Maoile Lunndaidh and An Sìdhean

Sunday, 10 June 2012

24.5 km/1453 m/09:00

Munro: Maoile Lunndaidh (No. 230)

Corbett: An Sìdhean (No. 33)

The weather forecast wasn’t very good, but I wanted to go back to Loch Monar and climb Maoile Lunndaidh, the Munro I had planned to do during the TGO Challenge in May (but had chickened out due to the snow cover on top). I might even include its neighbouring Corbett An Sìdhean, but I would decide that once I got there.

The problem with the approach via Glen Strathfarrar are the access restrictions, it is a private road with a locked gate and only a maximum of 25 cars are allowed through each day. I had planned to be at the gate at 09:00, because I knew I had to be out by 20:00 and didn’t want to rush.

I had left Inverness in time, but on my drive along Strathglass I missed the turnoff to Struy. Something didn’t feel right, but instead of stopping and looking at the map, I just kept driving along a single track road that didn’t seem familiar at all (I had been to Glen Strathfarrar once before, in 2010). When I suddenly emerged on the A831, just before the bridge into Cannich, I knew what had gone wrong 😳

So I drove through Cannich, then back along the A831 to Struy, and onto the Glen Strathfarrar road. I had lost half an hour already, and it was 09:30 when I arrived at the gatekeeper’s cottage at Inchmore. I got my ticket for the day, was reminded that closing time was 20:00, and off I went along the glen.

The drive to the end of the road took me about 40 minutes, and I finally started walking from the car park at Monar dam at 10:20. It was windy and dull, with a slight drizzle.

I was surprised to see how little water the contributing streams flowing into the loch were carrying.

When I got to the sheep pens by the Toll Breac Odhar, I could see that the top of Maoile Lunndaidh was still in the clouds. I was going to follow the Allt Toll a’ Choin and then climb onto the ridge just behind Creag Bhreac, the top visible on the right.

Instead of walking up to the bridge across the Allt a’ Choire Fhionnaraich, I could easily cross the stream over some stepping stones.

Ascending beside the Allt Toll a’ Choin.

Looking back to Loch Monar.

After arriving on the SE ridge, I soon entered the cloud.

Higher up, the ridge becomes narrower and rockier.

Although I had taken a compass bearing earlier on, I was struggling to locate the summit cairn when the terrain flattened out.

After wandering about for a short while, I suddenly heard voices – who would be out on a day like this?? I headed towards them, and soon found the cairn, populated with about a dozen of fellow hillwalkers in a celebratory mood!

It turned out that this was a Munro compleation party, and some of the participants were familiar (nick)names from the Scottish Hills forum. We had never met before, but I had read some trip reports by the “Five Beauly Posties” 🙂

The new Munroist Richard, and his friends Keith and Andy at the summit of Maoile Lunndaidh.

After standing and chatting with them for a while, I began to feel quite cold and we said our goodbyes. The group had ascended via Creag an Dubh-thioll and were going to descend along the ridge I had come up, while I was heading down the E ridge.

I passed some steep crags on the way down.

When I emerged from the cloud, I could see Richard’s group on the opposite ridge.

Loch nam Breac Dearga.

Maoile Lunndaidh’s E ridge, and An Sìdhean on the other side of the glen.

Looking back up the ridge I had just descended.

Loch a’ Chlaidheimh.

Stripy rocks.

In the meantime the clouds had cleared An Sìdhean’s summit, and I decided to give it a go (although it was after 14:00 already).

View into Coire Fionnarach.

The ascent to An Sìdhean was up steep heather- and grass-covered slopes, and took me longer than expected.

Looking back, I could see the clouds had almost lifted from Maoile Lunndaidh’s summit – typical!

Approaching the summit.

It was 15:45 when I finally reached the summit of An Sìdhean.

From the summit I took a compass bearing and walked across the large plateau towards the stalkers path that runs parallel to the Allt na Cois. The terrain consists mainly of bogholes…

… which were completely dry!

Navigating my way through the mist slowed me down a bit, but eventually I came across the stalkers path.

View up Loch Monar from the narrow gorge of the Alltan Fèarna.

The good path along the loch.

Looking back, the top of Maoile Lunndaidh was covered again.

So far I had not taken any breaks, and by now I was getting really hungry. I stopped by one of the footbridges and had a very quick sandwich (five minutes or so). Then I was back on my way, worried that I might not make it back to the gate in time.

The rocky gorge shortly before Monar Lodge.

I arrived back at my car at 19:30, and drove along the single track road as fast as I could (there were a lot of deer beside the road). And I made it to the gate at 20:00 sharp! Judging from the gatekeeper’s face she wasn’t happy when I rang the bell at her house, and I apologised for being so late, but then again, I was still in time?!

It was great to get these two remote hills done, just a shame that I didn’t get any views from their summits. And it was nice to meet some happy people on such a dull day – congrats again to Richard, the new Munroist 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Maoile Lunndaidh and An Sìdhean

  1. It was nice to meet you at the summit, we were thinking we had the hill to ourselves ! Well done on going on to An Sidhean too ! I’m planning on doing that one from Strathconon, maybe next summer. I’m enjoying reading about your walks.
    Regards keithpostie

  2. 30 mins isn’t a bad time for that road! I really fancy something along that side of Loch Monar (one of my favourite areas) – I’m pretty sure it will be that SE ridge of Bidean an Eoin Dearg 🙂

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