The eastern Fannaich range – [# 261 – 264]

Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich (954m); Sgurr Mor (1110m);
Meall Gorm (949m) & An Coileachan (923m)

  • Pronunciation:             Bine Leea Voar Fannich; Skoor More; Miaowl Gorm; Un Colocan
  • Translation:                  Big Grey Hill of the Gentle Slope; Big Mountain; Blue-green Hill; the Little Cock
  • Total distance:              25.2km
  • Total time:                     8hrs 5mins
  • Total ascent:                  1441m
  • Weather:                        Mixed. Started off quite bright and warm. Clouds gathered throughout the day covering some of the tops and giving a few light showers on the last two summits.
  • Start / end location:    Parking just off the A835 at the west end of Loch Glascarnoch. [OS Map Sheet 20 – Grid Ref: NH 277 743]
  • 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.

A series of small cascades on the Abhainn a' Ghiuthais river

Once again from our base in Ullapool we headed south passed yesterday’s starting point at Inverlael, then passed Corrieshalloch Gorge to the western end of Loch Glascarnoch. It was here, by a road bridge across the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh, that we parked to start our walk of the eastern Fannaich range.

The summit of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich (L) from Creag Dhubh Fannaich in the east

Sgurr Mor free of mist as we approach the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich (out of shot on the right)

Cameron at the twin summit cairns on Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich with Sgurr Mor topped with mist in the background

It was still quite bright and warm when we left the car and began following a muddy path along the west side of the river. The river meandered a bit over the first kilometre or so, as too did the path. We followed the course of the river until we reached the location where the smaller subsidiary Allt an Loch Sgeirich burn merged with the river. We didn’t cross the burn at this point but followed its course westward instead – leaving the behind the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh river. Around a height of 425m [at GR NH 252 723] we crossed the burn and climbed SW for a short while to reach the broad east ridge from Creag Dhubh Fannaich. The climb was through heather and wet tufted grass, before the terrain gave way to slightly easier short, wind-clipped grass.

At 700m the direction of the ridge turned westward, where it became reasonably level as we crossed the summit of Creag Dhubh Fannaich (757m) before then dropping slightly beyond to reach a broad col. This col marked the start of a slightly steeper section of ridge that curved down ESE from the summit of our first Munro, Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich. We climbed this ridge easily to the large rounded summit and twin cairns at 954m or 3,130ft. (the first cairn from our direction of arrival looked marginally higher than the other – although they both sit within a few tens of metres (horizontally) from each other.

The descent along the narrower WSW ridge gave us a good view of our next objective, Sgurr Mor, the highest Munro of the eight making up the Fannaich range. Unfortunately the top 50m was covered in mist.

Moments later from the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich the top of Sgurr Mor becomes shrouded in mist

The ridge curved a little more to the west as we climbed higher and onto the south shoulder of Sgurr Mor. From the shoulder, essentially the hill’s south ridge, we climbed easily to the summit at 1110m or 3,642ft. As we paused for a bite to eat the mist momentarily cleared giving us a lovely view west to the steep craggy slopes of Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093m) and the rocky ridge south from Geala to Sgurr nan Each (923m). A quick glance down to the SE showed us our next Munro of Meall Gorm, preceded by the subsidiary top of Meall nam Peithirean. In the misty haze, and at the distances involved, it was difficult to make out our fourth Munro of the day, An Coileachan, hiding even further to the SE behind Meall Gorm.

Elaine looking back to the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich from the col below Sgurr Mor

We made a start along the very straightforward undulating ridge towards Meall Gorm. We only got as far as Meall nam Peithirean before the mist rolled in over the western Fannaichs and arrived at us, bringing a light rain shower. We donned our waterproof gear and then passed Peithirean en route to Meall Gorm. A short descend from Peithirean brought us to col where we picked up a stalker’s path that passed Creachan Rairigidh before splitting: the right hand path led down to Fannich Lodge in the south and the other, which we took, led up to the summit of Meall Gorm. We arrived at a damp and blustery summit cairn at 949m or 3,114ft and stayed only long enough for the obligatory summit picture before departing from our final Munro.

Elaine arrives at the impressive cairn on the summit of Sgurr Mor

The summit of Sgurr nan Clach Geala to the west of Sgurr Mor

A drop to the Bealach Ban at 775m brought us to directly beneath the NW slopes of An Coileachan, where we sought out a line upwards that avoided the worst of the areas of boulders. When we reached the summit cairn at 923m or 3,028ft we were rewarded with a clearing view and a rainbow stretched out across a nearby glen.

We retraced our path back to the Bealach Ban and then plunged NE into the corrie above Loch Gorm. A steep, wet and very slippy descent brought us passed a tiny lochan and then over slightly easier ground to the col to the SW of Meall Buidhe (633m). We didn’t climb to the top of Meall Buidhe but skirted round to the west, following the 600m contour. A long and at times frustrating bog-trotting march ensued as we sought out the best lines through the myriad of peat hags and wet pools. Eventually we arrived at the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh river and located a bridge to take us to the northern side and a wet muddy path – but a path nonetheless. (The bridge, not marked on the OS map, is located at GR NH 252 712.)

View SE from Sgurr Mor - the ridge in the foreground leads left to Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and Meall Gorm can be see in the background

We walked along the river’s edge until we were about 300m from where the Allt an Loch Sgeirich burn flowed into the river. Here another bridge (again not marked on the map but at GR NH 264 721) crossed the river to join a forestry track (not marked) through the young pine woods. We decided to take this track as we assumed it would be much drier than the river path: and it was, albeit it was also a little longer. The track brought us out at the roadside just at the other side of bridge from where we’d parked.

We were fairly damp – but at least we’d reduced our Munro count by another four.

En route to Meall Gorm before the showers arrived

Elaine at a damp and very blustery summit cairn on Meall Gorm

At the summit cairn on An Coileachan with a rainbow appearing in the background

Nearing the main road and looking north to Beinn Dearg (L) and Cona' Mheall (R)

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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