Great days on a remote Munro Seanna Bhraigh – In Memory of Assynt MRT Leader killed on an Avalanche on 3 Feb 1991.

Seana Bhraigh (926m, Munro 262)

Seana Bhraigh


Past visits. In Memory of Phil Jones Assynt MRT Team Leader killed in an avalanche on 3 Feb 1991.

Phil Jones Assynt MRT – Photo Assynt MRT

As most will know the Munro Seana Bhraigh is a long way from anywhere. Some guidebooks say it is one of the remotest Munros about. The hill is in my mind best approached by Loch Coire Mhoir. This is reached by most by a private track up Strath Mulnzie, where a mountain bike is extremely useful. There are other ways in but to me this is the best. If you’re walking the route is well described in various guidebooks and can be an easy ascent but a long way from anywhere. I used to love doing a circuit including the other 4 Munros  Eididh na Clach Geala (927m, Munro 257)
Meall nan Ceapraichean (977m, Munro 177)
Beinn Dearg (1084m, Munro 57)
Cona’ Mheall (978m, Munro 176):  

Map from Hamish’s Mountain Walk

 In bad weather this is extremely tricky navigation but on a long summers day it’s a classic. Sadly the views from the Beinn Dearg Side of Seana Bhraigh are of a flat plateau, till you reach the Corrie rim of Seana Bhraigh then you can see the full immense view of these wild Corries.

Great views into the Corries

To me the best way to climb this peak is by Oykel Bridge. Its great place to be a wild area. The wildlife round this area is amazing and Oykel Bridge is a big fishing river. On the hill usually near the summit sometimes you may spot Goats near the summit and the odd Eagle soaring. This is a wonderful place and the views from the track as you walk/cycle in with the ridge and the first view of the peak of An Sgurr make it a very special place.

The wonderful photo of the Corries by Angus Jack

To me it’s not a place to rush: how many on their Munro chase miss this wonderful Corrie and all its secrets. To sit on the summit and spend time is an incredible experience and well worth the effort. On this hill the views North South East and West are wonderful and I have so many memories of this wild area and my companions over the years. On these Big walks we stayed in the bothy in the Corrie that makes it such a great memory a night in the bothy in a special place. It had a history of exploration in the winter as I became immersed in the winter climbing history in Scotland. These were some hardy folk. My late pal Blyth Wright regaled me with tales of this cliff when it was a new winter venue in the 60’s.

Seana Bhraigh is glacially carved with a huge beautiful northern corrie with some scrambling required to reach its eastern top Creag an Duine. In winter it is a special place it has two bothies right next to each other. One by the MBA and the other the Magoos Bothy.

Magoos Bothy

I had spent many nights in my youth in the big walks in 1976 on my N- S traverse of Scotland and others; these were huge days when we were fit. The MBA Bothy was a great place to be and the situation incredible with the classic ridge and scramble just outside the door. This mountain is a great winter wander along a remote ridge well worth the walk in. Take time it was also a great place to spend the night and with the new bothy and a fire. It’s well worth taking some coal or wood. The wander round the Corrie rim in good weather is wonderful it’s a huge classic Corrie and if you see the Goats it’s a marvellous sight. In winter its a massive set of Corries.

Its hard to believe I also ran a winter course in 1980 with RAF Valley MRT from North Wales and we climbed a few routes in winter a couple of of new routes over 5 days with my great friend Mark Sinclair (RIP). We drove into the bothy as we knew the keeper but had too make a hasty retreat later when the thaw came. These routes were never reported in the Guides and I hope to go back again in winter to have a look. It is an incredibly wild place and one of great beauty yet those who approach the hill from the other side see little of these huge Corries. I remember the huge Cornices then the wild navigation in a white out trying to get back off the ridge to the safety of the bothy. It is in my memory a wild plateau with tricky navigation especially in winter but what a hill.

