Day Meet to Glen Affric, Sunday 11 October 2020

We followed the by now familiar routine of having a number of mini-meets on the same day to minimise the size of each group. This time the chosen hills were Mam Sodhail, Tom a’ Choinich and Toll Creagach.

Catherine, Karen, Helen and Arthur had a fine day in Glen Affric making a circuit of the An Tudair and Sgurr na Lapaich ridges leading to and from Mam Sodhail.  We had intended to approach Mam Sodhail via Creag Coire nan Each, but a revolt in the party about losing height from the end of the old stalkers’ path down to the Sputan Ban waterfalls saw us climbing the steep slopes of An Tudair Beag instead, pictured above.  And we got our first taste of the winter’s snow, kicking a few steps in soft wet gooey stuff.  The cloud came and went, but it stayed mainly dry.

Looking back to Mam Sodhail from the Sgurr na Lapaich ridge

We had a look at the old Ordnance Survey shelter below Mam Sodhail summit.  It is part of the remains of one of the Colby Camps from the first half of the 19th Century used in the first  triangulation of Scotland.  The theodolite that they used was about 3 feet in diameter and weighed 300 pounds. The OS sappers would have stayed in the camp for weeks at a time in all weathers while making the survey.

The limits of our geomorphological knowledge were tested by the stratifications on the west flank of Tom a’Choinich on the other side of the glen (frost heave, water erosion, something else) and was it a landslip or a fault running along the ridge to Sgurr na Lapaich summit?  We did, however, recognise the bog we had to cross to regain the track after the rough descent off the nose of Sgurr na Lapaich.

Dan, Paul, Irene and John on Toll Creagach

Dan, Irene, John and prospective member Paul headed up the hill from the new car park just short of Chisholme Bridge in Glen Affric. It’s a really good (and cyclable) track for a while to the intake of a new hydro scheme, before becoming ‘rather  liquid’. The stalkers’ track mapped as going up the Allt Toll Easa morphs into a good path to the top of Tom a’Choinnich, with some fine views to the south and west. First snow of the season on the summit, with the clag arriving just in time to spoil the view.

Without the need of discussion, we found ourselves descending the ridge east towards Toll Creagach, a very rounded hill after the craggy Tom. There’s a cairn and a trig point, but I’m not convinced that either is at the highest point of the hill! From there a long and increasingly boggy slope down to the bottom of the glen and back to the cars. We may not have had any sun, but the absence of wind and rain was good.

Participants: Catherine, Karen, Helen, Arthur, Dan, Irene, John and prospective member Paul.