Friday 26 October 2012

A' Chailleach & Sgurr Breac

On mature reflection, I'm not quite sure why I suggested that there was navigational confusion on the part of anybody but my good self last week. The other two members of the party, Andy and Gordy, appeared to be in full command of their map comprehension faculties throughout the Fannaichs trip, and it was just me that was a trifle, um, wandered.

I kind of know what happened, in that my cursory look at the route in the house on Friday night had indelibly fixed me with the notion that Sgurr Breac lay to the west of A' Chailleach. That's because "cursory" in this context means "completely inattentive and ineffectual", with the result that when we arrived at the bealach between that latter hill and Toman Coinnich, I was still thinking we were aboot to climb Sgurr Breac, to the extent indeed that I was declaiming to anyone who would listen that there was a misprint on the Walkhighlands route.

Which there isny. Although I was confused enough by then that I was psychologically incapable of looking at a map any more, so it was just as well I wasn't on my own.

Location meltdown notwithstanding, it turned out to be a rather enjoyable day, if uber-boggy in parts, so although you might not want to place much reliance on my description of it, the Munromagic route tells you how we eventually went about the walk.

There'a a lot of work been done, and being done on the Inverbroom estate, and a fairly polite notice a wee bit along the track asks you to take the new path that detours away from the loch and the boathouse...

...taking you on to a rather new, rather jolly bridge.

Not long after the bridge however, the good path departs to the left, while you're obliged to go right along a faint, gloopy, boggy affair that leads you pretty much straight up the nose - as it were - of Leitir Fhearna.

If it hadn't been for the Walkhighlands route reassurance that "from here the slope higher up looks intimidating and rocky, but it presents no difficulties" I suspect I'd have been in two minds about it, but in actual fact there's a marshy path all the way, and it zigzags quite satisfyingly between the craggy bits.

There's a proper plateau thing going on once you're over that first steep ascent, and the way ahead is clear enough.

Ironically, this was the point at which I started to lose the navigational thread, so it might be worth indicating out that we took the path that bypasses the summit of Toman Coinich, above Loch Toil an Lochain.

This brings you out at the aforementioned bealach. It's a bit rocky and slippery in parts, but if you know you're heading to climb A' Chailleach first, it probably makes sense. If, on the other hand, you think you're heading to climb Sgurr Breac first it makes fifty kinds of no sense whatsoever.

Lunch was taken at the bealach (a) because it was lunchtime, and (b) because yours truly was lost and confused, and probably a bit whiny.

A' Chailleach (as it proved to be) is quite a shapely hill...

...and it's a nice ten minute wander up the edge of the curving cliffs to the summit of the day's first Munro. My phone seemed to be having a sweaty panic attack as well at this point, so there's not much in the way of commemorative photography:

It's then a case of retracing steps to the bealach before the climb to the top of Toman Coinich...

...then a relatively short descent to another bealach, with the onward route to Sgurr Breac unfolding all the time. More ascent, more curved cliffs, more views...

...more summit dug shots...

...and then more steps to be retraced.

On the way down though we pretty much followed the north ridge of Toman Coinich, until inevitably you get back to the steep boggy slidefest that is the path on Leitir Fhearna. It was actually more awkward going down.

A couple more photies of the now dusky loch/boathouse combo and we were soon back at the car.

The stats are a bit odd, unless you're us. Four hours from house to start point. Six hours forty five minutes walking. 3930 feet of ascent, in about 11 miles. Five and a bit hours in the car to get home, there having been another tragedy on the A9 earlier in the day.

As I said the last time, these huge long distance-driving Munro daytrips are a thing of the past.





  1. Re the navigational confusion. If it's any consolation, I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of climbing these mountains but my records tell me that I did so on the 29th of August 2003 and by the same route. If you spotted any marbles up there they are probably mine. Nice pics, by the way Scott.
    Cheers, Alen

    1. It must be the rareified air that's distracting.

      Any excuse, eh?


  2. You’ll recover. Just practice reading maps or have someone teach you the finer points of it. By the way, you really should be thankful you have company. Otherwise, god knows what would have happened. You could be going in circles for all we know.