Ben Wyvis and Am Faochagach
Area: Loch Broom to Strath Oykel and Loch Vaich to Moray Firth
Munro’s: Am Faochagach, Ben Wyvis
Date walked: 11/02/2012
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 30 km
Ok with the weather forecast looking mild in Scotland and a few friends heading to the Clachaig for drinks on Saturday night, it was time to select a walk. Now as fortune would have it I was working in Inverness and that gave me an ideal opportunity to head up and bag Ben Wyvis. I was hoping to bag three Munros this Saturday so I was also looking at bagging the Glen Lochy two to make it to the 200 Munro mark. According to my Munro map I was on 197 Munros.
So after work on Friday from Inverness I headed up to the Ben Wyvis car park on the A895 past Garve. There is a larger car park in the forest, 3km back towards Garve, which is further from the road and would allow me a better nights sleep so I settled in there about 1900 to read a book and get a good sleep. The weather was mild at about 6 degrees and it was dry. I checked my email at around 2000 and I had a message from Andrew Doggett. He was coming up to do Ben Wyvis so we arranged to meet in the car park at 0700. I knew then I was in for a tough day.
After a restless night whereupon it rained intermittently I was up and ready for the walk. I drove round to the car park and there was Andrew in his rocket car having just blasted up from Bridge of Allan.
With no further ado we were on our way. It’s a lovely track, although initially in the dark, following the river for three kms through the forest then out into the open to ascend the 600m up to 946m over 2km. The weather was mild, it was dry and there was no wind. The track changes to an impressive boulder path which would be treacherous in the ice but was quite grippy with the mild conditions. I was setting a good pace and we were ascending quickly and enjoying the views. The tops were in cloud so we knew the views were not going to last but that has never bothered a Munro bagger.
However just below An Gaber I started feeling bad. I was feeling sick and not well at all. Andrew decided to do the decent thing and pushed me out of the way as he went past powering onto the top hahaha. It’s now an easy 2km to the summit climbing 100m. There was no snow on route until we were on the summit. After refreshments, 10 star jumps and Andrew taking the wheelbarrow out of his rucksack we retraced our steps back down the mountain. On the way down I narrated to Andrew extracts from my book of excuses. Once we got back down to the lower track, we jogged the three km’s back to the car.
That was hard but I wanted a tough work out and I was now safe in the knowledge I could take it easy and attempt the Loch Lochy Munros. If I didn’t manage the two then it would not be a problem as I was heading to the Clachaig for the night anyway. However Andrew, having done the Loch Lochy Munros, had other plans. He was intending to walk Am Faochagach 10 miles up the road. With this Munro normally being a single it would make sense to do it with it being so close. So 10 miles up the road and we are parked at the car park which walkers use for the Eastern Fannichs just past Loch Glascarnoch over the Torrandhu bridge. Andrew had asked me if I thought the river crossing would be ok and looking at the lack of snow or rain I said “no bother. It should be dry”
So Cross the road and follow the faint path through the bog for 1km to arrive at the dry Abhainn a’Ghrabainn. Only it’s not so dry. In fact whilst not quite in spate its flowing like a full river should flow. Its maybe 30ft wide. There are a number of boulders here and there but in the main I realized it was going to be a wet crossing. Andrew proceeded to take his boots and socks of in order to wade. I on the other hand decided to head upstream a little and just walk across. It didn’t look deep right. So up to my waist in water I emerge on the other side to watch Andrew drying his feet and putting his boots back on.
Word of caution. The ambient temperature was about 8 degrees. There was no wind and I knew that I would dry out on the next ascent. I would not wade a river in low ambient temperatures for obvious reasons.
We continue across the boggy ground slowly ascending. I am feeling the pace. We ascend the 450m over 2km to the beallach below Sron Liath. It’s another 2.5km ascending 250m or so to the summit mostly in the clag. I have slowed and Andrew Laughed, oops I mean waited patiently. We are soon on the broad summit and have a good rest for refreshments and banter.
We follow the same route back down and I wade across the river where Andrew again takes his boots off, tip toes across before putting his make up and boots back on for the walk back to the car. Andrew then left for Bridge of Allan whilst I drove to the Clachaig and had a few drinks with Alan, Martin, Keith, Loz and Lozes son amongst others. What a great weekend.