Sunday, 27 April 2014

Inverlael Munros, April'14

Three days bagging the Munro peaks south-east of Ullapool over Easter. Steven was leading the group into this wild area. Here's his take on the weekend....

Sunrise over Loch Glascarnoch
I drove up in our campervan on the night before the trip began and parked at one of the laybys overlooking Loch Glasgarnoch and the dam. It was a quiet night, peaceful and with a clear star-lit sky. In the morning I awoke to the sun streaming into the van over the hill and dam. A good omen, weather looking FABULOUS !

Day 1

On Seana Bhraigh
We all met at the car-park at Inverlael at the southern end of Loch Broom. When I say 'we all', we were down to myself and 4 keen folk - we had a couple of pull-outs almost making the trip unviable ! So Mairi, Lorna, Andy, Andrew and myself got our gear ready and headed up the forestry track. Today's target was Seana Bhraigh - I know what you're thinking - why weren't we aiming in from Oykel ? We'll as we were all staying in Ullapool or Aultguish, this approach made more sense ! Yes, navigation is much more tricky from this side and it's longer, but, hey we weren't in a hurry and the sun was out. So several hours later, having walked on tracks, paths and rugged terrain, we arrived at the summit of Seana Bhraigh. Wow ! The views into the vast sculpted bowl below and over to Creag an Duine were awesome. Then we picked out all the peaks we could see around - Suilven, Stac Pollaidh, Ben More Assynt, Ben Klibreck......

We posed for photos, had lunch, then thought about returning. I tried to encourage the group to try the fine wee scramble up Creag an Duine, but they were having none of it ! Sensibly they were saving themselves for tomorrow's big day. So we returned the way we came in, being treated by a full-frontal view of An Teallach for most of the way back.

Morning's view from Knockan Crag
After heading to Ullapool for some supplies, I stayed overnight in the van at Knockan Crag - a glorious spot !

Day 2

On Cona Mheall's summit
Andrew wasn't coming on our second day, but we were joined by Valerie. Today's peaks were to be Cona Mheall, Beinn Dearg, Eididh nan Clach Geala (try saying that after a few whiskies) and Meall nan Ceapraichean. So we met at the same point and started up the track. Out of the forest, we were on a path, with Beinn Dearg dominating the view ahead. We stopped by a cairn for elevensies - this would be the point we would descend from our final Munro of the day back onto the path. Up to the lochans at the col between the Munros (is this what is called a Monkey Bealach ?), we tucked ourselves behind a wall for a bit more grub. The group had the option of leaving their rucksacks (which they all took) and we aimied to Cona Mheall - Lorna reminising of the time she and a few others approached this hill from Loch Glasgarnoch, but were thwarted by the weather and the ridge and didn't make it ! Up to the summit, a quick break for photos, then back to the col. Beinn Dearg next, following the 'destitution wall', taking care not to damage it. Vast and amazing views from the summit - the Fannichs, Torridon and Slioch looking particularly fine.

Descending Meall nan Ceapraichean
Back to the col, Lorna wasn't joining us for the next two Munros - she'd bagged them before and was saving her energy for the final day. The rest of us continued up the grass to Meall nan Ceapraichean, taking less than 45 minutes to get there. Picking a grassy route through the boulderfield eastwards, we arrived at the top of snowfields and ran, slipped and slid our way quickly down to the glen below. Another quick hike uphill and the day's final Munro, Eididh nan Clach Geala, was in the bag ! Now which of the two cairns denoted the summit ? Much debate was had - but we touched both to ensure we'd got there ! All that was left was to descend to the lochan below and follow the path back.

Day 3

On Am Faochagach
We were now down to Mairi, Andy, Lorna and myself - Valerie had been up Am Faochagach - the last of the Munros in the Inverlael group. Again, glorious conditions, we headed north-east from the weather station by Loch Glasgarnoch. Peat was giving up its grip on the remnants of the Caledonian Forest that once covered this area with the ghost-like silver-coloured roots occasionally protuding out of the grass to catch unwary ankles ! The river crossing however was the main obstacle of the day - Lorna and myself rolled up our trousers, put on Crocs and quickly waded across. Andy managed to find a route to boulder-hop across. Mairi was going for the bin-bags - not a good idea given the green slime covering much of the rocks in and out of the water. Still, we all got over and started uphill. In next to no-time, we were up on the crest, then the summit enjoying the views !

Am Faochagach and the water crossing
Oh, how we didn't want to return, but after half an hour or so (and several photos and grub), we returned the way we came back to the roadside. We said our goodbyes, looking forward to the next trip. Mine was the next day in Torridon :)

More photos of the weekend are on our Flickr pages !