Date: Friday 19th Aug 2011
Start: Car Park at end of minor road in Incheril
Weather: Sunny Intervals, cloud above summits
Time taken: 7 Hours 6 Minutes
Ascent: 1243 metres
Accompanied by: Emma, Milo and Inca
Munro: Slioch (981 metres)
Munro Top: Sgurr an Tuill Bhain (934 metres)
ould it be third time lucky this week? Two good forecasts this week, had cumulated in cloudy summits (see Carn nan Gobhar Ben Wyvis posts) and we were hopeful that today we would be a little more fortunate. After a little deliberation we struck upon Slioch. Now this is one of those summits you definitely do not want to ascending in the clag. Rising up across from the waters of Loch Maree, Slioch looks amazing and the views from the top across to the Fisherfield wilderness were supposed to be amazing.
We set off from the cottage in Eskadale reasonably early and whilst there was some early morning mist in the glens, the skies was blue and the sun was shining. Game On! Our journey passed in no time and there was no one other cars parked up in the car park at the end of the minor road in Incheril. As we kitted up, the midges were out in force and I was thankful that we would not be hanging around for too long.
We headed onto the road and picked up the path that leads past the cemetery (apparently you can cut through the car park) and followed this until we intersected with another path from led up from the centre of Incheril. The sheep were roaming free so we left Milo on the lead (just in case) but he seemed more interested in running anyway. The path hugged the small stream and offered great running winding its way up and down through bracken. We forded a couple of streams running down from the mountains and soon we were in a small wooded area alongside the broad Kinlochewe River.
The path was amazing and with no one else around, the running was really enjoyable. After a short while it cut away from the river and once we had crossed the Allt na Still it headed down towards Loch Maree. Regarded by many hikers as one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland, it is easy to understand why. The water was like glass and the views looking north-west were amazing. Inca who had already been swimming in the Kinlochewe River was keen to get back in the water so we paused for a while whilst she cooled down.
We continued along the path until the footbridge and then followed the path uphill. Our plan was to follow the allt uphill towards Meall Each then head up into the Coire na Sleaghaich. It was pretty hard going and the path was indistinct and boggy in parts but we made good progress uphill, taking plenty of stops to rest and enjoy the views. Once we were at the col, we headed around into the huge bowl of Coire na Sleaghaich where we could run once again. Emma climbs up from the two lochans
I suspect there are plenty of routes to the top from here but our plan was to attack the two small lochans situated between Sgurr Dubh and Slioch. We followed the faint path north-west into the bowl then headed south-west up the hillside to the lochans. Situated at 650 metres, they offered amazing views over to Beinn Eighe and would be an amazing place to wild camp.
From here we followed the path as it zig-zagged steeply uphill across rocky terrain until it levelled off slightly as we gained access to the summit plateau. As we passed the 933 metre minor summit, Inca’s ears pricked up. This usually signifies there are sheep or deer in the vicinity and a quick look over towards the true summit confirmed this. There was about a dozen or so wild goats grazing on the hillside. Although Milo seemed to be more interested in pelting up and down the hillside, we put him back on the lead just to be safe and headed up to the summit of Slioch. The goats seemed pretty unperturbed by our presence anyway but we gave them a wide birth and soon we were on the top.
The views did not disappoint and whilst the Torridon peaks to the west looked amazing, what drew my eye was the amazing Fisherfield mountains to the north. I have had my eye on hitting the six Fisherfield Munros and also taking in some of the Corbett’s in that area for a while now and it was amazing to see them in the ‘flesh’. The Fisherfield area certainly looked remote but a trip there would probably have to wait unitl next year now.
We chilled out for a while, grabbed some food and savoured the views. The cloud was just beginning to build up and it was a little chilly so we put a layer on. I could have stayed up there for hours but time was getting on so we decided to head along the east ridge to the Munro Top, Sgurr an Tuill Bhain.
The goats had disappeared so we let Milo off the lead and head around towards Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. The running was good and with a little exposure along the ridge it added some excitement. It did not take long to reach the summit and from here we plotted our route back to the car. The guide book had suggested dropping south back into the corrie and picking the path back up but I had noted a path on the map that heads up the Gleann Bianasdail to Lochan Fada so we decided to continue eastwards and head through the crags and pick up this path up just south of the loch then run all the way back down to the bridge near Loch Maree.
We dropped down from the summit and Milo, who up until now had been as good as gold, decided it was time to disappear for a jaunt somewhere. Emma waited whilst I headed back uphill towards the corrie to see if I could see him anywhere. Just as we were deciding on our next course of action, he appeared high above and headed down towards us. God only knows where the rascal had been but a swift talking to made it clear to him that we were not that impressed with his shenanigans!
It was steep in places as we headed down towards the path and the terrain was rough and unforgiving. Eventually we hit it and set off running downhill. It was about four kilometres to the loch and the narrow path twisted and turned as it gradually descended downhill towards the Abhainn an Fhasaigh. Although we had some extra distance to our route by taking this path, the running was amazing and it was definitely worth the extra effort.
Once at the bridge we picked the main path back up and headed back towards the car stopping only briefly to cool off in the River. We were really fortunate to get such amazing weather and great air clarity and also the added bonus of not meeting anyone else during our trip. Amazing day! 🙂