Hill: Meall Coire an Lochain
Date: Friday 1st November 2013
Company: Just myself
Distance: 11.5km, Ascent: 460m
Time: 3Hrs 50Mins

The weather forecast for Friday was fairly awful. I therefore decided to undertake what I thought would be a short, easy hill en-route to spending the weekend at Inchnadamph.

I parked in a small lay-by on the A835 at Elphin where there is room for two or three cars.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the lay-by, I followed the small crescent road to reach the start of the track.

It was nice to walk past Viewhill. I stayed at Viewhill for a week back in 2006 whilst Corbett-bagging in the area.

Viewhill, Elphin:

The track initially skirts round the back of a house before heading in the direction of Uamh an Tartair (cave of the roaring). There is a sign advising to “keep dogs on lead”. This is good advice as your dog could easily disappear down a hole in this area into the cave system.

Track leading towards Uamh an Tartair:

There are several small signs marking the way to the caves. I decided to follow these signs as I was just as interested in seeing the caves as I was ascending the hill.

Looking back along track towards Suilven and Canisp:

I left the good track after circa one mile and then followed a number of small marker posts leading towards Uamh an Tartair.

Following the marker posts towards Uamh an Tartair:

I was really impressed with the large pothole at Uamh an Tartair. This is located a short distance above the cave entrance. This large pothole isn’t fenced off so you need to take care if looking over the edge to take photographs.

Large pothole at Uamh an Tartair:

Large pothole at Uamh an Tartair:

From the edge of the pothole, I walked a short distance away towards the cave entrance.

If ascending Meall Coire an Lochain it is advantageous to come via Uamh an Tartair - the Abhainn a’Chnocain flows underground here so you can avoid having to cross the river. With all the recent rain the Abhainn a’Chnocain was in spate.

Uamh and Tartair cave entrance:

Uamh an Tartair cave entrance (zoom):

Beyond the cave, I made my way towards Meall Preas a’Chreamha. The terrain wasn’t particularly pleasant, really wet underfoot and there was worse to come.

Looking back towards Suilven and Canisp:

Looking North towards Inchnadamph hills:

During the walk there were several heavy showers of hailstones. These were quite painful in combination with the gale force winds. As I approached Meall Preas a’Chreamha the number of peat hags increased significantly.

Meall Coire an Lochain:

Crossing the hags en-route to Meall Coire an Lochain:

After crossing circa one kilometre of peat hags I reached the final 100m of ascent of Meall Coire an Lochain. During the ascent I got fairly good views across to the Coigach and Assynt hills. This hill would be a superb viewpoint on a good day.

Ben More Coigach and Cul Beag:

Cul Beag, Cul Mor and Suilven:

After visiting the summit shelter, I continued on a few hundred metres to visit another nearby cairn. This second cairn was definitely lower than the summit shelter.

Summit Shelter of Meall Coire an Lochain:

I returned to the car via the same route.

View during descent from Meall Coire an Lochain:

During the walk back there was the most almighty crash of thunder directly overhead. I wasn’t particularly happy with encountering thunder on the hill as no thunder had been forecast. Later in the evening the thunder and lightning returned – an incredible storm!