Hills: Faochaig and Aonach Buidhe
Date: Fri 15th/Sat 16th July 2011
Company: Just myself
Time: 12.5Hrs walking (and 8.5Hrs in Maol-Bhuidhe bothy)
Distance: 41.5km, Ascent: 2210m

The SMC Corbett book “strongly recommends” the use of a bicycle for Aonach Buidhe as there is 13km of hard track along Glen Elchaig to walk-in just to reach the base of this hill. This 13km has to be reversed on the way out.

As well as Aonach Buidhe, I had still to ascend nearby Faochaig. As I don’t do bikes, I studied the map for an alternative route that would allow me to ascend both hills and avoid Glen Elchaig altogether.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I parked at the car park approximately 750m from Killilan. Owing to other commitments in the morning, it was an afternoon start.

Approaching Killilan:

On reaching Killilan, I took the track leading towards Glen Ling and onto Coire-Domhain.

Start of track leading to Glen Ling (next to “1933” house):

There were several cattle on the track near the start.

Looking back to cattle above Killilan:

Loch Long (low-tide):

I followed the Glen Ling track for several kilometres, skirting below Ben Killilan and then Creag Mhor.

Glen Ling track:

Track towards Coire-Domhain:

After nearly 90 minutes of walking, I reached Coire-Domhain.
Having researched my route beforehand, I recognised the Red Barn from Geograph photos.

Approaching Coire-Domhain:

Red barn at Coire-Domhain:

The bridge across the Allt Gleann a’ Choire Dhomhain, marked on my 1980’s vintage map, was no longer there. Despite no bridge, the Allt was easy enough to cross. Beyond the Allt Gleann a’Choire Dhomhain, I was expecting a footpath. I was happy to instead find an excellent track which I followed to its high-point.

Looking back to Coire-Domhain from track alongside Alltan Dorch:

There are several nice waterfalls alongside the path, which skirts up the hillside with large drops below.

Looking back to Coire-Domhain from track alongside Alltan Dorch:

Ascending to track high-point below NW-ridge of Faochaig:

I reached the high-point of the track in 45 minutes, from Coire Domhain.

Looking back to Coire-Domhain from track high-point:

I then made my way up the NW-ridge of Faochaig. My back and shoulders were starting to feel the weight of my heavy pack. It took a full two hours from the track high-point to reach the summit of Faochaig. There is no path ascending this ridge, it is however straight-forward and quite a nice ridge.

Ascent towards 734m top of Faochaig (Cadha Ruadh):

Looking back towards Lochan Annie:

Looking towards River Ling during ascent:

The 734m top is quite rocky, it can be skirted to the West a short-distance below the top.

Approaching 734m top of Faochaig:

The walk on to the next 856m top was also quite straight-forward.

Looking towards 856m top (Carn nan Searrach):

It was nice to start getting views towards Pait Lodge and Loch Monar.

Bidean a’Choire Sheasgaich, Lurg Mhor and lochans leading to Pait Lodge and Loch Monar:

Just after 16:00, as the forecast had predicted, the rain started and clag started to cover the higher tops.

Sguman Coinntich and Ben Killilan from Faochaig ridge:

Looking back towards 734m top:

Looking towards summit of Faochaig from 856m top (Carn nan Searrach):

On reaching the 856m top, I was a bit surprised that there was still over another kilometre to go. A quick look at the map confirmed this to be the case.

Was great to reach the summit of my third-last Corbett. It had taken 4Hrs 15Mins to get there!

Summit of Faochaig:

Aonach Buidhe from Faochaig:

Bidean a’Choire Sheasgaich, Lurg Mhor and lochans leading to Pait Lodge and Loch Monar:

From the summit of Faochaig, I made my way towards its NE top before descending steep grass slopes to find the start of the track leading off the hill to reach the path running between Faochaig and Aonach Buidhe.

Descent towards start of track at NH0285132455:

Aonach Buidhe:

By the time I reached the track between Faochaig and Aonach Buidhe, my back was sore and my shoulders were aching.
However, Aonach Buidhe was not optional, it had to be done.

