Thursday, 8 August 2013

Monar Munros, July'13

We'd organised this 3 day Munro-bagging trip into Monar in the north-west Highlands taking in some of the remotest peaks. Manny and Steven were the guides, here's Steven's take on the days.

A few of us arrived at Ledgowan Lodge late on the Friday afternoon in glorious sunshine. So, to start us off, I suggested heading up Fionn Bheinn for an evening stroll. Apart from Isobel, folk thought they'd wisely save themselves for the next few days. So Isobel and I walked in the evening sunshine up Fionn Bheinn's grassy slopes. Normally sodden, the hillside was remarkably dry - the north-west had been getting some lovely warm weather off late. This hill has a straightforward and easy trudge to reach the summit, from where this evening, we gasped in awe at the vast, clear panorama all around us. The sun set as we returned to the lodge.

Our first 'proper' day began from Attadale, I would lead the walkers in, Manny would take the cyclists. Myself, Vic and George set off on the fine track, to be caught up around an hour later by the first cyclists. The day began warm and clegs seemed delighted by the heat, annoying us as they tried to bite through our t-shirts. We reached the bothy by Beinn Dronaig Lodge, relieved to get out of the heat and away from the biting-beasts. The last of the cyclists arrived and we all headed towards Loch Calavie together on foot, bantering as we walked. After taking in the view of the Mullardoch hills reflected in the loch, we turned uphill and aimed for Lurg Mhor. Deer peered at us from crags above. The heat proved hard work for some, but we made Lurg Mhor's summit, where the group split, some of the determined members scrambling over to the East Top (being led by Manny), while others (including myself) enjoyed the sunshine from the cairn.

We retraced our steps for a bit, then turned to walk down to the col below Bidean a'Choire Sheasgaich. Ahead a steep, grassy but short ascent was all that was needed to attain our next Munro summit. After food, drink and many photos, we returned to Loch Calavie and the bothy for a final break before the long walk (or cycle) back to Attadale.

Our second day began from the railway crossing at Craig, my turn to cycle, Manny was walking. Depending on how the folk in the group felt, we could either do two Munros (Sgurr a'Chaorachain and Sgurr Choinnich) or three (plus Maoile Lunndaidh). The group split naturally into two and I led those wanting to bag all three - Richard, Allan and Lorna. Bikes up to Pollan Buidhe, and over the wire bridge (Richard nearly falling in - pity I didn't catch it on camera), we walked leisurely on a rough path up to Bealach Bearnais. Up Sgurr Choinnich, we could see the others making a good pace on the path below. There's a few bits of east uphill scrambling to bring a smile to our faces, and quite quickly we were on Sgurr Choinnich's summit taking in the views.

The walk down, over and up Sgurr a'Chaorachain was a doddle. We decided, just to tap the cairn on this Munro and continue on. We could now see the other group now on the summit of Sgurr Choinnich - my phone went, Manny was wondering why we were descending northwards, were we in trouble ? I couldn't reply as reception went as quickly as it came. We weren't in trouble, we were just taking the grassy line down and around Lochan Gaineamhach instead of the rough descent from Bidean an Eoin Deirg. After filling up water bottles at the col, we met some folk as we were heading uphill - turns out Lorna knew them and they were doing the same route as us in reverse. Onto Maoile Lunndaidh, we chummed another walker to the summit - time for some more views and food !

All that was left was a slog downhill over boulders, heather and grass to reach Glenuaig Lodge, the rivers we were expecting to cross on the way were either dried up or very low. Onto the track for a smart pace walking back to the bikes. The downhill bike journey was fun, Lorna giving the rest of us a chance to try out here 29er bike. Back at Craig, we found out that Lorna had beat her friends around this route - she was pretty chuffed !

Our final day was a 'rest day', an easy relaxed outing up Moruisg from the roadside. As this was on a Monday, quite a few folk had to return to their day-jobs. Only Sam, Duncan and myself were aiming up this hill. And what a day - sun still out, but a little cooler, less beasties and a slight breeze - perfect. We just headed up the grassy slopes onto the top, sussed out which cairn was on the summit (we reckon it was the little cairn in the middle) and returned. We were looking forward to a coffee at the cafe in Achnasheen, but it's closed, so Tarvie did the job instead.

A great few successful days. Some folk stayed in Ledgowan's Bunkhouse, some others in Gerry's Hostel and the Lochcarron Hotel. More photos are up on our Flickr site.