Hill: Sgurr Choinnich
Date: Sunday 21st August 2016
Company: Myself, Becky and Cuillin
Distance: 9.7km, Ascent: 700m
Time: 4Hrs 25Mins
We set off on Sunday morning with a view to meeting up with my Club's Bus Meet to ascend Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn. However, on arrival at Luiblea, ahead of the bus, the cloud was down to road level and it was raining. A quick check of the MetOffice forecast suggested "Fog" all day at Creag Meagaidh. We therefore decided to abandon meeting up with the bus and instead drive further west hoping for an improvement in the weather.
By the time we reached RoyBridge we had escaped the low cloud. After discussing various options with Becky, we decided to head for Loch Arkaig for an ascent of Sgurr Choinnich. This would be a new hill for Becky, Cuillin and myself.
At the beginning of 2016, Becky set herself the target of ascending 50 Marilyns before her tenth birthday. All going well, Sgurr Choinnich would be Becky's 50th Marilyn.
We parked at Allt Mhuic in the butterfly reserve car park where there is room for several cars. The reserve is an area of grassland, moorland and native woodland between two large conifer plantations on the north side of Loch Arkaig. The Chequered Skipper and several varieties of Fritillary can sometimes be found here.
Becky at the start of the butterfly reserve trail:
We ascended the waymarked butterfly trail, spotting only a single black butterfly, and then passed through a small gate beyond which is a wide vehicle track.
Heading up the butterfly reserve trail:
Loch Arkaig from the butterfly reserve trail:
We then walked a short distance along the vehicle track using its bridge to cross the Allt Mhuic. Immediately beyond the bridge we took to the hillside to avoid
a number of cattle which were standing on the track circa 50m beyond.
The terrain was not great. Had the cattle not been there, we could have walked circa 50m further along the track and then followed a vehicle track leading up towards a wide gate and beyond.
We eventually reached the wide gate and six foot high deer fence via long grass
and high heather. I was not amused to find the gate padlocked shut. We
decided not to let the gate stop us. Becky and Cuillin crawled under the
gate and I climbed over the deer fence. Land owners who padlock gates on routes up hills are dicks!
Beyond the gate, we followed a fairly good vehicle track leading almost all the way to the summit of Sgurr Choinnich.
Looking back to the 6ft deer fence and padlocked gate:
During the ascent, I stopped numerous times to take photos of Loch Arkaig. It is five years since I last travelled to Strathan at the road end. I need to revisit
in the near future perhaps to re-ascend Sgurr Mor.
Loch Arkaig (East):
Loch Arkaig (West):
Becky and Loch Arkaig:
The track, although wet in places, was great compared with walking through
grass and heather.
Becky and Cuillin:
As we gained height, the going became easier and easier as the gradient lessened and the grass shortened.
Ascending Sgurr Choinnich:
By the time we reached 600m, Becky was slowing down due to the arduous earlier terrain. We therefore got the GPS out and we agreed to stop for a very short break every 25m of ascent. This was a good idea as we were soon at 625, 650, 675, 700 and then on towards the summit.
Becky was happy to see the summit cairn and make her own way along to it.
Following the rusty fenceposts to the summit:
On reaching the cairn, Becky was really pleased to have ascended her 50th Marilyn. A big well done from proud dad.
Becky and Cuillin at the summit of Sgurr Choinnich:
After a drink, some wotsits and haribos, and a drink and some Schmakos for Cuillin, we began our descent.
Going down must have been much easier than going up, as Becky walked from summit to car without stopping.
Small cairn passed during the descent:
Becky ahead in descent:
We again took a slight detour off the track to avoid cattle during the descent. We brushed ourselves down several times during the walk in case any ticks has hitched a lift.