Monday, 26 August 2013

Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan

Five Sisters from the path to Alltbeithe

Alltbeithe suspension bridge and hostel, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan behind

An Socach with Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail in distance

Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan from An Socach

Loch Coire nan Dearcag, my return route

Looking south from Ceathreamhnan

Summit of Ceathreamhnan looking to the twin top

Mullach na Dheiragain from Ceathreamhnan

Mullach na Dhearagain looking towards Ceathreamhnan and its tops

Friday, 23 August 2013
Ascent:         1840 metres
Distance:       28 kilometres from Cluanie Inn
Time:            8 hours 48 minute

Cluanie to Alltbeithe camp          270m   2hrs 47mins
m    An Socach                             921m   3hrs 55mins
t      Stob Coire na Cloiche           915m   4hrs 29mins
m    Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan   1151m   5hrs 17mins
t      Carn na Con Dhu                  967m   6hrs   9mins
m    Mullach na Dheiragain          982m   6hrs 42mins

With a friend's munro completion on Ciste Dubh on Saturday, I decided to go a day early and climb the three remote munros north of the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel by the river Affric. I made an early start and was in Fort William by 9:40am to buy a gas cylinder and some fruit for the next three days. Beyond Fort William it was a slow journey in the holiday traffic and it was 11:30 before I reached the Cluanie Inn. It started to rain as I began the walk back to the start of the path that leads north to Glen Affric. It was grey and the track became an increasingly boggy tramp along a narrow path, it reminded me of previous tedious walks on this route and to make it worse I had to return tomorrow. I am seldom morose but I was not relishing the next 6 kilometres through the bog and, after pitching the tent, I would have to climb the uninviting grey hills ahead. It would be almost 3pm before I started the serious climbing and it would be dark before I was back at the tent.

My spirits were lifted by a woman from Carlisle who was squelching down the path with a massive smile having already climbed A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire. She had enjoyed one of the best of ridge walks and after two good days on the Five Sisters and the Saddle she radiated the joys of munro bashing having now reached 232 munros in twenty years. Her optimism was infectious and I was stirred to plan how to achieve the three hills ahead. After crossing the suspension bridge over the river Affric I walked about half a kilometre east of the Youth Hostel and pitched the tent by the Allt na Faing where I had camped on two previous visits. I set out immediately and followed the good path to the bealach at 798metres.

At the bealach I had to decide whether to make the quick walk out and back to An Socach or leave it as on option on the return when it might be the difference between descending in the light or a dark. I decided to be optimistic and went out to An Socach. Although the hills were out of cloud there was a flat grey light that diminished the views of  Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe to the east. I scampered back to the bealach and decided to climb Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan next. There are a series of tops along the way but not much height is lost between them. I was surprised at how easy it seemed and I made the summit on the schedule I had set myself. I gave myself five minutes and finished my water and the last of my food. I had inadvertently left most of the food in the tent so an apple had to suffice.

I began the long descent to Mullach na Dheiragain. This must be one of the three or four most remote munros along with Luirg Mhor, A' Mhaighdean and Seana Braigh. There is a bealach at 841 metres and there follows a long easy ridge with a jumble of boulders to cross at the top of Carn na Con Dhu. There is then a steepish drop to another bealach before the final 100 metres of ascent to the summit. It felt remote and it was 7:15pm by the time I arrived. I immediately began the return and met a walker going out and trying to find a way across the boulders, he had his tent with him and was going to camp in the corrie beyond the summit. He seemed concerned that I would not get back to Alltbeithe but I was on a charge and made good time by dropping down to Coire nan Dearcag and then contouring round to the bealach below An Socach.

I was glad that I had climbed An Socach earlier but it was still light at 8: 40pm as I began the descent down the well made path. I relaxed and began to look forward to some food. Just after the gate through the deer fence at 500 metres I was striding out down the path when I came face to face with a badger coming up the path. We were no more than 3 metres apart before the badger did a quick whirl and sashayed down the path at a fair pace. It was just about dark as I reached the tent and I settled down to make some food but could not find my matches. I had to decide whether to go without food and a hot drink or walk down to the youth hostel to borrow a lighter. I decided that hunger took precedence and spent ten minutes in the hostel talking to other walkers before the warden reappeared with a lighter. Soup, pasta and a pan of tea followed, although the midges had got into the tent and those that didn't season the pasta made it less comfortable than I would have liked.

No comments:

Post a Comment