Maol Chean-dearg and Glen Cluanie, 13 December 2020

The weather forecasters’ anticipation of singularly unpleasant and windy conditions on the hills did not materialise for the determined band who went on this meet. Nine people went to Maol Chean-dearg from Strathcarron – our ranks swelled by people switching from other walks in the hope of better weather and three prospective new members. Four people headed for Carn Ghlusaid in Glen Shiel; and the plan to have a third party go to Ben Enaiglair was abandoned.

Maol Chean-dearg
We squeezed our cars into the parking place after the road bridge west of Coulags and set off, suitably socially distanced, up the track beside the Fionn-abhainn.  Parts of the track have been upgraded for a hydro scheme as far as the old bridge over the river.  This seems to be the fate of most glens in the Highlands over the last few years, but this one was not too intrusive.  We passed by the old stalker’s cottage which is now Coire Fionnaraich bothy, but currently closed. The association with the mythical Gaelic warrior giant Fionn mac Cumhaill continued as we walked up the Glen passing Clach nan Con-fionn, the large boulder where it is said the giant tethered his dogs when he took a rest from hunting in the glen. The stalkers’ paths made for fast progress up to the Bealach a Choire Ghairbh.  The wind started to rise as we scrabbled up the eroding scree paths above the bealach, but as the slope eased, so did the wind. 
We had a brief sojourn at the summit to take in the views, with neighbouring Corbetts Beinn Damh and An Ruadh Stac showing proud profiles.  But where had the snow gone? We encountered no snow and it looked as if there was very little left on the Torridon hills. We made the scrabbly descent to the bealach and one party descended by the route of ascent – meeting up with Richard on a recuperation walk – while the others went over Meall nan Ceapairean before regaining the path at the bothy.  That is when the rain commenced for a final very wet three kilometres down the glen.

Group on Maol Chean-dearg

Carn Ghluasaid and Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Despite an appalling weather forecast a group of four assembled at the parking place at Lundie, half way along Loch Cluanie. An excellent stalkers’ path crosses the Wade road to Glen Shiel and continues up a ridge to Carn Ghluasaid, the first objective. This was attained quite comfortably as the wind was behind us, but there was no incentive to stop for a break at the top. The wind was increasing steadily and heavy rain was forecast for the afternoon, so Lorna, Michael and Ewen decided to call it a day at that and descend to the road; on reaching the cars, and right on cue, the rain started. Masoud, being made of sterner stuff, had decided to ascend Sgurr nan Conbhairean as well; he had a good day, but paid the price by being caught in the storm. But all in all, we enjoyed ourselves and made the most of the conditions.

The top of Carn Ghluasaid looking north
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