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: contact Angus at the Loch Mullardoch Ferryboat service for a motor boat to the far end of the loch. This is the best solution for a group that would fill a boat. That said, game keepers have told me there is a proper path along the south side of the loch. It may be at the level of the top of the forest, i.e. at about 400m altitude.
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 is sometimes easier 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.
|0910||—||Either Park at Mullardoch Dam, S end||240||0||0.0/– miles||NH22313101||No Orange|
|1235||—||W along v. slow, difficult S shore of L. Mullardoch
to Allt Choire Dhomhain, & cross river by cabins
|1410||—||Path WSW up to 500m & contour round to Coire Lochan||650||520||7.3/– miles|
|1505||—||W/N to M Beinn Fhionnlaidh, NH115282||1005||860||8.1/– miles||NH11572828|
|—||0445||Or: Depart camp site at W end of L. Mullardoch
on E side of Abhainn a'Choilich
|—||0610||Path S by Abhainn a'Choilich, then E to Bealach Beag||832||540||–/1.05 miles||NH11742751|
|—||0640||N to M Beinn Fhionnlaidh||1005||715||–/1.55 miles||NH11572828||No Orange|
|1520||0700||Then S to Bealach Beag||832||8.55/2.0 miles||NH11742751|
|1530||0715||SSE to T Stob Coire Lochan||917||945/800||8.8/2.25 miles||NH11932718||No Orange|
|S to col||885||8.9/2.35 miles||NH11912703|
|S/SE to M Carn Eige (trig pt)||1183||1245/1100||9.5/3.0 miles||NH12362619||Orange|
|0820||E to col||1095||9.75/3.25 miles||NH12782622|
|1635||0835||NE to T Stob a'Choire Dhomhain||1147||1295/1150||10.1/3.55 miles||NH13182647||No Orange|
|ENE/E/SE to col||1105||10.35/3.8 miles||NH13572637|
|0855||SE to T Stob Coire Dhomhnuill||1137||1340/1195||10.55/4.0 miles||NH13852622|
|ESE to col||1107||10.7/4.15 miles||NH14062622|
|E to T Sron Garbh||1131||1405/1260||10.95/4.4 miles||NH14472638||Orange|
|0930||NE to col (Cairn marks descent N into corrie)||965||11.2/4.67 miles||NH14842656|
|1705||0945||NE to T An Leth-chreag||1051||1455/1310||11.6/5.1 miles||NH15362697||No Orange|
|0950||NE to col||995||11.8/5.25 miles||NH15542715|
|1740||1000||NE to T Tom a'Choinich Beag||1032||1495/1350||11.95/5.4 miles||NH15752729||No Orange|
|E to col||1015||12.0/5.5 miles||NH15882727|
|E to M Tom a'Choinich||1112||1590/1445||12.3/5.8 miles||NH16382732||No Orange|
|1050||E to Beallach Toll Easa||872||12.9/6.35 miles||NH17262755|
|1840||1115||E/ENE to T Toll Creagach – W Top||951||1670/1525||13.2/6.67 miles||NH17762755||No Orange|
|ENE to Col||923||13.75/7.2 miles||NH18522800|
|ENE to M Toll Creagach trig pt||1054||1800/1655||14.35/7.8 miles||NH19442829||No Orange|
|—||Either: Descend E to bealach
then NE by Allt Fraoch-choire to trees
|—||1225||Or: NE down ridge to Creag a'Bhaca||746||–/1700||–/9.0 miles||NH20762960|
|—||1310||NE to cross Allt Fraoch-choire at top edge of trees.||390||–/9.63 miles||NH21672998|
|2100||1345||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.
|240||1800/1700||17.45/10.45 miles||NH22313101||No Orange|