Fisherfields June 2006

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: An Teallach from campsite. As I am counting down the Munros I still have to do, I knew at some point I would have to wild camp in inaccessible areas but the prize would be bagging those remote hills hidden away in faraway glens. This month I made the trip to the Fisherfields and it was an unforgettable experience. It was my challenge for this year to bag the Big Six. Much to my surprise, I managed it as the weather was perfect, the group were very supportive to an inexperienced camper and slow walker like me and Richard, the leader, very considerate.

Although the expedition was hard physically, I loved the experience and the humour of the group made it even more memorable. The views were simply stunning and will remain in my mind forever. The Fisherfields are a range of six hills, collectively the most remote Munros in Scotland and lie between Dundonnell and Poolewe. We walked in from Corrie Hallie, near Dundonnell in the north with very large full packs containing food for almost four days, tents, cooking equipment, sleeping bags and my luxury of a Thermarest to sleep on. All this, over and above the usual day walking stuff and a full change of clothes.

The walk to Shenavall Bothy on the stalkers track took around three hours but I had invested in a good rucksack so was fairly comfortable. The weather was fine and warm and we continued on beyond the bothy to camp in Gleann na Muice which would shorten the walks to the hills on the following two days.

Photo: Camp site. The first test was to cross the river, Abhainn Lochan Nid. Fortunately, the river was low but I had advance warning of the river crossing so changed into rafting sandals and rolled up my trouser legs. My feet were refreshed after the long walk. On we walked and found a camping spot on a little island surrounded by burns. If Lindsey had not been there to put up our tent, I think I would have had a problem! I had this surreal feeling camping as we sat and ate out of our billycans. It felt a bit like a child playing at houses. I can see the attraction of the great outdoors and in our luminous yellow tent, it was forever daylight. Being so far north there is very little darkness in June.

The next day, we climbed the four Munros of Beinn aChlaid, Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Beinn Tarsuinn taking about twelve hours in total with lots of stops in fine weather. By the last Munro, it started to rain and I fell in a burn on the way back so felt very cold and wet. My companions had a hot drink waiting for me at the camp which was very cheering and dry clothes brought my spirits back.

Photo: Frances An Mhaigden. The following day was also fine and we climbed A?Mhaighdean first. This is one of the finest hills I have been on with stunning views in every direction over to hills with interesting crags and corries. We had a very, extended lunch break on the top sunbathing and soaking up the views. It was then back to the col and an ascent of the very rocky Ruadh Stac Mor descending on the other side by Fuar Loch Mor and Glean na Muice Beag to our campsite. We were fortunate to see a ptarmigan and her chicks. The chicks were a beautiful reddish orange colour but were obviously stressed with our presence so we walked quickly away from them.

The return walk the following day to Corrie Hallie was long and hard and somehow the packs seemed heavier. I was glad to see the minibus and return home to a lovely hot bath!

At the end of the four days I had walked 44 miles with 11,400 feet of ascent including 19 miles and 2,400 feet of ascent with a full pack. I was exhausted after it but exhilarated. Somehow, I think I will not be back to the Fisherfields as it stretched me to the limits of my endurance but what an experience! The trip was arranged by CNDo

Coming attractions; Tarf Hotel Bothy, Cairngorms, Seana Bhraigh

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Thanks to Tony Pitson for the photos

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