Fisherfield 6 from Shenaval
Area: Loch Maree to Loch Broom
Munros: A’ Mhaighdean, Beinn a’Chlaidheimh, Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ruadh Stac Mor, Sgurr Ban
Date walked: 19/05/2010
Time taken: 12 hours
Distance: 31 km
I had read that Carol was planning a trip to Shenaval bothy in order to walk the Fisherfield munros. It would have been nice to join her but my holiday from work was for the last week in May so it was looking unlikely. However I was able to rearrange my holiday by bringing it one week forward so the trip was now on. So on Sunday at midday I left Dunfermline and drove up to Corrie Hallie, stopping for lunch in Inverness on the way. I arrived at the car parking area, which was pretty full, at about 1730, and set off on the walk into the bothy shortly after.
Its a 7.5km walk in to the bothy, climbing 350m over 3.2km then descending the same over another 3.3km approximately. I took it easy on the walk in and arrived at the bothy at 1945. The weather was excellent and it was also quite warm.
I was surprised at finding so many people in the bothy. There was about 8 people downstairs and when I went upstairs I met Carol and noticed there were another 2 roll mats set out with sleeping bags over the bannisters. Another guy, Mike also turned up and put his roll mat down under one of the skylights. It looked like Waverley station at rush hour. So I wondered if it might be better to go out and pitch my tent but decided against it and found myself a suitable space.
I had a good chat with Carol. We had planned to do the six munros but she was feeling tired from a previous days walking and decided that she would rather just do the Western two munros. I was prepared just to do the two if necessary to accompany Carol but Mike was also doing the two and was happy to have company. That enabled me to do the six on my own. So with the alarm set it was off to sleep. I had a restless night and it seemed to rain heavily most of the night. Not a good sign, however when I got ready for my walk the rain had stopped and other than for a little bit of mist it didn’t look at all bad.
So out the door at 0700 ish. I was planning to walk for 4km along the track and then head directly up the hillside to the top of the first munro but after about 10 minutes I realised that I had forgotten to put my spare batteries into my day sack so had to head back to the bothy. So second attempt set off at 0725. Its easy enough to walk along the undulating stony track avoiding the boggy bits along the way. There is another ex croft called Achneigie which I passed after 2.3km. The windows are covered with steel shutters and a “Dangerous Building” sign in on the wall. After another 1.5km I passed the main track into this valley. At this point its best to follow the main track which heads down to and across the small burn and then continues along the banks of Abhainn Loch an Nid, however true to form I continued along what I thought was a path following the line of the fence posts and added a km of rugged terrain to my journey eventually joining the previously mentioned track again a little latter. Itsnow 5.3km from the start and I find a suitable river crossing point and head up the long slog to the summit of Beinn a Chlaidheimh. Its pretty much straight up the hillside heading for the obvious ridge and the final 300m up to the summit. After some lunch I then head in the direction of Sgurr Ban.
I now head south for about 1.5km down the ridge line to the Beallach at 650m. There doesnt seem to be a path of any sorts here and there are choices to be made. I could skirt around the corrie above Loch a Bhrisidh heading west then ascend the steep ridge up to Sgurr Ban or continue south and follow the other ridge line up to the summit. I do neither, instead I choose a traverse which pretty much ascends the valley between the other two routes joining the ridge to the summit with 0.5km to go to the summit. So, feeling good and on my second munro of the day, Sgurr Ban.
Looking across to Mullach Coire Mich Fhearchair I could see a big scar running directly from the beallach to the summit and it looks quite steep. Its only 1km from summit to summit so I descend to the beallach and make rapid progress up the sandy path to the summit. I think the rain has helped the underfoot conditions because the sandy ground seems compacted and stuck together making the going much easier than it might otherwise have been. Again there were some tremendous views with the weather being kind to me again. I look across at Beinn Tarsuinn but I cant see Meall Gharb because it is below the ridge.
So now on my way again, following the path down the rocks and soon see Meall Gharb with the bypass path snaking around its western flank. Its quite easy going and I am soon ascending the slope up to the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn and I quickly arrive on the summit. I have taken it easy on the ascents to conserve energy and I am pleased at this point having done 4 munros in 6.5 hours.
I head off again down to the quite spectacular Tennis court/helicopter landing pad . Amasing geological formation. I can see the Tarsuinn ridge ahead and head of in that direction. However there is a bypass path which I take which meanders around the base of the pinacles. After another 0.5km I can see the bellach below looking like a swamp with ponds and lochs and rivers and lots of wetness BeforeI descend I have a look around. There were two other guys going around the ridge in the reverse direction to me but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of any other mortal. Unbeknown to me they had seen me and were coming up the Tarsuinn ridge 0.5km further north and about 130m below me.
However it now time to head west straight down the hillside and onto the sodden beallach. I pick my way across the bog. There is a small butress to cross at about 600m but I am soon past that and heading up the grassy slopes of A Mhaighdean. The conditions underfoot are superb up this grassy slope and in complete contrast to the seemingly constant rocky ground of the other 4 munros and in no time I am at the summit. Well what can I say, the views from this most remote of munros are superb. The sun is trying to come through there is very little wind and I am a very lucky man. Only one munro left and then the long walk back to the bothy.
Now I head North East and then East down the small ridge heading to Ruadh Stac Mor. The buttresses along the front of this munro are quite impressive. I look for a path or obvious sings of ascent but Icant seem to see one so I migrate to a path heading north along the base of this mountain. I go along the path for a couple of hundred metres but the path is starting to head downhill. I scan the hillside and it is very steep. There is signs of ascent/descent so I bite the bullet and head vertically upwards. There is grassy/mossy patches which makes for reasonable going and I quickly ascend up the hillside. Then I meet the boulder field. This is dodgy ground. The boulders are three deep and loose so I have to quickly skim over them up to the buttress on the west side of the summit. Its now a short airy scramble up the buttress and onto the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor.
Its now a 9km walk out back to the bothy. I descend from Ruadh Stac Mor down the North East face descending three sets of boulder fields down to Lochan a Bhraghad. I pass between the Lochans, across the hillside and rejoin the path at Clach Na Frithealaidh. The path folows the burns all the way to Larachantivore. A small set of buildings. I continue following this track but it leads me away from the bothy towards the loch. I wade across the river and realise that I have made a slight error so I head North West intent on meeting the track leading west from the bothy. All of a sudden I am up to my waste in bog hahaha. Its water bog rather than mud bog and I am soon out of this sodden bog land and on the track eventually arriving back at the bothy.
That was a long day, my longest so far. After getting cleaned and put dry clothes on I light my fire bricks and soon have a blazing fire on the go. Carol and Mike had a good day out on the Western hills and the two chaps completed their anti clockwise round a couple of hours later. In the morning I walked out along the landrover track with Carol as she was going to bag Beinn a Chlaidheimh before walking out herself.
P.s. Beinn a Chlaidheimh has since been demoted from Munro status to a Corbett