Firstly, thank you very, very much to the G-Force for being such a great (or was it grumpy?!) sport and accompanying my on my third day of Munro bagging this weekend. He had planned just one day and I persuaded him to do a second. He was reluctant but when we awoke to fairly okay weather on Sunday and saw how enthusiastic I was to bag more Munros I think he realised he could not disappoint me.
Secondly, we had awoken far later than we planned to with a bit of a hangover! A quick bar meal at the welcoming Kintail Lodge had turned into a few more drinks than intended and some great entertainment from two female musicians.
We had a plan to do the Forcan Ridge Munros but with cloud hanging low on many of the Glen Shiel hills close by we decided to drive back along towards the Claunie Inn to walk two Munros, A’Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire.
The two Munros total an ascent of 1150m and extend to around 13km. WalkHighlands reckon six to eight hours for the walk. We did it in five hours.
As we started out, the cloud hung low and we thought we would end up walking in thick mist for most the day. At first there is a wide trail to follow but then you need to head up the grassy slope without a path to lead you.
It’s a challenging hike with a fairly unrelenting steep angle for around 750m. I had tired legs from the previous two days of six Munros and G was not in the best of fettle! The ascent hurt our legs and I think we both wondered if we could really be bothered!
But I wouldn’t let us give up and finally we came out on to a gentler ridge to the south of A’Chralaig.
The summit seems to take a long time to reach or maybe I was just tired.We ended up walking in light mist but there is a path and the trail was not too difficult to follow. You go up and along in various stages until the final steeper push to the top.
Eventually you reach a stunning cairn. The clouds and mist had mostly lifted by now and the views were lovely.
Ridge walk to Mullach Fraoch-choire
Sometimes a ridge is a rounded affair. Other times, it’s more like a knife edge. I had been worrying a bit about the ridge en route to the next Munro. I’d been told – and read – about the rocky towers on this ridge. I am not good with heights and I had no idea how exposed I would feel.
As we approached the rocky ridge we met three other walkers. They calmed my fears, telling me you can easily walk around the rocky towers. I wasn’t convinced but I decided to be brave!
If you fancied you could scramble over the towers and I don’t think it would feel too tricky for most people. Instead, we took the chicken run trails around the towers. These felt exposed enough for me!
The path is narrow and the drop on one side is steep and long. I made sure I was very careful about where I placed my feet and I tried not to look over the edge. It didn’t last long and I was fine but it is worth pointing out that you can feel quite exposed here.
Reaching the summit felt like a huge relief. I was very pleased with myself, although I knew we would need to retrace our steps along the narrow path. I kept telling myself I would manage it – and I did.
A long, long walk out
Of all of this weekend’s walks, the hike back to the van through the glen from the top of Mullach Fraoch-choire felt like torture. The first part is a descent on a steep path and then you need to walk across grass, bogs and general yukiness for many kilometres.
We were looking for a path to follow the river along the lower part of the glen and we did find a path of sorts but it was super boggy and wet. It feels like a very hard walk out when you have already summited two Munros.
Finally and after sharing almost a full packet of wine gums for energy and smiles we reached a slightly better and more solid path. This path is marked as a Landover track on the map but it doesn’t amount to that. It’s very wet and generally hard going.
The track goes up and down a lot and eventually you think you might be able to see the loch and the road. But even then there are several more kilometres to push yourself along.
By this point I was willing to accept that I’d maybe overdone the Munro bagging for one weekend. The G-Force thanked me for being honest but he could also see how thrilled I was to have reached my 215th Munro.
As we reached the campervan at the end of the walk and started to remove our very wet boots we felt the first rain of the entire weekend. The God of Munro Walking had been very kind to me for three days. I had walked in dry and often cloud free conditions for three amazing Munro bagging days in a row.
67 Munros to a full round
I never, ever dared to imagine I’d have fewer than 70 Munros to walk to finish a full round. I thought that was for other people who had worked much harder at their Munros than me. I know I still have a long way to go (few Munros are what can be called an easy outing) and I have to complete some challenging weekends yet but I think I might finish in the next couple of years. This feels very exciting.