Ullapool Dearg Group – 3.9 of 5 munros with a high camp. March 2015.

Date: Saturday – Sunday 14th-15th March 2015
Participants: Us
Weather: Pretty reasonable
Distance: 21 + 16.8km
Ascent: 1500 + 600m

A tantalising forecast – a bit of high pressure, some breeze, high chance of sunshine in the NW Highlands….

….off towards Ullapool for us.

Parked up at Inverlael at 0745 and meandered up the road for 0800. Loose plan for a wander out to Seana Bhraigh with a camp up high…….and then see what emerges.

Headed up to Glensguaib and then on up the Druim na Saobhaidhe path. A pleasant morning….if rather hazy.

Track up Druim na Saobhaidhe:

Up on Druim na Saobhaidhe….and we could scarcely see An Teallach for the haze. On the plus side we were out in the sun with the tent.

Hazy view to An Teallach:

A nice wander on high ground, the track to An Teallach curves round the shoulder of Eididh nan Clach Geala into Coire an Lochain Sgeirich – and suddenly everything looked at lot more winter than spring.

Snowbank in Coire an Lochain Sgeirich:

Up along the coire – last time was a misty blur, despite a good forecast on the day. Glad to see the whole view this time.

Presumably the leeward snow dumps of our westerly storms had turned this side of the hills quite wintry.

Round the corner into winter:

Dropped the camping gear near the 806m point above Cadha Dearg, a bit breezy and cool at this point – I wondered if we’d decide to head lower to camp.

Carried on out to Seana Bhraigh.

Crossing over to Cadha Dearg:

Last visit to Seana Bhraigh from this side we saw nothing – the crossing is a wee bit gnarly. Complicated on this occasion by some hard steep snow patches.

Seana Bhraigh over Cadha Dearg gnarly ground:

The ptarmigan seemed to like this area.

Ptarmigans:

Got a chance to snap a ptarmigan taking off – beautiful.

Ptarmigan in flight:


The gnarly traverse was reasonably painless – soon heading up Seana Bhraigh.

H ascending Seana Bhraigh:

A quick plowter up to the summit – the better side of the hill by some way.

Creag an Duine from Seana Bhraigh:

Seana Bhraigh summit:

Creag an Duine remains the real eye-catcher from near or far.

Seana Bhraigh pano:

Link to larger pano

Seana Bhraigh summit view:

Had a good 40 minutes sitting around having lunch before reversing route back to the camping gear. I’d wondered about heading over to Creag an Duine to have a wee nibble…..but decided just to head back.

H descending Seana Bhraigh:

Great wandering country.

Gleann a Chadha Dheirg:

There were a few prolonged snow patches with some rather prolonged fall lines. Glad to have ice axes.

Smooth, slidey snow:

H on snowpatch:

Picked up the camping gear…..by this point the wind had died completely and it felt positively hot. The pre-planned camp on the Eididh nan Clach Geala summit looked a good bet.

Headed south over flat, frozen ground towards the 863m eastern ridge of EnCG.

Heading across to the 863m point:

Watched another ptarmigan pair – the male was displaying to the female vocalising with soft clicks while keeping his head low and his fanned tail up…………she seemed a tad disinterested.

Cock ptarmigan displaying:

We’d wondered (as usual) what the water situation would be near the 872m top. Happily we could see the draining stream at NH 261 845 had unbridged. Collected water and headed for the planned pitch site.

Leaving the well:

Found a pitch site just N of the 872m top and got the tent up. The wind picked up again for a spell before dropping out.

View south from the 872m top:

Scarp on the 872m top – Seana Bhraigh back:

Sunset was a rapid affair – a cloud band to the west deprived us of the sun dropping behind An Teallach. Still a decent show.

Sunset view south to Fannaichs:

Sunset over An Teallach:

Cooked tea and watched the dark develop. A fine starscape, and a view to Stoer lighthouse. Off to bed on a still evening – woken at 2300 by a flappy tent. Wind lasted about 2hrs before dying out to nil again.

