Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
20th & 21st July 2013
Away with the fairies on An Sidhean (The Fairy Hill).
Its not very often when embarking on a backpack into the Scottish highlands that questions like “will it be to hot“? and “will I find enough water on the hill to top up my water bottles“? raise their head. But despite these slight concerns it looked like it would be a good weekend to hit the high tops. When considering route options for the area I had originally planned to tackle Bac an Eich along with An Sidhean but during a winter trip to Strathconon I climbed Bac an Eich in isolation so decided to just concentrate my efforts on An Sidhean. Todays temperatures were due to reach the high twenties, in stark contrast to the near sub zero temperatures of the prevoius January Meallan nan Uan, Sgurr a' Mhuilinn & Bac an Eich (Strathconon). Beginning at Inverchoran I crossed the river Meig and headed up Gleann Chorainn, the craggy knoll Sgurr Toll Lochain, which guards this approach to Bac an Eich, poked its nose above the trees.
After wetting hat and brow I continued up the pleasantly narrow glen stopping to take advantage of any burns with a good flow of water. After rising up to Torran Ceann Liath and trying unsuccessfully to escape the attentions of numerous cleggs I reached a fork in the path.
Gleann Chorainn from Torran Ceann Liath
The left hand fork dropped to the shore of Loch na Caoidhe while I took the right heading for Drochaid Coire Mhadaidh and looked for a water re-supply point.
Strathfarrar hills from Drochaid Coire Mhadaidh
A side burn provided a source and I loaded up enough water to see me through to the following morning. From the bealach at the head of the pass I took the stalkers path leading onto Sgurr Coire nan Eun. The peaks of Stathfarrer rose majestically on the other side of Loch na Caoidhe to the south.
Strathfarrar hills from Sgurr Coire nan Eun
A long grassy ridge interspersed with the occasional peat hag now lay ahead as it doglegged its way over to An Sidhean. I was hoping and was pleased to find that the lochans near the summit still contained a good quantity of water. I dropped my pack and made a quick visit to the summit before returning to pitch the tent.
Camp on An Sidhean
The water in the lochan was warm and made for a pleasant ‘bath time’. Before eating I had a wander around the hillside and another look at the summit. Despite the lack of wind and the warm temperatures the evening was insect free and I could sit outside and enjoy the onset of sunset.
Bac an Eich from An Sidhean
The morning dawned clear with mist in the glens so I took my time over breakfast and had a little wander as the previous evening enjoying the scene.
Glen Cannich hills
My route off would take me south along the broad ridge dropping to the high pass at Clach a’ Chomharraidh.
A short steep pull then had me on the ridge of Druim Dubh. A number of deer scattered from their resting place on the top further along.
An Sidhean from Druimm Dubh
As the ridge dropped towards a lochan I picked up the feint path heading down to the River Orrin. By now the cleggs had rejoined me and I upped my pace to try and reduce the numbers landing for a bite. I eventually managed to get free of them when on the stony shore of Loch na Caoidhe where a stiff breeze had picked up. I took advantage of the peace and settled down for a leisurely lunch. The loch waters were too inviting to resist and a cool down after the brisk walking was very welcome.
The only problem with the stop was the staring again, it was so pleasant just sitting soaking up the atmosphere, I was very reluctant to move on. But it was time to go and so I continued my journey downstream. The way narrowed for a while before opening out again to reveal Am Fiar-loch.
The path then continued under the craggy slopes of Creag a’ Ghlastail and across a short boulder field to reach Loch na Frianich.
Loch na Frianich
I continued to follow the River Orrin for a while ignoring the track branching up hill enjoying the tranquillity and views east down the glen.
Cutting uphill I joined the path gaining shade of the trees below the impressive craggy face of Creag a’ Ghlastail. Rising up the track passed between Beinn Mheadhoin and Carn na Cre before easing down over a couple of km to Inverchoran.
Bac an Eich above Gleann Chorainn
Horses in front of the house were finding shade in the paddock as were a couple of stags standing amongst the trees. Noticing my approach they followed the fence line for a while before clearing the five foot obstacle with ease. It was still very warm so I decided on a cooling dip and a spot of lunch further up the glen beside Loch Beannacharain to round off what had been a fine weekend.
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