The night was spent in the bothy at Loch Coire Mhor below the great cliffs of Seana Bhraigh a wild place. This was day 4 of a walk from the North of Scotland from Ben Hope to Ben Lomond in the South by three young members of the RAF Kinloss MRT. We were staying in bothies where possible and carried our gear and food with us using pre placed food caches every 3- 4 days. It was a trip into the wild with basic maps one inch to the mile and simple hill kit. It was May 1976.
It is a great way to start a day right in amongst the hills and the bothy at Loch Coire Mhoir is the place to be. Outside is the incredible ridge of An Sgurr onto the steep narrow Creag an Duine Ridge interesting way up onto the summit plateau of the huge Luchd Corrie and the summit of Seanna Bhraigh. What a place to be so early in the morning. We had planned 5 Munros that day it was a big day and with poor weather would be hard work.
Seana Bhraigh (926m, Munro 262)
Eididh na Clach Geala (927m, Munro 257)
Meall nan Ceapraichean (977m, Munro 177)
Beinn Dearg (1084m, Munro 57)
Cona’ Mheall (978m, Munro 176)
This is where the famous Corriemulizie Club mainly from St Andrews University who produced a guide to the area in 1966. I was to lead a trip for 5 days in 1981 to climb here an amazing trip but that was in the future. It is still an area rarely visited and I enjoyed the wildness of these huge cliffs. From here the weather changed and it snowed and it is a long way to the next Munro Eididh nan Clach Geala this is really remote and challenging area where navigation has to be on the ball. There are some secret cliffs in this area and many I have still not visited. I was so looking forward to seeing the remote Coire Ghranda (Beinn Dearg) and I was to snow- hole on the beleach years later after a wonderful climb in this remote Corrie.
The main cliff of Beinn Dearg and the normal approach up Gleann na Squaib most go for the classic Emerald Gully a real tick in the old days but in later years I was to have some wild days on Penguin Gully and other climbs of a modest standard nowadays. These were climbed by such great talents of Scottish Winter climbing like Tom Patey, Bill Murray and Norman Tennant some of the greatest climbers of the pre and post war eras. The hills that day were hard work and in the weather we had tricky there were few paths and by now the snow had covered them one we went to the second Munro of the day Eididh nan Clach Geala . From here more tricky navigation to Meall nan Ceapraichean and out to Cona ‘ Mheall and then in white out up to Beinn Dearg our last Munro of the day.
It was very tricky finding the top as the “Famine Wall” stops short of the summit and there was still plenty of snow about and big cliffs to be aware off.
From here it was a tricky descent still lots of snow very hard in places. It was very steep and into a very wet glen walk to Loch Droma bothy a very simple broken down hut by the A 835, where we managed to get a small fire going and our wet clothes off. Our gear in these days was very poor the jackets and trousers were wet all day, this was years before gortex and walking into the wind you felt the strength pouring out of you. Our food for the day was chocolate, we had 4 bars a day. I could not manage more than one and gave mine to Jim Morning who just ate everything. Breakfast was always porridge and a brew then off, I lost weight from day 1.
We soon ate and were in our beds early everything was soaked and we were off to the big hills of the Fannichs tomorrow another huge day, with wet gear. I went up to the house to mention we had arrived but no joy, so we just got on with our night meeting no one again. We had spent a whole day of the hill a few years before helping making the track up to the house for the Very Senior retired RAF Officer the year before who owned the house. I remember it well and spoke my mind about it at the time but was only a young lad.
It was a tricky day with long spells of hard navigation this was not a place to underestimate in bad weather and we were walking into a wind from the summit plateau only getting a break in snow covered peat hags, We saw no footprints until Beinn Dearg this is a lonely area to be and never easy in bad weather. It was a wild night in the bothy and the snow and rain fell most of the night, it was damp and wet and I could not wait for morning to come. You could not get the gear dry so it would be wet in the morning and we had a huge day the Fannichs next.
The Deer were down at the wee bothy all night and on the road after the salt and shelter it was a night to be in! That was a hard day. Jim was as always pushing it all day and Paul getting fitter each day, I felt my knee on every descent from a football injury but said nothing.
Distance 16 miles and Height 6599 feet. 5 Munros – Grand Total – 8 Munros