SMC Guide

Many may have heard of Philip Tranter who wrote the first guide to this area in 1966 was a hero of mine and I tried to climb many of his routes and his hill days Tranters Round is one. He died in 1968 on his way back from the Alps in a motor bike crash. Scotland lost one of its finest mountaineers he was so young and so dynamic. My good pal Blyth Wright was part of the exploration and this area is steeped in the history of exploration and huge hill days. The club was called the Corriemulzie Club.

This place has so many memories a remote mountain yet a huge part of my life. Among these memories are of a great pal the Team Leader of Assynt MRT Phil Jones was killed here in an avalanche in Feb 1991 it seems so many years ago.

I was at just coming home from running the annual winter course for the RAF mountain rescue Teams this was 14 days away from home when the news was broken by the BBC. They just said that a MRT team leader had been killed, no name was given and it was an awful time for our families. These were the days before mobile phones etc. My partner was so upset as she thought it was me.

2008 I watched Eagles sore that day I was blessed and had a few thoughts for Phil.

When the news broke that it was Phil it was a terrible tragedy as I knew Phil and the Assynt team well and cannot imagine that happening during a training exercise in such a remote area. We had climbed together and got to know each other well Assynt MRT are a great team and we helped out with bits and pieces when we could. Phil was a huge part of the community and I still miss him to this day. I went to his funeral in Lochinver it was a difficult time and a reminder to all of us that tragedy can occur at any time. Mountain Rescue are not excluded from this. I would like to find out the details of the Avalanche from any of the Assynt Team who were there. I am helping with an Avalanche survey that goes back to 1960’s.

There was a small cairn on I am sure Quinag just of one  of the beleachs/ tops with a great view of the wild Assynt that Phil loved and I visited it not long after the funeral.

Phil Jones – Assynt MRT Photo

Can anyone give me a Grid Reference of it please?

Yet this Corrie is an amazing place with so many varying memories, the peace and quiet was incredible and the hills so green in the summer and the heather coming into bloom made this a great walk out even in a bad day but so worth saving for a good day.

View from the bothy window

Yet I have often been back to that Coire and really enjoyed the An Sgurr scramble and in winter is a grand expedition, how many have climbed it is Alpine from the bothy with some scrambling required to reach its eastern top Creag an Duine.

Info – During the stalking season, September 1st to October 20th, please keep to the main estate tracks.
Coiremor is the eastern end of the building, with Magoo’s bothy (non-MBA) occupying the western end. It is used by the estate especially in the fishing and deer stalking seasons but access is allowable so long as recognized tracks are followed.

To access the bothy, it is necessary to ford the River Mulzie at NH 292 906.  If the river is in spate a bridge can be used about 1km north of the ford at NH 298 922 although it is rough ground from the bridge back up to the path. Corriemulzie Estate. We got stuck here once due to being unable to cross the river.

Next time I go I will hopefully have an e bike to make up for my age I am looking forward to it once I feel a bit stronger. Its a fair cycle in but the e bike should make life easier for me if I can get one.

2008 with Janis on the bikes.

Information – Highland Scrambles North Scottish Mountaineering Scramblers Guide

Northern Highland North Scottish Mountaineering Club Guide.

Hamish Browns Mountain Walk

SMC – Munros Guide and App.

In memory of Phil Jones Assynt MRT.

About Assynt Mountain Rescue Team. To me they are a great group of people thank you all for all your great work in a massive remote area.

The primary role of the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team is the provision of search and rescue in mountainous or inhospitable terrain in North and NW Scotland, for any person who may be injured, or otherwise in need of assistance. The Team are all volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.

www.assyntmountainrescue.co.uk/

Assynt Mountain Rescue Team Registered charity number SC049089

Magoos Bothy – This bothy has been refurbished in memory of Mark Magoo who died in a helicopter crash in Kosova in 2001. It is right next to the MBA Bothy which is strange but a wonderful place to be.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Avalanche info, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Great days on a remote Munro Seanna Bhraigh – In Memory of Assynt MRT Leader killed on an Avalanche on 3 Feb 1991.

  1. Tony B says:

    Brilliant piece as usual , did those hills in our North to South , with Al Ward and Jim Morrison, sadly it is 2 years since Al passed away ….

    Liked by 1 person

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