Date: Saturday-Sunday 30th-31st July 2011
Distance: 13.6km + 16.1km
Ascent: 2200m + 1000m
As usual a week of watching the forecasts. At one point Arran was in front, but, come Thursday night we reckoned a bit further N would be better. Saturday looked good, Sunday less so.
The Glendessary/Knoydart/Kinloch Hourn area has been an absolute treasure trove over the years – some of our best wild camps too so we packed up the big packs for another trip.
Parked up at the Loch Arkaig roadhead – 55mins from Fort William with the normal 30 minutes of concentration on the Arkaig Rollercoaster. Still lots of spaces at 0800.
Booted up in a midge storm, midge jackets are a blessing (but it is hard to eat your breakfast).
Took the RoW track (NM 978 917) uphill on the W side of the Dearg Allt – this is a vehicle track and runs up to about 350m elevation.
The views S to Streap and W along Glendessary build quickly.
Despite full sunlight we were being eaten by midge even on the move – dread to think what they’re like in the gloaming. Clegs were also in full-on mode biting exposed flesh and through t-shirts (I have a nice cluster of bites on my right shoulder-blade but none on the left, Hazel too, not sure what that’s about). Welcome to the great Scottish summer – winter is still 5 months away.
The vehicle track turns at 350m to the E to cross Dearg Allt and head up between Fraoch Bheinn and Beinn Mhurlagain. We simply carried on uphill up Fraoch Bheinn.
At the 650m mark we dropped the rucksacks and carried on to the summit feeling strangely light on our feet.
The summit would make a fine camping spot – plenty of flat, grassy pitches.
Returned to the packs and then took an angled line down reasonable slopes to cross Allt na Feithe at about NM 974 941. A bite to eat here and filtered some water.
Sat for a while at this summit – took a closer look at the walk ahead.
From Druim a Chuirn it’s a high level walk along the ridge past A’Chioch – looked at this from below on a few occasions, in truth it is smaller than I expected.
About 20 minutes walk to the summit of the lengthily named Sgurr Cos na Breachd-Laoigh. This one is a superb place – a beautiful rock pool on the top and excellent views to the pass over to Sourlies and the southern Dessary Corbetts.
Dropped steeply from here to the bealach with An Eag. About 1400m of climb so far…..now for 3 chunks at over 200m each.
Stopped to watch a little pool on the way up – the edges were alive with tiny new frogs, some with tails not fully resorbed. Think they were staying out of the way of the diving beetles.
Dropped down 200m and then picked up the excellent stalkers path which runs over Sgurr Beag and on to Sgurr Mor. Like so many of these tracks this is the top of a track that plunges into the loch towards a now drowned lodge. Still in great nick though – not like so many argocat scars.
There’s another 230m pull up Sgurr Beag….legs starting to feel a bit lacking in Va Va Voom by this point.
Dropped down 140m to the bealach. I’d been a bit worried about water – a few pools on the ridge had been drying and we’d need a few litres for cooking and the morning. Wandered down the W side of the bealach – 30m down was a beautiful crystal clear 5ft deep wellspring complete with attendant rather possessive dragonfly. Filtered enough water to go, turned for the top and left the dragonfly in peace.
A final 250m pull and we were on Sgurr Mor – the high cloud had taken our direct sunlight but the views were still substantial. Certainly better than our clagged out Oct 05 visit.
Took a while to pick a pitch – there’s flat grass on the summit itself but we wanted to snug in to the N side given a forecast for increasing southerlies. Found a flat pitch about 10m down from the summit cairn.
Cooked up tea and headed for bed – cloud blocked sunset so we got our heads down at 2130. Slept very well.
Up and ready at 0700 – headed off down the Red Route track to the bealach with Sgurr an Fhuarain. Quite a brisk southerly – our pitch had been well-chosen.
While watching some deer from the ridge we became aware of an unusual bird sound – there was an adult Golden Eagle circling round the corrie and calling. Got some great views as it circled.
Made an error here – crossed the river at NN 065 968 and headed straight for the bothy. This ground looks grassy but it is some of the worst tussock ground I’ve been on for a while. Given the exuberant vegetation it was pretty hazardous and very unpleasant (I hadn’t clocked that the track stays on the N side of the river until NN 001 964). This is best avoided.
From the bothy we took the track up the glen towards Glendessary. This is reasonable quality and progress was quick.
The high point of the pass is about 450m. I had planned to climb Sgurr Mhurlagain from here but the weather was poor – we swithered. After a vote it was a draw.
Still, only a 430m ascent to the summit so we headed up to 600m and the ridge, dropped the camping gear and wandered up to the summit. Not the best of days for it though.
Picked up the track on the E side of Dearg Allt to descend to the road. This gets a bit faint in places but is still there.
Dropped to the road and wandered back to the car. There was an Outward Bound van parked with its headlights on (and fading) – not the place I’d want to get back to a flat battery.
Quite a walk – a fairly hard first day. A less good Day 2 – but still some interesting sights.
We may have climbed all the hills round the Arkaig roadhead but unlike some others I definitely plan to keep coming back – 18 miles of passing place road is a cheap price to pay for the quality on offer.
I can see a winter ascent of Sgurr Mhurlagain and a camp on Sgurr na Cos Breachd-Laoigh in the offing.