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Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Sgurr Ban & Beinn a'Chlaidheimh, Maps 19,20;
24th Oct 2004 & 11th Jul 2007

Route: 20.8 miles, 1605m = 5270' ascent; 10½–11 hrs
(12.5 miles along path, 8.3 miles where no path marked.)


Access: Take A832 west from Braemore junction on A835 and park immediately W of sharp bend in A832 after forestry, 100yds W of track to Loch a' Bhraoin.
Route: Because of river crossings, sections of wet, pathless, peaty terrain, and the pinnacles on the ridge of Sgurr Dubh, this walk is much more enjoyable and less demanding in good, dry weather.
The path along Loch a' Bhraoin to Lochivraon is mostly of a high standard but has a number of stretches of tiresome shingle which looks nice but is energy sapping. Alternative routes usually approach these mountains from the north, avoiding the lochside walk entirely but they involve fording rivers.
Keep an eye out for the two small cairns, one on either side of the river, which mark the crossing point of the Allt Teanga nan Caiseachan at NH10147285. In spate this cannot be crossed with dry feet, and becomes more dangerous to cross where it narrows above the two cairns. After crossing, take the path at almost 90° away from the river for about 75 yards in order to pick up the excellent double track heading NW parallel to the river.
Sgurr Dubh (NH061729) is a Munro top which is easily omitted from the route. It lies on a knife edge ridge with pinnacles on either side that require scrambling, making it rather slow to traverse. It is shorter and easier on its NW ridge, which is just 150 yards long with 50m of ascent. It makes sense to plan to go and return the same way for this top (as below on 11 July 2007) so that you know what to expect when leaving the top or if a retreat is necessary. It is also much pleasanter to tackle when the rock is dry.
Beinn a'Chlaidheimh was re-classified in August 2011 from a Munro to a Corbett after careful GPS height measurements. It's a nice addition to this walk over straightforward terrain. However, it can be omitted if necessary, saving about 3½ miles and a significant 325m of ascent.
Sgurr Ban (NH055745) is covered in slow, bouldery terrain. It may therefore make more sense to descend from Beinn a'Chlaidheimh directly into the valley north of Loch an Nid rather than follow my descent route which returns to the eastern slopes of Sgurr Ban. However, given the amount of rain on the day, I preferred to stay out of the valley and not attempt to cross the Abhainn Loch an Nid until much further south. For those that like clambering over rocks, my best recommendation is to contour SSE over boulders from the lochans at Am Briseadh, then descend by the slabs immediately to the north of Meallan an Laoigh.
Kit: Gaiters are needed for wet grass when off path in the glen of Loch an Nid. Poles are useful for the upper reaches of the corrie below Sgurr Dubh and on the scree descending N from Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.
Weather 24/10/04: Rain throughout day; cloud on tops.
Weather 11/07/07: 15°C; cloud base at 400m initially, rising to 650m at 4pm. In cloud and light rain 1045-1600; sunny 1600-1630; dull thereafter.

 
24/10/0411/07/07 Place on route Ht(m)AscentDistanceGrid Ref.Mobile
07250835 Park near bend in A832, NE of Loch a' Bhraoin 280   00.0 milesNH16127620Orange
   Track SW to ruin by boathouse at Loch a' Bhraoin 250   00.85 milesNH15717514 
0835
– 0845
0940 Track W along N shore to Lochivraon at loch end. 260  153.75 milesNH11747336 
09301010 WSW to cairns at path split by river crossing;
take left fork over river.
290  554.8 milesNH10177288 
09451020 Path W to ruin near watershed 340  955.45 milesNH09177303 
09551030 Path W/NNW to where Allt Cul Doireachan is close 285 6.1 milesNH08367341 
10001035 Descend W to cross river 265 6.1 milesNH08347340 
1110  – EITHER At 620m,
branch S through gap in cliffs and ascend to ridge
6604957.4 milesNH06777300 
  –1155 OR head due W to col NW of Sgurr Dubh 8707107.67 milesNH05857306 
11451205
– 1210
T Sgurr Dubh: 2 cairns on adjacent pinnacles: SE one
is top. Knife edge ridges with pinnacles to E & W of top
9187757.83 milesNH06067291Orange
11551220 NW down pinnacled ridge to col 8707908.0 milesNH05857306 
12101230 NW to T Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair E Top 9819008.25 milesNH05627339No Orange
   W to col 952 8.3 milesNH05537341 
12201240 W to M Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair 10189658.5 milesNH05227349Orange
 1300 N down steep scree to bealach 825 8.75 milesNH05207391 
13051320 NNE to M Sgurr Ban 98911309.25 milesNH05577456No Orange
13501405 Slow rocks NNE to two lochans at col (Am Briseadh)
Here the lie of the land is deceptive in mist, so be careful!
645 10.25 milesNH06487573 
14151430 NNW to top 815130011.0 milesNH06027674 
   N (passed several lochans) to col 785 11.2 milesNH06037712 
14351450 N to C Beinn a'Chlaidheimh 914143011.5 milesNH06117758Orange
   Return S to col (after several lochans) 785 11.8 milesNH06037712 
14551510 S to top 815145512.0 milesNH06027674 
15151535
– 1540
SSE to two lochans at col (Am Briseadh) 645 12.75 milesNH06487573 
15551615 Contour S along face of Sgurr Ban at 650m over slow
boulders & fast slabs to col by Meallan an Laoigh
(or head SE over slabs to S end of Loch an Nid)
600 13.75 milesNH06847412 
16451700 Descend S, cross Allt Coire nan Clach, then ESE down
big slabs to Allt Cul Doireachan. Cross river to path.
255148014.7 milesNH08367341 
17001715 Path E to ruin near watershed 340156515.35 milesNH09177303 
 1730 Cairns at river crossing by path split 290 16.0 milesNH10177288 
17501800 Path E to Lochivraon at SW end of Loch a' Bhraoin 250156517.1 milesNH11747336 
18551855 Track NE to ruin by boathouse at end of Loch a' Bhraoin 250 20.0 milesNH15717514 
19101910 Track back to car on A832 280160520.8 milesNH16127620Orange


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