Many rivers to Cross in the Fannichs
Area: The Fannaichs
Munro’s: A’ Chailleach, Sgurr Breac
Date walked: 26/05/2011
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 17 km
I had booked one week’s holiday from work anticipating the good weather that May usually brings with plans to bag some Munro’s in the sunshine. Unfortunately this was not to be the case. Plans to head up North for a week’s wild camping and walking, starting with An Teallach on Saturday, fell by the wayside with the bad weather forecast predicting storms all weekend and into the following week. I did not really want to travel all the way to Corrie Hall just for the day so I decided I would wait a few days and see what happened to the weather. Well it just got worse on Monday with Tuesdays forecast being no better. In fact the bad weather was now forecast to stay for the week with various lows moving over Scotland. By Wednesday I was watching my weeks camping trip slipping bye day by day so I decided to bite the bullet and duly headed up to Corrie Hall on Wednesday.
I arrived at the parking area near the road to Loch a Bhraoin early in the evening and after a small search found a suitable camping area which consisted of a small flat grassy area next to, but on the opposite bank of the burn. The evening weather was looking fair with the Mountain tops clearly visible and no wind which was much better than I had expected.
After setting camp and having something to eat, I settled down for the night. Then the rain started and seemingly it rained all night. I woke a number of times and it was still pouring it down and this continued till just after 1030. I would normally have arisen early and been walking by now but due to a restless night and the incessant rainfall I was quickly losing any enthusiasm. I had to give myself a shake as I was still going to try a walk. It was a tall order in the conditions but I was thinking about walking the 5 Western Fannich Munro’s. So after something to eat I was soon kitted up and on my way. I crossed the burn, which wasn’t too deep, back to the main track and looked over at the mountains. They are in the clag and even with the slight respite of a break in the rain there are plenty rain clouds high above me. So I continue on down the track to the crossroads and take the left track over the bridge and along the new track into the forest to the other bridge at the end of the Loch. The track then heads into the valley and after 100m the track forks with one fork, which I take, going directly up the hillside.
The hillside is a complete bog as it climbs up to the crags at Leitir Fhearna and onwards up the ridgeline of Druim Reidh leading to Toman Coinnich and the rain comes and goes intermittently, a weather pattern which continues for the whole walk. However after about 3km approximately the track heads around the side of the hillside. I had planned on sticking to the ridge but the track is well worn so I decide to continue along it. I am completely in the clag but I can sense Toman Coinnich looming above me on my left as I continue on my way. After checking the map the path seems to follow the 800m contour line all the way to the Bealach below A Chailleach so I see no reason to become concerned. The mist is thick so I cannot see the Lochan below me in fact I pretty much see nothing for the whole journey above 650m.
About 50m from the Bealach the track enters a boulder field on quite a steep slope. With all the rain the boulders are slippery and the inevitable happens. I stand on one particular rock and as I transfer my weight to that leg, I lose my footing and my knee crashes down on the rock. At the same time I fall forwards and my right shoulder crashes down on another rock. The contact was not enough to do any lasting damage but it did hurt at the time. I test my right leg and the knee is painful but I can walk. I continue onto the Bealach but realize that I will be lucky to do two Munro’s today never mind anything else. After a Break for refreshments and to consider my options I press on and ascend the wet summit of A Chailleach.
The winds up here are pretty strong and the gusts are frightening but I am relieved to be able to walk without too much pain so I return to the Bealach and up to the summit of Toman Coinnich. I then head down to the Bealach below Sgurr Breac and meet another walker. As we stand on the Bealach trying to make conversation the wind blows stronger than ever. I know head up the hillside to the summit of Sgurr Breac and continue over the other side to follow the ridgeline down into the Glen.
There are a couple of crags to descend and I do so without further incident and I am soon on the main path out of the Glen. The path is a quagmire all the way. There are signs of burnt heather covering the valley so it looks like this whole valley was on fire last month. After 4km the path meets the Alt Breabaig at a small cairn. The burn is quite wide and the water is flowing fast. The only option here is to cross the burn either with your boots on or removing them first. Well at this stage I couldn’t be bothered removing my boots. I walked along the burn for 50m or so looking for a better crossing but there really isn’t any and so I just to walked across. It’s now only a couple of km easy walk back to the tent.
Having hurt my left knee and the weather showing no signs of improvement I decide to pack up and drive home.