, Sgurr nan Coireachean right in front of us. To th west behind us, the cloud stubbornly remained. The route continued to twist and gradually dropped to the next col, then a sharp pull took us onto our third Munro, with Dave enjoying a bit of fun scrambling on some of the rock on the way up.
We could see Sgurr Mor far distant with ridges and minor tops reaching along to it. Heading down we met a father and son duo, who had come in from Knoydart and faced a long walk back to return. Smiling cheerily, they headed on their way after a brief blether with us. The path goes faint, then after the next minor top, meets with a stalkers path coming up from Glen Kingie - this climbs all the way to Sgurr Mor's top. And time for another well deserved break.
Down to the next col, we were faced with a decision - just head down, or bag the nearby Corbett Sgurr Fhuaran. Dave's leg was giving him a bit of bother and swithered. The other's were definitely for it ! It's only a short walk, with the minimum of ascent and we were by Sgurr Fhuaran's trig point in no time, taking in some fine views.
Now we just had to return to the road-end. When I say 'just', this is a long part of the day, seeming evenmoreso, given the tiring legs of the group. Down grass covered slopes, over the River Kingie (a doddle), pick up the path and follow it back to Dessarry - that's what we had to do and the group was now very focussed on their objective, so much, that even some sundew plants trapping midgies wouldn't stop them !
There's more photos of the hike on our Flickr page.
You can read Chris's take on the day on his 'Cairn in the Mist' blog.