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The Fannichs

2nd to 4th of May 2004. Remote hills tackled from the north.

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The Fannichs are a magnificent range of hills situated to the south of the Ullapool road and to the north of Loch Fannich. There are seven Munros that would make a great horseshoe walk from Fannich Lodge. I made my approach from the north intending to walk over the western side of the range and then camp by Loch a Mhadaidh to collect the eastern side's tops the next day. The walk in along a land-rover track was made under leaden skies into a stiff breeze. Arriving at the loch I wandered about looking for a suitable place to camp. All the level ground seemed to be waterlogged and the wind was bowing hard too.

I eventually found a dry patch of ground just big enough for the tent sheltered from the wind and set up camp just as it started to rain. Since this rain was forecast to be showers I decided to try and wait it out before setting off on my planned walk, there would be plenty of daylight available as sunset would be a little after nine this far north and west. I waited and waited but to no avail, the rain just kept coming. Sometime mid-afternoon I gave up and had a rather extended nap. I woke at eight and set about cooking a meal and then turned in for the night as it got dark. The weather was much better in the morning but the night had brought snow over the tops.

After an initial false start (a heavy snow shower led me to seek shelter in the tent for a while) I set off up the steep slopes of Meall a' Chrasgaidh behind my campsite to start my traverse of the western Munros. From the summit a barely visible track led on over the humps of the ridge of Am Biachdaich to Sgurr nan Clach Geala. As I made my way up the ridge of Am Biachdaich there were tracks in the snow, not bootprints as I was the first walker to pass that way that day, but paw prints of a fox and footprints of ptarmigan. Making my way south to Sgurr nan Each, I almost trod on a hen ptarmigan sitting fast on her nest. Taking a quick snap I moved on.

A little way from the nest I scraped a landmark in the snow to remind me to take a slightly different route on the way back to keep disturbance to a minimum. I then made my way out to the top of Sgurr nan Each before retracing my steps. Noting my landmark I settled by a boulder to spy on Mrs. Ptarmigan who after a minute or so realised I wasn't after her eggs and started to do some home maintenance whilst hubby kept watch from the rocks about 15 metres away. After several attempts to get a photograph of her at work the best one turned out to be the first. Then after regaining Sgurr nan Clach Geala I made a decision to go on and bag Sgurr Mor.

Just before the steep pull up Sgurr Mor the foul weather made a reappearance and a little map and compass work was called for to make a descent towards Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich. There is a small shelter perched on the ridge here and the path is an engineered stalkers' path that leads on towards and then contours past the jumbled boulders of the summit of Beinn Liath. I noted one or two possible steep escape routes from the ridge before finding a far better way down, another stalkers' path that leads across the cliff into the north western corrie of Sgurr Mor. From there a boggy descent led back to the loch side campsite.


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