Return to Whittle Wanderer

Loch Quoich, Sgurr Mhaoraich, Am Bathaich, Scotland.
[17.9 km]  Sat 21 Jan 2017

OS Grid ref: NH 00415 03292
Lat/Long: 57.077254, -05.294572

It was a clear Sky when I set off at 6:30 a.m. The crescent moon was shining in the loch to the south and I had a dark starry sky above as I walked along the road to the start of my climb. I reached the start of the climb by a large layby where a car was parked but didnít have anyone in it. It was still dark as I climb the excellence pass up the south side of the mountain. It must be a stalkers path of some importance as its route was a well-engineered zig-zag up the mountain side.

Daybreak on the climb
As I climbed it became lighter and I was able to switch my torch off and see the eastern sky turning first dark red and getting lighter and lighter. There were still some snow patches around and some were adjacent to the track so I was glad Iíd brought my ice-axe instead of walking pole, as the snow was frozen rock hard. The path was excellent and the climb straightforward. There were impressive views as I got higher and in good weather this must be one of the finest climbs in Scotland.

Sgurr Mhaoraich in the distnce
I eventually reach the first summit but the worn path seemed to bypass the actual high point so I returned to visit it and its small stone cairn. However, the main summit was some distance away to the west and the early sun was just hitting its summit. I set off descending along the ridge and came to a stone boundary wall which must have been quite an undertaking when it was first built. Further along the wall follow the ridge and was constructed of large flat slabs edge-on meaning they were pointing upwards which is a form of wall building I've never seen before.
Stone slab wall
They started and finished usually at a large boulder so can't be used for a boundary. Along the ridge to the next summit which is the highest in this range and had to climb up some sleep snowfields. Fortunately someone else had been there before and left good footprints to follow. These were needed as the snow was frozen hard and I would have had to cut steps with my axe. I reach the main summit of Sgurr Mhaoraich at 1,023 metres which is denoted by a large stone cairn.
On the climb of Sgurr Mhaoraich
I was surprised to see someone else here as I approached. He was a photographer with an SLR camera and tripod but he was looking for views to the north and didn't seem to notice me. Heading up the ridge the temperature had been -5 centigrade but over the top I was soon to descend into shade and out of the sun so it felt colder. I could see to the north the deep saddle far below that I would have to cross. The descent looked extremely steep and as I got closer it looked even worse.
Sgurr Mhaoraich summit cairn

View from Sgurr Mhaoraich
It proved to be technically very straightforward just steep and some sections I had to reverse and go down backwards for short lengths. Eventually and thankfully I reached the saddle where I walked across the flat grass and started the next climb immediately in front of me. This was a steep climb without pause up to the summit of Am Bathaich.
Track construction
In places it was a bit of a scramble but fairly easy. The gradient eased as I reached the high point and I stopped for a while to admire the amazing views all around. On my previous summit I was able to see Ben Nevis extremely clearly in the distance. I was now walking east and starting my descent but still had to cross some minor humps on the way.
Pipeline to the glen
The main end of the range was a steep descent down grass which looked quite imposing from the top but had a very impressive series of zig zags down the whole east end of the mountain. This path must have taken a lot of work to construct but it made the long descent relatively easy. On the way down I could see a lot of engineering works that has been going on with road networks being constructed and large excavator machines nearby.
Hydro building
 Being a Saturday there was no work going on but as I reached the machines I could see they have been laying large diameter plastic pipes of around 700mm diameter high up into the corries. It appears that these are ducts that will feed into the loch or hydro generators. I continue down the new dirt road then over a brand new concrete bridge and then reached a large building which looks like a hydroelectric generating station. Its walls were clad with timber on the outside, presumably part of the planning requirements to match into the surroundings. It was then an easy walk back to the car.