Am Faochagach

We abandoned a canoe-and-hill jaunt due to forecast winds and headed further north to take advantage of some of the better forecast weather on offer. Surprisingly the weather on the Saturday turned out even better than that which was forecast, but the better forecast weather for Sunday,  and hinted at with Saturday’s red sky, wasn’t to be.

Saturday
Our plan was for an ascent of either Am Faochagach or Ben Wyvis and driving up through Inverness the hint of brightness further west drew us past the start point of Ben Wyvis to that of Am Faochagach instead. We parked up and watched a hill-runner depart in the direction we would be heading in. Soon his bounding, zig-zagging path hinted at the boggy nature of the approach to this hill, which is so often mentioned in references to this walk and doesn’t sell it as a good day out. How wrong though!

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Despite the boggy stretches, we found ourselves with dry feet on arrival at the main obstacle of the day, the Abhainn a’ Gharbhrain. Stepping stones low down the river were not clear of the river for its full width, so we continued up almost to the lochan (Loch a’ Gharbhrain) above in search of a dry route across, but eventually there was nothing for it but to get wet and cold feet. Boots and socks off … no chance! The water was so cold and river bed too uncomfortable to move on and plan B, socks off and boots on, was opted for instead. Quite successful, putting wet boots over dry socks on the other side wasn’t too uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

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Following ground above the shoreline of the Loch a’ Gharbhrain to reach a rockier skyline than the common approach, we were able to get a more interesting route and avoid what might be the boggiest terrain too. It also gave us brilliant views into the remote ground and rugged corrie below Beinn Dearg.

A lunch stop on a rocky terrace taking in this scenery was made all the more pleasant by the warming sun, a cooling beer and the sudden appearance of an eagle from below, which spiraled higher and higher effortlessly on a slight breeze.

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Views continued to improve as we ascended higher, first to the south and west, but soon enough far to the north as well. Going clockwise from the Fannaichs in the south, we could see An Tealach, the Beinn Dearg hills, Seana Bhraigh, Suilven, Conival and Ben More Assynt, Ben Hope, Ben Loyal, Ben Klibreck and to the east – Ben Wyvis. Further southeast, the last of winter on the Cairngorms showed as an extensive white band.

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Our walk out was more direct and boggy and there was no need to attempt to keep feet dry so the river crossing was much quicker. The thought of a nice night in Ullapool and hot showers were drawing us off the hill after an unexpectedly good walk.

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Sunday
Dry long enough to get the tent put away, but rain set in soon after and with cloud sitting low, would it be Ben Wyvis or its lower neighbour Little Wyvis? Neither, we had a short stop at the very impressive Corrieshalloch Gorge before a leisurely drive south in increasing rainfall.

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