Beinn Fhionnlaidh November 2006

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: Beinn Fhionnlaidh. In most of my Munro bagging I have accessed the start of the walk by car. Only for the Mullardochs and Beinn Fhionnlaidh have I taken a boat. It was a small boat from the dam on Loch Mullardoch. I am going to tell you about bagging Beinn Fhionnlaidh in this article. There are several other Beinn Fhionnlaidhs in Scotland but this is the most remote.

This was complicated Munro bagging using two cars with one car being taken up to Glen Affric car park the previous night. Noreen arranged for the boat at 7.30 in the morning as it was the only booking left. We drove from Cannich to the dam at Loch Mullardoch. The scenery was rather bleak and there was a feeling of remoteness in the area. We left the car at the dam and the five of us boarded Carl?s small motorboat where nine kilometres and forty minutes later we arrived at the far end of the loch at a channel known as the narrows. We disembarked and knew there was no way back other than over the three Munros to Glen Affric. Quite a daunting feeling as there is no mobile phone signal here.

Photo: From Glen Affric. We were faced with a three thousand feet climb up steep unrelenting grassy slopes on to the summit ridge of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. However, we were rewarded with stunning views over the loch to the hills known as the Mullardochs. I will write about these hills next month. After the fairly long slog we reached the top of Beinn Fhionnlaidh but we still had a long way to go over the other two Munros to Glen Affric to the car. I had previously failed to bag Beinn Fhionnlaidh as I had tackled the first two Munros from Glen Affric and to reach Beinn Fhionnlaidh would have taken too long with the return climbing most of the other two Munros again. This way it was a linear walk over the three Munros from Loch Mullardoch in the north to Loch Affric in the south.

It was fairly steep downhill and skirting a minor top before the gradual ridge up to Carn Eige, the highest of the three Munros. At the summit, there was a group of climbers from a club having lunch but they were young and fit and intending to do all three Munros and the return walk to Glen Affric. How I wish I had their speed at times but then I would not have an excuse to go back to hills to tick off the Munro I failed to reach!

Photo: Loch Affric. The walk onto to Mam Sodhail was much shorter but steeper. We needed a good rest on the top before tackling the descent and walk out of over five miles. It was a good path for the descent and we eventually reached the track on the north side of Loch Affric and the very scenic walk out passing Affric Lodge. We were pleased to see the car although it had started raining and was almost dark. It was a fast drive back to Cannich as we had booked dinner at the Slaters Arms and a very good dinner it was too. We returned to the dam at Loch Mullardoch the following morning to pick up the other car.

On the walk we saw a pair of ptarmigan, a fairly unusual sight. As I tick off new Munros bagged in my log, I make a note of wildlife I have seen. Surprisingly, there is little wildlife to be seen other than deer and certain birds such as ptarmigan and buzzards. I have seen eagles but very rarely and on some hills hares are plentiful. The most unusual wildlife I have seen was a badger but that was on a road. I have yet to see a pine martin or an otter.

Coming attractions: Glen Affric Altbeithe, Mullardochs and Xmas in Perthshire

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Thanks to David Alexander and Frances Rickus for the photos

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