Fannaichs Finished September 2005

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: Fannaich Ridge. As regular readers will know, I first wrote about the Fannaichs in October 2004 when I completed five of the hills. Bad weather had prevented completion of the other four and I promised to write about them when I returned to the Fannaichs.

I have just returned to Dundonnell, near Ullapool and I had also the opportunity to climb An Teallach again. This is one of the finest mountains in Scotland and I have previously written about it. However, the weather was wild, wet and windy on the appointed day so I gave it a miss and wandered down to the hotel at Dundonnell to spend lunchtime chatting to the locals where the talk was of deer culling on the local estates to protect the integrity of the herd. The weekend was run by Janis White of Glen and Mountain Guides and was my first Munro bagging expedition with her. The guide was Gary whom I cannot praise enough for his leadership and having to put up with me picking my way gingerly downhill. I had complete confidence in him and his Scouse humour added to the day. I liked Janis?s earthiness and her practical approach. Her website is Glen and Mountain Guides.

The Fannaichs are a range of hills lying off the Garve to Ullapool road in northwest Scotland and are approached from the A835 at the west of Loch Droma. The disadvantage of traversing these hills in a horseshoe is the long walk out on boggy ground back to the road to the east of Loch Droma. Some years? ago it was possible to gain access on the private road to Fannich Lodge and to climb to An Coileachan from the south but the hydro electric board will no longer permit access so the day is lengthened by the long trudge at the end.

Photo: Meall Gorm. I particularly like long ridge walks, most of the day being at high levels with minimum ascent so big rewards with minimum effort. These four hills are not in the same category as An Teallach when it comes to rocks but they do have their moments. Most of the day was on good stalkers paths, one of the benefits of being on deer stalking estates. The ascent to Beinn Liath Mor Fannaich was on a good path and it had stopped raining! We arrived on the top in record time and descended towards the col for an early lunch/teabreak where it was sheltered. The weather was clearing and fortunately was much better than forecast so we did get views of the ridge and the other Fannaichs. On the summit of Meall Gorm there was a flock of Ptarmigan, a plump greyish gamebird found only in the north west of Scotland high in the mountains. It changes colour in winter to nearly all white. It is the first time I have seen so many ptarmigan in one place. The other interesting feature of Meall Gorm was a small stalkers shelter made of rock slabs with a tiny entrance and would hold only two people. The summit cairn at Meall Gorm was unusual as alongside it there was a marker made of upright slabs rather like a tombstone.

The day was very enjoyable as the weather was reasonable with views back over the ridge and down to the many lochs in the area. It was a fairly long walk and we were on the hills for nine and a half hours but it was back to the excellent Sail Mor Croft Bunkhouse for a wee dram and a meal. A satisfying day and the Fannaichs completed thanks to Janis and Gary. Only 39 Munros to go and it looks like next year before I can start bagging again but I have completed a record 27 this year so I feel I have really achieved something. I have even done a few Corbetts along the way.

Coming attractions; Arran again, the Cairngorms, navigating on the Creag Pitridhs and a walk in Hong Kong

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Thanks to Stanley Nowack for the photos

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