Thursday, 8 June 2017

Stob Coire A' Chearcaill




Summit from the east ridge

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Ascent:        883 metres
Distance:     13 kilometres
Time:           4 hours 4 minutes

Stob Coire A' Chearcaill     770m    2 hrs 26mins  

General election week and the forecast was that Wednesday would be the only day of the week with the prospect of good visibility although maybe an odd shower as well. I decided to attempt the two remaining corbetts nearest to home. It is still over 100 miles to Glenfinnan but Stob Coire A' Chearcaill was a 5 to 6-hour walk according to the Walk Highland website and Mam na Gualainn should be possible in 3 hours. The forecast was to get better late in the day so I decided to leave Mam na Gualainn for the afternoon and early evening.

I drove up to Fort William with the usual delays in the town and then out towards Glenfinnan before turning onto the A861 that follows the southern shore of Loch Oil to the scattered settlement of Blaich. There was supposed to be a hill track from here but I only had a poor quality map downloaded from the computer. It was too imprecise to discover where the track started. I made a couple of sorties up and down the road and eventually parked near the foot of a track. Unfortunately it disappeared after a hundred metres and I decided to continue up the rough ground ahead rather than search for the right track, I had already wasted half an hour.

It was a bad decision and the next hour was spent climbing five fences and negotiating my way up course grass and heather with several boggy sections after the recent heavy rains. There was a strong north-westerly win bowing into my face.  I eventually reached the ridge at 480 metres and immediately the walking became easy - short grass, wet lichens, and the plaintive cry of golden plovers in the cotton grass.

There were still three kilometres to be walked along the ridge but the views were opening up and eventually the sharp prow of Stob Coire A' Chearcaill appeared as I reached the hill of Blaich, one of the eastern tops on the ridge. I reached the summit by 1pm, a large pile of stones and a trig point sitting on a fairly flat summit. There were good views to the west where the shapely hills of Ardgour provided a scalloped skyline. Ben Nevis was the massive presence to the east but it was capped in the cloud. After some food I began the descent, it was so much easier with the wind behind me and Ben Nevis beckoning me from the east. I found a cairn that stood at the start of a good track that led down to Blaich on the A861. It was a quick and easy descent - 25 minutes to cover what had taken almost an hour and a half on the ascent.

I decided to drive round to the Corran ferry rather than back to Glenfinnan and through Fort William. It was a scenic drive on a single track road on what had become a sunny afternoon. Whilst waiting for the ferry I chatted with a group of women cyclists who were on a 5 day cycling holiday accompanied by one of their mothers in a backup van. They were not slumming it, staying in good hotels and eating well between their 50 -60 mile days.

Loch Eil from ridge
Looking east towards Ben Nevis and Mamores
Ardgour hills from summit
The eastern ridge
Ben Nevis between cloud and cotton grass

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