|Click here or on any picture to switch to slideshow|
I woke early on the cold floor and got up about 6. Outside there was a cloudless blue sky and the promise of a great day ahead. I tramped around near the bothy taking some photos of the sun rising on the hills over the valley. This one is a zoom on Ruadh Stac Mór, which was not really this close - if only!
At about 7 I was back in the bothy waking Howard (and some others) by boiling a kettle on Ruth's "pocket rocket", another item which I'd borrowed for the trip. It really did sound rocket-like in the confines of the bothy and there were a few grunts and grumbles from prone forms, but hey, it was after seven o'clock on a beautiful day - time to get up folks! Don't you just hate people like me? By the way you can see a bit of the spanking new staircase in the corner of this photo.
We had breakfast, made up some sandwiches and were packed and ready to leave by about 8.30. The plan was to walk about halfway up Gleann na Muice, pitch the tent, then climb the four Munros to the east of the glen in a sort of clockwise circular walk then return to the tent from the head of the glen. We knew it would be a long day and the next day too, when we planned to do the remaining two Munros before packing the tent and walking all the way out to Corrie Hallie by evening.
As well as the crowd in the bothy there was also a large group camped down towards the river. As we walked down past them Beinn Dearg Mór was looking particularly impressive in the morning sun.
We took off our boots to cross the river - Howard even had some flip flops with him for this - then continued across the boggy expanse of Strath na Sealga, aiming for Larachantivore, where we would do the second river crossing of the day. There isn't much of a path across this section but we managed to pick our way without getting our feet too wet.
And here's an action shot of the second river crossing. As I said, Howard had cleverly come equipped with flip flops, while I just picked my way over in bare feet. We had a nose around the buildings at Larachantivore trying to work out what they were being used for, without much success. There was a rudimentary shelter on offer behind the lefthand end, for walkers caught in bad weather I suppose. There were two girls crossing the river just after us who were going to climb Beinn Dearg Mór and Beinn Dearg Beag. From this angle it looked pretty tough going, but in fact the normal route winds round to the left apparently and isn't too difficult.
The next stage was the walk up the glen beside the Abhainn Gleann na Muice, which was very pleasant, the only thing being that we were carrying full packs. At least we were on the flat though, so it wasn't too bad.
We continued on up the glen for some way, making another river crossing at one point, although without troubling to take off our boots this time.
We passed the point where the stream coming down from Loch a'Bhuiridh on the other side of the valley joins the Abhainn Gleann na Muice, and soon after that we found a great camping spot, dropped our packs and got the tent up.
Campsite in Gleann na Muice
We were making good time and had everything done and were ready to set off again by about 10.30. The hills around looked quite spectacular in the sunshine, particularly An Teallach which we could now see filling the view back down the glen.
The first thing we had to do of course was to cross back over to the east bank of the Abhainn Gleann na Muice, which we decided to do by wading as there was no obvious crossing point nearby. Then began the long steep climb up to Loch a' Briseadh. It was warm work, but we were glad to be rid of our heavy packs now - all part of our cunning plan.
Looking across Gleann na Muice to Beinn Dearg Mór
Waterfall below Am Briseadh
We skirted Loch a' Briseadh on the north side and then climbed another 100m to the bealach to enjoy a well-earned and welcome lunch stop with beautiful views all around.
A' Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mór from Am Briseadh
Beinn Dearg Mór from Beinn a' Chlaidheimh
Howard left his pack and half his water at the bealach and we set off north on the 2.5km ridge walk to the summit of Beinn a' Chlaidheidh. I'm not sure why I didn't leave my pack too, but I probably wasn't carrying much in it anyway, apart from water. The walk out was very nice, with great views of the Fisherfield hills, and I suppose also the Fannaichs although I didn't take many photos of them.
Sgurr Bàn and Beinn Tarsuinn from Beinn a' Chlaidheimh
An Teallach and Strath na Sealga
Having reached our first Munro of the trip, the summit of Beinn a' Chlaidheimh, it was time to retrace our steps to the bealach. We were making good time, despite the fact that we still had three more Munros to get round in the day.
The Fannaichs seen from Am Briseadh
The Fannaichs from the ascent up Sgurr Bàn
Once past the bealach we were onto the long boulder field on the northeast ridge of Sgurr Ban, which made for a much slower pace and wasn't much fun. By this time too there were more clouds around, as can be seen here.
The summit of Sgurr Ban is also very bouldery, however the descent on the south side was much easier, with the next stage, the ascent of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, looming ahead of us.
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Beinn Tarsuinn
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair
The ascent of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair looked pretty steep and arduous from the bealach, but in fact there is a good zigzag path up which is a tremendous help. The terrain reminded me of the ascent of Sgurr Mor in the Fannaichs, although the weather now was somewhat different from when I was there!
The summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair
The only two subsidiary Tops of the Fisherfield Six are close together on the ridge southeast from the summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. It wouldn't be a very long detour to take them in but I don't remember that we even considered this option, or indeed if we were even aware at the time that the Tops were there for the bagging.
A' Maighdean and Ruadh Stac Mór
The ridge to Sgurr Dubh
We had now climbed three of our four Munros for the day, and there was only Beinn Tarsuinn left to do. Looking at the map however it appeared that we would have to go over the top of Meall Garbh as the sides are very steep. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to discover that there is a good path which leads across the steep northwest slope below the crags taking you straight round to the Bealach Odhar with barely any ascent or descent at all.
Ruadh Stac Mór and Beinn Dearg Mór
Looking back to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair
The grassy slope of Beinn Tarsuinn was fairly easy, but by this stage we were getting pretty tired - it was a long way from Shenavall! From the summit of Tarsuinn we had a nice view back to the other three Munros we had been over.
Coming off Beinn Tarsuinn we came down the northwest ridge for a short way then made a very steep descent down into the corrie where there is a small lochan. There was a path at first but it disappeared further down. It was in the corrie that we saw a herd of deer.
Looking back to the west ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn
We now had a long pathless descent down the easy-angled north ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn. I pulled ahead, as usually happens on long descents. Further down I veered left off the ridge and hit the path in the glen higher up than Howard, who stayed closer to the stream that flows down to the east (right) of the ridge.
The north face of Beinn Tarsuinn
Once back on the path we were onto the home stretch - an exhausted plod back down the glen to the campsite. When we were getting close I started to pick up some dead wood and twigs with the idea of making a fire. This didn't actually work very well as the wood was too wet. I made up some cup-a-soup while Howard prepared some mushroom rice with a tin of chicken tikka. What on earth were we doing carrying tins of food into Fisherfield? Well it was in fact a mistake, but it was very nice all the same. We rounded off the meal with some Jamaica ginger cake, then got to bed about 10 o'clock. It was comfortable and not at all too cramped inside the tent.