The Western Fannaich Range – [# 230 – 234]

A’ Chailleach (997m); Sgurr Breac (999m);
Sgurr nan Each (923m); Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093m) and
Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934m)

  • Pronunciation:             Uh Chalyok; Skoor Vrack; Skoor nern yak; Skoor nern Klach Gee-aller; Miaowl uh Chrasgee
  • Translation:                  Old Lady; Dappled Hill; Hill of the Horse; Hill of the White Stones; Hill of the Crossing
  • Total distance:              24.7km
  • Total time:                     8hrs 18mins
  • Total ascent:                  1883m
  • Weather:                        Dry, bright and warm. Humid in the morning with no wind.
  • Start / end location:    Road side lay-by on A832 about 4.5km west of Braemore Junction. [OS Map Sheets 19 & 20 – Grid Ref: NH 163 761 (Sheet 20)]
  • 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 over the eastern end of Loch a' Bhraoin

A' Chailleach from Druim Reidh

East from the summit of A' Chailleach towards Toman Coinnich (foreground), Sgurr Breac (middle) and Sgurr nan Clach Geala (background)

Sgurr Breac from near the summit of Toman Coinnich

We passed the spectacular Corrieshalloch Gorge to reach the starting point of our climb today at the elbow on the A832 about 4.5km west of Braemore Junction (where the A835 and A832 roads intersect). It was another beautiful bright day, but once again very humid which meant that we were plagued by midges as we donned our boots and got ourselves organised.  Once we got underway, the midges became less of a nuisance.

Our route began along a short section of land-rover track that took us from the side of the main road passed the fringes of a small conifer plantation to the head of Loch a’ Bhraoin – at its eastern end. As we neared the loch we noticed that the estate had constructed a lovely new path through a few hundred metres of the plantation that brought us to a bridge across the Abhainn Cuileig river, which flowed out from the loch.

We crossed the bridge to join an excellent stalkers’ path that ran south over a high bealach (which we would cross later) where it then dropped down to reach the western end of Loch Fannich – which gives its name to the surrounding group of hills. We kept to this path for only a few hundred metres until we were directly in line with the NNE ridge below Leitir Fhearna. At this point, we branched of the main path to follow a faint and in places boggy route that led directly up the craggy face of Leitir Fhearna. The route was always steep but without any technical difficulties and we soon arrived at much flatter ground once the top of Leitir Fhearna was reached. Here, a small cairn of stones marked the top of the descent route back down the face if the outing was done in reverse.

Elaine arriving at the summit of Sgurr Breac with Sgurr nan Clach Geala in the background

We crossed 500m of flat ground before we reached the foot of the long grassy ridge of Druim Reidh, which led directly up to the peak of Toman Coinnich (935m and a Munro Top). However, at a height of 800m, and well before the summit peak was reached, we contoured around the west of Toman Coinnich  to a small col below our first Munro objective of A’ Chailleach. From this col a steady climb up the east ridge brought us to the summit at 997m or 3,271ft. This gave us a great vantage point to see the remainder of the walk extended out to the east as well as fantastic views NW to the mighty An Teallach, west to the Fisherfield range and SW to the mountains of Torridon, the latter that we’d recently climbed.

Sgurr nan Clach Geala (L) and Sgurr nan Each (R) from the east ridge of Sgurr Breac

We descended the east ridge back to the col and then climbed to the summit of Toman Coinnich. We continued east by descended slightly to another col before finally climbing easily to the summit of Sgurr Breac, our second Munro at 999m or 3,278ft. Still heading east we descended the ridge, which had steep cliffs to its northern side, before veering ESE to reach the bealach in the stalkers’ path mentioned previously. This involved quite a loss in height from the second Munro summit at 999m to the bealach at 550m. We crossed the bealach and began the stiff climb up the pathless grassy western slope that led directly to a col at the low point in the broad (north-south) ridge that connected together the Munros of Sgurr nan Each and Sgurr nan Clach Geala.

Cameron at the summit of Sgurr nan Each

Sgurr nan Each from the south ridge of Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Elaine at the summit of Sgurr nan Clach Geala with Sgurr Breac and A' Chailleach in the background

After some considerable exertion we arrived at the col and turned right (south) to follow a snaking ridge to the summit of Sgurr nan Each at 923m or 3,028ft. We stopped by the summit cairn for some lunch and to admire the huge herds of red deer that were congregating in the undulating hollows on the hillside below us. Unfortunately, some unwelcome midge visitors soon joined us and so we didn’t linger too long.

We retraced our steps back to the col in the connecting ridge and then began the long and fairly easy-angled ascent of Sgurr nan Clach Geala. At 1093m or 3,586ft, this Munro towered above the others that we’d already climbed, and also the fifth one that we were about to do. It was, however, just slightly eclipsed in height by its near neighbour, Sgurr Mor at 1110m, about 2.5km to the east. We’re saving Sgurr Mor and another three Munros to the east of us for another outing, and instead descended north along a lovely ridge, Am Biachdaich, with steep cliffs on its east side and a patchwork of large boulder scree on the west. The ridge led to a huge wide col between three hills, the Munro we’d just descended from, Carn na Criche (961m) to the east and our next Munro conquest, Meall a’ Chrasgaidh, to the north.

We crossed the wide col, an expanse of peat hummocks and short wind-clipped grass, where we then ascended the broad and easy-angled SSE ridge to reach the summit of Meall a’ Chrasgaidh at 934m or 3,064ft.

View east to Sgurr Mor from Sgurr nan Clach Geala

From the summit we descended on a course due west down a very pleasant slope of short grass and heather to reach the stalkers’ path running along the floor of the glen below. We followed this path north for just over 2km to reach the bridge over the Abhainn Cuileig river. It was then just a short walk through the forestry plantation and then the land-rover track back to our car.

It had been a brilliant day over a long and quite physically demanding route but we were justly rewarded with some fantastic scenery of a mountain region and landscape that we’d not previously visited before.

The summit of Meall a' Chrasgaidh from the northern slopes of Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Cameron arriving at the summit of Meall a' Chrasgaidh

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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