/ Scottish Geography - Glen Shiel to Glen Carron
I was scrolling around on the OS view on Bing Maps the other day (as you do) and realised that this is a fairly massive area that I've only really nibbled at the edges of before - it's about 40km from the Cluanie Inn to Achnashellach, with a lot of Geography and not a lot of roads or houses in between. And now I want to go there for a few days exploring.
Any stories, reminiscences, sage advice or cautionary tales regarding the area would also be welcome!
It's known as 'sheet 25' and I advise you to backpack around Loch Mullardoch as a taster...
I tend to think of it as the Monar/Mullardoch hinterland - I don't think there's a single name that covers the entire area.
I have spent a bit of time in it as it contains some of my most local hills, but I've yet to do any kind of traverse from one side to the other. It is well supplied with bothies (particularly in the west) so there are plenty of traversing options. My highlights have been a horseshoe of the Munros south of Glen Affric in an inversion (these are more commonly done from Cluanie), various winter walks on Mam Sodhail, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and Carn nan Gobhar, a trip up Glen Elchaig and Carnan Cruithneachd, and a circuit of Faochaig, Aonach Bhidhe, An Cruachan and Beinn Dronaig from Attadale.
Must get the tent out for some longer walks sometime - camping has been reserved for trips further afield up to now.
Read "Isolation Shepherd" by Ian Thompson
I'm beginning to think about a four day semi-direct North to South traverse (or five days with a few more diversions), starting at Achnashellach, maybe followed by a couple of days poshing it up at the Cluanie Inn...
This is mostly daydreaming at this point, but a boy's got to do something while he's sat at a desk on a grey day in a flat county...
Too wild to have a name. If you want to backpack somewhere that feels remote it's as good as it gets in the British Isles.
It's a fine wild walk with lots of possibilities, and you can continue with interest down to Glenfinnan to get rail access at both ends. The Cluanie provides a nice bit of comfort on the way. Or the Mullardoch round is also a great option for packing in the summits in that region.
I did the Achnashellach to Glenfinnan route years ago - it took me 5 days but I limited myself to a few choice summits.. you could take a lot longer over it.
Do it. Just do it. This is home territory for me too and to traverse the area enjoying the ever-changing terrain with the big hills of the central highlands always beckoning (on a clear day) to the south would be a stunning outing. But I would carry on to Loch Quoich. Spidean Miallach makes a great finish.
It's got several names, Achnashellach, Killilan, Benula, Kintail etc off the top of head. It is a great area, I've been 'in' numerous times doing Munros and Corbetts but I like the idea of a low level walk from bothy to bothy. No advice apart from recommending the bothy idea, you've a variety of routes to choose from. Go for it.
Getting back from Loch Quoich looks a bit challenging, though. I like the idea of continuing to Glenfinnan (or even Inverie), although that's getting into a bit of a long trip, particularly given the difficulty of restocking food on the way. And I have to admit that the idea of a day or two of relative luxury at the Cluanie Inn after four or five days of bivis and bothies and eating Smash seems rather appealing...
More practical question - is it possible to get across the River Carron near Achnashellach Station, or do you have to schlep up past Gerry's and cross at the bridge?
I crossed this area as a leg of the CW trail. I parked at Cluanie Inn, then up to Glen Affric, round to Carnach over Faochaig, stayed at Maol Bhuidhe, crossed the Allt an Loin fhiodha (potentially tricky), over Beinn Dronaig and down to Strathcarron. Train to Kyle, then bus back to Cluanie and the car.
I have waded across the Carron at Achnashellach before, but it was low. I wouldn't depend on it. Only other option to to use the bridge at Craig or the railway bridge near Coulags (although that's illegal).
Just to say that "Loch Quoich" has been corrected to Loch Cuaich: http://www.gaelicplacenames.org/maps/map.html?g=NH014025
Reminding myself of that video, called "An Element of Regret" and made in 1984, makes me remember why I love the hills.
The first two pieces of audio are so eloquent. The first is Finlay Macrae who recently passed away and who was personally responsible for much of the great work we see in Glen Affric today. Known as Fionnlagh nam Pìob, he was a well known piper.
The second voice is Iain Thomson of Isolation Shepherd fame - the best book about the Scottish hills.
I've chatted with a local in Cannich who'd disagree with that, even if I think it's up there with the best I've read.
(There was a family connection to the author of a book about a glen lying further south ...)
A few weeks ago I found a book in my parent's bookcase while visiting home, Hillbirds of Scotland by Seton Gordon. Having paid more attention to birds such as the Ptarmigan this year I found it very interesting. I googled a bit and have now got Hamish Brown's Seton Gordon Anthology and via a roundabout route, Adam Watson's A Fine Day For The Hill.
Looks like I'm sorted for reading material for a wee while.
Mr MacLennan by any chance?
He is getting on and I was recently contacted about recording him.
The Watson book is great as are Gordon's but I think both "My Yesteryears..." and "Isolation Shepherd" are more connected with the hills and land. Much of the stuff written from a recreational point of view misses something of the place and people in my view.
Thanks for the link. Absolutely fabulous. Beautiful. Was it originally made for TV? I wonder if a high quality version is available anywhere?
I read it earlier in the year on your recommendation in another thread on here and I wouldn't disagree with you.
Author? In print?
Yes, that was him, although I spoke with a close relative, not the author. I sent a cheque away to Beauly (?) Post Office after a phone call to confirm they had a copy but it was never received and the cheque never cashed. I never got back round to trying to get a hold of it.
I reckon I could get two copies if you like.
Now that I've been reminded of the book I've emailed Duncan MacLennan Jr via the link I posted. If I don't hear from him by early next week I'll drop you a PM, thanks for the offer.
OK the PM doesn't work for me so just reply here.
Try The Cèilidh Place in Ullapool or the shop in Cannich.
Okay, I'll do that if I don't hear anything. I'm sure you'll have seen it but others may be interested that Finlay Macrae who you mention appears with Tom Weir on a Weir's Way programme in Glen Affric.
Edited to add Duncan MacLennan has popped up in the second part of the clip.
Oh, one last question - would I be right to assume that going anywhere in that area where there's no path shown on the map is going to involve miles of painfully slow progress over tussocky bog, and going to most places where there are paths shown is still going to involve miles of painfully slow progress over tussocky bog?
Oh, and Isolation Shepherd has gone on the list, it looks great!
Maol Bhuidhe is my favourite bothy. It's mile from anywhere, defended by five rivers and off most Munro baggers raydar.
OS 25 is definitely my Desert Islands Disks 'book'.
Painfully slow progress over tussocky bog? Yes and no :-)
You can't beat a bit of first or second hand knowledge. Usually and optimistically I'd hope for at least an animal track to be running along what would be a natural route for any animal/human to take even if it is lightly trod. Sometimes I find something, other times I don't, even deer or sheep give up sometimes. There is a wealth of info online now and I'd also have a look at geograph photos.
I've just looked at an obvious route from Craig to Cluanie on Memory Map and make it around 56km, only about 3 sections totalling 8km are off any mapped paths.
I'm sort of evolving an idea 4.5ish day route to take in some of the more remote Munros in the area - Bidean a'Choire Sheasgaich, the Mullardoch An Socach, Mullach na Dheiragain etc. Hmmm...
(The half day is to allow for starting from the sleeper at Achnashellach...)
No, certainly not if you follow the natural ridge lines.
Most of the glens have pretty big tracks down them.
However following, say, the North shore of loch Mullardoch will entail lots of tussocky rubbish.
Sounds good, you've got a multitude of variations to play with there. Good luck, you'll enjoy it.
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