Hills: Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe, Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Stob a' Choire Dhomhain, Stob Coire Dhomhnuill and Sron Garbh
Date: Saturday 29th August 2020
Company: Just myself
Distance: 30.2km, Ascent: 1820m
Time: 11Hrs 35Mins

I set off from home at 3.20am yesterday morning with a view to ascending Carn Eighe and remote Beinn Fhionnlaidh both of which I had ascended only once previously and were thus needed for my second round of Munros.

The early morning drive to Glen Affric was enjoyable with two foxes, a barn owl and several red deer spotted en-route.

On arrival in Glen Affric, I parked in the car park at the end of the road accessible to the public. As per several other recent walks, I decided to undertake this walk in light trail shoes instead of boots.

I had no particular route in mind other than wanting to ascend Carn Eighe and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. All going well, any new Munro Tops ascended would be an added bonus.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park I set off walking towards Affric Lodge. Fortunately there was a breeze strong enough to keep the midge at bay. While I was not bothered by midge during the walk alongside the river and loch, I can't say the same for deer ked which were plentiful.

River Affric information board:

During the walk towards Affric Lodge, I stopped several times to take photos of the river.

River Affric reflections:

Looking back along River Affric:

On reaching Affric Lodge, I heeded the small sign diverting me around instead of through the lodge grounds.

Affric Lodge:

Beyond the lodge I followed the path for several kilometres passing numerous living Scot's Pine and the occasional dead one.

Dead Scot's Pine:

I had decided to undertake this long walk as both the MWIS and MetOffice forecasts were fairly good with MWIS suggesting 80% cloud-free Munros. While the weather was not wonderful at the outset of the walk, I was hoping that it would improve throughout the day providing some great views. This didn't happen; the forecasts were a work of fiction. On the plus side, the initial mix of sun and showers did produce a number of rainbows.

Rainbow spotted while walking path alongside Loch Affric:

West end of Loch Affric:

On reaching the junction of paths, I took the track leading towards Coire Leachavie. The initial section of path is now a vehicle track leading to a small hydro scheme. Beyond the hydro scheme I followed the path which I had last ascended in 2004.

Ascent alongside the Allt Coire Leachavie:

Looking back towards Loch Affric:

On approaching the coire I met another walker who had ascended these hills the day previous and bivvied out for the night. On asking how the weather had been during the night, as I had considered camping out myself, he advised, "miserable". Good choice not to camp out .

A fleeting glimpse of blue sky:

On reaching Coire Leachavie, I drank the litre of water I was carrying and refilled my bottle from near the source of the burn.

Coire Leachavie:

The ascent onto the ridge was nice and easy thanks to the zig-zagging stalker's path. I then made my way to the summit of Mam Sodhail which I last ascended only a few years ago while ascending some Munro Tops including former Munro, Sgurr na Lapaich.

Onto the ridge a short distance below the summit of Mam Sodhail:

Ridges leading out to Sgurr na Lapaich and An Tudair:

Remains of a building a short distance below the summit of Mam Sodhail:

On reaching the summit area, I initially visited the actual summit, which lies 45m away from the large cairn, before making my way across to the large cairn.

Mam Sodhail's large cairn from the summit of Mam Sodhail:

Large cairn near summit of Mam Sodhail:

After taking a couple of photos, I continued on towards Carn Eighe.

Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe are almost identical in height and are the highest mountains north of the Great Glen.

Carn Eighe's East ridge:

The ascent of Carn Eighe was straight-forward.

Carn Eighe:

On reaching the summit shelter, I was surprised to find someone already sitting in the shelter. Someone who had started walking even earlier than myself . Good to know there are some other mad biggers out there just like me .

Carn Eighe was Munro 232 of Round 2, leaving 50 to go.

At the summit of Carn Eighe:

After having a pleasant chat at the summit, I continued on towards very remote Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Looking out to remote Beinn Fhionnlaidh from the summit of Carn Eighe:

Beinn Fhionnlaidh is quite a bit lower than Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail and a lot of height is lost including Beinn Fhionnlaidh in this walk.

Beinn Fhionnlaidh and Coire Lochan:

En-route to Beinn Fhionnlaidh:

Looking back towards Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail:

While it was great to be approaching Beinn Fhionnlaidh after circa 5.5hrs of walking, I was fully aware that I was now only half-way and still had approximately the same distance to walk back.

Approaching the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh:

While the views from the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh were disappointing due to low cloud, it was still a great feeling to again stand atop this remote hill. From the summit, I could see down to Loch Mullardoch. The water level looked surprisingly low.

At the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh:

Loch Mullardoch from the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh:

From the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh, I made my way back down to the col and then had to make a route choice. I could either skirt round Carn Eighe to save once again ascending to its summit, or I could re-ascend Carn Eighe. I opted to re-ascend Carn Eighe which would then allow me to take a different route back to the car along Carn Eighe's East ridge.

Back at the summit of Carn Eighe:

From the summit of Carn Eighe, the walk out to the first Munro Top, Stob a' Choire Dhomhain was straight-forward and didn't take long.

Approaching the summit of Stob a' Choire Dhomhain:

Standing atop the summit of Stob a' Choire Dhomhain:

However, as I continued on from the first Munro Top towards the second and third Munro Tops, the mist came down and I was confronted with some interesting features to negotiate along the way.

"View" from the summit of Stob a' Choire Dhomhain:

Heading between Stob a' Choire Dhomhain and Stob Coire Dhomhnuill:

Ridge leading out to Tom a' Choinnich:

The first interesting feature can be seen in the photo below. As the rock was wet I was glad of the by-pass path skirting round this rock feature.

Obstacle on ridge:

As I progressed along the ridge there were several other outcrops on the ridge which required due care even when taking the by-pass paths.

Ridge leading to Stob Coire Dhomhnuill:

I was impressed with the geology encountered on this ridge. As well as numerous twisted and contorted rocks, I also noted rocks which would appear to have been moved from being horizontal to vertical.

Interesting geology:

I next reached the summit of Stob Coire Dhomnuill and then Sron Garbh.

At the summit of Stob Coire Dhomhnuill:

At the summit of Srob Garbh:

By the time I reached the summit of Sron Garbh I was engulfed in thick cloud and had to take care to descend in the correct direction. On reading my SMC Munros book today, it suggests "descend quite steeply down its rocky north-east ridge where at one point a stalker's path has been so well constructed as to form a flight of stone steps". It also suggests this is a route for "good weather". I have to say I didn't come across anything resembling a well-constructed route resembling a flight of stone steps. All I encountered was lots loose rock so care was needed.

Looking back at descent from Sron Garbh:

From the col, I next made my way down the coire with a view to picking up the Gleann nam Fiadh track.

View from col towards An Leth-chreag:

Descent towards Loch a' Gharbh-bhealaich:

Sgurr na Lapaich beyond Loch a' Gharbh-bhealaich:

The descent to the track was pleasant, following the "track" wasn't. During the descent, I had my first real stop of the day to change into a pair of dry socks which didn't remain dry for long.

About to follow the awful path alongside the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh:

It was a relief, after crossing the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh, to pick up the excellent track leading back to Glen Affric.

On the excellent track between Gleann nam Fiadh and Glen Affric:

As I made my way back down towards Glen Affric, the wind had dropped and the midge were plentiful. I therefore walked as quickly as I could back to the car such that they couldn't catch me.

An enjoyable long walk involving a significant amount of ascent and descent .