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Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Carn Eige, Tom a'Choinich & Toll Creagach
Map 25 or 415 & 414N; 26th September 2004 & 4th August 2007

2 Day Circuit of L. Mullardoch: 3700m = 12150' ascent, 26½ miles.
Route via S shore of L. Mullardoch: 1800m = 5900' ascent, 17½ miles, 12 hrs.


Access: Drive NW from Cannich along Glen Cannich to S end of dam at Loch Mullardoch.
Discussion: The main issue is how to get to the remote summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh, which is at the west end of Loch Mullardoch. After the effort involved in this, it makes sense to take advantage of that location to return over the other Munros and Tops in the same range. This is because the bealach with Carn Eige is very high at 832m, and the ridge from Carn Eige east to Toll Creagach only drops below 3000' once, so that little effort is required to complete that ridge once Carn Eige has be attained.
From Toll Creagach one may descend either to the dam at the east end of Loch Mullardoch or to the Glen Affric road at the west end of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin. So these are the two obvious starting points. In the latter case, Beinn Fhionnlaidh is reached via Gleann nam Fiadh with a contour round the west flank of Carn Eige.
It is the former case that we are interested in here. The obvious approach to Beinn Fhionnlaidh from the dam is along the south shore of Loch Mullardoch. The terrain makes this impractical and demoralising (see the warning below) but timings are given in the table below. I tried it once, but never again! It may be possible to hire a boat along the loch; ask in Cannich. Karl may still be ferrying walkers from the dam to the end of the loch (see here). This is the best solution for a group that would fill a boat.
Another approach is to make Beinn Fhionnlaidh part of a circuit of Loch Mullardoch, covering the ranges to the north and to the south of the loch on successive days, and camping at the west end of the loch in between. This avoids a long walk in or out for both of these.
The Munros on the north side are described here. They can be accessed via Glen Strathfarrar, but time is certainly at a premium from there and so perhaps only an option for single walkers or a fast pair if the whole ridge is to be traversed.
Route: For the route round Loch Mullardoch, the only significant issues concern river crossings. The (unnamed) river flowing east into the loch is wide but fairly shallow with a gravel and pebble bed, and can usually be crossed without too much hassle. However, the Abhainn a' Choilich is a much narrower, faster flowing, fuller river with a bed of much larger rocks and boulders. It becomes easier to cross higher up (i.e. further south). Plastic bags tied over the feet may deter water ingress sufficiently during the ford. Alternatively, bring some light footwear to change into for the crossings. There should be no problem if there has been little rain for several days.
If camping at the west end of the loch after doing the range on the north side, camp several hundred metres up in a breezey spot on Meall Shuas during the midge season.
At the eastern end, use the 1:25000 OS map to negotiate the deer fences, and avoid aimimg to descend directly to the parking instead of to the buildings at the track end because of a fence and very steep messy few feet of descent immediately above the parking area.
Warning: There is terrible terrain along S shore of L.Mullardoch: steep peat bogs with deep ravines, dead tree logs & stumps, thick, high heather, forestry and slippery stones. A path exists in places but is very difficult to find. It's best to take to rocks along the shore, but a number of small cliffs need climbing over. This makes progress extremely slow. The table below shows I took 3½ hrs to cover the 4¾ necessary miles along this shore.
Weather 26/9/04: Gale force winds, especially on and after last top. Frequent short showers but occasional sunny intervals.
Weather 4/8/07: Strong winds in morning; sunny intervals; dry & warm all day.

26/9/044/8/07 Description Ht.Asc.DistanceGrid Ref.Mob.
0910 — Either Park at Mullardoch Dam, S end 240   00.0/– milesNH22313101No Orange
1235 — W along v. slow, difficult S shore of L. Mullardoch
to Allt Choire Dhomhain, & cross river by cabins
2801354.7/– milesNH15573002 
1410 — Path WSW up to 500m & contour round to Coire Lochan 6505207.3/– miles 
1505 — W/N to M Beinn Fhionnlaidh, NH115282 10058608.1/– milesNH11572828 
 —0445 Or: Depart camp site at W end of L. Mullardoch
on E side of Abhainn a'Choilich
300    0–/0.0 milesNH10272821 
 —0610 Path S by Abhainn a'Choilich, then E to Bealach Beag 832540–/1.05 milesNH11742751 
 —0640 N to M Beinn Fhionnlaidh 1005715–/1.55 milesNH11572828No Orange
15200700 Then S to Bealach Beag 832 8.55/2.0 milesNH11742751 
15300715 SSE to T Stob Coire Lochan 917945/8008.8/2.25 milesNH11932718No Orange
   S to col 885 8.9/2.35 milesNH11912703 
16100800
-0810
S/SE to M Carn Eige (trig pt) 11831245/11009.5/3.0 milesNH12362619Orange
 0820 E to col 1095 9.75/3.25 milesNH12782622 
16350835 NE to T Stob a'Choire Dhomhain 11471295/115010.1/3.55 milesNH13182647No Orange
   ENE/E/SE to col 1105 10.35/3.8 milesNH13572637 
 0855 SE to T Stob Coire Dhomhnuill 11371340/119510.55/4.0 milesNH13852622 
   ESE to col 1107 10.7/4.15 milesNH14062622 
16500905
-0910
E to T Sron Garbh 11311405/126010.95/4.4 milesNH14472638Orange
 0930 NE to col (Cairn marks descent N into corrie) 965 11.2/4.67 milesNH14842656 
17050945 NE to T An Leth-chreag 10511455/131011.6/5.1 milesNH15362697No Orange
 0950 NE to col 995 11.8/5.25 milesNH15542715 
17401000 NE to T Tom a'Choinich Beag 10321495/135011.95/5.4 milesNH15752729No Orange
   E to col 1015 12.0/5.5 milesNH15882727 
18001015
-1025
E to M Tom a'Choinich 11121590/144512.3/5.8 milesNH16382732No Orange
 1050 E to Beallach Toll Easa 872 12.9/6.35 milesNH17262755 
18401115 E/ENE to T Toll Creagach – W Top 9511670/152513.2/6.67 milesNH17762755No Orange
   ENE to Col 923 13.75/7.2 milesNH18522800 
19001135
-1145
ENE to M Toll Creagach trig pt 10541800/165514.35/7.8 milesNH19442829No Orange
  — Either: Descend E to bealach
then NE by Allt Fraoch-choire to trees
390 16.6/– milesNH21672998 
 —1225 Or: NE down ridge to Creag a'Bhaca 746–/1700–/9.0 milesNH20762960 
 —1310 NE to cross Allt Fraoch-choire at top edge of trees. 390 –/9.63 milesNH21672998 
21001345 Then: take path by river between deer fences
(Do not cross them.) Follow the deer fence
round to the right then north between deer fences
to west end of track at dam beside buildings.
2401800/170017.45/10.45 milesNH22313101No Orange


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