A wander to a bothy and then a coughy struggle on the Fannichs Munro A’Chailleach (997m Munro 144) Windfarms and the wild places? 

It was a lousy nights sleep developing a cough most of the night and away for 0700 I was up early and tired to head North again for a day with a few pals. Inverness was busy and once over the bridge and heading West the temperature dropped to – 4 outside. As day broke the hills were clear and this unusual weather continues just the odd streak of snow on the hills in late January. I have never seen this little snow in all my years on the hills. The wind farms are all over these great hills now and today were moving slowly. Do they spoil such a place  or is it just me? There was a high wind forecast and wind chill for the summits If we got that far.

The Windfarm at the Fannichs. Beauty or ?

The Windfarm at the Fannichs. Beauty or ?

The mountains looked stunning though it was like late Spring but when I stopped at my pals for breakfast 5 star bacon rolls. Anne, Mark and John and Mary from Inverness had planned a walk Loch a’ Bhrouin up to the bothy and then see how we felt. John, Mark and me and were all suffering from coughs and feeling pretty low-key.   By the time we had tea and coffee the time was moving on and we had better get moving but the views and the company meant no rush.

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There was one other car in the lay by when we parked just on the road of Destitution the same place as last weekend.   It was a bitter wind that hit us as we parked  got sorted and then walked the 5 kilometres to the bothy which was in a great state the path/ track follows the loch and has stunning views of Saturdays short walk and the Fannich outlyers.

The track is a wonderful walk but a bitter wind.

The track is a wonderful walk but a bitter wind.

I was feeling rough and coughing a lot a dry cough like John and Mark and the girls were just bleathering the whole way. There was a bit of wind on the loch and the dogs were enjoying the walk and the track is in good condition many cycle this way or walk through a wonderful wander.

On the walk in the sun.

On the walk in the sun.

We had a break here at the bothy it was spotless and tidy and  though the time was moving on we stayed a while. It would have been easy to stay and relax but the hill looked huge but we never make life easy. I had been down this way of the summits only a couple of times before from the main ridge it is steep open slopes and far easier to descend than climb up these big open moors but we had no option.

The bothy was in great condition and we sat outside for a break looking at the big pull up through the moors onto the Fannich.

The bothy was in great condition and we sat outside for a break looking at the big pull up through the moors onto the Fannich.

The girls and the dogs decided to return and went back and we decided to climb onto the main ridge and maybe get a Munro in A’Chailleach  “The Old woman” (997m Munro 144) There are some grand views all the way and these two outliers of the Fannichs Sgurr Breac and A’Chailleach dominate the landscape as does the loch.

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The river can cause problems here but not today it was easy there may be a shortage of water later due to the lack of snow . The great fact was thay the huge moors and peat hags that defend the hill were frozen and easy walking today. There is so much of the old Caledonian forest in the moor and big this must have been some place all those years ago. It was a grind onward up the huge slopes and sounded like a TB ward at some points and John and Mark charged on the views were outstanding and made my coughing stops more bearable. I saw several deer hinds running ahead of us so effortlessly I felt so jealous of their movement.

An Teallach dominates the scene as does the great Fisherfield hills.

An Teallach dominates the scene as does the great Fisherfield hills.

We could see Skye, The Fisherfield hills with the big slabs that look so good from a distance as well and so many other favourites Ben Dearg summit  looking like a bald head it was wonderful. As the hill steepens there was ice about hidden in the grass and watercourses and you had to take care, there is still hidden danger about.

A grind on the open moor.

A grind on the open moor.

It was a slow pull with stops for me lots of photos and a drink and we finally made it on to the ridge and the wind hit us it was bitter. Hats and gloves were on and then a look at the other hills and the huge Fannichs hills dominating this is a marvellous viewpoint.

The dirty snow on the ridge was bullet hard and the turf solid but so little snow.

The dirty snow on the ridge was bullet hard and the turf solid but so little snow.

It was a short pull onto the summit a battering in the wind and a look round, hands were frozen as was the face, there was a bitter wind chill. It was not a place to linger time was moving on and the other Munro Sgurr Breac was not on today.In the past these hills were a big day the 9 Munros in a regular test for the team and the new member’s a long 12 hour day. In winter it can be an incredible traverse starting and finishing in the dark whatever way you start.

John in action note the homemade Cromwell hat?

John in action note the homemade Cromwell hat? Look at the views

In the past a drop of to the Fannichs and the Nest bothy now long gone, epic days and these hills were always hard now after 1 I was so tired how the mighty are fallen.  It would be dark in two hours and the plan was to go back the same way as we could avoid any icy ground on the descent. It proved the right decision.

Summit shot in the bitter wind.

Summit shot in the bitter wind.

It was a slow descent avoiding the icy grass and we had a break out of the wind, some food and enjoyed the views we were all tired and the views were still stunning. Poor John got cramp and was in agony, I just coughed while Mark sorted him. We eventually got down after a few stops to admire the view  recover and then we were down on the track again.

Every picture tells a story at the path for the hour walk out?

Every picture tells a story ? At the path for the hour walk out?

We made good time just getting off in the dark on the last pull up to the car only a few feet we struggled or was it just me? I wish I had my bike for the track homeboy. It was then back to Anne’s to drop of Mark and have some wonderful soup and then home via Inverness to drop of John. It was slow drive home always aware of the deer that may be on the road. I got home about 2100 a long day for one summit, crawled out of the car and with the  body aching a bath and then bed.  

Why do I feel my age but in a funny sort of way I enjoyed the hill,the pain, not the coughing and the company?
Only one Munro  gained though first of the year and must get rid of the cough. 

Today’s tip – Watch the hidden ice and the frozen streams some ice courses may be starting to freeze and it is bitter on the summits in the wind, have fun. Today is a recovery day.

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This is why we go out!

 ​Have a look and see the wonder of Scotland !

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
This entry was posted in Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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