Midges on the summit! – [# 219]

An Socach (Glen Elchaig) (1069m)

  • Pronunciation:             Un Sorcoch
  • Translation:                  the Pig’s Snout
  • Total distance:             42.2km (of which we cycled 25.4km)
  • Total time:                    7hrs 02mins
  • Total ascent:                 1387m
  • Weather:                       Gloriously and sunny all day. Very light breeze.
  • Start / end location:    On the unclassified road 500m west of the township of Kililan – near the village of Dornie. [OS Map Sheet 25 – Grid Ref: NG 940 303]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

Looking down Glen Elchaig with Iron Lodge (L foreground), Meall Sgurman (L) and Carnan Cruithneachd (R)

Our route today began at the same place that we started from a couple of weeks ago when we went to the Falls of Glomach. So, once again, parking near Kililan, we jumped on our bikes and cycled east along the floor of Glen Elchaig. We cycled for over 12km, passing the spot where we’d left our bikes previously on the Glomach outing, until we reached Iron Lodge – a rather modest house. Here we locked our bikes and proceeded on foot.

Cooling off in Loch na Leitreach in Glen Elchaig

Looking NE along Loch Mhoicean with An Creachal Beag on the left

Cameron on Meall Shuas with the summit of An Socach in the background

We took the track that bypassed the lodge just to its north and continued in an ENE direction following the Doire Gairbhe burn as it flowed from Loch Mhoicean. The path passed through a steep sided glen as it rose in elevation before then dipping slightly to reach the south-western shores of the small Loch Mhoicean. Just before we reached the shoreline we branched off the track to the right and crossed some thick grassland to the NW of the Doire Gairbhe burn. After crossing the burn we followed the SE shoreline of the loch until we were directly below a col in the ridgeline between Meall Shuas and Carn na Breabaig. We then climbed quite steeply up to this col, negotiating some deep and potentially boggy ground en route. Luckily, the terrain was reasonably dry following the last few days of warm sunny weather – it could have been a bit miserable underfoot otherwise.

Once we arrived at the col we turned ENE and began the steady climb up to reach the broad ridge to the north of Meall Shuas. Again the ground consisted of thick tufted grass and the occasional patch of soft moss. When we reached the ridge the terrain changed to being much rockier and easier to walk on. The gradient was also much flatter as we followed the ridgeline, which swept in a perfect arc round to the NE. After 1.5km the ridge arrived at the SW flanks of An Socach, where another steep grassy slope took us up the final 300m in elevation to the summit ridge. This ridge gave us a spectacular view towards the summit cairn a few hundred metres away to the north, and beyond to An Riabhachan (1086m) and Sgurr na Lapaich (1150m) high above Loch Mullardoch.

Elaine looking towards the summit of An Socach

We arrived at the summit Trig Point at 1069m or 3507ft and after admiring the fantastic views settled down by the small cairn to enjoy our lunch in the brilliant sunshine. However, we quickly abandoned lunch as we came under attack from a cloud of midges: this was a complete surprise to us, as midges don’t generally ‘come out’ in bright sunny daylight – and I can’t recall ever noticing them at such height. There was even a slight breeze, but it was not enough to hold them back. We quickly packed up and descended a little until we thought we’d be left in peace to enjoy our lunch. We weren’t that lucky and ended up pacing up and down whilst munching on our sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs!

The summit of An Socach (L) with An Riabhachan in the background (R)

After our short lunch stop we simply retraced our steps back to the shore of Loch Mhoicean, this time welcoming the cushioning that deep spongy grass afforded our knees in descent. We crossed the little Doire Gairbhe burn once again and then rejoined the track back to Iron Lodge where we were reunited with our bikes. The 12.7km cycle back down Glen Elchaig, on a rough land-rover track followed by a tar macadam single-track road, was mainly downhill and very relaxing. We soon arrived back at the car, and unlike when we cycled through this glen on our trip from the Falls of Glomach, we were dry and the sun was shining.

Elaine at An Socach's summit Trig Point with An Raibhachan in the background

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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