Day 10 May 18 – Mullurdoch bothy – and Five of the Affric Munros.
An Socach (921m, Munro 270)
Mam Sodhail (1181m, Munro 14)
Carn Eighe (1183m, Munro 12)
Tom a’Choinnich (1112m, Munro 41)
Toll Creagach (1054m, Munro 77)
The great things about the walk are you start the hills from a different way than normal few will climb Toll Creagach from Glen Cannich. We had a problem at the Dam but sorted that out eventually and then a great long ridge from the Loch all the way up to the summit. Our journey today was all on the high tops of the Affric hills all the way to the remote Aultbeithe Youth Hostel. Today we would miss the great Affric Forest but we would be high all day and get a few mountains in. From the summit of Toll Creagach it is a broad ridge along to the bealeach Toll Easa used in past days as a route between Affric Lodge and the now submerged Benula Lodge under the waters of loch Mullardoch, all part of the Hydro System. The ascent of Tom A Chonich by the south East Ridge from the beleach is a good scramble still snow-covered and not the place to slip.
These are big mountains in a wild environment, from the summit of Tom a’ Chonich follows a grand ridge and there is a delightful section where the crest becomes narrow and broken into some shattered pinnacle’s that today needed an ice axe to assist the journey. The great dome of Cairn Eighe lay ahead a huge hill of over 3800 feet. The outlier Beinn Fhionnlaidh looked feasible but not today, we headed on to Mam Sodhail and its massive summit cairn. How many miss the chance when in this area to get the illusive summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh and a few Munro rounds are never completed because of this? Our last Munro of the day An Socath was a long ridge walk at the end of the journey and from here a huge drop into Glen Affric down the stalkers path. It was a long walk to the Aultbeithe Youth Hostel a great place to stay for the night and I felt that last pull up to An Socath. I twisted my knee on the way off descending into the Glen and limped along the track to the Youth Hostel. It had been a great day in some amazing mountains; I never tire of this place and a night in Glen Affric Youth Hostel to look forward to.
We had the place to ourselves, no one had been there since February and there were a few spare tins we ate well that night and had a great fire. Stags were down at the bothy, in the evening and watched me as I enjoyed a great sunset over the Kintail and Affric hills, what a day, what a walk. I was feeling a lot better the knee was twinging but had a great sleep in a comfortable Hostel; this was the way to live. Another great day in the famous Glens Of Scotland big hard hills but what views the day’s distance was 16 miles and 6600 feet of ascent it seemed far longer. Pauls boots held up he is some guy and Jim just powers on, powerful people. I am feeling stronger got over the bug and now enjoying these wild areas.
We are half way through our walk and going well, we carry little excess in gear just a change of clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food a stove and fuel, we have few comforts. The weather has been pretty good but there are still patches of hard snow in places and the ice axe is a great companion. The rivers have been tricky with the melt water from the snow and we have to take care, boots of but our feet are always wet. I feel now as I was to on many other long walks and expeditions that I am part of this environment. We all feel the same; we are at one with the mountains, picking lines up these great hills where there are few paths. We pick up animal tracks mainly deer and move well despite the big bags of about 30 lb. All day we see amazing things the wild animals and the summer plants coming through. The extra daylight in May means we have plenty of time on the hill and the constant views of the hills and our route give you a buzz when times are hard.
I now know the feeling of being at one with the hills; we have seen no one apart from the Keepers and enjoy the solitude and our own company. I have to protect my knee yet we are all in our own worlds and getting on fine. We hope to pick up a new pair of boots for Paul after Kintail the keeper at Cannich called Kinloss for us so they hopefully will arrive? There was a food cache left at the Youth Hostel that will see us to Fort William.
A former stalking bothy on the Affric Estate, this friendly eco-hostel offers a warm welcome and an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. Nowadays it has a wind turbine and solar panels provide warm water and electricity, while the comfortable common room and kitchen are heated by wood and coal fires. It was a lot more basic but warm and dry a wee had beds.
Distance 18 miles Ascent 6060 feet Munros 5 Total 29