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Northern Loch Mullardoch Munros

(18miles ca. 7000ft of ascent 5-6hs at a steady pace)

This is basically a flat loch-side run along, to the end of ridge which is then followed back to the start at Mullardoch dam via 4 Munros. On a good day the views are awesome and with the exception of the steep climb on to the ridge to begin with, is very runable with a path for most of the way. The ridge is spectacular without being hard, although there are some bits of very small bits of scrambling. All in all it makes a very logical route in some superb countryside. If you do it in a clockwise direction as I did to get the long flat run over with, leave plenty for the second half! There is no water on the ridge itself so bear that it mind on a warm day.

From the car-park beneath the dam (NH221315) head up on tarmac to the gate before dropping down to the boat shed. For the next 13km follow deer / cow / sheep tracks alongside the loch. In a couple of bits the path disappears but as long as you keep to the side of the loch the going is generally firm. The views down towards the end of the loch, which is always a couple of bends out of sight are impressive.

At the ‘lodge’ at (NH140311) cross the wooden bridge and then follow the estate track on the North side of the burn up to a peaty plateau, Coire Mhaim. Follow the burn and a number of small tracks which lead to base of a ridge to left of the burn. Head up steeply to a ridge, and then even steeper to the skyline above. A narrow path follows the ridge which boasts a steep drop to the East.

The first Munro, An Socach 1069m (NH100332), is ‘graced’ with a small cairn and but hasn’t got the same scars of passage as many of the more popular Munros. After the summit drop down a couple of hundred meters via a sharp ridge to Bealach Bholla. From this point an indistinct track is followed over the remaining ridge with little need for navigation in good weather, you might have difficulties in the mist. The next Munro of An Riabhachan 1128m is a long broad ridge with short grass giving easy running and allows you time to appreciate the views of the Monar hills in the North and, to the South, the mountains around Glen Affric. The actual summit is about half-way along this ridge and is the one with an absolutely huge cairn on it (NH133344).

After another steep drop into a bealach, climb up to the rockiest of the three hills, Sgur na Lapaich, which at 1150m one of the highest peaks around the area (NH160351). When I descended off the hill I think I kept too far North which involves some loose scrambling over large blocks. Perhaps by heading a bit further South you might be able to pick up a grassier ridge that would be quicker and more pleasant.
 
The last summit, Carn nan Gobhar 992m (NH181343), is more of your traditional Munro mound shape and it was with tired legs I toiled up this one. I stopped for a rest at the top and it was nice to see the way I had run. With sore feet I dropped down on long wet grass and then heather into Coire an-t-Sith aiming for the path that drops down for the easterly most ‘Top’ of Creag Dubh. A more logical way to finish would be to include this top, and would only involve a couple of more km along the ridge.

Once near the loch, argocat tracks follow the bottom and are easily followed down and round to the boat house again. After a quick bath in the loch to wash off the mud, head back down to the car.
 

Francis Williams Nov 05

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