Strangely it was below freezing as we retired and the above freezing overnight…..we were actually a bit too warm overnight.

Did catch sight of a faint aurora on the horizon at 0100 – but too faint to bother with a photo.

Up for sunrise at 0630. Sun emerged behind Ben Klibreck.

Sunrise behind Ben Klibreck:

A splendid dawn – still, and above freezing.

Sunrise and Fannaichs:

Inversion and Quinag:

Stac Pollaidh and Cul Beag:

An Teallach:

Fannaichs:

Happy snapping:

Assynt:

Eidih nan Clach Geala Assynt dawn pano:

Link to larger pano

An Teallach:

1 litre of hot cocoa and a few breakfast bars prior to decanting.

Scarp on 872m top:

Only wrinkle was managing to wreck 3 out of 6 Titanium V pegs in the removal from iron frozen ground…irritating.

Leaving pitch site pano:

Link to larger pano

We didn’t ascend Eidih nan Clach Geala this time – dropped to its E to pick up some water instead.

Back down to the well:

From there an enjoyable wander on smooth crusted snow – this had refrozen hard and slippy overnight. Microspikes were fine though.

Off a wandering:

Meall a Ceapraichean:

For the ascent of Meall nan Ceapraichean we took a longer arc E to avoid the steeper slopes of the summer route. Headed up Ceann Garbh from about NH 267 834 to NH 265 831.

H ascending Ceann Garbh:

Splendid day – sunshine and low winds. Spring is sprung even at winter altitude.

Beinn Dearg:

Beinn Dearg and Cona Mheall:

H and Loch Tuath:

I don’t think we saw a thing from Meall nan Ceapraichean last time – these hills are fairly charismatic, especially with a bit of winter on them.

Beinn Dearg from Meall nan Ceapraichean:

Diollaid a Mhill Bhric from Meall nan Ceapraichean:

Beinn Dearg:

We’d had our flexible crampons on from the ascent of Ceann Garbh – the ascent of Beinn Dearg definitely needed them – icy and pretty steep.

Ascent of the wall:

H and Cona Mheall:

Meall nan Ceapraichean from Beinn Dearg ascent:

The Destitution Wall breaks off before the summit for the NW ridge of Dearg.

Top of the wall:

From here an 80m ascent to the summit over glassy ice. Cracking day – just wish the air had been 150km clear.

Loch Glascarnoch from Beinn Dearg:

Fannaichs from Beinn Dearg:

Hazy Loch a Bhraoin and Slioch:

We’ve never really taken to glen walking…..so we headed down the NW ridge of Beinn Dearg along the Destitution Wall,

Descending the wall:

Spotted a Golden Eagle cruising between Iorguill and Beinn Enaglair – pretty much where you’d expect the eagles to favour.

Diollaid a Mhill Bhric:

Diollaid a Mhill Bhric pano:

Link to larger pano

A steepish descent – but easy. Preferable to the good quality path in the glen lacking the views.

Descending Diollaid a Mhill Bhric:

Back up the wall:

The wall hugs the cliff edge in parts – occasional posing opportunities.

Close to the edge:

We had a firm snow highway to wander along on the ridge – the snow pile on the E side of the wall was frozen hard and a quality surface.

Diollaid a Mhill Bhric:


Back to the wall end – our second visit. One of these non-listed points that seems so worth a visit.

The cairn near the wall end:

Down from the wall the old gate is fallen and being claimed by the heather.

Old gate down from the wall:

Off on a heather plowter – in truth an easy amble across the moor.

Back to the munros:

On this occasion we’d decided to try to find the old stalkers path visible on google earth heading up from Glensguaib to about NH 207 846.

Strone Nea:

Found the old path – if you want to try this it exists – but needs a bit of finding. Probably a very high quality path becoming a stream bed. Emerges onto the forest road at about NH 206 848.

Wandered back along the forest tracks in warm sunshine……spring felt like it was here. Joined up a couple of our recce routes from last year into the high camp they were looking for. Still love the NW ridge of Beinn Dearg.

A great start to the wild camp season 2015.

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