Hills: Beinn nan Caorach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir
Date: Friday 5th January 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 8.2km, Ascent: 730m
Time: 4Hrs 50Mins

After work on Thursday evening, I drove to the North-West Highlands parking-up for the evening in the car park below Stac Pollaidh. This morning I drove to Culnacraig at the road-end beyond Achiltibuie.

It was quite windy with significant windchill. Hat, gloves and thick fleece were the order of the day.

I set off walking from the small parking area following a faint, narrow track uphill leading towards Cairn Conmheall.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

The views from the outset were good despite low cloud sitting at around 600m. Some of the cloud formations were quite unusual.

View towards SW ridge of Ben More Coigach during initial ascent:

My main goal of the day was to reach the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir. I last ascended Sgurr an Fhidhleir in August 2011 when I was treated to spectatcular views from its summit. I would rate the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir as one of the three best viewpoints in Scotland. Today, I hoped to get great views of the Coigach and Assynt hills clothed in white.

Looking across to Beinn Ghobhlach:

On my previous ascent of these hills, I ascended via the SW ridge of Ben More Coigach, a fantastic, easy scramble. Today, I opted to ascend Beinn nan Caorach first, as I had missed out this Fiona Top / HuMP when I last did the circuit of these hills. All going well I would also ascend Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Ben More Coigach.

View towards SW ridge of Ben More Coigach during initial ascent:

As I wasn't interested in also ascending Cairn Conmheall, I left the faint track and crossed the burn to reach the North-East ridge of Beinn nan Caorach.

Ben More Coigach:

Ben More Coigach:

Coigach and Assynt are a wonderful part of Scotland. Despite having visited 40 Scottish islands thus far, I have yet to visit the Summer Isles.

Looking back towards the Summer Isles:

After circa 30 minutes of walking, I reached the snowline. The snow was variable with soft sections and icy sections.

Above the snowline:

To the north I could see a narrow band of blue sky with a line of clouds beyond.

Cairn Conmheall:

Ascending Beinn nan Caorach:

On reaching the rockier upper section of the ridge, given increasing sections of ice, I stopped to put on crampons and swap one of my walking poles for my ice axe.

Ascending Beinn nan Caorach:

I enjoyed the view featured in the next photo looking back towards the Summer Isles.

View back towards the Summer Isles:

Putting on crampons was really useful as I could now just walk across any terrain without worrying about slipping. It didn't take long to reach the summit of Beinn nan Caorach. Beinn nan Caorach is a Hundred Metre Prominence hill (HuMP). The views to the north were now fairly special with hills in view including Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, Quinag and Cul Beag.

At the summit of Beinn nan Caorach:

At the summit of Beinn nan Caorach:

From the summit of Beinn nan Caorach, I continued along the ridge a short distance before taking a diagonal line of descent to reach the col. Sgurr an Fhidhleir has very impressive cliffs on its north side. I believe there are rock climbs up this face with the easiest line at HVS.

Sgurr an Fhidhleir from Beinn nan Caorach:

At last I was now getting the views that I had hoped for. Stac Pollaidh and Suilven looking great .

Stac Pollaidh and Suilven from Beinn nan Caorach:

I ascended neighbouring Beinn an Eoin in winter so this was not my first winter visit to Coigach.

Beinn an Eoin visible through the gap:

Heading down to the col between Beinn nan Caorach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

Beinn an Eoin (zoom):

Stac Pollaidh and Suilven during ascent of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

Despite the sky being quite atmospheric, I somehow managed to avoid all snow showers. The weather was better than had been forecast.

Moody skies:

Approaching the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

On reaching the summit, the views were not as good as they could have been. Banks of cloud were rolling over the neighbouring hills. I spent fifteen to twenty minutes at the summit just watching and waiting for the clouds to clear. They never cleared completely but the views were still fairly good.

View from the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

View from the prow of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

View from the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

View from the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

Coigach and Stac Pollaidh from the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir:

As it had taken me longer than anticipated to reach the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir, mainly due to having to break trail through deeper snow at the col, I decided to head back instead of also ascending Ben More Coigach. I will absolutely be back again to ascend Ben More Coigach as it is also one of my favourite hills.

Looking across to Beinn nan Caorach during descent:

I followed the standard ascent/descent route back to the road only stopping to take of my crampons and swap my axe for a second walking pole.

Ben More Coigach:


View during descent:

I really enjoyed this walk. I have spent too many years chasing minor lists, such as Donalds, wasting good weather days on dull hills. Going forward I hope to spend much more time repeating my favourite hills.