Saturday, 18 August 2012

Penultimate Munros

Heading towards Carnmore at the head of Fionn Loch 
The weather forecast was favourable on Tuesday 14 August as Pete and Lyn set out early to take on the challenge of the two most remote Munros in Scotland...A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor, deep in Letterewe Forest, above the head of Dubh Loch, 16km SE of the village of Poolewe. We took our mountain bikes on the rough track as far as Kernsary, from where we walked the remaining 9km on good paths with full packs to Carnmore, at the head of Fionn Loch, where we planned to camp.  

The causeway between Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch.

Beyond the causeway is grassy platform above a stony beach on the north shore of Dubh Loch which offered a couple of flat pitches for our tents, just beyond the "No camping" notice.  However Pete knew about this interdiction from a previous visit and had permission from Barbara at the Letterewe Estate Office for an overnight camp by the loch side.
Here be Midges.
It was a warm evening without a breath of wind, ideal conditions for the inevitable midge attack. As the sun began to lower in the west they massed their forces then assailed us in clouds forcing a retreat to the tents where we sat out the attack. Not until after midnight dared we so much as pop our heads out of the tents. In the morning the coast was clear and a welcome breeze greeted us as we emerged from our hideouts. We packed a day-sack and made an early start at 6 30am. Our route follows a diagonal path along the hillside to the "v" shaped notch in the horizon just left of centre.
Pete's tent is a Hilleberg "Acto"; Lyn's is a Vango F10 Helium 100.

Heading SE beside Lochan Feith Mhic' Illean at 500m.

The summits of Ruadh Stac Mor 918m, on the left ,and A' Mhaighdean 967m came into view as we approached the outflow of Lochan Feith Mhic'Illean. These two Munros are the western pair of the so called "Fisherfield Six", the other four lie beyond Gleann na Muice to the east of our objectives of the day.

Fuar Loch Mor nestles between the steep flanks of Ruadh Stac Mor and A' Mhaighdean

The path above Fuar Loch Mor traverses the steep flank of Ruadh Stac Mor to the Poll Eadar dha Stac at 750m, a high bealach between the two Munros.

A chance encounter on the ascent of A' Mhaighdean
These two stags displayed no timidity and allowed me plenty of time to photograph them as we climbed the steep NE slopes of A'Mhaighdean.

Heading along the summit plateau towards the top of A' Mhaighdean.
It was breezy on the top of A' Mhaighdean, we reached the summit in good time just after 10am. It was Pete's second ascent of this Munro and today the weather was even better than the first time and the view, often rated as the best view from a Scottish mountain, even more spectacular.

View towards Poolewe from the summit of A' Mhaighdean.

This may indeed be the finest view from a Scottish mountain summit. Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch, set amid the wilderness of Letterewe, are seen far below, separated by the causeway where we left our tents. Beyond Fionn Loch, to the north is the sea and Gruinard Bay. Ben Airigh Charr, 791m, rises above the loch to the west, our return route to Poolewe lies below her eastern flank and the village itself some way beyond.

Rhuadh Stac Mor from the summit rocks of A' Mhaighdean.

The ruddy top of Ruadh Stac Mor can be seen to the NE, just over a kilometer, as the crow flies, from the top of A' Mhaighdean.

Trig Point on Ruadh Stac Mor 918m.

We made the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor in less than an hour but didn't tarry long as the wind was strengthening. The ascent through the crags and boulder field that defend Ruadh Stac Mor's SW flank was rough and Pete had spotted an easier descent route so we walked NW along the broad ridge then descended steeply on grass to the path alongside Fuar Loch Mor, which was our return route.

The Glen of the Alt Bruthach an Easain

This is the return path from the Lochan Feith Mhic'Illian, in the bottom of the glen is the outflow of the lochan, the Alt Bruthach an Easain. Beyond the lip of the glen, far below, lies the Dubh Loch and our tents, about an hour's walk away.

The last mile to the causeway camp.
As we rounded the corner out of the glen of the Alt Bruthach an Easain, the Dubh Loch and the causeway where our tents waited came into view, it was a welcome sight. We were back at camp inside an hour, packed our tents and gear and were away by 3pm heading back along the long path to Poolewe, which skirts the bottom of the hills in the distance. The walk back from camp took us four hours, it was a windy return trek, we had covered 32km on this, our second day of the expedition and we were rather battered, midge-bitten, tired and thirsty. It had been a great adventure and we were both now on our last Munro. This will be Ben More on Mull and we plan to go to Mull early in October and are looking at the logistics now. So if you fancy coming along, and you're welcome, let us know.