I made my way back along the path for circa 0.5km, in the direction of Iron Lodge. I then started my ascent of Aonach Buidhe via a vehicle track.

Ruin, dyke and vehicle track ascending Aonach Buidhe:

On reaching the top of the vehicle track, which only goes 50m or so up the hill, I decided to dump much of the contents of my rucksack, to collect them during my descent of Aonach Buidhe. A drybag is great for keeping things dry. I waymarked the place on my GPS to be sure to find it again.

Lightening the load on Aonach Buidhe:

I then shot-off up the hill – I find it so much easier, and enjoyable, with a light pack .

Ascent towards West-top of Aonach Buidhe:

It didn’t take long to ascend Aonach Buidhe, which I found to be a very wet grassy hill.

Looking towards the summit of Aonach Buidhe from the West-top:

Again well-chuffed to reach the summit, now only one Corbett to go - Beinn a’Chasgein Mor in Fisherfield – another long-un.

Summit of Aonach Buidhe:

Faochaig from Aonach Buidhe:

I made my way back to my drybag, re-packed it into my rucksack and returned to the path running between Faochaig and Aonach Buidhe.

Next, I had to make for Maol-Bhuidhe bothy to spend the night there.

I found the track leading to Maol-Bhuidhe bothy longer than expected and not as good as expected – much of it is very wet underfoot.

Track leading towards Maol-Bhuidhe:

On reaching Maol-Bhuidhe bothy I filtered enough water to last me the night, had some food and got ready for bed. I had the whole bothy to myself.

Maol-Bhuidhe bothy:

On researching this route, I searched the net for photos of the inside of Maol-Bhuidhe bothy – I could find none. I have therefore posted a few photos of the inside.

It is quite a small bothy, with four separate rooms for sleeping in. I could find no trace of mouse droppings and it was quite clean for a bothy. One of the rooms has a raised sleeping platform and two of the other rooms have a camp-bed.

Inside Maol-Bhuidhe bothy (downstairs):

Inside Maol-Bhuidhe bothy (downstairs):

Inside Maol-Bhuidhe bothy (upstairs):

The rain was chucking it down for most of the night. I got up today around 05.30 and was off walking by 06:00.

My plan today had been to ascend the remote Graham, An Cruachan. I opted to abandon this plan, as the clag was right down and it was still raining. I’ll come back to do An Cruachan on a nicer day.

Clag right down outside Maol-Bhuidhe bothy:

Instead I decided to take as direct a route as possible back towards Killilan. From looking at the map, the route that I undertook looked considerably shorter than returning via Iron Lodge and Glen Elchaig. It took 4 Hrs exactly from Maol-Bhuidhe to Killilan via this route, I’m sure Glen Elchaig would be longer?

Looking back towards Maol-Bhuidhe from track heading out towards Iron Lodge:

Ascent towards Bealach Luib nam Feadag:

Looking back to Allt na Sean-luibe:

I was quite pleased, during my ascent towards Bealach Luib nam Feadag to find a vehicle track. I followed this track, which was a bit faint in places, for a couple of kilometres.

Vehicle track heading towards Bealach Luib nam Feadag:

I was able to cross the Allt a’Choire Dhuibh without too much difficulty. I then followed the track up to its high-point, from where I had ascended Faochaig the previous day.

Start of good track across the Allt a’Choire Dhuibh:

I was then on familiar territory. I retraced my route of the previous day back down to Coire-Domhain and then out along Glen Ling to Killilan.

Alltan Dorch waterfall:

Alltan Dorch waterfall:

However on the way back, the Allt Gleann a’ Choire Dhomhain was much harder to cross today than yesterday! The stepping stones were well underwater – amazing how a night of rain can change the volume of water.

"Interesting" crossing of the Allt Gleann a’ Choire Dhomhain:

During the walk back, I spotted some Red Deer and a couple of Red Grouse - about the only wildlife seen during the whole walk (apart from loads of frogs).

Looking back towards Coire-Domhain:

Loch Long (high-tide):

Descent into Killilan:

Was great to reach Killilan and even better to reach the car.

A welcome sight – the car!:

I really enjoyed this walk. Great to throw away the guide-books now and again and study the map to make up your own route.