Friday, 17 May 2013

Three of the Glen Strathfarrar Munros

Friday 17th May 2013  

A excellent round of three Munros to the east of Loch Monar in the NW Highlands 

Distance: 16km; Ascent: 1370m; Dry with occasional sunshine and light winds; Solo

Back in 2009, Lynsey and I had an excellent high-level route planned for that year's TGO Challenge, of which the first three days would have been bagging all the Munros and Corbetts to the north of Loch Monar and Glen Strathfarrar.  Alas the weather didn't play ball, which meant we instead had a wild and stormy two days of mainly walking past the hills, including probably the stormiest night I've ever spent in a tent!  However by the third day the weather had calmed down and we were able to climb the westernmost of the Glen Strathfarrar Munros.  Unfortunately though the storm had brought significant amounts of fresh snow, which meant that we had to descend after the first peak and walk down the glen to Struy.

Therefore my three remaining Munros to the north of Glen Strathfarrar were high on my list of planned walks for this week and today the weather forecast was pretty good.  Access to these hills for a day walk is complicated by the fact that the tarmac road up Glen Strathfarrar is private and the gate at the foot of the glen is only opened for vehicle access between certain times of the day on certain days of the week.  As today was one of the days the gate would be opened, I decided to head up the glen for a round of these three peaks.  Therefore at a little after 10am I set off walking alongside the Allt Coire Mhuillidh :-)

Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais & Carn nan Gobhar from Coire Mhuillidh
Sgurr na Rhuaidhe from Coire Mhuillidh
Initially I followed a vehicle track for around a kilometre to reach a weir, beyond which I followed a rougher path further up into the coire.  After crossing a side stream I began to ascend up the SW slopes of my first Munro of the day, Sgurr na Ruaidhe, initially on a faint but obvious path.

Looking SW from Sgurr na Ruaidhe towards the Mullardoch peaks
There were good views as I ascended, especially south-west towards the peaks to the north of Loch Mullardoch, where I had been walking back in November last year.

The peaks north of Loch Mullardoch
At around 1pm I reached the summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe (Munro, Marilyn), where I stopped for lunch next to the cairn with truly fantastic views :-)

Summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe
There were excellent views along the lower ridge to the east, along with the much snowier hills to the west towards Loch Monar.

Looking east from Sgurr na Ruaidhe
Looking towards the Loch Monar hills Sgurr na Ruaidhe
Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais & Carn nan Gobhar from Sgurr na Ruaidhe
I descended the NW ridge of Sgurr na Ruaidhe down to the bealach whilst enjoying the excellent views :-)  An ascent of just over a couple of hundred metres brought me to the summit of my second Munro of the day: Carn nan Gobhar (Munro, HuMP).

Looking NNW from Carn nan Gobhar towards Fisherfield
There were excellent views SW towards my next peak, which was significantly more snowy than the first two of the day.  In the distance towards the NW I could make out some of the Torridon and Fisherfield hills, which brought back memories of many happy days climbing those hills over the last few years :-)

Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais from Carn nan Gobhar
On the summit of Carn nan Gobhar
After a bite to eat by the summit cairn, I set off towards the imposing snowy peak of Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, the highest of the Strathfarrar Four.  From a distance it appeared that I may need my ice axe, which I had carried today along with my crampons due to the unseasonable snow cover on the hills, however other than the very highest slopes I was able to avoid the snow as I ascended.

At around quarter past three I reached the snowy summit of Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais (Munro, Marilyn), which was marked by two cairns and a trig point.  There were excellent views west towards Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, which was the only one of these hills that Lynsey & I had managed to climb four years ago on our last TGO Challenge crossing together.

Sgurr Fhuar-thuill & Creag Ghorm a' Bhealaich from Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
I visited both summit cairns along with the trig point, but didn't venture too close to the eastern edge of the small summit plateau as from below it appeared that it might actually be corniced!  The sky was quite moody towards the east, but no rain appeared :-)

Summit trigpoint on Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
Snowy cairn on Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
The south ridge of Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
I descended the south ridge of Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, mainly staying off the quite soft snow, until I was almost at the bealach to the north of Meall a'Gheur-fheadain.  I then picked my way down initially quite steep slopes to reach the floor of Coire Mhuillidh, with good views back to my first two hills of the day.

Looking back to Carn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Ruaidhe
I waded the foot or so deep Allt Coire Mhuillidh to re-join my outward route, which I followed back down to the car in the glen.  I reached the car at around quarter to six after an absolutely fantastic day out walking in the hills :-)  I then headed back to the Aultguish Inn, where I had a pub dinner washed down with An Teallach ale to celebrate now having less than fifty Munros left to climb!

See here for my Social Hiking map from the day's walk.

N.B. 30/06/13 - Post date updated to actual date of walk, i.e. 17/05/13 (from 30/05/13).  Links to social hiking and hill-bagging also added.

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