Not as boggy as we thought – [# 275]

Maoile Lunndaidh (1007m)

  • Pronunciation:            Merle Lon-dye
  • Translation:                 Bald Hill of the Wet Place
  • Total distance:             28.8km (18km of which were cycled)
  • Total time:                   5hrs 47mins
  • Total ascent:                1241m
  • Weather:                       Mixed. Dull and showery with a few brighter interludes. Very strong gale-force wind on the summit plateau.
  • Start / end location:    Forest Enterprise car park 4.5km east of Achnashellach on the A890 road.  [OS Map Sheet 25 – Grid Ref: NH 047 495]
  • Map:                               A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window.

On the track approaching Glenuaig Lodge with Creag Dhubh Mhor on the right - Maoile Lunndaidh is located further to the right and out of frame

Our starting point for this isolated Munro was from the Forest Enterprise car park by the little hamlet of Craig in Glen Carron. This was now the third time that we’d begun a route from this location. As per the previous two times, we used our mountain bikes to take us to the base of the climb: on this occasion it was around 9km of cycling to reach the start of the walk at Glenuaig Lodge, high up in Gleann Fhiodhaig.

Glenuaig Lodge with Moruisg (Munro) to the left

Our route began by going across the railway track at a private level-crossing before then following the River Carron west for 1km. The track that we were on then crossed the river onto its south side before we branched off to the left and began the short (2.5km) but steep and sustained climb to the track’s high point at just below 300m elevation.  From this position the track, which now followed the course of the Allt a’ Chonais burn, dropped a little as it rounded the south-western flank of Sgurr nan Ceannaichean (915m – but quite recently demoted as a Munro). The track then followed a steady contour as it passed Pollan Buidhe – the place where we’d left our bikes previously to tackle Bidean a’ Choire Sheasgaich (945m) and Lurg Mhor (986m). Along this section the track was heavily rutted and extremely wet and muddy after the prolonged rainfall.

After another 3km of undulating cycling through more boggy puddles we turned a slight bend in the track and caught our first glimpse of the Glenuaig Lodge at the upper end of Gleann Fhiodhaig. We were rewarded with good views of the southern flank of Moruisg (928m) situated to the north of the lodge, and of Carn nam Fiaclan to the south. The latter guarded our objective, Maoile Lunndaidh, as we approached from the west.

The view SW from Glenuaig Lodge towards Bidean an Eoin Deirg (L), Sgurr a Chaorachain (centre) and Sgurr Choinnich (R)

We soon arrived at the lodge, which was actually very spartan compared to many other lodges that we’d seen on our travels. A message taped to one of the windows indicated that hikers and climbers were welcome to shelter in the bothy at the far end of the building. This bothy turned out to be a wooden garden shed that was heavily strapped down to the surrounding ground by wire guy-lines to prevent it from getting “blown away”. We peered inside and there was room for two people (three at a squeeze). However, although it was only a shed, we did notice that the estate had fitted a small electric panel heater … which would make the place very cosy indeed.

Inside Glenuaig Bothy - a tiny wooden shed that provides cosy shelter for two hikers - not us though

We left our bikes at the rear of the bothy and headed SE down some gently sloping ground towards the infant River Meig. We were a bit apprehensive that the river, no bigger than a burn at this stage, would be flowing deep and fast after the recent heavy rains. However, not only was it very modest in size but we also came across a two plank width stalkers’ bridge that was not marked on the map. We were therefore spared the chore of having to take off our boots and socks!

A handy stalkers' bridge across the infant River Meig with Maoile Lunndaidh in the background (centre peak)

Once on the south side of the river we proceeded east for a few hundred metres and then followed the contours around the bottom of the gently inclined Sron na Frianich ridge until we were on the west bank of the An Crom-allt burn. We climbed up alongside the burn until we reached a spot where we could safely cross. On the other side we began the steep and relentless ascent of a north-facing ridge that is almost indistinct on the map. The ridge formed the western arm of the shallow corrie, Fuar-tholl Beag, on the NW side of Carn nam Fiaclan (996m).

Approaching the summit plateau of Maoile Lunndaidh from Carn nam Fiaclan in the west (complete with summit cairn)

The climb up was fairly stiff, but we eventually topped out at a broad shoulder immediately west of Carn nam Fiaclan’s summit. We crossed the shoulder and then climbed steeply again for 100m to reach the summit, which is classed only as a Munro Top. As per the hill’s Gaelic translation, the view from this Top certainly emphasised the “bald” nature of the landscape on the summit plateau. From our vantage point we could see right around the level escarpment above the spectacular Fuar-tholl Mor cliffs to the summit of Maoile Lunndaidh over 3/4km away.

We arced around the top of the escarpment, only dropping 10m in height as we did so, and then crossed a narrowing in the plateau between the opposing corries that were home to Toll a’ Choin (SE) and Fuar-tholl Mor (NW). From this narrowing we continued NE up gentle slopes to reach the summit cairn of Maoile Lunndaidh at 1007m, or 3,304ft.

Cameron on the windswept summit of Maoile Lunndaidh

From the summit we took a course NNW and dropped briskly down a broad and moderate gradient slope to reach the col below Creag Dhubh Mhor. Here we turned left (due west) and followed the course of a cascading little burn, which we crossed just before it merged with another burn flowing from the two lochans below Fuar-tholl Mor. As we crossed the mouth of this north-facing glen we saw just how spectacular its steep precipitous cliffs really are. It was the sort of place that was worthy of further investigation in its own right.

We were now on the north side of the combined burn, which we followed as it arced around the west ridge of Creag Dhubh Mhor. At an appropriate location we crossed the burn and headed NW across the open moorland, crossing also a stalkers’ path as we headed back to the little two-plank bridge over the infant River Meig. Once across the bridge it was as short hop to the bothy and lodge where we collected our bikes.

Looking west from near the summit of Maoile Lunndaidh to Carn nam Fiaclan (foreground), Bidean an Eoin Deirg (L) and Sgurr a Chaorachain (R)

The first few kilometres back on the bikes were fairly tiresome as we battled against a steady headwind and negotiated the deep boggy pot-holes. However, once we reached the highest point on the track we knew that the fun was about to begin. As on previous occasions we didn’t have to turn a pedal and simply enjoyed a very fast descent all the way back to the railway level-crossing. We agreed, once again, that the effort of cycling up to this high-point at the beginning of the day was well rewarded by an exhilarating downhill blast on the way home.

We were quite relieved that the translation of Maoile Lunndaidh into “bald hill of the wet place” had only been partially representative of our day … as we thankfully hadn’t found it to be particularly wet.

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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