Tom a’ Choinich (1112m) & Toll Creagach (1053m)
- Pronunciation: Tom uh Hornich; Toll Kirrikuch
- Translation: Hill of the Moss; Rocky Hollow
- Total distance: 17.2km
- Total time: 5hrs 11mins
- Total ascent: 1128m
- Weather: Bright but overcast. Very lucky to miss some showers in the glens on either side of our summits.
- Start / end location: Just east of the bridge On the unclassified road running along Glen Affric [OS Map Sheet 25 – Grid Ref: NH 216 242]
- 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.
From our base in the little hamlet of Cannich we headed west on the unclassified road running along the stunningly beautiful Glen Affric, which hosts one of the largest tracks of native Caledonian pine forest in the country. The road passed along the north shore of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhion and offered us some great glimpses of the pine clad islands near the east end of the loch.
On the OS map there was parking marked where the road bridge crossed the Abhain Gleann nam Fiadh, about 1.5km from the west end of the loch. We parked there and took the path on the north side of the river. This path, which stuck to the course of the river, continued high into Gleann nam Fiadh, and for the first kilometre was flanked by smaller groves of pine, silver birch and rowan trees. Once we’d left the forested area a well-constructed path continued for another 1.5km before giving way to a slightly boggier one. We followed this path over some wet and boggy ground until we crossed the Allt Toll Easa burn.
Once across the burn we turned immediately right (NNW) onto another path that climbed steeply up the course of the burn. After 200m of ascent we branched off the path and began climbing the curving ESE ridge of Tom a’ Choinich. Just before leaving the path we came across an adder basking in the sunlight. We managed to persuade it to hang around long enough to get a photograph before it slithered off into the heather undergrowth.
We climbed up the remainder of the long ESE ridge, coming into close contact with a beautiful pair of ptarmagin: their summer plumage making them look almost identical to the lichen covered stones that littered the slopes thereabouts. Finally, we reached a pile of stones that marked the summit of Tom a’ Choinich at 1112m or 3,648ft and watched as the clouds and showers rolled in from the west along Gleann nam Fiadh to the south and Loch Mullardoch to the north – thankfully we were left dry in a strip in-between.
From the summit we descended down a broad ridge eastward to a col at the lowest point on the ridge, where we crossed the path that climbed up from the shores of Loch Mullardoch and down into Gleann nam Fiadh. (This path was the one that we’d used earlier to climb alongside the Allt Toll Easa.) Having crossed the col, we climbed to reach a large flat plateau before a short descent and longer ascent took us directly to the summit and Trig Point of our second Munro, Toll Creagach, at 1053m or 3,455ft.
These two Munros, although only a few kilometres apart, were very different in character, with the first, Tom a’ Choinich, consisting of sharp rocky ridges and steep crags, whereas the second, Toll Creagach, was rounded and smooth – with it even being likened to a bald headed man.
From the summit of the “baldy one”, we descended due south along a very broad ridge that eventually arced SSE to reach Beinn Eun. To the south of Beinn Eun were some steep cliffs, so we veered off the ridge SSW and down some easier ground to arrive at the footpath that we’d used earlier to access Gleann nam Fiadh. Once on the footpath it was a simple case of retracing our steps back to the car parked by the shoreside of Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin.