the long walk to faochaig

Mon, Feb 2, 2009

With the onset of SE winds and snow in the east, the west had a fantastic forecast yesterday, so I drove over to Camas-luinie to meet Graeme and friends, who were up for a couple of days and staying at the bunkhouse. A nice cozy wee bothy bunkhouse it is too, with ribald laughter and mounds of fry-up delaying our departure for the hill. We’d planned to leave the bothy at 8am but eventually headed off at 8:40 on the two hour walk to Carnach up one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. Glen Elchaig. It’s hard to believe this glen was chosen to become a major east-west motoring link in the 70s but luckily the idea wasn’t pursued. Even if you’re not going up any hills, the walk from either Camas-luinie or Killilan, to Carnach or Iron Lodge is a pure delight, on a mixed landrover track and tarmac road. It really is a gem of a glen.

Walking up Glen Elchaig to Carnach

There was a stiff easterly blowing down the glen but we soon lost it, as we climbed up the old stalkers’ path from Carnach, up Coire Domhainn and the sun began to beat down and overheat me in a windproof fleece. Not far up the path there’s a bit of a bad step though. The path has been almost completely washed away at the second burn crossing, with a nasty drop on the left and not much on the right except steep hillside. It’s slightly easier higher up, about 5 metres higher but the crossing of the burn is still dodgy due to the loose rock that abounds and it really is a long and steep drop to the coire floor. It’ll be interesting to see what this spot is like after the winter, if we get lots more snow which causes much meltwater to rush down over the path.

The bad step on the Coire Domhainn path

There’s a bit of a steep pull up after that, though on zig-zags which take you up into the flat upper coire, a place of real beauty and quiet, surrounded by rocky knolls with deer on the snowy skyline. We then followed the burn up onto the bealach at the head of the Leac na Nighinn cliffs above Coire a’Chadha Ruaidh and plodded up the hard packed snowfields to the summit, where we spent a pleasant 40mins in the slight breeze and wall to wall sunshine.

Snowscape on Faochaig

The views from Faochaig are fantastic, from the Cuillin and Rum in the west, to the Torridon giants in the north, the wild and remote Affric mountains to the south and to the east, rolling snowy hills leading off into the distance.

Looking south from Faochaig

Sguman Coinntich from Faochaig

Nathan Sandra and Graeme on the summit of Faochaig

I had a superb bum slide on the way down, on perfect snow and even had a bit of ice axe breaking practice.

Bum slide run from the summit plateau of Faochaig

A lovely break by the burn back in Coire Domhainn and back to Carnach for a rummage around. The building is open but rapidly falling into disrepair. A pity as it’s a nice house in a fanstastic spot. Would make an amazing club hut.

By the time we got back to Carnach, the wind had picked up, sending cats’ claws across Loch na Leitreach and gave us a welcome push from behind on the two hour walk back to Camas-luinie, which we reached in the dark. The Moon and Venus flying high above the dark and jagged outlines of the mountains and the electric blue of early night. Fantastic day out!

You can see all the pics here.

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