Kintail 2-nighter. September 2010.

Date: Saturday – Monday 25th-27th September 2010
Distance: Day 1: 14.2km Day 2: 14km Day 3: 10km
Ascent: Day 1: 1700m Day 2: 920m Day 3: 390m

Much interest in the forecasts – a real prospect of a high pressure ridge spilling across the country and a Public Holiday Monday. A week spent considering the 2-night camping options.

West looked best so we plumped for a Kintail 2-nighter with a mix of old and new, an extension of a 1-night Munro/Corbett/Graham loop I had planned.

Parked up at the Kintail Countryside Centre at Morvich – a bit overcast but not a midge to be found. 🙂 The walk from here is on decent tracks – follow the “Falls of Glomach” signs past the housing. From there it’s simple map following to Bealach a Sgairne.

Hairy red caterpillars about 🙂

Headed out on the Bealach a Sgairne track – a pleasant walk ascending over a long distance to an eventual height of 500m. This is the most common access route for Beinn Fada.

Crossed the Allt Coire an Sgairne – can be a problem in full spate.

Spotted the first of around 100 voles that we spotted over the weekend – plague levels this year. This one zoomed around its runs before deciding to take a breather.

Bealach a Sgairne:

The track drops down to Gleann Gniomhaidh and Loch a Bhealaich – new ground for us. Passed by a runner on his way up Gaorsaic. We were plodding in his wake.

From there we simply climbed Sgurr Gaorsaic. Bit of a biting wind at the top but a good spot for some lunch. Not a bad tent pitch either. A few ptarmigan were flying around the summit.

Beinn Fada from climb:

Sgurr Gaorsaic summit:

A steep descent to the bealach with Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan – disturbed a lot of deer here, the stags were starting to roar.

A slog of 500m took us to the 1141m top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan – some distant views developing to the south.

We crossed the narrow summit ridge to the main summit.

Views south extended to the Lawers group. I dismissed some white peaks to the east as clouds but likely to have been the Cairngorms. North from us and the skies were darker.

Recrossed the summit – didn’t see a comfy looking pitch on the 1141m top so we dropped north to Stuc Bheag and found a nice patch to settle down for the evening.
A solitary Golden Eagle was soaring over Abhainn Glomach – the only one I saw all weekend.

Cooked tea and watched the changing conditions through to sunset. Reward time for carrying the tent up a hill is getting to sit around and watch things change – busy going nowhere!

Tent started frosting up before sunset. Expected a parky night.

Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail late evening:

Sunset:

Adjourned to the sleeping bags. Nattered and ate the usual camping bizarre tapas of sweets /jerky/olives/nuts etc. Gourmet it isn’t but it fills a gap. Got up at about 2200 for some night shots – crispy.

Think we had a few ghosts in this shot. 😉

We woke at about midnight as the easterly wind got a lot brisker – a lot of gusting had us disturbed most of the night. Snug as bugs in the tent though.

Up at 0650 for sunrise – a bit below freezing but the wind was strong enough to buffet so it felt pretty Baltic.

Breakfasted and struck pitch with cold fingers and toes. Decided on a cold breakfast and a faster start.

Reclimbed Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan – the top was in a cloud pocket so we turned for Creag nan Clachan Geala, escaping the cloud after 150m or so descent.

Cloud cap on Ceathreamhnan:

View from Creag nan Clachan Geala:

From there an uncomplicated descent down to the Abhainn Glomach. Crossing this was easy given low water levels – didn’t even take off my boots. This would obstruct this route if in spate.

Gorgeously sunny so dug out the still frosted tent and let it dry while we brewed some brunch. No pressure of time so absorbed some heat and cast off layers. Beautiful spot.

The glen was a bit peaty so slow progress to the Falls of Glomach – just a dribble compared to 2008.

Carnan Cruithneachd:

Just looked around the top of the falls this time – for the full bhuna check:
http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=3410

From the falls headed steeply up slopes for Carnan Cruithneachd – relatively easy progress across marshy ground.

Cruithneachd looks fairly imposing but there are multiple lines of easy access to the summit. We tracked on to NG 991 256 for an easy ramp to the summit. Dropped our packs for the ascent.

I’d been looking forward to this peak – the views didn’t disappoint – cracking views both ways along Glen Elchaig. Our first visit to this glen was only 3 weeks ago so peering down at it was even more fun.

Picked up the packs and descended to the bealach with Beinn Bhreac disturbed more deer on the way.

Picked our way on tiring legs over Beinn Bhreac to Beinn Bhuidhe. A bit of rough ground but no real difficulties.

We had wondered about pushing on to camp on Sgurr an Airgid but a great viewpoint and pitch had us downing tools.

Cracking view to Skye and the bridge was hard to look away from as the sunset. Cooked up tea while glued to the view – the ultimate TV dinner.

Warmer than the night before, retired for a snooze after sundown.

Got up at 0300 – beautiful nightscape and cloud inversion creeping in through the passes from the east. Never quite got far enough to surround us unfortunately.
More messing around with nightshots.

Lights of Kyleakin and KoL:

Carnan Cruithneachd and inversion flow from the east:

Cloud flow through Bealach a Sgairne:

Ghostly me: 

The sun is an unforgiving alarm clock – no snooze button to delay dawn. Worth getting up for though.

A much more comfy breakfast – still, clear and a balmy 3C. No midge either.

Packed up a damp tent and headed for Sgurr an Airgid. We climbed this one in June but the weather disappointed. Very pleased to get a good weather break to repeat it so soon.

Dropped the heavy gear at the bealach and took the 20min jaunt to the summit.

Glen Lichd:

The westerly 806m top was visited first – don’t miss it out as the views along Loch Duich are stunning. We seemed to have been approaching the Skye Bridge for a while!

Up to the true summit with views of Kintail and Shiel Bridge.

The weather was closing in from the SE but held fair for us.
With a bit of regret we headed to pick up our gear and descend – temperature picked up in descent to feel quite hot at sea level.

The path down from Sgurr an Airgid actually drops down to the car park at the Graveyard NG 946 212 rather than the redundant path to Lienassie (not sure that exists anymore).

Back to reality again and a long drizzly drive home – lots of memories though.

The Gaorsaic/Ceathreamhnan/Cruithneachd loop is feasible as a big day walk. I’d strongly recommend the combination of Sgurr an Airgid and Carnan Cruitheachd as a day walk – both cracking peaks.

Roll on the next one!

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