30 April – 2 May 2005


Not only is it “a long and serious backpacking expedition over some of the largest and loneliest mountains in the Scottish Highlands” (Richard Gilbert); it’s also a journey across truly magnificent mountain scenery of high, narrow ridges and tall shapely summits looking out across empty glens, completely uninhabited and with very few tracks.

The circuit of this wilderness takes 3 days, each needing about 5,300 feet of climbing and 13 or 14 miles. Not short days then. There are 12 Munros in the traverse.

Our trip began at the Mullardoch Dam – a remote enough spot in its own right – and with rucksacks carefully packed to minimise weight off we went along the 4 Munros that make a northern wall to Loch Mullardoch. Visibility was excellent on this day, high mountain panoramas all round, and the highlight was the towering east ridge of Sgurr na Lapaich, finishing in a snowfield and a rocky scramble to the summit (1150m). Ten hours after setting off the tents were pitched in the valley beyond the west of the

Camp 1>>>>

Unfortunately the sky at sunset harboured far too many Mares Tails and a very dreich morning followed. As the middle day is a bit shorter than the others we stayed put and watched. Eventually the low cloud seemed to break, a decision was made to keep going, and the uphill began. Once firmly committed to the long ridge of Mullach na Dheiragain (982m) at 950 metres however the mist closed in making navigation tedious, and it started to rain. The tramp along this damp grey world seemed almost never ending until at last we came to the foot of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan (1151m). Gaily labelled ‘Scratch my Caravan’ the day before, the mountain took its revenge.

<<<<Camp 2

The only possible route option was to go up the north east ridge to the 1151 metre summit in order to locate the east ridge by which we had to descend. It was raining stair rods with visibility a few yards: - no lingering on the cairn today By 5 pm we had reached the bealach, and at this point Steve and Andrew decide to escape to a night in the remote alpine-style Alltbeithe Youth Hostel in Glen Affric. The rest of the party continued over the third and final Munro of the day An Socach (921m). Luckily the weather eased on arrival at Bealach Ghadheil at 800 metres, long enough to pitch camp and enjoy fantastic views of Beinn Fionndlaidh and Loch Mullardoch whilst have a welcome evening meal.

The Gang, Me, 10K, Chip, Howard, Andy E, Sid >>>

The penalty of a comfy night for Andy and Steve was a 5.50 am start and a traverse of An Socach (extending their day to 6 Munros and 7500 feet of climbing) before reunion with the rest of the party, which left the bealach together a little after 8 am. Sunshine pierced the mists for a while as we crossed Mam Sodhail (1181m) and Carn Eighe (1183m) encountering Artic Hare and a Pair of Falcons. We then went ‘out and back’ to the otherwise inaccessible Beinn Fionndlaidh (1005m) in sunshine. After returning to Carn Eighe the views largely disappeared into mist, but the compensation was the most sensation ridge of the trip eastwards. The narrow ridge twists and turns, gendarmed in one section, and stays mostly over 1000 metres high for about 4km before climbing to Tom a’ Choinich. (1112m). Now the sun came out to tell us we were nearly home, and another couple of hours steady ramble across Toll Creagach (1054m) saw us finally down to the dam again.

A big trip in some of the best country the
Highlands has to offer. You can of course get to individual sections on day walks. A boatman (tel. 01456415347) is now taking walkers from the dam to the west end of the Loch making the traverse of the north Mullardoch ridge a possibility. Also the excellent ridge east of Carn Eighe can be done on a long day from Glen Affric. But if you have the opportunity to put the whole lot together at once it is a truly memorable outing.


Thanks to Andy(escape route) E. for the Narrative.
Thanks to Howard for the Doctor peppers lid, and a level headed view of life.
Thanks to Rich (10K) for the air guitar at camp 2.
Thanks to Paul (Chip) for keeping 10K warm and out of trouble!
Thanks to Steve G (Sid) for Beverly's super Flap Jack.