Thursday, 20 October 2011

Backpacking Plans for a Long Weekend in the Highlands

Tomorrow evening, Colin & I will be heading up to the Highlands for three days of backpacking and Munro bagging, and Colin's left me in charge of the choice of route - I just hope that he's in charge of the weather!

Anyway, I've come up with two different three day itineraries that include plenty of Munros: one in the NW Highlands and one in the Cairngorms; we'll make our final decision tomorrow evening depending upon the weather forecast.  So here are the two options:

[Added 21/10/11: If I get phone signal at any point on the route (and that's a big if!), then you should hopefully be able to follow our progress using this map (just ignore the waypoints that are clearly nowhere near either of these routes as they are from previous trips!)]

Loch Mullardoch Round
  • Day 1: Mullardoch Dam to near Loch an Droma, 21km, 1780m ascent
  • Day 2: near Loch an Droma to Coire Lochan, 20km, 1930m ascent
  • Day 3: Coire Lochan to Mullardoch Dam, 17km, 1050m ascent

This is a backpack in the remote country around Loch Mullardoch in the NW Highlands, that would take in a total of 12 Munros, of which I have previously only climbed 2 (Mullach na Dheiragain and Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan on the 2008 TGO Challenge).

This would probably be my preferred route, but it is almost all on pathless ground that could make for slower progress.  Also the rivers at the west end of Loch Mullardoch might require long detours to cross if there are in spate, although I do seem to remember finding a bridge over the Abhainn Sithidh back in 2008.

Eastern Cairngorms Circuit
  • Day 1: Linn of Dee to The Sneck (including detour to Ben Avon), 20km, 770m ascent
  • Day 2: The Sneck to Loch Etchachan (with detour to Derry Cairngorm), 27km, 1310m ascent
  • Day 3: Loch Etchachan to Linn of Dee, 22km, 890m ascent

This is a backpack around the high peaks of the eastern Cairngorms, that would take in a total of 8 Munros, of which I have only previously climbed 1 (Ben Macdui back in 2003 with Jon).

This route is 11km longer that the Loch Mullardoch round but it does have 1790m less ascent!  Although it takes in 4 less Munros, it does have the advantage of having some good paths for the walk-in on the first day and walk-out on the last day.


  1. Either makes a great walk. Options like that are always nice. Looking forward to seeing the trip report on what one you do.

  2. Excellent stuff! I have a very similar route to your Mullardoch round planned for a good weekend in the future. Sadly, I don't think this weekend will be it. Good luck though! As Martin says, both are great choices.

  3. I agree that the weather forecast isn't looking overly promising at the moment, but I think we'll still have a go at one of them. I suspect that it's quite likely that we'll get wet; hence I'm re-proofing my waterproofs at the moment! If the rivers are in spate or it's too windy on the ridges then we'll just have to alter our route, which isn't the end of the world.

  4. I think the conditions will be ok for Mullardoch. Wish I was there! Brings back good memories of:
    Day 1: Dam to above Loch Mor (5 hours)
    Day 2: via Iron Lodge to Loch Lon Mhurchaidh (9 hours)
    Day 3: to NH 149 265 (a superb spot)(11 hours)
    Day 4: back to dam (4 hours)
    That was with a slow, heavily laden party, some of whom hadn't been backpacking for a long time.
    Your first day could be ambitious (heavily laden against the weather), but there are plenty of camping opportunities en route, and you will 'catch up' later.
    Have a great time!

  5. Well we've decided on the Cairngorms as it's forecast to be a bit drier there and that route has more potential for cutting short if the wind proves to be too strong on the tops.

    Thanks for all the encouraging comments; I'll let you know how we get on.