Hills: Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn
Date: Wednesday 10th March 2010
Company: Myself and Beinn
Dog friendly: Yes
Time: 5Hrs 30Mins

The weather forecast for today looked pretty-good so I booked a day off work to head for the hills. I left home at 17:00 last night and arrived at the far end of Loch Arkaig by 21:30. My last trip along this rollercoaster of a road was on 31 October 2008, when I stayed at A'Chuil bothy and ascended Carn Mor. This time I opted to sleep in the back of my car and intended getting up early enough to see the sunrise. Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn were my target for today.

Before settling down for the night, I spent some time experimenting with the settings on my camera to take some long exposure photos. I ended up taking quite a few shots - I have posted a couple below.


The Plough:

I would be lying if I said I spent a comfortable night in the car. It was -6C outside and the windows inside the car were thick with ice. I took a second sleeping bag with me for Beinn. He seemed to be snug. I set my alarm for 90 minutes before sunrise. We were up and off walking about 30 minutes later. I wanted to get onto the ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain to see the sunrise.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Beinn waiting patiently at parking area at end of Loch Arkaig:

We set off towards Strathan and then began ascending the track on the left-bank of the Dearg Allt.

Pre-sunrise Glenfinnan hills:

After approximately 15 minutes of ascent we crossed the Dearg Allt and began the traverse of the ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain. We abandoned the track in order to get better views looking down to Loch Arkaig.

Streap and Sgurr Thuilm:

The following photo in no way does justice to the incredible view this morning of the sun rising over a partially inversion-covered Loch Arkaig. I was smiling like a Cheshire cat.

Sunrise over Loch Arkaig:

Sunrise over Loch Arkaig:

Sunlight beginning to light-up the hills:

The wide ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain was very straight-forward. I ascended via as much snow as possible as the snow was hard and crisp - perfect for walking on.

Sgurr Mhurlagain:

I really did not expect the amount of inversion to increase. The whole length of Loch Arkaig was eventually covered.

Inversion over Loch Arkaig:

Inversion (zoomed):

Looking across to Gulvain:

Beinn on Sgurr Mhurlagain:

I took quite a few photos of Streap today. I am really looking forward to ascending it later this year.

Braigh nan Uamhachan, Streap and Sgurr Thuilm:

Sgurr Mhurlagain:

As more and more height was gained, more and more hills came into view. Was nice to look over towards the Glen Quioch hills. Six years since l last visited this area.

Sgurr an Fhuarain with Glen Quioch hills in background:

Fraoch Bheinn and Sgurr Mor:

Rays of light:

Sgurr Mor:

Bidein a Chabair over Fraoch Bheinn and pointy top of Sgurr na Ciche:

I decided to keep Beinn on a tight lead as I approached the summit. There is quite a serious drop to the North but no difficulties as the ridge is quite wide.

Summit crags of Sgurr Mhurlagain:

The Ben was possibly the only hill I saw today that had a cap of cloud.

Aonachs, CMD and the Ben from summit:

Inversion over Loch Arkaig from summit:

We made quick progress in descent to the wide bealach between Fraoch Bheinn and Sgurr Mhurlagain. From the bealach, I picked out a line of ascent to the left-side of Fraoch Bheinn.

Fraoch Bheinn:

Braigh nan Uamhachan, Streap and tree growing out of large boulder:

The ascent of Sgurr Mhurlagain was mainly up grass and snow. The ascent of Fraoch Bheinn was a bit rougher with lots of boulders and ice-covered slabs to avoid.

Looking back to ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain:

Loch Arkaig from Fraoch Bheinn:

Bidein a Chabair is the only Corbett I have left to do from the end of Loch Arkaig. It looks interesting!

Bidein a Chabair:

Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh:

On reaching the ridge of Fraoch Bheinn there was a steep section of snow to ascend - steeper than it looks in the next photo. This was the only part of the walk today where I got out my ice axe. My crampons didn't need to come out of their bag.

Steep section of Fraoch Bheinn:

At the summit cairn, I confirmed on the map and GPS that it was the actual summit as there is another top to the North.

Beinn at summit of Fraoch Bheinn:

Glen Dessary Munros including Sgurr na Ciche:

Sgurr Mor:

Knoydart hills:

The views out West were even better from Fraoch Bheinn. I descended back to the bealach via the same route and then descended to Strathan via the track. Really glad I took the day off now.