Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Cona' Meall & Beinn Dearg (Ullapool)

Loch a' Choire Ghranda II
Loch a' Choire Ghranda

Day one of a two day North West Munro Marathon..

Munros 34-38
10 hours

(More, and larger photos available in my flickr set at: )

Drove up from Alford on the Friday afternoon. Glad to see the heatwave was present on the West Coast too! A quick pitch at the campsite then along to the Ferry Boat Inn to purchase a pint or two and sit on the wall and contemplate the next day's walk:

The evening before - sizing up the job from the Ferry Boat Inn

A perfect evening to sit outside the Ferry Boat Inn on the wall.

A fish supper from The Seaforth and another pint or two and back to the campsite to catch the sunset:

Sunset at Broomfield campsite

Long exposure of the ferry as it leaves Ullapool.

Up early the next morning (apologies to anyone who was woken up by my phone alarm) and I was parked up on the old road at Inverlael ready for a 0730 start. Two other cars there and there was another Solo Walker and a Couple With Dog. (More apologies for forgetting names if you are reading this) We all set off at around the same time.

A quick yomp along the forestry track and then out into Gleann na Sguaib and onto a fine stalker's path:

Looking back down Gleann na Sguaib towards Inverlael

The path splits and I followed the left fork (Wild campers at the fork) almost to the small lochan under Eididh na Clach Geala. I then climbed the hill for a straightforward ascent of the first Munro of the day, Eididh na Clach Geala. Couple With Dog arrived soon after and then Other Solo Guy appeared having ascended from the other side:

Eididh na Clach Geala Summit Cairn. Looking towards Meall nan Ceapraichean & Beinn Dearg

From the summit of Eididh na Clach Geala. Visible in the distance are Inverlael, Loch Broom and Ullapool

A quick snack stop and off to Munro number 2. A nice speedy descent down Eididh na Clach Geala over grassy slope. Some crags further down the slope that were easily skirted brought me to a string of small lochans. They looked very inviting as the day, although hazy, was getting hotter:

Lochan between Eididh na Clach Geala and Meall nan Ceapraichean

Looking back at Eididh na Clach Geala from the slopes of Meall nan Ceapraichean

The top section of Meall nan Ceapraichean was boulder field and was a pain to cross but didn't take too long to cross to reach the summit cairn, catching up with Other Solo Guy. Couple with Dog were close behind:

Meall nan Ceapraichean Summit Cairn

The haze cleared and had some great view over to Beinn Dearg:

From the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean. The Destitution Wall is visible along the top of the cliff edge.

At this point, due to the rising temperature, I seriously considered missing out Cona' Mheall, but came to the conclusion that it would be rude not to. An easy descent from Meall nan Ceapraichean took us to the col as we headed off towards Cona' Mheall:

Loch a' Choire Ghranda. Between Cona' Mheall [left] and Beinn Dearg [right] on the way to Cona' Mheall.

Cona' Mheall was a quick ascent, made uncomfortable by lots of scree.

Cona' Mheall Summit Cairn. Looking South towards the Fannichs.

Too hazy for any real views so a quick bite to eat, and then swiftly down again to return to the col and begin the final ascent of the day - Beinn Dearg. Other Solo Guy headed for Inverlael at this point, already having bagged Beinn Dearg previously. From the col, the ascent of Beinn Dearg is made by following the Destitution Wall straight up the hill:

Looking back at the col from the slope of Beinn Dearg, the start of the destitution wall running up Beinn Dearg

The route up was fairly steep and there were a few scrambly sections if you were determined to stay close to the wall. There are paths round the craggy bits. I'd be wary of straying too far from the wall in poor visibility as there are some big drops to the right. The wall eventually begin to turn to the right and a gap in the wall gives access to the summit plateau:

Meall nan Ceapraichean from near the summit of Beinn Dearg (Ullapool). Seana Bhraigh in the far distance.

A short walk across the summit plateau leads to the large summit cairn. By this point I was flagging and had fallen behind Couple With Dog who were on the was down as I was almost at the cairn.

Looking towards Seana Bhraigh from summit of Beinn Dearg.

The Destitution Wall. Also known as the Famine Wall, it was apparently built by destitute people in the 1800's in exchange for food.

I refuelled beside the cairn while watching a trio of raven circling overhead and then began my descent to the col (for the third time!) I found the descent from Beinn Dearg slow going and a bit slippery in places. Certainly wouldn't have liked to do it in the wet.

I reached the col and then started down the path back down Gleann na Sguaib. It was an excellent path dropping down from the col, meandering back and forward across the stream. No photos though - my 2 litre Platypus and 1 litre Sigg bottle were both empty and my feet were starting to blister. My feet tend to run hot at the best of times and the heat hadn't help today.

10km later and I was back at the car, 10 hours after I had started. My plan of walking into Suileag bothy that evening for an early morning ascent of Suilven the next day was quickly knocked on the head due to my blistering feet so it was time for plan B - A quick shower back at camp then off for a celebratory pint or two - indoors this time to escape the midges, let my feet recover and to figure out what to do on day two:

Recuperation in the Caledonian Hotel bar, post walk.