Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Kintail's Brothers, Oct'13

The four Munro summits that tower to north above of the Cluanie Inn are affectionately known as the Brothers of Kintail. I'm guessing that they're named such to distinguish them from the neighbouring and more well known group, the Five Sisters of Kintail. Whatever the reason, they are a fine group of mountains offering some great views and hiking and linked by high-level ridges for the most part. We were here in early October, just as autumn's colours were beginning to show.

I met Sam, Chris and Stevie at the car-park by the Inn and after a quick gear-check, we headed off northwards on rough track (not marked on the OS map) up An Caorann Beag. River crossed (gingerly by some) and onto a mucky, wet path heading up to Bealach a'Choinich. We came across some tiny transparent seed-pods in the grass, kind of like miniature 'Annual Honesty' - a job for our resident flora expert to identify, alas, Duncan wasn't here today (he was coming on the Beinn Fhada trip the next day tho). Up to Ciste Dhubh, the cloud stayed high and after high-fives, we took in the views all around. Not warm today and a fair breeze was blowing from the south-west, so a quick about turn and we headed back towards the bealach below Sgurr an Fhuarail. Out of the wind, time to tuck into some food !

No matter how much you mentally prepare for the trudge up Sgurr an Fhuarail, it is a slog ! The guys just got the head down and got on with it. On the way, chat got around to our all time favourite movies which ranged from the Big Sleep to Star Wars - a mixed bunch. In what felt like next to no time, we were on Sgurr an Fhuarail's summit, then the Munro itsef, Aonach Meadhoin - appropriately named (gaelic for 'middle hill') as it was the halfway point on today's hike. Tho distance-wise, we'd done much more than half of the ascent ! Although weather was being kind to us, this summit did have its head in the mist.

Now heading westwards and out of the mist, we could see more hikers on the hill infront of us. We caught up with them on Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg's summit crest and had a quick natter - they'd headed directly up from Glen Shiel on the stalker's path and were only doing this Munro. A brief scramble over the crest's rock and we were all on the large summit cairn, again in mist, posing for the camera.

Saileag was the lowest Munro of the day, and as such stayed below the cloud for us. Sunrays and some lovely light made for atmospheric views. Onto Bealach an Lapain, our group had now caught up with several other folk. Our vehicles were back at Cluanie, some 8km back along the road, but I'd cunningly left a bike by the roadside directly below us. So, I jogged downhill on the loose and mucky path (landing on my backside several ties), whereas the others could head at a more leisurely pace, taking care. I picked up the bike, cycled back and brought the van back just as the group arrived at the roadside - all perfectly timed or what ?

More photos of the day are on our Flickr site .