Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn
With Annual Leave required to be used by the end of the year I found myself off for a week before the kids holidays! Mountains I thought, the long range forecasts had predicted a likelihood of high pressure on the build up to Christmas – excellent – or so I thought. With this being Scotland the models soon changed and the predicted high pressure was now due to move away from Tuesday introducing some spicy low pressure systems to rattle Scotland and the North West! Plans changed, up until Tuesday the forecast was ok – quite benign weather albeit mild and a little muggy….
The chance of cloud free Munros was around 20% with summit winds of around 20-30mph- time to bag some Corbetts…
A few years prior I had headed to the three Munros to the north of Glen Dessary with a summit camp on Garbh Chioch Mor, my only previous visit along Loch Arkaig. I had looked at the Corbetts here a few times but never ended up hiking in the location. With the winds a little high on the tops I decided I would look at a road/loch side camp and use this as a base for a couple of days hiking.
05.30am and I was up – the alarm wasn’t set until 06.50 but as is often the case I woke and thought I’d get going. The route I had planned would mean a possible decent in darkness so I was glad of the earlier start! 2.5 hrs later and I was happy to see my researched camp spot had no campers – maybe not a surprise given it’s the middle of December! I parked up and stuck the tent up and was away by 09.45am. After the warmth of the car I was taking my time up the hill. The forecast suggested the clag may move later in the day and so I headed straight from the camp site up the southern slopes of Mhurlagain. I soon hit the clag and got progressively damper in the fine Scottish mizzle! Once on the ridge the walking was relatively easy going albeit a little squidgy.
1 hour and 45 minutes later I was on the summit looking at the grey inside view of a cloud. The only wind was really on the summit but I didn’t hang around as I was aware the sunset was about 15.30. Compass out and I was off descending towards the bealach between the two hills. It didn’t take long to reach it and my expected views never materialised, the clag had dropped and the little rain continued. Up to Fraoch Bheinn and the microspikes came on and steep ground crossed as I made a bee line for the summit not wanting to waste time. I sat on the summit and I could have been on Mhurlagain again, the views identical- The Grey! Off again and I decided my ascent route was a little too steep for a descent so I headed down the southern ridge a distance before tracking south east towards the lochside camp.
At around 350metres the views returned as I ducked under the cloud, always a nice feeling- the light rain wasn’t however!
With microspikes doing their job perfectly I was back at camp for around 14.30.
Although wild camping is usually the preference, this road side camping has its advantages. 10 minutes after arriving I was out of my damp (read soaked to the skin) clothes and warming nicely in the car. The hassle of inflating the ground mat was a joy in comparison to summit camps and tea and coffee were made in a leisurely manner!
A few hours were spent in the warmth of the car reading maps and routes for tomorrows adventure – a hike up The Corbett Sgurr Cos na Breacgd-laoidh. Hopefully the weather gods smile and I get some views tomorrow…
Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh
Nearly 12 hours kip- unheard of in all my days sleeping in a tent, but head was down at 19.00hrs and I didn’t rise until 07.30 the next morning! Could have been the comfy pillow I brought and dry set of clothes – an advantage of road side camping as opposed to wild camping maybe? Anyway, even though I had a long lye, it was still very dark when I emerged from the tent. I soon set about taking it down and headed to the car to get a brew on and get ready for the day ahead.
The weather was worse than yesterday with rain falling and the clag right down, so I decided to get the waterproofs on from the start. A short drive up to the new ? car park at the end of the road and I was soon on my way, tucking in right and heading down the beautiful and remote feeling Glen Dessary. The mood was atmospheric with low cloud and mists hugging the hillside and deer appearing here there and everywhere? Not sure they would have been so brave a few months ago!;)
My marker for the hill was the amazing Dessary Lodge. Now this really was a 007 style house and reminded me of the one that was blown to pieces in the recent film.
Onwards I headed up trackless terrain – the rain still falling but the grey atmosphere did stir te Scottishness inside! Again, as on the previous day, I was soon inside the cloud but today the wind was stronger and rain heavier, but the Goretex was doing a grand job. A few ups , and then a few false summits, but I finally reached the top, confirmed with a quick ViewRanger check. It wasn’t weather for hanging around so turned on mu heals after taking a bearing- ten came back down he way I came, sticking to the western side of the ridge to take in the sketchy views in to upper Glen Dessary….
Then , about 40 minutes after leaving the top, the rain stopped, cloud lifted and sun came out! The views were amazing, my only regret was that I hadn’t been an hour or so behind schedule! With a extra bit of energy the blue skies brought I was soon tracking back down Glen Dessary , and then finally back at the car ready for the long drive home. A fine way to spend two das J
Full Video report below :)
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...